Bible, Faith

How to Read the Bible

img_2843Followers of Jesus need to be in the Bible every day. We are told regularly to read The Bible. What should we read? How do we read the Bible? Where to begin can be overwhelming. If you’ve been a Christian for a long time, you may wonder what to read next. Maybe you want to study in a different way.

Thank God that the Bible has never ending wisdom and knowledge to gain. Just because you’ve read it all the way through many times, does not mean you’ve got it all figured out. That is impossible. We will be seeking truth in God’s Holy Word the rest of our lives. There is always something new to learn regardless of how learned we are. God will never stop revealing Himself in His Word.

Some Bible Basics:

There are 66 books of the Bible compiled into one volume with two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Old Testament

Law

 

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy

 

 

History

 

Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther

 

Poetry

 

Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs

 

Prophecy

 

Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zachariah
Malachi

New Testament

Jesus

 

Matthew
Mark
Luke
John

 

History

 

Acts

 

Letters

 

Romans
1 & 2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon
Hebrews
James
1 & 2 Peter
1,2,3 John
Jude

 

 

End Times

 

Revelation

 

 

The Bible is about relationships.The Old Testament is about God’s relationship to His chosen people, Israel. The New Testament is about God’s relationship to the world through Jesus Christ.

The Bible has one theme. God’s passionate pursuit of a rebellious people.

When reading the Bible follow these steps.

1. Rely on the Holy Spirit. We cannot properly read and understand God’s Word without the Holy Spirit. Ask God what He wants to teach you today. Thank Him for who He is and humble yourself before the Lord.

17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.     John 14:17, ESV

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.   John 14:25-26, ESV 

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.                 John 15:26, ESV

2.  Engage in a passage. Choose a book of the Bible to complete. Start in The New Testament with John, or any of the four Gospels. Or, start with a short book like Philippians or James.

Use the four “C‘s”

Chief people – Who is writing, receiving, or any other important names.

Challenges – What words, phrases or sentences don’t you understand. Underline them and write them down in a notebook.

Crucial Words – What words or phrases are repeated? Any comparisons/contrasts?

Cool Verse – What verse summarizes your study for the week? Underline that verse and memorize it.

 

3. Ask: Who is God? As you read through the verses look for any reference to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Look for His name, personal pronouns or His activities. Underline them.

Fill in the blank:

God is ___________

God _____________

4. Dialogue with God. Talk with Him. Pray.

Do I believe this about you? Why?

What truth do I need to remember about you? 

What are you doing that I need to be a part of?

How does what I read apply to me? In my relationships, work, school, etc.

Do I have unconfessed sin? Or areas of unbelief? 

Rely

Engage

Ask

Diaologue

This is a very basic breakdown of the books of the Bible and how to read it. This does not cover every thought, or idea on the Bible and Bible study. It’s simply a starting point. Most of this information came from a handout I received from my church years ago.

You will need a Bible that you can write in and highlight. Don’t be afraid to write in the Bible. Also, a notebook can be quite helpful to write down thoughts, questions, or what God spoke to you.

There are many versions of the Bible. I will not go into detail, in this post, on Bible translations. There are three main versions:

Word-for-word: NASB, ESV, NET, KJV, NKJV

Thought-for-thought: CSB, NIV, NLT

Paraphrase: NIRV, MSG, GNT,

That’s not every translation. There are numerous ones. I like to use several. My favorite is my old, beat up, 1978 New International Version. It was my Mom’s when she was a brand new Believer.

I pray you will pick up your Bible today and read it. Hopefully with new eyes and new passion. It’s the most exciting book you will ever read.

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12, ESV

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible, Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

Need A Fresh Start?

silhouette of mountains

Do you ever wish there was a reset button in life? Things are just going downhill and it sure would be nice to start over again. There is good news for you. Today, right now, you can start again. Each day is a fresh start. A gift from the Lord. He knew we needed beginnings and endings, each and every day. Doesn’t necessarily mean that the problem or issue disappears the next day, but it can mean a renewal of your attitude and faith.

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV 

 

I can’t help but think of Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship, when needing a restart comes to mind. Chuck was one of President Nixon’s right hand men, and went to prison for his involvement in Watergate. Chuck met Jesus and accepted Him as Savior, and eventually started a world renowned prison ministry. That’s a spectacular fresh start. Only God would do something so magnificent with something so ugly.

Moses had a few fresh starts during his life. He flees Egypt after killing an Egyptian who had beaten one of his fellow Hebrews. Moses then becomes a shepherd and starts a new life in the desert. Years later God talks to Moses from a burning bush. God tells Moses that he’s sending him to Pharoah to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3) That is a historic fresh start. Definitely a hard job, that changes the course of history.

Moses was not asking for that fresh start. God had other plans. Sometimes we think everything is going fine. Like Moses, maybe we want to hide out in the desert and give ourselves a fresh start. But God shows up and surprises us. God always has a purpose and a plan for each and every one of us.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB

Is there a destructive habit that needs to stop in your life?

Maybe there’s an ugly attitude.

Is there a strain in one of your significant relationships? Marriage, kids, family, friends.

Do you need to forgive someone?

Do you need to apologize and ask for forgiveness?

I’m not suggesting you can instanly fix everything. Only God can change hearts, minds, and attitudes. And time travel is not an option to go back and make changes.

The one thing you can change is you.

Your fresh start begins the moment you surrender it all to Jesus. It takes humilty to lay it at the Lord’s feet and ask for His help.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10, NIV 

Every single moment is an opportunity to start again.

If you’ve never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, you can change that right now, today. God is drawing you to Jesus.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:44, NIV

If you need a fresh start, it begins right now. You can choose.

Love you all,

Meghan

P.S. If you need prayer please go to my contact page and send me an email.

 

 

 

https://www.prisonfellowship.org/
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com
Bible, Faith, God, Obedience, Uncategorized

A Talking Donkey

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This amazing mule takes people up and down the steep, winding trails of the Grand Canyon. On an early morning walk during our vacation, I came across the mules getting ready to make their trek for the day. They are lovely. I can’t help but admire and respect what they do. Mules are the unsung heroes of the animal world. I have to believe that animals go to heaven, especially all the ones that have helped us humans.

A mule is the result of a male donkey and female horse. Mules are tough, sure-footed, intelligent, and instinctively cautious. Those traits come from their donkey DNA. They have been around for centuries and haul everything from people to supplies. Both mules and donkeys are mentioned in the Bible.

There’s an unusual event recorded in Numbers where a donkey speaks.

The Israelites camped along the Jordan River. The Moabites were terrified because of what the Israelites had done to the Amorites, and there were many Israelites. (That’s a lot of “ites”) The king of Moab, Balak, sends for Balaam to curse the Israelites. (Numbers 22:1-5)

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.” (Numbers 22:5b-6, NIV)

At first, God tells Balaam not to curse the Israelites because they are blessed. Balak sends princes with a very attractive offer for Balaam that he will be rewarded handsomely, and the king will do whatever he says. God finally gives Balaam the OK to go. (Numbers 22:7-20)

But God was really angry with Balaam. (V. 22)

Balaam is riding his donkey to Moab when an Angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. The donkey sees the angel with a sword drawn and turns off the road into a field. Balaam beats the donkey. The Angel of the Lord appears again on a narrow part of the path with two walls. The donkey pressed against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. He beats her a second time. The Angel of the Lord appeared a third time on the path, that was narrow, with no room to turn. The donkey lay down under Balaam and he beat her again. (v. 22-27)

28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.  (Numbers 22:28-25, NIV)

What’s the point, right? Is this just one of those odd stories in the Old Testament? No, it’s not. Yes, the circumstances are strange. A talking donkey is not ordinary. It wasn’t normal then, it’s not normal today.

Balaam was foolish and prideful. He didn’t even pay attention to his own donkey that knew to stop. Balaam was driven by greed. He was tempted.

“Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.” (Numbers 22:18-19, NIV)

Balaam says he won’t go outside of what the Lord wants, but he makes sure the princes of Moab stay for the night.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you ignored all the warning signs that God gave you? I have.

Balaam beat his donkey and forced her back on the path three times. Have you ever forced something to happen, that in your heart you knew was out of God’s will? I have.

God allowed Balaam to go on the path to Moab, yet warned him three times to stop. God knew Balaams heart. God knows our hearts too. Sometimes God allows us to feel the sting of our bad choices.

The hero in this story is the donkey. A simple creature that saw the Angel of the Lord and responded appropriately.

God can speak to us any way He chooses. Are we listening? God spoke through a donkey to Balaam. God speaks through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, people, circumstances, nature. I see no limit to how God speaks. He will never compromise His Word, the Bible, when He speaks to us.

I pray that I am more like the donkey, a willing servant of the Lord.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

 

 

Bible, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

Jesus & Coffee

CHIANGMAI, THAILAND, February 4,2015. Reading The New Internatio

Every morning I grab my Bible and stumble into the kitchen. I grind those beans and pray for the water to boil quickly so I can get that first cup from my French press coffee pot. Yeah, I’m fancy like that. Not really, but I do like good coffee. I plop down on the couch and say, “Thank you Lord”. I thank Him because I’m alive. I thank Him because I’ve got a nice roof over my head, plenty of food to eat, and coffee. I thank Him for three incredible men in my life; my two sons and husband. I thank Him for saving me.

I begin each morning spending time with Jesus. It was a discipline I started years ago out of necessity. I need Jesus in my life every moment, of every hour, of every day. I am not super spiritual or special in any way, just hungry. This is what works for me to strengthen my relationship with God, and keep me focused on what really matters in this life.

I start my quiet time, or Jesus time, or God time, whatever you want to call it, by reading my Bible first. I say a short prayer asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me and teach me what I need to learn. I always have paper on hand to write notes, which I do often. I have a prayer journal as well. I write in that throughout the month, but not daily. Bible reading plans have been helpful. Devotionals are also something I read as well. I’ve got three going right now.

You can read about the Bible I use here My Bible It’s broken in and comfortable, sort of like an old sweater. It’s marked up with highlights, and notes. I recently had to tape the binding of my Bible. It’s not pretty, but well loved. I have many reasons why I read the Bible. The more I read, the more I learn, the more I want to know. Only Jesus truly satisfies, and when I meditate on His word I am changed. Little bits at a time, I am being transformed by His word.

What does the Bible say about being in the Word?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV)

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, NIV) 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, NIV)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, HCSB)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, HCSB)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, NIV) 

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)

This is not an exhaustive list. But these few scriptures tell us how important it is to study the Word of God.

Prayer is how I end my time with Jesus in the morning. I have a list going of prayer requests from family and friends. I lay my requests before Him knowing He will answer in His time, in His way. It is freeing for me to let go of whatever is weighing me down. I don’t have to carry it. After I’ve had my coffee, and read the Word, and read my devotionals, and prayed, I can face whatever lies ahead with confidence.

There are a few things I do to protect this quiet time with the Lord. I do not check my email or any social media when I wake up. It’s coffee to wake me up, and then the Word. If I get online or do anything else it’s very distracting and I lose my focus. This is what has worked for me.

Mornings may not work for you. My husband listened to a podcast every day that went through the entire Bible in one year. He was also going to school and working full time back then, and that’s what worked for him. Maybe you’ve got a night time routine that’s effective for you. Maybe you have no time alone with Jesus, squeezing in a quick prayer here and there.

Jesus and coffee is what starts my day but one of those I can live without. I would get an awful headache, but I can live without coffee. I can’t live without Jesus. I may start my day with Him, but He and I are talking all day. Jesus Christ is not only my savior, He is my friend, and constant companion through the Holy Spirit. The most important relationship I’ve got is with Jesus, so I try my best to make Him the priority to start off my day.

Do you have daily quiet times with Jesus? What works for you? Please feel free to share any ideas for alone time with God.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Here are some Bible reading plans that can be a starting point:

Click to access 3-esv-mcheyne-reading-plan.1.pdf

Click to access 6-esv-chronological-reading-plan.1.pdf

Click to access 2-esv-a-psalm-a-day-reading-plan.1.pdf

Click to access 5-esv-a-proverb-a-day-reading-plan.1.pdf

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/chronological-new-testament.html

 

 

I recommend this devotional:

Renovating Your Mind. Read about it here: Q & A with Author Patrick Egle 

 

Bible, Faith, Jesus, Uncategorized

What’s Your Nickname?

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Meghan Magoo was my dad’s chosen nickname for me. It eventually morphed into Magoochi. Strange. I know. That’s how nicknames are. Whatever the particular name is, it’s meaning is something special to the giver, and the receiver. The message that’s being sent is you are special. Upon hearing my nickname from my dad, I knew it was a sign of affection.

We’ve got nicknames for our children, spouses, and pets. We love them, so the standard name just won’t do. An adorable name must do the job of saying, “I love you.” Bubbies, Bubba, Boo Boo, Dilly, Dilly Jo, Joshy, Joshaboo are just a few of the names my husband and I have given our sons over the years. These cutesy names say, “you are adored.”

Jesus was known to give out a few nicknames as well. He changed Simon’s name to Peter, which in the Greek means rock or boulder. Peter is The Rock. That is a super cool name. You can’t get a much better nickname than that. To be clear, Jesus Christ is the Rock, and Peter was used by God as a small pebble atop that foundation.

16 “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16-18, ESV)

Jesus saw more than just Simon the fishermen. He called him Peter because He was calling him to something different. Peter was the first leader of  the early church, and he didn’t get there overnight. It took a lot of mistakes and maturing in his faith along the way for old Pete. He thought he knew better than Jesus and rebuked Him (Mark 8:32). He loses faith (Matthew 14:30). And, Peter denied even knowing Jesus (Luke 22:61-62). But Jesus calls him to greatness before Peter was even ready. Jesus knew Peter’s potential and He sees our potential too. He’s calling each of us to something greater than ourselves.

The Son’s of Thunder were brothers James and John.

“and to James the son of Zebedee,
and to his brother John,
He gave the name “Boanerges”
(that is, “Sons of Thunder”);” (Mark 3:17 HCSB)

Once again, Jesus is calling them into what they will become. These two had a lot to learn as well, before they were up for the challenge of leadership. James and John’s mother asks Jesus to have her sons sit on his right and left in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21). The brothers also asked Jesus if they should call fire down from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village (Luke 9:54). Not exactly signs of maturity.

Peter, James, and John were the only disciples to experience the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9). With all of their mistakes and shortcomings Jesus still calls them to greatness for His kingdom. It gives me hope. I can be used by God in spite of myself and so can you.

There are other instances of name changes in the Bible.

Abram becomes Abraham. (Genesis 17:5)

Jacob becomes Israel. (Genesis 32:28)

Saul becomes Paul. (Acts 13:9)

These name changes signify a change in their calling, and identity. Abram, Jacob, and Saul each were given a new mission. They had encounters with God that changed them.

Have you had an encounter with God that changed you? Are there old habits or old ways of thinking that need to go? Do you have a nickname that’s negative? Maybe a parent gave you an awful nickname, or a sibling, or teacher, or fill in the blank. It was long ago, but that name comes in your head, and you believe it.

If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you are a son or a daughter.

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to Me,
says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18, HCSB)

Sons and daughters of God are chosen, forgiven, set apart, free, accepted, loved, protected, blessed, and highly favored. Sons and daughters have a new identity in Christ, no matter what nickname has been given to us negatively. God loves you and is fiercely committed to you. He’s calling you and I to something greater than ourselves. Let’s answer that call as His children.

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16a, NLT)

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Photo credit: BRRT from Pixabay