It’s time to check off Week Two of reading for the 40-Day Bible Challenge. Whether you’re reading the entire Bible or listening to an audiobible (free copies here!) during Lent, we’re excited you’re joining in. We never expected nearly 2000 people to download the free 40-Day Reading Guide in the first 24 hours. You can grab your copy by clicking here.
Reading the Bible in 40 days provides a wildly different perspective than a slow read. [Tweet this] I must confess:
Some days I fall behind.
Some days my eyes glaze over.
Some days I wonder, “What did I just read?”
Some days I think, “I haven’t heard that story in eons.”
Some days I can’t shake the images, words, stories, and language.
Reading the Bible at this pace, as a 40-Day Challenge, causes me to see and reflect on details I’d otherwise miss. [Tweet this]
A few things I’ve been noshing on this week:
1. The slow, steady, repetitive declaration, “I am God, your God” which echoes throughout the Old Testament reminds us of the possessiveness of God. [Tweet this] This popped off the page while reading the beginning of Leviticus 18 and the declaration:
Tell them, I am God, your God. Don't live like the people of Egypt where you used to live, and don’t live like the people of Canaan where I am bringing you. Don’t do what they do. Obey my laws and live by my decrees. I am your God. Keep my decrees and laws: The person who obeys them lives by them. I am God. [Tweet this] (Italics added)
God’s people are often referred to as God’s possession. Yet in this weeks reading, I sensed the possessiveness of God anew. The repetition of “I am your God” and “You are mine” echoed so many different ways—in the laws, the decrees, the commands, the calls to holiness, the words of affection—it was as if I could feel God’s jealousy for you, me, all of us, as I read.
Deuteronomy 4 resounds the message, “God, your God, is not to be trifled with—he’s a consuming fire, a jealous God.” [Tweet this] My prayerful response was simply, God, remove my every idol. Free me to be wholly yours.
2. The Book of Numbers and all those numbers reminded me that God cares very much about the details. [Tweet this] God reveals Himself in the details, speaks through the details, loves us through the details. [Tweet this]
3. God desires to give us a good life. God is wild for us—more than we can imagine. Embracing the life God has for us requires us to make choices—choices to follow God. Obey God. Respond to God. Listen to God. Choose God.
The Scripture that haunted me this week came from Deuteronomy 15:
Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you. Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.
Walking downtown in San Diego, the image of living with an open purse resounded in my heart as I passed homeless women and men on the streets. I didn’t have cash in my pockets or even gift certificates to a fast-food chain in hand.
I popped into a local grocery store and passing by a display of apples, the thought popped into my mind, “Buy apples to hand out to the homeless.”
Um. That’s crazytown. And oh-so-random, I reasoned. What if they think the fruit is poisoned? What if they have issues with teeth? What if a woman is walking the streets handing out apples? Didn’t I read somewhere in the beginning of Genesis to avoid all women handing out apples or fruit?
The thought persisted as a sacred echo. At the check out, I couldn’t shake the feeling any longer. I left the checkout lane, ran to the display, and grabbed a handful of apples. On the walk back to the hotel, I handed them out to homeless people—most of whom greeted me with a smile and offered a simple thank you.
The experience reminded me that living with an open purse isn’t about a one-time action as much as it is an attitude of living—ready to greet those we encounter with both freedom and spontaneity when it comes to giving. [Tweet this] (For a wonderful organization that cheers people onto generosity through their gatherings, videos and testimonies, check out Generous Giving)
The imagery of living with an "open purse" echoed throughout this week's reading--demonstrated in Boaz's willingness to allow Ruth to glean from the edges of his fields (Ruth 2), the open table provided for Mephiboseth (2 Samuel 9), and more. The expression of living with an "open purse" takes endless forms--all inviting us to reflect God's generous heart and "open purse" with us.
But it also reminded me that during this season of Lent, as we go through the Bible, that it’s not just about reading the Book but acting on it—doing and living the words we read.