True or False

I have been thinking about this post for a few weeks now and I still don’t know how to begin. My heart aches for the church. So many have held on to prophecies that simply weren’t from God and I’m not just talking about who would win the election but personal prophecies that have not come to pass for decades. When these things happen we are encouraged by the words of Habakkuk, to keep the vision before us and though the fulfillment tarries we are to wait for it.

Many prophets wrongly prophesied over many things in the year 2020 but the most glaring thing to me as a believer is how they are sweeping everything under the rug and moving on. Some have apologized for missing God. They didn’t miss God, they flat out didn’t hear him and instead of taking responsibility they are talking about growing in the prophetic gift that they operate in.

This is going to be a hard post for many people to read, to many my language will seem harsh but I assure you this is not easy for me to write and I get no pleasure out of asking you to examine these things. Over the last few days I have gone back and listened to several prophets. This morning I listened to one say that the enemy will always try to stop God’s plan and he tries to get you to distrust prophets so that you will distrust him. I was appalled by such a statement, but I realize now that the prophetic movement doesn’t believe in God’s sovereignty but in their ability to decree and declare. The most sickening thing to me was that someone who I listened to and supported said that the enemy wants me to distrust prophets so that I distrust God.

Let me speak bluntly, if your trust in God depends on the accuracy of some prophets ability to hear God, you are not trusting in God. We have the written Word of God, that alone holds my trust.

It doesn’t matter what the prophets get wrong, my ultimate trust, our ultimate trust should be in the words we find in our Bible. I want to be clear, these modern day prophets didn’t simply miss it, they are false prophets and they should not be listened to. Many are even doubling down and saying don’t doubt what God has decreed. I don’t doubt God’s decree but I certainly doubt yours because President Joe Biden is sitting in the Oval Office right now.

Jeremiah 5:30-31 NKJV “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” And my people love to have it so. God’s people love false prophecy? Yes, we are seeing how much we love false prophecy by the lack of accountability in the prophetic movement and the excuses we are willing to make on behalf of the prophets. The worst thing about all of this is we are impugning the character of God and we don’t even realize it.

Some are even saying, that’s Old Testament, we’re New Testament prophets, read the Guidelines in Corinthians. The standards of God did not change, God himself did not change with the changing of the Testaments.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

We are seeing that happen and many of us are caught up in that. I was for years, not wanting to miss a single conference or any prophetic word from those I followed. I had itching ears and didn’t even know it. When I felt like something was off, I would dismiss it as the devil trying to stop my breakthrough. We have got to stop dismissing the true ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is letting us know that these prophets are false.

I know that’s a hard thing to acknowledge. It wasn’t easy in the beginning to stop keeping up with prophetic words, it wasn’t easy skipping conferences in the beginning because I kept feeling like I was missing something. That’s not God. The modern prophetic movement making us feel like we’re missing God if we don’t get our latest activation, that is not God! That is witchcraft!

Read First and Second Peter today, see the problem of false prophecy and false teaching and rediscover the all sufficiency of the Bible. I pray that you would come to a place of true peace in the Scriptures alone. You don’t need a word from God, you already have one. It may be hard to admit, but the prophets on the scene today are not hearing from God, we know that because not one of these people who “missed it” is grieved at their “miss”. If they were true prophets they would be calling on themselves to repent and examine not press forward into the future.

Abandon these prophets, and the churches that uphold them. Find a solid Bible believing and Bible teaching Church. Study the New Testament with fresh eyes and let Scripture interpret Scripture.

Posted in Being a Berean | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Studying the New Testament

*This post was written in conjunction with my three year New Testament study plan. While some things will be specific to my three year process, my hope is that the post as a whole will be an encouragement to you in whatever book you are studying.

I am two and a half months into my three year plan to study the New Testament and I have rearranged the book order and have realized the Bible I picked is not conducive for study. While I am all about a plan and sticking to my set schedule I realize I do need to have some flexibility if this process is going to serve me well. At the end of each month and ultimately at the end of three years my goal is to have a good command of each book, knowing what it teaches and having become closer to Jesus during the process.

In order to achieve that I have worked out some issues with my original process and wanted to share some things with you that will hopefully help you study better whether you’re studying through the entire New Testament or just one book.

BASIC THINGS NEEDED FOR SERIOUS STUDY

Use a study Bible and a text Bible. A Study Bible is good to help you know where to go and the notes can help you go into deeper study. A text Bible will help you focus as you do your daily reading of the text before you get into study.

I like using multiple study Bibles but recommend that one be your primary. I recommend the MacArthur Study Bible for a deeper understanding of the text and the Life Application Study Bible, for, you guessed it, practical application. It’s important to note that doctrinal understanding must come before personal application.

I started this process with the CSB He Reads Truth Bible. While I think this would be perfect for devotional use, in studying two books it has proven unhelpful for deeper study. I’m still using it but I’m looking at different study Bibles now. You’ll know if you like a study Bible after studying one or two books. Don’t be afraid to change it early on in your study, it’s important to have one you really enjoy using. I’ve also been going back and forth between CSB, ESV and NKJV. My advice is settle on your primary translation before you start studying and use one other for comparative purposes, while consulting other translations infrequently. During your three year study stay focused with minimal distraction. Consulting more than two English translations will not be as beneficial as looking up terms in the Greek.

Which leads me to my next point, get language tools. While you don’t need to get everything up front, I do recommend having a  Vine’s Expository Dictionary when you begin. This enables you to look up the words in your English translation and find the Greek word and it’s meaning. While many language tools and commentaries are available online I do recommend a physical Bible so you can make notes in your physical Bible and get to know the text better by knowing its location on the page. Using a physical Bible, Dictionary, journal and commentaries will help keep you focused and centered on the text. That being said I’m not against apps and websites, I use them, I just make sure I have physical copies of things I use the most.

As I just mentioned, have a physical journal that you can write down questions, thoughts and observations as you study. Don’t fall into the I’ll remember it trap, write it down. At the end of three years you will be glad you have a record of your thoughts, questions and what you learned to look back on a decade from now.

Commentaries are a big help. A one volume commentary will be beneficial for general study and as you go deeper you can start buying one individual book at a time and end up with a complete set in three years. More on commentaries a little later. One volume commentaries: The MacArthur Bible Commentary, New Bible Commentary, and Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary.

BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR BOOK ORDER

It’s important to set up a book order so you know where you are going next. This is important so you can buy resources ahead of time so they are waiting for you when you get to that book. I made the mistake of waiting to get resources for my James study and they showed up halfway through. That being said, be willing to change your order if the study of one book causes you to want to dive into another book. I also recommend staggering the Gospels throughout the plan.

READ THROUGH THE BOOK AND START WITH A STUDY GUIDE

Before starting the study of a book, read it through in one sitting to help you get the overall direction and concepts of the book. It’s also a good idea after reading the book to read through a book introduction. Study Bibles, commentaries and study guides will all have book introductions.

A study guide is very helpful for an overview and for your overall understanding of the book. Before you dive into word studies and commentaries go through a study guide that focuses on the actual text of Scripture and asks you text related questions that will cause you to think deeply and ask your own questions. Write your questions in your notebook to come to as you study. John MacArthur has a study guide for each New Testament Book. Warren Wiersbe also has some New Testament study guides available. I only recommend book based commentaries for this type of study as you are not studying topically.

COMMENTARIES AND MORE COMMENTARIES

I’ve already mentioned one volume commentaries but as you get into deeper study you’ll want to get individual book commentaries. Now, there’s no need in buying a set, just buy the volume(s) of the book you are about to study and at the end of three years you’ll have a complete set.

Don’t be concerned with acquiring full sets. Some sets are done by multiple people and you may only be interested in one or two volumes in a set. I really enjoy Dr. John MacArthur so I’m using his study guides and getting his individual commentaries, by the end of three years I will have acquired the entire New Testament set.

Don’t stick with one commentary though, the more commentaries you get the more you will learn. I’m also getting commentaries from The Crossway Classic Commentary Series, as well as R. C. Sproul. Because Charles Spurgeon is my theological mentor I am also looking to see if he has written on each book before I start studying it. I’m also looking at different commentary sets on my favorite books of the New Testament.

I get all my stuff from christianbook.com they are always running sales on academic stuff, so you will be able to find language tools and commentaries at great prices. A yearly membership is just $5 which gives you even better discounts on the already low prices. I am not an affiliate and don’t make money from them, each link is directly to them. I’m just very happy with the products, prices and customer service and highly recommend them. You can also check discount bookstores for used commentaries.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With your structure now in place and being focused on each individual book, prepare yourself for days when it will seem like you’re not “getting anything” from your study. You are still feeding your spirit even if it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anything.

That being said, I am going through longer books in sections. So when doing John I broke the workbook up into sections. If I get stuck for more than a week, I may go ahead and do the lesson in my study guide that deals with later chapters. You could also do your study guide all at once. The important thing is if you feel a lull for longer than a week, it may be a good idea to jump into next months chapters for a day or two just to get momentum going again.

As you get further into the books, say a year down the road, take a day and revisit a book from the beginning, refresh yourself in what you learned in that book and come back to your current book with fresh eyes.

Remember daily reading of your book (or the section of your bigger book). The biggest part of this three year plan is to read the book or chapters of the month every day, that’s how you’re going to retain the information. Memorizing is not the point with this process, repetition is the central point, so that you can get the message of each book deep in your heart.

As you are studying the New Testament you may find it helpful to read books on certain New Testament topics like parables, redemption, spiritual gifts and other topics. Reading books can help give you direction in your study, bring up things you haven’t considered and just be an overall asset to your study.

I pray that this post has been a help and encouragement for you as you endeavor to study through the New Testament. If you’re on social media, share what you’re learning so you can be an encouragement to others.

Posted in 3 Year NT Deep Dive, Bible Reading and Study Tips | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Answer to Prayer

For a while now I have wanted to dive into the subject of prayer. Sunday I went to my shelf and pulled out Spurgeon on Prayer: How to Converse with God. The sermon that bares the title of the book was my choice. Spurgeon relayed a story that really caught my attention but before I share that, I want to look at a couple of Scriptures.

Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV. When I was younger, I always wondered how in the world anyone could pray without ceasing. But then I came across meditating on the word day and night in several verses. Praying without ceasing, like meditating day and night is simply an attitude of the heart that is fixed on the Lord.Over the years I’ve heard sermons and seen books on how to get your prayers answered, the seven types of prayer, steps to getting your prayers answered and the like. Some of those things have been good, some not so much. Some things have been biblical and some things are so far outside of Scripture I don’t know how we have fallen for it.

Look at Philippians 4:6-9 NKJV “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

How many of us are anxious before we pray? Sometimes we pray to get things off our chest, we pray out of fear, desperation and yes, there are times when we pray full of hope and full of faith. But regardless of our emotions, we shouldn’t be anxious. I think a lot of times we are anxious before and after prayer because we prayed and went about our day and didn’t give God time to respond.

In God responding I’m not talking about a still small voice or a thought that we perceive as the Lord speaking. Do we allow the Lord to speak through His Word before or after prayer? How many of us pray but don’t spend time in the Scriptures? Have you ever had the question, why aren’t my prayers being answered? Could it be because we aren’t spending time in the answer?

Charles Spurgeon relayed this story in his sermon, How to Converse with God. ” A missionary some years ago, returning from South Africa, gave a description of the work that had been accomplished there through the preaching of the gospel, and among other things he pictured a little incident of which he had been an eyewitness. He said that one morning he saw a converted African chieftain sitting under a palm tree with his Bible open before him. Every now and then he cast his eyes on his Book and read a passage, and then he paused and looked up a little while, and his lips were seen to be in motion. Thus he continued alternately to look down on the Scriptures and to turn his eyes upward towards Heaven. The missionary passed by without disturbing the good man, but a little while after he mentioned to him what he had seen, and asked him why it was that sometimes he read, and sometimes he looked up. The African replied, “I look down to the book and God speaks to me, and then I look up in prayer, and speak to the Lord, and in this way we keep up a holy talk with each other.” I would set this picture before you, as being the mirror and pattern of conversation with Heaven – the heart of hearkening to the voice of God and then replying in prayer and praise.”

Could it be that as we wait for God’s response to our prayer, the answer is sitting on the table beside us? As we approach God in prayer let us not do it apart from His Written Word. When we don’t know what to pray, perhaps we could pray the model prayer found in the gospels. Perhaps one of David’s prayers in the Psalms would be fitting for our circumstances, or maybe we would benefit from turning to Ephesians and reading the prayers of Paul for the Church.Instead of looking for outside answers, signs, or inner voices, let us turn to the Word of God for the answers there in. Will there be times where a specific answer won’t be found in the text? Yes, but wisdom, a principle, or general direction will be there to help you. The benefits of the Scripture in our prayer life is immense, avail yourself to them.

I pray this post has been a blessing to you. I encourage you to pick up Spurgeon on Prayer to be a devotional companion to your prayer life.

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sheep, Goats, and Wolves (Mt. 7:13-23)

Matthew 7:13-23 CSB “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ’”

Verses thirteen and fourteen are well known verses to most of us, some of us probably even have them memorized, but have you ever stopped and really pondered what Jesus was saying here?

The Word narrow as defined from the Hebrew in the Vine’s Dictionary means; “to groan, or narrow writing. It is used figuratively in Matthew 7:13-14, of the gate which provides entrance into eternal life. Narrow because it runs counter to natural inclinations.” …. “The way is rendered narrow by the divine conditions, which make it impossible for any to enter who think the entrance depends upon self-merit, or who still incline towards sin, or desire to continue in evil.”

Does that make the way seem a little more narrow than you originally thought? God is holy and His wrath is just. Salvation is not easy believism with no life change. The American church has embraced a broad road concept of salvation, yet the Scripture says the broad way leads to destruction.

The way is “narrow because it runs counter to our natural inclinations”. This is Romans chapters six through eight. There are fruits, proofs of genuine faith in Christ, it is to live like Christ. And make no mistake about it, living like Christ is not touting a social gospel that is championed by the media and supported by Hollywood celebrities.

Charles Spurgeon said, “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats”.  This is by and large the current state of the American church. Believers like myself were drawn into unbiblical prosperity, health and confession teaching. We have been looking for our best lives now, not realizing that ultimately means we’d probably be in Hell because no matter how good we have it here, nothing can compare to heaven. Preachers are teaching series based from psychology and not the Bible. Men are twisting Scriptures making us the focal point of every Bible story, it’s about our dreams and not God’s glory. People are lulled into a false sense of security because they prayed a prayer yet didn’t have a changed heart.

That’s why Jesus warned against false prophets. That’s why Paul’s pastoral letters to Timothy dealt with false teaching. It’s why Jude who wanted to write about our common salvation ended up warning against false teachers. We are heaping up teachers to tickle our ears and the so called prophets keep getting it wrong.

Matthew 7:15-23 CSB  “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ’”

The wolves among us are shedding their sheepskins, openly promoting racial division, reparations instead of redemption and making skin color inherently sinful. They are saying we must interpret Scripture through other ethnic lenses, they are twisting Scripture and adding commands God did not give. They are embracing social justice over Biblical justice. These wolves look like the world because they are of the world. Reverence in worship is missing because those leading us don’t reverence a holy God. Some are so busy chasing signs and wanting dreams they have abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture simply because they had an experience.

Friends, the Bible says the devil comes as an angel of light. Wolves wear sheepskin because we would recognize them if they didn’t. The devil’s opening line was hath God said. If you hear a preacher say the Bible isn’t really saying blank. RUN! That’s a wolf! It’s an agent of satan to get you off of the narrow path and on to the broad path to lead you to destruction.

There are plenty of church leaders saying things that sound good, but when they’re saying the same thing as celebrities and the media elite, we should pause and see what’s going on. Don’t be fooled by false gospels, social justice and new perspectives on Scripture. Read the New Testament, make a study of each book, read chapters again and again, get them deep within your heart.

Not everyone who claims the title Christian is a sheep. There are goats and there are wolves and it is important for us to have discernment. We can’t just listen to people’s claims, we must listen to their words and observe their actions. We must also realize a hard truth, just because someone once walked the narrow path doesn’t mean they haven’t or can’t stray into a ditch or even start walking on the broad path. It’s time to be more discerning, to hold fast to the Word of God, and preach the Biblical Gospel of Christ Crucified.

Recommend Bible Reading:
Romans 6-8
Galatians 1-3
2 Timothy 1-3
2 Peter and Jude

Recommend Books:
Ashamed of the Gospel: John MacArthur
30 Days to Understanding the Bible: Max Anders
Stand Firm: John MacArthur
The Religious Affections: Jonathan Edwards

Posted in Bible Studies | Leave a comment

New Year, New Start

The first Monday of a new year. The first week of a new year. We all have the opportunity to start fresh in our thinking, our perspective, and in our willingness to see truth. While a new year isn’t a magic eraser, it does provide us with an opportunity for change.

2020 exposed lots of things, especially in the church. We got to see who stood on what side and as painful as it was, many of us saw that a lot of things we have believed simply were not true. I grew up believing Word of Faith teaching. Not because that’s what my parents believed but because I watched Rod Parsley, Kenneth Copeland and Jerry Savelle on TV.

Here’s the thing, I never believed Jesus suffered in Hell or that I could smile and say “I AM too”. And honestly, laying my hand on my head and commanding hair to grow is ridiculous and I know that. But like anyone in the Word of Faith, Charismatic, or Prophetic Movements I didn’t want to slow down or hinder my faith by asking questions. I knew I didn’t believe that stuff so I disregarded it and embraced what I did believe in. Except the reality was that even the stuff I did believe in wasn’t working. I wasn’t seeing miracles, breakthroughs, or financial harvests.

Before I continue I do want to say that I believe God heals and God provides. The problem lies with believing that my faith can direct divine activity, which is a quote from Rod Parsley. 2020 showed us something that can be very hard to acknowledge, the prophets missed it on every major thing that happened last year. That should cause us to stop and examine, it should cause us to grieve and cry, it should cause us to evaluate our walk with the Lord, and yes, after all of that it should cause us to walk away from these movements because 2020 showed us they were built on sand.

Am I mad, sad or bitter about knowing I spent two decades in utter falsehood, no. I can look back and see God’s hand on me through it all. Yes, I was greatly deceived but from 2008-2011 God had me in a charismatic-reformed church where the pastor preached on Romans chapter eight for nine months which began a course correction theologically. During those years I was introduced to Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, John Flavel and the ESV Bible. God in His grace and for my protection never allowed me to pastor when I was in deception and I am so grateful.

Watching my spiritual world crumble from October 2019 through June of 2020 wasn’t easy. I was devastated, wondered if anything I had been taught was true, I cried a lot, repented even more and felt so lost yet so free and secure at the same time. It was during this time I thanked God that even deception worked out for my good. Kenneth Copeland taught me to always go to the Word and ironically that is why I never believed some of the things he taught. Kenneth Copeland’s foundational teaching of putting the Word first place led me away from Kenneth Copeland’s teachings.

I love everyone I listened to in the past. I pray for their eyes to be open and that they will see the whole truth of God’s Word and step out of the misunderstanding of God’s Word that they have. If you are reading this and saying, I don’t understand how the prophets missed it, I don’t understand why my blessing didn’t come, or I don’t understand how I got sick when I was standing in faith? Can I encourage you to lay aside the prophecies and pick up the more sure prophetic word, The Scriptures. Can I encourage you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth from the Word of God instead of a still small voice, sign, or confirmation.

Let 2021 be the year you forsake spectacular Christianity for Biblical discipleship. Allow yourself to see what is in front of you. See that the miracles and healing all the time that Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, and Bethel Music promise you is not a reality. They had an outbreak at their school and had to close down because in reality they couldn’t heal anyone of any disease. God can and sometimes does, in His sovereignty heal people but healing isn’t guaranteed like Johnson claims. They talk about healing revivalists of the past keeping meetings open during hard times but their healing rooms are closed. I don’t say these things to be mean, I say them because they are true and as Christians we follow Christ not after signs and wonders.

We’ve been told that we are to do what Jesus did, yet Jesus said that to do the works of righteousness is to believe on Him. John 20:31 says these things have been written so that we may believe. We don’t need signs and wonders or generic prophecies that are applicable to all six hundred people hearing “the word”, we simply need the Scriptures taught. We don’t need new revelation or The Passion Translation. There are no keys that unlock mysteries. Paul said the mystery is Christ. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and all of Scripture is THE KEY that unlocks the mystery, Jesus Christ.

You don’t have to chase anymore, you don’t have to go to another conference, pay for another online activation, receive another prophecy or sow another seed. All you have to do is surrender to Jesus and rest in Him. The Christian life was never meant to be spectacular but ordinary. How does ordinary stand out? When you go through hard times, sickness, job loss or any other number of things, there is a peace you have that only comes through knowing Christ, that’s the difference. What about the spectacular? That my friend, can only be seen on the other side. For nothing that can happen here will qualify when we see His beauty over there. What about the supernatural? There is nothing more supernatural than a sinner like you or me being born again.

I pray that 2021 is a simple and peaceful year. Not because of the surrounding circumstances but because the Prince of Peace rules in your heart. Spend time in the Word this year. Love the Word because Jesus is the Word and He gave us the written Word.

Posted in Being a Berean | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A New Bible Study Endeavor

Psalm 119:9-16 CSB  “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. Lord, may you be blessed; teach me your statutes. With my lips I proclaim all the judgments from your mouth. I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

A while back I was watching a question and answer session. The question was something like what is the best way to study the Bible? The response was very intriguing. Dr. John MacArthur responded, to understand the Bible you need to read it through and make a diligent study of the New Testament and you can do that within three years. All you have to do is spend a month in each small books and split up larger books into equal sections. For example, The Gospel of John will take three months, studying seven chapters a month.

As I said this was very interesting to me, so for the next three years I am going to be studying the New Testament book by book. I actually started last November but I thought this would make a good New Years post.

I’ll give you the order in which I am studying and then layout my process. I started in the book of James, which is the earliest New Testament book. The rest of the order is as follows; Ephesians, John, First through Third John, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, Luke, Acts, 1 and 2 Peter with Jude, Matthew, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philippians and Colossians, Revelation, Mark, Titus and Philemon, and 1 and 2 Timothy.

Just writing this gets me excited knowing I will be deeply studying the New Testament over the next three years. So here’s what my process will look like; because I’m splitting up large books I will be able to read the portion each day. For example John is seven chapters a day or one chapter a day, reading it through four times. This is one of the coolest ways I’ve seen to read and study the Scriptures.

To start each book I am reading it through in one setting and then I get an overview of the book by going through the John MacArthur Bible Studies. After I have completed those lessons I start digging in. I dig in by looking at commentaries, doing word studies in the Vine’s Dictionary, making my own notes and just going over the chapters again and again through the month.

I am using the CSB He Reads Truth Bible for this study and referencing the NKJV MacArthur Study Bible and my ESV Verse by Verse. I am also doing the two one year reading plans in my CSB. This year is the M’Cheyne plan and next year I will do the week by week plan at the beginning of each book. When I study 1-3 John I will be adding 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders to my daily study. While I am not trying to memorize Scripture, I have found rereading the same portions everyday has been a great tool in helping me retain Scripture.

If this sounds interesting to you, I would definitely recommend putting together your own reading plan or using what I outlined here. You can follow my journey on the blog and on Instagram. Daily thoughts will be on Instagram and archived in story highlights by book genre. The commentaries and other books I use will be featured there as well. On the blog I will be posting full reflections on each book as well as longer more complete thoughts from various chapters.

However you decide to engage the Scriptures this year just commit to daily time in reading and study and let the Word of God transform you.

A Breakdown of Studying the New Testament:

Matthew – four months
Mark – two months
Luke – four months
John – four months
Acts – two months
Romans – three months
1 and 2 Corinthians – five months
Galatians – one month
Ephesians – one month
Philippians and Colossians- one month
1 and 2 Thessalonians – one month
1 and Timothy – one month
Titus and Philemon – one month
Hebrews – two months
James – one month
1 and 2 Peter, Jude – one month
1-3 John – one month
Revelation- three months

Posted in 3 Year NT Deep Dive | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A New Year, Not A Magic Eraser

Every year brings its challenges. Some years are harder than others, but one thing never changes, on New Years Eve everyone says great things about the coming year and on the following New Years Eve those same people talk about how hard the year was but declare that next year will be better.

A prophet will be positive on New Years Eve but when the word doesn’t happen, boy do they try to twist the day lights out of their false prophecy. I’ve really had a wakeup call concerning the prophetic movement but this post isn’t about that. This post is to encourage you to get out of the New Years Eve cycle. A new year isn’t a magic eraser. A new year doesn’t erase the bad of last year, it still happened and nothing is guaranteed to change just because the year changes.

The following year could be worse or it could be better. Regardless, our hope, our focus needs to stay on Jesus. Regardless of politics, personal problems, or other potential issues a Christian can be at peace regardless of what goes on around us.

As we enter a new year, read the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Contemplate them and read the Scriptures. Pick out one or two resolutions to make your own. Go into the new year with your eyes on Jesus, resolve to read and study the Scriptures and stand firm in faith.

Posted in Thoughts | Leave a comment

Tips for Reading Through the Bible in a Year

It’s getting close to the new year and that means many of us are thinking about reading through the Bible. Some have attempted it before and didn’t make it through and others are doing it again.  There is no magic formula or perfect plan to guarantee that you will make it all the way through the Bible but hopefully some of the things I share today will helpful as you progress through your reading next year.
Use a physical Bible.Even if you are using a plan on a Bible app, I still encourage you to use a physical Bible. Highlight, underline, make notes and write questions. Use a journal as you read so that you can interact with the text and let it speak to you, convict you, challenge you and transform you.

Same time, every day.

Some may say, my schedule is to erratic to read at the same time every day. This is why so many of us haven’t finished our reading plans in the past, we try to find the time every day instead of making the time at the very start. Pick the same twenty or thirty minutes everyday. That’s it, that’s your Bible reading time. Yes, many of us have to get up earlier or stay up later to get it done but our daily Bible reading requires it.

“Don’t get legalistic”

We’ve all heard it before, don’t be legalistic about Bible reading. Sounds nice, but maybe you do need some accountability. If you know you struggle with Bible reading or you are easily distracted you need to deal with that problem. If you get distracted by your phone, turn of notifications.

Pick your Bible and your plan

Some people do their Bible reading in their usual Bible, others will pick a new Bible to read through each year because it helps them read it like it’s the first time every year. There are many plans to choose from. Most Bibles will at least have one reading plan in them. You can do a simple search for Bible reading plans and even purchase one year Bibles. If you have never read through the Bible chronologically that may be of interest to you.

As you prepare to make this next year, THE YEAR you read through the Bible remember these words from Job 23:12 CSB “I have not departed from the commands from his lips; I have treasured the words from his mouth more than my daily food”. Jesus echoed this sentiment in Matthew 4:4 CSB ” He (Jesus) answered, it is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” [Deuteronomy 8:3]. We don’t miss meals, but if we do we make sure we get a snack at some point, yet we can go days and even weeks without noticing the effects of not reading our Bible. This may be hard to hear but something isn’t right in the life of a Christian who can miss days of Bible reading and not be bothered by it. We have so gotten in the habit of calling conviction by the name condemnation that many don’t recognize it as the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

If you struggle with Bible reading; finding the time, being interested, or being bored in certain parts of Scripture, take time to pray today. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with love for God’s Word and a desire to read it. Read a section of Psalm 119 every day for ninety days. Pray every time before you read that you will have insight and understanding of that days reading. Find someone to be accountable to, journal your thoughts after each reading. Let your reading lead to studying things of interest to you. Let this next year be the year you enjoy the Word of God as it feeds your spirit every day.

Posted in Bible Reading and Study Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reflecting on the Center

A few days ago I posted a short devotional thought on social media. It was based on Luke 2:14 CSB “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!” I titled that post, He is our shepherd, Angels appeared to shepherds , and He gives us shepherds. This Christmas I have been reminded of and drawn into the story of Jesus’s birth in a way I never have been before. This morning I was thinking about that as I prayed. I wondered, could it be making such an impact on me because I walked away from false teaching this year? Is it hitting me in such a way because I wrote short posts covering different elements of the story? Whatever the reason, all I know is that I always want Jesus to be at the forefront of my thoughts like He has been this month.

Matthew 1:18-25 CSB “The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.”

Let’s pause and just take that in. Take time this week during all the festivities to reread the story several times in Matthew one and two and Luke one and two. Let the majesty of the Christmas story impact your heart. Take time to read Luke’s gospel in these next six days. Reading four chapters a day you will read the entire life of Christ. It’s easy during this season to think about Jesus for a little bit and get distracted but this year, by God’s grace, Jesus has remained the focus. I’m sure studying through the New Testament beginning in October helped and I am looking forward to the rest of that journey that will take me into November of 2023.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram I invite you to do so if you would like to keep up with my New Testament journey. In 2021 I will begin posting notes on the blog from my book by book studies as well as sharing more details as to the process of walking away from the Charismatic Movement. I also plan on sharing reflections from the Psalms, starting book reviews, and having an ongoing thought thread based on insights from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian religion. I pray you have a blessed and Merry Christmas and I look forward to what is ahead in 2021 on the blog.

One more thing, if you haven’t picked a Bible reading plan for next year, now is the time to do it. I’ve been a big fan of the He Reads Truth Bible the last couple of months. It has two reading plans in it. The MacArthur Study Bible also has a one year morning and evening reading plan. You can always head to your local bookstore and get a new Bible for the new year. You can also find plenty of reading plans on your Bible app, but I still recommend reading in a physical Bible. Set aside a specific time each day to read. Ignore distractions, Take notes, write down questions, journal and enjoy time reading and studying God’s Word.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Joy to the World

Luke 2:26-38 CSB “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said, Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised. For my eyes have seen your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples — a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel. His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary, “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — and a sword will pierce your own soul — that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Every day when I reread the Christmas story for these short posts and every day I am amazed all over again at the intricacies of God’s plan and all that happened in these four chapters. Today I want to encourage you to ponder the words of Simeon’s praise and Anna’s testimony. These two individuals were devout and the Spirit of God filled them with praise at the sight of their Savior.

During the year I think we can all have a tendency to fall into the normal routine of a chapter a day and praying as you drive to work. Some Christians fall out of Bible reading and prayer altogether at some point during the year. Let this Christmas season be the thing that kickstarts your Bible reading and prayer life going into the new year. Simeon and Anna longed to see the Savior and we long to see Him return.

Ponder the beauty, the miracles, the glory of Jesus during this season of celebrating His birth. Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Shepherd’s and Wise Men

The text of the Christmas story is found in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke. In Matthew the story of the wise men is told and in Luke the story of the shepherds is told. These two stories demonstrate the truth that Jesus came for all classes. There is no partiality with God. That’s why Scripture says there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free in the kingdom of God. Sure we are still our ethnicities, we still have different social classes but in God’s kingdom those things don’t define us.

Lowly shepherds heard the angels and wise men saw a star. God lead them to seek the Christ child and seek him they did. On this ninth day of December take time to read the four chapters of the account of our savior’s birth. Thank him for saving you. If you haven’t already found a Bible reading plan for next year, start looking for one. Many Bibles have reading plans in the back. I know we’re all about our phones but consider reading a physical Bible and keep the distraction of a dinging phone at bay.

Today, think about what it means for the son of God to take on the nature of humanity, to be born as a baby. To be fully God and fully man, to perform miracles, be tempted in all points and to give his life as a ransom for many. That is the beauty of this season, that is good news every day of the year. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Zechariah’s Prophecy

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah. We know that John was the last and greatest prophet to prepare the way. At the naming of John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit filled his father and he prophesied.

Luke 1: 67-79 CSB “Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and provided redemption for his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, just as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets in ancient times; salvation from our enemies and from the hand of those who hate us. He has dealt mercifully with our ancestors and remembered his holy covenant — the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant that we, having been rescued from the hand of our enemies, would serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness in his presence all our days. And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I wonder what people hearing that thought? More importantly, how do we respond to that reading it today? We have the benefit of having the whole story in our hands. We have the ability to study the Scriptures and connect the New Testament to it’s Old Testament foretelling.

The beginning of Zechariah’s prophecy deals with the history of Israel but verses seventy six and seventy seven is where it gets interesting, ” And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” Every God called prophet in the Old Testament pointed forward to Jesus. Every God called Apostle in the New Testament pointed back to Jesus.

John said, behold, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. John said, he must increase and I must decrease. Zechariah prophesied that John was to prepare the way, he didn’t draw people to himself. He baptized them unto repentance and pointed to Jesus.

Let everything about this Christmas season point to Jesus. Let the tree, the lights, the cookies, the presents, let everything point to Jesus.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mary: A Woman Trusting God

“But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them”. Luke 2:19

From Gabriel’s announcement, to Joseph’s dreams, to John the Baptist leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, to the shepherds. Can you imagine what was going through Mary’s mind all that time? Mary treasured all these things in her heart, she thought about them constantly.

Obviously, we are not Mary but all throughout Scripture we are told to meditate and study God’s Word. (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119, Proverbs 3-4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Mary pondering on all the things that happened is what brought about a situation that happened later in Jesus’s life.

John 2:1-11 CSB “On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.” “Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants. Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained twenty or thirty gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the headwaiter.” And they did. When the headwaiter tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from — though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are drunk, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”

It’s interesting to note that Jesus said it wasn’t His time, yet He did this, I believe, for Mary. Scripture tells us that Jesus only did and said what the Father did. God knew Mary had been pondering many things in her heart. She wasn’t pushy, she simply had been trusting God for years and God rewarded her faithfulness.

Mary was a humble servant who trusted God. She, like all people in the Bible are an example for us. This Christmas season, follow the example of Mary and ponder the meaning of the Christmas story.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Joseph: A Man Lead by God

There are three instances during the Christmas story where Joseph, the husband of Mary is lead by God. The Christmas story is supernatural at every turn. Why? Because it is the most important event in history and God is going to get the worlds attention.

Not much is said about Joseph in Scripture but we do know that he is a godly and obedient man and that is seen in his part of the Christmas story.

Matthew 1:18-24 CSB “The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.”

Joseph was a good man and was even going to honor Mary by divorcing her privately. Joseph’s personal reputation was on the line, but when the angel appeared to him he obeyed the instruction to take Mary as his wife. This is a theme in the life of Joseph, to not hesitate and to be obedient. We see this when he is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt and when he is told to return to Nazareth.

Stop and think about the trust Joseph had to have in God and the trust Mary had to put in Joseph as they went through a census, fleeing to Egypt and returning to Nazareth. Joseph and Mary were obedient and trusted during very difficult circumstances. They raised Jesus well and at twelve they found him in the temple asking and answering questions and astonishing the teachers of Israel.

Every part of the Christmas story hinged on each other. For the prophecies to come to pass God preordained a plan that included Joseph, Mary, wise men, shepherds, Zechariah, Elizabeth and others. Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, came into the world at Christmas time, in part because of the obedience of Joseph.

As we celebrate the season let us think upon every detail and rejoice in the amazing plan of God.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mary, Elizabeth and the Ultimate Christmas Gift

Luke 1:39-56 CSB “In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!” And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and his name is holy. His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; he has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he spoke to our ancestors. And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.”

Nothing is said in the Bible about John or Jesu’s childhood, outside of the incident in the Temple when Jesus was twelve. Nothing much is said about Mary and Elizabeth’s visit and there is no need to speculate past what is written in the text because it is pretty exciting even with little detail.

The first thing I notice is John the Baptist leaping in the womb when Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice. That is just one of the coolest things to me, that John leaped in the womb tells us just how alive babies are. The next thing we read is Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit! At this time the Holy Spirit has only rested on a few individuals for a specified time period, here Elizabeth is FILLED with the Spirit long before the day of Pentecost. Three verses in to the passage and we’re already seeing amazing things. That’s what I love about the Christmas story and all of the Bible, we see God working in the extraordinary and the ordinary from beginning of the Bible all the way to the end. One of my favorite Old Testament stories is Esther. It’s the only book where God is not mentioned, yet, we can see Him working all throughout the book.

So many times we can fall into the trap of needing a sign or for someone to confirm something when all we really need to do is trust God. Remember Mary’s response to the Angel? Absolute trust and after the story of Jesus birth we see no more angelic guidance in their life and they weren’t looking for it. Angels ministered to Jesus after His being tempted in the wilderness but that’s the only time we see them show up for Him.

Mary and Elizabeth had the most extraordinary event in human history happen to them yet, look how normal their lives were and look at the simplicity of Mary’s praise. Instead of looking for a sign or waiting for something spectacular; pray, read your Bible, trust God and be at peace.

We have seen many spectacular things in the last five days and we will see many more over the next week as we continue looking at the Christmas story. But remember, as spectacular as the Birth of Jesus is, the ultimate purpose of His birth was His death and resurrection. The purpose of the life of Jesus was so that redemption could be accomplished and applied to us. Every spectacular thing in the Old Testament pointed forward to Jesus. Every miracle and sign Jesus did was to validate his fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Every miracle in the book of Acts was to validate the message of Jesus.

Romans 5:6-11 CSB “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.”

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Response to the Message

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is the different responses Zechariah and Mary had to the Angel. One wondered how can I know this, the other wondered how can this be. It may not seem like much of a difference but the responses are night and day when it comes to believing a message from God.

First we will look at Zechariah’s encounter with the Angel and then we will see how Mary responded. Luke 1:11-20 CSB “An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.” “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen. You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.””

Luke 1:28-38 CSB “And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth — even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “See, I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.”

Zechariah was a priest before God. Mary was a godly woman. Zechariah was deeply familiar with the things of God. Mary had a simple trust in God. Zechariah’s response to the pronouncement has always puzzled me. He says, “how can I know this” and I’m like dude, an angel is standing in front of you as you are ministering before God and you ask how you can know this?! You know the story of Abraham and Sarah yet you don’t see how God could cause Elizabeth to become pregnant?! It’s baffling to me.

I don’t really know why I’m so baffled, don’t we do the same kind of thing all the time on much lesser issues? Now look at Mary, she asks a reasonable question, “how can this be because I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?” Zechariah had no reason to question something he had record of God doing before. Mary however asked a legitimate question. The Angel answered her question and said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done unto me according to your word”.

Now that is faith! The answer made no logical sense yet she received it and believed it.

Every year their different responses to God’s message causes me to ponder how I have responded to God’s Word that year. This year God by the illumination of the truth in His Word set me on a solid path in His Word and as I will be studying the New Testament over the next three years I am confident that the Holy Spirit will keep me within the bounds of the Word of God.

Take some time today and reflect on Zechariah and Mary’s responses. Examine your own obedience to the written word of God. What areas have you questioned God’s truth and what areas have you been faithful to? Are there things you need to repent of, work on, and continue to grow in? If your Bible reading hasn’t been what you’ve wanted it to be this year, start making a plan for next year now. Start getting  in the rhythm of daily reading now so that you are ready for January.

Evaluate, take inventory, make changes and enjoy this wonderful Christmas season.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

God Prepares The Way

When we think of the Christmas story we tend to think of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. We may throw in a couple shepherds and three wise men. But how many of us think of John the Baptist as part of the Christmas story? We know that John the Baptist says repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, but what does that have to do with the Christmas story?

Luke 1:5-17 “In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years. When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.””

John prepared the way for Jesus and God made away for John the Baptist. There are some interesting things to note in this passage of Scripture, one, Elizabeth was unable to conceive. Mary conceived as a virgin and Elizabeth conceived as an old woman. Just stop and think about the miracles here for a moment. The Christmas story is full of miracles; from these two births, the star, the census, the warning dreams, our God is amazing.

There is nothing normal about the Christmas story because it is the greatest event in all of human history and God wants to get our attention and when God wants your attention, He gets it! Stop and think about all the supernatural events in the Bible. There were not an abundance of them but when God needed to make a point, He could do it in a big way. He doesn’t need to do that anymore, He got the worlds attention through the giving of His son and we have the written word of God that contains all the signs we need. Take some time to thank God for His goodness throughout history and in your own life.

One last thing about having this passage, John the Baptists father was a priest, yet John was in the wilderness. John should have been a priest but God had greater plans for him. Plans so great that Jesus said he was the greatest prophet of all time. Why was he the greatest prophet? Because he was the last prophet. Jesus is here and in the last days God speaks by His son.

When we stop and think about the different aspects of the Christmas story we begin to see just how amazing it is. Have a great day today and rejoice in the marvelous works of our God.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Prophecies of Jesus’s Birth

  • This morning I sat down to begin reading the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke so I could begin outlining our journey through the Christmas story and the quoted prophecies in Matthew chapters one and two caught my attention, so I started outlining the prophecies. As I turned to Luke I found that the work was already done for me. There is a chart of Prophecies of Jesus’s Birth in my He Reads Truth Bible, which I highly recommend and for the ladies, there is a She Reads Truth edition.Yesterday we looked at how the whole Bible is about Jesus. Today we are going to take a closer look at that truth through the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus birth.

    While there are thirteen prophecies on the chart in the Bible, we will only be looking at the three directly mentioned in Matthew. The first prophecy comes as Joseph is considering leaving Mary. Matthew 1:20-24 “But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.”

    The prophecy quoted in verse twenty-three is from Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See the virgin shall conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” I love this. God with us! Jesus came to redeem us, to atone for our sins, and to bring us back into right relationship with God. God’s plan from the beginning was to redeem us and He had it prophesied in advance so that they would know it was coming and the New Testament quotes the Old Testament so we would know that redemption is true!

    In Matthew 2:6 the wise men sought Jesus because of a prophecy found in Micah 5:2 “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity from ancient times”.

    There are a few interesting things we learn from this prophecy. One major thing is that the teachers in Israel didn’t see Him as Messiah because Jesus is from Nazareth. Look at the providence of God at work, the king calls for a counting of the people requiring everyone to return to their hometowns. It just so happens that Mary was pregnant at the time and delivered Jesus while she was in Bethlehem! God watches over His Word and performs every last detail.

    Even though the wise men are in the nativity, they were not present at the birth of Jesus. The star stayed in the sky as a sign of where the Savior was. God does not hide himself from us, on the contrary, He searches us out. He calls us to himself. The Christmas story is filled with the grace and love of God at every turn. You may have noticed the prophecy ended with the words, “His origin is from antiquity from ancient times”. John tells us that in the beginning was the word and that the word became flesh. The birth, life, death and resurrection was the point of history from before time began. What an awesome God we serve.

    After the wise men didn’t return Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt fulfilling another prophecy found in Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I have called my son.” As they made it safely to Egypt King Herod ordered the murder of boys two years old and younger. Does this remind you of Pharaoh murdering Jewish boys? The devil tried to kill Moses, the deliverer of Israel and he tried to kill Jesus, the Savior of us all but the enemy cannot upend the plan of God.

    I pray that just looking at a few of these prophecies you have been encouraged. Encouraged in the love of God, in your trust in God’s Word and encouraged as you celebrate Jesus all month long. Read Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 several times this month. Reflect on the birth of Jesus and all it means for you. The son of God stepped out of Heaven and entered this sin filled world to redeem you and I! It truly is a season of joy.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Message of the Bible

Isaiah 9:6 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

The whole Bible points to Jesus. From the fall in the garden God said the Son would strike the head of the enemy of our souls all the way to The Revelation of Jesus Christ and every page in between, the Bible is about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Every year at this time we come to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Many of our churches will be doing advent devotions, some of us will read a chapter of Luke each day. On this first day of December I want to remind us all that the Old Testament prophets spoke of His birth and that the Holy Spirit points us not to Himself but back to the person, work and teachings of Jesus.

During these next twenty-five days let’s make a commitment to get to know Jesus better. We all know the story of His birth but let’s study it deeply this month. Look at all the characters; from Zechariah to the wise men who came two years later. That’s something to think about isn’t it? The star that directed them was visible for two years, showing the way to the redeemer.

Join me for the next twenty-four days as we take an in depth look at the wonderful story of the birth of our Savior. I pray this time will be a blessing to you and that you have a wonderful Christmas season with family and friends.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thankful for Church & Spiritual Growth

The last few months I have been attending a small Baptist church. It has been such a refreshing experience. I have learned so much in this last year as the Holy Spirit lead me out of the Word of Faith and Prophetic Movements and the church has been a great place for me.

As I’ve been attending this church where there’s no great stage production with lights, huge video screens and the latest music, I have been refreshed by the hymns and older contemporary music from my childhood. The people are friendly and began treating me like part of the church family from the beginning. Both Sunday and Wednesday nights are dedicated to studying through a book of the Bible. Sunday School is great and so is men’s Bible study.

The last two Sunday’s I’ve so impacted by the Sunday School lessons and the songs we sang in church just magnified the lesson. The messages have been on thankfulness, and oh how thankful I am that I found First Baptist Church.

As I reflect back over this year and how much God stripped away from me, all things I thought were true, I began realizing how much wrong I overlooked as I embraced wrong teachings. I would rationalize things and say well, I don’t believe Jesus suffered in Hell, I’ll just pay attention to the faith and healing teachings. I don’t believe in the courts of heaven stuff but I’ll listen to the other things. It was hard for me to realize how these kind of things interconnected to the rest of the teachings.

This month I started a three year process of studying through the New Testament. I started in James and I am already learning so much. It is amazing how alive the Word becomes when you study it verse by verse. I’m also reading biographies and doctrine books that are helping me to continue to undo the false understandings I had. The grace of God is amazing to me. My way of thinking and go to responses are changing quickly and I am settled again in the simplicity of the gospel and the sufficiency of Scripture.

I’m looking forward to reading through the Bible next year with a new set of spiritual lenses. 2020 has been a great year of spiritual growth for me and I pray it has been for you as well. Enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow and if your Thanksgiving looks different this year I pray the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit will surround you as you thank God for His goodness and grace in your life.

Posted in Seasonal Messages | Leave a comment