Sunday, March 1, 2015

First Impressions, NIV Rainbow Study Bible

Holman Rainbow Study Bible: NIV Edition. New, Improved User-Friendly Design. Purple Leathertouch Indexed. B&H. 1632 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I recently received a review copy of the Holman Rainbow Study Bible in the NIV edition. I'll definitely keep reading in it, and will be writing another post about my reading experience, a 'proper' review--if you will--later on in March or April.

It is similar but not identical to the KJV Rainbow Study Bible.

About the cover itself. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the purple!!!! This is such a gorgeous Bible!!!! If you're not a fan of purple, there are plenty of other colors/designs to choose from.

It is the NIV translation of the Bible. I believe the KJV and NIV are the only translations currently available in the Rainbow Study Bible.

It is in paragraph format! The KJV Rainbow Study Bible was in verse, verse, verse format. I am not a fan of breaking up the flow like that. Paragraphs make for much easier reading! So this is a definite improvement!

Another improvement, in my opinion, is that they've added references for parallel passages!

The font is a great size. It isn't too big or too small.

It is NOT red-letter! Instead, readers will find that all words spoken directly by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit appear underlined throughout the Old and New Testaments. I love this concept. I do.

It is color-coded. There are twelve subjects (and colors) in this color-code system. 
God. Discipleship. Love. Faith. Sin. Evil. Salvation. Family. Outreach. Commandments. History. Prophecy. 
Each subject is a heading, of sorts, covering many subjects. For example:
Salvation: blessings; deliverance; holiness; Heaven; the tabernacle; angels; eternity; resurrection; second coming; judgement of the godly; grace
Love: joy; kindness; mercy; mourning; lament; comfort; compassion; peace; sympathy; humility; charity
Commandments: offerings; laws; priesthood; feasts; Sabbath; tithing; baptism; Lord's supper; church; deacon; growth
Prophecy: promises; covenants; revelations; vows; visions; dreams; oaths; pledges; insipiration; fulfillment; future
Every verse is color-coded; every verse has been categorized into one of the twelve main subject headings. At the bottom of each two-page spread, the colors/headings appear as reminders so you can easily interpret what the colors mean without having to refer back to the chart at the front of the Bible. However, I found it helpful to write on index cards the smaller subcategories under each. 

I do love the way they list the books of the Bible in the table of contents. The chart makes note of divisions: law, history, poetry, major prophets, minor prophets, the gospels, the early church, letters of Paul, other letters, and prophecy. The chart also makes note of the number of chapters in each book. (So you can see at a glance facts like there are 66 books in the Bible, 39 OT, 27 NT. There are 1189 chapters in the whole Bible.)

So far I've read Isaiah, Mark, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter.

Here are three examples to give you a taste of what it feels like to read a color-coded Bible.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (Discipleship, God, Faith)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Romans 5:6-11 (Love, Salvation, Love)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Matthew 11:27-30 (God, Love)

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

March Memory Work

Though I've not set out to memorize anything in decades, I'm going to make an effort in 2015 to memorize Scripture. For February, these are the verses I'll be working on. I'll still be reviewing January's verses as well (Revelation 21:3-4Proverbs 3:5-6Psalms 34:38). And February's verses too: Psalm 95:6,7, Psalm 96:2, Psalm 103:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12.

Since most of my previous "memory" verses have been from Psalms, I sought out New Testament verses this time.

All from the ESV.

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Hebrews 7:25
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 
Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Psalm 138:8
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the work of your hands. 
Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: February 22-28

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
There is no spiritual good in all the world of which He is not the author and sustainer, and heaven itself will owe the perfect character of its redeemed inhabitants to His work. ~ Charles Spurgeon
NASB

  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea


NIV Rainbow Study Bible

  • Isaiah
  • Mark
  • Romans
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Focus on Psalm 103


Many of my February memory verses come from Psalm 103. Though I've chosen to memorize these verses in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate this passage. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

KJV
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
Complete Jewish Bible
Bless Adonai, my soul!
Everything in me, bless his holy name!
Bless Adonai, my soul,
and forget none of his benefits!
He forgives all your offenses,
he heals all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the pit,
he surrounds you with grace and compassion,
he contents you with good as long as you live,
so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not treated us as our sins deserve
or paid us back for our offenses,
because his mercy toward those who fear him
is as far above earth as heaven.
He has removed our sins from us
as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
HCSB
My soul, praise Yahweh,
and all that is within me, praise His holy name.
My soul, praise the Lord,
and do not forget all His benefits.
He forgives all your sin;
He heals all your diseases.
He redeems your life from the Pit;
He crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
He satisfies you with goodness;
your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our offenses.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His faithful love
toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NASB
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
Living Bible
I bless the holy name of God with all my heart. Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NLT
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:1-5)
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NIV
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Knowledge of the Holy

Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

I believe this is the third time I've read and reviewed A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. I reviewed it also in 2012 and 2014. I would say I gushed about how wonderful the book was in both reviews. This is just the kind of book where it's almost impossible not to gush. Because Tozer accomplishes something quite well: he manages to speak of the deep and heavy things of God--who He is, His nature, His attributes, etc--and to do so in a way that is devotional and thought-provoking. I tend to associate "devotional" with light, fluffy, surface-satisfaction. Tell me something in a few quick words that make me feel good about myself. But that is not a fair assessment in all cases I've come to learn. Knowledge of the Holy is devotional in that it tunes you into God. He's so passionate, so zealous, so concerned with God's Glory that it's just contagious. Reading Tozer makes you excited to think--really think--about God. And often that means reflecting and engaging. Tozer is readable--never dry or boring--but he's challenging as well. 

It will be tough to find quotes to share without repeating from earlier reviews. But I'll do my best to find a handful
We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.
What is God like? What kind of God is He? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? Such questions are not merely academic. They touch the far-in reaches of the human spirit, and their answers affect life and character and destiny.
It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God.
To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away. Twentieth century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God's free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.
God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade us that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional.
Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.
Mercy never began to be, but from eternity was; so it will never cease to be. It will never be more since it is itself infinite; and it will never be less because the infinite cannot suffer diminution. Nothing that has occurred or will occur in heaven or earth or hell can change the tender mercies of our God. Forever His mercy stands, a boundless, overwhelming immensity of divine pity and compassion.
Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. It is a self-existent principle inherent in the divine nature and appears to us as a self-caused propensity to pity the wretched, spare the guilty, welcome the outcast, and bring into favor those who were before under just disapprobation. Its use to us sinful men is to save us and to make us sit together in heavenly places to demonstrate to the ages the exceeding riches of God's kindness to us in Christ Jesus. We benefit eternally by God's being just what He is. Because He is what He is, He lifts up our heads out of the prison house, changes our prison garments for royal robes, and makes us to eat bread continually before Him all the days of our lives.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #8

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 quoting A.W. Tozer, Martin Luther, and Francis Schaeffer.
Bible-believing Christians should never have the reaction designated by the term shocked. There is a type of Christian who constantly draws himself or herself up and declares, “I am shocked.” If he is, he is not reacting to reality as he should, for it is as much against the teaching of Scripture to romanticize men, himself or others as to explain away sin. We should not be surprised when a man demonstrates he is a sinner because, after all, we know that all men are sinners. When someone sits down to talk with me, I should convey to him (even if I do not express it in words) the attitude that he and I are both sinners… Nothing will help you as much in meeting people, no matter how far out they are or how caught they are in the modern awfulness, than for them to perceive in you the attitude “we are both sinners.” This does not mean that we minimize sin, but we can still exhibit that we understand him because we stand in the same place. We can say “us” rather than just “you.” To project shock as though we are better slams the door shut. Each of us does not need to look beyond himself to know that men and women are sinners. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"

If we demand, in any of our relationships, either perfection or nothing, we will get the nothing. Only when we have learned this will we be Bible-believing Christians, and only then will we understand something of life. Only then can we be more understanding toward men and show real compassion. Consequently, I would repeat, if in any of our relationships of life we demand perfection or nothing, we will have nothing. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"
The Christian is called not to sin, and we should say repeatedly to one another, Do not sin. But if a Christian does sin, he still has an Advocate with the Father. Isn’t that beautiful? Could you live if it were not true? Not if you really understand sin. This should make us worship and adore God. Though our call is not to sin, God is not done with us when we do sin. Happily for the Apostle John and for Paul, and for us, God is not done with a Christian when a Christian sins, or God would be finished with all of us. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"
Before paradise was lost, paradise had already been regained. Because Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world and in the mind and purpose of God, Christ had already died before He was born. In the purpose of God, Christ had already died before Adam was created. In the purpose and plan of God, the world had already been redeemed before the world was ever brought into being. Paradise lost did not drive God to some distracted action and bring about redemption, but paradise lost was foreseen before the world was and before paradise existed. God had already preordained and foreknown the Lamb that was without spot or blemish, and this purpose in eternity lay in the mind of God. ~ A.W. Tozer, Living As A Christian
We must take all the Word of God and not water it down. “Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Our growth is to be by the Word, and it will be the exact proportion to the diet we follow. ~ A.W. Tozer, Living As A Christian
We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. The first truth points upward; the second points downward. We must first be in him with all our being—with our sin and weakness and even with death. We know that in God’s eyes we are freed, redeemed, and saved from these through Christ. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 19
We still have sin that bites and entices us, but it doesn’t rule over us. The sin within us is like a person who is tied up and being led away to his death. The weapons that person might use to harm others have all been taken away. But that person isn’t dead yet. Similarly, the sin in our bodies surges up, rages and rants, and doesn’t let up. For we always love what is ours and depend on our own strength. We don’t put our trust in the Word and don’t believe God. Our sinful nature doesn’t want it any other way. But the best remedy against the pull of this nature is meditating diligently on God’s Word. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 26
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: First Love

First Love: The Joy and Simplicity of Life in Christ. John MacArthur. 1994. Victor Books. 191 pages. [Source: Bought]
The One who is the object of our love was born contrary to the laws of nature, reared in obscurity, lived in poverty, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born--and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence, and had neither training nor education in the world's schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential.
In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood He puzzled learned doctors. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services.
He never wrote a book, yet if everything He did were written in detail, the world itself couldn't contain the books that would be written. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine, yet He has healed more broken hearts than doctors have healed broken bodies. Throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on: Herod could not kill Him, Satan could not seduce Him, death could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him. 
First Love is a very good, very basic book about Jesus Christ: who He is, and what He has done. It is divided into four parts: Jesus Our God, Jesus Our Savior, Jesus Our Lord, and Jesus Our First Love. I could see the book being beneficial to new believers and old believers alike. It may primarily be written for believers who have lost their love for Christ, their passion, their 'first love.' But I think it could be beneficial for new believers as well. The focus throughout the book is on Christ. Readers are reminded countless times in every chapter who Jesus is, why He came, what He did, and what He is still doing…for them. The book is a plea for believers--new or old--to LOVE Christ, to fall more and more in love with him, to seek Him more, to abide in Him. It is a call to have a relationship with Jesus.

I definitely would recommend this one. It is rich in Scripture. It is also rich in quotes. I loved how MacArthur quotes various theologians like John Owen and Benjamin Warfield.

Quotes:
How can I know God? You don't hear that question asked too often in our society. You are, however, more likely to hear questions like: Am I valuable? Can I find a way to accept myself as I am? And you'll find numerous opinions suggesting answers to those questions. (27)
Man's basic problem is not lack of harmony with his heritage or environment, as society would have you believe, but his total lack of harmony with His Creator, from whom he is alienated by sin (Eph. 4:18). He is spiritually dead to all God offers, including righteousness, inner peace, and happiness, and ultimately every good thing. Apart from God men are spiritual zombies--they are the walking dead who can't even know they are dead. They may go through the motions of life, but they certainly don't possess it. (69)
Christians today can easily become complacent in their love of Christ when they are continually exposed to a society that is only too eager to tolerate and excuse any sin. (83)
The goal of your life as a Christian is to love Christ and in loving Him to become like Him. (143)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible