Archive | March, 2013

Biblepalooza – Group Bible Reading

March 31, 2013



That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. –  2 Timothy 3:17


As I write this, I am still fresh from a Bible reading experience I wanted to share with you.

At my church, we have been experimenting with extended Bible reading sessions. We call it Biblepalooza because we totally go for it and read through large portions of the Bible in one sitting. So far we have met twice and read large portions of Scripture as a group. Several of the men take turns reading aloud while the rest of the group follows along. Since the main goal of this site is to develop Bible reading skills and habits, I have given a lot of thought to the impact this has had on the participants and some tweaks I would recommend to another group that wants to try it.

Length of Session

By extended session, I mean we read for hours at a time. The first time we started around 6 on a Friday evening and read until after 1 am. The reading included Luke, Acts, Hebrews and selections from Daniel, Psalm 119 and Isaiah 53. The second time (today) we read through the Minor Prophets (Hosea – Malachi) and it took a little less than four hours.

I know you think I’m going to say that the shorter session was better. It was easier for sure, but in all the important ways, the longer session was the better one.

There is something about God’s word that just doesn’t happen with short, bite sized daily devotional readings. When complete books of the Bible are read at a time, without comment, without stopping, in context – it moves you! I want to think that the followers of this site are veracious Bible readers, but when was the last time you sat and read an entire book in one sitting? When comparing the shorter session today with the previous one – I was left wanting more. Once we got going, I was entirely focused and hearing each and every word. I wasn’t ready to stop so soon once I reached that state of mind.

It only makes sense – most people who read novels for fun, read for hours at a time. It would be difficult to follow a murder mystery in 10 minute sessions.

Bible Version

I know everyone has a favorite version, but it is very important to choose one version and everyone use it for this exercise. That state of mind I was just talking about above is very fragile and disappears when the reader’s text doesn’t agree with yours. We had this happen in both of our sessions and I noticed the restlessness of the group almost immediately. I was lucky enough to have a matching version loaded in my Kindle both times, but not so for everyone. We used the NKJV and had very good results from it in terms of the ability of the readers to read aloud smoothly and crisply.

Comments and Section Headings

Be sure to make this a pure reading session of God’s word. The NKJV and others have introductions to each book, section headings, and other such distractions, but they are not part of the Bible. When doing a Bible study these tools are fine. When doing a straight reading these things are intrusions on the Spirit’s communication to us.

Commentary by the readers is tempting, especially among the experienced Bible teachers. It is in our nature to make sure your students are getting what they are being taught. I promise you there is no need for it in a session like this. When totally immersed in the purity of God’s word, comments from outside of it are nothing short of abrasive. Once again, it is definitely a distraction to that special state of mind.

As we do more sessions, I’ll add to this write-up any new thoughts or ideas I have, but don’t wait on that. Get started and plan your own reading soon!

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The Good Wife

March 30, 2013

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1 Corinthians 7 gives a general outline of how marriage works by God’s rules along with some good advice by Paul.

The Proverbs writer gave us the blueprint for the kind of woman to look for and to be. The “Proverbs 31 Woman” is the backbone of her family and Christian men would do well to look for her.

The Good Wife

10 It is hard to find a good wife,
because she is worth more than rubies.
11 Her husband trusts her completely.
With her, he has everything he needs.
12 She does him good and not harm
for as long as she lives.
13 She looks for wool and flax
and likes to work with her hands.
14 She is like a trader’s ship,
bringing food from far away.
15 She gets up while it is still dark
and prepares food for her family
and feeds her servant girls.
16 She inspects a field and buys it.
With money she earned, she plants a vineyard.
17 She does her work with energy,
and her arms are strong.
18 She knows that what she makes is good.
Her lamp burns late into the night.
19 She makes thread with her hands
and weaves her own cloth.
20 She welcomes the poor
and helps the needy.
21 She does not worry about her family when it snows,
because they all have fine clothes to keep them warm.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
her clothes are made of linen and other expensive material.
23 Her husband is known at the city meetings,
where he makes decisions as one of the leaders of the land.
24 She makes linen clothes and sells them
and provides belts to the merchants.
25 She is strong and is respected by the people.
She looks forward to the future with joy.
26 She speaks wise words
and teaches others to be kind.
27 She watches over her family
and never wastes her time.
28 Her children speak well of her.
Her husband also praises her,
29 saying, “There are many fine women,
but you are better than all of them.”
30 Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you,
but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned;
she should be praised in public for what she has done.– Proverbs 31:10-31 NCV

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March 29, 2013

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Sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage is sin.

Straight. Gay. Whatever.

I tell you this because you need to know. It’s not because I hate you. It’s just because I love you enough to try and convince you before it’s too late.

I’m going to keep reminding you that God will turn his back on you if you keep doing these things. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:18-32 – Go ahead, read these. I’ll wait)

Even if you call me names for telling you, it doesn’t change what God said about it.

Of course, it doesn’t even matter how I feel about it – In the end it is between you and God.

There is a way back though. You can start by fleeing that lifestyle. (1 Corinthians 6:11-20)

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Forgetting How to Blush

March 28, 2013

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A glass of wine here. A cuss word there. A lottery ticket. Skip worship one Sunday. It starts to pile up fast.

Paul saw it first hand in Corinth. The church he planted was proud to be tolerant of some evil stuff. Didn’t they know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6) Little sins grow into bigger sins in a hurry. Sin can become so natural that we forget to be ashamed of it. (Jeremiah 6:15)

In your self, family or church, making a habit of avoiding the “little” sins will make the “big” sins non-existent.

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God First

March 27, 2013

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As the rebuilding of the wall is completed, Jerusalem is in a good mood. Their exile was over, their wall stood in full protection and the priesthood was functional. They began their service to God right away.

God has a way of blessing those who are thankful and focus their “day to day” around him first – worship isn’t just for Sunday. Philippians 4:6 says to ask for what we need but to do it with thankfulness for what we already have. From the beginning, God has expected us to credit him and depend on him – and in return, he takes care of the rest.

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Seed Sowers

March 26, 2013

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Paul was addressing a little problem of “preacher-itis” in 1 Corinthians 1 and again in 1 Corinthians 3. It still happens to some extent today – people following a preacher to the extent that they would leave a congregation to follow him to his next duty. Worse, some congregations have split over a preacher leaving.

Paul puts that idea in its place in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 with a seed sower metaphor and again with a foundation metaphor in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Ministers, which includes all Christians, are sowers and waterers. God gives the increase and reaps the harvest. We will answer in like kind for our labor (1 Corinthians 3:8)

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The Gospel Stands Alone

March 25, 2013

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The current trend in the world is for educated people to look down at those who teach the gospel. However, Paul was a student in Tarsus, a widely respected university, and even spent time “at the feet” of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, we see Paul snub the “excellency of speech or wisdom” in favor of the pure and simple Gospel. In fact even though he quotes a number of learned men in his letters (Aratus in Acts 17:28, Epimenides in Titus 1:12, Menander in 1 Corinthians 15:33), He considered that rubbish compared to the gospel.

If we are to follow the Apostles example (Philippians 4:9), we cannot be discouraged by “educated” folks, but depend on the testimony of God. Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 1:1 insinuates that the gospel didn’t depend on the conformity to the philosophy of the Greeks nor on the eloquence of its preachers. It depends only on God and he confirmed it with miracles.

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5 Typical Excuses Someone Will Use Today

March 24, 2013

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There are a few excuses for missing church that keep getting recycled.

Today I have an answer for them.

  1. Because no one invited you . . . People go to a lot of places uninvited, and even pay to get in. (Consider this your invitation!)
  2. Because of hypocrites . . . We associate with them in the world every day
  3. Because of company . . . Bring them along; they will admire you.
  4. Because you have little children . . . Jesus says, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me” (Matthew 19:14).
  5. Because you have plenty of time in the future . . . . . . Are you sure? (James 4:13-17).

See you in church today!

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3 Ways to Unity

March 23, 2013

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I’ve written previously about any church activity or teaching that doesn’t look the way the Apostles taught it. Keeping personal interest out of worship and Bible study is the only way to maintain unity. The Apostles gave us the example and pattern to follow and pass on. (2 Timothy 2:2, Philippians 4:9)

Paul began 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:10) with a discussion about following ideas and teachers but not God. The whole letter was, for the most part, a reprimand of the Corinthians for getting off track. Letting our own ideas or “What we think” get in the way of the Bible is the quickest way to send a church away from Christ and down a lost path.

So, how does a group of people maintain unity and ultimately remain in Christ? I’m glad you asked!

Here are three places to start:

  1. Read and study the Bible together
  2. Never begin a sentence with “I think …” or “I believe …” when discussing the Bible.
  3. Develop a willingness to discuss differences in understanding of the Scriptures.

Can you think of more?

The folks in Berea heard Paul speak and dug into the Scriptures to check out Paul’s teachings. (Acts 17:10-12) This is how to keep a church united and on track.

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The Lord’s Church

March 22, 2013

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Paul told the church to avoid those that cause divisions. (Romans 16:17)

Logically speaking, those that would do things to divide the church have only their own interest in mind. The Lord was interested in unity. (John 17:21) Paul made it very clear in several places in the New Testament. If your church doesn’t look like the church the Apostles worshipped in, it’s probably the result of a division somewhere along the line.

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

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What Doesn’t Kill Us…

March 21, 2013

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It is a shame how easy that Satan can get into the middle of the Lord’s work. Nehemiah faced rumors, backbiting and inside jobs but still managed to get the wall repaired around Jerusalem. The people knew he had the help of his God.

How can we be like Nehemiah?

  1. We do whatever it takes to get the Lord’s work done.
  2. We keep going even when the work gets difficult.

We’ll be stronger in the end.

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A Good Fight

March 19, 2013

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The Jews that could get back from the exile were ready to work and ready to build. They were following Nehemiah’s instructions to get the wall patched up and kept meeting resistance from their neighbors. So much so that the workers had to work with their swords close by. (Nehemiah 4)

Trying to do the right thing is easy until you add other people into the mix. If you try to do your best work, someone is close by to tell you why you will fail. Much like Nehemiah, you can even face outright aggression when you try to build something up.

Look what Peter and John did in Acts 4:23ff. They had healed a lame man and got jailed and beaten for their trouble. They went back to the others and told them what happened. The group went together in prayer, but didn’t ask to be delivered from the aggression. They asked for the boldness to face it and the strength to survive it.

I hope I can always fight the good fight like they did. I want to win the race like Paul. (2 Timothy 4:7)

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You Owe Me Your Love

March 18, 2013

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When Jesus gave the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) he was essentially giving us the cue to do no wrong to others and especially God.

The way Paul put it was that we aren’t to owe anyone anything except our love. (Romans 13:8) In he summed it up into a very nice equation:

Any Commandment (Romans 11:9) = “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” = The fulfilling of the law (Romans 9:10).

When you think about it, there just isn’t any sin you can commit that doesn’t hurt someone other than yourself (or at least put them at risk).

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5 Ways I’ll Worship in Church Today

March 17, 2013

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Worship service is not a time of entertainment or a social event. It is a time to direct out attention to God. Here are the five ways I worship as a New Testament Christian.

  1. Singing to God with grace in my heart. (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19)
  2. Praying with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6)
  3. Giving as I have purposed (planned) (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
  4. Communing with the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
  5. Teaching and Learning God’s word (Acts 10:42, Acts 20:7)
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A Short Biology Lesson

March 16, 2013

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Part of the message that Paul needed to tell the Gentiles in Rome was that they weren’t included in the Kingdom because of anything they did, but by God’s good grace. He will deal properly with those that fall and those that live in his image. His explanation from Romans 11:11-24 produced this timeless thought:

… remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. – Romans 11:18

So many ideas among the denominations are ones that this verse speaks to. God is told how he will be worshiped  God is told who is worthy of salvation. God is told what actions are sin. God, the root and supplier of life has told us, the branches, what is needed for life with him.

Are your daily decisions based on what God wants…

or something else?

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