2018 Bible Reading – January

For those of you reading through the Bible in a year, I wanted to provide a space for sharing insights at the end of each month. Locally, I’ll be meeting with a group of women in late January. Online, perhaps this might serve as a place to comment and encourage one another.

As we are in the last week of January and ending the first month of reading, here are some questions to reflect on:

  1. What have you seen about God this month as you have read the Bible?
  2. Have there been new truths or insights that you have discovered through the reading? 
  3. Was there a psalm that particularly stood out to you?
  4. How did you find God’s Word speaking to you in the circumstances of your life?
  5. Is there a way you need to apply something you have read?
  6. Was there a verse or passage that you would like to memorize?

Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year! As I type these words, my son’s plane should be taking off, flying him back to college. It’s been wonderful having him home for the last three and a half weeks. This brings an end to the holidays, and I’m thankful for a quiet morning to reflect.

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The Revelation of God

Bible Study

My heart has been bursting all week! First, we started Women’s Bible Study at our church for the new school year last Wednesday. It is thrilling to study God’s Word together in fellowship with others. We are studying the Psalms. I believe it’s the first time in 13 years, since 2004-05, that I have been able to attend the morning session. Though I love the evening session, too, I was often tired or had a hard time sticking with it after work. There’s something special about starting my Wednesday mornings in this way, both in our small group, where we go over the week’s lesson, and then in the large group session where we hear a message tying it all together.

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Just for Today

There’s nothing quite like the awareness of our own mortality to give us a change in perspective. I remember being hospitalized for nearly a month before my daughter was born three months early. Life had become complicated by a rare, life-threatening pregnancy. Each day the hospital chaplain would visit, and she would say, “Just for today.” We took things one day at a time. We couldn’t project the outcome for my daughter or for me. We could pray and hope while we waited to see. If we looked too far into the future, it might overwhelm us. So the chaplain would remind me each day, “You made it another day. Just for today.”

How often and easy it is for my focus to be fixed far off into the future, planning and dreaming, counting on certain experiences and outcomes. Already, I am looking to the fall with my son starting college. I am joyously, if not somewhat anxiously, anticipating taking him to college. But two months lie in between now and that trip. I don’t want to lose these days, these last two months. So while I look forward with gratitude, I also don’t want to run past these moments and how we can make them more significant.

We live in such a future-oriented world, thinking of what we might do and be, which—though sometimes necessary to plan, and even a good thing when done with a proper motivation and recognition of God’s plan for us—can keep us from living this day. And while I do want to live with an eternal perspective with eyes fixed on God, I also want to remember that I’ve been given the gift of today and ask how I can use it for His glory.

Living This Day Highlights God’s Provision

I love these words from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Like the manna in the wilderness that God provided each day for the Israelites (Exodus 16), there was enough just for that day. If they gathered more than they needed to store it up, it would spoil. If they gathered less than they needed, there was no shortage. (On the sixth day, they would gather two days’ worth so they could honor the Sabbath on the seventh day, thus providing them rest.)

There was an intended result in their hunger being daily filled: “Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God.” In this miraculous provision, they would see God’s glory, and God would see if they would follow His instructions. They had to trust God that His provision would be there again each day, and it indeed was for the 40 years they spent wandering in the wilderness. God faithfully provided just for the day.

In the New Testament, we come to find that Jesus Himself is the bread of life. Jesus said:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:48-51).

So when we ask God to give us our daily bread, we think of His provision for today in that new light. The One who laid down His life for us with that ultimate provision of salvation will also provide for our needs today.

Living This Day Guards Us From Anxiety About the Future

Later in Matthew 6, Jesus tells the multitudes not to be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. We can trust God for today by seeking first His kingdom and righteousness and trusting that all the other things we might worry about (life, the body, clothing, what we will eat and drink) will be provided for us as well.

Living This Day Reminds Us of God’s Faithfulness and Love

In Lamentations 3:22-23, we are told that God’s steadfast love and mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Each day gives us a fresh supply of God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. As sure as the sun rises, God demonstrates again his faithfulness to us in bringing about that new day, in holding together the world he has created, and in supplying us with His mercy and love that never ends. When we awaken to a new day, it’s good to remember this stunning truth.

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What if today, I rejoice in God and His faithful provision for me, resist the temptation to be anxious for the future, remember that He is God and that His mercy and love are new this day?

What if today, I simply ask: Will I trust God with this new day? What can I do today to follow God and do His will, to bring Him honor and glory? How can I love and serve those around me today? Where do I see God showing me His glory and providing for my needs?

Just for today.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Know the Word

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

When my husband was in seminary in Dallas and in graduate school in Virginia, we were part of different small groups from our churches. We would sometimes be studying a passage of Scripture or a pertinent biblical topic. I rarely prepared by reading my Bible beforehand. I was always ready though with an answer and to share what I thought! This was based on what I had been taught or on my own logical interpretation of the subject in that moment, not from what I had studied on my own.

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“His Last Words” Bible Study

14725639_10208970490434126_2694064041060376600_nYou may have noticed through some of my recent social media posts that I’ve been part of a launch team for a new Bible Study, His Last Words, by Kim Erickson. It’s part of a new group of women’s studies published by Moody Publishers which is being officially released tomorrow.

I am thrilled to see these kinds of biblical studies being produced for the growth and edification of women in the church. It’s not full of fluff, superficial, or written to appeal to our sense of humor or to tickle our ears. It’s sound doctrine, focused on the Bible and biblical truth, recognizing that we need to be fed on the Word of God and know this truth that will change our lives.

Kim Erickson has an incredible story of how God brought her to salvation in 2008 through the death of her 3-year old son. She has come to love God’s Word and to know its life-changing impact.

Kim has written a unique study. While you read a short section in your Bible to begin the day’s lesson, she then has the verses listed out one by one, every verse. It gives an opportunity for us to see in each verse what it says about God and His character and who He is. I loved this verse by verse approach, which works particularly well for this study on Jesus’ last words in John 13-17.

When we study God’s Word, approaching it with humility and in prayer asking for His Spirit to guide us, it’s amazing the treasure we find. Sometimes, we can hear the gospel message so often that the sheer wonder of it ceases to amaze us simply because of its familiarity. Opening God’s Word each day, approaching it to worship God, to see who He is, and who we are in light of that, safeguards us from losing our zeal and love for God as He re-awakens in us the truth of His Word.

One example of this was going through the first week’s lessons on John 13 at the Last Supper where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He stooped and set aside his place in this act of service, a picture of His far greater sacrifice on the cross (Philippians 2). Through the study that week, our Facebook launch team made all sorts of observations that we shared with each other. We thought about Judas who could be so near to Jesus, and yet not know Him, who would moments later betray the One who had just stooped to wash even his feet. We thought about Jesus’ great love for them and for us, that loved them to the end.

At the end of the week, I went to church where we had communion that Sunday. What was a normal Sunday for me, the worship of God in the fellowship of believers, suddenly became much richer because of this study. While the elements were being distributed, I opened my Bible to John 13, and all that I had been studying starting rolling through my heart and mind. I found the tears flowing, so alive and awake from the study, to partake of communion remembering all Jesus has done for us, his death on the cross for our sins, His body broken, His blood poured out for us. 

I was unprepared for the response, but isn’t this what God’s Word does? We don’t realize all it’s working in our hearts day by day, and then one moment it hits in all the deeper places realizing all it really means. It awakens us from our sleep, it draws us to God and His ways, it exposes where we are going wrong, it draws us to repentance, it strengthens our faith, it revives and changes us.

Praise God for His Word, so readily available to us today. I pray we won’t take this gift for granted, but will instead treasure it and share it and use resources such as His Last Words to equip and spur us on in our faith. It’s a great time of year to commit to reading the Bible each day and the study of God’s Word. It will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).