Saturday, December 16, 2017

Journaling the CSB Spurgeon Bible #5

Today marks FIVE weeks since I received the Spurgeon Study Bible. I finished the Old Testament today. I am definitely on target to finish this Bible this year.

It is wonderful that God would not only give us light, but that light should be his own glory. Creation is a part of God's glory, but it is only a moonlight glory compared with that of redemption. God, in the gift of Jesus Christ, displayed the whole of his nature. Creation is not a canvas large enough for the whole image of God to be stamped on it. The image of God is to be fully seen in Jesus Christ--and nowhere else--for there you behold attributes that creation cannot display. Creation can manifest love, power, wisdom, and much else, but creation cannot manifest justice--justice lying side by side with mercy, like the lion and and the lamb. Only in Christ can you see this wondrous sight--God hating sin with perfect hatred, yet loving sinners with much more than the tenderness of a mother toward her child. Spurgeon Study Bible, Isaiah 60:1,
When God looks at his people, he does not see them--he sees his Son. He looks through that heavenly medium and sees them in his Son. The Lord has covered them with the robe of righteousness. The children of God who weep because of their sins can be joyful in the Lord. We are righteous in the righteousness of Christ that God has imputed to us by faith in his Son. Spurgeon Study Bible, Isaiah 61:1
The essence and soul of prayer is a stirring up of one's self to take hold of God. If in prayer we do not take hold of God, we have prayed but feebly, if at all. The soul of devotion lies in realizing the divine presence, in dealing with God as a real person, in firm confidence in his faithfulness--that is, to "take hold" of him. People do not take hold of a shadow. Spurgeon Study Bible, Isaiah 64:7
People will never rejoice in God's new work of creation while they are rejoicing in their own works and trusting in themselves and boasting their own merits. It is a sign of grace when a person is sick of self and is in harmony with God. Spurgeon Study Bible, Isaiah 65:17-19
If every day brings its trouble, every day also brings its mercy. No one can say that so truly as the person who has known what it is to prove God's great faithfulness in the midst of great affliction. Spurgeon Study Bible, Lamentations 3:23
God's time is always the best time. To deliver us just now might be to deprive us of the benefit of the trouble. We must bear it until it produces the "peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11) Spurgeon Study Bible, Lamentations 3:26
Sin must be punished. Any theology that offers the pardon of sin without punishment ignores a major part of God's character. The testimony of the gospel is not that punishment has been mitigated or foregone. The consolation is far more sure and effectual. Christ has, for his people, borne all the punishment they deserved. Now here is a precious promise: "He will not lengthen your exile." We may be in captivity now, but it is the last we will ever have. We may have troubles, but we will never have punishment. We may know affliction, but we will never know wrath. We may go to the grave, but we will never go to hell. We will descend into the regions of the dead but never into the regions of the damned. Spurgeon Study Bible, Lamentations 4:22
Let us study the Bible with diligence. Go to that fountain of truth, and never be satisfied with a secondhand version of it. Search the inspired book and desire to know everything it teaches. Spurgeon Study Bible, Ezekiel 3:17
Two words will teach us the deepest practical wisdom--sin and grace. No one ever measured either of them except one, and he, when he measured them, was in a bloody sweat and poured out his soul unto death. Only our suffering lover, the Lord Jesus Christ, knows the two to their perfection. May we be helped to enter a little further into the double secret while we commune together. Spurgeon Study Bible, Ezekiel 16:62-63
Unbelief works toward sin and never toward sanctification. Spurgeon Study Bible, Galatians 3:2
Believers are not dependent on circumstances. Their joy comes not from what they have but from what they are, not from where they are but from whose they are, not from what they enjoy but from what was suffered for them by their Lord. Spurgeon Study Bible, Galatians 5:22 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #27

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In December, I hope to cover the next sixteen verses of Psalm 119.

49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.
57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

Sermon 64 (Psalm 119:57)


  • DAVID doth in this place make out his right and title, Thou art my portion, O Lord,’ &c. Here is— 1. David’s protestation, thou art my portion, O Lord. 2. David’s resolution, I have said that I would keep thy words.
  • Take notice of David’s resolution, I have said that I would keep thy word.’ It is good to see what kind of inference the saints draw from this principle, that God is their portion.
  • In this resolution we may observe— 1. The formality or manner of making, I have said: it is by way of practical decree. 2. The matter of it, I will keep thy words.
  • Many good motions we start, but they die away for want of corning to a resolution, or issuing forth a practical decree for God.
  • Two points lie clear in the text:— 1. That God alone is the godly man’s portion. 2. That those which have chosen God for their portion will manifest it by a fixed resolution and strict care of obedience. It must needs be so; if God be his portion, his great business will be to keep in with him.
  • God is not your God unless he be set uppermost in your souls; he cannot be your portion unless he be your chiefest good. There is no possibility of entering into covenant with God unless you subscribe to this main article.
  • We should have no rest in ourselves until we come to the enjoyment of God. God was not refreshed from his work, he rested not until he made man; therefore man should not rest until he comes to God. God takes us for his portion, and therefore you should take God for your portion.
  • Holiness is a means of maintaining communion between us and God, and keeping up an interest in him as our only happiness.
  • Unless there be a care to please him, certainly you do not choose him for your portion; for if all your comfort and happiness lies in God, all your diligence and care Will be to please God.
  • They that love God will love his word, and if they love it they will live by it, and square their actions accordingly. By careless walking you blot your evidences, and so weaken your comfort.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2018 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge (Sign Up)


This will be the SIXTH year I'll be hosting the Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge. I hope you'll join me! I welcome back former participants! And I hope to see some new participants as well this year! I'd love to show you that reading "from the Cloud" isn't intimidating and scary. The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. 

The title of this reading challenge comes from Hebrews 12:1-2, which reads "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (KJV) If the KJV isn't quite for you,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

For an author to qualify for this reading challenge, they must be among "the cloud of witnesses".... in other words, they must be dead. (They must also be Christian.)
The following list is NOT comprehensive by any means. It is just a small sampling of authors that count towards the challenge. 

  • R.C. Sproul (1939-2017)
  • Jerry Bridges (1929-2016)
  • Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
  • Brennan Manning (1934-2013)
  • John Stott (1921-2011)
  • D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
  • Paul E. Little (1928-1975)
  • Phillip Keller (1920-1997)
  • Bilquis Sheikh (1912-1997)
  • John Oswald Sanders (1902-1992)
  • Loraine Boettner (1901-1990)
  • J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
  • Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)
  • Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
  • Catherine Marshall (1914-1983)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • L.E. Maxwell (1895-1984)
  • William Barclay (1907-1978)
  • Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Peter Marshall (1902-1949)
  • John Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
  • Charles Sheldon (1857-1946)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
  • G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945)
  • Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
  • B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)
  • Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)
  • Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
  • E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
  • Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
  • Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
  • J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
  • Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)
  • John Ross Macduff (1818-1895)
  • Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
  • George Muller (1805-1898)
  • Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873)
  • J.W. Alexander (1804-1859)
  • Charles Bridges (1794-1869)
  • William Wilberforce (1759-1833)
  • John Newton (1725-1807)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • David Brainerd (1718-1747)
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770)
  • John Wesley (1703-1791)
  • William Law (1686-1761)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
  • John Owen (1616-1683)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
  • John Flavel (1627-1691)
  • Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
  • Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
  • Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Brother Lawrence (1605-1691)
  • Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
  • Saint Augustine (354-430)

So what "counts" for this challenge? Well, the goal is to get you acquainted with different authors. So any reading material will count: no matter the length. It can be an article of a few pages; an individual sermon or a collection of sermons; it can be a book of quotes by that person; it can be a biography or autobiography about the person; you might find full-length books available online, or individual sermons online. And of course it doesn't matter if it's a book-book, e-book, or audiobook.

So how do I find books? Some authors will still be in print. Others won't be. Plenty of qualifying books can be found at Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for Nooks. Plenty can be read online or downloaded as pdfs. 

A great place to begin might be Free Grace Broadcaster. They've got subject-themed newsletters with articles by various authors. Topics include "The Work of Christ," "Worship," "Heaven," "The Resurrection." I also recommend Christian Classics Ethereal Library

So how many books are required? 

If you're completely new to christian nonfiction (christian living, theology, bible commentaries, bible studies, etc.) then I'd like to challenge you to read ONE or TWO books. If your first attempt is too tough, or proving not-for-you, try again. Don't assume that just because one author isn't working for you, that no author will. 

If christian nonfiction is something you're comfortable reading, I'd like to challenge you to read four to six books for this challenge. 

Sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment on the blog. 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm. R. Albert Mohler. Jr., 2017. 127 pages. [Source: Free download]

First sentence: A new and unprecedented right is now the central focus of legal, procedural, and cultural concern in many corridors — a supposed right not to be offended. The cultural momentum behind this purported “right” is growing fast, and the logic of this movement has taken hold in many universities, legal circles, and interest groups.

