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

Ordering Your Private World + LINKUP

 

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonaldWelcome once again to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. Some will be about relationships, emotional struggles, or other areas of practical living. Some, like this week’s selection, Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald, are books that have helped me in my personal devotional life. I hope all of them will be helpful to you or someone you know.

 

Today we have all kinds of planners, apps, lists, and suggestions to help us get more organized and be more productive. So much in our culture points to the importance of getting more and more done. We have become a church of Martha’s when God wants us to first be Mary’s. That won’t happen without learning to order our own private worlds.

 

Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working dad or mom, a single parent, a business man or woman, or a grandparent. Maybe you work from home. Maybe you commute. Maybe home and family are your work. Maybe you’re a blogger, a Bible teacher, a homeschooler, or in full time ministry. Whereever you are in your life right now, you’re probably busy!

Busyness! There are probably few of us who haven’t experienced it. As we’ll see in a minute, sometimes it’s a good thing, but other times … not so much!

Maybe you can relate MacDonald’s story:

I was a young pastor in a sizable church, and I had accumulated several weeks of busyness (I mean really busy!) in my work. Now, there is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence.

But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether or not it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.

In that thirtieth year I was swept along in that second kind of busyness much like someone being swept along in the rapids of a raging river. Out of control. Fearful of capsizing. Feeling quite unprotected.

He goes on to describe a breakdown of sorts where all that busyness came to a head:

Many times I have looked back wondering what I was crying for that day. Perhaps it was some of the wounds and sorrows that had been handed down from father to son from previous generations. Then again, perhaps I was weeping for my own sadnesses, the ones I had lived through as a boy and never brought to resolution. What about the possibility that I was simply reflecting weeks and weeks of stressful life in which there had been no pause and no inner, spiritual maintenance? How about the chance that it was all of these possibilities?

That Saturday was the day I learned, the hard and frightening way, that I could not go on living the way I was living and expect to be a spiritual leader (or any other kind of leader) of people. I often refer to that morning as the day I hit the wall.

The chapters that follow describe the things he learned as he began to “order his private world.” As many of us have already discovered in some measure, this is an “inside-out matter, not an outside-in matter.” MacDonald says:

There must be a quiet place where all is in order, a place from which comes the energy that overcomes turbulence and is not intimidated by it.

 

The book itself has five sections:

  • Motivation
  • Use of Time
  • Wisdom & Knowledge
  • Spiritual Strength
  • Restoration

Each one is packed full of helpful thoughts, quote, stories, suggestions, and reasons for ordering your private world.

One of my favorite chapters is entitled “Order in the Garden,” talking about the garden of our soul. In it the author talks about the restlessness and lack of spiritual satisfaction many of us feel. He also points out some of the “quick fixes” we attempt and the shallow level of inner life we have come to accept. He says this:

Today Christians talk about the importance of “quiet time,” a daily devotional often reduced to a system or method that is swift and streamlined. We boil it down to seven minutes or thirty minutes, depending on how much time we have available. We use Bible study guides, devotional guides, devotional booklets, and carefully organized prayer lists, all of which are nice—better, I suppose, than nothing—but not nearly as effective as what the mystics had in mind.

This book is not an in depth study of all the spiritual disciplines. Others have done that thoroughly and well. Instead, MacDonald focuses on those that are most often neglected: the pursuit of solitude and silence; regular listening to God; the experience of reflection and meditation; and prayer as worship and intercession.

Ordering Your Private World, along with two others that I’ll share with you later, impacted my life in a profound way about 20 years ago and have done so again and again through the years since. It has been updated and a study guide has been added, but the principles are timeless and life changing.

If you, like so many of us do from time to time, feel that restlessness and dissatisfaction, grab a copy, find some quiet time and dig in!

Blessings,
Donna

Quotations taken from:
MacDonald, Gordon (2003-01-07). Ordering Your Private World Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Previously featured books:

Week #1 – We looked at a great book entitled Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. If you deal with procrastination or an unending to-do list, you may want to check out Glynnis’ book. You can read my post here.

Week #2 – I featured a little gem of a book entitled Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries. You can read my post here.

 

IF YOU ARE A BLOGGER, IT’S TIME TO LINKUP!

IF NOT, CHECK OUT THE GREAT POSTS LINKED BELOW!

 

Christian bloggers linkupMondays @ Soul Survival is a Christian linkup, a place to share your insights about God and His Word. Feel free to link up multiple posts as long as they bring glory to God.

If you are new to the linkup let me know in the comments so I can say hello and follow you back.

Share your posts on character, family, parenting, marriage, homeschooling, devotions, and more – any God-honoring post.

I frequently (as time allows) pin your pinnable posts to my “Mondays @ Soul Survival” Pinterest board. I would love it if you followed me there.


 

If you are not already signed up, sign up for Daily Through the Bible Posts for 2016 here.

Sign up for reminders of this LINKUP and Christian Living posts here.

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN TO READ THE BIBLE IN 2016?

 

Sign up to read the "Bible in a Year"

It’s that time again! One year is coming to a close and a new one is beginning and, while it’s important to make changes in our eating and exercise routines or our work and family routines, it’s also important to evaluate how we are doing at connecting with God through prayer and Bible reading.

Do you have a plan to read God’s Word in 2016?

Reading, studying, meditating on and obeying God’s Word should be our lifelong adventure. ADVENTURE … not a duty or worse, a drudgery, it should be exciting!

Every year I read things and wonder … was this in here last year? Because, even though I fall dreadfully short when it comes to reading and really meditating on God’s Word, He is faithful and always showing me new things about Himself no matter how feeble my attempts!

Perhaps you have gotten a great deal out of your Bible reading this year, but every year you commit to reading the Scriptures, you will get abundantly more!

Perhaps you’ve tried to read through the Bible before, but fell short of your goal. I tried numerous times before I finally completed that goal. But it took a plan. The first year I read through the Bible, it was with the same reading plan we’ll go through here again this year. But as long as you say “maybe next year,” it just doesn’t happen, not until you say “no, this is the year I’m doing it!”

What about reading through the Bible with a friend or a co-worker? The world around us is literally perishing—our society has lost its moral foundation, individuals are dying and going into an eternity where they will be separated from God forever, marriages are falling apart, children are suffering, and so much more … and we have the answers … but we must do the work of growing and learning and sharing them with others!

Even people who don’t go to church will often respond positively to the question, “Would you like to learn more about the Bible with me?”

Prayerfully consider signing up for the “Bible in a Year” devotionals. They will pop up in your inbox daily as a gentle reminder to stay in His Word. And call or text a friend and challenge him or her to sign up with you!

So … why should we read through the Bible? Continue reading