Categories
Bible

Bible Reading Plans

The Annual New Testament Reading Plan is now available. 

Read the New Testament in a year (only 3 to 4 minutes a day, Monday – Friday only)

Other reading plans to consider, include:

  • Read the Old Testament in a year (about 10 to 12 minutes a day)
  • Read the Entire Bible in a year (about 12 to 15 minutes a day)
  • Monthly reading plans (only 3 to 4 minutes a day)

The least effective way to read the Bible is to start on page 1 and read straight through to the end.  The different sections, or “books,” of the Bible are grouped by category more so than in chronological order, so a sequential reading is somewhat disconcerting.

If this is your first time reading the Bible, we recommend starting with the New Testament.  If that seems a bit overwhelming, check out the monthly reading plans.  (Save the Old Testament and entire Bible plans for later.)

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Which Gospel Should I Read?

The Bible contains four separate accounts of the life of Jesus; they are called Gospels.  The question is often asked, “Which one should I read first?”  That is hard to answer, as each one has its own strengths:

Matthew

The Gospel written by Matthew does much to connect Jewish history and understanding to the life of Jesus.  It is great as a bridge from the old to new testaments of the Bible and for those interested in better seeing the connections between Judaism and Christianity (and the connection is strong and significant).

Mark

The Gospel written by Mark is the shortest and most concise.  It is a great source to quickly gain an essential understanding of who Jesus is and what he did.

Luke

The Gospel written by Dr Luke contains details and information not included by Matthew and Mark, serving to nicely round out and fill in our understanding of Jesus.  (The second chapter of Luke contains the familiar Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.

Even if you’ve never read Luke, you have likely heard the Christmas story, as recited by Linus in the popular animated TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”)

John

Last, but not least, is the Gospel written by John.  It contains more unique content than the other three accounts.  John was a disciple of Jesus and part of the inner circle, so he was an eyewitness to what he recorded.

His writing is poetic in nature and is great for those who want to mull over and contemplate what he says (and conversely frustrating for readers in a hurry).

Conclusion

Each account has its particular purpose and strength.  Pick the one that seems best for you to read first — then read the other three!

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Jesus was Homeless

In this Christmas season our thoughts turn more intentionally and more frequently to Jesus, the reason for this annual celebration.

In consideration of the first Christmas, my thoughts are warm and cozy, happy and joyous, and idyllic and serene, with angels singing, kings bearing gifts, and happily contented shepherds shepherding.  This is all true, but one reality is often overlooked.

Jesus was homeless.

Jesus was born in someone else’s barn, amid unsanitary conditions and with the stench of animal feces permeating the air.  It seems unholy and unworthy, but that’s how it was.

Not only was Jesus born homeless, his early childhood was homeless as well, living an intenerate life as his parents fled to Egypt to save him from a premature execution.  Even when it was safe to return, they did not go to their hometown, but instead settled in Nazareth.

His ministry has also marked by homelessness, traveling from place to place with no home or a “place to lay his head.”  So it was when he was arrested, tried, and executed: homeless.

With this in mind, wouldn’t Christmas be a great time to do something in memory of him for the homeless?

[See Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-23, and Luke 9:58.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

The Wicked Acts of Sodom and Gomorrah

Even if you’ve not read the Bible, you have likely heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities God destroyed for their extreme wickedness.

The account of this is found in Genesis, chapters 18 and 19.  In this text, the sexual depravity of the men of Sodom is portrayed. Despite that, it does not explicitly say that their sexual predilections were the reason for their annihilation. Even so, most readers make that assumption.

However, the prophet Ezekiel does explain the reason that the people of Sodom were punished so severely.  It’s not what you think. Are you ready for the real reason? Sodom was destroyed because they “they did not help the poor and needy.”

That puts the idea of “wickedness” in a completely different perspective — God’s.

[See Ezekiel 16:49.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

More Righteous

One final reflection on the Prayer of Jabez.

The scant bio for Jabez, describes him as a good man, saying he “was more righteous than his brothers.”  Righteous is a word that we don’t use too often nowadays but means to be morally upright.  Jabez then was a good, morally upright person.

Now, consider that characteristic with the final phrase in this passage, “So God granted him what he requested.”

That begs the question of causality.  Did God give Jabez what he asked for because Jabez was good or was Jabez good because God gave him what he asked for?

The answer, I suspect is “yes” — to both questions — which certainly gives us something to contemplate in respect to our prayers and relationship to God.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez and see 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

His Request Was Granted

After Jabez’s short and concise prayer comes encouraging words of confirmation and affirmation.  The Bible simply notes that “God granted him what he requested.”  How exciting!

Although I don’t know the mind of God, I suspect that had Jabez made his requests for selfish reasons, the results may have been different.

Indeed this is something to consider in our own prayers.  If we see things through God’s perspective and pray accordingly, the outcome will likely be different than when we selfishly give God our list of “gimmes.”

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez and see 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Not Cause Pain / Do Good

The fifth and final line in Jabez’s prayer is

that I may not cause pain.”

At first glance this is an unclear and somewhat wordy request.  However, it can be reworded for clarity.  To not cause pain, is simply to do good.

Here Jabez is reminding himself — as much as he is telling God — that the purpose of his prayer is not self-serving or self-centered, but to do good for others.  Indeed, his first two requests address this desire directly, while the next two are to provide for help and protection in doing so.

His motives are pure and his intentions are good.  His prayer’s conclusion confirms that.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez and 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Keep Me From Evil

The fourth line in Jabez’s prayer is:

that you would keep me from evil

If this request sounds vaguely familiar, there is a good reason.  In the best-known prayer in the Bible, often called “The Lord’s Prayer,” there is the line “deliver us from the evil one.”

Just as Jesus taught his followers to pray, Jabez is doing the same, asking for protection from the attacks of the devil.

Remember that Jabez has just asked for more blessings to bless others and for more opportunities to help others.  The devil, opposing both those initiatives, will go after anyone attempting to do so. 

This is why Jabez next asked for God’s help, following it with this request for protection.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez. See 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV and Matthew 6:13, NIV.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

That Your Hand Would Be With Me

The third line of Jabez’s prayer is:

that Your hand would be with me

Having just asked God for greater blessing — in order to bless others — and more influence — in order to help others — Jabez realizes that he needs God’s direction and guidance so that he may proceed wisely and justly.

Indeed, having more blessing and more power can easily become a heady thing, distracting or even corrupting the recipient, but Jabez, being aware of this risk, makes his third petition one of soliciting God guiding hand.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez and 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Enlarge My Territory

After Jabez asks for blessings so that he could be a blessing to others, he then adds:

and enlarge my territory

In Bible times, territory meant power via increased authority, responsibility, and influence.

As, such, a request for “more territory” is not a petition for more “stuff,” as much as a metaphor implying greater authority, responsibility, and influence.  Again, this is for the purpose of benevolence, to help and aid others, not to be used selfishly or for personal gain.

Jabez wanted to have greater authority to assist those in need of an advocate, to be responsible to aid those who were less fortunate, and to positively influence his culture.

That is the good and proper use of power — and Jabez asked God to give it to him.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.