Read Through the Bible: “Beginnings, Wisdom & Educated Fools” January 1

 

Bible in a Year: Beginnings, Wisdom & Educated Fools _ 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?"

 

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!

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 1 & 2
Psalm 1
Proverbs 1.1-7
Matthew 1.1-25

 

Beginnings, Wisdom & Educated Fools

 

Genesis 1 & 2:

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? Continue reading

2017: Why Read through the Bible in a Year? + FREE Devotional

 

Why read through the Bible in a year? - 2017: Why read through the Bible in a year? Could it put you in the path of Jesus in a new way? How can you stay on track if you've tried and quit before?

 

Why Read through the Bible in a Year?

 

Before you know it the New Year will be here. I hope your New Year’s plans include reading through the Bible in a year in 2017. Reading, studying, meditating on and obeying God’s Word should be our lifelong adventure.

No matter how much you have gotten out of your reading in the Scriptures this year, you will get abundantly more during the next and the next and the next!  Continue reading

The Real Christmas Story: Murder, Intrigue, Rejection & Wonder

 

The Real Story of ChristmasI mentioned recently that the Bible is the #1 best seller of all time. That is true for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that God is always going to watch over and protect His Word. It’s, also, true because it offers the only true and lasting answers to man’s problems.

Communist and other governments have tried to destroy it. False religious leaders have burned it, outlawed it and punished those who held on to it. And today many in the scientific world and in our institutions of higher education have tried to declare it irrelevant, at best, and foolish or dangerous, at worst. Yet people continue to suffer persecution and even death to keep it and hold to its principles.

The Bible is, also, a literary masterpiece. (Go figure it was written by the most creative being ever! Just sayin’!)

It has intrigue, deception, sex, love, war, devotion, bitterness, redemption, and so much more. It’s a book of songs and poetry, story-telling, history and wisdom. It portrays human experience, even its underside, but also provides the wisdom to understand and overcome it.

The Bible tells the fascinating story of creation, the fall of man, and redemption through the lives and lessons of real people. It’s stories are without parallel.

The Christmas story alone is one of perceived betrayal and rejection (Mary and Joseph). It’s one of embarrassment (just think about what their friends and neighbors must have thought), harsh and unfair treatment (imagine riding a donkey 70 or so miles while 9 months pregnant), and murder (when Herod failed to find the baby Jesus, he ordered the mass murder of all the boys age 2 and under).

But it’s also one of wonder (the virgin birth, the journey of the wise men, angels appearing to lowly shepherds, and God’s protection of His Son).

As we finish out this year and begin rereading the incredible book we call the Bible, get ready for more shocking human behavior, more intrigue, more twists and turns, and more of God’s amazing patience, mercy, grace and love. And no matter how many times (or how few) you’ve read through the Bible, get ready to be blessed as you grow to know our amazing God better.

If you’re new here, I blog through the Bible each year sharing, as God faithfully shows me, insights about how the Bible applies to our daily lives. The journey started as a challenge to the ladies in our women’s ministry about 8 years ago. I told them if they would commit to read through the Bible with me, I would commit to send out an email every day sharing some things I gleaned from my reading. It quickly grew to 100, then 200, then 300+ men and women.

As that first year was coming to an end, God made it clear that I was to do it again … then again … then again. After several years, I decided to turn that annual journey into a blog.

I also write about others subjects. Right now I’m sharing a series on homosexuality: how we got here, the many voices telling us what to believe about the subject, how to respond biblically, how to minster to families who have a family member living or struggling with a same-sex attraction, etc.

After the first of the year I’ll pick up with another series called “Bite-Sized Theology” that I started earlier this year.

Sign up to receive the daily “Bible in a Year” posts here.

If you would like to receive the other series I mentioned, you can sign up for those “Christian Living” posts here.

If you’re a blogger, I also host a Mondays @ Soul Survival Linkup each week. View the most recent one here.

Continue reading

Read the “Bible in a Year” in 2015

plan for 2015    plan for 2015

It’s that time of year again: time for resolutions and new beginnings.

Sadly, many of our resolutions fall too quickly by the wayside. How can we keep that from happening?

We need to turn those resolutions into a plan!

time to plan

One of the areas where Christians often want to grow is in the area of Bible reading and comprehension. Is that you? Do you have a plan for reading the Bible in 2015?

Maybe you have resolved to read more of God Word, or follow a certain devotional, or read the “Bible in a Year” before, but failed somewhere along the way.

That’s ok! Most of us tried and failed numerous times before we succeeded! I know I did!

One of the best ways to overcome that tendency is to join other like-minded people so you can encourage one another along the way and share the things you are learning.

soul survival

Why not join me and read through the Bible this year?

Just sign up to receive the “Bible in a Year” email each day. It arrives with a short introduction on one of the subjects discussed that day. Each day we will cover a passage from the Old Testament, short readings in Psalms & Proverbs, and a passage from the N.T. That helps keep it interesting! If you have ever gotten bogged down somewhere, you know what I mean.

time alarm clock

And … it only takes about 15 minutes a day to read the Bible in a year. 15 minutes! Can you give God 15 minutes a day to get to know Him better?

I add practical commentary about the day’s readings … principles and truths you can use in your life … TODAY! Many are gleaned from my counseling experience.

Just click “Bible in a Year” and add your email.

2015 key on keyboard representing year two thousand and fifteen

You can also sign up to receive notices for new “Christian Living” posts (on marriage, parenting, communication, blended families, book reviews, wisdom from Proverbs, and more).

