Friday, February 28, 2014

Worth Quoting #4 (John Calvin)

The Evangelists portray the Son of God as stripped of His clothes that we may know the wealth gained for us by this nakedness, for it shall dress us in God's sight. God willed His Son to be stripped that we should appear freely, with the angels, in the garments of his righteousness and fullness of all good things, whereas formerly, foul disgrace, in torn clothes, kept us away from the approach to the heavens. ~ John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 3, p. 194
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: More Precious Than Gold

More Precious Than Gold: 50 Daily Meditations on the Psalms. Sam Storms. 2009. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I love, love, love the book of Psalms. It is not that I love all 150 psalms equally. Or that each and every Psalm speaks to me where I am. But there is so much richness, so much truth, so much grace to be found in this one not-so-little book.

Sam Storms has written 50 meditations in this devotional. These meditations are on individual Psalms. Which psalms inspired meditations? 1, 3, 4, 5, 10, 13, 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 27, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 42, 43, 46, 51, 63, 73, 84, 86, 88, 91, 92-98, 100, 103, 104, 115, 119, 130, 139, 143, 145, 147, 148-150. Several meditations cover the same Psalm.

I would definitely recommend this devotional book. I love Sam Storms' writing style. I love his focus and enthusiasm.

Favorite quotes:
The reason why God does not deal with us according to our sins is that he has dealt with Jesus in accordance with what they require. The reason why God does not repay us according to our iniquities is that he has repaid his Son in accordance with what holiness demands--in perfect harmony, I might add, with the will and voluntary love of the Son himself. (192; Psalm 103:10-12)
God's Word rewards you with restoration of your soul, wisdom for your walk, joy for your heart, enlightenment for your eyes, truth you can count on, and the provision of righteousness. (70; Psalm 19)
God wants nothing more than to heighten and sharpen our sensible awareness of his relegation of himself. And he knows what we don't, namely, that sin anesthetizes our souls and renders us dull and numb to his presence. Every commandment in Scripture, every precept, every prohibition or principle is lovingly designed to lead us away from what otherwise might spoil our appetite for God. (27; Psalm 1)
My aim as a father, preacher, teacher, author, and now grandfather is to hammer home with unrelenting zeal that the joys of knowing Jesus are simply incomparable. His capacity to please knows no rival. We must preach from our pulpits and model in our lives and fill our prayers and labor and suffer and sacrifice greatly to make this truth known. (35; Psalm 4)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones #2

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). Here is what I loved in February:

From February 14th:
The Holy Spirit not only reveals Christ—He also applies His Word, which convicts us of sin. Well, if you do not feel you are a sinner, it is simply because you do not know yourself, and you do not know yourself because the Holy Spirit has not convicted you. Some of the best people who have ever trodden this earth have been those who have been most conscious of their sinfulness. I cannot imagine a worse state for anybody to be in than for him or her to say he or she does not feel he or she is a sinner. The Holy Spirit convicts and convinces of sin, and if He has not done it for you, if you value your own soul, ask Him to do it. Christ came to die for sinners, not for the righteous, and the first work of the Spirit is to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He is a seal given to us to show that we belong to God. He testifies with our spirits that we are the children of God. No Christian has a right to be uncertain about his or her salvation; the Holy Spirit has been given in order that we might be certain, for “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).
From February 15th:
The work of the Spirit is to make the Lord Jesus Christ real to us. So do not waste your time trying to picture the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not go and look at portraits of Him that are wholly imaginary. There is a sense, I believe, in which nobody should ever try to paint Him—it is wrong. I do not like these paintings of Christ; they are the efforts of the natural mind. If you want a photograph of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will give it to you in the inner man. That is the work of the Spirit—to make Christ living, to make us certain He is there, so that when we speak to Him, and He to us, the Spirit makes Him real, and He is formed in us.
From February 17th:
God, being God, cannot simply forgive sin. Now the common idea about God, the one that we have instinctively, is that when we admit we have sinned, all that is necessary is that we should come to God, say we are very sorry, and God will forgive us. But according to the Bible that is impossible, and I do not hesitate to use that word. As a preacher of the Christian Gospel, I am compelled to say this, and I say it with reverence: God, because He is God, cannot just forgive sin like that. If you want me to prove what I am saying, this is how I do it. If God could have forgiven sin just by saying, “I forgive,” He would have done so, and Christ would never have been sent into this world. The work that was given to Him to do, this work, this assignment, this task, was given to the Lord Jesus Christ because, I say again, without it God cannot forgive sin. He must not only justify the ungodly—He must remain just. The way of salvation must be consistent with the character of God. He cannot deny Himself; He cannot change Himself; He is unchangeable. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). He is eternally the same, and He is absolutely righteous and holy and just. He cannot remain that and simply forgive sin. It is wrong to say, “God is love, and because He is love, He will forgive me.” My friend, He cannot, because He is God! The work of Christ was essential because of the character of God, and it was essential because of man being in sin; something had to be done to render man fit for God.
From February 18th:
The work of salvation was something that Christ Himself had to do, and He could therefore speak of it as being done. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Now I want to put that in the form of a negative like this: The Lord Jesus Christ did not come into this world to tell us what we have to do; He came Himself to do something for us that we could never do for ourselves. These negatives are all so essential, because there are people who believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, but if you ask them what He came into this world to do, their answer will be that He came to tell us what we must do ourselves. Or they talk about good works and say that if we do this or that, we will make ourselves Christian and make ourselves right with God. No! Our Lord says here, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” The truth that we have to take hold of is that which is emphasized here, and the best way to understand it is to consider what it was He did, and, too, what He was doing beforehand. He came to do certain things Himself, and we are saved by what Christ has done for us, and not by what He tells us to do. The work of salvation is His work and His doing, and He came specifically to do it; and here, in these words, He looks ahead, as it were, to His death on the cross, as well as back to what He has already done. Under the shadow of the cross, he reviews the whole work, and He is able to say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” “I have completed it.” So a very good way of testing whether we have a right or wrong way of looking at salvation is to ask ourselves whether we see Christian salvation as something that is exclusively and entirely the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
From February 19th:
He has done everything that is necessary for man to be reconciled to God. Have you realized, my friends, that this work is finished ? Have you realized that it is finished as far as you are concerned? You are asked whether you are a Christian, and you reply that you are hoping to be, but that you need to do this, that, and the other. No! Christ says, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” The work has been done, and what proves whether we are truly Christians or not is whether we know and realize that the work has been done and that we then rest, and rest only, upon the finished work of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we see it all in Him and the work done and completed in Him, it means we are Christians.
From February 21st:
The cross does not only reveal sin for what it is—at one and the same time it pronounces doom on the whole world and everything that belongs to that realm. The cross of Jesus Christ makes this great proclamation. Unless I believe in Him, unless I believe that His death at that hour is the only thing that reconciles me to God, I remain under the wrath of God. If I do not see that the wrath of God against my sin has been borne there by the Son of God, then the alternative is that I must experience the wrath of God. That is the essence of the Christian Gospel. I either believe that my sins have been punished in the body of the Son of God, or else they will be punished in me. It is the judgment of the world. The world apart from Him is under the wrath of God, it is doomed, it is damned, and He alone can save it in that way. There was no other way, for God would never have allowed His Son to endure all that if there had been another way. It is the only way; so it is the judgment of the world.
From February 29th:
I find it quite extraordinary that anybody calling himself a Christian can believe that he can receive the gift of the life of God and then, because of sin, lose it and then accept it again and then lose it once more. You cannot go on being born and dying! No. If you receive the life of God, then God Himself gives you this gift through His Son, and the very quality, the nature, and the character of the life means that it is imperishable. Our Lord had already said in John’s Gospel, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 19:28); it is impossible. Or again, the apostle Paul says, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Furthermore, this is especially true because He Himself has given us this life. So we are in this new relationship, we belong to the family of God, we are separated out of the world, we are separated unto God, we are a part of His plan and purpose, and we belong to Him. That is why Paul can say with such confidence that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We are saved by hope, hope that is sure and certain, because it is based upon the character, indeed upon the life, of God Himself. Therefore, if we know that we have eternal life, that should encourage us and strengthen us. It should enable us to know that because God has given us that gift, it is indeed, as God Himself has said, an eternal life.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #8

Sovereignty and Salvation
Charles Spurgeon
“Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”—Isaiah 45:22.
“Surely,” says one, “the Church of God does not need to be taught this.” Yes, we answer, she does; for of all beings, those whom God has made the objects of his grace are perhaps the most apt to forget this cardinal truth, that he is God, and that beside him there is none else.
We too, too often, forget that he is God, and beside him there is none else. Doth not the Christian know what I mean, when I tell him this great fact? For hath he not done it himself?
First, to whom does God tell us to look for salvation? O, does it not lower the pride of man, when we hear the Lord say, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth?” It is not. “Look to your priest, and be ye saved:” if you did, there would be another god, and beside him there would be some one else. It is not “Look to yourself;” if so, then there would be a being who might arrogate some of the praise of salvation. But it is “Look unto me.” How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves. “O!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself. “I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto me.” God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself; as long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.” From the cross of Calvary, where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy; from the Garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Saviour sweat pardons, the cry comes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look, and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “Nay, look to yourself! look to yourself!” Ah, my hearer, look to yourself, and you will be damned.
It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is, and what Christ is, that can save you. It is looking from yourself to Jesus.
But have you never noticed how gloriously simple the Bible is? It will not have any of your nonsense; it speaks plain, and nothing but plain things. ”Look!” There is not an unconverted man who likes this, “Look unto Christ, and be ye saved.” No, he comes to Christ like Naaman to Elijah; and , when it is said, “Go, wash in Jordan,” he replies, “I verily thought he would come and put his hand on the place, and call on the name of his God. But the idea of telling me to wash in Jordan, what a ridiculous thing! Anybody could do that!” O, mark how simple the way of salvation is. It is “Look! look! look!” Four letters, and two of them alike!
But thou sayest, sin will not let thee look. I tell thee, sin will be removed the moment thou dost look.
Take this, dear friends, for a new year’s text, both ye who love the Lord, and ye who are only looking for the first time. Christian! in all thy troubles through this year, look unto God and be saved. In all thy trials and afflictions, look unto Christ, and find deliverance. This year, remember to put thine eyes heavenward, and thine heart heavenward, too.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: A Little Book for New Theologians

A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology. Kelly M. Kapic. 2012. IVP. 126 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

I would definitely recommend Kelly Kapic's Little Book for New Theologians. I would even recommend it for not-so-new theologians. I appreciated so many things about this one!

The book is divided into two sections: "Why Study Theology?" and "Characteristics of Faithful Theology and Theologians."

The first section is the shortest at just three chapters, but, perhaps the most important: "Entering the Conversation," "To Know and Enjoy God," and "Theology as Pilgrimage." The second section is much longer. It covers these topics: "The Inseparability of Life and Theology," "Faithful Reason," "Prayer and Study," "Humility and Repentance," "Suffering, Justice, and Knowing God," "Tradition and Community," and "Love of Scripture."

I found the book to be practical and relevant. I found the book to be rich and insightful.

Favorite quotes:
Theology is not reserved for those in the academy; it is an aspect of thought and conversation for all who live and breathe, who wrestle and fear, who hope and pray.
Our concepts about the divine inform our lives more deeply than most people can trace. Whether we view God as distant or near, as gracious or capricious, as concerned or apathetic, the conclusions we reach—whether the result of careful reflection or negligent assumptions—guide our lives.
Do we want to worship Yahweh or waste time and effort on a deity we have constructed in our own image?
Theological reflection is a way of examining our praise, prayers, words and worship with the goal of making sure they conform to God alone. Every age has its own idols, its own distortions that twist and pervert how we view God, ourselves and the world.
One of the greatest theological challenges of our time is to move our worship beyond self-absorption.
WE ENJOY GOD to the degree that we worship him faithfully. Faithful worship—including praise, prayer, obedience and faith—matters because idolatry, in whatever form, satisfies neither God nor us. Worship does not require that we perfectly understand everything about God but that we respond genuinely to the true God who makes himself known to us.
Theology is all about knowing how to sing the song of redemption: to know when to shout, when to mourn, when to be silent and when to hope. But in order to enjoy the song and sing it well, we must learn the words and the music.
As theologians we do not put God in his place, but we draw near to him who alone gives us our place and reveals it to us, who brings a peace that surpasses all understanding.
How do we avoid not knowing the person we study? There can be no substitute for prayer. Here we speak not merely of times set apart when we fold hands and bow heads, but also of a way of being. We are concerned not only to have a few minutes a day set apart for God but also to have a constant communion him (1 Thess 5:17; cf. Jn 15:1-17). Whether eating, drinking, laughing or working, all that we do is done before the face of God. This is what undergirded the Reformation slogan coram Deo—living before God in all areas of life. This especially applies to our theological studies. Here we are on holy ground, and thus our attitude must be an attitude of prayer. If we are to be faithful, we must always be aware of his presence.
To know God we are called to know his Word.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week in Review: February 16-22

NIV MacArthur

  • 1 Samuel 1-4

ESV Thinline

  • Psalms 86-150
  • Matthew 
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy

NRSV Daily Bible

  • Numbers 19-36
  • Deuteronomy 1-12

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Worth Quoting #3 Knowing God Is...

From A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy:

To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it.

But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them. Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:
  • First, we must forsake our sins. The belief that a holy God cannot be known by men of confirmed evil lives is not new to the Christian religion.
  • Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith. This is what it means to "believe in Christ." It involves a volitional and emotional attachment to Him accompanied by a firm purpose to obey Him in all things. This requires that we keep His commandments, carry our cross, and love God and our fellow men.
  • Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit. Then we must practice whatever self-discipline is required to walk in the Spirit, and trample under our feet the lusts of the flesh.
  • Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust. 
  • Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God. This will take some effort, for the concept of majesty has all but disappeared from the human race. 
  • Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly. The more perfectly we know God the more we will feel the desire to translate the new-found knowledge into deeds of mercy toward suffering humanity. The God who gave all to us will continue to give all through us as we come to know Him better.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Where Courage Calls (2014)

Where Courage Calls. Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. 2014. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

First, I must say that Where Courage Calls is definitely better than the new television adaptation of When Calls The Heart might lead you to believe. That is if you were one of those who'd read the original books and found the adaptation ridiculous and/or frustrating. The heroine, Beth Thatcher, is a young cousin of the original Elizabeth Thatcher. Beth's father is one of Elizabeth's uncles. None of Elizabeth's uncles (or aunts) were ever mentioned in the original series, so this is all new. Though because that Elizabeth is a ten or so years older, she is "Aunt Elizabeth" to her cousins. (That is one of the things you just have to go with.) Here is the best news. There is NO RIDICULOUS DIARY. "Aunt Elizabeth" has not vanished into thin air. Her fate is not unknown. She has not thrown over her family or been cast aside by her family. Elizabeth did go west to teach; she did get married and go west once more. But readers don't have to put up with Beth discovering her aunt's story through embarrassing diary entries.

Also gone is the pathetic stage-coach portion from the movie. Since "Aunt Elizabeth" went west circa 1910, it only makes sense that her YOUNG cousin a decade or so later travels by train and then automobile to her place out west. True, the book still has Beth losing all of her possessions, but it is because Edward gave them to a porter at the train station who turned out to be a thief. There was no hold-up of the stage coach!

While the movie makes much of Edward, the book Edward is rarely around for better or worse. Beth has a long standing dislike for Edward. She realizes that her mother's greatest hope is for her to marry Edward, but, she sees Edward as not being worthy of her love and respect. He seems immature and irresponsible. Beth IS rude to him in many places, though she counsels herself after each occurrence that she isn't behaving like a proper Christian girl when she treats Edward like she does. Beth is also plenty rude to her sister Julie when she visits.

It soon becomes clear to readers that Edward is not the one being built up as the OBVIOUS romantic choice for her to make by the end of the book. Another man fills that role. Like Edward, he is a Mountie. Unlike Edward, he earns her respect and friendship almost immediately. NOT that she falls head over heels in love with him, like Elizabeth fell for Wynn. Where Courage Calls is not about instant love.

Where Courage Calls makes a good attempt or effort to be about a whole community, about Beth finding her place within that community, about her finding inner strength and making a big difference when it matters most. Readers meet adults and children alike, and, there are several stories to be told. (One story line was about prohibition. Another about Italian miners facing discrimination in town.)

While When Calls the Heart was focused almost solely on ROMANCE, Where Courage Calls is focused more on history and community relationships. Yes, there is a question asked of Beth before the last page is turned, but, the book was always about more than that.

I loved the original series, especially the first two books. This one did not work for me in the same way. But. It was encouraging to see the author make something positive come from the dreadful movie.

Where Courage Calls could easily be compared to Christy by Catherine Marshall. In my opinion, Christy is the better book, the more charming, the more memorable. But I have read it dozens of times, so it may be that Where Courage Calls is too new to be loved like that.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #7

Charles Spurgeon
“As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:9-10.
HOW very frequently verses of Scripture are misquoted! Instead of turning to the Bible, to see how it is written, and saying, “How readest thou?” we quote from one another; and thus a passage of Scripture is handed down misquoted, by a king of tradition, from father to son, and passes as current among a great number of Christian persons. How very frequently at our prayer meetings do we hear our brethren describing heaven as a place of which we cannot conceive! They say, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him;” and there they stop, not seeing that the very marrow of the whole passage lies in this—“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” So that the joys of heaven (if this passage alludes to heaven, which, I take it, is not quite so clear as some would suppose), are, after all, not things of which we cannot conceive; for “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.”
But never think that imagination can picture heaven. When it is most sublime when it is freest from the dust of earth, when it is carried up by he greatest knowledge, and kept steady by the most extreme caution, imagination cannot picture heaven. “It hath not entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Imagination is good, but not to picture to us heaven.
Incarnation and Birth of Christ
Charles Spurgeon
“But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”—Micah 5:2.
It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ, did not come forth without his Father’s permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that he might be the Saviour of men. We are, alas! too apt to forget, that while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions of honor; and we do very frequently ascribe the honor of our salvation, or at least the depths of its mercy and the extremity of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do to the Father. This is a very great mistake. What if Jesus came? Did not his Father send him? If he was made a child did not the Holy Ghost beget him? If he spake wondrously, did not his Father pour grace into his lips, that he might be an able minister of the new covenant? If his Father did forsake him when he drank the bitter cup of gall, did he not love him still? and did he not, by-and by, after three days, raise him from the dead, and at last receive him up on high, leading captivity captive? Ah! beloved, he who knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should know them, never setteth one before another; he is not more thankful to one than the other; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally engaged in the work of salvation.
Big hearts never get Christ inside of them; Christ lieth not in great hearts, but in little ones.
We are free, because we are the servants of Christ; we are at liberty, because he is our ruler, and we know no bondage and no slavery, because Jesus Christ alone is monarch of our hearts.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: The Knowledge of the Holy

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

From the preface: True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time.

From chapter one: What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
I first read A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy in March 2012. I loved, loved, loved it. I always intended to go back and reread it because I thought it was much too rich to be absorbed the first time through. In fact, this is one that is so incredibly rich, it could be read a dozen or so times! That is how good this one is. It is not that I agree with every single sentence Tozer wrote in every single Tozer book or sermon. But for the most part, I have found his writings to be well worth contemplating. I love his depth. I love his zeal. I love his relevance. I love his honesty. I love how quotable he is.

Favorite quotes:
It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.
Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.
That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.
Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them.
The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is - in itself a monstrous sin - and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.
A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God.
The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.
The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.
If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.
The study of the attributes of God, far from being dull and heavy, may for the enlightened Christian be a sweet and absorbing spiritual exercise. To the soul that is athirst for God, nothing could be more delightful.
An attribute of God is whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself.
An attribute, as we can know it, is a mental concept, an intellectual response to God's self-revelation. It is an answer to a question, the reply God makes to our interrogation concerning himself.
The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God; it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.
The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself.
To meditate on the three Persons of the Godhead is to walk in thought through the garden eastward in Eden and to tread on holy ground.
Because we are the handiwork of God, it follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological.
The fact of God is necessary to the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence.
Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, "I AM." That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good. It is only when in the gospel the soul is brought before the face of the Most Holy One without the protective shield of ignorance that the frightful moral incongruity is brought home to the conscience. In the language of evangelism the man who is thus confronted by the fiery presence of Almighty God is said to be under conviction.
The Christian religion has to do with God and man, but its focal point is God, not man. Man's only claim to importance is that he was created in the divine image; in himself he is nothing.
Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying men.
For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy.
Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind.
The Christian witness through the centuries has been that "God so loved the world . . ."; it remains for us to see that love in the light of God's infinitude. His love is measureless. It is more: it is boundless. It has no bounds because it is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God. His love is something He is, and because He is infinite that love can enfold the whole created world in itself and have room for ten thousand times ten thousand worlds beside.
God cannot change for the better. Since He is perfectly holy, He has never been less holy than He is now and can never be holier than He is and has always been. Neither can God change for the worse. Any deterioration within the unspeakably holy nature of God is impossible. Indeed I believe it impossible even to think of such a thing, for the moment we attempt to do so, the object about which we are thinking is no longer God but something else and someone less than He.
In God no change is possible; in men change is impossible to escape.
God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm. His attitude toward sin is now the same as it was when He drove out the sinful man from the eastward garden, and His attitude toward the sinner the same as when He stretched forth His hands and cried, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
God will not compromise and He need not be coaxed. He cannot be persuaded to alter His Word nor talked into answering selfish prayer. In all our efforts to find God, to please Him, to commune with Him, we should remember that all change must be on our part. "I am the Lord, I change not."
We can hold a correct view of truth only by daring to believe everything God has said about Himself.
We do God more honor by believing what He has said about Himself and having the courage to come boldly to the throne of grace than by hiding in self-conscious humility among the trees of the garden.
Hell is a place of no pleasure because there is no love there. Heaven is full of music because it is the place where the pleasures of holy love abound. Earth is the place where the pleasures of love are mixed with pain, for sin is here, and hate and ill will. In such a world as ours love must sometimes suffer, as Christ suffered in giving Himself for His own.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week in Review: February 9-15

ESV Thinline

  • Psalm 26-85
  • Acts 14-28
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians

KJV Chronological Life Application Bible

  • 1 Kings 11
  • Proverbs 6-24
  • Song of Solomon
  • Ecclesiastes

NRSV Daily Bible

  • Numbers 11-18

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Review: Rachel

Rachel. Jill Eileen Smith. 2014. Revell. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Rachel is the third book in the Wives of the Patriarchs series by Jill Eileen Smith. I have loved her novels in the past. I think I prefer her Wives of David series a bit more, but, for the most part I have really enjoyed this second series of biblical fiction.

Jacob, Isaac's son, has more than one wife. He is married to two fiesty sisters: Leah and Rachel. Readers catch glimpses of Leah's perspective in this one. But for better or worse, more sympathy is extended towards the wife Jacob actually loved, Rachel. Many readers may share this sympathy. I don't. Scripture does not reveal Rachel to be an innocent victim, or, even an especially nice person. She's beautiful, true, but she is a bitter complainer. While Jill Eileen Smith offers up an oh-so-innocent excuse for Rachel stealing her father's idols and taking them with her, I'm not convinced. Jacob was not exactly great at keeping his family and his extended household from worshipping idols. (See Genesis 35:2-4)

The novel covers the events of Genesis 28 through Genesis 35. I liked it very much. I liked the multiple perspectives. The novel is very busy--it would have to be! I would definitely recommend this series!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #6

The Exodus
Charles Spurgeon
“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”—Exodus 12:41.
There is no true liberty which is not preceded by true bondage; there is no true deliverance from sin, unless we have first of all groaned and cried unto God, as did the people of Israel when in bondage in Egypt.
Our sins makes slaves of us while we are in Egypt, and when God the Holy Spirit stirs them up against us, how do they beat us with cruel lashes, till our soul is worn with extreme bondage; but those very sins, by God’s grace, are made the means of driving us to the Saviour.
Once, beloved, our sins kept us from Christ; but now every sin drives us to him for pardon.
Oh! the precious blood of Christ! I love it when I think it saves one sinner; but oh! to think of the multitude of sinners that it saves! Beloved, we do not think enough of our Lord Jesus Christ; we have not half such an estimation of his precious person as we ought to have.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Love's Sweet Beginning

Love's Sweet Beginning. Ann Shorey. (Sisters at Heart #3). 2014. Revell. 345 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed reading Love's Sweet Beginning. I had not read the first two books in this series, but, it didn't stop me from enjoying this last book in the trilogy.

I definitely liked the couple in this historical romance. I liked Cassie Haddon. I liked how she was determined to grow-up and be responsible and do the right thing no matter what. I was so thankful that her attitude was so very different from her mother's horrible one. Her mother. Well, Cassie's mother infuriated me. I liked that Cassie still liked her mother, and was determined to do right by her. But I applauded her independence as well. I liked that Cassie planted deep roots in her brand new life and was not going to have that new life destroyed by her mother's whims. Most of all, I liked Jacob West, the hero. I liked his graciousness. I liked his compassion. How he had a big heart for those who need a helping hand. He was a giver of second chances.

I found Love's Sweet Beginning to be an enjoyable read. I liked the characters, the building relationships.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Week in Review: February 2-8

KJV Chronological

  • 1 Kings 3-10
  • 2 Chronicles 1-9
  • Psalms 72, 127
  • Proverbs 1-5

KJV Thinline

  • Psalm 1-50
  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

ESV Thinline

  • Psalm 1-25
  • Luke
  • Acts 1-13
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

NIV MacArthur

  • Galatians

NRSV Daily

  • Numbers 5-10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Review: A Heart Like His

A Heart Like His: Intimate Reflections On The Life of David. Beth Moore. 1996. B&H. 297 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

I am reading the bible chronologically this year. I have just finished reading about King David. I thought this would be a great time to read my first Beth Moore book. This Beth Moore book draws from 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and Psalms. Each chapter has a biblical foundation: chapters and verses it draws its teaching from. Beth Moore also shares some personal insights; some chapters definitely have a devotional feel! There are 52 chapters in all taking readers from Hannah's story to the beginning of Solomon's reign.

Favorite quotes:
How do you respond to the fact that the only perfect person in Christ’s genealogy is Christ Himself?
David was not divine or perfect, as we will quickly discover, but God has used him to teach us truths about the One who is.
I believe God usually takes the building blocks of our lives and uses them to His glory.
Never assume that to follow Him means to throw away who He has made you to be. Few things seem less spiritual than keeping a bunch of smelly sheep, yet God used David’s skills for eternal purposes.
Our God is incredibly “public opinion resistant.”
The sovereign God loves deeply, but He will not be disrespected. He will not permit us to take Him for granted. He will not honor our neglect.
David was a complex man. He could be both passionate and withdrawn; dependable and shocking; righteous and wicked—just like us.
A person with godly humility looks to the Master. He or she neither exalts nor denigrates self, because to do either is to make self the center of our universe. When we’re really serving Christ, our reputations and abilities simply cease to be so important. We must decrease that He may increase.
Self-consciousness constitutes the opposite of God-consciousness.
You see, if a person fears God, he or she has no reason to fear anything else. On the other hand, if a person does not fear God, then fear becomes a way of life. David feared God so he did not fear Goliath. Saul did not fear God. Thus he feared the opinions of others, the enemy, and even a loyal young boy who played the harp.
Studying God’s Word is habit-forming. Keep praying for a hunger and thirst for His Word. Like David, God doesn’t want you feeding from common loaves. He desires to feed you with the bread of His Presence. His table is always set.
David’s standard for measuring sin was not the wickedness of Saul, but the holiness of God.
I think one reason David remained a man after God’s own heart was his unwillingness to turn from God, even when he felt negative emotions. David allowed his anger and fear to motivate him to seek more insight into the heart of God.
Only through repentance will God “cover” us and “clothe” us with His loving forgiveness. Only when we run to Him in the nakedness of our sin will He wrap us up with “garments of salvation” and a “robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10). David was trying to cover his tracks. God wanted to cover his sins. The latter means life. The former means death—to something or someone.
Have you noticed how the further we wander outside of God’s will, the more we judge others and the less we show mercy?
When he fell on his face before God, the prodigal returned home to the place he belonged. He was bankrupt in soul, demoralized, and terrified, but he was back. Too many months had passed since he had last entered the indescribable place of God’s presence, but he still recognized the Father.
Spiritual living does not come naturally—sin does. The first step to victory is acknowledging the authority of God in our lives.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone

Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone. Valerie Lawrence. 2013. Carpenter's Son Publishing. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone is certainly a heartfelt, issue-driven family drama. The issue is abortion. Readers are introduced to several generations of a family.

If the novel has a main character, it would be a woman named Grace. Readers first meet her as an enthusiastic, idealistic young teacher. She's married to another teacher, George. Their first teaching assignment is in the inner city in New York, I believe, in the 1960s. As years go by (and they go by very very quickly in the novel), Grace longs to start a family. George, her ever-grumpy can't-ever-say-anything-nice husband, does not want a family. She gets pregnant, is ashamed that she's more scared of her husband than of ending her pregnancy. She has an abortion with the conviction that it is murder, and it does change her. A second pregnancy is not aborted, and George though ever-consistently grumpy, deals with it just fine. Their family grows to include a son, Mike, and a daughter Amy. (The novel is sparse on dates, but, one date mentioned around this time is 1974). Fast forward several decades, Mike and Amy are all grown up, and Mike is getting married. He's introducing her to the family. His grandfather, John, is super-super excited. He's had a recent health scare, and while he's ignored his own children and to some extent his grandchildren, he's decided that he's going to be a family man now before it's too late. He wants great grandchildren. He boasts that he will even PAY Carol and Mike to have children. He writes them a check which allows them to buy a house or perhaps just make a substantial downpayment on a home. Years pass by quickly, quickly, always quickly. The real story begins. What happens when Carol gets pregnant and she does not want to have it. What happens when she wants an abortion and her husband and his family do not want an abortion.

The novel has spirit and gumption. Grace is a character that will FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT for the rights of the unborn. She was by far the most developed character of the novel; she's certainly a memorable character too. The story from her perspective was just heartbreaking. That being said, there were a few things that did not work for me. Grace is haunted by the voice of a child, and her connection with the spirits of the unborn just didn't work for me. The novel was also a bit too graphic for me in places. Both of those make this an almost novel for me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #5

Christ Our Passover
Charles Spurgeon
“For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”—1 Corinthians 5:7
THE more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate upon it, the more you will be astonished with it. He who is but a casual reader of the Bible, does not know the height, the depth, the length and breadth of the mighty meanings contained in its pages.
You will find the Scriptures enlarge as you enter them; the more you study them the less you will appear to know of them, for they widen out as we approach them.
One of the most interesting points of the Scriptures is their constant tendency to display Christ; and perhaps one of the most beautiful figures under which Jesus Christ is ever exhibited in sacred writ, is the Passover Paschal Lamb. It is Christ of whom we are about to speak to-night.
If he gave his all to me, which was much, should I not give my little all to him?
O beloved! you have only to study the Scriptures to find out wondrous things in them; you have only to search deeply, and you stand amazed at their richness. You will find God’s Word to be a very precious word; the more you live by it and study it, the more will it be endeared to your minds.
We derive benefit from the death of Christ in two modes: first, by having his blood sprinkled on us for our redemption; secondly, by our eating his flesh for food, regeneration and sanctification.
The first aspect in which a sinner views Jesus is that of a lamb slain, whose blood is sprinkled on the door-post and on the lintel. Note the fact, that the blood was never sprinkled on the threshold. It was sprinkled on the lintel, the top of the door, on the side-post, but never on the threshold, for woe unto him who trampleth under foot the blood of the Son of God!
But his blood must be on our right hand to be our constant guard, and on our left to be our continual support. We want to have Jesus Christ sprinkled on us. As I told you before, it is not alone the blood of Christ poured out on Calvary that saves a sinner; it is the blood of Christ sprinkled on the heart.
It is not enough to say “he loved the world, and gave his Son,” you must say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.
Is not Jesus Christ thy daily food? And even with the bitter herbs, is he not sweet food?
What the Christian lives on is not Christ’s righteousness, but Christ; he does not live on Christ’s pardon, but on Christ; and on Christ he lives daily, on nearness to Christ. Oh! I do love Christ- preaching. It is not the doctrine of justification that does my heart good, it is Christ, the justifier; it is not pardon that so much makes the Christian’s heart rejoice, it is Christ the pardoner; it is not election that I love half so much as my being chosen in Christ ere worlds began; ay! it is not final perseverance that I love so much as the thought that in Christ my life is hid, and that since he gives unto his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of his hand. Take care, Christian, to eat the Paschal Lamb and nothing else.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: Thru the Bible Isaiah 36-66

Isaiah 36-66 (Thru the Bible #23). J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

I reviewed Isaiah 1-35 in December. I'd hoped, of course, to get to the second volume sooner. But that wasn't to be. I have really enjoyed reading J. Vernon McGee's "commentary" series. In his introductions, I believe, he stresses the fact that they aren't to be taken as "real" commentaries that go through each verse of each chapter of each book of the Bible. That his is a more casual unpacking of truth, that serious students should seek out "better" sources. I love J. Vernon McGee's casual approach. I like his assessments--dated though they may be--of culture and society. I like the respect he shows for the Word of God, and I love his zeal for God. I do. So I'd definitely recommend his books. It's not that I agree theologically with every single sentence, but, he's definitely got some good points--things to think about and consider no matter your theological background.

This commentary focuses on the second half of Isaiah. Chapters 36-39 are historical. Chapters 40-66 are prophetic.

Favorite quotes:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye” is a sign of yearning from the pulsating heart of God. Our God is the God of “all comfort.” That is the way Paul speaks of Him in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” The Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter.” The Lord Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). He is today our Comforter.
The fact is that sin, man’s sin, has alienated him from God, but it is God who did something. And today God is propitious. You don’t have to do anything to win Him over. Propitiation is toward God, and reconciliation is toward us. God has done everything that needs to be done. Today we are asked to be reconciled to God, not to do something to win Him over. God is already won over; that is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. We need only accept what Christ has done. This is the word of comfort for a lost world today.
God’s Word is our hiding place, a foundation upon which we can rest; it is our sword and buckler, high tower, protection, security, and salvation.
Personally, I don’t care for any pictures of Jesus because they are not pictures of Jesus. I don’t become very popular when I say this. Stores that sell such pictures and people who are rather sentimental think I am terrible. But, my friend, we don’t need pictures of Him. I agree with the old Scottish philosopher who said years ago, “Men never thought of painting a picture of Jesus until they had lost His presence in their hearts.”
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint [Isa. 40:30–31]. There are three degrees of power here, and several expositors have likened them to the three stages of Christian growth that you have in 1 John 2:12–14. These three stages of growth are: (1) the young Christian shall mount up as an eagle; (2) the adult Christian shall run; and (3) the mature Christian shall walk. This reminds me of the black preacher down in my southland who preached a very wonderful sermon, in which he said, “Brethren, this church, it needs to walk.” And one of the deacons said, “Amen.” He continued, “Brethren, this church needs to run.” And the deacon said, “Hallelujah.” Then he said, “Brethren, this church needs to fly.” And this deacon said, “Amen and hallelujah.” Then the minister said, “Well, it’s going to cost money to make this church fly.” To this the deacon replied, “Let her walk, brother, let her walk.” My friend, regardless of who you are, if you are going to move with God through this earth, it will cost you something. But God will furnish you strength whatever your condition. If you need strength to walk, He will give it to you. If you need strength to fly, He has that for you also. This is a wonderful chapter revealing the comfort of God as our Creator, as our Savior, and as our Sustainer.
Now who is an idolater? Have you ever considered the possibility that you may be? Anything you put between your soul and God is your idol—regardless of what it is. It is anything to which you are giving your time and your energy; it could actually be your religion. Anything that you allow to take the place of a personal relationship with God is your idol.
but I am sure you understand that chapter and verse divisions were made of men. It is said that a monk of the Middle Ages marked off the chapters while riding a donkey through the Alps. Each time the donkey came to a halt, he came forward with his pen, and that marked the end of a chapter. Of course, this is a fable, but it looks as if certain places were certainly divided that way. In fact, there are times when I get the impression that perhaps the donkey did some dividing on his own!
Let me ask you the question, “Is your religion carrying you, or are you carrying your religion?” God carries our sins. “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). He also carries our cares, our burdens: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). And God carries us today: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them” (Deut. 33:27).
There is a lot of modern idolatry about. Face up to it. Do you receive anything when you go to church? For many folk church–going is a real burden to them. It is like a useless god they have to carry around. Oh, my friend, God wants to communicate to you. He has something for you. He doesn’t want you to carry Him; He wants to carry you.
The question is asked, What did the Lord Jesus do the first thirty years of His life? Generally the answer is that he worked as a carpenter. But that is only half the truth. The other half is that He studied the Word of God. How tremendous! If He needed to study the Word of God, what about you? What about me? I think we need to get with it! It is nonsense to say, “Oh, I believe the Bible from cover to cover; I will defend it with my life,” when you don’t study it! If God has spoken between the pages of Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21, then somewhere between God has a word for you and for me. If God is speaking to us, we ought to listen.
Those who are acquainted with God’s Word realize that Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 give us a more vivid account of the crucifixion of Christ than is found elsewhere in the Bible. This may be a shock to many who are accustomed to think that the four Gospels alone describe the sad episode of the horrible death of the Son of God.
If you want to know if God hates sin, look at the Cross. If you want to know if God will punish sin, look at the Darling of His heart enduring the tortures of its penalty. By what vain conceit can you and I hope to escape if we neglect so great a salvation? That cross became an altar where we behold the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. He was dying for somebody else—He was dying for you and me.
Even on the cross He joyfully took our place. He made that cross an altar upon which He offered a satisfactory payment for the penalty of your sins and mine.
We have a living and rejoicing Savior, for His suffering led to satisfaction. He took our hell that we might have His heaven. He is happy, for down through the ages multitudes, yes, millions, have come to Him and found sweet release from guilt, pardon for wrongdoing, and healing from the leprosy of sin. Christ said there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, and that number can be multiplied by millions. Think of the joy and satisfaction of Christ today! We have a happy Christ, a joyful Christ, and it is going to be fun to be in His presence.
All without exception are involved in guilt, and all without exception are involved in sin, and all without exception are guilty of straying, and all without exception have turned away from God, and all without exception have chosen their own way.
Well, the milk of the Word of God is essential for spiritual growth. Now, since I am a teacher of the Word of God, that makes me a milkman. And a child of God ought to want the milk of the Word of God with equal longing! My friend, if you are a believer, there is something wrong with you if you don’t like to study the Word of God. The greatest problem in our churches today is that we are entertaining, we are giving nice little courses in this and that and the other thing, we are giving banquets and dinners, and we are putting folk on committees. We are doing everything but giving them the Word of God. Many church members are stillborn—they have no spiritual life. My friend, if you are a believer, you ought to want the sincere milk of the Word of God.
The only place where the gospel is found is in the Word of God. Salvation is a revelation of God, and the Word of God is likened to the rain that comes down from heaven. You see, the gospel is not asking you to do something. Neither is the gospel something that man has thought up. Man does not work his way up to God by some Tower of Babel effort, but he receives God’s revelation which comes down from heaven like rain. The rain causes the earth to become fruitful. The seeds germinate and fructify and bring forth abundantly. The Word of God is also the seed; and, when the rain and seed get together in the human heart, there will be fruit.
Real religion is a personal relationship with Christ, and it is as secret and private as anything can possibly be. Do you go around and tell others about your intimate relationship with your wife or your husband? Of course you don’t. My friend, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a precious secret between the two of you. You witness for Him, but you don’t reveal your intimate moments with Him. My friend, are you boasting about your religion, or about going through a certain ceremony or ritual? Shame on you! They are nothing in the sight of God—unless they reveal what is within your heart. Oh, how we need reality rather than ritual!
I believe that the greatest revival—that is, the greatest turning to God is yet in the future.
Don’t let anyone tell you that we have a God of wrath in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament! The God of love is the One making these statements in both the Old and New Testaments because there is love in law—in fact, there is law in love.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week in Review: January 26-February 1

Chronological Life Application, KJV

  • 2 Samuel 21-24
  • 1 Chronicles 21-29
  • 1 Kings 1, 2
  • Psalms 18, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 53, 55, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 86, 101, 103, 108, 109, 110, 122, 124,  131, 133, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 145, 88, 89, 50, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83

NRSV Daily Bible

  • Leviticus 15-27
  • Numbers 1-4

NIV MacArthur Study Bible

  • Judges
  • Ruth

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible