What I Learned from Reading the Bible

This year marks my third year reading through the Bible and I picked Reading God’s Story: A Daily Chronological Bible which uses a six day a week reading plan to read through the entire Bible in 365 days.

Two years ago I started in the Matthew and read to Revelation and then made my way to Genesis through Malachi. I didn’t follow a reading plan but read at my own pace. And last year I read from Genesis to Revelation and used The Bible Project Reading Plan.

Without further delay here is a brief synopsis of what I have learned from reading the Bible in 2018!

Read The Bible To Know God

I have discovered that reading the Bible is different each year. To date, this year has been the hardest for me to get into the Bible. I still kept up with my reading plan, and was even able to read ahead, but boy, this year has been tough. There were several times this year when I just wanted to cry because of how challenging it was for me to dig into the Bible.

And I think I felt that way because in the last two years I can remember the eagerness and excitement I felt when it came to spending time connecting with God’s Word. And I wanted to have that excitement back. I wanted it to be the same as it had been in the past. And then I had to check myself because while those feelings are great they aren’t the goal. My goal in reading the Bible is to know God.

So I pressed on in my reading, even though I didn’t feel like doing it, even though I could think of many other things I wanted to be doing with my time. I pressed on because I know the sweetness of reading God’s Word. Reading the Bible speaks God’s truth into my life so I can speak encouragement and Biblical truths back into the lives of others. Life change only happens from the one who gives life and if I am not making reading my Bible a priority I can become easily distracted by what the world is trying to tell me I should be focusing on.

Read The Bible When You Are Suffering To Produce Hope

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

This verse in Romans really struck me this year. I have had it memorized for some time and it was helpful to remember that I have the Holy Spirit advocating for me and interceding on my behalf. God’s glory is always evident even in the midst of challenging circumstances and leads to hope.

God takes us through hard times to refine our faith and give us an everlasting hope. A future that allows us to be in his presence forever and that puts sin to death once and for all. Reading the Bible has reminded of this truth and to cling to it.

The Tiny Stories That Reveal God’s Glory

This year I became enthralled with the tiny stories in scripture that screamed at me from the pages and made me pause in wonder. The two that really jumped out at me this year were in the Old Testament. These are brief mentions of what must have been truly amazing and terrifying events that revealed the fullness of God’s power and glory.

Korah’s Rebellion & The Ground Opens It’s Mouth

You have to read Numbers 16 to get the full impact of this story. It is pretty jaw dropping.

God had given the Levites the special job of caring for the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the portable earthly dwelling place of God. Some of the Levites resented their job and that they were not given priestly status. They did not like their calling and desired to have more responsibilities and rights. This becomes a common theme among the Israelites. They wanted to do their own thing in their own way instead of submitting to God and being obedient to the leadership of Moses.

Enter Korah. He is able to get 250 leaders to rise up against Aaron and Moses. Moses tries to talk some sense into him but Korah is prideful and is not content with the task God has given him. He wants more power and recognition within the community and it his ultimate downfall and he takes other leaders in the community down with him. Literally.

And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense. (Numbers 16:32-35)

If you continue reading on in Numbers the sons of Korah didn’t die so we can determine that they didn’t stand with their father as he rebelled. His decedents became temple singers and wrote numerous Psalms.

The Angel Of The Lord Who Defeated 185,000 Assyrians

Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. (2 Kings 19:35)

I want to know what this looked like. Holy Moly! How crazy!

If you are unfamiliar with this section on scripture it takes place when Hezekiah is King. He was one of the very few Kings of Judah who had a close relationship with God, one who did “what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20). Hezekiah destroyed pagan altars, idols, and temples. He also reinstated the Levitical priesthood and Passover as a national holiday. This might not seem like a big deal but when you read about how awful the majority of the Kings were and what they did you can’t help but root for Hezekiah.

The Assyrians invaded Judah and marched against Jerusalem, so Hezekiah sought out the prophet Isaiah, and the Lord through Isaiah reassures Hezekiah that the army will not invade Jerusalem. God keeps his promise by sending ONE angel to destroy the Assyrians. Seriously so amazing!

The Hyssop Branch & Passover Lamb

I am fascinated learning about the connections between the Old and New Testament and the symbolism that is used to foreshadow Christ. This year one I really enjoyed learning about the Hyssop Branch and the Passover Lamb.

When Jesus hung on the cross he was offered a drink of wine on a sponge that was tied to a hyssop branch. In Exodus Moses tells the Israelites on the night of the first Passover:

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. (Exodus 12:21-22)

Jesus came to free us from death and hyssop was used to ensure that the children on Israel wouldn’t die even when they were being delivered from slavery. Hyssop was also used in rites of purification in Leviticus 14 and Numbers 19 and was associated with God cleansing his people.

Jesus is the Passover lamb and he sets us free from slavery, and his sacrifice on the cross purified us from sin and death.

Overall I am thankful for the ability to freely read the Bible and to own several copies of this book that many others in the world don’t have access to read. This year reading the Bible chronologically was a great way for me to see how the timeline of all the books fit together.

If you are interested in reading the Bible chronogically the kindle version of Reading God’s Story: A Daily Chronological Bible is available now for $2.99.

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The Mama Confessionals: What No One Tells You About Motherhood

I can remember the summer before our oldest went to preschool. I continued to second guess myself in the weeks leading up to his first day of the twice weekly class he would be going to for a combined 5 hours a week. Were we making the right choice? Would he be ok? Would I be ok? And many more anxiety filled questions that were very similar. And here is a little spoiler alert for all you parents with little babies. These questions, at least in my experience, continue to happen for each new milestone. I don’t think you can really understand this emotional roller coaster if you aren’t a parent.

At the time I was just 6 months out of counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth to our daughter. During the second week of preschool, I entered a room of 30 women+ women who I had never met to attend a weekly bible study that was held at the church where my child attended school. Clutching my Bible, I felt scared, my anxiety was choking me, but I knew I needed to be surrounded by women who I could learn from, lean on, and laugh and cry with. But most importantly I knew I needed to be fed and nourished with God’s word as often as I could.

As the months went on I found myself actively engaged in reading my Bible and more importantly being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Upon looking back at my sons preschool years I am discovering that he is not the only one who grew up. God has wrecked me. And I mean that in the best way possible.

My mama heart is bursting with love, joy, and goodness when I look at all my kids and see how much they are learning and growing, and changing. And these feelings have me either smiling or crying. The tears are happy but there is also this weird grief element that goes along with it too. It is like I am trying to enjoy these moments because I know they are fleeting by being as present as possible, but by doing this it also causes me this weird heartache.

You always hear other parents tell you that “It goes by so fast.” And that is totally true, it really is, but nobody tells you about this wonderfully horrible wave of emotions that happen each time your child reaches a life milestone.  Based on what I have already experienced I am guessing that each milestone gets more wonderful but equally more gut wrenchingly intense.

Over the past year I have made it a daily priority in our home to be intentional about reading and helping our kids understand the significance and importance of Jesus and the work that was done on the cross. These feelings that I am having as I watch my babies grow up only intensifies my desire to consistently share the gospel message with them. This life is so short. Based on this I have begun to ask myself 3 questions.

  • Have I been consistent in spending time in God’s word on a daily basis? If I can’t commit to daily reading the Bible on my own I don’t know how I can expect to be able to do it for my kids consistently.
  • Am I looking for ways to continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the culture and context in which the scripture was written?
  • Can others around me say that they have seen Christ centered change in my life?

With these questions in mind I can then look at what I am feeding into my kids and nourishing their minds with. And let me tell you, I am not sure when it happened but the two oldest have stopped loving veggies and only want hamburgers and pizza the majority of the time. Truly, their souls might be getting better nourishment at this point.

All jokes aside, I am so grateful. The privilege to be a parent isn’t lost on me. Frequently when I lead my kids daily bible lessons and catechism I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts them to turn to Jesus and that they will be called to repentance as they acknowledge that their sin is separating them from the Lord. With very few things for certain in this life I can rest assured knowing who I have placed my hope and faith in and I will continue to pray my children come to know God as their personal Lord and Savior.

Looking back over the last three years, I am not surprised that my son grew and changed. What I had not anticipated was that God had such plans to grow and change me. As our oldest enjoys his final week of preschool I am appreciative for the love, support, teaching, and guidance he has received. I am thankful for the friendships he has made and in turn the friendships our family has made. And lastly as Josh and I continue to raise these little ones into adulthood, I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

PS…To our preschool family, our family has been blessed by being in community with you all!

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What I Learned About Church From Reading The Bible

This past summer I read an article that talked about how gyms and other secular communities are starting to fill spiritual and social needs for many nonreligious people. And this really got me thinking…

What Is The Purpose & Definition of Church? 

And why can’t I make my hobby or activity my own personal worship service? If my intentions and thoughts are God honoring while participating in an activity can I skip church on the weekend? What if I am listening to a sermon?

Which led me back to my Bible. Here is what the Bible says about the church and how it is recognized:

  • Teaching and preaching the Word of God. (Colossians 3:15)
  • Providing fellowship and accountability. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Communion and baptisms. (Acts 2:42)
  • Biblical leadership. (Ephesians 4:11-13, Titus 1:5-9)
  • Sharing the gospel mission and discipleship. (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word church comes from two separate greek words.

  • Ekklesia –> gathering of citizens called out from home into a public place or an assembly
  • ology –> study of

Ecclesiology is crucial to understand God’s purpose for believers in the world. Ekklesia in scripture can refer to two different things, the church can mean all Christ followers across the world or the local church and a specific body of believers.

What Church Is Not

In order to understand what church is you need to know what church is not.

Church is not a building. Early Chrisitans met in homes.

Church is not an event. In 1 Corinthians it says that they were to do things that would strengthen everyone present like sing, teach, and share revelations from God. Not all church gatherings may have had all these elements but these are a few of the things that occurred. Church is about worshipping God but it needs to be looked as different from an event or production.

Church is not a business. The church is a living organism rather than an organization.

Before I had kids, when I was at my peak of teaching group fitness, yoga, and personal training clients, I would occasionally skip church in order to hike, bike, swim laps, run, or participate in another form of physical activity. I justified skipping church to take care of the body God had given me and to enjoy spending time outdoors in God’s creation.

At face value this idea seems good. It is God honoring to take care of the body He gave you and there is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty in creation and giving thanks back to God. God is the creator of all things and he created all things to glorify Him. The problem that arises is when these activities replace church and try to become a substitute under the guise of creating your own kind of “worship service”.

What I Learned

The church is the body of Christ and each of us has a specific function within that body. If we are truly seeking to follow Christ and be a part of God’s church then we understand that God has called us to be in fellowship with other believers. The church is far from perfect because it is filled with sinners. Myself being one of them.

The beautiful thing I have learned is that by reading, singing, praying, and learning from the Bible in church God is glorified and by His grace and goodness I am being transformed by His word.

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