Saturday, May 31, 2014

30 Days of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (May)

1. Third Millennium Bible
2. Third Millennium Bible
3. Third Millennium Bible
4. Third Millennium Bible
5. Third Millennium Bible
6. NKJV
7. NLT
8. Third Millennium Bible
9. Third Millennium Bible
10. Third Millennium Bible
11. ESV MacArthur
12. ESV
13. ESV
14. ESV
15. NASB
16. NKJV
17. NKJV
18. NKJV
19. NIV
20. NIV
21. NIV
22. NIV
23. ASV
24. ASV
25. ASV
26. NIV
27. NIV
28. NIV
29. NIV
30. NIV
31. NIV
32. ASV
33. NASB
34. GNT
35. ESV
36. NLT
37. NIV
38. NIV
39. NLT
40. NLT
41. NLT
42. NLT
43. NLT
44. NEB

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones #5

One of the devotionals I am using this year is Walking with God Day by Day by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I thought I would share some of my favorite passages month-by-month. (January,FebruaryMarch, April)

From May 9
Unbelief is not a negative but an active thing. Of course, our tendency is to think of unbelief as just a negative condition in which a man does not believe, but according to the Bible that is an utter fallacy. Unbelief is terribly positive and active, a state and condition of the soul, with a very definite mentality.
From May 11
The Gospel starts by proclaiming that it is a way of salvation. Its message is not something that man has thought of or achieved, but something that comes out of the mind of God. It is something that God shows and gives, that He has revealed; it is altogether from His side, and man contributes nothing to it.
From May 12
Christ is the Son of God, and He has come into this world not only to teach and to work miracles. The real purpose of His coming was that He might die on the cross. God sent Him, says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in order to “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). He said He came to bear the sins of mankind in His own precious body on the cross on Calvary’s Hill. There He was punished for our sins. That is the message; that is the thing that “babes” have understood. These things are as simple as that, that God in Christ was making a way of salvation through the cross. Therefore what have we to do? We have nothing to do but to believe that and to accept it as a free gift. For God’s way of salvation is that all my sins and failure and shame have been put upon the Son and dealt with and punished.
From May 14
We all start by assuming that our knowledge of God is all right, and if someone tells us that is the first problem, we feel it is almost insulting. This is surely the central cause of so many of our subsequent difficulties—namely, that we assume we know God, that we assume this great knowledge is something at which we start. We say, perhaps, that we know a certain amount of the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe we have enjoyed certain experiences—“Well, of course with regard to God, I have always believed in Him; I have always been in the position of a believer.” But my whole suggestion is that it is just there that we fail—and fail completely. Let me remind you of some of the statements that our Lord made with respect to this important matter. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18)—revealed Him, manifested Him. “There shall no man,” says God to Moses, “see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20). We think that we know everything about God and that there is no difficulty about our belief in God. My dear friend, ponder a statement like that—you have never seen God! No one can see God and live. God is incomprehensible to man; He is beyond him in His greatness and in His infinity. Consider what our Lord says in John 17:25: “0 righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” There it is once more. He again makes the dogmatic statement that the world as it is, as the result of sin, does not know God, and never has.
From May 22
When the disciples came to our Lord and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples,” He replied, “When ye pray say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Luke 11:1-2). You must start, said our Lord, with a right conception of God. Now is this not where we all tend to go astray? So often our initial error and trouble is that our ideas of God are so loose. Let us be quite frank and honest about this. Most of us, before we listen to Jesus Christ, rather feel that we are in a position even to criticize God: “Why should God ... ? Why this? Why that?” We are, we think, the judges even where God is concerned. Now what our Lord tells us at the beginning is, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Can you imagine God, can you picture Him? God is utterly and absolutely holy, so much so that we cannot imagine Him, eternal in His holiness and His absolute perfection. That is what our Lord taught about God, and we must start there. We have to realize that if to know God is the first essential thing in rest and peace, we must begin by knowing something of His nature and character, and that is what our Lord always taught about Him. Take His own attitude toward the Father. Look at the time He spent in prayer; observe the way in which He was always careful to say that He did nothing of Himself, that the works He did were those the Father had given Him to do, and that all the words He spoke were those that the Father gave Him.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Growing in Christ

Growing in Christ. J.I. Packer. 1977/1994/2007. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

Growing in Christ was originally published under the title I Want To Be A Christian. And in some ways that is an equally fitting title for this instructional book. Here readers are treated to the basics of the basics.

Growing in Christ is divided into four sections. The first section explores the Apostles Creed line by line. The second section discusses baptism and conversion. The third section examines the Lord's Prayer line by line. The fourth section focuses on the ten commandments. See basics of the basics.

Growing in Christ is reader-friendly. It is organized. It is concise. It is straight to the point. How short is short? Most chapters are under four pages. I am a reader. I have always been a reader. So longer chapters don't intimidate me usually. But. That isn't true for everyone. Just because you're a Christian doesn't make you automatically a reader. Love for Christ does not equal love for books! Theology books can be intimidating. One might have the desire to learn but be intimidated or overwhelmed by books, by theology. This book is for everyone. The chapters are short and informative and stay on task. The book is not condescending. It seeks to be interactive. Every single chapter asks the reader to do something, to engage with the Bible, to contemplate and reflect. Each chapter concludes with "Further Bible Study" and "Questions for Thought and Discussion."

Sample questions:

  • What does Christ's death have to do with your sins?
  • What difference does it make whether we face death with Christ or without him?
  • In what way is Christ's future coming reason for hope?
  • Who does the work of Christian conversion, and what is that work?
  • Why is a converted life-style more significant than a conversion experience?
  • How does one's view of God affect one's view of prayer?

Growing in Christ could be used for groups: classes, small groups, etc. But it could also be used for personal study.

I would recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love. Francine Rivers. 2005. Multnomah. 464 pages. [Source: Bought]

I had heard so many great things about Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love. I was not disappointed with this retelling of the book of Hosea. Redeeming Love is historical fiction. It is set, for the most part, in California in the 1850s. Readers meet a prostitute named Angel. She is angry, bitter, more than a little resigned to her fate.

Angel may hate, hate, hate her life, but can she honestly believe that there is a way out for herself? No. Not really. Not in this life. She may hate being used and abused my men. She may hate the person who runs the brothel. But is she clinging to hope that she'll get her happily ever after? She's too realistic for that. Her life is an unhappy one: it always has been; it always will be. After all, her mother was a mistress. She's an illegitimate child. Rejected forever by her father, but, accepted conditionally by her mother. After her mother's death, she was sold as a child--eight, I believe--into prostitution. It's not that she has never dreamed of starting over. She has dreamed. In the past. But she's been hurt and disappointed so many times. It hurts Angel too much to hope.

Enter Michael Hosea. He is a farmer. He's come into town to sell his crops. He sees Angel. God tells him that she is the one. That Angel--one of the most expensive prostitutes in town--is the one he is supposed to marry and spend his life with. To say he doesn't have some doubt, well, that wouldn't be accurate. He has questions, plenty of questions--among them why and how! But ultimately, Michael Hosea becomes convinced that God is truly calling him to marry Angel, to save Angel from a life of prostitution. He becomes her savior, her redeemer, he buys her--if you will. He's gentle, kind, compassionate, respectful, loving, and patient. He loves her with hesed love.
"Hesed is one-way love. Love without an exit strategy. When you love with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is... Hesed is a stubborn love" (Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 24)
Angel has done nothing to earn his love, to win his respect, to deserve his kindness and patience. Physically Angel may be lovely to look at, but, inside she's a mess. She's broken by shame and guilt. She's angry and scared. Being surrounded by such love doesn't make her feel good, it makes her feel bad because she's holding onto who she was, who she may still be. Wearing a wedding ring doesn't make her feel married, doesn't make her feel loved. She doesn't always see herself the way her husband sees her.

The book is intense, I'd say. The book deals with adult subject matter, but, not in an inappropriate way for most (adult) readers. In other words, while parents can hand a copy of Love Comes Softly to their young daughters, the same can't be said for Redeeming Love. The message is wonderful. The book is very well written. But it's not for children.

Have you read Redeeming Love? What did you think?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #21

Why They Leave Us
Charles Spurgeon
1886
John 17:24
We are saved when by believing in the name of Jesus we receive power to become the sons of God. Our sanctification lies in the bosom of our adoption. Because Jesus comes from the Father and leads us back to the Father, therefore is there a heaven for us. Wherefore, whenever we think of heaven let us chiefly think of the Father; for it is in our Father's house that there are many mansions, and it is to the Father that our Lord has gone, that he may prepare a place for us.
To the prayer that his saints may be with him our Lord added the words, "May be with me where I am." Our bodies will rise from the dust, and they must occupy a place: that place will be where Jesus is. Even spirits must be somewhere, and that somewhere with us is to be where Jesus is. We are to be, not metaphorically and fancifully, but really, truly, literally with Jesus. We shall enjoy an intense nearness to him in that blessed place which the Father has prepared for him, and which he is preparing for us. There is a place where Jesus is revealed in all the splendor of his majesty, amid angels and glorified spirits; and those whom our Lord's will has taken away from us have not gone into banishment in a mysterious land, neither are they shut up in a house of detention till there is a general jail delivery, but they are with Christ in Paradise. They serve him, and they see his face.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: The Great Exchange

The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. 2007. Crossway. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Great Exchange is a wonderful, wonderful book. It is a book that celebrates the atonement in each and every chapter. I loved this one cover to cover--from introduction to conclusion. Yes, I could see how some readers might feel it is a bit repetitive: the glorious, amazing truth is shared many times per chapter. But why would that ever be a bad thing--to hear "the old, old story" again and again? This book savors the truth--celebrates and glories in Christ: what he has done, what he is doing, what he will do. Here is the stated goal of the book:
This book, then, is about Christ's glorious work of atonement culminating at the cross. There are no stories inserted to illustrate points. There are no anecdotes added to entertain the reader. None of this is needed, because a rightly understood view of the cross as the treasure of all time can never be boring, trivial, or lacking in excitement. Our goal is to assist the reader in exulting in the unfathomable riches of Christ's atonement as contained in God's Word. (26)
So you may have heard the word atonement in the past, but might be a little fuzzy on what it is exactly, so, what is the atonement?
Simply stated, atonement is the price paid to reconcile enemies.
In the biblical context, we have the following:
  • The offended party is God--the holy and omnipotent sovereign
  • The offense is sin of any kind, as defined by the Bible
  • The offending party consists of sinners, that is, all humanity
  • The penalty is the full force of God's inconceivable eternal wrath
  • The price paid on behalf of sinners is the atoning death of Christ.
Because Christ made atonement for our sins by suffering in our place as our substitute, we speak of the substitutionary atonement of Christ. A similar expression used to sum up the work of Christ is penal substitution, meaning that as our substitute, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. (23)
The book is appropriately titled The Great Exchange. So what is this great exchange?!
The Great Exchange that results from the death of the perfect sacrifice is a twofold substitution: the charging of the believer's sin to Christ results in God's forgiveness, and the crediting of Christ's righteousness to the believer results in his justification. More than being declared not guilty, in Christ believers are actually declared righteous. (41)
I'm going to share the table of contents to give you an idea of what to expect. I would say that just by looking at it you can conclude that the authors are very thorough!
Part One: Christ's Atonement: Overview and Context
1. The Unique Qualifications of the Apostles
2. Christ's Atonement: The Apostles' Summary
3. Atonement Foreshadowed: The Old Testament Sacrifices
4. Atonement Expected: The Old Testament Prophecies
Part Two: The Apostle-Authored Scripture on Christ's Atonement
5. The Acts of the Apostles
6. The Epistles of Paul on "the Righteousness of God"
7. Romans
8. 1 Corinthians
9. 2 Corinthians
10. Galatians
11. Ephesians
12. Philippians
13. Colossians
14. 1 and 2 Thessalonians
15. 1 and 2 Timothy
16. Titus
17. Hebrews
18. 1 Peter
19. 1 John
20. Revelation
Conclusion
Appendix: An Outline of the Doctrine of the Atonement
The more a nonfiction book relies on the Word of God, the more I love it. I expect my theology books to be grounded--well grounded--in the Bible, rich in Scripture, and focused on unpacking the meaning of Scripture. The Great Exchange is rich in Scripture. Verse after verse, passage after passage is explored in great detail. Did you notice that there are whole chapters of this one dedicated to exploring what New Testament books of the Bible have to say about Jesus? about the atonement? about the great exchange--that is imputation?

Chapter 7 (Romans) -- Main Verses Explored In Detail

  • Romans 3:23-26
  • Romans 4:22-25
  • Romans 5:6-11
  • Romans 5:12-19
  • Romans 6:1-12
  • Romans 8:3-4
  • Romans 8:31-34

The gospel is something that believers never outgrow. Never. The gospel is something we need to be refreshed in every single day of our lives. Christ can not be treasured too much. This book does a marvelous job in keeping Christ at the center of our hearts and minds. It is an amazing book. It does explore big ideas and amazing doctrines, but, it does so clearly. By the end of the book, you will have learned something.

Quotes:
Christ died for our sins. The gospel is the solution to our sin problem. So, before we can understand and appreciate the gospel, we need to understand the doctrine of sin. (19)
Sin is a rebellion against God's sovereign authority, a despising of his Word and his person, and even a defiance of God himself…We would like to think that, as believers, such descriptions of sin no longer apply to us. We look at the gross and obvious sins of society around us, and we tend to define sin in terms of those actions. We fail to see that our anxiety, our discontentment, our ingratitude toward God, our pride and selfishness, our critical and judgmental attitudes toward others, our gossip, our unkind words to or about others, our preoccupation with the things o this life, and a whole host of other subtle sins are an expression of rebellion against God and a despising of his Word and person. The truth is that even the most mature believers continue to sin in thought, word, deed, and especially in motive. (20)
All of our efforts toward spiritual growth should flow out of the realization of what he has already done to secure for us our perfect standing before God. (25)
At the cross, forgiveness was achieved by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. What are these demands? They are the demands that the lawful penalty be actually and fully executed. What is the penalty? The penalty is the punishment that sinners rightly deserve--death. This penalty must be executed by a holy God. Yet, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) While we were still sinners, God nailed the record of our legal debt to the cross of Christ's death. Man's sin was not a mere paper debt. It was not hypothetical debt. It was an actual legal debt. It was Christ's own flesh that was nailed to the cross, as he was made sin on our behalf. (2 Cor. 5:21). (37)
All our blessings were blood bought. (43)
Everything we need for life and eternity is provided by virtue of Christ's great atonement. (45)
The Bible makes it clear that God requires a personal and moral obedience and righteousness from all, yet no human has ever met the righteous requirements of the law (Rom. 3:10). Only Christ, as the holy and righteous law keeper, could offer a perfect sacrifice for sins, because he perfectly obeyed God's law. By his sinless life (his active obedience) and his substitutionary death (his passive obedience), God's requirement--that is, his will--was fulfilled on behalf of those whom Christ represents in the new covenant. (63)
The Bible uses the expression the righteousness of God in two distinct ways: the first as it applies to God, and the second as it applies to man. As an attribute of God, the righteousness of God refers to who God is in his holiness and perfect justice, and it ultimately means God's unswerving commitment to display his glory and uphold his name. As it applies to man, the expression refers to the righteousness that God requires from man, a righteousness no sinner can provide on his or her own. Thus, this phrase ultimately refers to the righteousness that is transferred from the sinless Christ to sinners as a result of his finished work on the cross. (82)
We will never exhaust this joy. Throughout the endless age of eternity, we will continually discover and experience more and more of God. And since our joy is directly proportional to our experience of God, our joy will never plateau; our delight and pleasure and satisfaction and happiness will increase forever and ever. If that does not take our breath away, what will? (107) (Romans 5:11)
The personally sinless Christ perfectly obeyed all of God's moral will, and, as our representative, Christ fulfilled the law in our place. He loved for us when we hated God and man, he gave for us when we were selfish, and he was pure for us when we were polluted with sin. So, as we've noticed, Jesus not only died for us, he also lived for us. All that Christ did in both his life and his death, he did in our place as our substitute. (111)
God's gift of the crucified Christ becomes all the righteousness we will ever need, for in the Great Exchange, we are seen by God to be as sinless as Christ himself. This would be impossible for us sinners were it not for two essentials. First, a qualified sacrifice must be made on behalf of our sin, and second, a perfect and alien righteousness must be credited to us. Both of these requirements were met in Christ on the cross. In a mind-boggling twist of grace, God credits Christ's death as payment in full for our sin, and he credits us with the real, lived-out righteousness of Christ as if we had personally, perfectly fulfilled the law. The value of this transferred righteousness is also incalculable. (131-2)
Jesus offers no prosperity gospel. Christ is not a means to an end for the Christian--he is the end. (154)
Our sin killed him, and no amount of fixing or patching ourselves up can change that fact. (157)
Our redemption is as real as his blood. It is a real deliverance from a real captivity by a real ransom paid in blood. We really were captive to the dominion of sin and its resulting condemnation. Our sin nature dominated us, and the law condemned us to death. But Christ the beloved, as our representative, intervened on our behalf by dying a real and cursed death in our place. The ransom price was paid to God to satisfy his justice, and we were redeemed from our old owner to our new One with a perfect blood sacrifice acceptable to the Father. (173)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Worth Quoting #11 What Think Ye of Christ?!

What has the Son of God done to me by coming into this world? What difference has He made? Now it seems to me that there are certain inevitable deductions, and here they are. My relationship to God is determined solely and entirely and absolutely by Jesus Christ. If you tell me that you believe in God, I say to you that it is of no value if you do not believe in Christ. I say again with Martin Luther, “I know of no God save Jesus Christ.” “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” All things have been committed to Him. You cannot know God without Jesus Christ. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsover the Son will reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). I cannot know God as my Father apart from the Son. I would have no forgiveness of sins if He, the Son of God, had not come and if He had not died for me on the cross. But because He has, I know my sins are forgiven. He and He alone can give me life anew; He imparts to me His own life, and He makes me a child of God. He came to do that, and He has done it. My eternal destiny is determined solely by my relationship to Him. I assure you in the name of God and of the Bible that when you come to the great day of judgment—for it is coming; we all have to die and meet God—I solemnly assure you that you will have only one question to answer. You will not be asked about the good you have done, or about your learning and knowledge, or about your political party; none of these things will matter. There is only one question, which is: “What think ye of Christ?” ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Heart of the Gospel, 141-2.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Review: The Jesus Bible

The Jesus Bible, NIV: Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. 2014. Zondervan (Zonderkidz) 1760 pages. [Source: Review copy]
THE CHRISTIAN IS ALWAYS pleased and delighted when he can see Christ in the Scriptures. If he can but detect the footstep of his lord, and discover that the sacred writers are making some reference to him, however indistinct or dark he will rejoice there at: for all the Scriptures are nothing except as we find Christ in them. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "A Wise Desire"

Last fall, I reviewed The Gospel Transformation Bible published by Crossway (ESV). I loved, loved, loved, LOVED it. I was thrilled with the premise. The Jesus Bible published by Zonderkidz has a very similar premise but a different target audience. The Jesus Bible is geared more towards kids than adults. (Not that adults can't benefit from reading this one to a certain extent--truth is truth is truth. But still, I'd say this one was especially written for children.)

So what were my first impressions of the Jesus Bible?

I love it. I do. I just LOVE it. I love so many things about it. There are 365 devotionals. I am not one who usually "loves" devotionals. I can like them. I can sometimes even really like them. But actual love-love, well, that's a bit rarer for me. But. The devotionals in The Jesus Bible, well, they work for me. I think they would have worked for me as a kid--I think I would have loved this one as a kid. I loved to read the Bible. But it was a whole different world back then. Children's bibles then meant a dozen illustrations or so and slightly larger text. As an adult, I can appreciate the devotionals as well. The idea that truth is being presented so clearly, so accessibly to young readers, well, it excites me!!!
Show the Glory (2 Thessalonians 1:12, NIV)
You've heard a lot about glorifying God. But what does that really mean? The word glory means the brilliance of God on display. Glory is the awesome character of God, in all his power and authority and wisdom. When we glorify God, we make his character known to people around us. In other words, we show the world the awesome power and brilliance of God.
Jesus showed the world God's power, authority, and wisdom. He performed miracles, forgave sins, and taught people God's Word. He glorified God by obeying God and serving people. Jesus was the brilliance of God for all humankind to see.
We can glorify God by obeying him and serving others. We can glorify him by singing about how awesome he is. We can glorify God by forgiving others like he forgives us. We can glorify God by sharing the good news about Jesus with others.
Glory is a pretty heavy word, isn't it? Glorifying God is a big job, but Jesus graciously gives us the ability to do it.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please show me a way to glorify you today. Amen. (1566)
The Exact Replica (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)
This verse in Hebrews 1 is unique. It contains two Greek words that aren't used anywhere else in the Bible. The first Greek word is apaugasma. Can you say that one? It means radiance. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory. He is all the brilliance, all the light of God.
The second Greek word is charakter. It means exact representation. Want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Want to know God's character? Look at Jesus.
In all the fullness of God's glory, Jesus gives us an exact picture of who God is. When we read about Jesus and how he loves all people, forgives even the worst mistakes, and performs miracles, that's exactly what God is like. And that is why Jesus now sits at the right hand of God in heaven.
Jesus is God. Jesus is God's Word. Jesus came to earth so we could see who God really is.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us an exact picture of you. Thank you for letting me see who you are through everything Jesus said and did. Amen. (1594)
I've read the devotionals for Genesis through Deuteronomy, Psalms and Proverbs, the first half of Isaiah, Luke and John, and many of the epistles. I've read enough to know that I LOVE this feature of the Jesus Bible!

So what other features does it offer readers? In the Old Testament there are "Hints of the Savior" and in the New Testament we see "Jesus Revealed." Combine the two features--and they are meant to be linked--and you have seventy-five opportunities of discovering Jesus in every book!

Hints of the Savior

  • Genesis 3:15 God promised that Jesus would be born as a human and would crush Satan. Turn to Galatians 4:4-5 and Revelation 12:1 to see the fulfillment.
  • Genesis 12:1-3 Jesus would come to save all people. Turn to Romans 10:4, 12-13 to see the fulfillment.
  • Genesis 18:25 Jesus would be the judge over the whole world. Turn to Acts 10:42 to see the fulfillment.
  • Exodus 28:1, 29 Jesus would be our high priest like Aaron. Turn to Hebrews 6:19-20 to see the fulfillment.
  • Exodus 28:4, 42-43 Jesus would be our priestly garments, representing righteousness. Turn to Philippians 3:9 to see the fulfillment.

Jesus Revealed

  • Hebrews 8:1 Jesus is our high priest and king in heaven. This was prophesied in Zechariah 6:12-13.
  • Hebrews 9:11-15, 27-28, Jesus' death and resurrection ended the grip of sin. This was prophesied in Daniel 9:24. 
  • Hebrews 10:12 Jesus is in heaven sitting at God's right hand. This was prophesied in Psalm 110:1.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-21 Jesus was the perfect, sinless Passover sacrifice. This was prophesied in Exodus 12:3-7 and Deuteronomy 16:2-6.

In terms of application, readers get touches of this in some of the devotionals and in the "Live Like Jesus" features.
Live Like Jesus (Luke 6:27)
If you've ever had a real enemy, you know how you feel about him or her. Can you even imagine loving that person? Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. It's tempting though, to overlook this command. You might think, "Jesus doesn't understand what I'm going through. Jesus doesn't know my enemy. I can't love that person!" But Jesus does know. Jesus had enemies who hated him so much that they killed him. But Jesus loved them every step of the way, all the way to his death. And with his power, we can love our enemies too. (1346)
There are also book introductions for each book! They are short and simple, yet informative.
1 Thessalonians
Where is Jesus in this book?
This letter talks about Jesus' second coming--his return to earth. Jesus will come again in power and glory to make the world and everything in it new and beautiful again (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 3:13). This letter also talks about how we can please God and live differently from the people around us who don't love Jesus.
Who wrote this book? Paul.
Why was this book written? The book of 1 Thessalonians teaches the Christians in Thessalonica how to please God.
For whom was this book written? This book is a letter Paul sent to Christians at Thessalonica.
When was this book written? This book was written about A.D. 51 from Corinth.
What are some important teachings in this book?
  • Being Christian Examples   1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
  • Living to Please God           1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
  • Jesus Will Come Again       1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
There are also some special charts and lists in this Bible. Some of these include:

  • Jesus in the Psalms
  • Miracles of Jesus
  • Jesus by the Numbers
  • The "I Am" Statements of Jesus
  • Parables of Jesus
  • Who Saw Jesus Alive?
  • Time Line of Jesus' Life
  • Simplified Family Tree of Jesus

The only feature that I don't love? Well, the Words of Christ are in red. I have strong preferences for black-letter Bibles. BUT. I've learned to overlook this "weakness" of the Bible because it is so great everywhere else!!!

Would I recommend it?

I would definitely recommend this one! I think it would make a great choice for children. I think it would be a great first choice for a Bible. It has just enough features to be friendly, inviting, and appealing. It's informative. The focus is where it ought to be--GOD. I really appreciated so many things about this one.
Remember, dear Friends, that Christ Himself is the Word of God, and also remember that the Scriptures are the word of the Word. They are "the word of Christ." I think that they will be all the sweeter to you if you realize that they speak to you of Christ, that He is the sum and substance of them, that they direct you to Christ, in fact, as John says of His Gospel, that they were "written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name." Remember, also, that the Scriptures do, in effect, come to us from Christ. Every promise of this blessed Book is a promise of Christ, "for all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us." They all come to us through Christ, God speaks them to us through Him as the Mediator. Indeed, we may regard the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, as being "the word of Christ." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's Indwelling Word
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Highlights Week #4

This week's top ten:
But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:24-26) (NIV)
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28) (NIV)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) (NIV)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:10-14) (NIV)
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23-26) (NIV)
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8) (NIV)
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:22-25) (NIV)
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16) (NIV)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18) (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) (NIV)
Quotes:
God never changes His mind with respect to what He has purposed to do. God's purposes are eternal, all of them. He purposes nothing anew. He decreed infinite ages back every act and every event, little and great, that ever comes to pass. And these events don't grow out of conceit of any of His old purposes, and by thinking more upon the matter. Nor does He ever add to His purposes. He purposes nothing anew. ~ Jonathan Edwards, "God Never Changes His Mind"
The love of man extends no farther than it is drawn. It is well for us that it is not so with God, for we have nothing to draw His love. The love of God extends to objects in whom He sees no beauty or loveliness; it extends to them and gives them beauty and makes them lovely. ~ Jonathan Edwards, "It Is Well For Us That God Is Not As We Are."
Such is God's grace that He stands ready to forgive the greatest sinners if they will turn from their sins. Though He is so great a God, and to disobey Him is so infinitely heinous, yet He stands ready to forgive, and often does forgive, those who have cast great contempt upon Him and have done it under all aggravations of sinning under clear light and against mercies. God stands ready to pardon those who have gone on in such a way for many years together. He is wholly willing to forgive and blot out all their transgressions so that they shall no more be mentioned; not merely to forgive them, but to admit them into His favor and to the enjoyment of Himself. And all this is only upon their turning from their sins and trusting in Him for mercy in His way without  any satisfaction at all made by them or provide by any other than Himself. ~ Jonathan Edwards, "It Is Well For Us That God Is Not As We Are"
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: May 18-24

NIV JESUS BIBLE

  • Psalms 51-150
  • Isaiah 1-22
  • Luke
  • 1 Thessalonians (6)
  • 2 Thessalonians (6)
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Revelation 

ASV, 1901

  • Psalms 73-150
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

NASB

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

GNT
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
ESV

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

NLT

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: Every Little Thing About You

Every Little Thing About You. (Yellow Rose Trilogy, #1) Lori Wick. 1999. Harvest House. 300 pages. [Source: Bought]

I believe Every Little Thing About You is my first Lori Wick novel to read. I really liked it. I am sure it won't be my last!

Every Little Thing About You is set in Texas in the early 1880s. The hero is Slater Rawlings. He's decided recently to quit the Texas Rangers. He wants to find a place that feels like home and settle down. He wants to find a church home. He happens to find that place to belong in Shotgun, Texas. The town didn't exactly welcome him with open arms on his first day. In fact, on that very first day in town, he finds himself in jail! Why? The town has a strict no-gun policy, a policy that he violated innocently. How could he have known after all?! He is arrested by a WOMAN who happens to be deputy in town. Her brother is the sheriff. As anyone can guess, Liberty Drake and Slater Rawlings are destined to fall in love with one another.

Our heroine, Libby (Liberty) is very strong and capable. She's great with guns, but, just because she has the skills, does that mean she should be the one putting her life on the line as deputy? Especially since there's a new guy in town, a former Ranger, who would love her job. In part, Slater wants the job so he can keep her safe.

Every Little Thing About You is a pleasant surprise. I loved that Wick took the time to develop a whole community. I loved getting to know Liberty's family: her mother, her stepfather, her brother, her half-brother, her half-sister. I loved getting to know Slater's family: his brothers, Dakota, and Cash. I loved getting a feel for the whole community in various scenes. It made the novel as a whole a lot more believable and enjoyable! And it's something that not every author manages to do. The characters were very well done, I thought.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #20

Unity in Christ
Charles Spurgeon
1866
John 17:20-21
I converse with a spiritual man and no matter what he calls himself, when we talk of sin, pardon, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and such like themes, we are agreed. We speak of our blessed Lord. My Friend says that Jesus is fair and lovely: so do I. He says that he has nothing else to trust to but the precious blood: nor have I anything else. I tell him that I find myself a poor, weak creature: he laments the same. I live in his house a little while: we pray together at the family altar—you could not tell which it was that prayed— Calvinist or Arminian. We pray so exactly alike and when we open the hymn book, very likely if he happens to be a Wesleyan he chooses to sing, "Jesus, lover of my soul." I will sing it, and then next morning he will sing with me, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me."
If the Spirit of God is in us we are all agreed upon great points. Let me say that among true saints the points of union, even in matters of judgment, are ninety-nine, and the points of difference are only as one. In experimental points, as face answers to face, so does the heart of man to man. Only get upon experimental topics concerning soul-dealings with God—leave the letter and get to the spirit, crack the shells and eat the kernel of spiritual truth—and you will find that the points of agreement between genuine Christians are something marvelous!
But this union is to be seen most plainly in union of heart. I am told that Christians do not love each other. I am very sorry if that is true, but I rather doubt it, for I suspect that those who do not love each other are not Christians. Where the Spirit of God is there must be love, and if I have once known and recognized any man to be my Brother in Christ Jesus, the love of Christ constrains me no more to think of him as a stranger or foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: (The Puritan Pulpit) Jonathan Edwards

(Puritan Pulpit) Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758. (Containing 16 Sermons Unpublished In Edwards' Lifetime) Compiled and Edited by Dr. Don Kistler. Soli Deo Gloria. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]

I have been wanting to read Jonathan Edwards for over a decade. I own several books by Jonathan Edwards. But this collection of previously unpublished sermons turned out to be the most reader-friendly of the bunch. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who wants a more reader-friendly introduction to Jonathan Edwards. I have two ideas on what might make this one more reader-friendly. One, each sermon stands on its own. So as a reader, you can approach each sermon on its own. I found the chapters to be of a good length, a varying length. Some sermons being about twelves pages perhaps, and, others being a bit longer. Personally, I set out to read one to two sermons per day over two weeks. I found this worked really well. Two, sermons have a definite audience. These sermons were written, were preached, to an audience with the intent of being understood. So there is a certain clarity. He wanted to save souls; he wanted to reach the lost and/or teach the saved. Here we find instruction and food for thought. His sermons offer a bit of a challenge in that they are asking the reader (or the listener, originally) to evaluate where he/she stands in relation to Christ. Each sermon is broken down into two sections: Doctrine and Application.

Here are the sixteen sermons:

  1. God Never Changes His Mind
  2. It Is Well For Us That God Is Not As We Are
  3. God Doesn't Thank Men For Doing Those Things He Commands Them
  4. Men's Addiction to Sin is No Excuse, But An Aggravation
  5. God Is Kind to the Unthankful and the Evil
  6. A Man May Eternally Undo Himself in One Thought of His Heart
  7. There Is A Mutual Abhorrence Between God and Wicked Men
  8. There Is Nothing Like Seeing What God Is To Make Men Sensible To What They Are
  9. God Does What He Pleases
  10. Tis The Spirit of a Truly Godly Man to Prefer God Before All Other Things Either In Heaven or On Earth
  11. Christ is the Christian's All
  12. God Is Everywhere Present
  13. Spiritual Appetites Need No Bounds
  14. There Is Much of the Goodness and Mercy of God Appearing in the Commands He Has Given Us
  15. Contending With God
  16. God Is A Being of Transcendent Mercy

I loved, loved, loved this collection. Did I love, love, love each sermon equally? Did I profit by each sermon equally? Of course not. I needed to hear some more than others. I am so glad I didn't assume that this collection of sermons would be "too difficult" for me to read and appreciate!


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Highlights Week #3

This week's top ten:
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2) (NIV)
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) (NIV)
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24) (NIV)
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. (Psalm 3:5) (NIV)
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) (NIV)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16) (NIV)
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12) (NIV)
Quotes:
God knows how to make the story end just right — in the way that’s best for us. ~ E. Nesbit, The Railway Children
We are not naturally capable of loving God for Himself; indeed, we hate Him. But in discovering this about ourselves, and in learning of the Lord's supernatural love for us, love for the Father was born. Forgiven much, we loved much (Luke 7:47). We rejoiced in the hope of glory, in suffering, even in God Himself (Rom. 5:2, 3, 11). This new affection seemed first to overtake our worldliness, then to master it. Spiritual realities-Christ, grace, Scripture, prayer, fellowship, service, living for the glory of God-filled our vision and seemed so large, so desirable, that other things by comparison seemed to shrink in size and become bland to the taste. ~ Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone
You would never have come to Him if He had not turned to you. Do not ever get up, stick your chest out and say, “I sought the Lord.” You sought the Lord after He made it tough for you and pushed you and urged you. He is the aggressor, not you. You did not do anything but respond, and the Lord had to get behind you and push. That is the way all God’s people came to Him, so do not feel bad about it. And He chose you before the foundation of the world. God knew your name and my name before there was a sea or a mountain, before there was a star or a planet. ~ A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity
Reading is a good preparative for prayer, as prayer is an excellent means to render reading effectual. ~ George Whitfield, "The Great Duty of Family Religion"
Nothing is more destructive than feelings of uselessness and worthlessness. That's precisely why the enemy seeks every avenue to fuel and perpetuate them. Beloved, each of us has a God-given need to matter. You are not self-centered and vain because you have that need; you are human. ~ Beth Moore, The Beloved Disciple
The Lord’s people should not go along with the rest in their worldliness. Their characters should be visibly different. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Character of Christ's People"

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: May 11-17

NIV JESUS Bible

  • Psalms 1-50
  • Proverbs
  • John
  • 1 Thessalonians (4)
  • 2 Thessalonians (4)
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude

ASV (1901)

  • Psalms 1-72
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 1 Thessalonians (3)
  • 2 Thessalonians (3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: In Christ Alone

In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life. Sinclair Ferguson. 2007. 243 pages. [Source: Bought]

I loved reading In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson. Each chapter was originally an article in a previous publication. The chapters are short, very reader-friendly, and rich in truth. I loved all the Scripture references, loved the attention paid to the gospel of John, the book of Romans, and the book of Hebrews. The book focuses on Jesus: his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, his intercession. It's a thorough book on what Christ has done, what Christ is doing, and what Christ will do.

I would definitely recommend this one! Perhaps this one would be a good choice for those who are looking for something more than a devotional but who are not quite ready for heavy theology.

Favorite quotes:
We need to learn to preach the gospel to ourselves because it is the A to Z of Christianity.
Read and re-read John's Gospel until you discover that it is bigger on the inside than it appeared to be from the outside. That is true of the Gospel of John because it is first true of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).
Only a sinless Savior is able to die for our sins. He cannot die for our sins if He must die for His own.
Underline this thought: assurance, peace, access to God, knowledge that He is our Father, and strength to overcome temptation all depend on this-the Son of God took our flesh and bore our sins in such a way that further sacrifice for sin is both unnecessary and unintelligible.
God's promises are not fortune cookies. We do not use them in order to get a spiritual "fix" for the day. Serious progress in the Christian life requires the thoughtful understanding of the biblical message as a whole, each part of Scripture understood in its context and applied appropriately to our context.
Often today Christians go to Paul to tell them what to do and then to the local Christian bookstore to discover how to do it!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Reclaiming Christianity

Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith. A.W. Tozer. 2009. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

I really do love reading A.W. Tozer. Though he preached these sermons decades ago--he died in 1962, I believe--his messages are always extremely relevant and very passionate. Tozer had an incredible amount of zeal, he was a man "with a burning heart" whose love of God and love of the Word is evident with every sermon, every book. In Reclaiming Christianity, his focus is on the church, the "modern" "evangelical" church, if you will. His message is for the church and for the individual. He challenges. He invites. He scolds and warns too. Tozer was not a sin-tolerant man. He could be very opinionated! I don't always agree 100% with every thing he says. But oh, how I love to spend time with him!

I would definitely recommend this one. It may not be the Tozer I recommend as your very first Tozer. (That would probably be Knowledge of the Holy). But it's a good book.

Favorite quotes:
Nothing God can do for you now can fix you like concrete so that you will always be good. You have to walk with God on a daily and continuous basis. That is what the epistles address.
What is reconciliation? Reconciliation occurs when two enemies come together in love. God, who is the enemy of sin, and man, who is the enemy of God, were reconciled together in Jesus Christ. And when Jesus, who is God and man, died on the cross for man, He brought the two together through the mystery of reconciliation. Note that God did not say, “You will be reconciled if you feel reconciled. He said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”; he has been reconciled. And if you experience reconciliation, you will want to go out and tell someone else about it. That is evangelism at the grass roots.
A Christian is one who believes the truth that there is only one door and that door is the Son of God Himself.
God’s Word is both our terror and our hope. God’s Word both kills and makes alive. If we engage it in faith, humility and obedience, it gives life and it cleanses, feeds and defends. If we will close it in unbelief, ignore it or resist it, it will accuse us before the God who gave it, for it is the living Word of God. We dare not resist it nor argue it down. Some people believe part of the Word but do not believe the other part. They say, “If it inspires me, it is inspired; and if it does not inspire me, it is simply old history and tradition.” I believe this is God’s unique thing—the uttered Word of the living God—and when we get into the meaning of it and know what God is uttering forth, it has power to kill those who resist and it has power to make alive those who believe. “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations…. Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isa. 52:10; 53:1). Unbelief will paralyze the arm of the man who is filled with unbelief. While that same arm, long from being paralyzed, is working for the salvation of men.
If I go to a sinner and say, “I am exactly the same as you, the only difference is that I have a Savior,” but I do all the same things he does—I tell the same dirty jokes he tells and I waste my time the same way he does and I do everything he does—and then I say, “I have a Savior, you ought to have a Savior,” doesn’t he have the right to ask me what kind of Savior I have? What profit is there for a man to say, “I have a physician” if he is dying on a cot? What does it profit a man to say, “I have a Savior” if he is living in iniquity?
To the average church, God is desirable and may even be useful, but He is not necessary. Most churches can get on without God; they just give God His place in a nice way, as a guest.
A real Christian uses his whole Bible. This will make some of you mad, but if you are living on your morning daily devotions taken out of a book somebody compiled, I warn you that is pabulum. Read the entire Bible. Read it all. I do not say these other things are harmful, I just say that if you have that and nothing else, then you are not matured in your Christian life. Read all the Bible, read the “begats” and “begottens”; read it all. A real Christian ought to be able to take a rounded diet. A spiritual Christian is a person who has grown up in God and is mature and growing in the Spirit. So let us ask God to make us mature Christians and grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is the day of excusing sin instead of purging sin. An entire school of thought has developed around justifying sin within the Church and trying to prove that it is perfectly normal, and therefore, acceptable. Books are written to justify raising a little bit of hell while still being a good Christian. It is a terrible state of affairs, and we need to bring these fiery words back again.
I am quite astonished how we sing one way and believe another. I think we ought to go over our hymns, and the ones we have determined not to believe we should throw out and save ink and trouble. But if they are true, we ought to hold them to be true and if they are not we ought to say so. God loves candid people, and He has very little to do with conventional things merely for convention’s sake. So if it is not so that there is joy that the Cross is a beautiful thing to carry and that joy cometh in the morning after a night of weeping; if it is not true, then we ought to quit quoting it. If it is true, we ought to start believing it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #19

Our Lord's Prayer For His People's Sanctification
Charles Spurgeon
1890
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
O beloved, what a friend we have in Jesus! so willing, so speedy to do for us all that we need. Oh that we could imitate him in this, and be quick of understanding to perceive our line of service, and eager of heart to enter upon it.
This chapter, which ought to be universally known as the Lord's Prayer, may be called the holy of holies of the word of God. Here we are admitted to that secret place where the Son of God speaks with the Father in closest fellowship of love. Here we look into the heart of Jesus, as he sets out in order his desires and requests before his Father on our behalf. Here inspiration lifts her veil, and we behold truth face to face. Our text lies somewhere near the middle of the prayer; it is the heart of it. Our Lord's desire for the sanctification of his people pervades the whole prayer; but it is gathered up, declared, and intensified in the one sentence that I have read to you: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." How invaluable must the blessing of sanctification be when our Lord, in the highest reach of his intercession, cries: "Sanctify them!" In sight of his passion, on the night before his death, our Savior lifts his eyes to the great Father, and cries in his most plaintive tones, "Father, sanctify them." The place whereon we stand is holy ground, and the subject whereof we speak demands our solemn thought. Come, Holy Spirit, and teach us the full meaning of this prayer for holiness!
He would have each of us consecrated unto the Lord, designated and ordained for divine purposes. We are not the world's, else might we be ambitious; we are not Satan's, else might we be covetous; we are not our own, else might we be selfish. We are bought with a price, and hence we are his by whom the price is paid. We belong to Jesus, and he presents us to his Father, and begs him to accept us and sanctify us to his own purposes.
But sanctification is something more than mere morality and respectability; it is not only deliverance from the common sins of men, but also from the hardness, deadness, and carnality of nature: it is deliverance from that which is of the flesh at its very best, and admittance into that which is spiritual and divine. That which is carnal cometh not into communion with the spiritual kingdom or Christ: we need that the spiritual nature should rise above that which is merely natural. This is our prayer—Lord, spiritualize us; elevate us; make us to dwell in communion with God; make us to know him whom flesh and blood cannot reveal or discern. May the Spirit of the living God have full sovereignty over us and perfect in us the will of the Lord, for this is to be sanctified.
Sanctification is a higher word than purification; for it includes that word and vastly more: it is not sufficient to be negatively clean; we need to be adorned with all the virtues.
Justification is perfect the moment it is received, but sanctification is a matter of growth. He that is justified, is justified once for all by the perfect work of Jesus, but he that is sanctified by Christ Jesus must grow up in all things into him who is the Head. To make us holy is a life work, and for it we should seek the divine operation every hour; for "he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God." We would rise to the utmost pitch of holy living, and never content ourselves with present attainments. Those who are most pure and honorable have yet their shortcomings and errors to mourn over. When the Lord turns the light strong upon us, we soon see the spots upon our raiment; it is indeed when we walk in the light as God is in the light that we see most our need of the cleansing blood of Jesus. If we have done well, to God be the glory of it; but we might have done better. If we have loved much, to God's grace be the praise; but we ought to have loved more. If we have believed, and believed steadfastly, we ought to have believed to a far higher degree in our Almighty Friend. We are still below our capacities; there is a something yet beyond us. O ye sanctified ones, it is for you that Jesus prays that the Father may still sanctify you.
Regeneration, in which sanctification begins, is wholly the work of the Spirit of God. Our first discovery of wrong, and our first pang of penitence, are the work of divine grace. Every thought of holiness, and every desire after purity, must come from the Lord alone, for we are by nature wedded to iniquity. So also the ultimate conquest of sin in us, and the making us perfectly like to our Lord, must be entirely the work of the Lord God, who makes all things new, since we have no power to carry on so great a work of ourselves. This is a creation; can we create? This is a resurrection; can we raise the dead? Our degenerate nature can rot into a still direr putrefaction, but it can never return to purity or sweeten itself into perfection; this is of God and God alone. Sanctification is as much the work of God as the making of the heavens and the earth. Who is sufficient for these things? We go not even a step in sanctification in our own strength; whatever we think we advance of ourselves is but a fictitious progress which will lead to bitter disappointment. Real sanctification is entirely from first to last the work of the Spirit of the blessed God, whom the Father hath sent forth that he might sanctify his chosen ones. See, then, what a great thing sanctification is, and how necessary it is that our Lord should pray unto his Father, "Sanctify them through thy truth."
Good works are the fruit of true faith, and true faith is a sincere belief of the truth. Every truth leads towards holiness; every error of doctrine, directly or indirectly, leads to sin. A twist of the understanding will inevitably bring a contortion of the life sooner or later. The straight line of truth drawn on the heart will produce a direct course of gracious walking in the life. Do not imagine that you can live on spiritual carrion and yet be in fine moral health, or that you can drink down poisonous error and yet lift up a face without spot before God. Even God himself only sanctifies us by the truth. Only that teaching will sanctify you which is taken from God's word, that teaching which is not true, nor the truth of God, cannot sanctify you. Error may puff you up, it may even make you think that you are sanctified; but there is a very serious difference between boasting of sanctification and being sanctified, and a very grave difference between setting up to be superior to others and being really accepted before God. Believe me, God works sanctification in us by the truth, and by nothing else.
The Scripture alone is absolute truth, essential truth, decisive truth, authoritative truth, undiluted truth, eternal, everlasting truth. Truth given us in the word of God is that which is to sanctify all believers to the end of time: God will use it to that end.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: Fellowship with God

Fellowship with God (Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John #1) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1993. Crossway. 142 pages. [Source: Bought]

In April, I reviewed a four volume series by Martyn Lloyd-Jones on John 17. I enjoyed reading Lloyd-Jones so much, I decided to read more! Now I am reading a five volume series on the book of 1 John. The Life in Christ series consists of sermons preached by Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the late 1940s. Though he may have preached to another generation, his messages are still relevant, very relevant to today's generation.

Fellowship with God is the first book in the series. It covers 1 John 1.

  • The Christian and the World (1 John 5:19)
  • Full and Lasting Joy (1 John 1:4)
  • How To Know the Joy (1 John 1:4)
  • The Apostolic Declaration (1 John 1:1-3)
  • Christian Experience (1 John 1:3)
  • All Because of Christ (1 John 1:3)
  • Knowing God (1 John 1:3)
  • Mysticism (1 John 1:3)
  • The Holiness of God (1 John 1:5)
  • Sin (1 John 1:6-10)
  • Walking in the Light (1 John 1:6-10)
  • The Blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:6-10)
  • Jesus, His Son (1 John 1:7)

I really loved this one. 1 John is one of my favorite epistles. I spent thirty days in this one several years ago, and it just has a very special place in my heart. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is such a joy to read. There is substance and depth and an undeniable richness. Probably because Lloyd-Jones sticks closely to the Word of God and is very passionate about bringing understanding to his audience.  He wants to be understood. He wants to make the Word of God understandable. He wants people to get it.

Favorite quotes:
Thank God, the Bible always faces things as they are, even at their worst. That is why to me a psychological use of the Bible is of the devil. It is a misuse of it, because the Bible is not concerned simply to ease a situation. It has a strength and a power; it is concerned about courage, but in terms of its own truth so it looks at the world as it is, at its worst.  (17)
Christians are not people who are in a state of uncertainty; the very definition of Christians in the New Testament is of people who know where they are, what they are, and they have got; they are not men and women who are hovering in the dark. (17)
I cannot see that the New Testament message has any comfort to give us or any consolation unless we start from that basis; that if we are Christians we are altogether different from those who are not. (19)
There is only one thing that can give true joy and that is a contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ. (30)
Here again we come to the great watershed which divides Christian preaching and teaching from every other teaching; it is based solely on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Church has nothing to say to the world until it believes on Him. Indeed, the Church's message to the world is one of condemnation until it believes on Christ. (35)
The gospel is an announcement. We can put that negatively by saying that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a speculation, nor a human thought or idea or philosophy. (45)
We are ambassadors, and the business of the ambassador is not to say to the foreign country what he thinks or believes; it is to deliver the message which has been delivered to him by his home government and the King he represents. (46)
Life outside God is not life, it is existence, for there is a difference between the two. (54)
There can be no true joy of salvation while there is a vagueness or an uncertainty or a lack of assurance with respect to what we have. (56)
This, says the Bible, is the state of the world away from God. It rebels against God and therefore produces its own miseries. It does not argue about that, it just tells us, and the whole state of the world is just a proof of that. It is no use, says the Bible; you can do what you like, you can organize and scheme as much as you like, but while men and women are in a wrong relationship to God, they can never be better. As Augustine put it: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee." (65)
What right have we to expect Christian behavior from a world that does not believe in Christ? Why should the world apply Christian principles? Does it believe in Christ, does it acknowledge Him to be who He is? Does it accept Him as Savior? Indeed, I do not hesitate to say that according to the New Testament it is rank heresy to recommend Christian behavior to people who are not Christian. They are incapable of it! Before people can live the Christian life they must be made a new creation; if they cannot keep the moral law and the Ten Commandments, the ancient law given to the Children of Israel, how can they live according to the Sermon on the Mount? How can they follow Christ? It is ridiculous! That is not our message; that is not what the Church must say. (66)
The supreme need for every one of us is to know God, to return to that condition of fellowship and communion, to know that centrally I am right with Him. (67)
The Christian life is not essentially an application of teaching; it is a fellowship, a communion with God Himself and nothing less. (74)
It is because we tend to assume that we know the truth about God, it is because we tend to assume that everything is all right in our ideas about God that many, if not most, of our problems occur, because we constantly start not with God but with ourselves. (94)
The Bible is constantly reminding us that we must start with God. If ever I start with man, I must ultimately go wrong in all my thinking about truth; because if I start there, everything accommodates itself to my doctrine of man. Yet the doctrine of the Bible is that I can never know man truly unless I look at him in the sight of God and in the teaching concerning God. (95)
I suggest that if you do not start with the holiness of God you will never understand God's plan of salvation, which is that salvation is only possible to us through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross on Calvary's hill. But the question arises; why is that cross essential, why is that the only way whereby man can be saved? If God is only love and compassion and mercy, then the cross is surely meaningless, for if God is love alone, then all He needs to do when man sins is to forgive him. But the whole message is that the cross is at the centre, and without that death God, I say with reverence, cannot forgive. (101)
It is as true to say that man is sinful as it is to say that God is light and that in Him is no darkness at all. (106)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Verses for Mother's Day

Every day will I bless Thee, and I will praise Thy name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honor of Thy majesty, and of Thy wondrous works. (Psalm 145:2-5) (KJ21)
And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them as a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8) (KJ21)
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:11) (NIV)
Consider the privilege Christian mothers have in sharing, in reading, the Word of God to their children, with their children! That is a gift--a true gift that blesses both mother and child! Consider the privilege Christian mothers have in praising God with their children! Include your children in your spiritual life! 

Treasure the Word of God, make the Bible a part of your life. Let your kids see you reading and studying the Word! Let them see how MUCH you value it. (If you don't value it, they may not either. If you consider Bible-reading a chore, they might too.) Let them see you make time for Bible reading! Show them that God is number one in your life! Desire God! Let kids see you delighting in God!

Oh the lessons mothers can pass down to their children! Oh the spiritual legacies mothers can leave for their children! Let your children see your passion for God! Show them, teach them, and above all PRAY for them.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Highlights Week #2

This week's top ten:
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound! They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. Psalms 89:15-16 (KJ21)
I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord. Psalm 104:33-34 (KJ21)
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me; Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of Thine own hands. Psalm 138:8 (KJ21)
Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name. I will praise Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Thy name for evermore. Psalm 86:11-12 (KJ21)
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (ESV)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (ESV)
Quotes:
Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. And if you want one verse for practical application, do not take a verse on mercy or humility. Consider why Jesus said he came: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Matthew teaches that you and I have sinned. We have separated ourselves from God. And now we are under his just judgment. Every single one of us. But Christ has come in love to take the punishment for our sins on himself and to rise in victory over death. And then he has come to us, calling us to repent and believe, to trust in him, to turn from our sins, and to have a new life in him. You cannot understand Jesus finally without understanding something of yourself. ~ Mark Dever, The Message of the New Testament
There is an absolute authority within the Church, and that authority is Jesus Christ. ~ A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity
The New Testament says that the most important question that we must face is that of Jesus Christ; for, it tells us, our life in this world here and now, the whole meaning of death, and indeed our life throughout eternity depends entirely and solely upon our answer to this question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” The New Testament does not hesitate to say that. Listen to the apostle Peter saying it unequivocally in one of his first recorded sermons: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)—this name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that is a dogmatic assertion, I agree, but there is no more dogmatic book in the world than the New Testament. It never comes and says, “You have read many other books and been interested in their theories—now read me and see what you make of me. Perhaps you will find me more interesting than the others.” No; rather, it makes a definite pronouncement. Here, it tells us, is the only way for men and women to know God and to be reconciled to Him. Here is the only way whereby they can be delivered from the thralldom and the serfdom of life in this world and from its sin and its evil. Here is the only way whereby they can be delivered forever from the fear of death and the grave. And here, says the New Testament, is the one and only way in which men and women can avoid spending eternity in a state of misery and wretchedness and torment. That is its statement, nothing less. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). It is one or the other; everything is dependent upon this person. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Heart of the Gospel
It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ.... It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith. The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith or the attitude of faith or in the nature of faith, but in the object of faith. ~ B.B. Warfield
As a child I often was amazed by the ability of a member of my grandparents' generation to suck a single peppermint for a half-hour, while mine was crunched to pieces within minutes! We need to learn to suck the flavors from God's Word, slowly savoring God's promises, metaphorically placing them "under our tongue," allowing them to release their pleasurable blessings over the whole day. We need to meditate on them if we are to find them redirecting our thinking and filling us with an expectation that the Lord will keep His word. Only then will we be able to say, "How sweet are your words to my taste" (Ps. 119:103, NIV). ~ Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: May 4-10

Third Millennium Bible

  • Psalms 61-150
  • Matthew 
  • 1 Thessalonians (3)
  • 2 Thessalonians (3)

NIV MacArthur

  • 2 Kings 5-13

ESV MacArthur

  • Joel
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians 

ESV

  • 1 Thessalonians (3)
  • 2 Thessalonians (3)


NRSV Daily

  • 2 Chronicles 21-36
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms 1-41

NASB

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

NKJV

  • 1 Thessalonians (3)
  • 2 Thessalonians (3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: The Beloved Disciple (2003)

The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus. Beth Moore. 2003. B&H. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Beloved Disciple is a book I've meant to read for years now. It is a book that focuses in part on the life of the Apostle John (it does this by examining what we know of him--of his life--by what is revealed in the four gospels and the book of Acts); it also focuses in part on the works of the Apostle John (it does this by examining the gospel of John, his three letters, and the book of Revelation). I'll be honest. While I enjoyed the first part of the book, I really really really loved the second part of the book. I loved the focus on John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation.

The first part of the book focuses on relationships, focuses on John's relationship with Jesus, and John's relationships with the other disciples. It's a creative approach, but built on a scriptural foundation as well. The second part of the book focuses more on reflections and doctrines. The first part, in other words, we see John as a young man. The second part, we see John as a very old man, a wise man focused on passing along what he knows, a man passionate to speak the truth.

This book definitely ministered to me. I found it to be WONDERFUL. I loved it so, so much!!!

Favorite quotes:
What do you say about yourself? What we don't say in words, we ultimately say in deeds. Daily we say all sorts of things about ourselves. Sometimes what we say about ourselves is not necessarily accurate, but it's what we believe.
How differently would we pray if Christ chose to manifest His presence? Would we pray differently if He sat in a chair right across from each of us, leaning forward to concentrate on what we're saying? Beloved, if only we would realize that though He's invisible to our sight, that's in essence what He does! He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. When we pray, He is so close to us, He may as well be leaning over the edge of heaven and bending down to hear. His presence through His Holy Spirit literally surrounds us as we pray. His eyes are fixed on our face. On every word we're saying. On every expression we're making. Can you imagine how the angels marvel over our boredom at times when we pray, as their faces behold our Father in heaven who is listening intently to every word?
We were created to be full. When we're not filled with the good things Christ came to bring us, we will grasp at anything as a substitute. An unsatisfied soul is an accident waiting to happen.
If the world population took a vote as to whether Jesus is the Son of God and not a single ballot was cast in His favor, He'd still be the Son of God. He doesn't need our permission or even our faith to be who He is.
Each of Christ's seven “I Am” statements in John's Gospel is relational! If you look again at all seven titles but look for how each title is associated with people, you will discover a blessing: John 6:35—He who comes to the Bread of Life will never go hungry. John 8:12—She who follows the Light of the world will never walk in darkness. John 10:7–9—Whoever enters through the Gate to the Sheep will be saved. John 10:11–14—He who belongs to the Good Shepherd receives protection and is known by the Shepherd. John 11:25—She who believes in the Resurrection and the Life will live, even though she dies. John 14:6—Whoever follows the Way and the Truth and the Life comes to the Father. John 15:1, 5—He who remains in the True Vine will bear much fruit. Christ is many things. He is truly the Great I AM. He is the Savior of the world. He fulfills numerous titles in the Word of God, but I believe the spiritual implication of the seven “I am” sayings in the broad approach of John's Gospel is this: Jesus Christ is everything we need. Every one of these titles is for us! Remember, He is the self-sufficient One! He came to be what we need. And not just what we need, but what we desire most in all of life. The I AM came to be with us. I could weep with joy!
You and I need nothing on this earth like more of the Holy Spirit. Do we need to love an unlovely person? Do we need extra patience? Could we use a little peace in the midst of chaos? Do we need to show an extra measure of kindness? Could anyone stand a little more faithfulness to God? Could anyone use a strong dose of self-discipline? How about a heaping soulful of joy? Take a look at Galatians 5:22–23. They all come with the fullness of the Holy Spirit! You see, we don't just need more patience. We need more of the Holy Spirit filling us and anointing us! Does anyone need deep insight from God's Word? An added measure of understanding? Anyone need the eyes of her heart enlightened to know the hope of her calling? Does anyone want to fulfill God's eternal purposes for her life and think with the mind of Christ instead of the misleading mind of mortal flesh? All of these come with “more” of the Holy Spirit! (see 1 Cor. 2). Child of God, don't just absorb this truth! Get up and celebrate it! God gives the Spirit without measure! He has all that you need. Or more properly stated, He is all that you need. Our fulfillment and greatest joy are in the flooding of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. He is how we understand God's Word and will for our lives!
We will always give Satan plenty of ammunition to discourage us. If we don't literally camp in the love of Christ, we will talk ourselves out of untold fruit by dwelling on our own unworthiness. Accept the fact that we are unworthy and we're lavishly loved by a God of redemptive grace.
I believe this is what Christ was saying to them: I am going to leave you so that I can prepare rooms for you where you will one day dwell and indeed make yourself at home where I live in heaven. Until then, I have built a room in each of you where I can make Myself at home with you. This way I am at home with you in Spirit until you are at home with Me in heaven.
If we don't learn to get honest with God over our thought lives, we will never allow Him to teach us new ways to think. If we never develop renewed minds, consistent victory and glorious koinonia will tragically elude us. Dear one, God already knows your thought life! Our conviction is telling us not only that He knows but that He wants to apply His grace to the problem and correct it.
Agreeing with God over our forgiven state is just as important as agreeing with God over our sin! If Satan can't tempt us to hide our sin and refuse to confess, he'll tempt us not to accept our forgiven and purified state.
Fears are fillers. Mind fillers. Heart fillers. Soul fillers. The enemy fuels them because they leave virtually no space for the filling of the Spirit and the welcomed flood of divine love. Second Timothy 1:7 (KJV) tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of sound mind. Does that tell you why Satan would want to do anything possible to supply us with fillers other than the Holy Spirit? Satan neither wants us to know who we could be nor what we could do. Lives full of God's power, love, and soundness of mind are a terrible threat to the kingdom of hell. After all he's done to me and to so many others, I want to be a threat. Don't you? How do we begin? By allowing God's perfect love to start driving out our destructive fears and condemning natures like an eighteen-wheeler plowing through a cornfield! Wholeness begins by deliberately and daily receiving the lavish, unreasonable, unfailing love of God all the way into our marrow. When life is too foggy to see the evidences of His love around us, behold it in His Word, dear one! Know it until you feel it.
I am convinced that virtually everything in an individual believer's life hinges on his or her deliberate belief and active acceptance of the lavish, unconditional love of God. I'm not sure we can be reminded too often of God's absolute priorities for our lives. No matter how different our personalities, gifts, styles of worship, or denominations, God's chief priority for every single one of us is that we love Him with everything in us (Mark 12:30).
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible