Just finished a 25 Day plan of reading through the entire Bible! It was a great experience to get an overview of the Word of God and to see the powerful hand of God at work in His creation and to see the MANY examples of His mercy and patience with fallen man. The 25 day reading plan is found here: 25 Day Plan This was made with college students in mind, to be completed over their Christmas holiday break. My Sunday school teacher has asked me to bring in a copy, so I’m working on updating it with current dates. I’ll post it here if I remember. [Update: I made a 35 Day Bible Reading Plan. You can find a link to it on the Resources page.]
Neither the plan creator nor I would advocate only completing a quick read through of the Bible, but it was beneficial as part of a larger reading plan.
For the rest of 2020, I am planning to follow a chronological reading plan (One plan is linked here: Chronological Bible Reading Plan ). As I go through the Bible, I plan to record insights on this blog but I wanted to use this separate post to explain my goals and process.
Each book and chapter will be both tagged and have separate categories made.
As I learn more about a passage, I may go back and edit the original post, so that I may keep the insights of a particular passage together. I’m going to make new posts as I go and use categories and tags to group similar subjects instead of adding on to the original posts.
I’m studying the Bible with a chronological plan, so my posts may not follow the canonical order of books.
I’m a participant in other Bible studies, outside of my personal study, that are currently studying New Testament epistles. So, some posts may jump ahead to the New Testament if choose to record what I’m learning in those other study groups. That’s why I’ll make sure to use Categories and Tags for each book to make searching easier later.
The insights will be primarily from my personal study of the Word of God. I like using commentaries, but my goal is to gather insights from reading and asking God for knowledge and wisdom first, before I read the commentaries. I am thankful to God for faithful, knowledgeable Bible teachers. He has given the spiritual gift of teaching to some for the building up of the body of Christ, so we are wise to pay attention to good teachers. However, as with the Bereans, see Acts 17:11 , we must know the Scriptures ourselves in order to be armed against error and to build up our powers of discernment, by the grace of God.
As I record the insights of others, I will properly credit other sources used in my study.
I do all this writing, reading, and studying prayerfully, remembering that we make plans but it is God Who establishes all things. Prov 16:9
I am doing this as part of an overall goal to be more disciplined. I was delighted to finish the 25 day reading plan; I even finished a day early! I don’t often follow through with my plans, however, and that’s something I would like to change. I want to be more disciplined in posting and studying to the glory of God.
What are your goals for reading and studying the Word of God this year? May God bless you in all your efforts!
Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. – Prov 16:3 ESV
May God bless you in all you do for His glory. Happy New Year!
I’ve been studying the book of 1 Peter for the past couple of weeks. A major theme of the book is suffering and the letter also has several things to say about submission. Submission is about as popular a topic as suffering to our fleshly nature. Yet, my study has yielded some delightful findings.
While suffering and trials are a big theme here, the descriptions of God and His work throughout Peter’s epistle instill hope and joy, words like: living, imperishable, undefiled, unfading, precious, holy, pure, abiding, chosen, good, gracious.
A couple of adjectives in particular caught my eye this week– “imperishable” and “precious”. These words and their synonyms run through Peter’s letter. I’d made notes about how the words were used to describe things like “our inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4), the “word of God” (1 Peter 1:23), “faith” (1 Peter 1:7), and the “blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). What I hadn’t noticed before is that the same (or similar) words are used to describe the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” with which women are called to adorn themselves. Not only does God tell us that the beauty of that gentle and quiet spirit is “very precious”, but He describes it with the same term (“imperishable”) used to describe such lofty and wonderful things as the Word of God and our eternal inheritance.
Being a wife, the verses beginning in chapter three always stand out to me. In the first verse here, we read the command to wives to “be subject to your own husbands”. (1 Peter 3:1). I’ve seen both the world and professing Christians get tripped up on that verse. If you do any web searches on the meaning of the verse, you will find folks falling all over themselves to explain what the verse doesn’t mean (“It’s not about subservience! It’s not about women being inferior!”). You may, as I have, heard it taught with what seems like reluctance from a pulpit. It’s as though Christians feel they need to excuse commands that clash with worldly, fleshly philosophy. But, looking closely at these verses about the godly behavior of wives, we see how much God values the beauty of a gentle and submissive heart.
The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is said to be very precious “in God’s sight”. In this epistle, “a living stone” (which is Christ) is also said to be precious “in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:4). So, that beautiful spirit of believing wives is brought into likeness with no trifling thing, but rather to things glorious and eternal and to the Person of King Jesus.
However, cultivating this adornment is no light matter. Usually, when I read the verse about being subject to my husband, I’m reminded of how I fall short of this command. I pray for God to change my heart and to help me submit to my husband. When I read 1 Peter 3:4, I long to have that abiding “gentle and quiet spirit”. Even in writing this post I have been tempted to reply harshly when I felt that my husband was interrupting me! How slow I am to learn!
As difficult as submission may seem though, we believing wives have a great privilege in making ourselves beautiful with this precious ornament and outfitting ourselves with this unfading, imperishable robe. In Christ we have victory and can count on His faithful process of sanctification. We are His workmanship and if we are trusting in Him then we cannot fail. (see also Phil 1:6, Eph 2:10, Lamentations 3:22-23).
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious [timios, G5093] and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 peter 1:3-4 ESV, emphasis added.)
There is no mistaking the value to God of this adornment of women who belong to Him. We certainly don’t need to apologize to the world for such things.
Images by Couleur from Pixabay
I thought I should add that the word “precious” found in the ESV is not always from the same Greek word in the original manuscripts. I attached a pdf table below to further your own research. You can find an interlinear Bible at blb.org (Blue Letter Bible).
Arguing from anecdote is persuasive. One can use experiences to make a false correlation and persuade folks to abandon hard truth and follow fickle emotion, creating an appearance of kindness, humility, and Christian love. For example, it could be argued that we shouldn’t witness about Jesus and coming judgment because those topics are offensive and, after all, look at how few people repent and believe, so something is surely wrong with talking of such things. Using anecdotes, one could claim either directly or indirectly something like this statement:
“Less people are going to church. Of those who don’t go or quit going, most have had experiences of someone trying to witness to them and share the Gospel. They all claim to have been bothered by that interaction. I have spoken with so many people who agree with these statements and they are hurting. It didn’t work so we need to change our methods.”
Following the advice of someone swayed by experience, we can seem to be throwing off tradition for the sake of kindness and brotherly love; however, we are told that the message of the Gospel is powerful and is used by God to save souls (Rom 1:16). God saves by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) and faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17); not our good deeds, not our offers of friendship, not in meeting felt needs, but using the Word of God, folks come to believe (Rom 10:14-17). We are told by God in the Bible that few will find the Way of Life (Matt 7:13-14), yet we are commanded to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19) and that we will suffer persecution for seeking to live godly lives (2 Tim 3:12). Our good deeds and acts of charity should certainly adorn the Gospel. But those acts alone save no one. When we withhold the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we hold back the sinner’s only hope.
A Personal Experience
I have some experiences of my own to share along with my reaction to them. Let’s examine these things along with the light of Scripture. These experiences have to do with people trying to share the Gospel with me.
When I was unregenerate several people witnessed to me or made attempts. One lady stopped me at the post office because I had a bumper sticker on my automobile from the music group “Nine Inch Nails” and she was wondering what it meant. She had wondered if it were a reference to the nails used to crucify Jesus and she used that to inquire about my beliefs. I remember that she was clearly making a case for being a Christian. I told her that I was a Christian. When she inquired about church, I told her that we didn’t go to church because my husband was an atheist. (My husband at the time did claim to be an atheist). So, I asked her to pray for him.
Before that, a lady came to my house when I still lived with my parents. I was an older teenage at the time and I answered the door. She invited me to church and asked some questions about my beliefs. I named a church that a friend attended, making it seem like that’s where my family attended regularly.
I remember another occasion when a friend and I were eating at McDonald’s and a man with one hand curled up against his chest handed us Gospel tracts with his free hand. He didn’t speak. I remember he held his head off to the side. My friend and I smirked at each other and threw the tracts away unread with all the other litter on our trays as we left.
The other time I remember someone talking to me about Jesus happened at high school and college. A classmate in my high school English class invited me to church. I never did go with her. A year later, I ended up in an English class with her at the local community college. This time, she met me on campus and tried to share the Gospel with me. I was sitting outside smoking a cigarette and smiled to her and told her I was “saved” and that I’d been baptized (which I had as a kid, not knowing much what it all meant).
My Reaction Then and Now
For years after these events, whenever the topic of religion would come up, I’d often mention these encounters with the critique that “these people didn’t love me; they were just trying to fulfill some Sunday School quota.”
Now that I’m a Christian, when I look back on each of those interactions, I realize that my critical statement says something more about my own unregenerate heart than it does about those folks.
When I scrutinize those interactions, I now admit that there was nothing in their words or actions that was unkind or judgmental towards me. The lady at the post office had been pleasant and when I asked her to pray for my husband, she had assured me that she would. I had lied to her about the reason for us not going to church. The truth is that I had little interest in the things of God. She ended this conversation with a hope that she would see me again. I remember the lady who came to my door as being soft spoken and a little nervous. She was delighted to hear me mention going to church. I think of the man at McDonald’s and realize he probably couldn’t speak and while his arm was injured, he was doing what he could to share the Gospel with a couple of ungrateful, selfish teenagers.
I was a fool. I judged these people to be unkind even while suggesting that they were judging me! My only critique of them now is that some backed off when I made a claim of being a Christian. I wish they would have questioned me more, because I now know I was living in darkness and was self-deceived (1 John 1:6).
As someone who now witnesses of who Jesus is and what He has done, I look back on these experiences and people with kindness, realizing that witnessing is often done in fear and trembling, without ever seeing the fruit of your works. I now look forward to seeing these folks in Heaven. My judgment towards them changed as I was given a new, regenerate heart. It’s not that they were cold and uncaring—it was me that was unkind and uncharitable.
I now see these acts as God reaching out to a pitiful wretch like me, using folks willing to put themselves out there in uncomfortable situations to share His Good News.
Catering to the Unredeemed
What are we doing when we soften the truth based on emotional experiences? What are we doing when we set aside hard truth and replace it with pragmatism? We are going to allow the words of one who is spiritually blind (2 Cor 4:4) to override Biblical truth. Why jump to the conclusion that we need to change how we talk or how we conduct church services or evangelism based on the claims of someone whom the Bible says is deceived and spiritually blind!
If we change our behavior based on statements from unbelievers, we are following the lost, not helping them. The Bible says that such a one is blinded by the evil one (2 Cor 4:4) and if he claims that God doesn’t exist, then the Bible also says he’s a fool (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). God says that a fool resists instruction and thinks he’s wiser than everyone (Prov 12:15). Do we change our worship and our message based on the cries of fools? God forbid.
Kindness to the Unbeliever
When someone says that a Christian hurt him or was unkind, I am NOT claiming that we discard his statement or disregard his emotions. Please know I’m not advocating throwing out Bible verses without regard to someone’s pain. What I’m suggesting is that we weigh the whole story (Prov 18:17) and apply what the Bible speaks about the situation, either directly or by inference or principle.
When an unbeliever makes a criticism about Christianity, remember that you have someone before you whom the Bible says is spiritually blind; however, you also know the Bible warns over and over about false teachers and false professors. So, we know it’s entirely possible that someone claiming to know Jesus (but really doesn’t) said something unkind or untrue to the unbeliever. Why not point that out to the one claiming that he had an unpleasant interaction with a Christian? Why not use the situation as an opportunity to show the individual that the Bible speaks to the very issue of hypocrisy and warns of false professors? Remember, without the grace of God, you also would remain in spiritual darkness. Reprove with gentleness – God may yet grant that unbeliever repentance that leads to life (2 Tim 2:25).
We can be kind and humble in being willing to listen to critical claims about Christians, but we don’t want to end up appearing like we aren’t really sure what we believe or that we don’t believe we’ve found a truth and a hope for which we are willing to contend (Eph 4:14; Jude 3). Base your actions on the Word of God, not anecdotes and fickle emotion.
Although I knew that my Amazon Prime membership came with more than just the two-day shipping perk, I haven’t really explored the benefits. I totally ignored the video section as I rarely watch movies anymore. Too many times I abandon a flick before I finish watching because of the coarse language, blasphemy, and sexually explicit images.
I can’t remember if it was a tweet, blog article, or podcast, but someone mentioned the Torchlighters series on Amazon Prime that included Christian content. I had a look through my Amazon account and found this description of The Torchlighters – Heroes of the Faith programs:
The Torchlighters is a series of animated programs with strong values and educational content for youth ages 8-12. Each 30-minute episode presents the story of a true-life hero from Christian history. Kids will be challenged to shine the light of Jesus while learning about the history of our faith.
I watched an episode about John Bunyan and enjoyed it. I’ll be recommending this series to parents.
After watching, I had several more recommended videos presented to me. I was pleasantly surprised to find many choices of documentaries and dramatized accounts of Christians from the past. I have enjoyed biographies of John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, as well as a dramatized account of the life of John Wycliff.
If you are disappointed with the offerings at your local theatre, stay at home and browse through the selections on Amazon Prime Video. (If you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime, these videos are available to rent or purchase.)
I haven’t found a ton of offerings that I’d recommend. So many “Christian” films are just syrupy moral tales, but these sites offer more wholesome choices than your neighborhood movie house. Pureflix is a subscription site with a current monthly price of $10.99, discounted if you purchase an annual plan. Christian Cinema has no subscription. You purchase or rent as you see fit. If you didn’t see Gosnell in the theatre, you can rent in digital format for $4.99 currently on Christian Cinema or purchase (also digital format) for $9.99.
My favorite Christian fiction movie by far is The Secrets of Johnathan Sperry. I love to recommend this to church groups and families with youngsters! The Gospel is spoken, hell is mentioned, and folks are urged to evangelize. It’s touching, funny, and clean. Rent or buy, you won’t regret it! I’m not even going to give a synopsis, just watch it!
I had planned to make a list of suggested Twitter followers; however, I’m wondering how much time should be spent on social media. My time is often eaten up mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then I don’t often leave more encouraged or enlightened. I’ll leave off the social media recommendations for now.
What about you? What are your favorite Christian films? Any Christian entertainment resources that you recommend?
The resource page of this site mentions some books, podcasts, and study tools, but I thought I’d put some of my favorite Bible study tools and apps here in a post as well.
Some websites and recently found Christian entertainment sources aren’t noted in the resources section yet.
(The list of favorites will stretch over two or three posts. I won’t get them all in today).
Favorite podcast: Wretched Radio
I have found a few good Christian podcasts, but by far my favorite is still Wretched with Todd Friel. The podcasts are freely available and available to listen on the web or with a variety of different podcast apps. The main website for Wretched is Wretched.org where you can also watch Wretched TV episodes.
Also, Wretched can be found on radio at these stations and on satellite radio systems.
Favorite podcast app: Podcast Republic
Not a “Christian” resource, but for years, I have used the free podcast app Podcast Republic. It is available on Android and is ad supported. The ads are not intrusive but if you want to remove ads, you can do so for a very small fee. It has all the features I need, like sorting podcasts into played and unplayed and which ones are downloaded (for when I think I may hit an area with a spotty internet connection). It’s easy to forward or rewind a few seconds within a podcast and has a sharing feature as well. I include the link to Podcast Republic here, opened to the page where you can listen to the Wretched Radio podcast.
Favorite Bible Study tool/app: Blue Letter Bible
Blue Letter Bible is available on the web at BLB.org and in an app that is available on both iOS and Android platforms. You can read the Bible in various English translations, use the Interlinear tool to find the original Hebrew and Greek words, access text and audio commentaries on almost every verse of the Bible, make notes, highlight passages, read devotionals, and more. I have not made use of all the tools available at BLB and am still learning about what is available there. Check it out! You won’t be disappointed.
Favorite Sermon and Commentary websites:
(There are too many websites that I use for me to narrow it down to just one website. Also, please be diligent to study your Bible prayerfully, no matter which site you use. I don’t agree with all the teaching found on these sites. These ministries are good, solid resources but are put together by fallible men. Let the Bible be your final authority on all matters! Pray for discernment and wisdom always).
Grace To You – the Bible teaching ministry of John MacArthur and others at Grace to You are available here. There is a huge collection of sermons and blog articles along with the ability to search on a wide variety of topics for Christian living.
Got Questions – easily search on thousands of subjects and get answers from the Bible.
Answers in Genesis – So many good articles about the Bible and Christianity are here with, as the name suggests, an emphasis on the book of Genesis. I subscribe to the ministry’s Answers Magazine which is available in print, online, or audio formats. Each issue comes every two months with an insert especially for kids. From the AIG about page:
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible. We also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a “millions of years old” earth (and even older universe).
Living Waters – Get equipped to share your faith and purchase some of the best Gospel tracts around. The free evangelical videos produced by the ministry (see Fully Free Films) are outstanding!
Religious Affections Ministries – This website is the one I read the most lately. Have you ever been disappointed with the music that is described as “worship music” these days? Have you ever wondered why music can be such a divisive factor in churches? Do you feel you could benefit from learning what the Bible has to say about worship, emotions, music, and proper affections? If so, browse this website. And, if not, but you call yourself a Christian, browse this website. A good place to start is with the articles that are categorized as Essential Resources.
I was about to add a list of some of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow, but instead I’ll leave that for another post along with the Christian entertainment source I found.
Please share your favorite Bible study tools, websites, apps, and other resources with me by commenting on this post. Thank you!
I began this blog not long after becoming a Christian. As a new Christian, some of the earliest posts display my immaturity. (Maybe some recent ones, too!) A while back I deleted some of those posts as I was cringing upon rereading them. I started to do the same with my social media postings.
Now, however, I’ve decided to leave things as they are. I am in a process of sanctification and it’s been good to read some immature posts to remind myself of how far the Lord has brought has me and how He is being faithful to change me (Phil 1:6).
So, if you read any of the older posts or find me on social media and have issue with anything you read, please keep my ongoing sanctification in mind. If ANY posts contains what you think is a doctrinal error, please contact me! Doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus Christ and His being the only Savior are not up for debate, but as a Christian I’m called to maintain a teachable spirit, so I’m open for correction, dear saints.
My postings have been irregular too, and I am hoping to change that pattern and post at least once a week.
Listen to popular culture long enough and you will hear, more than once, the idea that Christianity is bad for women. Either that or you’ll find someone professing Christ but denying Biblical Christianity because of unpopular verses (ex. 1 Tim 2:12) and distorting the commands of Christ.
No matter what the world will tell you, the Bible is clear about the lengths that God has gone to in order to protect, honor, and show love to women.
The first person who sinned was a woman and part of the curse of her sin was regarding childbearing (Gen 3:6,16). Eve was told that she would now give birth to children in pain. Yet, in bringing salvation to the world, the Lord chose a humble young woman named Mary to give birth to the Savior. Childbirth was cursed, and yet God uses childbirth in His plan of salvation of mankind. And a star player in this plan was a Jewish girl.
As a woman poured a very expensive perfumed ointment onto Jesus (“…to prepare me for burial” Matt 26:12b), the disciples complained that the act was a waste. Jesus defended the woman stating that her actions would be remembered all over the world where the Gospel was preached.
Later we see his closest disciples abandoning Jesus as He was taken into custody before His crucifixion. Yet we are told “many women” were at the crucifixion “looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him…” (Matt 27:55-56) and two are named: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph.
On the first day of week after Jesus was crucified, the two Marys are once again featured as they are the first to be tasked with sharing the good news of Christ’s resurrection, first by an angel, then by Christ Himself (Matt 28:1-10).
There’s certainly more Scriptural evidence of God’s care for women, but the example of God using childbirth is most precious to me. In the Gospel writers’ accounts, we see God using the very thing that was cursed in a woman’s life to bring eternal life to her and redemption to all who would ever repent and believe the gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus is truly a Redeemer, reconciling us with God the Father who promises to be with His children always (Deut 31:6, Heb 13:5).
It’s the time for New Year’s Resolutions, which usually includes something you want to DO in the New Year. For now, I’ve formulated a list of actions that I want to keep from doing instead.
Although sleeping too much is definitely something that I want to avoid, that’s not exactly what I mean here. Whenever I can’t sleep (a situation that occurs more often lately), I tend to just lie in bed for hours praying for sleep.
This habit isn’t helping me to rest and I’ve decided to just get out of bed when it happens. I keep fearing that if I get up and do something else then I won’t feel rested; however, lying in bed for hours mentally chasing sleep hasn’t helped me a bit!
3am… Cannot sleep… One thing I have in common with the Apostle Paul… Many sleepless nights…
I’ve read that evangelist Ray Comfort has spent hours in prayer when he can’t sleep. And one of my favorite Bible teachers Paul Washer has reminded us that while Jesus was God in the flesh, He still sacrificed sleep and relied on His Father in prayer. (Luke 5:16, 6:12) We are made to need sleep, but we can sacrifice some bodily rest to receive spiritual rest and refreshing.
(If insomnia is a problem for you, you may want to read Ray’s book Overcoming Insomnia*. And for more on Paul Washer and prayer, check out his sermon on the I’ll Be Honest YouTube channel).
Failing to Submit
This resolution is not simply a good idea, a goal, or part of a life enhancement plan. Being submissive is a command of the Lord to all of His children, and I’m referring particularly to the command to wives to submit to their husbands.
…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 ESV
Immediately after writing the heading for this section, my resolve was tested. I enjoy my solitude, especially when writing, and my husband frequently interrupts with questions. Obeying the Lord’s command to serve my husband trumps my desire for quiet work, however, and this resolution is going to be the most difficult to fulfill. The Lord is worthy of my obedience and my husband, as a brother in Christ and fellow image bearer is worthy of my respect.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22 ESV
We’re enjoying some new devices we received for Christmas, and he often has a million questions for me since I’m much further along in technology knowledge than he is. Instead of being grateful for these wonderful inventions, I am tempted to succumb to aggravation and an ungenerous spirit. Failing to submit is definitely something that needs to go.
Lack of discipline
My life is blessedly full. I have several self-paced online computer courses which I’ve undertaken, an active church membership, family obligations and events, along with a love of Bible study. The problem is that I float along from one task to another, often leaving projects unfinished. It’s well past time to do something about the lack of disciplined time management in my life.
With all the aforementioned technology tools, I have zero excuse. There are apps for time management, reminders, and event scheduling. And, whether or not I make use of technology to help, I have the gift of the Holy Spirit Who is a promised counselor and guide.
My first step after closing this article will be to take some time to actually schedule my day tomorrow, instead of lazily drifting into the stream of obligations with no plan or goal. With God’s help, I’ll be leaving a few sinful, bad habits in the past and greeting the New Year rested, submissive, and fruitful!
*Links to Amazon are affiliate links – I earn credits when folks purchase products using these links 🙂