I’ll never forget the first time Tom and I had the chance to go to the Northwest. We were in-flight when the pilot told us that we would be passing Mt. Rainier and to watch out our window for the spectacular view. There were other mountains below, and I kept thinking…is that it? Is that it? Until we actually saw it! I had no idea how large and beautiful Mt. Rainier was. What I was looking for was small and unimpressive compared to what this grand mountain was in reality.
How often do I treat God and His Word in the same way? I have expectations that are small in comparison to who God really is.
When I read through Genesis about Jacob with his two wives, Rachel and Leah. With all their jealousies, deceit and lies, I realized that God used these women – despite their ungodly competition to bring about God’s promises.
This is our God. He is bigger and more glorious than I know, and He uses us despite our sinful hearts to display His glory for a watching world. This is why we travel together on Route 66.
While we’re looking through the window of His Word we never know when His glory will fill our eyes in a way we never expected! And we will gasp in awe at how big our God is.
I recently made some bread, which is one of my favorite things to do. However, this time something was missing. The bread tasted flat. I remembered in all the cooking shows I enjoy that most likely the missing ingredient is salt. I wasn’t sure, but what could it hurt? After a few sprinkles on the warm buttered bread–Voila! Amazing difference in the taste, thus my enjoyment of the bread.
This morning after Tom and I read our Bible plan we felt we weren’t finished. Something was missing that was needed. We realized the salt we were needing was Worship!
Worship has a way of making the Bible come to life in our hearts, much like salt making the bread more enjoyable.
When was the last time you spent time alone or with your spouse worshiping God in your living room? We started with a song about the Goodness of God and His faithfulness to us. Then, continued with a song about being Gracefully Broken. Our surrender to God through worship cements the Word of God in our heart and makes us salty to a thirsty world.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” Matthew 5:13 ESV
This scripture always seemed hopeless to me, but after further study I’ve discovered it’s the exact opposite. Salt preserves through all sorts of trouble. This salt is sprinkled on us for our good and for the good of all who know us.
John Piper says of this same passage, “The immediate context of ‘You are the salt of the earth’ is ‘Blessed are you when you are persecuted…Rejoice and be glad…because your reward is great in heaven.’ When someone lives like this, it is so utterly unnatural and amazing and wonderful, it tastes really good. Joyful suffering for the sake of Christ is startling, spectacular, salty.”
Is something missing from your devotional time with the Lord? Try sprinkling some personal worship on your time with Him. It may be this was what was needed all along.
In our daily plan we read today of Paul taking the part of a fool by boasting about his qualifications “as a madman”. In 2 Corinthians 11:30 he shares a revelation…
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
This hits home to me today. Our family has been through a lot in recent years. It has left me feeling depleted and if I’m honest, discouraged. I see my weakness clearly. I am tempted to look back and wish things were as they were before life took this turn.
He faithfully reminds me where to place my focus (my word for 2023). My Father is saying He is highlighting my weaknesses in order for the power of God to be evident in any good fruit that may be produced through me.
This thought today came through reading my portion of scripture. It’s like I’m seeing my life from a different angle where God is at work.
He is our faithful God. His Word is alive and speaks to us in our weakness.
I kept reading into chapter 12 because Paul wasn’t finished making his point. in verse 9-10 he shares these well known verses…
“But he (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So today instead of being discouraged by the events in life, I will purpose to rejoice, in order that the testimony God is writing through hardships will result in praise and glory to our perfect God.
I hear him ask me often, “Can you trust me here?” Yes, I will because your strength in me, O Lord, makes it possible.
We are at the point where falling behind in our daily Bible reading is most likely. We are human and sticking to anything daily is difficult.
He loves to help us in our weakness to do what we can’t on our own. Talk to Him. Ask Him to help you, but more importantly—ask Him to speak to you. This is the prayer He loves to answer.
We have been facing the Covid beast for the first time. It’s been almost two weeks and I’ve been tempted to quit. Reading God’s Word is the one constant I can keep doing. Everything else is on hold, but this one thing I can choose to keep going.
We have 27 signed up this year to read God’s Word. Many I have not heard from since we began. But I continue to pray for your success.
I’m asking you to check in and let us know if you’re still pursuing this goal or if you’ve stopped. Either answer will find grace. God sees you. God knows you. And He has promised to complete the work He’s begun in you and in me. This is good news. We can’t mess it up!
I’m praying in my weakness that God will make us all strong for His glory. He chose us and He will lead us every day.
Please comment and let us know how it’s going from your view on this ancient road—Route 66.
This week I will share something God showed me through one of my daily readings.
I love that Luke repeats the genealogy of Jesus that Matthew did in his gospel. I am reminded that Christ came through many broken stories—like Tamar being treated so wrongly by her father-in-law. God gave her honor by putting her in the line of Jesus our Savior, but she did not know it. She only saw and experienced the mistreatment and abuse. How many of us will be amazed at the story God was writing through us that we can’t know now, but will one day in Heaven? God give us faith to trust you in the hard places with your eternal plan. This is what matters and how we stay true to You through all the dark valleys.
From my journal 2.17
This is my favorite part of daily reading the Bible. I never know when God will illuminate a passage with fresh application.
The story of Tamar is a sad one to be sure. But God. He makes all things beautiful in time, even if that time is in Heaven. I’m learning to wait for it with expectation not regret.
Our life has had many dark valleys in recent years, a granddaughter who nearly died from an unrecognized disease, my brother dying from Covid at 66, our grandson being born at 24 weeks and diagnosed with many physical disabilities, then fighting an aggressive cancer with this same sweet grandson. There is more but this is enough to point out that we have no idea why these things have happened as they have. It seems on a human level like too much to bear.
But if I consider Tamar and her hardship and apply God’s Word to my current struggles, it lifts my focus to eternity and the good God has stored up for those who endure.
Is it easy? No, it’s a daily battle to choose the right focus. God helps me in my weakness to do what I can’t do in my own strength.
What has God opened your eyes to see in His Word recently? Please share it with us. Let’s encourage each other.
Today I share a helpful post by my blogging friend, Michele Morin. She offers a metaphor I won’t soon forget and I hope you won’t either. Happy Sunday!
Bread dough the color of molasses yielded to the pressure of my working fist. Fold, press, turn, repeat, and soon I lost count of how many times I had kneaded the fragrant lump. With the recipe calling for three hundred repetitions, I began to wonder… Three hundred? Really?
Switching to the heel of my hand, I persevered. Eventually, I sensed a change in the texture and smooth elasticity as the gluten developed the necessary strands that would capture the gas bubbles created by the yeast, allowing the dough to stretch and expand as it rose.
Bread-makers want to create the conditions for the dough to rise, but we are completely helpless to make it happen on our own, so we trust the recipe. We follow the directions given.
Reading the Bible and kneading bread as purely physical acts could easily become sheer discipline, items on a never-ending checklist. However, viewed with an awareness of the invisible, life-giving force at work behind the scenes, I find that I am participating in something that is bigger than what I can see.
Follow the Recipe
Therefore, I will follow the teaching of God’s Word, because I am in relationship with its Author—not because I fear losing that relationship. I will persevere in the disciplines of the Christian life, because I am held in a hope that is based on strong promises—not because I am hoping that the disciplines themselves will hold me in the faith.
Needless to say, in the making of bread and in the practice of godliness, I will always be a beginner, mechanically counting the strokes as I knead (and then losing count); reading words of life at the dining room table, fitfully on some days and fervently on others.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, comes to us as we take the Living Word into our being in a way that changes us. God directed both Jeremiah and Ezekiel to eat Scripture, the Old Testament equivalent of the Bible. In the book of Revelation, John swallowed a scroll. Absorbing the truth into their cells and sinews, they imaged the necessity of assimilating God’s Words, taking them into the soul.
Propping a Bible on a couch pillow while I held a sleeping baby and cobbling together study time during naps eventually gave way to keeping a bag packed with Bible, pen, and notebook during the mini-van years. I reviewed Scripture memory projects in the middle school parking lot.
Later, I carried 3×5 cards in my pocket when I walked the dog. Today, I plant Post-it Notes in my planner and review memorized passages in the car on my way to work.
In a perfect world, a serious Bible student blocks out distractions and finds a regular time to meet with God daily. In a mother’s world, the serious student is responsible for keeping those “distractions” alive, so she perseveres in being flexible in every season.
My regular reading tends to focus on short passages read repetitively. For example, it might take me the better part of a year to make it through Proverbs, one chapter per week, but this year, I am reading through the Bible to gain an aerial view of the biblical landscape.
Study and meditation go together whenever I am preparing to teach. I read and seek to understand the words as they were received by the original audience. I consider how they relate to Jesus’s person and work, how they apply to the Captial C Church, and, finally, how to make personal application.
Immersion in Scripture is the foundation by which I resist temptation, cynicism, and passiveness. I declare that God owns my heart and create space for the Spirit of God to work in ways that are unseen and yet vital to the regular rhythm of relationship.
I long to know God, to walk in his ways and hear his voice, and he has made it clear that when I read and obey the Words of Scripture, I am obeying Him and making room for the Spirit to work in me. Therefore, I trust “the recipe.” I follow the directions given.
This post was originally published in 2013. Ten years and by God’s grace, I can still say the same. I’m praying for all of us to experience God through His Word this year, even if we fall behind schedule. Meeting with Him is the point, not checking off the days.
2023 is now in it’s second month. Time to check in and see if your journey is going along as planned.
I wake up nearly every morning eager to pick up my Bible and see what God wants to share with me on this day. I’ve found my enthusiasm didn’t come immediately. Instead it came slowly and surely after following the Lord’s lead in this one area for years. It’s like the Lord has stored up blessing for us in His Word, but we have to sit still long enough for it to be poured out on us.
Are you finding it easier to sit still and wait? Do you feel like His silence is His judgment?
The Truth is you will never experience God’s judgment in this way. He poured out all His wrath on Christ, so that we would be blessed–forever. What a Savior. He is the One who draws you by His Spirit to come and sit at His feet. He may speak or He may simply enjoy your company. It’s totally up to Him. But one thing is certain…if we don’t sit and wait, we’ll never know.
How is the view from your window this February morning?
2023 is now in it’s second month. Time to check in and see if your journey is going along as planned.
I told you last week that I would share a moment when the Holy Spirit led me on a trail that was unexpected. It doesn’t happen often, but because it is possible, it keeps me tuning in everyday to see what God will reveal to me next.
I was reading the familiar story about Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit. They had purposefully made a choice to disobey God for the purpose of gaining knowledge. They didn’t know this knowledge would come at such a cost.
There were consequences to their choices–one being this:
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
Genesis 3:19 ESV
I have often joked that it would be better if God had chosen weeds to be flowers, since they grow without help. When I read these verses I was convicted of my crass humor.
The weeds are a reminder of our sin. And my joking about it was in need of correction. I repented to God and thanked Him for the beauty of flowers. They are a grace produced despite the weeds that would try to choke them.
We live in a broken world. Something I’m reminded of daily whether it’s the news, a phone call with a friend or a debate started on social media. We are in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus came over 2,000 years ago to set us free, yet I am still tempted to grumble and complain like the Israelites–this side of the cross, no less.
Have you allowed the Holy Spirit time to correct you as you read your daily Bible? This isn’t a to-do list to say we did it! It is a personal time alone with the Lord who knows you and loves you most. Ask Him before each daily reading to reveal Himself to you in what you read. He loves to answer such prayers.
I recently heard of someone who was desperate to hear from God. They even offered a prayer for proof that God was in the direction they were going. They asked God to allow a deer to pass by as they were driving–then they added, “Make it a buck!”
To their surprise before the day was done, a buck walked in front of their car–looked at them and walked away. God loves to answer our cries for help, hope and direction. Even when we are doing mundane tasks like pulling weeds. I will forever thank God for His mercy and the beauty of flowers when I pull weeds from my garden.
I encourage you to keep going. We are just getting started on this journey down Route 66–the ancient road–which is full of encouragement and truth.
We all know the benefit of breakfast. It feeds our bodies with strength for the day ahead. So it is with God’s Word.
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 ESV
Just a couple of weeks in and you may not be feeling the joy and delight. You may be skipping a day here or there already. Discouragement can follow. I know this because I’ve been there.
What do we do when this happens?
Realize it is a temptation that needs to be resisted. Reading the Bible is a privilege given to all mankind. Understanding what we read each morning is a gift sent to us by the Holy Spirit.
But what if you don’t understand what you’ve read?
Pay attention to parts that make you confused or curious. Then go to a reputable commentary on the internet* and search that scripture. I call these Spirit trails since you end up going somewhere you didn’t expect or plan to go. This is where reading the Bible comes alive!
If you’ve not tried this before I encourage you to do so. I will share one of my recent Spirit trails in the next post. If you’ve had one already please share what you discovered with us.
Let’s start this week off encouraging each other! Visit our private Facebook page to share.
May God bless every minute you spend seeking to know Him more.
Bible Gateway – provides many different commentaries from which to choose
One week in and I think we’re off to a great start. If you’re already behind please, please don’t be discouraged. It’s to be expected that life will hit us in unexpected ways. The thing is to resolve to not let anything stop you from continuing to read the Bible.
We subscribe to Desiring God ministries, and we often receive articles to speak to an area where we may be struggling. Today’s was no exception. We want to share it with you. We’ve reprinted it below, but you can also click on this link to listen to it read. Whichever works best for your attention span. You can even listen and read as Tom likes to do.
Here is the article in its entirety. Have a blessed Sunday as we gather together to hear the Word of God preached. Such a needed means of grace.
Some of us fall out of Bible reading because we fail to make time for it. Busyness crowds out the minutes we might otherwise give to sitting and hearing from God. There’s always something that didn’t get done yesterday or something relatively urgent that’s come up today. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it, just how many things in our little worlds seem to trump listening to the one who made them all?
For others, it’s not busyness that gets the best of us, but a subtle cynicism about reading the Bible. How am I ever going to understand this? It’s hard to keep getting up extra early and setting aside precious minutes when you’re not convinced you’ll be able to make sense of what you see, when you might finish and strangely feel further from God, when you’re chasing a full heart morning after morning and yet often walk away just scratching your head.
If you’ve felt that way before, you’re not alone. In fact, even the men who wrote the Bible know something of what you feel. The apostle Peter says of the letters Paul wrote, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). Think about that: Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote books in the Bible, and yet even he struggled to read Romans or Thessalonians (or whatever particular letter he had in mind). If he could write on behalf of God and have a hard time understanding Scripture, we shouldn’t be surprised if we do too.
And I, for one, definitely do. I’ve battled to get through the census records in Numbers. I’ve labored through the kidneys, livers, and “entrails” of the Levitical laws. I’ve grown weary of the repetitive failures of Israel in 1–2 Kings. I’ve sometimes struggled to see what Hebrews sees in the Old Testament. Much of the imagery of Revelation is still a mystery to me. And so, I regularly find these clear and accessible words from Paul all the more meaningful and encouraging:
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)
Understanding Is Possible
This is an amazing acknowledgment from Paul to Timothy. He says, in essence, “I know some of what I am writing won’t make sense to you immediately, and you’ll be tempted to think you cannot understand it — but you can. So, don’t give up too easily. Don’t assume this is above you. Assume that God can make his words clear to you.”
Those apart from Christ cannot understand the things of God. They flip through the Bible’s majesty and wisdom in vain. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). But not you. If you’re in Christ, you can see things that they can’t. You can understand things that they can’t. Where they see foolishness and irrelevance, you see unspeakable beauty, a radiant window into reality. Not because you’re smarter or more educated or merely a better reader, but because you’re not a natural person anymore; you’re a supernatural you, with a supernatural mind and heart and eyes.
“Because you’re someone new, you can understand more of the Bible than you might think.”
Or as Paul says elsewhere of natural people, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). But not you. You’re not alienated from God anymore. Through the cross, he’s brought you near, and in bringing you near, he’s softened your heart and unlocked your mind. The God who flooded all creation with light “has shone in [your] heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). That’s who you are when you open the Bible.
And because you’re someone new, you can understand more of the Bible than you might think.
Not only can you understand more than you think, but the apostle goes even further: “ . . . the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” If God lives in you, nothing in the Bible is above you — not the genealogies of Numbers, or the sacrificial laws of Leviticus, or the prophetic visions of Ezekiel, or the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation. With God, all are within your reach.
Lest we think Paul’s talking only about the verses immediately before this one, he comes back to the same reality in the very next chapter: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). As much of the Bible that has been breathed out by God — all of it! — that much is now profitable for you. Even on the most obscure, most confusing pages, God means to teach you, to exhort you, to correct you, to train you, to equip you — he means to speak to you.
“Even on the most obscure, most confusing pages, God means to teach you.”
Before any of that can happen, however, we first have to understand what God is saying — which is exactly where God promises to help us: “The Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
Varied Means of Understanding
None of this means we just sit alone with our Bibles until we understand everything. No, God gives the gift of understanding in a hundred different ways. Remember, most Christians in the history of the world didn’t own a Bible (much less carry it with them everywhere in their pockets). They depended on the regular reading and reciting of Scripture in community. From the first church to today, believers have depended on faithful teachers to rehearse, explain, and model the words of God for them.
And God has multiplied pathways to understanding in our day — first and foremost through our local churches, but then through messages, articles, books, study Bibles, online courses, commentaries, podcasts, and more. So understanding may come in any number of ways. The point here, however, is that you really can understand what’s in this book — everything that’s in this book, Paul says.
Now, to say that we can understand everything in the Bible is not to suggest that we will understand everything immediately and fully. We won’t — and certainly not the first (or second or even tenth) time through. God can give us understanding in every passage without giving us understanding of every partof a passage. He also often chooses to give understanding, not immediately, but over years or even decades. As we keep reading (and living), familiar verses will emerge with new or deeper meaning and relevance. Some questions will be answered slowly. So don’t expect to understand everything now, but expect to understand something now — and then more tomorrow.
Up until now, we’ve seen only that we can understand more than we may assume. You should be asking how. What makes this kind of supernatural reading possible? How do the lights come on?
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
On our own, we can’t understand the Bible. If God leaves us alone with this book, it wouldn’t be worth getting up early, pouring more hours in, and pressing through difficult verses and chapters. We would search and ask and wrestle in vain. But if it’s God who makes things clear, then he can overcome our limitations and blind spots. You can understand the Bible because God will give you understanding. When you read, he’s not just over your shoulder; he’s inside of you — in your eyes, your mind, your heart — showing you what you’d never see on your own.
The one who reveals himself in the Bible wants to make himself clear. He’s not content to have divinely inspired words on the page; he wants them written on our hearts. He wants to see understanding, and satisfaction, and transformation — and so he won’t leave you alone with your Bible. This may be why Paul ends the letter the way he does: “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you” (2 Timothy 4:22). We need the present, spiritual help of God in all we do all the time, and especially in understanding his word.
This understanding, however, doesn’t float down from the clouds and land softly on our heads. No, God gives the gift of understanding through the hard work of reading well. This verse demands almost as much as it promises: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” This won’t come easily, Timothy. Yes, God is the one who gives understanding, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to work for it.
Isn’t it strange that some of us hear that God sovereignly gives understanding, and we assume that means we need to do less? Satan teaches this kind of calculus all year round (and not just in Bible reading).
No, 2 Timothy 2:7 is far more like God’s words to Joshua before Israel entered the promised land:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8–9)
“I will be with you” didn’t mean “You won’t have to fight.” Along with his promise of help and protection, God gave Joshua a charge: “Be strong and courageous.” Fight all the harder because you know I’ll fight with you and for you.
So, when you open your Bible, be strong and courageous. God will be with you wherever you read. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated. Think harder and longer because you know the Lord loves to give you understanding.