Reading Through The Bible in One Year

by Barb Schumacher
 

Though she may not know it, Bethanie Freeman is the inspiration for the title of this devotion and moreover, my
commitment to read the Bible through in a year. Bethanie announced to me, during one of our conversations in the narthex, that she wanted to try to read the Bible through in a year and that she was going to do it! That conversation was December 2019/January 2020 (can’t remember for sure) and to say that I was touched, moved and compelled by that statement is an understatement! Talk about a New Year’s resolution with some punch….I was down for that exercise.

But to Bethanie and to all of you, I must confess: I am on the two year plan!

However, at this writing, I am a little over halfway through the Old Testament and little over halfway through the New Testament. I am following the “Our Daily Bread” plan that is listed at the bottom of each “Our Daily Bread” devotional. My 93-year-old mother has decided to use this plan too. I told her I was on the two year plan…..she giggled.

There are lots of plans to read through the Bible and many are online, so that you can use them on your smartphone, iPad, or laptop and those are great also.

My purpose in sharing this with you, my church family, is to encourage you to give this a go, whether you have already read through the entire Bible already or not. For me, the important thing was to start – regardless of how long it takes. Once I started, I found myself longing for more time in the Word, more time with the Lord, and the enjoyment in reading, learning and loving God’s precepts and His promises. That is what has taken me so long – I find myself reading the notes at the bottom of my Bible to understand more and I am underlining/double underlining all over the place!

Psalm 19 and 119 remind us of the blessings and truth that come from the Word of God:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are
trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19: 7-8)

“Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight.” Psalm 119: 33-35)

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from Your precepts
therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 103-105)

During this Lenten season, I want to encourage you to begin your “walk through the Bible” and if you do decide to do this, let me know so that I can pray with you and for you, as we journey through the Word together! (Thank you Bethanie!)

Heavenly Father, I thank you for Your Word that is flawless and true. I pray that as I read and study the Scriptures, Your Spirit would speak to my heart and help me resist every wrong path. Please teach me, Lord, that I might gain
understanding, keep Your law, and obey it with all my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Scripture Focus: The Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be
baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

(Matthew 3:13-17)


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A Great Question

by Savenit Polo
 

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7)

According to the scriptures, the last teachings of Jesus were made in parables. This could have happened as a result of the unbelief of the people and the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees.

In order to understand the parables, we must have an attitude of humility, a heart willing to be changed and to learn.
In Luke 18:1-8, we have the opportunity to read a parable full of teachings, a judge dealing with a persistent widow who apparently suffered a damage from someone else and needed justice.

According to the law of that time, women could not demand justice in a court but Jesus introduces this figure as a way to teach us that we must persist in prayer, no matter how difficult the situation may seem to be.

God’s grace and His justice are available to anyone who comes to Him, male or female. Finally, Jesus confronts us with a great question:

Will not God do justice to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? We can trust in the justice of God.

Lord, help me be persistent in prayer and to continue believing, despite my moments of difficulties. Amen.


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Everyone’s Path Is Unique

by Mike Enslen
 

I started playing golf about 15 years ago and was quickly captivated by the game. It’s the scenic beauty of each course, the chance to spend time with family and friends, and the challenge of hitting a small white ball with little more than a thin stick – all of these make it an enjoyable game to play. For most of my golfing life, I have been able to get out to play only a few times per year. But recently I have had the opportunity to play more often, prompted by my kids taking an interest in the game. I love seeing them get excited to be out on the course and enjoy the extra quality time as we learn the game together.

These extra trips to the course and time playing with the kids have helped me realize something: the ball never takes the same path from the tee box to the cup. No matter the skill level of the golfer, every time you play there’s a unique set of shots, club choices, and ball placements used to finish each hole.

This is like our path to a relationship with God. Everyone has his or her own faith journey – not one is the exact same! Some believers attended church from birth and accepted Him at a young age and for others it was much later in life that they found salvation. Some have lived lives they were not proud of when they came to Him. Consider the tax collector from Luke 18: 13-14.

