God’s Love – Part Seven

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

To review:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

3> God’s love is extensive

4> God’s Love Is Expensive

5> God’s Love is Expansive

6> God’s love is Exclusive

Today: God’s love is Exceptional based on the words “should not perish.”

To perish does not necessarily mean to be annihilated — to cease to exist. The currently popular idea — annihilation of the soul or destruction of the individual — is not found in the Bible. What we do find is that every single human being has an eternal soul that will live somewhere forever.

John Phillips explains that we have all seen what the work of sin gradually does to a human life. Drugs, sexual promiscuity, and unhealthy living ravage both body and soul and, if unchecked, lead to death. When we reject God, we allow sin to continue its deadly work. The result may be the death of our bodies but not the annihilation of our souls. That part of us is eternal and accountable to God. The final effect is that if we die unrepentant, we carry our ungodly passions into eternity with us — our cravings, lusts, hatred, and fear. In hell these passions continue to rule the soul, They never satisfied us here, nor will they satisfy us there. Phillip concludes, “The word perished notes the final condition of the soul, the awful state of those who are ‘filthy still’ under the eye of God.”

Phillips is alluding to this verse from John: “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Revelation 22:11). Heaven will complete our sanctification, or hell will complete our damnation.

To perish, then, is to remain aware of but separated forever from the loving God. Yet the Bible promises that once we receive God’s love, separation from Him will become impossible. As Paul gloriously put it, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

We choose. 

Follow up to test picture blog

Sorry for the email with the non-existing blog. I (Elizabeth) was testing something and didn’t realize it would email everyone. Sorry!

Using Or Losing Time

I took it off the shelf in my study. A small, pocket-size copy of the Bible. Good for the summer months when I am outside a bit more and can grab a few minutes here and there to read some scriptures. So, it is with me all day – every day. It fits in the back pocket of my jeans. I also place it on my beside table when I arrive home for the last time each day. Then, as I head to bed for the night, I spend some time reading it as I sit on the chair in the corner by the bed.

And, I have to admit I have been very surprised, even amazed, at how much I have been managing to read as I take it with me … a chapter here, three chapters there. Add to that a few chapters most nights and I am feeling well fed spiritually. Refreshed. Even renewed. And, and I am not stealing time from other events, activities or relationships. Apparently instead of losing time I am now using time and moving forward spiritually all because I made a conscious decision to use the spare moments that use to simply vanish into thin air.

Fresh manna for the soul and spirit every day is good and refreshing. However, it does not happen by itself. It does take a little thought and effort – even a bit of planning. But, in our busy world of constant activity and perpetual demands on our time, it is possible to have that ‘pause that refreshes’ a number of times every day if we just work at doing so. May I encourage you to do just that. Of course that means you may be seen reading your little pocket Bible at a coffee shop, bus stop, at the dentist’s office, and many other places where people today simply no longer are seen reading the Bible.

Today – after two hours in the yard finally racking up the leaves and branches from last fall and spraying some weeds in the pathways – making ready for some nice evenings in front of the fire pit on nights I am actually home … I made a cup of coffee, sat down to rest and refreshed my spirit man at the same time. Felt good!

Fast Forward – Summer Bible Journey #5

The Bible you are reading – surveying for the summer – was written by about 40 men who engaged in writing it during a period of about 1600 years dating from 1500 B.C. (B.C.E.) to about 100 A.D. (C.E.). These men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

They wrote not in words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

The first translation of the English Bible was initiated by John Wycliffe and completed by John Purvey in A.D. (C.E.) 1388.

The first North American edition of the Bible was perhaps published some time before A.D. (C.E.) 1752.

The Bible has been translated in part or in whole in over 2,287 different languages or dialects.

So, the Bible you are reading on Fast Forward this summer has an impressive history and has come to us from God through the hearts and hands of man. People have died to protect it. Others have spent their lives translating it. Others have lost their lives trying to bring it to their people in their own native language.

It remains the best selling book in the world each year – although that does not make it the most read book, however.

Congratulations if you have taken this summer reading challenge and are working art reading your whole Bible in 64 days … at 19 chapters a day. It will chane your life and enable you to hear God much better. it will help you with the big picture of God’s interaction with men over the centuries. You will be blessed by the time you are investing. Well done!

Never Verse by Verse – Summer Bible Journey #4

The best way to read large chunks of the Bible if to often ignore the chapter numbers and the verses. These were not part of the original manuscripts and were added many centuries later to enable people to find the exact spot being referenced in a teaching or a sermon – and to make personal study easier, I suspose.

The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton about A.D. (C.E.) 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in A.D. (C.E.) 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in A.D. (C.E.) 1551. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of A.D. (C.E.) 1560.

The problem is that a chapter break is often placed where there is no thought break. So, if you stop at the artificial break you miss the writer’s complete thought or point because you actually came to a halt part way through it. At times you read the thesis or the thought being presented and then stop at the chapter break – missing the “therefore” … the practical application of that thought or piece of theology.

The Bible verses can do the same thing – putting a break where there should not be one and thus breaking up the thought or argument or even the story being told. Then, when you start reading at that chapter or verse break later, you will have lost some of the meaning because you are starting in mid-stream.

The breaks within a chapter – where the publishers of that particular Bible added headings in mid-chapter… these are helpful to let us know a familiar story or portion of scripture lies ahead. But again, these are artificial divisions added later by someone other than the author or the Holy Spirit.

My point – don’t always be guided by the man-made divisions in the scriptures. Rather – read until you have the complete thought or teaching being presented (with application). Recognize that a story will make more sense when kept in the context of the story or event that came before it (so you know who He is talking to or why this story or parable is being told). You get my point.

So, when picking up your reading on any given day just quickly review the latter part of your previous reading – where are we (Galilee, Jerusalem, Samaria), who is He with, who was He talking to (disciples, multitudes, the inner three), what was His previous point or what issue had He been addressing … then pick up where you left off because you will have regained the context of the stories you are about to read.

Happy summer journey through your Bible….

Oh, What a Mess – Summer Bible Journey #3

If you are taking the Summer Bible Reading Journey of 19 chapters a day – take a deep breath. You are now on day 9 and you will have read 171 chapters by the time you go to bed tonight. Wow! For some that is a major change in their Bible reading. Often people don’t read 171 chapters in any given month (or, we are ashamed to admit – any given year) and here you have done it in 9 days because you made a decision to carve out some time to do this. Congratualtions.

By now you will have noticed you are getting a little excited about this project. It is not impossible. It is very doable. It is very practical and beneficial. You are feeling spiritually stronger than you were before you started this journey. That’s simply because “man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” You are feeding your inner man and so you are growing stronger spiritually.

Hopefully by now you have discovered that this reading is best done in a very plain Bible which does not contain footnotes and cross-references. These seem to simply distract the average reader. They are not inspired anyways – only the Word of God itself is inspired. So, the more basic the Bible you are reading – the better.

You may have noticed, as well, that the Bible can get messed up quickly. If you are like me and take it to the park to read or take it with you when you are walking the dog – for that rest spot at the half way point – then it gets beat up quickly. Or, if you are reading it when eating on the patio or deck – same issue. It can have grass stains, the occasional dead bug, food stains, coffee stains … Bur it does not matter. It’s a book and so it’s okay to mess it up. If it really gets messed up, at the end of the summer journey simply put it on the shelf and buy yourself another copy for your continuing Bible reading efforts.

And, you will continue to read when you reach the end of this journey – because the Word of God is addictive in its own way.

Next entry we will look at chapters and verses and how they effect the understanding of what you are reading.

Summer Suggestions – Summer Bible Journey #2

If you have joined me in journeying through the Bible in 2 months you will, by now, have read 57 chapters. You will have found yourself amazed that you actually read that much of the Bible in that short a time period.

Most of us find it difficult in our fast-paced world to even have a regular devotional time. We realize that so many things squeeze out our planned Bible time on any given day. Good things, family things, important things. Nevertheless, we often lose more daily devotional times than we actually keep in any given week.

Even if we are faithful and manage our daily Bible reading and devotional time – our reading time is realtively short. We manage a chapter or so on any given day. This helps our spirit to be fed and stay alive spiritually but it does not give us the big picture of how God has and is interacting with mankind on a daily basis.

But, in the slower summer months when we sit out a bit more, BBQ in the back yard, ride our bikes, go for walks in the park, sit by the pool (backyard version or at a regional or provincial park) – maybe now is a good time to take a run at reading the Bible from cover-to-cover and become familiar with its wonderful (and true) stories once again.

Each year as summer approaches I go on-line and purchase a new Bible to use for my summer reading blitz. I purchase a version I have not read or don’t normally use. And, I buy one that is packaged in a compact way. It then fits in the sack on my bike, easily goes in my lunch bag when heading out to the beach or the park, is portable so I can take it when I go to walk the dog… you get the idea.

So, my dog and I go for three long walks a day – total of 10 miles or so. On the two during daylight hours I take my Bible. Two thirds of the way to the turn-around point there is a nice grassy slope and a stream as well as some shade trees. So, we walk and enjoy the trail we are on – then we sit, have a diet coke (he drinks water I have brought for him) and I read my Bible. Cooking supper on the BBQ – I can read 5 to 10 chapters in the time it takes to slow cook (slow on purpose, of course) the steaks. Because it is lighter earlier in the summer – and warmer – I get up sooner than I normally would, grab a coffee, and head out to the lawn chair to enjoy being outdoors and to, you guessed it, read my Bible.

Summer is a great time (although short) to be intentional about Bible reading. So, grab a smaller Bible that fits into your purse or knapsack and is fairly portable and take it with you everywhere you go. Use your spare minutes wisely and you will be amazed at how much of the Bible you can actually read in any given two month period.

Extra, Extra, Extra – Read All About It

It is officially the summer and we tend to slow down a fair amount during this great season. Sitting out with your morning coffee, nights out back by the fire pit, camping and holidays.

Why not that this “slower season” and do some extra Bible reading. It is a great time to spend more time with God than you manage in the busier season of kids sports and church activities. A good time to read more than those novels you have been saving up for your “summer read”. Read God’s Word.

If you are a regular Bible reader the next two months are a great time to read your whole Bible from cover to cover. If you don’t normally read your Bible on a regular basis – this too would be a good time to become very well acquainted with God’s Word.

Bible statistics – the whole Bible contains 1189 chapters – 929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament

Calendar statistics – the month of July has 31 days as does the month of August.

The simple math – with 62 days available and 1189 chapters to read – that amounts to 19 chapters a day leaving you 11 chapters that you can read on June 30th to launch your Bible reading for the summer or on September 1st to celebrate the end of the adventure.

A suggestion or two– Read any way you want to – straight through from Genesis to Revelation; some chapters in the Old Testament in the morning and the rest of the chapters (to make up a total of 19 for the day) in the evening; if you get behind – catch up by reading your alloted number in the book of Psalms as most of the chapters (except Psalm 119) are much shorter than a chapter elsewhere in the 66 books that comprise the Bible. Don’t study – just read. If you read something of interest or that leaves you with a question simply mark it with a question mark in the margin and come back to it (and research it) when your reading is done for the summer.

Reading format – Read large chunks at a time and don’t focus on the details such as who married whom and how many kids did they have and what were their names. You are reading simply get the Big picture of God’s interaction with the human race.

Personal note – I have been doing this for many years in the summer and have found it very beneficial to my spiritual life and my walk with the Lord. It has helped me to be more discerning and spot the false teachers sooner and faster. It has helped me to know God’s heart better. It has given me an increased sense of the supernatural element that exists in the content of the Bible. It has led me to appreciate my Bible more each time I walk through this discipline.

If you are joining in this journey – let me know how it is going. Keep in touch. To facilitate our chatting back and forth while on this 2 month and 1 day journey – On Monday (June 30) there will be a new Blog available for those who want to chart their journey. Simply go to the main web page, click on “Blogs” on the top menu and then down to “SUMMER BIBLE JOURNEY”. Join us and share your experiences as you go on this Bible adventure for the summer months. Look forward to chatting with you.