Happy New Year Everyone,
Whether you’ve been following me for a long time or you’re new to the blog, I’m glad you’re here.
Every time we set out on this adventure through the Bible, we’ll be changed … no matter how many times we’ve read it before or if it’s our first serious attempt.
Maybe you’re a new believer or have always wanted to read through the Bible? No matter what your reason, you’re in the right place!
Welcome, to the “Bible in a Year” at Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible, adding practical commentary as we go along. To keep it interesting, we read some in the Old Testament, some in the New, a portion of a Psalm and a verse or two in Proverbs each day.
Why Read Through the Bible?
If you’re a newcomer or merely contemplating “why” or “if” you should join us in this journey through the Bible, let me share with you some thoughts from Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.
In the opening chapter Whitney outlines three ways that God grows us spiritually. The first is through people. God uses our friends and family, our co-workers, our pastors and teachers, parents and children, and even our enemies to grow us.
“As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27.17).
The second is through circumstances: financial problems, relational problems, world events, natural phenomenon like the weather, sickness, and all kinds of tests and trials.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8.28-29).
The third is through the spiritual disciplines like Bible intake, prayer, fasting, service, worship, journaling and others. Whitney uses the stories of the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Lk. 18.35-42) and the tax collector Zacchaeus (Lk. 19.1-10) to explain the importance of the spiritual disciplines.
Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus was approaching, over the objections of others in the crowd, cried out repeatedly for Jesus to have mercy on him. And Zacchaeus, a wealthy but short tax collector, climbed up into a sycamore tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus. Both of them, unashamedly, placed themselves in His path. And in both cases Jesus stopped and responded to their desire for an encounter with Him.
When we practice the spiritual disciplines we do much the same thing. We place ourselves in Jesus’ path and, just as He did with Bartimaeus and Zachaeus, He responds to us and communes with us.
Once Zachaeus encountered Christ, he was a changed man. He promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and to repay with interest all the taxes he had wrongfully collected. Just like Zachaeus when we spend time with Jesus through His Word, He changes us from the inside out and we grow in Christ likeness.
“… discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4.7b-8).
So, if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll decide to join me. Simply add your email address here.
Let’s Get Started!
Genesis 1 & 2
Beginnings, Wisdom & Educated Fools
In the Beginning
I love the book of Genesis. It contains this wonderful sweeping view of history, as well as, so many foundational truths that have application for our lives each and every day!
In chapter 1 we see the creation account—God’s wonderful record of His six-days of creating the world and everything in it. Man has since put forth his theories of evolution, of the “big bang,” of “carbon dating,” and the like. But God already gave us “the truth.” It is truth because God has proclaimed it, but more and more scientists are willing to admit that much of what has been called science in this area has little to substantiate it. In fact, many facts have to be ignored or explained away for one to believe much of what has been put forth in the name of science.
You don’t have to be a believer for long to realize that God’s truth often clashes with the world’s interpretation of truth, whether it’s theology and science, the source of true wisdom, or how we view God. But each of us has to decide, “What will be our source of truth?” Will it be fallen man or God’s inspired Word?
I’m not against true science, but I believe all true science backs up God’s truth. In reality, those theories which oppose God’s Word are really belief systems—secular religion—and take much more “faith” to believe than the truth! If you want more information about this subject you can go to a number of websites including the Institute for Creation Research.
So what do we learn from Genesis 1 & 2? Among other things we learn that God created the world and everything in it in a literal seven-day week. He worked on six of those days and rested on the seventh.
All three members of the Trinity were involved in the work of creation. Genesis 1.26 says, “Let Us make man in Our image …” The word for God here is plural. Verse 1 contains the general term for God, verse 2 says “the Spirit of God” (the Holy Spirit) hovered over the waters and in verse 3 and following we see that God spoke everything into existence. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Eternal Word of God.
Chapter 2 expands on chapter 1. In it we see God giving dominion of the earth to Adam and Eve (v. 15). We see the institution of marriage pictured (v. 24) and we see God’s desire for mankind to choose to serve and obey Him (vss. 16-17).
Tomorrow we’ll continue the story!
Like a Tree Planted by the Riverbank
This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, especially verses 1-3. We all want verse 3 to be true in our lives:
“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
But for that to be true we must do the things we see in verse 2 and avoid the things we’re told to avoid in verse 1:
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Notice the progression in verse 1. First we tend to just “walk” in the counsel of the ungodly. Maybe we start listening to and entertaining the world’s ideas, watching things we shouldn’t be watching, going places we shouldn’t be going, reading things of no eternal value. The next thing you know we’re “standing.” We’re stopping, getting more involved or caught up in those things. And finally we’re “sitting.” We’re just plain getting comfortable there!
We can’t avoid, and shouldn’t, being in the world altogether. But remember we’re to be salt and light and if we can’t, then we had better run!
Instead, we should be delighting in what God delights in and meditating on His truths (v.2). The only way we can do so, is to put God’s Word into our hearts and minds on a regular basis.
Verse 7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
We should never forget the first part, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” I don’t care how smart or well educated someone is by the world’s standard, if she doesn’t fear the Lord, the Bible says, she’s a fool, not a wise woman (or man).
As many of you have already learned when you begin to “fear the Lord” and take a stand for His truth, sometimes your friends and family members are offended and critical. And while we need to be prayerful and, at times, simply keep quiet, we also have a responsibility to share the truth with others and warn those who are perishing or not living in His revealed truth. Though we always need to remember to share it lovingly, not self-righteously and not using God’s Word like a hammer.
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” (Jer. 33)
We who know the truth are His watchmen and watchwomen, but not everyone listens, and sometimes it’s those we love the most who reject what we have to say. Jesus Himself said:
“’A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.’ Now He could do no mighty work there …” (Mk. 6:4-5).
But we still have the responsibility to speak the truth and to “fear God rather than man.”
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).
God Who Redeems Our Past
We sometimes wonder why God put all those genealogies in the Bible, but this passage is rich with meaning for us, ladies. You will notice there are only 5 women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ and it’s interesting who they are:
Tamar – a woman who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her (Gen. 38).
Rahab – the prostitute who protected the spies in Jericho (Josh. 2.1-21). Think about the grace and mercy of God!
Ruth – a gentile whose family worshiped pagan gods (Ruth 1.4).
Bathsheba – an adulteress (2 Sam. 11).
And finally, Mary (Matt. 1.18).
That should give us all great hope that He really does redeem our past and will use us in spite of it, if we have repented and put our faith in Him!
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.