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14)

In this parable, the tax collector knew he wasn’t worthy but came begging for mercy. Even though he had a sinful past, this man could still honor God and receive forgiveness from Him. If you’re struggling with something in your history and
worrying that you’re not good enough for God – DON’T! Jesus came for all of us and no matter the steps you have taken in your life He will welcome you with open arms. Or going back to the golf comparison…I can hit a terrible shot off the tee, or overshoot the green, or land in multiple bunkers on a hole – but no matter how many strokes it takes, I can always
finish the hole and put the ball in the cup! If you’re a golfer, think about that the next time you play a round – the path may be clean, or it may be messy, but it’s always unique!


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Rest In His Goodness

by Laura Courtney
 

I officially became a Christian about twelve years ago. I say this only to explain that I still consider myself young and somewhat childish in my walk with Christ and even in my theological understandings. I consider myself blessed to say that I have not faced huge trials or temptations in my walk thus far, but I have certainly seen God work on me and in me these past several years nonetheless. One of the more recent understandings I’ve had with God came about four years ago when my husband, Ethan, started working third shift. Each night, there I would be. In my house. In the country. Alone.

As a woman, maybe the fear of being alone at night is a little more heightened (or the fear of not being alone I should say). A few months into this new living situation I started to have issues going to sleep because my mind would start playing the “What If” and “What Would Happen” games. What if someone broke in? What if someone tried to hurt me and I couldn’t get help? What would happen if God, knowing my fears, used these scenarios to try to test me and make me confront my fears? Sad to say this went on for a least a week or two. And more than the first two thoughts, the last one troubled me the most. What if God let something happen to me?

I still refer to this moment as my “heart-to-heart” moment with Him because it was one of the first times that I just laid it all out before Him and then heard His response back to me almost instantaneously. I told Him my fears. I told Him I couldn’t handle the idea of having to face that kind of a test from Him. I mean, Job was tested pretty harshly, right?
Abraham too. Heck, Jesus was tempted right out of the waters of baptism. Scripture even tell us we’ll face trials and
temptations. I’m not sure I would do so well.
 
And then I heard His gentle reminder… “But I am good”.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28)

“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

I slept fine for the next year or so until my husband moved to first shift again (and then I didn’t sleep for like three months, but that was due to a newborn baby and is a whole other devotional for another time). Not to say I didn’t have the late-night thoughts creep in every now and then but I could rest in His promise and faithfulness. Why?

Because God does not seek to cause us harm. He does not seek to hurt us. He does not just sit around waiting to “get us” and then ask why we didn’t trust him. He is good. He is loving. He desires for us to draw near to Him, but he calls us gently and without brute force. He knows all of our thoughts, our fears, our worries and temptations, yet he does not use those against us for His own gain. He seeks out the good. He uses our good. He works for our good. He is GOOD.

Again, I consider myself young in my walk with Christ so perhaps this isn’t as revelatory for some, but this was just an amazing realization for me. I felt my worry lifted and my fear diminished. Because I love and serve and trust in a God who faithful and good.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.”
(Psalm 4:8)


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Life Lessons From A Model A

by Pastor Bob Coddington
 

I went to my “memory bank” to see if I could make a withdrawal from my many deposits of these many years. This is what I found and I am praying it is as helpful in your life as it has been in mine.

I had always been somewhat glad that every time we went out with the “A” we were able to get home without calling upon the tow truck, until that one time when I used everything I knew to use and the “A” just would not go any further. I was less than a mile from home and nothing I did would get it started. My last resort was to call upon my son-in-law. He had a trailer that would be able to get the “A” home where I could determine the cause. At home, I was able to narrow it down to the distributor. It was shorting out because of a fifteen-cent fiber washer. Can you believe it? A fifteen-cent item could bring this auto to a halt!

I remember some mighty big oak trees that were brought down by little ants.

Yes, just one sin can fester and bring down a mighty fine Christian believer if we leave it unattended.

At this Lenten Season, we need to be reminded of why Christ came: to set us free from our sin. Maybe we ought to attend to that now, asking Him to separate us from our sin. He will do just that; scripture says He will remove our transgressions from us, as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleans us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)

Just something to think about as we travel through Lent this year.

May our Lord bless you and keep you in the palm of His hands in the days ahead.


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