National Day of Reflection

On Tuesday 23 March 2021 the UK had a national day of reflection to remember all those who had died in the pandemic. This date was chosen as it marked the anniversary of the announcement of our first Covid lockdown.

We had an online service last night at our church as part of the national day of reflection. During the service our vicar read some scriptures to us which I felt would be good to share this week. Hopefully you will find these verses helpful:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (
Psalm 23)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1Peter 5:7)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
” (Psalm 46:10)

Bible Articles

Psalm 119 is a wonderful passage of scripture where the psalmist glorifies God and His word. There are many verses that the reader could spend time mediating on to their benefit e.g.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (v11)

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word” (v37)

How I delight in your commands! How I love them!” (v47)

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (v105).

I find this psalm very encouraging and am challenged by the writers love of God’s word and desire to live it out.

This week I wanted to share some articles on the Bible which hopefully will encourage you to read it more. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.

Bible reading good for you

You’d kind of hope it might be true, but it’s good to have it confirmed: Lockdown has seen an explosion in all sorts of activities, from learning languages to gardening, but it’s also seen Christians reading the Bible more, and finding hope and comfort in it.

According to our recent survey, a significant number of Christians have reported that reading the Bible had led to an increased hope in God (42%); 28 per cent said it had increased their confidence in the future, while 63 per cent said that it had enabled their confidence to remain the same, rather than dipping.

The Bible as one astonishing story

In this very informative 10 minute video clip Chris Goswami explains how:

“The Bible is a library of different books written by many authors over hundreds of years. Each one brings their own voice, their own story. But there is one story that reaches across the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, one unifying narrative.

Knowing this ONE story means you can understand the place of any book in the Bible”

Who wrote the bible?

John Piper answers this question and says:

“When Christians refer to the Bible as the word of God, they mean that — and I would say, I mean. I’m one of those people who believe this; I’d stake my whole life on it. So, I mean that the Creator of the universe, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who upholds the universe by the word of his power, was guiding and is guiding all things according to a great purpose. That God has chosen to reveal himself to human beings in human language. He has chosen to speak. Amazing.”

Treating our Bibles like our mobile phones

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our mobile phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we travelled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?  …..

Oh, and two more things:

You never have to worry about the battery dying, it has eternal life.

And unlike our mobile phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because GOD already paid the  bill.

Two different ways of reading Scripture

I remember once hearing a preacher say that there are two different ways that we approach reading scripture. The first was described as looking down over scripture, whilst the second was referred to as being under scripture. So what is the difference between these two methods and does it actually matter?

The first one is the idea that we stand over scripture and ask what do I think this passage means? I expect many of us will have attended Bible studies over the years when we have been asked that question or a very similar one by the group leader. Whilst that sounds fine in reality it is not quite what it seems. When we read scripture like this we often approach it with our own theological leanings and biases which then determines our interpretation of the passage in question. Therefore, depending on what our theological position is on a particular subject it then affects the way we interpret the passage before us.

The other way, that he referred to as sitting under scripture, is different though. In this approach we put aside our theological leanings and biases and ask God to open our hearts to truly understand what He is saying, even if it contradicts our theology! The obvious advantage to this method of reading scripture is that we have more chance of hearing God this way. Why you may ask? The reason is because we have not already decided the meaning of the passage by our own biases and prejudices and therefore we are hopefully more open to hearing God.

Do you ever read theological debates on line? I expect if you do you will have noticed that one of the problems with these debates can be we look for our “proof” verse to support our viewpoint. We then wade into the argument saying that we are right and everyone who has an alternative view is wrong. It is obvious they have to be wrong because otherwise we could be incorrect in our presumptions! Sadly the arguments sometimes do not just stop at saying someone is wrong but can generate into accusing fellow believers of not being real or genuine Christians! This to me illustrates the problems that can occur when we come to scripture and bring our theological biases and decide in advance what a passage means

I have to be honest and say that I myself have done this and it can stop one from fully engaging with scripture. I guess though it is a safe way to read the Bible because if we come to it in a spirit of humbleness and openness there is always the risk that God might show us that we are wrong in a particular area. We then might have to change our viewpoint and completely rethink our theology in that area or maybe in many areas! Additionally we might have to make changes to the way we live too. This sounds like it could potentially be dangerous and life changing!

This Season of Lent

Today is the first day of Lent, which lasts for 40 days excluding Sundays. During this time Christians prepare to remember the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter. Lent is a time for reflection, study and repentance, and the 40 day period reminds us of the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tested by the devil.

Often when people discuss Lent you may hear comments such as: “I am giving up chocolate for Lent” or “I am giving up coffee for Lent.” When I hear someone say that I am often curious why they are doing that, especially if they do not appear to have a Christian faith. Obviously, all the money you save by not having chocolate or coffee could be given to a charity helping people who are less fortunate than you are. It might also be a good thing from a health prospective too! However, I do think if we limit our thinking on Lent to statements like those two ones we are missing out.

Instead of giving something up for Lent have you considered taking something on instead? What do I mean by that?

As Lent is a time for reflection then it seems to present a good opportunity to set some additional time aside this season to seek God. There are many different ways of doing this. For example:

  • Joining a study group for the Lent period. This might be one at your local church. Alternatively, it could be an inter-church one. A few years ago the churches in our parish used to meet together in small groups to study a Lent course.
  • Reading a Christian book in Lent. This does not have to be about Lent of course, it could be on any theme.
  • Spending some additional time studying the bible in Lent. This could be using a Lent study guide but does not have to be.
  • Committing to spending extra time in prayer during Lent. This might be by yourself or perhaps joining a prayer group with others.
  • Listening to some online sermons. These could be sermons that have been preached at your own church or maybe at another one.

If you are anything like me then you find it very easy to waste or fritter away time. Whether it is the television, Netflix, YouTube or social media we seem to spend a lot of time in these activities without too much effect.

The season of Lent presents us with a good opportunity to deliberately set time aside to get to know God better. To spend time listening to God and obeying Him.

One of our old church leaders used to use the expression “fasting and feasting in Lent” and I thought that summed up very well how we can use this time to grow in God.

It goes without saying that we do not have to wait until Lent to set additional time aside to seek God. but this season does present an opportunity for us to slow down and focus afresh on God. Paul tells the Galatians that we reap what we sow. If we spend time with God it will help us to develop our relationship with Him and also enable us to be a blessing to others. Whether you keep Lent or not use the time wisely to reconnect with our Father.

The Books of The Bible

If you visit your local Christian bookshop, with a view to buying a bible, you will see many different options available to you. There will be various translations and versions aimed at particular groups of people. It is fair to say that you will be spoilt for choice! Most of these bibles will have one thing in common, they will contain chapter and verse numbers in the text.

However, The Books of The Bible is an NIV translation where the chapters and verse numbers have been removed from the text (with the exception of the Psalm chapter numbers). This version also contains single-column settings, like you would find in a novel or biography.  Section headings have too been removed from the text. The books of both the Old and New Testament are also in a different order to the normal one. Additionally, books that were originally joined together, but had to be separated due to the length of the scrolls, are shown as one book. For example: the two books of Samuel and Kings are shown as one book.

But does this actually make any difference to the reading of scripture? Is this just another gimmick which gives an excuse for another version of the scriptures?

Well actually I have found it does made a difference. Whilst chapter and verse numbers can be useful references when using a commentary or concordance, they can influence the way that we read passages of scripture. When they are removed the text flows more naturally. Although it might seem strange at first reading a bible without chapter and verse numbers we need to remember that they were not in the original text and were only added afterwards. The publishers have instead made breaks in the text at what appears to be more natural places.

The single-column setting makes for a much cleaner layout, which in turn I have found helpful when reading longer passages of the bible. Whilst section headings and footnotes can be useful, they can also be distracting too whilst reading the bible.

Should you buy this version? I purchased The Books of The Bible a few years ago and have found it a very helpful addition to my library of bibles. It is one I certainly recommend.

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.”

Reading through the Bible Chronologically in 2021


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 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?

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

We Are What We Read

Paul told the Galatians that you reap what you sow. Spurgeon in the quote below, taken from the Old Guys website, says something very similar in regard to the books that we read. Basically we are what we read. That’s worth pondering.

“Certain insects assume the colour of the leaves they feed upon; and they are but emblems of a great law of our being: our minds take the hue of the subjects whereon they think. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Readers of trash become trashy; lovers of skeptical books become skeptical; and students of the Bible, who are in real earnest, become biblical, and display the qualities of the Bible. If you read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the word of God, the qualities of that word will be displayed in you. A man fed on Bibline is a man indeed. In the history of heroes, there are none who show so much moral muscle and spiritual sinew as those who make the word of God their necessary food.”