It was such a blessing to have a word for 2019. It caused me to have a focus on God in everything I did and helped me grow closer to Him. I am so excited for my 2020 word. It is…. know.
I first started thinking about this topic in October when I heard a sermon on Matthew 15:1-9:
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father and mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
These people honor me with their lips,
But their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
Their teachings are merely human rules.
The pastor talked about how the Pharisees erase the word of God and fill it with tradition. They are trying to give a finite sense to infinite things. Jesus puts things back in order. He tells them that the word of God has ultimate authority. It is above everything.
The Pharisees sounded pretty crazy to me when I first looked at the passage. Why would they think their rituals and traditions are more important than God’s word? Upon further reflection, I realized I can be guilty of this too. In a rough translation from the French statement the pastor shared, “We have the Bible, but we also have culture, practices, and traditions, only created by man. We need to be able to discern the difference.”
I feel like this day in age, people can so easily adopt a “shallow faith” in which they listen to a sermon, but never open their Bibles throughout the week. We question why God isn’t speaking to us, but we never read his Word. We argue about topics without seeking the answer in the authoritative word of God. We practice Christian tradition without knowing why we do what we do. We call ourselves followers of Jesus and never bother to read his life-giving story.
Quite simply, I want 2020 to be a year full of God’s word. I want to read God’s word a lot. I want to think about God’s word a lot. I want to give God’s word priority in my life. There are many reasons why this is a good thing, but I would like to share three that come to mind.
- It makes my faith deeper.
Sometimes, I feel far from God, and I wonder why. Oh, how silly I am! (I sure do find myself saying this phrase a lot ;). If I would simply open up his word and listen to what he has to say… Reading his word causes me to love him more, trust him more, and it prepares me. Down the road, when I am in darkness, I can cling to the truths that he showed to me in the light. If I delight in and meditate on his word, I will be like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3a)
I also want to make sure that I am not simply reading his word and not doing anything about what I have learned, like James 1:25 warns against. Practically, I like to take notes as I read and write the answer to these questions in my journal after I read:
- What does this passage say about God?
- What does this passage say about me?
- How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel?
- How does this passage apply to my walk with God and the way I live my life?
Then, I like to write down the central idea of the passage to reflect on and remember throughout my day.
2. It opens my eyes to truth.
On the daily, I am overloaded with information from so many different sources. I look on social media, read books, and listen to music. While these are good things, and oftentimes Christian things that challenge and push me in my faith, I must remember that they are not the Bible. I must be in the word, so I can know when something claiming to be a biblical truth really isn’t.
For example, I have heard arguments that contemporary Christian music is actually hurtful. It can focus too much on our feelings and not on the truth of who God is. While this is not always true, I want to make sure the songs I sing over and over again are biblical. I want to make sure I don’t just accept it as truth because it is labeled as “Christian.” Again and again, I want to make sure God’s word has authority in my life.
Furthermore, I need to remember that the world tells me lots of lies. Here comes the song…
But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win! ‘
“You’ll never win”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
When the world tells me I am useless, God’s word says I am valued. When the world says everything is going wrong, God’s word talks about the hope I have in Jesus. When the world says I can do everything on my own, God’s word tells me how much I need him.
Amidst all the different voices, I will listen to the voice of truth by reading his word.
3. It is a big part of my purpose in life.
Originally, I had chosen “knowledge,” as my word for 2020. I wanted to have knowledge of the word and to be a “fact checker” similar to my ideas mentioned in point 2. Then I saw this tweet:
“If your pursuit of doctrine and theology is making you more intelligent without making you more loving, compassionate, and humble, then your pursuit is not of Christ, it’s of pride.” – Dale Partridge
The Bible is so much more than a textbook. I shouldn’t be seeking knowledge, but I should be seeking to “know” God. I firmly believe that our purpose on this earth is to know God and make him known, and reading the Bible is the main way I know who he is!
The more I know who God is, the deeper my faith is, and the more open my eyes are to truth. The more I know who he is, the more I will look like him. My theme verses for this year are 1 John 2:3-6:
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Here’s to 2020 being a year of reading my Bible a whole lot, and knowing God a whole lot better.