Have you ever read through the whole Bible in a year? There are many different reading plans available to assist with this. If you visit your local Christian bookshop or type “bible readings plans” into your favourite search engine, you will see a variety of options that can be used. One of my favourite ways is reading through the Bible chronologically.
The advantage of reading the Bible chronologically is that it enhances our understanding of the historical context of the individual books of the Bible. We can see in the Old Testament how books like Ezra, Hosea, Amos and Micah fit into the history of God’s dealings with his people. Likewise, in the New Testament we can look at each of Paul’s letters and see at which stage of his missionary travels they were written.
I personally have used the “Cover to Cover Through the Bible As It Happened” reading plan which is produced by CWR. This is an edition of the Bible that is split into 365 different readings with various helpful notes that assist the reader.
The prospect of reading through the bible in a year though does appear a daunting task. Many might think that it is impossible or have tried in the past but given up after a couple of months. It might surprise you however to know that it only takes between 15 to 20 minutes per day to do this. If we consider the amount of time we spend on social media, watching You Tube videos or on Netflix’s then surely, we can spare that small amount of time reading the scriptures in 2019?
Although everyone is different I prefer to do my Bible readings in the morning. If you are a “morning person” why not set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and do the reading before you start the day. Others though prefer to read during the day or in the evenings. The most important thing is to find a time that works best for you and to set that time aside each day. If for any reason you miss a day don’t get discouraged or give up but keep going.
Why not make 2019 the year you read through the Bible chronologically?
Stephen Skelton’s book “a Christmas Carol Special Edition” is an interesting version of the famous Charles Dickens book. In addition to including the complete text of Christmas Carol, the author provides interesting insights into the biblical illusions and Christian themes that are found in the classic novel.
At the end of each chapter or rather “stave” as Dickens called them, there are discussion questions for the reader to ponder. These cover the following themes: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation and Rebirth.
Each discussion section contains four types of questions under the headings: Telling the Story, Telling Your Story, Telling the Story of Christmas and Living the Story. There are then some bible verses provided for further study. The questions are designed for all ages but the author does suggest the first two types are more appropriate for younger readers.
Christmas Carol is a book that many people have enjoyed over the years and will no doubt continue to do in the future. I think this edition would be good to be used for an Advent study group. There are many Christian themes that run through this classic tale which are worthy of further study and discussion. It would also make a good book to study by yourself too.
You may have heard of the “ACTS” method of praying. In this instance ACTS stands for:
- A = Adoration
- C = Confession
- T = Thanksgiving
- S = Supplication
Last Sunday I heard a sermon called “How to Pray” by Bayless Conley on television. In his sermon Bayless spoke about a method he uses called “Pray”. The initials stand for:
- P = Praise
- R = Repentance
- A = Ask
- Y =Yielding
Interestingly both methods mentioned above put praise to God ahead of asking for things when we pray. I suspect many of us if we are honest start with asking for things rather than praising God! The obvious advantage of starting with praise / adoration is that helps us to fix our eyes on God rather than focusing on ourselves.
If you are struggling with prayer I think using either of the above would be helpful to enhance your pray life.
I recently read Corrie ten Boom’s book “the Hiding Place.” I have seen the film a couple of times and although I was given the book several years ago for some reason I had not previously read it.
Most of us know about Corrie and her family due to their brave and heroic acts during the war. The book however also provides details of the life of Corrie and her family prior to the war. Like all of us Corrie had her ups and downs as she grew up. She learnt to trust God during this time and submit to the divine leading.
Despite the risks involved, following the outbreak of the war, the ten Boom family risked their lives in helping others. Although it was very dangerous they offered shelter to persecuted Jews in their watchmaker’s shop.
They were though eventually caught and following arrest interrogated by the Nazi’s. Corrie’s father was offered the chance of being released but told his captors if they released him he would continue to help the Jews. An act of bravery that eventually lead to his death in captivity.
Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Despite the truly awful and horrific conditions they experienced in the camp the sisters still reached out to show the love of God to others. This is especially remarkable when you also consider that Betsie’s health was deteriorating. Those of you who are familiar with the Hiding Place will know that Betsie died whilst in Ravensbruck.
The book finishes with a truly remarkable encounter between Corrie and a former SS man from the Ravensbruck concentration camp at a meeting in Munich following the end of the war. Corrie had just finished speaking at a church meeting when the former SS man approached her and wanted to shake hands with her. Despite the immense internal struggle within her Corrie agreed asking Jesus to help her to forgive him. She then describes how the love of God overwhelmed her as she did this.
I would highly recommend “the Hiding Place”. It is a very inspiring book!
The following devotion is taken from the Heartlight website. It is from the “Morning and Evening” daily devotions written by Charles H Spurgeon.
For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth (3 John 1:3)
The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity-the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man’s conversation. Be it ours to-day, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.
Some people seem to know from an early age what job they want to do. If you ask them they answer confidently and tell you what job they hope to do after leaving school / university. However others have never really been able to answer that question. They seem to fall into a job and then several years later are still not sure what they should be doing.
There are some who feel that so called “full-time Christian work” is more important than working in a “secular job”. They might have set their heart on being a pastor or missionary and are very disappointed if they then end up working for the local retail outlet / insurance company / garage etc. For those who have this mindset it’s good to remember the following verse from Colossians 3v23:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”
For anyone who might be wrestling with the question “what job should I do?” the following articles are well worth reading and pondering:
Complete Surrender is the title of a biography of Eric Liddell written by Julian Wilson. Most of us will be familiar with Eric Liddell through the film Chariots of Fire and his refusal to race on a Sunday in the 1924 Olympic Games. However outside of the film our knowledge of him might be limited.
Although the book is only 139 pages long I feel after reading it that I know the man very well. There are so many inspiring stories and testimonies of Eric Liddell packed into the biography.
There are quotes from those who knew him saying that he was the most Christ-like person they had ever met. His humility and selflessness shines through many times in the book. Even in the very difficult situations he faced in the last years of his life, which were spent in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, he still was putting other people before himself.
Interestingly someone said of him that he was basically very ordinary. He was not the greatest leader or cleverest person or even an inspired speaker. However Eric Liddell knew what he ought to do and just did it. This is one of the constant themes of the book, doing what is right even when that is difficult. He strongly believed that we should practice what we preach.
What was his secret? It was actually quite simple: the complete surrender of his thoughts, words, deeds and life to God. Early every morning he would get up to pray (both talking and listening to God), read his bible and ponder the day ahead.
This is a very inspirational book and I would highly recommend it.