What to Expect – Week 52

hallelujah.jpg

Merry Christmas! And happy reading finale!! You did it! You’re here! Pat yourself on the back and soak in the excitement of a completed job well done. We pray that this year of reading has nourished you and drawn you much closer to God. Yes, you probably still have questions, but that’s ok. The Bible is God’s living word, so there is always more to learn and understand.

This week, you will finish the Bible, but pay close attention to the end of Revelation. It is the reminder that when we pray and ask God to make our kingdom on earth just like the one he has in heaven, he actually plans to do just that.

God’s plan is to, in the end, restore all things to wholeness and perfection. We will be healed completely and all things will return to how he intended them.

As your reading is completed, let your soul be filled with great hope. God restores us in the end. Hallelujah! Amen!!

What to Expect – Week 51

revelation.jpg

This is our second to last week of a year’s worth of Bible readings. That’s pretty incredible! Finish strong, my friends!!

As you’re well aware by now, we’re well into Revelation. Revelation gets a bad reputation for being very doomsday. Honestly, this week’s reading is a big reason why. The seventh seal is broken wreaking havoc on the world. There’s something like a second Passover where those who are not correctly marked are killed. Overall, it’s not a good scene.

But just like we have to remember that this world is not all there is for us, we have to remember that this week’s reading is not the last. There is hope. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but God wins. Because we are in God’s family, we win.

So yes, read Revelation and let yourself feel the discomfort as you read about God’s wrath. But read, understanding God’s wrath should only serve to spur us on towards bringing more people to him.

What to Expect – Week 50

minor vs major

This week we’ll get to read through several of the Minor Prophets. Do you remember Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? Those were Major Prophets.

As you read through the Minor Prophets, don’t be deceived into thinking that their messages are not as significant to the overall story of the Bible. They’re messages are still given by God, important for our understanding of faith, and crucial to explaining God’s interactions with his people over time. They are simply called minor because they’re shorter. So while we spent the month of September in Isaiah, we’ll spend a day or two in Joel, Obadiah, Habbakuk, etc.

For a one sentence description of each Minor Prophets’ message, check out Bible.org.

What to Expect – Week 49

toilets

We are in the final month of our year of reading the Bible! You can practically see the finish line!! It’s within reach. Keep pushing!

This week, we get to spend some time in the John(s)…sorry for the potty humor. We’ll work through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. These are three short letters likely written by the author of the gospel of John.

Some highlights from the Johns are an emphasis on having sound doctrine within Christianity, a reminder for unity within the church, and the significance of Christ’s incarnation to our salvation.

One particular highlight in 1 John is the thesis of the “why” of how we’re called to live. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Love for others can be hard, especially when they seem undeserving, but if we fall back on this simple verse, we’re empowered to love simply because we were first loved.

We still have a lot of good stuff to read, so push through these last days of the plan. It will be well worth it.

What to Expect – Week 48

finish line

We are so close to the finish line!! Can you feel it!?!

This week we get to delve into Daniel. You may be surprised to find some familiar childhood stories in there, but you may also be surprised at the new details you learn.

There’s one detail to pay particular attention to in today’s reading. As King Nebuchadnezzar gives Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego an ultimatum to bow to his statue or be thrown in a fiery furnace they say they will not bow and have confidence that God will save them. But then they follow up with something incredible. “But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

They were so committed to God and worshipping only him that they would not bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue even if it meant being burned to death in a pit. They knew compromising their faith was ultimately worse than death.

It seems these men’s faith had no limits. I’d like to be able to say the same of mine.

What to Expect – Week 47

james bond

If you want a book that packs a punch, you’ve got one this week. You probably already know that as we started it Friday. James is clear, concise, and calls us out for a number of our greatest foibles.

Do you struggle with controlling your words? Do you speak out in anger? Do you gossip? James has an answer for that.

Do you ever feel like you’re doing a lot of good things but still feel distant from God? Do you wonder why your “good works” aren’t getting more recognition? James has an answer for that.

If you want to know how to live faithfully while keeping the main things the main things, James is perfect for you. Enjoy!

What to Expect – Week 46

cloud of witnesses

We spend more time in Ezekiel and Hebrews this week.

Note that Ezekiel doles out a handful of warnings to various people groups, including the Israelites, of what is about to happen to them. Each of the punishments coming is due to that group’s sin, but regardless, it’s not going to be pretty.

Make a special note of a few things in Hebrews as well. In chapter 11, we encounter the “Hall of Faith” and then in chapter 12 we hear about a “cloud of witnesses”. Pay special attention to both of these. In the “Hall of Faith”, acts of faithfulness and trust are counted to people as righteousness. This isn’t a means of earning salvation, but is an opportunity to trust and know God more fully.

The cloud of witnesses is also something we should think about. Our cloud has not changed, only expanded. We can run faithfully towards Christ because so many have before us and because more and more people are living faithfully each day. Who is someone in your cloud?

What to Expect – Week 43

redeem

We are still hanging out in Jeremiah but will finish it up at the end of this week. Jeremiah is, in some ways, similar to Isaiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who initially fought his calling. He was called to preach destruction and eventual restoration to the Israelites. And he faced opposition as he pursued faithfulness.

One thing to pay close attention to as we read through the prophets is: there is nothing God can’t restore us from. We can so easily get caught up in our pasts and focus on how unworthy we are of God’s grace and redemption. I’ve even heard people say, and mean, that they would get struck by lightening upon entering a church.

The prophets make it abundantly clear, and open the door for Jesus to make it even clearer, that no one is irredeemable.

This week, as you read Jeremiah, hear God’s voice calling you as he explains how he will draw the Israelites out of exile and back to himself.

What to Expect – Week 42

follow-the-leader

Can you believe it? We only have 10 weeks left of our One Year Bible readings!! We are so close!

This week, we shift gears from our letters from Paul to various churches to letters from Paul to an individual. Paul ministered to a lot of people, but one of his biggest investments was in a young man named Timothy. Timothy was a protégé of Paul’s and was often used as a stand in for Paul. If Paul couldn’t make the trip, Timothy was sent.

But how does that happen? Where does it start?

Paul used the discipleship model he spelled out in 1 Corinthians, “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” He let Timothy watch him do ministry and included him on anything and everything he could. Timothy learned by watching.

Who is your Timothy?

What to Expect – Week 41

opposites

This week we have a bit of a dichotomy in our reading. Paul praises the Thessalonians for their faithfulness to Christ. Jeremiah preaches destruction to the Israelites for their lack of faithfulness.

One major point for why the Thessalonians were faithful and the ancient Israelites were unfaithful is attached to their willingness (or lack there of) to endure difficulties for their faith.

Over and over Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for their faith and their diligence in sharing the gospel. On the other side, Jeremiah explains that the Israelites continually seek out idols and, when given the opportunity, turn towards the sinful practices of other nations.

What do we tend to fall back on when times are tough? Faithfulness or anything else?