Premise/plot: The Gathering Storm is a collection of previously published essays by R. Albert Mohler. The subject is religious liberty or freedom; that is the book explores the current attacks on religious freedom in the United States.

My thoughts: I found this collection of essays to be mostly thought-provoking. I thought some essays were better--aka more engaging, more interesting--than others. But all share a common theme. Will Christians within America continue to have protected religious freedom. And what exactly does this freedom of religion include or exclude? Is it merely the freedom to gather together and worship in a building? Or is it the freedom to share the good news of the gospel with others?

Quotes:
Civilization thrives when individuals and groups seek to minimize unnecessary offendedness, while recognizing that some degree of real or perceived offendedness is the cost the society must pay for the right to enjoy the free exchange of ideas and the freedom to speak one’s mind. Given our mandate to share the gospel and to speak openly and publicly about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, Christians must understand a particular responsibility to protect free speech and to resist this culture of offendedness that threatens to shut down all public discourse. Of course, the right for Christians to speak publicly about Jesus Christ necessarily means that adherents of other belief systems will be equally free to present their truth claims in an equally public manner. This is simply the cost of religious liberty.
Without doubt, many Christians manage to be offensive for reasons other than the offense of the Gospel. This is to our shame and to the injury of our gospel witness. Nevertheless, there is no way for a faithful Christian to avoid offending those who are offended by Jesus Christ and his cross. The truth claims of Christianity, by their very particularity and exclusivity, are inherently offensive to those who would demand some other gospel.
We now face an inevitable conflict of liberties. In this context of acute and radical moral change, the conflict of liberties is excruciating, immense, and eminent. In this case, the conflict of liberties means that the new moral regime, with the backing of the courts and the regulatory state, will prioritize erotic liberty over religious liberty. Over the course of the last several decades, we have seen this revolution coming. Erotic liberty has been elevated as a right more fundamental than religious liberty. Erotic liberty, foreign to the founders of this nation, now marginalizes, subverts, and neutralizes religious liberty — a liberty highly prized by the builders of this nation and its constitutional order.
A liberty that did not even exist when the Constitution was written now supersedes protections that are explicit in the Constitution. This explains the trajectory of court decisions and developments in the law and, at the same time, reveals the trajectory we can expect in the future.
Religious freedom is not limited to what takes place within the confines of a church and its worship. Freedom of worship marginalizes and ghettoizes Christian speech so that its liberties only exist within the confines of the church — but it does not guarantee a right to a public voice. Freedom of worship essentially muzzles the Christian in the public square.
Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.
The affirmation of human rights is claimed to be the great moral achievement of the modern age. But this affirmation was based in the belief that those rights belong to every human being by virtue of divine creation. How can those rights survive when the foundation is destroyed?
We are not only called to defend human rights but to contend for them, and to insist that these rights are non-negotiable only because our creator endowed us with these rights, and allows no negotiation.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2018 Reading Challenge: Operation Deepen Faith (mine)

Operation Deepen Faith
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up)
January - December 2018

I. Wonderful Words of Life

I'll be keeping track of the Bibles I read here "Bibles Read in 2018".
My goal is to alternate reading "old" and "new" Bibles. Here "old" means both a) translations published before 2000 and b) favorite translations that I love and adore regardless of publication date. Likewise "new" means both a) translations published 2000 to present and b) new-to-me translations that I've never read before.

Ten Options for 2018

_ King James Version (old in both senses)
_ New American Standard Version (old in both senses)
_ American Standard Version (old in publication date; new in new-to-me)
_ Darby Translation (old in publication date; new in new-to-me)
_ English Standard Version (new in publication date; old in favorite translations)
_ NIV 1984 (old in both senses)
_ New King James Version (old in both senses)
_ New Revised Standard Version (old in publication date; new in new-to-me)
_ New Living Translation (new in both senses)
_ Modern English Version (new in both senses)

I hope to read at least one study Bible.

II. Christian Nonfiction

I'll be keeping track of the books I read here "Books Read in 2018."

My goal is 75-100 Christian nonfiction books.

My goal is also to focus on the works of J.C. Ryle for the Victorian Reading Challenge.
My goal is also to focus on the works of the Reformers and Puritans for the Reformation Reading Challenge.



My goal is also to focus on the works of R.C. Sproul who recently passed away. I'd love to see how many Sproul titles I can read in 2018!


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #26

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In December, I hope to cover the next sixteen verses of Psalm 119.

49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.
57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

Sermon 63 (Psalm 119:56)

  • First, He that continueth faithful in a course of obedience will find at length that it will turn to a good account. Secondly, That it is of great use to observe what good cometh to us by keeping close to God’s ways.
  • For the first point, he that continueth faithful in a course of obedience will find at length that it will turn to a good account. Here three things are to be explained:— 1. What it is to keep God’s precepts. 2. What is the good that accrueth to us thereby. 3. The connection between both these, or the reasons and grounds upon which we may expect this good.
  • Let us inquire what it is to keep God’s precepts. The phrase is often used in scripture, implying a diligent observance of it, and obedience thereunto. The term keep relateth to a charge or trust committed to us.
  • Now, there is a twofold keeping of God’s precepts—legal and evangelical.
  • The legal keeping, that is when we keep and perform the commandments so exactly as is answerable to the rigour of the law. What is that? The law requires perfect and absolute obedience, without the least failing in any one point.
  • There is an evangelical keeping God’s precepts, and that is filial and sincere obedience; and so they are said to keep God’s precepts, not they who have no sin in them, but they who study to be free from sin, and desire to please God in all things.
  • Let me instance in the benefits that believers find by walking with God in a course of obedience, that every one can say, This I had, because I kept thy precepts. Peace of conscience. Next to peace of conscience there is joy in the Holy Ghost; this is the fruit of peace, as peace is the fruit of righteousness. Increase of grace. Another benefit that we have is many gracious experiences and manifestations of God vouchsafed to us in the way of obedience. In the present world God and believers are not strange to one another; a man that walketh close with him will meet him at every turn. Protection in their work. In public and common judgments God maketh a difference; and some of his choice ones are marked out for preservation, and are as brands plucked out of the burning, whilst others are consumed therein. So much of sanctified prosperity as shall be good for them.
  • The next thing is to show you what connection there is between these two, obedience and this good, or the reason of the Lord’s dealing thus.
  • All the comfort we have is from mercy; yea, undeserved mercy. Those that walk according to this rule stand in need of mercy. Their peace and comfort floweth from mercy; they need mercy to cover the failings they are conscious to in their walkings. And then consider his truth and faithfulness. The reward of well-doing cometh not by the worthiness of the work, but by virtue of God’s promise: His word doth good to them that walk uprightly,’ Micah 2:7. God hath made himself a debtor by his promise, and oweth us no thanks for what we can do; it is only his gracious promise.
  • There is a great deal of difference between carnal boasting and gracious observation. Carnal boasting is when we vaunt of our personal worth; gracious observation is when, for God’s glory and our profit, we observe the fruits of obedience, and the benefits it bringeth along with it. That God never gave us cause to leave, but to commend his service, and, by what we have found, to invite others to come and taste that the Lord is gracious.’
  • The child of God may have a hard toilsome life of it, but he hath his mixtures of comfort in his deepest afflictions; he hath peace with God, that keeps his heart and mind, and maketh his passage through the world tolerable, because God is engaged with him.
  • A comfortable passing out of the world. 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Review: Everyone a Child Should Know

Everyone A Child Should Know. Clare Heath-Whyte. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Gift]

First sentence: Brother Andrew. What do you like most about going to church? Bible stories? Singing? Meeting friends? Did you know there are some countries in the world where Jesus' friends aren't allowed to meet together, or read the Bible, or tell other people about Jesus?

Premise/plot: If you're looking to introduce your child to heroes of the faith, then I'd recommend sharing Everyone A Child Should Know with your family. "There are loads of Christian biographies around for older children and adults, but almost none for younger children--yet it is never too early to introduce the next generation to some of the heroes of the faith. Here we meet fifty-two Christian men and women (one to read every week of the year...) from all walks of life, who wanted to live for their friend Jesus." Each hero is given a two-page spread. One page is an illustration with a bible verse; the other page is a brief biography. There is a lot of variety; the book spans centuries.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I think it would be hard to choose just fifty-two. If I'd been choosing the list, it would be slightly different. I'd definitely want to include Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and maybe James Montgomery Boice. Jerry Bridges. Oh, also A.W. Tozer. And J.C. Ryle. And are there really enough Puritans on the list?! I don't think so!!!  Every one's list would be different. I think there's room for a sequel.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible