How is your Bible reading coming along? Do you remember what you read yesterday? Are you reading large sections of scripture, but not getting any new insights? Is your Bible reading a chore?
We all know the importance of reading our Bibles, but are we using this time profitably? One day, I was at a Christian book store and I saw a series of books that I had never seen. The title of the series was the “The Journibles: 17:18 Series”. I looked inside and the pages were all blank with just numbers on the page on the right. “What kind of book is this?” I asked myself.
I went to the introduction and discovered that “The Journibles: 17:18 Series” comes from Deuteronomy 17:18: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:” The Lord commanded the kings of Israel to write out their own copy of the Word of God. This enabled them to learn the Word, gain understanding in its truth, and become more sensitive to the will of God.
I thought I would buy one of these books and give it a try. I bought the book for
1 Timothy thru Hebrews. The layout of the book is to write out the verse on one side of the page and then on the other side write an observation, prayer or an application.
I now find myself profiting more from my Bible reading. I am seeing things that I had never seen before because I am taking more time with each verse, and allowing God to speak to me. As I write down my thoughts, I am actually writing my own personal commentary of the Bible.
This morning, I finished my first “Journible” book. I am now going to use it for Psalms 1-72! This series has been the best Bible reading help that I have ever used. The format is extremely simple. Who would have thought about writing out the words of scripture in this age where we don’t write anything with paper and ink?
You can find more information on this great series of books at this address: http://www.the1718series.com. This web site has a video and other information about this series. You won’t regret purchasing one of these books. I am glad that I purchased my first “Journible”. If you have any comments or questions, please write me a comment.
P.S Here are a couple of sample pages with my notes. Please excuse my poor penmanship.
“What’s wrong with you Mark?” This was almost a weekly question from Mrs. Randall, the nurse at Midland Elementary School. Every Tuesday, I would literally develop an upset stomach because I was afraid to go to swimming class. My fear of water was affecting me both emotionally and physically. This fear would not abate until later in my life.
Fear comes in many forms, but it still has the same effect. Our fears can dominate us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and even physically. As our fears increase, our faith in God decreases. We lose confidence in His promises, presence and power. Fear keeps us from enjoying our daily walk with God and others.
Isaiah 41:10 gives us four great promises from God that enable us to conquer whatever fear is crippling our lives. “Fear thou not; for 1) I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:2) I will strengthen thee; yea, 3) I will help thee; yea,4) I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
1. When I am lonely, He promises his presence. He will never leave me. How can I be fearful, if I know that my loving Father is with me?
2. When I am weak and feel that I can’t continue, He will strengthen me. How can I be fearful when I remember that: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)? He will give me His strength to bear whatever comes into my life.
3. When I am in need of spiritual, emotional or physical help, He will help me. How can I be fearful when I know that I am not facing this situation by myself? The Lord is right there with me. He is my help no matter how fearful the future is.
4. When I stumble or fall, He will pick me up. How can I be fearful when I know that God will pick me up when I fall or stumble? When Peter sinned, stumbled and fell, Jesus picked him up and restored him. Our fear of failure often keeps us from moving forward in our spiritual lives. This promise assures us that when we stumble, God is right there to keep us going.
In times of great fear, He is there. God is greater than any fear that may be dominating our lives. He is our God. He will never forsake us. The decision is ours. Will I allow God to conquer my fears with His presence, promises, strength and great patience; or will I continue to allow my life to be controlled by my fears? “Lord, help me to believe your promises. May I know that you are greater than any fear that is dominating my life. Thank you for your presence and power that conquer my fears. Amen”
Note: A special thanks to Karla Da Silva for the photo. The photo was taken
at Waterfall Gully in South Australia.
I have enjoyed riding a bicycle since I was a child. There are three things that can make a bike ride an unpleasant experience: Careless drivers, dogs,
and bumpy roads.
Eaton County (where I live) has many unpaved roads that are quite bumpy. These roads may have some attractive scenery, but they also can make a bike ride an unpleasant experience. Likewise, in the road of life, people that we know face bumpy roads. These roads can bring discouragement, heartache, pain, danger and failure.
How sensitive are we to people who are traveling a bumpy road? How can we smooth out the bumps in the lives of others? A gentle spirit can smooth out the bumpy roads in the lives of others. The Apostle Paul says: “Let your moderation (gentleness) be made known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5) One Person defined gentleness as: “Showing personal care and concern in meeting the needs of others.” Do we interact with people in gentleness or in harshness?
I am glad that Jesus deals with me in gentleness when I face some bumpy roads in my life. However, how often do I make the effort to deal with others in a spirit of gentleness? Here are some of the ways that we experience Christ’s gentleness in the bumpy roads of our life.
1. He forgives me when I sin against Him. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” (1 John 1:9) Do I forgive others willingly when they sin against me?
2. He never leaves me when life gets rough. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) Do I stick by others when the going gets tough in their lives?
3. He gives me strength to carry on. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Do I help others carry their burdens or do I add to their burdens? “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
4. His Word encourages me to move forward. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58) Do I encourage others with my words? Some of these words can be: “You can do it.” “I am praying for you.” “I thank the Lord for you.” 5. His Love is unconditional. Christ’s love is always there because his love is not based upon my behavior, but upon His character.“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Do I continue to show love to others even when it would seem easy to turn away from them?
There are many people who are facing a bumpy ride in this life. Are we willing to go the extra mile and show gentleness towards them? This will be a great way to smooth out their bumpy ride. Our gentleness can be considered the shock absorber of life.
Some thought questions about gentleness
(From “Character Clues BookshelfGame“)
1. Do those you correct walk away motivated or discouraged?
2. Do people avoid you when they know they have disappointed you?
3. Do you take the time to build a friendship along with correction?
4. Do those who work with you feel that you are committed to them or to getting the job done?
People come and go in our lives. We often don’t think about their influence upon our lives; however, God has a purpose for each person that He places in our lives. For this reason I thank God for every person that He has placed in my life. One of those people was Franklin M. Spencer III.
I never knew Franklin Spencer as Franklin, but as Mr. Spencer. Mr. Spencer was my high school guidance counselor at Highland Park High School. When I told my wife (Sharon) that I was writing about the impact Mr. Spencer made upon my life, she said: “But high school guidance counselors don’t really have much influence over our lives.” Mr. Spencer was different.
“This is what I think we should do.” I was on the other side of Mr. Spencer’s desk as he was mapping out my future. “You will go to summer school and take some classes to get ahead. As a senior, you can then take classes at Highland Park Community College.” Taking Second Year Algebra during the summer was not my idea of fun, but I became a willing summer school student.
I didn’t realize that those few minutes in Mr. Spencer’s office would have an immense effect upon my life. I followed his plan completely. As a result, I was able to graduate from college (with studying each summer) in the summer of 1975. This was two years ahead of schedule. If I had graduated in 1977, I would have never met my wife. I would have never taught in Baltimore. South Africa and Portugal would just be places on the map instead of places where we have left our hearts and many friends.
Mr. Spencer also affected my life because he encouraged me to go beyond my own expectations. He helped me to see that I could do well in college and beyond. He didn’t speak down to me, but he spoke as through I could actually make some responsible decisions as a high school student.
I also learned from Mr. Spencer leadership skills that have helped me to this very day. As a senior, I was elected president of the National Honor Society. Mr. Spencer was our sponsor. He didn’t lead the group, but he guided us.
He allowed me to take the initiative on some projects. One project was bringing together all the National Honor Society chapters in the Detroit area. We had the first meeting at our school. Mr. Spencer helped, but several of us students worked together and we saw forty-two schools represented. Mr. Spencer gave me the chance to lead, but he also taught me that a real leader allows others to use their talents and abilities to fulfill projects. As a pastor, I still see the importance of the principle of delegation.
Mr. Spencer would leave Highland Park High School in 1973 to teach in South Korea. Unfortunately, he would die of cancer shortly after his arrival there. His death would be a great loss for the cause of education.
I remember the last time I saw Mr. Spencer. We had an Honor Society banquet the night before graduation. I never thanked him. I never communicated with him. At the time, I didn’t know what a great impact he would have upon my life. When I heard he had died, I was saddened by the news, but it wouldn’t be until later that I truly appreciated why God had brought him into my life.
I thank the Lord that He placed Franklin Spencer in my life. I can’t imagine what my life would be like today if it wasn’t for those few minutes that Mr. Spencer laid out a plan that made all the difference in my life.
P.S. This is my third post on people who have influenced my life. My desire is that these people be remembered for not only what they did in my life, but in the lives of others.
Have you ever studied the Word of God; and God brought great conviction upon your heart? Yesterday, while I was studying Jeremiah, God convicted me of something that I hadn’t thought about in a while.
The Book of Jeremiah is full of contrasts, disappointments, tears, God’s judgment, God’s love and future prophecy. In Jeremiah 20, Jeremiah experiences forty lashes from a whip. He also is tortured throughout the night in a public setting. He is ridiculed and hated because of his proclamation of God’s Word.
While studying this portion of scripture, I became convicted about my life. “Have I ever suffered like Jeremiah?” “Why do I complain so much?” I was deeply convicted that I often fall into the trap of a complaining spirit. I complain about circumstances, demands upon my time, people, the weather and many other matters. How can I enjoy God’s presence and complain at the same time?
God knows that many of us struggle with a complaining heart. He tells us “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:14,15) My complaining spirit not only affects my relationship with God, but also with others. How can I minister to others about God’s love, wisdom, and faithfulness, when inside my heart, I have a complaining spirit?
Paul understood the antidote to a complaining spirit when he wrote these words while in prison. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11,12) Paul didn’t complain because he knew that God had given unto him all that he needed for his present happiness. Paul had the presence of God!
When I look at what others have suffered or are suffering, why should I complain? My complaining spirit is a sign of selfishness. It is also a sign that I am not content in all that I have in Jesus Christ.
“Dear Lord, thank you for convicting me of my complaining spirit. In your Word, I see so many who followed you without complaining. They suffered greatly for you and your cause. Thank you for their testimony that shows me that I can live my life without complaining. Help me, to see your presence in every circumstance, every task, and every social encounter. Thank you for your loving-kindness in convicting me of this sin. Amen”
You are in church on a Sunday morning, have you ever found yourself……..
1. wishing that you weren’t in church?
2. thinking about the week ahead during the message?
3. fighting off sleep?
4. making negative mental notes about the people in the service?
5. singing and not paying attention to the words or our hearts?
6. picking apart the message being preached?
7. forgetting the sermon by the time you eat Sunday dinner?
What is the problem with our time of worship on Sunday morning? Could it be that we arrive totally unprepared to worship God? How can we have prepared hearts to worship the Living God?
Look unto God in preparation to worship Him.
Do I study and meditate upon His Word during the week? How can we expect to receive something from the Word of God during the worship service if we are not bathing our hearts in the Word of God during the week? “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97) Our love for the Word during the week will be evident in our response to the Word on Sunday. The message is only the beginning of allowing the Word to work in our minds and hearts.
Do I seek the Lord in prayer during the week as I prepare to worship Him? Yes, the pastor should have a prayerful heart as he enters the pulpit on Sunday morning; however, each listener should have prayerful heart as well. We should pray with the Psalmist. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)
Do I desire to glorify God as I worship Him? Often people say: “I didn’t get anything out of the service? What is the reason? Could it be that they did not put anything into the service? Their goal was to receive a blessing instead of giving glory to their Heavenly Father. Does our attitude on Sunday reflect these words: “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3) Look at Yourself in Preparation to WorshipGod
1. Do I have the right attitude about attending the worship service of the church? Our attitude determines the richness of our worship experience. If we arrive at the worship service with a negative attitude, our time of worship will be a negative experience. The Psalmist says: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. “(Psalm 122:1) When we enter the worship with a spirit of joy and gratefulness, our worship experience will be one of joy.
2. Do I have the right relationship with God as I attend the worship service? Sin will keep us from having an encouraging, joyful worship experience with God. How can we worship God with our hearts, if we have unconfessed sin ruling in our hearts? “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8) We make sure our outer person is clean before we attend the worship service, but what about our hearts?
3. Do I have the right understanding of the need to attend the Sunday morning worship service? There are many people who attend church who don’t really understand why they are there. Maybe, it is out of habit. Maybe, they feel it is the right thing to do. However, God makes it clear that we as His children need to meet to together. This is not only to worship Him, but also to minister one to another. The church service is not only an opportunity to have people minister unto us, but it is also an opportunity to minister unto others. God says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Look at others in preparation to worship God
1. Do I have the right relationship with those around me? Jesus taught that you can’t come before God’s altar and offer your gift if you have a problem with others. (Matthew 5:23-26) How can we worship God on Sunday, when we have unresolved conflict in our family, or in our church family?
2. Do I see the opportunities of ministry within my family and my church family? God has given every believer a spiritual gift. We are to use our gift within His Body (Romans 12:3-8). These gifts are not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. The worship time gives us an opportunity to have a sensitive heart towards others, to pray for others, and to be an encouragement to others.
Worship means to give worth to His name. The Sunday morning worship service can be a negative experience, a boring experience, a tedious experience or it can be a time of enjoying and honoring the presence of the Living God. The choice is our. Next Sunday, will we come to worship Him with a prepared, and surrendered heart? Will our worship be worthy of our great and mighty God?
Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once? You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life. The future seems dim. Your life is at a standstill. Sleep escapes you. God seems very distant. Despair is ruling your life. What can you do?
The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke”. Worry not only chokes our spiritual life, but also our emotional, social, and physical life. God knows the power that worry and anxiety have upon us. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us? God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.
1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives. The words “be careful for nothing” have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions”. Worry is sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God. It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity. Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God. This creates confusion in our lives. For these reasons and many others, God commands us to stop worrying.
2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances. The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.” God is the source of peace. When our eyes turn from our trials and are focused upon God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love and sovereignty. We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way. God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.
3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety. The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication”. God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, doubt, and personal issue unto Him. He alone can carry that burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden. Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.
4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything. Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18) This doesn’t mean we thank God for everything. When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you. I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even in the midst of this great trial or burden.”
5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace. God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding”. God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him. I have been beside many people who are facing death and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom. God’s peace doesn’t make sense to people around us because His peace isn’t based upon circumstances. It is based upon the enjoyment of His presence.
God doesn’t want any of us to be continually pulled in two directions. He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him. The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives. Will we trust Him to do so? “The truth shall make you free.”