In 1813 pineapples were first planted in Hawaii, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudiced was first published, the United States and and Britain were still at war and would continue fight for another three years. Napoleon was in power but on retreat with less than two years of freedom left. Mexico declared its independence from Spain, and Beethoven’s 7th Symphony premiered. And on May 21st 1813 a 5th child to a wealthy lawyer was born in Edinburgh Scotland, he and his wife named him Robert Murray M’cheyne.
Robert was converted at the age of 18, spurred on by the death of his older brother. He would go on to study the Bible and minister and pastor a small church.
He fed his faith on the biographies and accounts of those who preceded him. Like Jonathan Edwards and his resolutions.
Jonathan Edwards himself was a remarkable individual. At 17 he wrote these resolutions that stuck with Robert:
– “Resolved never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.”
– “Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I had come to die.”
– “Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live ..”
These resolutions impacted M’Cheyne. He wrote to a student-
Do get on with your studies. Remember you are now forming the character of your future ministry, if God spare you. If you acquire slovenly or sleepy habits of study now, you will never get the better of it. Do everything in earnest. Above all, keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen His face who is our life, our all.
The last journal entry of his college years was this:
“March 29, 1835. College finished on Friday last. My last appearance there. Life is vanishing fast, make haste for eternity.” M’Cheyne tried to maximize his time for God.
He was also very evangelistically minded. He would reflect “I think I can say, I have never risen a morning without thinking how I could bring more souls to Christ.” And he would write in his journal “As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell.” He would devote his life to pastoring and missions.
M’Cheyne’s most profound quality that has impacted me was his pursuit of knowing God privately. He would say “Above all things, cultivate your own spirit.” He wrote to a fellow-minister,
Your own soul is your first and greatest care…. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God’s Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.
At another time he said: “Get your texts from God – your thoughts, your words, from God.” From his diary we hear more of the same, “I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment.” And “The morning hours, from six to eight, are the most uninterrupted – After tea is my best hour, and that should be solemnly dedicated to God, if possible.”
In 1839 he went with several other men to explore missions to the Jewish people in Israel. He became very ill and that sickness stuck with him till his death a few years later at the age of 29. One year before he passed he published for his church a Bible reading plan that would take them on a journey through the Bible together.
I have found the plan to be difficult to follow, but encouraging and have used it a number of years. The basic plan has you read four chapters a day. We eat everyday. Eating takes care of our physical bodies. We have a soul, should we starve our soul? By no means. M’Cheyne cautions with it to avoid formality, self-righteousness, carelessness, and being overburdened by such a plan. He breaks his plan down in half for those who don’t have time to do the whole plan. He held the plan loosely. The key is to be in the Bible. I like that. I am attaching a link to his reading plan and his biography.
I have had the privilege of reading it through 23 times in 23 years. I still don’t remember much of it and it is new and powerful most every time.
- Why should we read our Bible? Here are four reasons, but there are more.
- It is a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- It guides us to truth.
- We learn about God
- We learn about humanity
- We learn about morality
- We learn meaning
- We learn about our origin
- It guides us to truth.
- It protects us. (Ephesians 6:17, Psalm 119:9-11, Romans 12:1-2)
- It is the only offensive weapon in the armor of the Lord
- It is the tool Jesus used against Satan
- It can be twisted against us if we don’t know it
- It encourages us (Psalm 119:50)
- It is one of the few things that is eternal (Isaiah 40:8). Most of our investments will run out, decay, rust, mold, and break. This one won’t.
We will have this Bible reading plan and others available at the welcome table.