Category Archives: Devotional

The Same Wisdom

creation

In Proverbs 8, the chapter scheduled for my reading today, wisdom is personified as a woman. The same thing happened in previous chapters as well, i.e. 3:13-18 and 4:6-9. However, in this chapter, she says the following of herself,

22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
    when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
     and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

Such beautiful imagery! I don’t want to restate all that’s been said already, but go back and look line by line at how she describes herself and her relationship with the LORD.

Now, a few verses prior to that, verse 17, she says that she

…loves those who loves me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Understand what she is saying here. Those that seek her “diligently” will find her…and she loves them. Various places in the previous chapters of Proverbs encourages people to seek after wisdom. One specific example is in Proverbs 3:13, which says, “blessed is the one who finds wisdom.”

What does this mean for us today?

Last Wednesday night, we covered James 1:1-8 during bible study. James 1:5 is a verse with which many of us are familiar –

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James is encouraging us to ask for wisdom if we’re lacking it. The very wisdom that causes the one who finds it to be blessed. The very wisdom also personified above in v22-31! (Go read it again)

The very wisdom we are encouraged to seek after and ask God for if we’re lacking, was the wisdom that was with God – even used by God – in creation. How comforting is it to know that our Great God and King gives us the same wisdom He used before the foundations of the earth? There aren’t two different kinds of wisdom – He gives us His! How blessed are we?

Seek God today. In doing so, realize that as we are striving to know more about Him and how He can be glorified in our lives, He shares His wisdom with us.

Praise His kindness!

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The Springs of Life

springoflifeIn today’s reading of Proverbs, 4:23 caught my eye –

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

This is a great verse in dealing with the day to day ups and downs of life. As we navigate the various challenges we all face, whether it be in our families, on the job, with our friends, or even in the local coffee shop – we have to be mindful, even intense, about protect our hearts.

Why? Because as the second half of the verse says, “…from it flows the springs of life.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45,

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

This is crucial in understanding the need to protect our hearts.

In this context, Jesus is talking about the fruit that a tree bears. He says that, “each tree is known by it’s fruit” (4:44) – meaning, a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. But, here’s the rub.

The fruit that is born from a tree is produced based on what the tree receives. If the tree consistently receives water and the nutrients in the soil around it are good – good fruit. If the tree never, or rarely, receives water and the soil around it is bad – bad fruit, if any fruit at all. The same is with your heart.

Everyday, we are all going to be treated kindly or harshly – it depends on the person receiving the treatment to judge the varying degree of kindness or harshness. You can’t control what people say, but you can control how you receive what they say.

If someone is kind to you – praise God for their kindness and worship. If someone is unkind to you – praise God for His kindness and worship. This is because, regardless of how you are treated, Matt 7:12 still applies –

“So do whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Those “springs of life” flowing from your heart consists of kindness, graciousness, mercy, understanding, and unrelenting forgiveness – all of which you have been shown in Christ – that you are, in turn, responsible for showing to others.

God, in His grace, showed those very things to us despite the MANY times that we turned our backs on Him – literally and figuratively.  We didn’t earn those things from Him; how and why do we expect others to earn them from us? Guard your heart in Christ, so that His life may flow from it.

Grace and Peace,
John

A Right View of the Power of God

Preparation Timewpid-20140213_082025.jpg

Last night, as I sat at my dining room table working on homework, I couldn’t help but think about the impending storm. I thought about how everyone, myself included, stopped at the store on their way home from work to stock up on food and supplies just in case the storm left us to deal with the worst. I thought about those in Georgia and other southern states that were already dealing with the beast that was yet to reach us here in Maryland.

As many of us watched the news for updates, I wondered how many of us were thinking about the storm in terms of the destruction that was potentially about to take place. Were our thoughts with those who were going to be without electricity because of damaged wires from fallen trees? Were our thoughts with those who were going to be stranded in their vehicles when the roads became too dangerous to travel? Were our thoughts with those whom were without a roof over their heads during one of the biggest storms of the last few years?

It’s Here

This morning, I was one of the many people whom were out shoveling their cars from under the snow. From our front doors to the street, my neighbors and I trudged the many inches of snow that had fallen over the past few hours. As we steadily shoveled away, my neighbors and I held casual, yet cordial conversation with each other. It was nice. I made the comment that shoveling snow with others at nine o’clock in the morning is much better than shoveling snow alone at four thirty in the morning. It genuinely is better.

I’m sure we were all thinking about family and friends whom were affected by this storm system. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering how others were doing. I saw a few Facebook posts about some who did lose their power. All we can do from here is pray for them. But, I also wondered about how many of us thought about God and how He controls nature (Psalm 29). Do we look at this storm as a nuisance or as a display of God’s power? Do we look at this storm as an inconvenience or as a testament to His greatness? Yes, if our power goes out because of fallen trees, we see it as a nuisance. Yes, if we are stuck in the house because the streets are too bad to travel, we see it as an inconvenience. It’s a natural reaction for a natural people who have natural wants and needs.

My First Thought

We have lived in our current home for almost a year and a half. Since being here, we have lost power multiple times. We usually lose power because of extreme weather, i.e. a rain or snow storm. I guess that’s normal. Other times, we’ve lost power because something somewhere overheated. I guess that’s possible. Once we lost power for a reason that no one could explain. You can guess I was upset. In times like that, I am quick to complain. My frustration comes out pretty quickly. Honestly, I try my best to stay positive and maintain composure for the sake of my family. You know, do my best to set the right example, but deep down – I’m mad and I know it.

It is times like this that I have to be reminded, in some way, that God is sovereign over everything (Psa 115:3). As a believer, I am never outside of His hand (Jn 10:28). He is my shield (Psa 5:12). So, why are my first thoughts negative? What is it that causes me to develop a thought process that doesn’t bring God any kind of glory?

A New Vision

It’s sin (Gen 3:6). It’s ever present with me (Rom 7:21). It causes me to shift my focus from God, who is eternal, and place it on my situation, which is temporary. I lose sight of He who made heaven and earth (Gen 1), and zero in on the problem that holds no worth. It’s a wrong vision of what’s important. My priorities are shifted.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t deal with our circumstances. We must deal with them. If we don’t address them, there’s the potential for them to fester and possibly grow unmanageable – depending on the issue, of course. Our problems must be dealt with head on, but we must deal with them with God taking the lead. As stated earlier, He is in control of all things – including the things that bother me on a daily basis.

Who am I to think that God isn’t concerned with what troubles me? Better yet, who are we (as a people) to think that God isn’t concerned with what troubles us? We’re made in His image (Gen 1:26), He’s given us dominion (Gen 1:28), in the midst of our sin, He still cares for us (Gen 3:21), and most importantly, He’s given us a way out of our sin to be reconciled back (Eph 2:16) into a right relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ (Matt 27, Mk 15, Lk 23, Jn 19)

How can we presume to know what God is not concerned with regarding His children (Eph 1:5)? Let us no longer presume anything regarding the mind of God, but let us hold fast to that which He has promised us in His word – deliverance on the day of trouble (Psa 50:15). God is awesome. He is magnificent in all things. So, let’s not forget that because of God’s power, Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient to save us (Jn 3:16) and allow us to now be members of the household of God (Eph 2:19). Amen.

In Christ,
John

How do you view God’s power in your life? Do you see the problem first or God’s power first? Share it below. Thanks.

Rough Morning

I couldn’t journal this morning. prostrate

It’s not that I didn’t want to or that I didn’t have my journal and a pen…I just didn’t feel I had anything to say. My normal routine begins with a prayer of thanks to the Lord for another day, then I’ll begin journaling. It’s becoming more commonly the first thing I do when I wake in the morning. I will write about something that the Lord has put on my heart or I’ll write about something that happened the night or day prior or whatever comes to mind. I didn’t write about anything this morning…pen in hand, blank page ready…and nothing.

So, I figured I would read the scripture readings assigned for this morning through my bible reading plan. I had to read Proverb 22…twice. Understand, the reading only calls for reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I had to read it twice because I didn’t remember what I read the first time. It was like my eyes just glossed over the words n the pages. Many times over the past few days, there has been a verse or two that had just rocked me in the respective chapter I was reading! Nothing today.

Hmm…ok…I go to the Psalms…Psalm 13. The Lord always talks to me in the Psalms. Still nothing. Since Psalm 13 is a mere six verses, I determined to read it again…and again…and again.  Not moved.

So, I go into prayer. I have a prayer list in my phone that I go through a few times a week, some prayers I pray every day. So as I am preparing – I have the app on my phone open, I have the prayer bulletin from my church laid out, I have my “31 Biblical Virtues to Prayer Over Your Child” card next to it – and (mentally) I’m not there. I don’t feel in my heart that I am ready, dare I say willing, to go before God in prayer.

Now, this isn’t usual. I have usually been able to write something in my journal. There is usually a proverb or two that jumps out at me. The psalms are LOADED with goodness from God. And my prayertime?? Praise God that I can even have the confidence to come before His throne (Heb 10:19-20).

Back to this morning – as I lay prostrate on the floor, I was determined not to get up until I prayed…and prayed for a good amount of time. So, I just prayed whatever came to mind. An unbelieving family member, a friend, my bride, the church…whatever came to mind. Sometimes, I dozed off. (I know because when I looked at the clock, there were some unaccounted for blocks of time.) Other times, I was focused. Other times, I dozed off again. In general, it just wasn’t a good prayertime.

I was quite bothered. What was my problem? Why can’t I get “into it” today? I mean really, I couldn’t do anything on my list of things I like to do during my devotional time? Sad…just sad…disappointing, even.

I put my bible away. Tucked away my journal. Locked my phone. I start getting ready for work. As I’m getting ready, I’m reflecting on what happened so far this morning, and then it hits me! The Lord showed me what was wrong with my morning devotional routine. It’s a routine! It’s rote. It’s mechanical. I’m so focused on what needs to be done first and “allotting” enough time for the next “event” that I am not focused on the prize, namely Christ. My routine is getting in the way of my relationship.

I can’t remember the last time I spent an hour or more just reading and praying over the bible, or just in prayer with my Lord and King, or journaling my gratitude for His kindness to my family and I, or just sitting in absolute silence and waiting for the Lord. Instead, I’ve been trying to cram all these things into and hour or so before I go to work for the next 8 – 9 hours. I was trying to check the block on my devotional time so that I can move to the next block on my schedule. It’s wrong. I’m robbing myself of the chance to abide in God’s love (John 15:9). I’m dishonoring God.

I thank God for this morning. I thank God that He showed me how unfeeling I’ve been in my coming to him. I thank Him for showing me my error in developing processes of worship and missing the benefits that come from realizing that I even have the opportunity to worship. He reminded me that it’s a privilege, not a right…an occasion given through grace, not earned through my works. And I thank Him that He was merciful in doing so.

As I sit here writing this, the sun is still making it’s way above the horizon. A blatant reminder of the grace that He has given us to live another day. If you have breath in your lungs and you are reading this now – you have already received more than you deserve today, as have I. Let’s not forget that. And let’s not get wrapped up in the routine of worship, but more importantly, let’s become engulfed in the One whom we are made to worship!

Before I sat down to write this, I took an opportunity to read over Psalm 13 again. Verses 5-6 says this,

“5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Thank you, Lord, in dealing “bountifully” with me, your servant…

In Christ,
John

“The Gospel Project” on Android! YES!!!

logo-defaultIt seems as though everyone in the “reformed” camp are *Apple fans. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to see everyone from Pastors to rappers communicating on their iPhones and preaching or speaking from their iPads.

Most, if not all, of the apps developed by reformed ministries are released on iOS before any other platform – including Android. I have to admit, as an Android user, it is quite frustrating. I can’t tell you how many apps are currently on the iOS that I would love to see on the Android platform. Take a look through the comments section of the many of the articles that introduce a new app released on the iOS platform – Android users are screaming for some love!

Enter “The Gospel Project” finally released on Android. I first learned of this project from the The Gospel Coalition website. I am extremely excited about it and I am grateful to Lifeway Christian Resources for releasing it on another platform. Lifeway is a great organization. Their resources are always biblically-focused, Christ-centered, and grounded in the gospel! As the education arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, they are dedicated to providing first-rate material for evangelical Christians. I’m sure you’ve seen the Lifeway Christian Stores in your area.

For those unfamiliar with this initiative –

The Gospel Project is a Bible study resource that invites Adults, Students, and Kids of all ages to dive deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. In every lesson, participants are immersed in the gospel and learn how when the gospel works on them, they become a part of the story, too, the very hands and feet in God’s gospel project.

Led by General Editor Ed Stetzer and Managing Editor Trevin Wax, The Gospel Project is designed to unify an entire church under a single Christ-centered curriculum. Separate study plans for adults, students, and kids ensure the proper focus and depth for each age group.

– The Gospel Project Website

Again, I am extremely excited about this program finally making its way to the Android platform and I look forward to eventually incorporating it in my family’s devotional time, as well as my personal devotional time. When you get a chance, take a look at their site and see how this resource can fit into your devotional life and even the life of your church. Grace and peace to you.

In Christ,
John

*I love my brother and sister Apple users. Y’all are good people! 😉

24 Jan 14 – Update: On 21 Jan 14, I made a comment on the original blog post regarding getting an message in the Google Play store about the adult app not being compatible with my device. (I am running a Galaxy Note 8.0 w/ Jelly Bean 4.2.2 – the app requires 4.0 and above.) My post was answered the same day and I was informed that someone was looking into the problem. Today, a Gospel Project (GP) representative (Erica) responded saying that the adult app should be fixed. It was! Thanks to the GP Team for such a prompt response and appropriate fix to the issue. Just another reason to pick up this app – the response time from the GP Team is remarkable!

Lord, Keep Us From Complaining.

“When we complain, we’re saying loudly that the blessings of the gospel aren’t enough. We’re saying that the death of Christ isn’t enough. We’re saying that eternal fellowship with God, purchased at great cost to God, isn’t enough to satisfy our souls. We’re saying that forgiveness of sins and peace with God is nice, but not that nice. We’re saying that God ‘[has] not wisdom, or power, or mercy enough’ to provide for us. We’re saying that God himself, who is the very definition of goodness, isn’t good enough. We would like a little something more, if you don’t mind. God plus [insert desire of choice] should do the trick. When we complain, we accuse God of being stingy, of not giving us enough.”
– Stephen Altrogge
“The Greener Grass Conspiracy:
Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence”

Purchase the book here.

There Is Disgrace in Pride, But Humility in Wisdom.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has started a new Bible reading plan for 2014. The plan I am using calls for me to read a chapter of Proverbs each day of the month which, if I stay on schedule, will allow me the opportunity to read the Book of Proverbs every month by thehumility end of the year. As of today, I’m about a day or so off of my schedule. I am reading Proverbs 11 and 12 in order to be caught up for tomorrow’s reading.

As I was reading through Proverbs 11, my attention was caught pretty quickly by the second verse.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

This verse is speaking about how the result of pride, whether it be a prideful heart or just a general attitude of pride, is disgrace. In what ways are we prideful? Any time we believe that we are owed something or that we should have more than we do, we are suffering from pride. For example, when we covet, we want something that does not belong to us and we secretly desire to have it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 20:17). When we lust after someone, we secretly desire to have that person; this is usually if they are not ours in marriage. For some reason, we believe we deserve them, therefore it is sin (Matt 5:28). When we see and object we want and it doesn’t belong to use, we take it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 25:15).  We are prideful in our belief that we deserve more than with what God has blessed us.

The second half of the verse speaks to those whom are not subject to the first half of the verse. As believers, we trust God everyday to keep us from pride. We want to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. To do so, we must remain humble in all circumstances. This verse is telling us that those who are humble have wisdom.

How do the humble get this wisdom? From where does this wisdom come?

If we look back at Proverbs 9:10, it says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” What this is telling us is that the humble, those who strive by God’s grace to avoid pride and the disgrace that follows, can only do so because they first fear of the Lord! This fear is the beginning of wisdom.

This is significant. The Bible is telling us that in order for us to be wise and act in a manner which is not only pleasing to God, but is glorifying to Him, we must first fear Him. Understand – this “fear” that the Bible speaks about is not a “fear” as we fear man. Yes, we can fear a man to take our life just as we can fear God to take our life. (Although my intent is not to compare the two in any manner. If man takes a life, it is because of his inherent wickedness. If God takes a life, it is because of His inherent righteousness.) The “fear” that the Bible speaks about relating to God is a reverential fear. A sincere and deep appreciation of God for who He is and for what He has done and continues to do.

The Book of Proverbs speaks about the “fear of the Lord” even earlier than chapter nine; specifically in chapter one where we read in verse seven that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” So, in light of these two verses, there is a question. How can “the fear of the Lord” be the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom? This seems to be a contradiction of sorts. But, it is not a contradiction, for as evangelical Christians, we hold to the Orthodox belief that all scripture is inerrant. It is perfect.

When I study, I use the ESV Study Bible as my “go to” resource, among others. This study bible has been invaluable to me. I am so thankful for it. Well, in the notes at the bottom of the page, it reads:

“ ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Wisdom’ are closely tied together in Proverbs: ‘knowledge tends to focus on the correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while ‘wisdom’ is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or ‘skill in the art of godly living’…The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.”

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, then through what we are able to know about Him and His world, we have the opportunity to act in a manner which is pleasing and glorifying to Him, namely humble and gracious in our circumstances. As believers in Christ and what he has accomplished on the cross for our sake, we are in no position to have a prideful attitude about anything; for what we have we did not earn nor do we deserve.

I pray, that by the grace of God, that we will bow in fear before Him, and through knowledge and wisdom He gives us, we are kept from the pride that leads to disgrace. In doing so, we are able to properly represent Christ as His disciples.

Grace and Peace,
John

Pray for the Nations!

Prayer is central to the Christian faith. There is verse after verse after verse in scripture that calls us, as believers, to pray to our God and King on behalf of ourselves, family, friends, those in authority, and even strangers. One of the most common bible verses on prayer known to believers and unbelievers alike is James 5:16. We trust the bible implicitly about what it says regarding “the prayer of a righteous person”.

unreachedA few months ago, I came across an app in the Google Play store called “Unreached of the Day”. This is a wonderful app and it is available on both the Google and iOS platforms. This app is sponsored by The Joshua Project. According to their website, the Joshua Project “is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ.”

I really like this app because it is a simple and bare bones product, but yet it contains so much information. There is a different people group to pray for during each day of the year. The information listed for each people group includes population numbers, primary religion, a summary of the people, ministry obstacles, a map of their area, language, etc.

However, I think the main draw of this app is the prayer focus. There is specific focus on how to pray for followers of Christ (if any) within the people group, a specific focus on how to pray for the group as a whole, and a specific scripture to pray regarding the group.

This app is great to incorporate into your personal morning or evening devotionals. Personally, I have incorporated it into my morning devotions and we use it as a family at night during the prayer portion of our family devotions. It’s a good app and it’s free. Download it and feel free to let me know what you think about it in the comments. Thanks. Grace and Peace.

In Service to the King,
John

Fifty-Eight Days Into 2013: How’s Your Bible Reading Plan Coming Along? Part 2 (Well…now it’s 61 days into 2013, but you know where I’m going with this.)

So, what are our pre-established thoughts regarding reading the Bible reading?

  1. Challenging endeavor.
  2. Time consuming effort.
  3. Long process.
  4. Boring material.
  5. Un-natural pursuit.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit…those are pretty negative thoughts. I know that when thoughts like these start creeping into my mind, it’s not long before I cast aside the object of those thoughts. At that point, I have pretty much made up my mind that I want nothing else to do with whatever is making me think those things.

But, what if those thoughts about reading the Bible are true? What does that say about our feelings toward the author – God? Do we also find Him challenging…time consuming…boring? Some people do. Think about it. Many people, young people in particular, do not give their lives to Christ because the life they are living is fun and exciting and they don’t want to lose that fun and excitement. They really believe that life as Christian should be saved for when there is nothing else to live for. (This is definitely a topic for a later post.)

bible reading

How do we past the negative thoughts and on to positive thoughts? There must be a way. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people claimed to have read the Bible from cover to cover and enjoyed it. What did they do to get to that point? Are they reading a certain translation? I think we’d all agree that some translations are easier to read than others. Are they in reading groups? Sometimes a book club can make any reading more enjoyable. I don’t know. Whatever they did worked for them. Regarding the limited people I know, I can’t even say that any of them have read the entire Bible. I’d like to think that some people have, but I’ve never asked nor has anyone ever shared if they have. However, I can tell what I do in order to keep those negative thoughts from influencing me.

1. I thank God.
“John answered and said, ‘A person cannot receive one thing unless it is given him from heaven.’” – John 3:27

God doesn’t owe us anything. He doesn’t owe us this life He has given us, He doesn’t owe us His self-revelation through the Bible He has inspired, and He most definitely doesn’t owe us the salvation he provided through His Son – nothing! So, that is my first thought when approaching scripture. When I pick up my Bible, I purposely think to myself, “This is God’s revelation to me. He wants me to know Him. It is a privilege and an honor to hold a book such as this in my hands.” I want to constantly remind myself of these things; it’s only natural to think otherwise.

2. I get into the right mindset.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matt 6:21

All I have, I owe to God. My life, my health, my family, my “possessions” are all possible because of God. If I place my worth in anything other than God, I am not giving due reverence to God. I am placing the creation above the Creator; the gifts above the Giver. If my value is in God and the things of God, my focus remains on God. I want to constantly remind myself of these things; it’s only natural to think otherwise.

3. I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.
“Open my eyes that I may behold the wondrous things out of your law.” – Psalm 119:18

God still speaks. I believe that. God speaks to different people in different ways and when I approach scripture, I pray that God will allow me to see and hear what He says to me. Maybe He will speak through the words on the page, maybe I will hear a “still small voice”, maybe something someone says later in the day will give me insight to what I read. However God chooses to make it happen, it happens. I want to constantly remind myself of these things; it’s only natural to think otherwise.

And through my time reading scripture, I am looking to get the meaning of the text and how it applies to my life in Christ. My outlook on reading scripture is totally dependent on God and the work that He does in me. As I stated before, seeking God is a super-natural act that by nature, we cannot do without God. Firstly, if you desire God and you are having trouble doing so, I’d like you to see that the desire you have is because God desires you. That is of first importance. We cannot seek God without Him first giving us a desire to do so. Secondly, pray for Him to strengthen your desire for Him. He’ll do it. Depend on His strength, not your own in your seeking. Finally, trust that He’ll do what He promises. His promises are all throughout scripture. Not only noted in Proverbs 8:17 and Jeremiah 29:13 (mentioned in part one), there is Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 2:12, and Proverbs 9:10 to name a few.

I haven’t read the Bible from cover to cover. But, I’m trying. If I was to put a percentage on how much of the Bible I HAVE read, it would be less than 50%…possibly 40%. And trust me – that’s not an effort to boast about anything other than the fact that God has given me the grace and the desire to read any of His precious word at all. But, I’m trying. And I believe in my very spirit that God will continue to pour His grace upon me to be able to one day succeed in reading the Bible from cover to cover – but, it will be by His strength, not my own. (Phil 4:13)

So, if I can offer a word of encouragement; be blessed in your pursuit of God and all that you do to find Him. And remember what the Lord said in Isaiah 40:8,

“The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever.”

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.

Grace and Peace,
John

Fifty-Eight Days Into 2013: How’s Your Bible Reading Plan Coming Along? Part 1

So, who else started a Bible reading plan at the turn of the year? I did…for the third, fourth, or 10th time in the past few years. Many people, believers and non-believers alike, start a Bible reading plan for their own personal reason. Some start a reading plan on the first of the year because they think it will “start the year off right”. 300px-Iphone-bible-2Others start a plan at Easter to coincide with Christ’s resurrection which brings new life. Some just start on Monday because it’s the first day of the week. Who knows the reason. Whatever it may be, anyone who has has ever tried to start, follow, and eventually complete a reading plan can attest that it is a challenging, maybe even daunting, undertaking for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes – the challenge is trying to find the time to read the day’s selected reading because life is always tugging for our attention.

At other times, the challenge is trying to read the selected day’s reading when it just doesn’t peak our interest. (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy…anyone…anyone?)

Having the desire to read the Bible from cover to cover, with or without a reading plan, is a noble endeavor. You are seeking God. You desire His presence in your life. You want to deepen your relationship with the Creator…or just begin one. The bible speaks to this in many places; two of which include:

  1. Proverbs 8:17  – “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” (ESV)
  2. Jeremiah 29:13  – “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (ESV)

Both verses are beautiful and honest speak to the one whom is seeking God.

So, we have some questions. How do we reconcile our aspirations to the read the Bible, with the challenges we face of actually reading it? How do we remain steadfast in the spiritual discipline of Bible reading, when we don’t find the Bible interesting? How do we maintain our focus on drawing near to the Sovereign God of the Universe through the very scriptures He uses to tell of His sovereignty? It’s not easy. It’s not common. It’s not even natural. In fact, it’s supernatural. It is outside of our nature to desire that which is good – especially the good things of God. But, the good news is – God doesn’t leave us in our nature. He doesn’t leave us to dwell in an existence apart from Him. God provides us encouragement in our endeavors of following after Him…

Grace and Peace,
John