Archive for December, 2014
Reading the Bible regularly is a really good idea. It’s even more important than eating regularly. As Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
If you’re looking for a Bible Reading plan, Justin Taylor posted today his annual survey of options, “How to Read the Whole Bible in 2015.” If you’re looking for more of a pattern for ongoing reading rather than a plan to read the Bible in a year, here’s a simple plan by Drew Hunter (my baby brother) summarized in his recent Tweet: “No check-box, no guilt, 2015 Bible-reading plan: two Old Testament, two New Testament chapters per day. Finish a book, pick another.” It just might be for you.
While a read through Justin’s post should surface a good plan for you, here are a few plans to consider:
- Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, by George Guthrie is a unique resource. This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework and includes a reading plan. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, Read the Bible for Life.
- The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. This plan, named after its designer and Scottish minister in the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
- Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a PDF form to print out as a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily. Also, the Discipleship Journal “Bible Reading Plan,” by NavPress, takes you through the entire Bible by reading from four different places each day.
- Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.
- A Plan for Following God’s Redemption Plan: The Bible Eater is a simple one-page print out with a list of every chapter in the Bible of you to read on a certain rhythm and check off as you go. This plan highlights the Bible’s chapters that are especially significant for grasping the Bible’s storyline centered in Christ.
If the Bible is new to you, or if you haven’t personally invested in knowing the Scriptures through regular reading, listen to Ryan’s sermon on Psalm 1, “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life….” And if you need some help reflecting on some of the spiritual dynamics involved in our struggle to read the Bible, check our Ryan Kelly’s article, “How’s Your Bible Reading Going?.” Finally, for a list of helps in understanding the Bible as you read it, check out the previous DSC post, “Help for Understanding the Bible.”
Tonight we reach the halfway point through the gospel of Mark. Ryan’s sermon will take us from Mark 8:22-33 and will revolve around the question that Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 8:29:
“But who do you say that I am?”
Never did Jesus ask anyone a more important question, and it’s a question for all of us.
Over the next four weeks, we’ll take a break from the gospel of Mark for a short series through the book of Ephesians. But as we take this breather from Mark’s gospel account, pull up and print out this crazy helpful chart. Notice the center of the chart, Mark 8:29. From here, the story takes a turn for the cross. The cost of our salvation for our Savior becomes increasingly clear. So does the cost of discipleship.
Christian doctrine is not easy thinking stuff. In his article, “Christmas Is the Greatest Mystery,” posted at Desiring God, David Mathis reflects on the meaning of the incarnation. Here’s how he begins his article:
It is the hour that split history in half.
Until that first Christmas, he had been, from eternity past, the divine Son and second person of the Godhead. He was God’s glad agent in creation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), and from the beginning of time, he had upheld the universe at every moment (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3).
But then came the great change — the blessed addition — at the very heart of reality. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). God became man. The Creator himself came as a creature, the Author entered into his Story as a character. Without abandoning any of what it means to be God, he took on all that it means to be human.
This spectacular truth, at the center of what we celebrate at Christmas, we call “the incarnation,” which means the “in-fleshing” of the divine Son — God himself taking human flesh and blood and all our humanness. Christmas is when he adds humanity to his divinity, and does so that he might rescue us from our soul-destroying rebellion, and lavish us with the everlasting enjoyment for which we were made.
It is a glorious revelation, and it’s also a great mystery.
Click here to continue reading.
Then, pick up a book or two at Amazon (links below) or at the Book Nook to reflect more on the coming of God’s Son, in order to magnify him more in your heart. Here are some suggestions for adults and for kids:
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, John Piper
- God with Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is, Daniel Hyde
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance, Bruce Ware
- Why Christmas?, Barbara Reaoch
- Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper
- Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, Nancy Guthrie
- Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional, Marty Machowski
If you’re a sermon junkie, click here for past DSC Christmas sermons going back to 2003.
At the end of November we wrapped up our Equip Class on the Old Testament book of Joshua. Joshua is that book with the story of Jericho, a story famous in children’s books and flannelgraph. But not the whole story. Here’s how it ends: “Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21). Joshua’s sword has a lot of blood on it.
This presents a difficulty to sensitive and attentive readers. In a book filled with the gracious promises of God for his people and even careful instructions for justice for their life together (Joshua 20), what should we make of this apparent military overkill? Was God right to command this and was Israel right to carry it out? What shall we say to those who call the Bible a barbaric book, who use this as an example of how religion spoils everything?
If the Bible is true and we’re reading it right, then, yes he was. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us to understand.
As with any text of the Bible, we need to situation this one in its immediate context, the context of the story that is unfolding in Scripture, and in the context of the whole Bible. This specific question gives us a great exercise in biblical interpretation. Four resources will be helpful to you in thinking this through:
- “God’s Justice in the Land of Canaan,” Kyle Dillon
- “How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament,” Justin Taylor
- “Introduction to the Book of Joshua” in the ESV Study Bible
- The Morality of God in the Old Testament, G.K. Beale
We should not be surprised to bump up against hard questions in the Bible. We’re fallen and finite creatures. We don’t have the whole picture and if we did we’d have a sinners take on it. Gratefully, God’s Word is true at every point and we can trust it. And gratefully its story leads to a cross where the Lord dealt fully and finally with the injustice our own sin, and a resurrection where he conquered death for those who entrust themselves to him.
In October we began our new Sunday Adult Education class, called, Equip. Click here for handouts from the class we just wrapped up, “Joshua: Seeking Rest in the Land,” and to plan ahead for what classes you might join us for in the months ahead.
Starting this Sunday, Tim Ragsdale will teach a class, titled, “Guidance, Wisdom, and the Will of God.” Join us at 10:45 in the West Wing on Sundays from here through January for this helpful class.
On this important subject, Kevin DeYoung has written a helpful book, titled, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. Here’s a quote to whet your appetite for our next session in Equip:
“The only chains God wants us to wear are the chains of righteousness–not the chains of hopeless subjectivism, not the shackles of risk-free living, not the fetters of horoscope decision making–just the chains befitting a bond servant of Christ Jesus. Die to self. Live for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God’s glory.”
Pick up Kevin’s book at the Book Nook or on Amazon.