Sunday, February 1, 2015

Week in Review: January 25-31

We must believe that he is able to do what he will, wise to do what is best, and good, according to his promise, to do what is best for us, if we love him, and serve him. We must, with an entire submission and satisfaction, depend upon him to perform all things for us, and not lean to our own understanding, as if we could, by any forecast of our own, without God, help ourselves, and bring our affairs to a good issue. Those who know themselves cannot but find their own understanding to be a broken reed, which, if they lean to, will certainly fail them. In all our conduct we must be diffident of our own judgment, and confident of God’s wisdom, power, and goodness, and therefore must follow Providence and not force it. That often proves best which was least our own doing. We must not only in our judgment believe that there is an over-ruling hand of God ordering and disposing of us and all our affairs, but we must solemnly own it, and address ourselves to him accordingly. We must ask his leave, and not design any thing but what we are sure is lawful. We must ask his advice and beg direction from him, not only when the case is difficult (when we know not what to do, no thanks to us that we have our eyes up to him), but in every case, be it ever so plain, We must ask success of him, as those who know the race is not to the swift. We must refer ourselves to him as one from whom our judgment proceeds, and patiently, and with a holy indifferency, wait his award. In all our ways that prove direct, and fair, and pleasant, in which we gain our point to our satisfaction, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove cross and uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge God with submission. Our eye must be ever towards God. ~ Matthew Henry, commentary on Proverbs 3

  • 2 Kings 
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles


  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • Acts
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Living by the Book

Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

Yes, I'm talking to you! If you have any desire at all to read the Bible OR study the Bible or meditate on the Bible or pray using the Bible, this book is for you. They will show you throughout the book how to read a verse, how to read a paragraph, how to read a chapter, how to read a book.

Living by The Book is many things: practical, straight-forward, and reader-friendly. The authors will take you step by step by step by step and teach you how to read the Bible, how to turn your reading of the Bible into studying the Bible. There are three main sections: OBSERVATION, INTERPRETATION, and APPLICATION.
1. Observation. In this step, you ask and answer the question, What do I see? The moment you come to the Scriptures you ask, What are the facts? You assume the role of a biblical detective, looking for clues. No detail is trivial.
2. Interpretation. Here you ask and answer the question, What does it mean? Your quest is for meaning. Unfortunately, too much Bible study begins with interpretation, and furthermore, it usually ends there. But I'm going to show you that it does not begin there. Before you understand, you have to learn to see. Nor does it end there, because the third step is…
Application. Here you ask and answer the question, How does it work? Not, Does it work? People say they're going to make the Bible "relevant." But if the Bible is not already relevant, nothing you or I do will help. The Bible is relevant because it is revealed. It's always a return to reality. And for those who read it and heed it, it changes their lives. (35-6)
Within each section, the authors teach you exactly what you need to know, what you need to keep in mind, etc. For example, in the first section OBSERVATION, there are "10 Strategies to First-Rate Reading" and "Six Things To Look For."

I've said that the book is practical. Each chapter is written to help you, to teach you, to guide you, to illustrate how and why. In Read Repeatedly, one of the "10 Strategies to First-Rate Reading" here are the practical tips:

  • read entire books in one sitting
  • start at the beginning of the book 
  • read the Bible in different translations
  • listen to an audio bible
  • read the Bible out loud
  • set up a schedule for Bible reading 

In Read Selectively, another one of the 10 Strategies, the authors give readers six questions to ask any passage of Scripture.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • Wherefore?

This is a book that almost is so very, very good that it needs to be reread regularly--perhaps once a year--to refresh and encourage readers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #4

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge.

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.

This week I'm sharing quotes from Oswald Chambers, Martin Luther, and Andrew Murray.
A person who has forgotten what God treasures will not be filled with joy. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 21
God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 31
Our prayers must not be vague appeals to His mercy or indefinite cries for blessing, but the distinct expression of a specific need. It is not that Jesus’ loving heart does not understand our cry or is not ready to hear, but He desires that we be specific for our own good. Prayer that is specific teaches us to better know our own needs. To find out what our greatest need is demands time, thought, and self-scrutiny. To find out whether our desires are honest and real, and whether we are ready to persevere in them, we are put to the test. It leads us also to discern whether our desires conform to God’s Word and whether we really believe that we will receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for a definite answer and to be aware of it when it comes. And yet how much of our prayer is vague and pointless. Some cry for mercy without saying why they need mercy. Others ask to be delivered from sin but do not begin by naming any sin from which deliverance may be claimed. Still others pray for God’s blessing on those around them, for the outpouring of God’s Spirit on their land or the world, and yet do not pinpoint a particular spot where they will wait and expect to see God answer. To all of us, the Lord asks, “What is it you really want and expect me to do?” ~ Andrew Murray, Teach Me To Pray
I understand what Jesus is saying here [John 14:6] in the simplest manner, so that it all applies to this one person, Christ. Jesus is called “the way” because he is the beginning, “the truth” because he is the one who helps us continue, and also “the life” because he is the end. For he must be everything—the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. That is why we place him as the foundation stone on which the other stones are set and on which the entire roof is built. He is the first, middle, and last rung on the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28:12). For through him we must begin, continue, and finally reach the life beyond. So there is only one Christ, but he assumes different roles in our salvation experience. In the beginning it’s hard to find the way. Then life becomes more difficult as we continue to walk along the way. It becomes extremely tough when we have traveled on the way for a long time and are about to reach our final shelter—heaven. So if you hold on to Christ in faith, then you have started in the right place. If you remain with him, then you will be walking on the right path. If you persevere until the end, then you will be saved. Christ wants to pry our hearts away from trusting anything else. There is no other way, highway, bridge, or path for us than Christ alone. ~ Martin Luther, January 19
You must pray when you are in the heat of temptation—when your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of lust or revenge. If someone urges you to pray under these circumstances, your mind often insists that it’s too impure—as if your dirty thoughts leave no room for prayer. But you must not wait for temptation to end or the thoughts of lust and other sins to totally disappear from your mind before you pray. At precisely the moment when you feel the strongest temptation and are least prepared to pray, go to a place where you can be alone. Pray the Lord’s Prayer or any other prayer you can think of to defend against the devil and his temptations. Then you will feel the temptation decrease, and Satan will run away. Those who think you should wait until your mind is free from impure thoughts to pray only help Satan, who is already far too strong. Waiting to pray is an unchristian approach to prayer. It’s a teaching that comes from the devil. In order to keep yourself from believing these kinds of wrong ideas, you must follow David’s example in this psalm. Even after David admitted his terrible sin with Bathsheba, he didn’t run away from God. He didn’t say what Peter foolishly said while in the boat: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8).Instead, David trusted in God’s mercy and began to pray, “Lord, even though I am a sinner, have pity on me.” The time when you feel your sins the most is exactly the time when you most need to pray to God. ~ Martin Luther, January 20

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Exalting Jesus in Matthew

Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Exalting Jesus in Matthew is a commentary on the gospel of Matthew. It is not an intimidating read. It is admittedly long--as it should be to cover all twenty-eight chapters of the gospel. But intimidating? No. I don't think so. It is actually very reader-friendly. The series introduction points out that it is written with busy pastors in view. "Our aim is to present a readable and pastoral style of commentaries."

If I have a complaint at all, it is a small one. I wish, in a way, it had included the text of the Scripture for each section as it was being discussed. Yes, it would have added length to the book overall. Yes, most readers probably have a Bible that they could choose to read alongside the commentary. But it would have been nice even if it wasn't absolutely necessary. That being said, I have nothing but good things to say about the commentary!

Each chapter has a main idea, an outline of the discussion, the discussion itself, and reflection/discussion questions. Within the discussion, the most essential ideas are in bold. The chapters are well-written and well-organized.

For best results, it would probably be best not to rush through this one in a weekend. I'd recommend this one to anyone--pastor or not--who is looking to study the book of Matthew.

Favorite quotes:
There is only one conclusion to draw when we hear the invitation "Follow Me": Jesus is worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association. We have such a dangerous tendency to reduce Jesus to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for you and me to accept Him into our lives. As if Jesus needs to be accepted by us! Jesus doesn't need our acceptance; He is infinitely worthy of all glory in the whole universe and He doesn't need us at all. We need Him. (80)
God the Father sent the Son to bear the wrath you and I deserve on a cross so that we, by His grace, might be drawn to Him. (84)
The cross is absolutely necessary for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the cross is predominant when you come to any of the four Gospels. Whether you're reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, you can never read these accounts apart from the very end of the story. The cross is always looming; it's always lurking. The cross should always impact what we're reading, even though the crucifixion hasn't yet happened in the narrative. This is especially true for the Sermon on the Mount. The last thing we need to come away with is an imposing and crushing laundry list of things that we must do in order to be accepted by God. (92)
The central message of Christianity is that God will forgive your sins through Jesus. There is no greater news in the whole world than this. (120)
Who you say Jesus is will determine everything about how you follow Him. If you think Jesus was a good teacher, then you will follow Him like you would a good teacher. If you think Jesus merely had some good ideas, then you will listen to what He says every once in a while. If you think Jesus was a good example, then you will try to follow His example. However, if you believe that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah who came to the earth to save us from our sins, to conquer sin and death, and to reign and rule over all as Lord, then that changes everything about how you live. The church is made up of people who believe in that Jesus and know Him intimately. Do you know Jesus intimately? (216)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #4

A Mighty Savior
Charles Spurgeon
“Mighty to save” — Isaiah 63:1.
It is one of the mysteries of the Christian religion, that we are taught to believe that Christ is God, and yet a man. According to Scripture, we hold that he is “very God,” equal and co-eternal with the Father, possessing, as his Father cloth, all divine attributes in an infinite degree. He participated with his Father in all the acts of his divine might; he was concerned in the decree of election, in the fashioning of the covenant; in the creation of the angels, in the making of the world, when it was wheeled from nothing into space, and in the ordering of this fair frame of nature. Before any of these acts the divine Redeemer was the eternal Son of God. “From everlasting to everlasting he is God.” Nor did he cease to be God when he became man. He was equally “God over all, blessed for evermore,” when he was “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,” as before his incarnation. We have abundant proof of that in the constant affirmations of Scripture, and, indeed, also in the miracles which he wrought. The raising of the dead, the treading of the billows of the ocean, the hushing of the winds and the rending of the rocks, with all those marvellous acts of his, which we have not time here to mention, were strong and potent proofs that he was God, most truly God, even when he con descended to be man. And Scripture, most certainly teaches us, that he is God now, that he shares the throne of his Father — that he sits “high above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named,” and is the true and proper object of the veneration, the worship, and the homage of all worlds.
We are equally taught to believe that he is man. Scripture informs us that, on a day appointed, he came from heaven and did become man as well as God, taking upon himself the nature of a babe in the manger of Bethlehem. From that babe, we are told, he did grow to the stature of manhood, and became “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh,” in everything except our sin. His sufferings, his hunger, above all, his death and burial, are strong proofs that he was man, most truly man, and yet it is demanded of us by the Christian religion, to believe, that while he was man he was most truly God. We are taught that he was a “child born, a son given,” and yet, at the same time, the “Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father.” Whosoever would here clear and right views of Jesus, must not mingle his natures. We must not consider him as a God diluted into deified manhood, or as a mere man officially exalted to the Godhead, but as being two distinct natures in one person.
First, we shall consider that what is meant by the word, “to save;” secondly, how we prove the fact that he is mighty to save;” thirdly, the reason why he is “mighty to save;” and then, fourthly, the inferences which are to be deduced from the doctrine that Jesus Christ is “mighty to save.”
Commonly, most men, when they read these words, consider them to mean salvation from hell. They are partially correct, but the notion is highly defective. It is true Christ does save men from the penalty of their guilt; he does take those to heaven who deserve the eternal wrath and displeasure of the Most High, it is true that he does blot out “iniquity, transgression, and sin,” and that the iniquities of the remnant of his people are passed over for the sake of his blood and atonement. But that is not the whole meaning of the words “to save.”
Now, it means vastly, I had almost said, infinitely more than this. “To save” means something more than just delivering penitents from going down to hell. By the words “to save” I understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire, the first spiritual conviction, onward to complete sanctification. All this done of God through Jesus Christ. Christ is not only mighty to save those who do repent but he is able to make men repent; he is engaged not merely to carry those to heaven who believe, but he is mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them, he is mighty not merely to give heaven to one who wishes for it, but he is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, to constrain the despiser of his name to bend his knee before him, and to make the most abandon d reprobate turn from the error of his ways.
By the words “to save,” I do not understand what some men say they mean! They tell us in their divinity that Christ came into the world to put all men into a salvable state — to make the salvation of all men possible by their own exertions. I believe that Christ came for no such thing — that he came into the world not to put men into a salvable state, but into a saved state; not to put them where they could save themselves, but to do the work in them and for them, from the first even to the last. If I believe that Christ came only to put you, my hearers, and myself into a state where we might save ourselves, I should give up preaching henceforth and for ever, for knowing a little of the wickedness of men’s hearts, because I know something of my own — knowing how much men naturally hate the religion of Christ — I should despair of any success in preaching a gospel which I had only to offer, its effects depending upon the voluntary acceptance of it by unrenewed and unregenerate men. If I did not believe that there was a might going forth with the word of Jesus, which makes men willing in the day of his power, and which turns them from the error of their ways by the mighty, overwhelming constraining force of a divine and mysterious influence, I should cease to glory in the cross of Christ, Christ, we repeat, is mighty, not merely to put men into a salvable condition, but mighty absolutely and entirely to save them.
Our Lord is not only mighty to make men repent, to quicken the dead in sill, to turn them from their follies and their iniquities. But he is exalted to do more than that: he is mighty to keep them Christians after he has made them so, and mighty to preserve them in his fear and love, until he consummates their spiritual existence in heaven.
We do believe that God never begins a good work in a man without finishing it, that he never makes a man truly alive to spiritual things without carrying on that work in his soul even to the end by giving him a place amongst the choirs of the sanctified. We do not think that Christ’s power dwells in merely bringing me one day into grace, and then telling me to keep myself there, but in so putting me into a gracious state, and giving me such an inward life and such a power within myself that I can no more turn back than the very sun in the heavens can stay itself in its course, or cease to shine. Beloved, we regard this as signified by the terms “mighty to save.” This is commonly called Calvinistic doctrine, it is none other than Christian doctrine, the doctrine of the holy Bible, for despite that it is now called Calvinism, it could not be so called in Augustine’s days; and yet in Augustine’s works you find the very same things. And it is not to be called Augustinism, it is to be found in the writings of the apostle Paul. And yet it was not called Paulism, simple for this reason, that it is the expansion, the fullness of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We will give you the strongest argument first; and we shall need but one. The argument is, that he has done it. We need no other, it were superfluous to add another. He has saved men. He has saved them, in the full extent and meaning of the word which we have endeavored to explain. But in order to set this truth in a clear light, we will suppose the worst of cases.
The best proof you can ever have of God’s being mighty to save, dear hearers, is that he saved you.
But now it is asked, “WHY IS CHRIST MIGHTY TO SAVE?” To this there are sundry answers. First, if we understand the word “save,” in the popular acceptation of the word, which is not, after all, the full one, though a true one — if we understand salvation to mean the pardon of sin and salvation from hell, Christ is mighty to save, because of the infinite efficacy of his atoning blood. Sinner! black as thou art with sin, Christ this morning is able to make thee whiter than the driven snow. Thou askest why. I will tell thee. He is able to forgive, because he has been punished for thy sin. If thou dost know and feel thyself to be a sinner, if thou hast no hope or refuge before God but in Christ, then be it known that Christ is able to forgive, because he was once punished for the very sin which thou hast committed, and therefore he can freely remit, because the punishment has been entirely paid by himself. Whenever I get on this subject I am tempted to tell a story; and though I have told it times enough in the hearing of many of you, others of you have never heard it, and it is the simplest way I know of setting out the belief I have in the atonement of Christ.
It is not the minister, it is not the preacher, but the God who first designs the salvation, and afterwards uses the preacher to work it out.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Last Words of Jesus

Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I would definitely recommend Last Words of Jesus: First Steps to a Richer Life to anyone seeking to read a good book for Lent. (Not that the book is merely a book you read for Lent, it's so much more than that.) One chapter is given for each of the seven last words from the cross. Each chapter has discussion questions. Each chapter includes Scriptural Reflections.

  • Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
  • Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
  • Woman, behold thy son!…Disciple, behold thy mother! John 19:26-27
  • My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:33
  • I thirst. John 19:28
  • It is finished. John 19:30
  • Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46

Each chapter is reflective. Epperson writes beautifully about the meaning--the true meaning, the deeper meaning--of each last word. It is passionate and sometimes poetical.

I loved the focus of this one. How each chapter brings glory to God. I loved the Scriptural Reflections at the end of each chapter. It was probably the one thing that made me love the book. It also helped that he frequently quoted A.W. Pink.

Scriptural Reflections -- Chapter 2 -- Luke 23:43

  • Psalm 34:18
  • Psalm 103:11-12
  • Proverbs 11:30
  • Isaiah 53:12
  • Isaiah 57:15
  • Matthew 9:13
  • Matthew 27:38
  • Mark 15:27-28
  • Luke 23:32-33
  • John 19:18
  • Romans 5:5-6
  • Romans 10:9-10
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
  • 1 Timothy 1:15
  • 1 John 5:11-12

Favorite quote:
There's no other way than the way of the Cross. Without the Tree of Death, there could be no Words of Life!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week in Review: January 18-24

God’s praises sound best in concert, for so we praise him as the angels do in heaven. Those that share in God’s favour, as all the saints do, should concur in his praises; and we should be as desirous of the assistance of our friends in returning thanks for mercies as in praying for them. ~ Matthew Henry, Commentary on Psalm 34
Wycliffe New Testament 1388

  • John
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude 
  • Revelation

NASB (text only)

  • 2 Samuel 10-24
  • 1 Kings

NIV-UK Audio

  • Song of Songs
  • Ecclesiastes

KJV Dramatized Audio

  • Psalms 107-150
  • Proverbs 4-31
  • Ecclesiastes 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible