While there is no replacement for simply getting into the Word and reading it, sometimes it is nice to have some resources to help us along the way. Here are some resources that we love and want to share with you!
ESV Scripture Journals These journals have the passage on the left page and a blank page on the right. You can use these journals in a variety of ways: Use them for taking notes when your pastor is preaching through a book of the Bible or when you’re doing a group study of the Bible. You could also use these during your own personal study through a book of the Bible. There is also plenty of room within the passage for marking it up.
Daily Grace Podcast on “Highlighting”
Highlighting is an easy, but intentional way to think inductively as you read the Bible. Listen to this podcast from the Daily Grace Co. on ways to intentionally incorporate highlighting as part of your study of the Word!
Make-Your-Own Bible Plan Generator
If you are wanting to keep on schedule with your Bible reading, but also wish you could have more flexibility with the schedule, here is a tool you may find useful! With this Bible Reading Plan Generator, you can adjust what books you read, as well as the length of time alloted for reading. Here’s an article by the author on how it works.
We hope you find some of these resources to be helpful as you read and study God’s Word this year!
With a brand new year upon us, we have the opportunity to start fresh with our Bible reading goals.
Because reading the Bible on a regular basis is crucial for a growing walk with the Lord, it is often helpful to have a particular goal in mind. For example, one could have the goal to read through the Bible in a year. Or to read a chapter a day. Or to read the New Testament over the next six months. There really is no right or wrong Bible reading goal–the important thing is to be in the Word!
One practical way to help us stay on track in working towards our goal is to have a Bible reading plan. There are many, many different kinds of Bible reading plans–all one has to do is google “Bible Reading Plans” and there will be a multitude of options!
However, to help narrow down the options, we’d like to share some of the plans or approaches to reading the Bible that we’ve used in the past or would like to use this year.
Infographic on How Long It Takes to Read the Bible If you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to read through the Bible (or a portion of the Bible), you will be encouraged by this infographic from Crossway on how long it actually takes to read through the Bible!
While not a specific Bible reading plan, this is one way to immerse yourself in the Word while you work on dishes or fold laundry!
The Chronological Reading Plan Because the Bible isn’t organized in a chronological manner, this chronological reading plan helps makes better sense of the overall flow of the historical events of Scripture!
The Five-Day Psuedo-Chronological Plan
This is a plan that we haven’t actually used, but it has been highly recommended! This five-day plan is a slight variation to a chronological reading plan. One significant aspect of this plan is that it is based on a five-day week, which then gives you two days every week to catch (or get ahead)! Having two “free” days allows for some flexibility to do other reading or studying (such as homework for a weekly ladies’ Bible study).
Systematic Theology Reading Plan This is a 30-day reading plan from Crossway that focuses on short passages that address specific doctrines, including the doctrine of Scripture, God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, mankind, salvation, the church, and end times. Or, as Crossway describes it, it is a crash-course in systematic theology.
Knowable Word’s 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge
Reading through the entire Bible at a fast pace highlights the advantages of reading the entire Bible. Knowable Word has presented this challenge to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. If you finish reading the Bible within 90 days and by March 31, 2020, you can enter their giveaway of a ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set and a one-volume Reader’s Bible (translation of choice).
5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan The 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan focuses on reading through the New Testament, five minutes a day, five days a week. It also presents five ways to dig deeper as you read.
We hope this has given you some ideas of how to be more immersed in the Word during 2020! If you already have a favorite Bible reading plan that you use, we would love to hear about it!
We often have an image of the first Christmas as a peaceful scene, beautiful stars shining on a quiet night, shepherds serenely watching their flocks in beautiful green moonlit pastures and the people going about their quiet lives. When in reality the scene of Israel at that time was nothing close to peaceful or serene.
Israel was under enemy occupation, the culture was in turmoil, and the people under oppression. There was political unrest and instability with new leaders coming and going. Those in authority feared assassination by those hungry for power. Laws were imposed upon the people. The enemy built fortresses throughout the land, providing a visual reminder of their bondage. Taxation oppressed the people. Fear of slavery, imprisonment, loss of property or even crucifixion was real for the people of Israel.
It was during these dark days that God chose to send His Son to earth.
However, God did not send His only Son to bring physical deliverance from Rome’s oppression, or to rid the land of its enemy occupants, or to provide stability for the country, or to bring in an era of peace.
The God of the universe had the power to do all of these things, but what He came to accomplish was far more profound. It was something spiritual, something that has the power to affect every living soul individually.
Jesus did not come to overthrow His enemies; He came to save His enemies.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Colossians 1:21-22)
Jesus did not come to avenge those who had died by the hands of their enemies; He came to die for those who deserved death.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ( Romans 6:23)
Jesus did not come to free those in Roman dungeons; He came to free those who were slaves of their own sins.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Jesus did not come to break Roman control; He came to break the power of the law of sin and death.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
Jesus came to deliver sinners from eternal torment and separation from God.
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)
Jesus did not come to usher in an era of peace; He came to offer peace with God to those who had wronged Him with their sin.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Jesus came so those who were dead in sin could have abundant life.
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b)
Jesus came to make a way to enter God’s presence.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14, 16)
Jesus came to make a way for sinners to have fellowship with the King of kings and Lord of lords.
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (John 1:3)
Jesus came to offer rest to those who trust in Him.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus came to bring joy.
And now come I [Jesus] to thee [the Father]; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
The state of Israel during the era when Jesus came portrays a beautiful contrast to what He came to accomplish, not circumstantially, but in the hearts and lives of those who place their trust in Him!
We are often faced with trouble or hard circumstances that do not lend themselves to freedom, peace, rest or joy; but in Christ these things can be found no matter the situation!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. During this season, we are often asked the question “What are you thankful for?” and our brains scramble to find something to share. Today, we’ve compiled a list of Scriptural reasons for why we should give thanks, as well as some specific things for which Scripture tells us to give thanks.
Why should we give thanks?
Here are three reasons from Scripture:
1. Give thanks because it is God’s will.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
2. Give thanks because it magnifies God.
“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15
3. Give thanks because it is good to give thanks.
“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High.” Psalm 92:1
For what should we give thanks?
1. Give thanks for His holiness.
“Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Psalm 30:4
2. Give thanks for God’s goodness.
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1
3. Give thanks for He is the God of god and the Lord of lords.
“O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:2-3
4. Give thanks for He does great wonders.
“To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:4
5. Give thanks for He has created all things.
5 “To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:5-9
6. Give thanks for how He has dealt with Israel.
10 “To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever: 11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever: 12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever. 13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever: 14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever: 15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever. 16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever. 17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: 18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: 19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever: 20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever: 21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever: 22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:10-22
7. Give thanks for He has remembered us and redeemed us.
“Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever: And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:23-24
8. Give thanks because He provides.
“Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:25
9. Give thanks because His mercy endures forever.
“O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:26
10. Give thanks for our salvation.
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13
This list is not at all exhaustive. As you spend time in the Word during this season of giving thanks, be looking for other specific areas for which Scripture instructs us to give thanks!
My last post on miscarriage, When Your Friend Has One, gave a few ideas on how to minister to your friend who has gone through a miscarriage. However, because of the statistics, it is likely that you yourself may have also had a miscarriage. In this post, I’d like to share a few practical things that ministered to my heart in a very specific way as I worked through the loss of our twins
I don’t know about you, but music is a incredible balm for the soul. Shortly after our miscarriage, several songs became very special to me, for they reminded me of who my God is. Those songs, along with some select albums, are now part of a special playlist. I like to think of those songs as my go-to songs to help “lift my eyes to my Savior” when the emotions flood my soul or when I am tempted to wallow in a private pity party. This playlist has played so many times…and over and over, I’ve wept as the words remind me of who my God is. Through the tears, these songs have helped me worship my God who is forever good and faithful towards His children, even in the valley.
2. Special Memorabilia
Because our miscarriage was pretty early on in the pregnancy, we didn’t have any physical souvenirs to indicate that our twins had ever even existed: no ultrasound picture, no special outfits, no wristbands from a hospital stay, no indication of whether they were boys or girls, no names picked out. Nothing.
In some ways it felt like they had come and gone and it was all just a figment of our imagination.
But of course it wasn’t.
After months of struggling with this emptiness, I finally got to the point where I just really, really, really had to have something physical as my special reminder of the little ones God gave us for such a short little while: I decided to go with a simple heart necklace. It is the only necklace I ever wear and I love wearing it.
