Contending For The Faith

September 17, 2009

Horner Bible Reading Plan: Six Months Later

I’ve now been following the Horner Bible Reading Plan for six months, sticking to it on a daily basis with few exceptions.  Now at day 183, I’m nearing the end of Deuteronomy (List 2), the last list to complete.  When I restart with Genesis in a few days, I plan to try reading two chapters a day, at least in the easier narrative chapters.

Retention of all this reading comes gradually, yet after several reads through shorter lists such as Proverbs and the New Testament Acts and Epistles, I note and recall many more details (that went unnoticed with once-a-year readings), such as the following:

  • Colossians (chapter 2) makes reference to a church in Laodicea; this reminds me of Revelation 3, the church in Laodicea a generation later.
  • Proverbs has many statements echoed in the New Testament.  Proverbs 25:6-7 speaks to a matter Jesus mentioned, to not seek the highest place of honor at the table.  Proverbs 25:14 is a clear mention of something later said in Jude 12.

Proverbs 25:14 (NIV) — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

Jude 12 — speaking of the false teachers, says “They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind”

  • Similarities and contrasts in Paul’s letters to, in list 3, the Corinthians, versus the Philippians and Thessalonians of list 4.  One really gets a feel for Paul’s heart, his affection for the Phillipians, and his care for (and frustration with) the immature Corinthians.  Paul writes similar things to the Thessalonians and Corinthians; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:5-9, and 1 Corinthians 9 (including verses 12 and 15).

One Old Testament “connection” that could only come from a combination of different readings:  on the same day I read Judges 20 (list 8), the destruction of most of the tribe of Benjamin, I also read 2 Chronicles 14 (list 9), which details a military event that includes many Benjamites.  A good combination of readings to show that indeed the tribe of Benjamin recovered from its near-destruction several centuries earlier.

September 9, 2009

Bible Reading and Some Good Blogs

I’m now up to Day 175 in the Horner Bible reading plan.  At this point, I really don’t keep track of the day number, since I can’t match any number in the reading to that day.  Now I’m on my second round through Psalms, so I calculate the day number based on the current psalm number plus 150.  The only list left to finish is List 2, the Pentateuch, and I’m working through Deuteronomy.

For a few brief observations from the daily readings:  the history readings especially bring out the rampant idolatry.  Judges 17 verses 5 and 12 talk about the people making up their own self-styled worship.  2 Chronicles 11:13-15 has a similar case, the people of northern Israel doing their own worship in the days of Jeroboam.  The next day’s reading brings out general idol worship, again in Judges and 2 Chronicles–and in Acts 19, the idolatry of Ephesus in the 1st century.  Idolatry is also a common theme in the 2 readings from the prophets, although at the moment I’m getting a break from those subjects.  Isaiah 40 is very hopeful for the future.  Zechariah 11 is more about judgement (the flock marked for slaughter) and the First Coming prophecy about the 30 pieces of silver, such a low price they esteemed Him.

On to other matters…. in the current blog world, Biblical Christianity has a good blog, “Good men = good views? Yes, and not necessarily… respectively.”  Another good recent blog is Fred Butler’s 12th in the “Studies in Eschatology” series:  Apocalypticism and the book of Revelation in which he points out how Revelation has many differences from the non-canonical apocalyptic literature and we can’t use that excuse, that Revelation is just apocalyptic stuff, to avoid biblical exegesis.

August 5, 2009

“Whenever You’re Speaking To Me”

The title here is from a Don Francisco song, with the following joyous lyrics:

There’s nothing I’ve heard that compares with your word,
the strength in it can set me so free.
There’s joy deep inside, that can’t be denied,
Whenever you’re speakin’ to me.

Every day as I spend time in God’s word (which nowadays means reading a set of 12 different chapters, about 40 minutes each day) I continue to find great encouragement to keep pressing on in the Christian walk. When so often I feel discouraged, and long for the rapture to be away from this wicked world, I find the strength to carry on. When on Sunday afternoon I was especially bothered about the local pastor’s disparaging remarks regarding premillennial eschatology (such as a passing comment that, oh, the book of Revelation contains a lot of symbols, it can’t be taken too seriously), the reading time again refreshed my spirit, to continue on with hope in God’s final deliverance.

The following are specific examples from recent readings (day 142). I read, as in today’s reading from Luke 8, of the Gadarene demoniac freed from demons, longing to go with Jesus; Jesus did not let him, but instead told him to go and tell others what God had done for him. In the same chapter I read of the fearful disciples on the boat, while Jesus slept in the storm, and then Jesus calmed the storm. I read in Hebrews 11 and 12 of the great saints of old, and the example they give to us, for holy living. The holy living theme continues in Titus 1, a place of wickedness much like today’s world, and yet Titus had to remain in that situation to put it in order, to do the work of God in a dark world. I read in the historical books (Joshua 8, 2 Kings 3) of mighty ways in which God delivered His people and brought victory against Israel’s enemies. Isaiah 6 shows the full awesomeness and glory of God, a scene similar to that of many others in the Bible who reacted with great fear at seeing a glimpse of the holy God. Amos 9 tells of judgement to come, as well as great deliverance for God’s people Israel in the final days after the great tribulation. Then (list 12) Revelation 7 tells of the vast number of peoples who will be saved in that last day, the 144,000 Israelites and the uncounted multitude from every nation, who come out of the great tribulation.

Spurgeon spoke of the great blessings that come from knowing God and how through that we grow in our faith:

“Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly referred to in the Bible as people who are enlightened and taught by the Lord; they are said to “have been anointed by the Holy One,”1 and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, so that they might grow in their faith. Knowledge strengthens love as well as faith. … Knowledge also strengthens hope. … Knowledge supplies us with reason for patience.

Like Don Francisco, I can sing:

‘Cause like the rain from the sky on a thirsty land,
Your word brought life to a dying man.
From desert to garden,
condemnation to pardon,
and all of the praise goes to You!

and

With Your spirit inside and Your Word as my guide,
I’ve got a sense of direction so strong.

June 16, 2009

Day 91 of the Horner Bible Reading Plan

Filed under: Horner Bible Reading Plan — Lynda O @ 8:35 am
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I’m now up to day 91 in just under three months, with the following reading statistics: all of the New Testament at least once; and most of the Old Testament. Two days ago I completed List 1 (the gospels), so now I’m reading Matthew again. I’ve now implemented my variation on List 12 — Acts and Revelation, rather than just the book of Acts — and up to chapter 7 of Revelation. As with all my other NT reading, I’m reading Revelation for the second time through. In List 2 (the Pentateuch) I’ve started the third book (Leviticus), and in the history and prophets lists I continue reading through 2 Samuel, Ezra, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. At this point, I’ve read at least some (in most cases at least half) of all but eight of the Old Testament books: Leviticus (which I just started today), Numbers, Deuteronomy, 1 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Esther, Lamentations and Daniel.

A few things from my recent observations: both Romans (especially chapters 9 and 11) and James (chapters 2 and 3) speak of mercy, and the two readings complement each other in their frequent references to mercy. From today’s readings, Leviticus 1 (priestly instructions concerning the burnt offering) fits well with Ezra 8:35, in which the returning Israelites restarted the sacrificial system and made burnt offerings. In the gospels, again I am struck by the writing in Matthew’s gospel: the first chapters are just chock-full of Old Testament references that show how events concerning Jesus’ birth and early years fulfill so many Old Testament prophecies.

Again, this is a great way to read the Bible, reading many different parts at the same time to grasp something of the whole picture of God’s redemptive plan in history.

June 2, 2009

Bible Reading, Day 77

Filed under: Bible Study,Horner Bible Reading Plan — Lynda O @ 9:16 am
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I’ve now been doing a modified Horner Bible Reading Plan for over two months — Day 77 now. A few times I’ve done two readings per day, though mostly once a day. I’ve now completed four of the lists at least once, and about to complete a fifth list (List 3, finishing up Hebrews tomorrow). The actual day number becomes less important now, so long as I follow the bookmarks and sticky-notes to indicate which chapters are next. But except for the Psalm number I would long since have forgotten the day number; after 150 days of Psalms, I probably will forget the number, though my Excel calendar should help with that information–as to what I’m supposed to be reading each day.

Reading Exodus and Hebrews together (lists 2 and 3) has been a great blessing. One recent day, for example, after reading Exodus 24 (where Moses confirmed the covenant) in list 2, the very next chapter reading (Hebrews 9, list 3) contains a direct reference to that very event — Hebrews 9:19-21. Hebrews has so many references to the Mosaic system, and I can appreciate it more when I’ve been reading in Exodus at the same time.

Creation is a frequent theme in the various Bible readings, such as the day I read Exodus 20 (discussion of the 6 days of creation as a model for the Sabbath), Proverbs 8:23-29, and Acts 14:15. Or consider God’s Sovereignty in the readings of 1 Samuel 23:14 (“God did not give David into his [Saul’s] hands”) and 2 Chronicles 25:20 (“Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might hand them over to [Jehoash], because they sought the gods of Edom”) on day 72. Since I’m never far away (in terms of days) from reading of so many passages, I remember more references from recent readings. Acts 20:34-35 (day 76) reminded me of Paul’s similar thought in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 (day 73). From day 60, Proverbs 29:3 (“A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth”) brings to mind the reading of Luke 15 (the Parable of the Prodigal Son) from the previous day.

My ongoing study of Revelation (listening to a John MacArthur sermon series, currently in Revelation 14) complements my frequent readings of the Old Testament prophetic books. Yesterday I read Ezekiel 9 (on my second list of prophets — Ezekiel plus minor prophets), and Ezekiel 9:4 sticks out in reference to a similar passage in Revelation 7:3. In both cases, angels put a mark on the foreheads of God’s servants, to seal and protect them from disaster coming on the ungodly.

These are just a sampling from my daily Bible readings. As the apostle John said, the whole world could not contain the books that could be written (about Jesus Christ)– so I’ll end here. The Horner Bible Reading plan is a great way to read and familiarize yourself with the Bible.

May 13, 2009

More Bible Reading Observations

I’ve completed day 55 in the Horner Bible Reading plan, and continue to be amazed at all the cross-references and overall view of God’s word discovered through this reading plan. The cross-reference texts sometimes come a few days apart, but close enough together to remember. For instance, just five days after reading Luke 2 – a passage that ends by describing how Jesus grew in stature and favor with God and men — I read 1 Samuel 2 and an interesting, similar verse (1 Samuel 2:26) about young Samuel. Recently I read Zechariah 4, about the lampstand and two olive trees; the next day I read Revelation 11, which describes the two witnesses as being the two lampstands and two olive trees. I had learned about this parallel a few weeks ago, from a John MacArthur MP3, Revelation 11 sermon, but here I actually read the two passages, and only a day apart. This also goes to show that we need not hold rigidly to Horner’s actual ten list plan; I would not have even been reading Zechariah 4, but only the one prophecy passage of Isaiah, in the 10 list plan. Yet the overall concept still holds, of multiple genre readings that highlight the overall themes in God’s word.

A few more “gems” from recent reading:

  • 1 Samuel 5 shows some of the darker history concerning God’s covenant with Israel, when the ark is captured. The same day reading of 2 Chronicles 7 showcases the high point, the dedication of Solomon’s temple, in which was placed that same ark.
  • Review of Israel’s history is common: Judges 11 includes a reference to Moses’ time and the battles for land, and later conflict with the Ammonites. Acts 7 is Stephen’s speech to the Jews, a summary overview of a lot of their history. Now I’m reading Exodus, the beginning of the conflict with Pharoah; 1 Samuel 6 includes the Philistines talking about that past event, Pharoah hardened his heart, and then when God “treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?”
  • Frequent references to the surrounding nations and their gods: Judges 9:6 mentions the “gods of Aram” (Arameans); in 2 Kings 12, they’re still dealing with the Arameans and the king of Aram

I continue to make slight changes to my actual reading. After reading through just the minor prophets this time, for next time I’ll add Ezekiel to that list — to even out the lengths of the two lists. Soon I’ll implement a switch in List 12 (Acts) to alternate between Acts and Revelation. To even out the two epistle lists without Revelation, I will move Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians from list 3 to the beginning of list 4.

Like others who’ve come to enjoy this reading plan, I cannot go back to only reading three chapters a day — the typical required reading of the typical “Bible in a year” plans. I’ve recently heard about the “Bible in 90 Days” plan, from people who prefer reading the Bible sequentially for context, and found the reading schedule online. That schedule shows even more why I prefer my multi-list reading: the 90-day plan involves reading up to 16 chapters a day, all in the same place in the Bible. Often the reading starts and ends in the middle of a chapter, and just remembering where to start and stop would be difficult to remember — print-out list definitely required. The multi-list plan is easy enough to remember, with small post-it notes at the starting point for each reading. I just move the sticky note to the end of the chapter to mark the next day’s starting point. Whereas even on the 90 day plan you don’t read any of the New Testament for the first 60 days, here I’m always reading four selections out of the New Testament. Even better, this plan has no ending point; you start each list over individually, but the overall reading continues its flow.

I do my daily readings with my “smallest” Bible, an NIV hard-back Topical Study Bible. Soon — well, in the next two months — I plan to buy a basic ESV Bible (courtesy of E-Rewards “dollars” redeemable for $15 of Borders Rewards), and that should work even better, a smaller Bible to carry around. Plus it would be nice to have an ESV version, as I’ve heard good things about the ESV translation and have read a little of it online.

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