If you have any questions or problems signing up, you can contact me.

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

November 20 “Has God removed His hand from our nation?”

crumpled and wrinkled american flag backgroundHas God removed His hand from our nation? Has He given us over to our sinful desires and self-will? And, if so, how should we respond?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 31 & 32
Psalm 130.1-4
Proverbs 28.28
James 1.1-27

Ezekiel 31 & 32:

Has God removed His hand from our nation?

In chapters 31 & 32 God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.

As I said yesterday, it’s God who raises up nations and individuals, and He can just as easily bring them to ruin and does—for His holy, just, and righteous purposes.

Sadly, as I listen to the news and see the magnitude of evil, the lack of restraint, the lack of respect for the law (even by our elected leaders), I wonder if God has taken His hand off of our nation as a whole (Rom. 1.24, 26, 28).

But rather than becoming depressed or giving up, we must pray harder, witness more faithfully, and speak the truth in love as God gives us opportunity.

Pray harder, 1 Timothy 2:

¹First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.

Even while I complain about the state of our nation, I’m convicted that I don’t pray enough, especially for our leaders.

Witness more faithfully, 1 Peter 3 NASB:

14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but ]sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

Are you ready to give a defense to everyone you meet? Can you defend your faith … not just what you believe, but why? Do you know how to share the Gospel or do you leave that to the pastors and preachers? Do you share your testimony with others?

Speak the truth in love, 2 Timothy 2:

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We need a holy boldness to speak the truth, but do it in love. Paul said if we have not love we’re not much better than a clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13.1).

So let’s pray for our leaders and pray for ourselves that we might have boldness, faith, and confidence in the day of trouble (Ps. 86.7). Let’s better prepare ourselves to share the truth. And let’s never forget:

“… where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,  so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5.20-21).

 

Continue reading

April 14 “Responding to anxiety”

What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is it peace and trust? Or is it worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety threatens to have its way?

anxiety

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

Joshua 17 & 18:

Worry leads to complaining

Solomon said, “… there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1.9). In 17.16-18 the descendants of Joseph were worried and that worry led to complaining. They complained they had not been given enough land and that the Canaanites, who lived there, were too great for them.

But Joshua reminded them of God’s promises and told them to clear the wooded land they had been given and drive out the inhabitants.

We, too, need to fully use the resources God has given us instead of complaining that He doesn’t give us more. And as we’ll see in our New Testament reading, we need to change our thinking about God and our circumstances. Continue reading

April 13 “The lens of Scripture”

How do you view the events of your life? What is your filter? Are you seeing through the lens of Scripture or the world’s perspective?

lens of Scripture

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 15 & 16
Psalm 45.1-5
Proverbs 14.4-5
Luke 11.29-54

Joshua 15 & 16:

Driving out our enemy

In these chapters and the next few, the boundaries for each tribe’s territory are being delineated. But notice verse 16.10, “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

Another reminder to us that we can have things in our lives which God has told us to remove, but we believe “we have it under control” so we don’t completely “drive them out.” Just as the inhabitants of the land would later pull them down and lead them into sin and idolatry, so can those things that remain in our hearts and lives. Continue reading

April 12 “Is the ‘old man’ still hanging around?”

Are there areas of your life where you have failed to have victory? Are there some habits of the old man that have crept back in or never fully left?

old man

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 13 & 14
Psalm 44.20-26
Proverbs 14.3
Luke 11.1-28

Joshua 13 & 14:

Pockets of resistance

Verse 14.15b, “Then the land had rest from war.” This was a time of relative peace, though as I said yesterday, there were still areas that needed to be fully occupied.

Isn’t that the way it is in our lives? He saves us, puts our feet on the Rock, and gives us new righteous desires, and many things in our lives change. But even though we may have quit doing a lot of the things we used to do (in many situations God has supernaturally removed the desire for those things), there are still “pockets” of resistance—areas of our lives where we hold on to “old man” (Eph. 4.22) habits.

old man

Maybe it’s a tendency to gossip, to harbor unforgiveness, to give someone the silent treatment, or to respond in sinful anger. Maybe it involves our thought lives … “After all, (we think) I’m not doing anything wrong!” We mistakenly believe we can play around with a thought or a fantasy.

The added danger is that as months and years go by without dealing with that area of sin and as we push that conviction away, we begin to sear our consciences and we become blinded. Continue reading

April 11 “Busy & distracted”

We can all understand how the things of this world can distract us from our devotion to God. But good things, even our service to God, can distract us, too.

 

martha busyToday’s Readings:
Joshua 11 & 12
Psalm 44.4-19
Proverbs 14.1-2
Luke 10.25-42

Joshua 11 & 12:

Occupying the land

Verse 23 is a key verse in chapter 11, “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.” God had given Joshua and the people victory. However, we will see in tomorrow’s reading that there were still pockets where the Israelites did not completely destroy the pagan nations and those people would cause problems for them over and over in the future. Continue reading

April 10 “Parenting from the foot of the cross”

The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply the Bible’s teachings. It’s also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children. (See links below.)

parenting

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 9 & 10
Psalm 44.1-3
Proverbs 13.24-25
Luke 10.1-24

Joshua 9 & 10:

If God is for you …

What an incredible picture of what it means to have God on your side, fighting for you! He stopped the sun and moon on their behalf, used hailstones to destroy their enemies and saw that they were protected and had complete victory.

But even when God is not working in such obviously dramatic ways, He is still present and at work in the lives of all who belong to Him.

Romans 8.31b, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And Philippians 1.6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Continue reading