However, now that I think about it, there are other items scattered throughout our home that remind me that our twins have not been forgotten: dried roses in a vase from a bouquet that friends sent, that
small stack of cards from friends and family, a wall plaque my mother-in-law gave around the one-year anniversary of our miscarriage.
So perhaps you have a name ring, a Christmas ornament, a necklace, an ultrasound picture, a special onesie for a souvenir box, or something altogether different but it holds special meaning to you. Whatever it is, find something that reminds you of your little one. As strange as it sounds, there is an element of comfort in having something more than just a memory to remind you of your little one.
3. Topic-Specific Reading
While there is an abundance of articles and blog posts on the internet discussing personal experiences with miscarriage, be careful of those that are absorbed with all the emotions surrounding miscarriage, particularly if they come from a secular perspective. I agree that there is an element of encouragement in knowing that “you’re not the only one going through this,” but this encouragement is only temporary. As a believer, your ultimate comfort should not be in the warm emotions of fuzzy feelings and virtual group hugs from people you’ve never met or who may not even know Christ as their Savior. Rather, as a believer, you have access to a lasting comfort: the comfort that is found in your Savior.
With perfect timing, God brought along the book Inheritance of Tears by Jessalyn Hutto, as well as Courtney Reissig’s blog. Both of these ladies have gone through multiple miscarriages and have written on the subject to help point other ladies towards a gospel-centered comfort. The truths that these ladies have written were instrumental in refocusing my heart on my Savior in the midst of the sorrow.
Another resource that was highly influential in showing me more of the character of my God in the middle of my sorrow was the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. While not specifically about miscarriage, Trusting God deals with learning to trust Him in our sorrow, even when we don’t understand His ways (which is exactly what we struggle with, is it not?).
One last resource that I am currently reading is Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Senseby Paul Tripp. This book is an incredibly down-to-earth look at how we are to view the suffering that God takes us through in this life. Even though it has been almost five years since our miscarriage, Suffering is beginning to unpack and shed new light on so many of the hard emotions of grief that filled my heart after our miscarriage.
If you are longing to make Biblical sense of why God has called you to walk down this road of losing a child too early, I believe these resources can help point you in the right direction. I highly recommend them!
This is perhaps an obvious statement, but I cannot emphasize it enough. If you don’t remember anything else that I have written here, please do remember this: saturate—and I mean soak in, marinate in, drench, flood–your soul with God’s Word.
As emotional of a journey as a miscarriage may be, don’t get caught up in just the emotions. Fight the tendency to wallow in the emotions and offset it by rehearsing to yourself the unfailing truths from God’s Word.
God’s Word is true and living–the only source of lasting comfort–for it reveals the character of it’s author.
It the Word that reveals the one who created the little one you lost.
It the Word that reveals the very nature of the one who knows your every thought and emotion going through your heart during this time.
It is in the Word that you will begin to see more clearly the God who is sovereign over all things, even your miscarriage.
It is in the Word that you will begin to understand the reason for the sorrow and suffering that we have in this world.
And it is in the Word that you ultimately will find true comfort–because it will point you to finding your comfort in God.
So read the Word, listen to sermons, study the Word, read it some more, write out passages that God uses to cause your heart to worship Him, pray the Word back to God, read the Word some more.
If you’re at a loss as to how to saturate your soul with the Word, start reading the Psalms. Over and over again, the psalmist depicts a state of sorrow, despair, and anguish—all emotions we can identify with as we try to make Biblical sense of our sorrow. However, after sharing his heart’s state of despair and anguish, the psalmist points his reader to the specific character of God that upheld him in his darkest hours. And that is what our souls need: a rehearsing of who God is. The Psalms remind us that even though our world feels like it has just crumbled around us, we still have our unchanging God, good and faithful in all of His ways.
So cry out to God. Plead with Him to make His Word to be living waters for your parched soul to drink from so that your heart might rejoice in Him.
Pray that He would be true to His character and show you His goodness in the sorrow of your miscarriage.
Pray that He would cause you to again sing praise to Him and give thanks to Him forever (see Ps. 30:12).
Pray that you would experience that He is, indeed, good and that His steadfast love is everlasting (see Ps. 118:29).
Pray that you would be able to testify that it is His steadfast love that is the very thing that upholds you when you are about to slip (see Ps. 94:18).
Find your ultimate rest and comfort in the God who is sovereign over all of creation and who very purposefully and intentionally created your little one for His glory.