Monthly Archives: December 2016

Through the Bible, 2017 Reading Program Overview

2017 Bible Reading Plan

This year’s Bible reading plan will have the purpose of recounting the Bible’s story line.  The goal is not to read through the entire Bible. Instead, we’ll focus on tracing the events of God’s eternal plan from Creation all the way through to Christ, the church, and the ultimate hope of heaven.

We’ll use the framework of the twelve calendar months and the four weeks in each of those months as the basis for our schedule.  The “extra” days in each month (that is, those beyond 28–each month will have 2 or 3, except February) we’ll use for additional readings related to that month’s portion of the story line.

The Bible reading schedule will also contain some explanatory notes, tying the story line together and telling some about each of the books and their role in the account.  Again, we will not be reading the entire Bible (though we will be reading the entire New Testament) but at least a sample reading from each book will be included in the reading schedule.

The reading schedule will be published daily and made available online. At the beginning of each month a month’s overview will be provided as well as weekly overviews at the beginning of each week.

Also, readings will be scheduled for 6 days of each week.  The seventh day can be used to get caught up or do additional readings if you may have chosen to read through the entire Bible in the year.

Following is an overview of our schedule by month:

January          Creation to the flood to Abraham,              Genesis, Job,                                                                           Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, also Job

February        Egyptian bondage, the Exodus, Mt.            Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers                                                 Sinai, and wilderness wandering

March             Preparation for and conquest of                 Deuteronomy, Joshua,                                                          Canaan.  Dividing the land and the            Judges, Ruth                                                                             time of the Judges

April                The monarchy begins: God’s people          1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11                                                    ruled by kings Saul, David, &                      1 Chron. 10-29; 2 Chron. 1-9                                                  Solomon

May                 The wisdom of the kings: Psalms,               Psalms, Proverbs,                                                Proverbs, Ecclesiastes                                  Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon

June               The kingdom divides into Israel &              1 Kings 11-2 Kings 17;                                                            Judah.  God begins a more                          2 Chron. 10-28; Hosea, Amos,                                             extensive use of prophets.                           Jonah, Micah, Isaiah                                                              Israel falls to Assyria

July                 Judah alone remains. Jerusalem                 2 Kings 18-25;2 Chron. 28-36;                                              and Judah fall to Babylon.                           Zephaniah, Nahum, Jeremiah,                                                                                                                       Lamentations, Habakkuk, Obadiah                                                                                                                                                                                          August            Babylonian captivity.  The return               Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah,                                         and rebuilding of Jerusalem,                       Esther, Haggai, Zechariah,                                                    the close of Old Testament history             Malachi

September     Jesus: His life, ministry, and                        Matthew, Mark, Luke, John                                                   teaching

October          Jesus: His ministry ends, the                       Matthew, Mark, Luke, John                                                   crucifixion, and resurrection

November      The establishment and spread of             Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians                                           the church; Christian living                        Galatians, Ephesians,                                                                                                                                       Philippians, Colossians, Philemon,                                                                                                               1 & 2 Thessalonians

December      The church, Christian living, and                1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews,                                             the hope of heaven                                       James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John,                                                                                                                  Jude, Revelation

My Delight is the Lord, December 31

Listen More

December 31, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 27:1-28:31

The centurion cannot be accused of not hearing different viewpoints when he had to decide if the ship would winter in Fair Havens. He heard the thinking of Paul, the pilot, the ship’s owner, and apparently others on board. He “paid more attention” to those who thought they should go ahead and set sail, than to what Paul said (27:10-11). Several voices were heard; that of experience (the pilot of the ship), that of vested interest (the ship’s owner), the majority, and an imprisoned preacher (Paul). On the surface it seems some of these opinions should carry more weight than others. But only one was correct and that was Paul’s. This is such a critical lesson, we must be very careful about whom we listen to more than others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Was Paul’s advice inspired? (27:9-10)
  • What made them think they had made the right decision? (27:13)
  • Who spoke to Paul in the night? (27:23)
  • Did all the shipwreck’s victims make it safely in the same way? (27:43-44)

My Delight is the Lord, December 30

Principled Lives

December 30, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 25:13-26:32

The Romans were a principled people when it came to their judiciary. As Festus explained, “it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him” (Acts 25:16). Had such noble principles of justice governed Paul’s trial, it would have turned out quite differently. The problem is that those principles must be exercised by people and sometimes people are less than noble; Festus and Felix for instance. So it is also with God’s word, it is true and right. The trouble comes when people fail to embrace what is true or practice what is right. As serious as we should be about identifying timeless principles and eternal truths, we must be no less so about living them.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Festus summarize Paul’s charges to Agrippa? (25:19)
  • Why do you think Paul resisted a change of venue back to Jerusalem? (25:20-21)
  • Of whom was Paul’s audience comprised? (25:23)
  • Why did Paul believe Agrippa was aware of what he said? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, December 29

Not Lukewarm

December 29, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:14-22

Extremists make us nervous. We prefer people to possess at least a modicum of balance. We would rather their “boat” stay an even keel. Well, that’s not always true. It was not true when Jesus spoke to the Laodiceans. He chided them for their lack of extreme, for their even temperament; or maybe we should say, temperature. Jesus could not stand their tepid spirituality. As a matter of fact He says it makes Him sick. Spirituality hot or cold either one is better than lukewarm! Think about that. As far as Jesus is concerned (and there is no other viewpoint that actually matters) only two valid possibilities exist, spiritually speaking. One ought never to console their conscience for not being on fire by saying, “Well, at least I’m not ice cold.” According to Jesus, as bad as it sounds, you’re better off saying, “At least I’m not lukewarm.”

