Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Check-In

What Bible(s) did I read from this month? I finished TWO bibles this month. The Rainbow Study Bible NIV 2011 and the NASB 1971 First Edition. I then began two new projects: the KJV and the New English Bible.
How many books by J.C. Ryle did I read this month? I am still working on his Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.
Favorite quote(s) by J.C. Ryle:
  • Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that men's salvation, if saved, is wholly of God; and that man's ruin, if lost, is wholly of himself. The evil that is in us is all our own. The good, if we have any, is all of God.
Am I keeping up with my Morning and Evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon? Yes.
Favorite quote(s) by Charles Spurgeon:
  • Once let the truth of God obtain an entrance into the human heart, and subdue the whole man unto itself—no human or infernal power can dislodge it! We do not entertain it as a guest, but as the master of the house. He is no Christian, who does not thus believe. 
How many books by R.C. Sproul did I read this month? 1
Surprised by Suffering. R.C. Sproul. 1989. Tyndale. 214 pages. [Source: Bought]

Favorite quote(s) by R.C. Sproul:

  • God was asking Job to exercise an implicit faith. An implicit faith is not blind faith. It is a faith with vision, a vision enlightened by a knowledge of the character of God. If God never revealed anything about Himself to us and required that in this darkness we should trust Him, indeed the requirement would be for blind faith. We would be asked to make a blind leap of faith into the awful abyss of darkness. But God never requires such foolish leaps. He never calls us to jump into the darkness. On the contrary, He calls us to forsake the darkness, and enter into the light. It is the light of his countenance. It is the radiant light of His Person, which has no shadow of turning in it. When we are bathed in the refulgent splendor of the glory of His person then trust is not blind.

Did I read any Puritans or Reformers this month: I read a book about the Reformers.   Reforming Joy: A Conversation between Paul, the Reformers, and the Church Today. Tim Chester. 2018. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Favorite quote(s):
  • There were two breakthrough moments for Luther. The first was when he realized that the righteousness of God is not just a characteristic of God (that he judges justly) but also a gift from God. God gives righteousness. Luther’s second breakthrough moment was when he realized that God’s righteousness is not just a boost to help us become righteous. First and foremost, it’s the declaration that we are righteous.
Did I complete at least one book from the TBR Pile challenge? Which one? Yes. Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]

Other Christian nonfiction books read this month:

Christian fiction books read this month: 3

How many "new" books did I read (published 2000-present)? 3
How many "old" books did I read (published before 2000)? 6

Which book was my overall favorite?

The Rule of Love: How the Local Church Should Reflect God's Love and Authority. Jonathan Leeman. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

McGee and Me #2 Genesis 16-33

Thru the Bible: Genesis 16-33. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again). 

His commentary on Genesis is broken down into three volumes. The first volume covers chapters 1-15. The second volume covers chapters 16-33. The third volume covers chapters 34-50. 

McGee's commentary reprints the whole text of Scripture in the King James Version. His commentary doesn't cover every single word of every single verse in every single chapter. But he does cover the whole text in chunks or paragraphs. His approach is not scholarly. It is relaxed, conversational. Every reader is his friend. But just because he considers the readers his friends doesn't mean he sugarcoats the truth. He is all about telling the truth as he sees it. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth--even if it hurts feelings. 

That being said, do I agree with McGee's conclusions 100% of the time? No. We have theological differences. We both love--loved--Scripture. (McGee died in 1988 at age 84.) We both view Scripture as having the highest, ultimate authority in the life of a believer. We share a desire to see God glorified and humanity redeemed. We just differ in a few little details here and there. 

I enjoyed his second volume on Genesis more than his first volume. 

  • As we come to this chapter [Genesis 16], I must confess that I almost wish it were not in the Bible.
  • The terrible thing was that they just did not believe God. The wrong that they committed by Abram taking Sarai’s maid Hagar was a sin, and God treated it as such.
  • But today we reverse the emphasis and say that taking a concubine is a sin, but we do not pay too much attention to the unbelief. Yet the unbelief was the major sin here;
  • Sarah’s womb actually was a tomb—it was the place of death. And out of death came life: Isaac was born.
  • God promised you and me everlasting life if we will trust Christ—that is a covenant God has made. My friend, if God is not going to make good this covenant that He made with Abraham, you had better look into yours again.
  • Circumcision occupied the same place that good works occupy for the believer today. You do not perform good works in order to be saved; you perform good works because you have been saved. That makes all the difference in the world.
  • We need to keep the cart where it belongs, following the horse, and not get the cart before the horse. For in fact, in the thinking of many relative to salvation, the horse is in the cart today.
  • Whatever God does is right, and if you don’t think He is right, the trouble is not with God, but the trouble is with you and your thinking.
  • You are thinking wrong; you do not have all the facts; you do not know all of the details. If you did, you would know that the Judge of all the earth does right.
  • Chapter 20 seems about as necessary as a fifth leg on a cow.
  • You will notice that there is a very striking similarity between the birth of Isaac and the birth of Christ. I believe that the birth of Isaac was given to us to set before mankind this great truth before Christ came. Isaac was born at the set time God had promised, and Paul says, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
  • First of all, the birth of Isaac was a miraculous birth. It was contrary to nature.
  • Out of death God brings forth life: this is a miraculous birth. We need to call attention to the fact that God did not flash the supernatural birth of Christ on the world as being something new.
  • We also find here that God had to deal with both Sarah and Abraham. They had to recognize that they could do nothing, that it would be impossible for them to have a child.
  • This little fellow first lived by feeding on his mother’s milk, but there came a day when he had to be weaned. Even this has a lesson for us. 
  • Until you are converted, you have an old nature, and that old nature controls you. You do what you want to do. But when you are born again, you receive a new nature. The time comes when you have to make a decision as to which nature you are going to live by. You must make a determination in this matter of yielding to the Lord. 
  • As a believer you cannot live in harmony with both natures. You are going to have to make a decision.
  • I would like to call your attention to the remarkable comparison between the births of Isaac and of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1. The birth of Isaac and the birth of Christ had both been promised. 2. With both births there was a long interval between the promise and the fulfillment. 3. The announcements of the births seemed incredulous and impossible to Sarah and to Mary. 4. Both Isaac and Jesus were named before their births. 5. Both births occurred at God’s appointed time. 6. Both births were miraculous. 7. Both sons were a particular joy of their fathers. 8. Both sons were obedient to their fathers, even unto death. 9. Finally, the miraculous birth of Isaac is a picture of the resurrection of Christ.
  • If you were to designate the ten greatest chapters of the Bible, you would almost have to include Genesis 22. One of the reasons for that is that this is the first time human sacrifice is even suggested. It is in the plan and purpose of God to make it clear to man that human sacrifice is wrong. This incident reveals that. It also reveals that God requires a life to be given up in order that He might save sinners. 
  • Not only in the birth of Isaac, but now also in the sacrifice of Isaac, there is a strange similarity to the life of our Lord. 
  • Since he is called a “lad” in this chapter, you would not gather that he actually was in his thirties—probably around 30 or 33 years of age.
  • Let’s not say that the Lord Jesus died in the exact spot—we don’t know—but certainly He died on the same ridge, the same mountain, on which Abraham offered Isaac.
  • Isaac is not just a little boy whom Abraham had to tie up. He is a grown man, and I believe that Isaac could have overcome Abraham if it had come to a physical encounter. But Isaac is doing this in obedience.
  • I believe that any person whom God calls, any person whom God saves, any person whom God uses is going to be tested. God tested Abraham, and God tests those who are His own today.
  • There are two institutions that God has given to the human family: one is marriage, and the other is human government (God permits man to rule himself today).
  • The home is the backbone of any society—God knew that—and He established marriage, intending that it give strength and stability to society. The same thing is true relative to human government—a government must have the power to take human life in order to protect human life—that is the purpose of it.
  • The twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis is one of the richest sections of the Word of God because it tells a love story that goes way back to the very beginning. 
  • There are two things that I want you to notice as we go through this chapter. One is the leading of the Lord in all the details of the lives of those involved.
  • If God could lead in the lives of these folk, He can lead in your life and my life.
  • The second thing to notice in this chapter is the straightforward manner in which Rebekah made her decision to go with the servant and become the bride of lsaac.
  • He says to this servant, “You can count on God to lead you. God has promised me this.” Abraham is not taking a leap in the dark—faith is not a leap in the dark. It must rest upon the Word of God.
  • It is wonderful for you to believe God, but do you have something in writing from Him?
  • Faith is acting upon the Word of God. Faith rests upon something. God wants us to believe His Word and not just believe.
  • It is pious nonsense to think that you can force God to do something, that God has to do it because you believe it.
  • God wants us to bring our needs to Him, but He has to be the One to determine how He will answer our prayers.
  • The Lord leads those who are in the way—that is, those who are in His way, who are wanting to be led, who will be led of Him, and who will do what He wants done. God can lead a willing heart anytime.
  • Men are lost today because they are sinners. I hear it said that men are lost because they reject Christ. They are not lost because they reject Christ; they are lost because they are sinners. Whether they have heard about Him or not, they are lost sinners. That is the condition of man today. The Holy Spirit has come to let us know that there is a Savior who has borne our judgment and who has been made over to us righteousness and that we can have a standing in heaven.
  • We as the bride of Christ will have to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, but He has been made over to us righteousness. He was delivered for our offenses, and He was raised for our justification in order that we might have a righteousness which will enable us to stand before God.
  • The struggle of these two boys, which began before their birth, represents the struggle which still goes on in the world today. There is a struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil, between the Spirit and the flesh.
  • This is a chapter that teaches patience, and some of us need that—certainly I am in that category. Yet, we would not have you get the impression that patience is all that God wants of us.
  • You can talk about the generation gap all you want, but there is no generation gap of sin. It just flows right from one generation to the other.
  • I feel that the water is a picture of the Word of God. We are to drink deeply of it. It is called the “water of the Word” and is for drinking purposes to slake our thirst, and it is also for washing. Jesus said that we are cleansed through the Word which He has spoken.
  • And, my friend, water is the explanation for the differences between God’s children in any church—the water of the Word of God. There is a great difference in the lives of believers who study God’s Word.
  • And there will be a struggle. I think that you will always have to pay a price if you are really going to study the Word of God. The devil will permit you to do anything except get into the Word of God.
  • All the way through the Old Testament we find that God does not want the godly to marry the ungodly. Intermarriage always leads to godlessness. I say this as a caution.
  • We are in a section of the Word of God which God has given to minister to our needs. It deals with a man who is a very sinful man in many ways and a man whom God would not give up.
  • God didn’t want Jacob’s boys to be brought up there. But, you see, Rachel had been brought up in a home of idolatry, and she wanted to take her gods with her.
  • He has Uncle Laban in back of him who doesn’t mean good at all, and he has his brother Esau ahead of him. Jacob is no match for either one.
  • He is caught now between a rock and a hard place, and he doesn’t know which way to turn. Do you think he wanted to take on a third opponent that night? I don’t think so.
  • Jacob is just holding on; he’s not wrestling. He is just holding on to this One. He found out that you do not get anywhere with God by struggling and resisting. The only way that you get anywhere with Him is by yielding and just holding on to Him.
  • God is very much concerned that a believer marry a believer and that a believer not marry an unbeliever. That is important for the sake of heredity. The second thing of concern is the environment of the individual. We see this especially in the life of Jacob.
  • We may learn truths in the Bible, but we will find that in our lives we are very much like Simon Peter, stumbling here and falling down there.
  • You and I need to recognize that in our own lives the growth is slow, and therefore the growth in others will also be slow.
  • Let’s not expect too much of other folk, but let’s also expect a great deal of ourselves.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 29, 2018

Book Review: Where Did You Come From Baby Dear?

Where Did You Come From Baby Dear? Poem by George MacDonald. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 2018. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
Jane Dyer has newly illustrated and adapted George MacDonald's classic poem "Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?" You may read the full poem here.

MacDonald was a British fantasy writer and a minister (1824-1905). His poem is "lightly spiritual" according to the publisher, Random House. I would agree with the assessment. God is mentioned a handful of times as are angels. It is not meant to be a theological work by any stretch of the imagination.

The book celebrates babies. It is cute, sweet, adorable, lovely, delightful, charming. I love the illustrations by Jane Dyer.

My favorite lines:
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Week in Review: October 21-27


  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel 1-18


  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Chronicles
  • Psalms 73-150
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Mark
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #40

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.

From Expository Thoughts on Matthew, chapters 23 and 24

Matthew 23:1-12

  • It contains the last words which the Lord Jesus ever spoke within the walls of the temple. Those last words consist of a withering exposure of the Scribes and Pharisees, and a sharp rebuke of their doctrines and practices.
  • We see secondly, in these verses, that inconsistency, ostentation, and love of pre-eminence, among professors of religion, are specially displeasing to Christ.
  • We see in the third place, from these verses, that Christians must never give to any man the titles and honors which are due to God alone and to His Christ. Human nature would always rather lean on a visible minister, than an invisible Christ.
  • We see in the last place, that there is no grace which should distinguish the Christian so much as humility.

Matthew 23:13-33

  • The first "woe" in the list is directed against the systematic opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees to the progress of the Gospel.
  • The second "woe" in the list is directed against the covetousness and self-aggrandizing spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees.
  • The third "woe" in the list is directed against the zeal of the Scribes and Pharisees for making adherents.
  • The fourth "woe" in the list is directed against the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees about oaths. They drew subtle distinctions between one kind of oath and another.
  • The fifth "woe" in the list is directed against the practice of the Scribes and Pharisees, to exalt trifles in religion above serious things, to put the last things first, and the first last.
  • The sixth and seventh "woes" in the list possess too much in common to be divided. They are directed against a general characteristic of the religion of the Scribes. They set outward decency above inward sanctification and purity of heart. They made it a religious duty to cleanse the "outside" of their cups and platters, but neglected their own inward man.
  • The last "woe" in the list is directed against the affected veneration of the Scribes and Pharisees for the memory of dead saints.
  • There is not a point in the character of the Scribes and Pharisees in which it might not be easily shown, that people calling themselves Christians have often walked in their steps.
  • Let us learn from the whole passage how deplorable was the condition of the Jewish nation when our Lord was upon earth. Let us learn from the whole passage how abominable is hypocrisy in the sight of God.
  • Whatever we are in our religion, let us resolve never to wear a cloak. Let us by all means be honest and real.
  • Let us learn from the whole passage how awfully dangerous is the position of an unfaithful minister.
  • Let not hypocrisy prevent our confessing Christ, or move us from our steadfastness, if we have confessed Him.

Matthew 23:34-39

  • They are the last words which He ever spoke, as a public teacher, in the hearing of the people. We learn, in the first place, from these verses, that God often takes great pains with ungodly men. We learn, in the second place, from these verses, that God takes notice of the treatment which His messengers and ministers receive, and will one day reckon for. We learn, in the last place, from these verses, that those who are lost forever, are lost through their own fault. 
  • Impotent as man is by nature--unable to think a good thought of himself--without power to turn himself to faith and calling upon God, he still appears to have a mighty ability to ruin his own soul.
  • Powerless as he is to good, he is still powerful to evil. We say rightly that a man can do nothing of himself, but we must always remember that the seat of impotence is his WILL.
  • A will to repent and believe no man can give himself, but a will to reject Christ and have his own way, every man possesses by nature, and if not saved at last, that will shall prove to have been his destruction.
  • Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that men's salvation, if saved, is wholly of God; and that man's ruin, if lost, is wholly of himself. The evil that is in us is all our own. The good, if we have any, is all of God.

Matthew 24:1-14

  • These verses begin a chapter full of prophecy--prophecy of which a large portion is unfulfilled--prophecy which ought to be deeply interesting to all true Christians. On no point have good men so entirely disagreed as on the interpretation of prophecy. On no point have the prejudices of one class, the dogmatism of a second, and the extravagance of a third, done so much to rob the church of truths, which God intended to be a blessing.
  • To understand the drift of the whole chapter, we must carefully keep in view the question which gave rise to our Lord's discourse. "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?''--In these words we see the clue to the subject of the prophecy now before us. It embraces three points--one, the destruction of Jerusalem--another, the second personal advent of Christ--and a third, the end of the world.
  • The first general lesson before us, is a warning against deception. The very first words of the discourse are, "Be careful that no one leads you astray." 
  • Let no man deceive us as to the time when unfulfilled prophecies will be accomplished, either by fixing dates on the one hand, or bidding us wait for the conversion of the world on the other.
  • On all these points let the plain meaning of Scripture be our only guide, and not the traditional interpretations of men. Let us not be ashamed to say that we expect a literal fulfillment of unfulfilled prophecy.
  • The second grand lesson before us, is a warning against over-optimistic and extravagant expectations as to things which are to happen before the end comes.
  • We are not to expect a reign of universal peace, happiness, and prosperity, before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly deceived.
  • We are not to expect a time of universal purity of doctrine and practice in the Church of Christ, before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly mistaken.
  • We are not to expect that all the world will be converted before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly mistaken.
  • Let us make haste to spread the Gospel in the world, for the time is short, not long.

Matthew 24:15-28

  • One main subject of this part of our Lord's prophecy, is the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. That great event took place about forty years after the words we have now read were spoken.
  • For one thing, we see that flight from danger may sometimes be the positive duty of a Christian. Our Lord Himself commanded his people under certain circumstances "to flee."
  • May we have wisdom to know how to act in time of persecution! It is possible to be rash, as well as to be a coward--and to stop our own usefulness by being over hot, as well as by being over cold.
  • We see, for another thing, that in delivering this prophecy, our Lord makes special mention of the Sabbath.
  • We see for another thing, that God's elect are always special objects of God's care. Twice in this passage our Lord mentions them. "For the elect's sake the days of tribulation are to be shortened." It will not be possible to deceive the "elect."
  • Those whom God has chosen to salvation by Christ, are those whom God specially loves in this world.
  • Finally, we see from these verses, that whenever the second advent of Christ takes place, it will be a very SUDDEN event.
  • That our Lord Jesus will come again in person to this world, we know from Scripture. That He will come in a time of great tribulation, we also know. But the precise period, the year, the month, the day, the hour, are all hidden things. We only know that it will be a very sudden event. Our plain duty then is to live always prepared for His return. Let us walk by faith, and not by sight. Let us believe in Christ, serve Christ, follow Christ, and love Christ. So living, whenever Christ may return, we shall be ready to meet Him.

Matthew 24:29-35

  • In this part of our Lord's prophecy, He describes His own second coming, to judge the world. 
  • When the Lord Jesus returns to this world, He shall come with peculiar glory and majesty. He shall come "in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
  • The SECOND personal coming of Christ shall be as different as possible from the FIRST. He came the first time as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was born in the manger of Bethlehem, in lowliness and humiliation. He took on him the form of a servant, and was despised and rejected of men. He was betrayed into the hands of wicked men, condemned by an unjust judgment, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, and at last crucified between two thieves. He shall come the second time as the King of all the earth, with all royal majesty. The princes and great men of this world shall themselves stand before His throne to receive an eternal sentence. Before him every mouth shall be stopped, and every knee bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. May we all remember this.
  • These verses teach us, in the second place, that when Christ returns to this world, He will first take care of His believing people.
  • In the day of judgment true Christians shall at length be gathered together. The saints of every age, and every tongue shall be assembled out of every land.
  • These verses teach us, in the third place, that until Christ returns to this earth, the Jews will always remain a separate people. But we ought not to regard the Jews only as witnesses of the truth of Scripture. We should see in them a continual pledge, that the Lord Jesus is coming again one day.
  • Finally, these verses teach us, that our Lord's predictions will certainly be fulfilled. He says, "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

Matthew 24:36-51

  • It is a serious thing to wrest Scripture out of its true meaning.
  • The second thing that demands our attention, is the dreadful SEPARATION that will take place when the Lord Jesus comes again. We read twice over, that "one shall be taken and the other left."
  • True Christians ought to live like WATCHMEN. The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. They should strive to be always on their guard. They should behave like the sentinel of an army in an enemy's land.
  • True Christians ought to live like GOOD SERVANTS, whose master is not at home. They should strive to be always ready for their master's return.
  • Let us seek to make sure that we are in Christ, and have an ark of safety when the day of wrath breaks on the world.

From Morning and Evening

  • How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him—but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, not flowing forth to His work.
  • Let the thought of His special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe! “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” God says that as much to you as to any saint of old.
  • We lose much consolation by the habit of reading His promises for the whole church, instead of taking them directly home to ourselves.
  • “I will love them freely.” Hosea 14:4 This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning, is a theologian; and he who can dive into its fullness, is a true spiritual master. It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation, which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer. The meaning hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth—a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are. The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness, “I will love them freely.”
  • There are times when all the promises and a doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us.
  • O Christian, if you are laboring under deep distresses, your Father does not give you promises, and then leave you to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well—but the promises He has written in the Word He will write anew on your heart.
  • There is no temptation half so dangerous—as not being tempted. The disciples fell asleep after they had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop.
  • Once let the truth of God obtain an entrance into the human heart, and subdue the whole man unto itself—no human or infernal power can dislodge it! We do not entertain it as a guest, but as the master of the house. He is no Christian, who does not thus believe. 
  • The truth that we are sinners is painfully with us to humble and make us watchful. The more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus shall be saved—abides with us as our hope and joy. Experience, so far from loosening our hold of the doctrines of grace, has knit us to them more and more firmly.
  • Much of error may be mingled with truth received, let us war with the error—but still love the brother for the measure of truth which we see in him.
  • The word “chance” is banished from the Christian’s vocabulary—for we see the hand of God in everything.
  • Our prayer which moves the arm of God—is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 26, 2018

McGee and Me #1 Genesis 1-15

Thru the Bible: Genesis 1-15. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Book of Genesis is one of the two important key books of the Bible. The book that opens the Old Testament (Genesis) and the book that opens the New Testament (Matthew) are the two books which I feel are the key to the understanding of the Scriptures.

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again). 

McGee is a very casual and conversational, very tell-it-like-it-is, very simple. He introduces the book of the Bible. He then goes through it practically verse by verse, chapter by chapter. The translation reprinted in the commentary, is, I believe, the King James Version. It is reprinted. Unlike some commentaries that provide Scripture references and outlines, this one does give you the Scripture text in the text itself. You don't have to have an open Bible in hand. (Which is very nice!) He likes to try to make connections between then and now, to point out ways that the text is relevant to you and me. 

His commentary on Genesis is broken down into three volumes. The first volume covers chapters 1-15. The second volume covers chapters 16-33. The third volume covers chapters 34-50. 

I agree with McGee some of the time, but, definitely not all the time. There were statements that I disagree with passionately in this one. 

Included in this commentary is his GUIDELINES on Bible Reading. (I believe these guidelines are included in most of his commentaries?)

  • There is only one Book for any man who is dying, but it is also the Book for any man who is living.
  • All Scripture is not to me, but all Scripture is for me. That is a good rule to keep in mind.
  • Do you want to know what the Bible has to say? Read the Bible. Over and above what any teacher may give you, it is all-important to read for yourself what the Bible has to say.
  • We need to read the Bible. We need to get into the Word of God—not just reading a few favorite verses, but reading the entire Word of God. That is the only way we are going to know it, friend. That is God’s method.
  • I want to mention seven very simple, yet basic, preliminary steps that will be a guide for the study of the Word of God. 1. Begin with prayer. 2. Read the Bible. 3. Study the Bible. 4. Meditate on the Bible. 5. Read what others have written on the Bible. 6. Obey the Bible. 7. Pass it on to others. You may want to add to these, but I believe these are basic and primary. Someone has put it in a very brief, cogent manner: “The Bible—know it in your head; stow it in your heart; show it in your life; sow it in the world.” That is another way of saying some of the things we are going to present here.
  • In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth [Gen. 1:1]. This is one of the most profound statements that has ever been made, and yet we find that it is a statement that is certainly challenged in this hour in which we are living.
  • The purpose of the Scripture is for instruction in righteousness. It was not written to teach you geology or biology. It was written to show man’s relationship to God and God’s requirements for man and what man must do to be saved. You can write this over the first part of the book of Genesis: “What must I do to be saved?”
  • Who created the universe? God did. He created it out of nothing. When? I don’t know, and nobody else knows. Some men say one billion years ago, some say two billion, and now some say five billion. I personally suspect that they all are pikers. I think it was created long before that.
  • I reject evolution because it rejects God and it rejects revelation. It denies the fall of man and the fact of sin, and it opposes the virgin birth of Christ. Therefore, I reject it with all my being.
  • “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is a majestic verse. It is a tremendous verse. I am of the opinion that it is the doorway through which you will have to walk into the Bible. You have to believe that God is the Creator, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is.
  • “So God created man in his own image.” I want to submit to you that this is one of the great statements of the Word of God. I cannot conceive of anything quite as wonderful as this.
  • Do not miss the importance of the Sabbath day. What does it mean when it says that God rested from His work? When God finished His six days of work, He looked upon it and it was very good, and there was nothing else to do. He rested the seventh day because His work was complete.
  • Righteousness is innocence that has been maintained in the presence of temptation. You see, temptation will either develop you or destroy you; it will do one of the two.
  • Character must be developed, and it can only be developed in the presence of temptation. Man was created a responsible being, and he was responsible to glorify, to obey, to serve, and to be subject to divine government.
  • The thing that Eve did was to add to the Word of God. The liberal and the atheist take from the Word of God, and God has warned against that. The cults (and some fundamentalists, by the way) add to the Word of God, and God warns against that.
  • There are four great lessons that we see from the fig leaves and the fact that God clothed them with skins. (1) Man must have adequate covering to approach God. You cannot come to God on the basis of your good works. You must come just as you are—a sinner. (2) Fig leaves are unacceptable; they are homemade. God does not take a homemade garment. (3) God must provide the covering. (4) The covering is obtained only through the death of the Lord Jesus. 
  • Religion is something that you rub on the outside, but God does not begin with religion. May I make a distinction here: Christianity is not a religion; Christianity is Christ. There are a lot of religions, but the Lord Jesus went right to the fountainhead when He said, “Ye must be born again.”
  • The most prominent thought [of Genesis 3:15] is not the ultimate victory that would come, but the long-continued struggle. This verse reveals the fact that now there is to be a long struggle between good and evil.
  • When Cain brought an offering to God, he did not come by faith—he came on his own. And the offering that he brought denied that human nature is evil.
  • Cain’s offering also denied that man was separated from God. He acted like everything was all right.
  • This is what liberalism does today in talking about the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. My friend, things are not all right with us today. We are not born children of God. We have to be born again to be children of God.
  • What does God say concerning man? God says that man is totally evil, totally bad. That is the condition of all of us. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). That is the estimate of the Word of God. If you will accept God’s Word for it, it will give you a truer conception of life today than is given to us by others.
  • We are in the world, but not of it. We are to use it, but not to abuse it. We are not to fall in love with it, but we are to attempt to win the lost in this world and get out the Word of God.
  • “And God remembered Noah.” How wonderful! God could very easily have forgotten all about Noah. Years later He could have said, “Oh my, I forgot all about that fellow down there. I put him in an ark and forgot about him!” That would have been too bad, wouldn’t it? But God did not forget. God remembered Noah. God never forgets. He remembers you. The only thing that He does not remember is your sin if you have come to Him for salvation. Your sins He remembers no more. What a beautiful thing this is!
  • Noah is engaged here in “bird-watching.” He sends out the raven, and the raven does not come back. Why didn’t that raven come back? You must recognize what that raven eats—it feeds on carrion. There was a whole lot of flesh of dead animals floating around after the Flood, and that was the kind of thing this old crow ate. He did not return to the ark because he was really going to a feast, and he was having a very wonderful time. The raven was classified as an unclean bird, by the way.
  • The dove recognized what kind of a world she was in, and she found no rest. She found rest only in the ark, and that ark sets forth Christ if you please.
  • Are you a raven or a dove? If you are a child of God, you have both natures—but which one are you living in today?
  • We have, I think, a wrong conception of life in this universe that we are in. For instance, our nation has spent billions of dollars to put men on the moon, and it looks like it’s not a good place to live anyway. But we spend relatively little on how to live on this earth. But God is concerned about training you and me how to live on this earth.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

McGee and Me Checklist

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again). 

Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee Radio Program 
I want to mention seven very simple, yet basic, preliminary steps that will be a guide for the study of the Word of God. 1. Begin with prayer. 2. Read the Bible. 3. Study the Bible. 4. Meditate on the Bible. 5. Read what others have written on the Bible. 6. Obey the Bible. 7. Pass it on to others. You may want to add to these, but I believe these are basic and primary. Someone has put it in a very brief, cogent manner: “The Bible—know it in your head; stow it in your heart; show it in your life; sow it in the world.” That is another way of saying some of the things we are going to present here.

  1. ✔  Genesis 1-15
  2. ✔  Genesis 16-33
  3. ✔  Genesis 34-50
  4. ✔  Exodus 1-18
  5.  Exodus 19-40
  6.  Leviticus 1-14
  7.   Leviticus 15-27
  8.    Numbers
  9.   Deuteronomy
  10.   Joshua and Judges
  11. ✔ Ruth
  12.  1 and 2 Samuel
  13. _ 1 and 2 Kings
  14. _ 1 and 2 Chronicles
  15. _ Ezra / Nehemiah/ Esther
  16. _ Job
  17. _ Psalms 1-41
  18. _ Psalms 42-89
  19. _ Psalms 90-150
  20. _ Proverbs
  21. _ Ecclesiastes/ Song of Solomon
  22. _ Isaiah 1-35
  23. _ Isaiah 36-66
  24. _ Jeremiah and Lamentations
  25. _ Ezekiel
  26. _ Daniel
  27. _ Hosea and Joel
  28. _ Amos and Obadiah
  29. _ Jonah and Micah
  30. _ Naham and Habakkuk
  31. _ Zephaniah and Haggai
  32. _ Zechariah
  33. _ Malachi
  34.  Matthew 1-13
  35.  Matthew 14-28
  36.  Mark
  37. _ Luke
  38. _ John 1-10
  39. _ John 11-21
  40.   Acts 1-14
  41.  Acts 15-28
  42. _ Romans 1-8
  43. _ Romans 9-16
  44. _ 1 Corinthians
  45. _ 2 Corinthians
  46. _ Galatians
  47. _ Ephesians
  48. _ Philippians and Colossians
  49. _ 1 and 2 Thessalonians
  50. _ 1 and 2 Timothy / Titus/ Philemon
  51. _ Hebrews 1-7
  52. _ Hebrews 8-13
  53. _ James
  54. _ 1 Peter
  55. _ 2 Peter
  56. _ 1 John
  57. _ 2 John / 3 John / Jude
  58. _ Revelation 1-5
  59. _ Revelation 6-13
  60. _ Revelation 14-22

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book.

Links to Book Reviews

Thru the Bible: Genesis 1-15. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
Thru the Bible: Genesis 16-33. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]
Thru the Bible: Genesis 34-50. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 180 pages. [Source: Bought]
Exodus 1-18 (Thru the Bible #4) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]
Exodus 19-40 (Thru the Bible) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Leviticus 1-14 (Thru the Bible #6) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
Leviticus 15-27 (Thru the Bible #7) J. Vernon McGee. 168 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Numbers. (Thru the Bible #8) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
Thru the Bible #9: Deuteronomy. J. Vernon McGee. 202 pages. [Source: Bought]
Thru the Bible #10 Joshua and Judges. J. Vernon McGee. 228 pages. [Source: Bought]
Ruth. (Thru the Bible #11) J. Vernon McGee. 1976. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Thru the Bible #12: 1 and 2 Samuel. J. Vernon McGee. 308 pages. [Source: Bought]

Matthew 1-13 (Thru the Bible #34) J. Vernon McGee. 1973. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
Matthew 14-28 (Thru the Bible #35) J. Vernon McGee. 1973. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
Mark. (Thru the Bible #36) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Acts 1-14. (Thru the Bible #40) J. Vernon McGee. 1975? 170 pages. [Source: Bought]
Acts 15-28. (Thru the Bible #41) J. Vernon McGee. 1975? 194 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Book Review: Dear and Glorious Physician

Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Lucanus was never sure whether he liked or disliked his father. He was only certain he pitied him.

I wanted to love Dear and Glorious Physician. I did. In theory it sounds like it has the potential to be good--really good. It is a fictionalized account of the gospel writer Luke. (Luke wrote Acts as well.) But not all biblical fiction is biblical--this is something I've learned the hard way.

Lucanas, our narrator-hero, is Greek. His father and mother were former slaves. Lucanas became favored and essentially adopted by a Roman nobleman. He was trained as a physician. From an early, early age he was compassionate and empathetic. He never wanted to be a doctor to the wealthy, the elite, the privileged. He always wanted to be a doctor to the poorest of the poor, the socially unacceptable. (Slaves. Lepers. Prisoners.) From a young age his touch was a healing touch. Long before he learned of a Jewish Messiah, long before he learned of Jesus' teachings, his life, his death, his resurrection, long before he started calling on God and placing his trust in him, he was healing people. He continues to heal people after he hears 'the gospel' as well. In these healings Caldwell does not show Lucanas healing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn't bow his head and pray silently. He just heals. He even raises a girl from the dead. In one instance, Lucanas "feels virtue" leaving his body as he heals. This is just bizarre and all kinds of wrong.

The last third of the book shows Lucanas traveling around interviewing eyewitnesses--men and women who has seen the Lord Jesus Christ, heard him, followed him, knew him. One of the longer interviews is with Mary and other family members. There we learn that Mary was eternally innocent and that she was not conceived in sin and had never sinned. Again. All kinds of wrong.

Lucanas has an unfavorable opinion of James and John and some of the other disciples. He mentions how he thinks that they will get Jesus' teachings wrong in the name of evangelism. How they will let their own agendas shift the focus from what Jesus actually taught. Again. All kinds of wrong.

The first two-thirds of the novel weren't WRONG so much as slightly tedious and boring. The last third of the novel was wrong more often than right. Some things subtly off from Scripture, some things out and out OFF. (For example, when she had Lucanas meet John he was YOUNG and yet had already received the visions of Revelation. Saul was still Saul--not Paul. Saul hadn't met the apostles in Jerusalem yet. Saul hadn't begun his ministry yet. But John had received the visions of the last days?! Going back to Saul for a minute....Saul hadn't begun his ministry yet but had already received his calling to minister to the gentiles only????)

I honestly don't know if Taylor Caldwell even read Luke and Acts before she wrote this book. Perhaps this imaginative retelling takes into consideration some bad theological works of Caldwell's time?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Week in Review: October 14-20

NASB 1971 First Edition

  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Ecclesiastes
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Jude
  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation

NIV 2011 Rainbow Study Bible

  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation
King James Version
  • Genesis 
  • Exodus

New English Bible

  • Genesis
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • Psalm 1-41
  • Proverbs
  • Isaiah
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah 
  • Matthew
  • Romans
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #39

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.

From J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on Matthew, chapters 21 and 22

Matthew 21:1-11

  • The plain truth is, that our Lord knew well that the time of His earthly ministry was drawing to a close. He knew that the hour was approaching when He must finish the mighty work He came to do, by dying for our sins upon the cross. He knew that His last journey had been accomplished, and that there remained nothing now in His earthly ministry, but to be offered as a sacrifice on Calvary. Before the great sacrifice for the sins of the world was offered up, it was right that every eye should be fixed on the victim. It was suitable that the crowning act of our Lord's life should be done with as much notoriety as possible. 
  • There is nothing hidden from the Lord's eyes. There are no secrets with Him. Alone or in company, by night or by day, in private or in public, He is acquainted with all our ways.
  • Let us do nothing we would not like Christ to see, and say nothing we would not like Christ to hear.
  • Let us seek to live and move and have our being under a continual recollection of Christ's presence.
  • From the fulfillment of God's word in time past, we are surely intended to gather something as to the manner of its fulfillment in time to come.  Every prediction respecting things accompanying His first advent was literally accomplished. It will be just the same when He returns. 

Matthew 21:12-22

  • Let us see in our Lord's conduct on this occasion, a striking type of what He will do when He comes again the second time. He will purify His visible church as He purified the temple.
  • He will cleanse it from everything that defiles and works iniquity, and cast every worldly professor out of its pale.
  • The second event that demands our attention in these verses, is our Lord's curse upon the fruitless fig-tree. 
  • It is almost the only occasion on which we find Him making one of His creatures suffer, in order to teach a spiritual truth.
  • It preaches a sermon we shall all do well to hear. That fig-tree, full of leaves, but barren of fruit, was a striking emblem of the Jewish church, when our Lord was upon earth. The Jewish church had everything to make an outward show. 
  • But beneath these goodly leaves, the Jewish church was utterly destitute of fruit. It had no grace, no faith, no love, no humility, no spirituality, no real holiness, no willingness to receive its Messiah.
  • Is not every fruitless branch of Christ's visible church in an dreadful danger of becoming a withered fig-tree?

Matthew 21:23-32

  • Let us observe, in the first place, how ready the enemies of truth are to question the authority of all who do more good than themselves.
  • Let us observe, in the second place, the consummate wisdom with which our Lord replied to the question put to Him.
  • In the last place, let us observe in these verses, what immense encouragement our Lord holds out to those who repent.
  • Let it be a settled principle in our Christianity, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely willing to receive penitent sinners.
  • Only let us repent and believe in Christ, and there is hope. Let us encourage others to repent. Let us hold the door wide open to the very chief of sinners.

Matthew 21:33-46

  • We see, in the first place, what distinguishing privileges God is pleased to bestow on some nations. He chose Israel to be a peculiar people to Himself.
  • And have we no privileges? Beyond doubt we have many. We have the Bible, and liberty for every one to read it. We have the Gospel, and permission to every one to hear it.
  • We see, in the next place, what a bad use nations sometimes make of their privileges. When the Lord separated the Jews from other people, He had a right to expect that they would serve Him, and obey His laws.
  • We see, in the next place, what an dreadful reckoning God sometimes has with nations and churches, which make a bad use of their privileges.
  • Will the judgments of God ever come down on this nation of England, because of her unfruitfulness under so many mercies? Who can tell?
  • Nothing offends God so much as neglect of privileges. Much has been given to us, and much will be required.
  • Let us all beware of this dreadful state of mind. The last day will prove that there was more going on in the consciences of hearers than was at all known to preachers.

Matthew 22:1-14

  • The parable related in these verses is one of very wide signification. It contains heart-searching lessons for all among whom the Gospel is preached. It is a spiritual picture which speaks to us this day, if we have an ear to hear. 
  • Let us observe, in the first place, that the salvation of the Gospel is compared to a marriage feast. The Lord Jesus tells us that "a certain king made a marriage feast for his son."
  • There is in the Gospel a complete provision for all the needs of man's soul. There is a supply of everything that can be required to relieve spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst. Pardon, peace with God, lively hope in this world, glory in the world to come, are set before us in rich abundance. It is "a feast of fat things." All this provision is owing to the love of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. He offers to take us into union with Himself--to restore us to the family of God as dear children--to clothe us with His own righteousness--to give us a place in His kingdom, and to present us faultless before His Father's throne at the last day. 
  • The Gospel, in short, is an offer of food to the hungry--joy to the mourner--a home to the outcast--a loving friend to the lost. It is glad tidings. God offers, through His dear Son, to be at peace with sinful man.
  • Let us observe, in the second place, that the invitations of the Gospel are wide, full, broad, and unlimited. There is nothing lacking on God's part for the salvation of sinners' souls. No one will ever be able to say at last that it was God's fault, if he is not saved. The Father is ready to love and receive. The Son is ready to pardon and cleanse guilt away. The Spirit is ready to sanctify and renew. Angels are ready to rejoice over the returning sinner. Grace is ready to assist him. The Bible is ready to instruct him. Heaven is ready to be his everlasting home. One thing only is needful, and that is, the sinner must be ready and willing himself. The Gospel always speaks of sinners as responsible and accountable beings. The Gospel places an open door before all mankind. No one is excluded from the range of its offers. Though efficient only to believers, those offers are sufficient for all the world. Though few enter the strait gate, all are invited to come in. 
  • Let us observe, in the third place, that the salvation of the Gospel is rejected by many to whom it is offered.
  • Open sin may kill its thousands; but indifference and neglect of the Gospel kill their tens of thousands.
  • Multitudes will find themselves in hell, not so much because they openly broke the ten commandments, as because they made light of the gospel. Christ died for them on the cross, but they neglected Him.
  • Let us observe, in the last place, that all false professors of religion will be detected, exposed, and eternally condemned at the last day.
  • All spurious Christianity shall be weighed in the balance and found lacking. None but true believers shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Matthew 22:15-22

  • The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the flattering language with which our Lord was accosted by His enemies.
  • It becomes all professing Christians to be much on their guard against FLATTERY. We mistake greatly if we suppose that persecution and hard usage are the only weapons in Satan's armory.
  • Let us beware of the flatterer. Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light. The world is never so dangerous to the Christian as when it smiles.
  • The second thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the marvelous wisdom of the reply which our Lord made to His enemies. 
  • It is certain that the church must not swallow up the state. It is no less certain that the state must not swallow up the church.

Matthew 22:23-33

  • Let us observe, in the first place, that absurd skeptical objections to Bible truths are ancient things. The Sadducees wished to show the absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection and the life to come.
  • Let us observe, in the second place, what a remarkable text our Lord brings forward, in proof of the reality of a life to come.
  • From our eyes they have passed away, and their place knows them no more. But in the eyes of God they live, and will one day come forth from their graves to receive an everlasting sentence.
  • There is no such thing as annihilation. The idea is a miserable delusion.
  • Let us observe, in the last place, the account which our Lord gives of the state of men and women after the resurrection.

Matthew 22:34-46

  • Let us mark what an admirable summary these verses contain of our duty towards God and our neighbor.
  • How simple are these two rules, and yet how comprehensive! How soon the words are repeated, and yet how much they contain!
  • How humbling and condemning they are! How much they prove our daily need of mercy and the precious blood of atonement!
  • They do the will of God best, who do it from the heart. Would we train children right? Let us teach them to love God.
  • Love is the grand secret of right behavior towards our FELLOW MEN. He who loves his neighbor will scorn to do him any willful injury, either in person, property, or character.
  • Would we teach children to behave aright towards others? Let us teach them to love everybody as themselves, and do to others as they would have others do to them. But how shall we obtain this love towards GOD? It is no natural feeling. We are born in sin, and, as sinners, are afraid of God. How then can we love Him?
  • We can never really love Him until we are at peace with Him through Christ. When we feel our sins forgiven, and ourselves reconciled to our holy Maker, then, and not until then, we shall love Him and have the spirit of adoption.
  • And how shall we obtain this love towards our NEIGHBOR? This is also no natural feeling. We are born selfish, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3.) We shall never love our fellow man aright until our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit.

From Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening: 

  • Every firstborn creature must be the Lord's, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption—the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.
  • To look at Christ is to live, but for strength to serve him you must “come and dine.” We labour under much unnecessary weakness on account of neglecting this precept of the Master. We none of us need to put ourselves on low diet; on the contrary, we should fatten on the marrow and fatness of the gospel that we may accumulate strength therein, and urge every power to its full tension in the Master’s service. Thus, then, if you would realize nearness to Jesus, union with Jesus, love to his people and strength from Jesus, “come and dine” with him by faith.
  • There are times in our spiritual experience when human counsel or sympathy, or religious ordinances, fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this? Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without him, and he therefore takes away everything upon which we have been in the habit of depending, that he may drive us to himself. It is a blessed thing to live at the fountain head. While our skin- bottles are full, we are content, like Hagar and Ishmael, to go into the wilderness; but when those are dry, nothing will serve us but “Thou God seest me.” We are like the prodigal, we love the swine-troughs and forget our Father’s house. Remember, we can make swine-troughs and husks even out of the forms of religion; they are blessed things, but we may put them in God’s place, and then they are of no value. Anything becomes an idol when it keeps us away from God: even the brazen serpent is to be despised as “Nehushtan,” if we worship it instead of God. The prodigal was never safer than when he was driven to his father’s bosom, because he could find sustenance nowhere else. Our Lord favours us with a famine in the land that it may make us seek after himself the more. The best position for a Christian is living wholly and directly on God’s grace—still abiding where he stood at first—“Having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” Let us never for a moment think that our standing is in our sanctification, our mortification, our graces, or our feelings, but know that because Christ offered a full atonement, therefore we are saved; for we are complete in him. Having nothing of our own to trust to, but resting upon the merits of Jesus—his passion and holy life furnish us with the only sure ground of confidence. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsting condition, we are sure to turn to the fountain of life with eagerness.
  • Much alone with Jesus—and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus—and your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord.
  • In the family register of glory—the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father’s heart—as the greatest in the family.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible