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Bible

Reading the Old Testament in 2021

I think that if we are honest with ourselves there are parts of the Bible that we probably do not read very often. There may even be sections of the Old Testament that we have never read at all.

With that in mind it is interesting to observe that towards the end of his life, in what was probably his final letter, Paul wrote the following words to Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

The first two words of the above are especially worth noting “All Scripture

The phrase “All Scripture” does not seem to leave much room to exclude anything! I expect on hearing that phrase some questions come to your mind such as:

But what about those last few chapters in Exodus covering the building of the tabernacle that I do not really understand?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Ok but I really find Leviticus difficult to understand. Is that included too?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

How about those chapters in Joshua concerning the allocation of the promised land?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What about the first few chapters of 1 Chronicles with all those family trees?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What about those minor prophets and all those images of judgement?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Now obviously there are some parts of the Old Testament that are at face value harder to read and understand. In addition to the above examples you may have some that spring to mind. However, to enable us to get the most out of God’s word it is important that we read it all. If we only read the New Testament then we are missing out on seeing all God did in the Old Testament with his people Israel.

There are so many great and inspiring stories in the Old Testament: Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in law Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s determination not to compromise their faith (Daniel 3) and David humbling himself before God after his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 51) to name but three.

Therefore may I encourage you in 2021 to consider reading the whole Bible? Yes even those difficult pieces that you would normally avoid. And remember as you read:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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Bible

Reading through the Bible Chronologically in 2021

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Have you ever read through the whole Bible in a year?

The prospect of reading through the Bible in a year may appear a daunting task when first considering this challenge. Many might think that it is impossible for them to do this. Perhaps you 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 of reading each day to do this. Yes that is right only 15 to 20 minutes each day and you will read through the Bible in a year!

When we consider the amount of time we spend daily watching You Tube videos, Netflix’s or television, then surely such a small amount of time each day can be found to read the scriptures in 2021?

Now that we have seen that reading through the Bible in a year in not quite the impossible task we imagined, we can move onto thinking of the best way for us to do this.

There are many different ways of reading through the Bible. 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.

Reading the Bible chronologically

One of my favourite ways of reading through the scriptures in a year is to read through the Bible chronologically. The main benefit of reading the Bible chronologically is that it enhances our understanding of the historical context of the individual books of the Bible and the timeline of events.

I have personally found that to read the Bible chronologically is especially helpful when reading the Old Testament. This has helped me to see where books like Job, Obadiah, Joel and Malachi fit into the history of God’s dealings with his people. It is also interesting to see when the various different Psalms were written too (for example: Psalm 51 follows Nathan confronting David in 2 Samuel 12).

When reading the New Testament it is also useful for looking at each of Paul’s letters and seeing at which stage of his missionary travels they were written.

There are a number of plans available for those wishing to read through the Bible chronologically. The two below are ones you could use:

One Year Chronological Bible

This plan can be found both on the Bible.com website and via the YouVersion app on either your phone or tablet. Thereby enabling you to carry the plan around with you at all times. And it is free!

Cover to Cover Through the Bible As It Happened

I personally have used this 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 and maps that assist the reader as they read through the scriptures.

If you have not yet read through the scriptures this way, why not make 2021 the year you read through the Bible chronologically?

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Bible

Bible Reading Notes

When first coming to Christ we are usually taught the importance of spending time with Him each day in bible study and prayer. This is excellent advice because if we wish to grow as believers then we need to continually feed ourselves through the reading of God’s Word.

However, where do we start when first reading the Bible? Do we just start at the beginning in Genesis or should we start with one of the gospels instead?

How do we develop the habit of regularly reading the scriptures?

Also what about those of us who may have been Christians for several years, but if we are honest are struggling to spend time reading the Bible?

I personally would suggest that using Bible reading notes is a good place to start both for the new believer and the experienced one. There are a vast variety of different ones available both in paper and electronic format to aid us in the study of scripture.

The majority of Bible reading notes that I have used over the years follow a similar format:

  • A passage from the Bible
  • Comments from the author on the passage
  • Closing prayer

Some also have further questions, challenges or thoughts for the reader to consider, in addition to the above.

I know not everyone would necessarily agree with my suggestion of using Bible reading notes but I believe there are a number of benefits from using them.

The Development of a daily habit

The vast majority of Bible reading notes have a reading for every day of the week. Therefore just as following a daily dietary or exercise training plan assists us to develop good daily habits in these areas, then using Bible notes can do the same for us spiritually.

Not needing to decide which passage to read each day

There have been times, when not using notes, that I was unsure which book of the Bible to read next. However, this is not an issue when using notes as the decision has already been made for you. All you need to do is read it!

Introduces us to parts of the Bible that we might not normally read

It can be very easy for us just to gravitate towards our favourite passages of scripture. However, Paul told Timothy “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. “

Someone once said to me that when eating food you cannot just eat cakes only! What this person meant was that a varied diet was important. One of the advantages of using notes is the author may spend some time in a part of the Bible that you would not normally read. This will help enrich and deepen our understanding of the whole Bible and how God has worked throughout time.

Introduces us to wide range of contributors

Many Bible reading notes have a range of different contributions who write for them. This provides an opportunity for us to read writings from people who we might not encounter under normal circumstances. It is a good balance to ensure that we do not only read our favourite authors and their particular theology. This may well challenge our thinking on occasions, but hopefully will also enrich us as we consider passages in perhaps a different light than previously.

Exposes us to good Bible teachers

God has given His church those who have the gift of teaching. Therefore using Bible reading notes, written by those with this gift, enables us to benefit from their ministry and grew in our knowledge of the scriptures.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to read the scriptures daily and feed ourselves spiritually. If you are struggling in this aspect please let me encourage you to consider using Bible reading notes. There are many different types available and you should be able to find something that is suitable for you. Just enter Bible reading notes into your favourite search engine and have a look at the results that appear. I have put a couple of links below to ones I have used myself:

Every Day with Jesus

New Daylight

Categories
Bible Book Review

Leviticus-Deuteronomy (Bible Study Commentary)

There are some books of the Bible that most Christians would agree are not easy to read and understand. One of the most obvious ones that springs to mind is the book of Leviticus. However, although Leviticus might appear a difficult read, it’s included in our Bible. Therefore we should not ignore it but instead seek to read it and hear what God is saying to us through this part of scripture.

To that end I would like to recommend a book called Leviticus-Deuteronomy (Bible Study Commentary) by Martin Goldsmith. Unlike many Bible commentaries this one does not look at the text verse by verse, but looks at larger portions (normally a chapter at a time). There then follows some thoughts on the passage which are no more than one page of A5 long. Some of these also contain a closing thought, question, challenge or meditation for the reader to ponder. The section on Leviticus contains an interesting table on the various feasts featured in the book.

Although I am mainly focusing on the benefits of this book for studying the book of Leviticus, the sections on Numbers and Deuteronomy are equally good. This part also contains some maps which will help the reader to place the various towns, cities and regions mentioned in these books.

Throughout the book there are also questions for further study and discussion based on chapters already read. This enables the reader to study these three books in greater depth. Additionally this section could also be used by a house group to form the basis of a weekly study.

I have used this book to study Leviticus and found it really useful, helpful and insightful. If you have attempted to read Leviticus before and really struggled or just given up, then why not purchase a copy of this book and give it another go. You will not be disappointed!

 

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Bible

The Importance of Reading the Whole Bible

Towards the end of his life the apostle Paul wrote the following words to Timothy “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ( 2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

I expect if we are being honest many of us probably have whole sections of the Bible which we rarely read. Yet here Paul is saying that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful. Yes that does include the second half of Exodus and the book of Leviticus!

To enable us to get the most out of God’s word it is important that we read it all. If we only read the New Testament then we are missing out on seeing all God did in the Old Testament with his people Israel.

There are so many great and inspiring stories in the Old Testament: Ruth loyalty to her mother-in law Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s determination not to compromise their faith (Daniel 3) and David humbling himself before God after his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 51) to name but three.

Although reading the whole Bible can seem a daunting challenge, it is relatively easy to read it all the way through in a year. Did you know that if you spent 20 minutes a day reading the Scriptures you will read the whole of the Bible in a year. Most of us can find 20 minutes to spare to do this and if that seems too much, how about 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes in the evening? When you think about how long we spend watching television or on the internet surely that is not too difficult to do!

There are many different readings plan available to use that take you through the Bible in a year. If you are not sure where to start, just go into your favourite search engine and type in “Bible Reading Plans”. However, it does not really matter if you use a reading plan or decide not to use one. The important thing is to get started and discover the benefits of reading the whole Bible!

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Bible

Proverbs chapters 21 to 31

Last month I took part in 31 Days in May. Everyday throughout the month I read one chapter from the book of Proverbs: chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month.

I decided to write down a couple of sentences each day to help me remember what struck me in each chapter. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and so this week I am posting what I wrote for Proverbs chapters 20 to 31. The thoughts are very brief for each chapter and are about the length of a Twitter posting! However, hopefully they will be a blessing to others.

Chapter 21 – God knows our hearts and motives, however right we may think we are! Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, this will keep you out of trouble. Think before you act.

Chapter 22 – There will be thorns and snares around but the one who guards his soul stays far from them. My speech should be gracious. Pay attention to the words of the wise and apply your heart to their instruction.

Chapter 23 – Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Give your heart to God. Let our eyes take delight in following God’s ways.

Chapter 24 – God sees our hearts and everything we do. He will repay as our actions deserve. Wisdom is sweet to the soul and provides hope for those that find it.

Chapter 25 – Don’t betray another person’s secrets as it destroys your reputation. It is valuable to listen to valid criticism. Don’t tell lies about others. Self-control is essential.

Chapter 26 – Do not be like the fool who repeats his foolishness.

Chapter 27 – Prudent people sees potential dangers and take precautions, unlike the simple who keep blindly on and suffer the consequences. The heart reflects the real person.

Chapter 28 – Our nation needs wise and knowledgeable leadership. Don’t conceal my sin, confess it and turn from sin and find mercy. Always fear the Lord and don’t harden my heart.

Chapter 29 – It’s foolish to speak without thinking. Don’t just accept criticism but heed it too. Fearing people traps us.

Chapter 30 – Never slander a work colleague to my employer. God is a shield to those who come to Him for protection.

Chapter 31 – Speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice. A wife of noble character greatly enriches her husband’s life.

 

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Bible

Proverbs chapters 11 to 20

Last month I took part in 31 Days in May. Everyday throughout the month I read one chapter from the book of Proverbs: chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month.

I decided to write down a couple of sentences each day to help me remember what struck me in each chapter. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and so this week I am posting what I wrote for Proverbs chapters 11 to 20. The thoughts are very brief for each chapter and are about the length of a Twitter posting! However, hopefully they will be a blessing to others.

Chapter 11 – There is a stark contrast between the life of the godly and the wicked. The generous will prosper and those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Chapter 12 – It’s important to always be open to correction. Wise words bring healing, therefore use words carefully.

Chapter 13 – A wise person heeds instruction. It’s foolishness to ignore them. Watch your words as speaking rashly can ruin everything.

Chapter 14 – Fear of the Lord is shown by the way we live. If we live rightly we fear God, if we choose the wrong way we despise Him. A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil.

Chapter 15 – Godly people think carefully before speaking. Listen to constructive criticism and accept discipline. If I reject discipline I will harm myself.

Chapter 16 – We can have ideas and made our plans but God determines the steps. The Lord examines our motives. Fearing the Lord helps us to avoid evil. We need more biblical fear of the Lord in our lives.

Chapter 17 – Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom. It’s wise to be careful of our words which will mean keeping quiet on occasions where we might wish to speak.

Chapter 18 – A fool only wants to air their own opinions. Their mouth gets them into trouble. They spout off before listening to the facts to their own shame. The Lord is a stronghold for the righteous / godly. Money does not provide this security.

Chapter 19 – I can make many plans but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Always listen to advice and instruction. If I stop listening to them I am turning my back on knowledge.

Chapter 20 – Only fools insist on quarrelling. We are known by our actions. God knows every hidden motive.

 

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Bible

Proverbs chapters 1 to 10

This month I have been taking part in 31 Days in May. Everyday throughout the month I have read one chapter from the book of Proverbs: chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month.

I decided to write down a couple of sentences each day to help me remember what struck me in each chapter. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and so this week I am posting what I wrote for Proverbs chapters 1 to 10. The thoughts are very brief for each chapter and are about the length of a Twitter posting! However, hopefully they will be a blessing to others.

Chapter 1 – The purpose of the proverbs is to teach wisdom and discipline. I need to apply discipline to my life. If I ignore God’s warnings then it’s my fault when things go wrong.

Chapter 2 – Give priority to seeking wisdom. It will help in making right decisions. Heed God’s warnings.

Chapter 3 – Storing God’s commands in my heart is very important. Wisdom is the most precious thing I can seek: “Nothing you desire can compare with her.” (v15)

Chapter 4 – Pay attention to God’s word and let it penetrate deep into my heart. Take hold of instruction and do not let go of it. Guard the heart above all else.

Chapter 5 – Listen carefully to God’s words. God sees every path we take (including decisions). Sin holds us captive. I must exercise self-control and not be led astray by my folly (foolishness).

Chapter 6 – God’s word is a lamp and a light for me. It’s corrective discipline is the way to life.

Chapter 7 – Treasure God’s commands and store them up within me. Write them deep within my heart. Do not let my heart stray into wrong desires.

Chapter 8 – Listen to wisdom. There is nothing that we can desire that is better than her. Do not ignore her instruction.

Chapter 9 – The fear of the Lord is the foundation / beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgement.

Chapter 10 – The wise are glad to be instructed and to accept discipline / correction. They treasure knowledge. The words of the godly benefit and help others. They know when to keep quiet.

 

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Bible

31 Days in May

The church that I visited on Easter Day is running a challenge this month called: 31 Days in May. They describe this as a simple but potentially life-changing idea and an initiative for the whole church to engage with the Word of God together.

Everyday throughout the month of May they will read one chapter from the book of Proverbs. Chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month. Church members are then being encouraged to pray over it and into it as they go through the book: for themselves, for their friends and contacts, for the church and for our world.

Although this might sound quite a simple idea it struck me as being a very good initiative and one that could be very beneficial both for individuals and for the church collectively. Therefore I have decided that I will take up the 31 Days in May challenge myself this month.

If you have not got any specific bible readings planned for May why not join in 31 Days in May and immerse yourself in the book of Proverbs this month.

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Bible Reflections

Reviving the Soul

In Psalm 19v7 there is a wonderful statement by David:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”

I’m not sure about you but so often my soul needs reviving. At the end of a stressful day at work or an exhausting and busy week I certainly need to be revived. Yet to be honest I don’t always turn to God’s word for revival. There are occasions when instead of doing this I turn to earthly things e.g. leisure activities, food, sport, TV, social media etc. Whilst none of those are necessary wrong in themselves, they will not bring revival to the soul.

This is because those things are not God’s word. They may be enjoyable past times and activities, but they do not revive us. Instead of turning to them we should turn to God’s word. We regularly need to read the scriptures, study them and meditate on them. It’s important that we set aside time each day to do this.

If we neglect these disciplines, then we miss opportunities to experience a revived soul. Some people also find it helpful to have a bible verse in their mind for them to ponder as they prepare to go to sleep each night. It’s a good way to finish the day.

If you ever read anything about the persecuted Church, you will see their love for the bible. In many of these countries a person can get into severe trouble for owning a bible. When they receive a bible, they are so grateful and full of excitement. Conversely, many of us in the west have numerous different translations of the bible at home, not to mention the ones on our phones! Yet we often rarely read them.

Let us not neglect the scriptures but instead know the reality of this wonderful phrase in Psalm 19v7:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.