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 14)
  • Upon basis did Jesus determine this church was lukewarm? (vv. 15-16)
  • How did these Christians see themselves? (v. 17)
  • What does Jesus do for those He loves? (v. 19)

My Delight is the Lord, December 28

Transitions

December 28, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1-11

What started at Bethlehem ended on Mount Olivet. Jesus entered the world in the presence of Mary and Joseph and left it in the viewing of 11 apostles. The Son of God taking on flesh and living among men marked a planned-for and necessary transition in God’s eternal plan. Jesus’ ascension was no less a transition. From this time on His followers’ existence would be lived in light of what He had accomplished and so should be dominated by two realities; one, communicating His message “to the end of the earth” (v. 8), and the other, to anticipate the next great transition–His return (v. 11)! As critical as it is to know and understand the Savior and His message, so also is it to be busy fulfilling the Master’s will in the time in which we live.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jesus talk about between His resurrection and ascension? (v. 3)
  • What was the “promise of the Father”? (vv. 4-5)
  • About what were the disciples concerned? (v. 6)
  • What is associated with the Holy Spirit’s coming? (v. 8)

My Delight is the Lord, December 27

Ask a Sixth Grader

December 27, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Psalm 102

An education principle has been dubbed by some as “the 6th grader” principle. The idea is that if a 4th grader is struggling with a subject in school, they may be more willing to seek out and be helped by a 6th grader than by their teacher. The slightly older, fellow student is one with whom they can relate. There’s a connection with one who’s done what I’m now trying to do and succeeded, rather than with the “expert.” Maybe this is part of the reason why there are so many Psalms like 102 where the writer relates their own struggles, frustrations, and hurts as they seek to serve God. This as opposed to pronouncements of truth to address the issue. The circumstances may not be the same, but here is someone who has been down a similar path and their faith not only survived, but grew in the process. If they made it, I know I can too.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are the expectations for God expressed in v. 2?
  • Note the contrast between man and God (vv. 11-12)
  • Why is learning Bible history important? (v. 18)
  • Did God intend the creation to last forever? (vv. 25-26)

My Delight is the Lord, December 26

Word of the Lord a Reproach?

December 26, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-18

Jeremiah doesn’t sound very complimentary when he says, “the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long” (v. 8). How could such rash words be spoken by this man of God? The prophet was struggling because of the strong and even violent opposition he faced as he proclaimed the Lord’s message to His people. Sometimes we have expectations of what our experience with the message of God will be, both in obeying and sharing it. We might anticipate a wholly positive engagement. His word, though, serves, among other things, to rebuke and discipline us. It shines light where people prefer darkness. So, Jeremiah experienced the backlash of God’s holy word contacting unholy men. We may need to revise our own expectations.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Did Jeremiah want to quit preaching? (v. 9)
  • Why could Jeremiah not stop preaching? (v. 9)
  • What were people whispering about Jeremiah? (v. 10)
  • What day did Jeremiah curse? (v. 14)

My Delight is the Lord, December 25

Fear and Hope

December 25, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 147

We are easily confused about what we need most. Too often we identify as our greatest need that which we don’t have and, possibly, is out of our reach and/or control. Maybe that’s wealth or power or prestige. Do we ever find ourselves wistfully thinking, “If I just had more money…” or “If [so and so] would just do what I say…” or “Well, I know what I would do if I had the authority…” as solutions to our greatest concern? The real answer for everyone is well within reach. “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (vv. 10-11). To fear God and hope in His steadfast love is the supreme need of us all.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What historical timeframe is suggested in v. 2?
  • How is God’s limitless knowledge described in v. 4?
  • What ongoing activities of God are to be praised? (vv. 8-9)
  • What advantage was given to Jacob and Israel? (vv. 19-20)

My Delight is the Lord, December 24

The Way

December 24, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 24:1-25:12

Paul’s accusers referred to followers of Jesus as “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5). On the other hand, Paul called that which he believed (along with those who believed the same) as “the Way” (24:14). It’s no wonder that enemies of the faith used terms like “sect,” which implies divisiveness, and “Nazarene,” a town of less than honorable reputation (see Jn. 1:46), to describe Paul and his ilk. Of more interest is Paul’s terminology. While “Christianity” dominates modern vocabulary, Paul uses the very expressive, “the Way.” It’s not a segmented portion of the larger body of Jews identified by their adherence to Jesus (such as “sect” suggests). Rather, this is everything that God has worked toward and for through the long history of his involvement with Abraham’s heirs. It’s that to which the Law and prophets all pointed. It truly is the Way.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What accusations were made against Paul? (24:5-6)
  • Of what was Paul always very careful? (24:16)
  • What interesting insight do we get about Felix in 24:22?
  • What was the real reason Felix kept Paul in custody? (24:26)

My Delight is the Lord, December 23

Take a Stand?

December 23, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 22:30-23:35

The wisdom of Paul was on full display in his initial trial before the Sanhedrin. Following his arrest by the Romans, Claudius Lysias wanted to know what charges the Jews had against Paul. The apostle, though, realized the impossibility of a fair hearing and therefore used the diverse makeup of the Council (comprised of both Pharisees and Sadducees) to his advantage. Positioning his case as a question of the resurrection the assembly quickly descended into chaos. Paul did not win anything this day. He didn’t even attempt, in this setting, to take a stand. Maybe he saw this as a “pearls before pigs” situation (Matt. 7:6). What he did do was survive to preach and teach and defend himself another day. Not every battle is worth fighting. Not every challenge is worthy of an answer. God, please give us the wisdom to know when to take a stand.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who called the Jewish council into meeting? (22:30)
  • Does our conscience have limitations? (23:1)
  • What were some key elements of the Sadducees theology? (23:8)
  • Who informed Paul of the plot to kill him? (23:16)