Let There Be No Divisions Among Us

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
~ Psalm 119:18

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I have previously written about reading the whole Bible in a year by using a plan. I can’t recommend it highly enough, though every time I do, some complain about it. I’m not your mother. I can’t force you to read your Bible. All I can do is encourage you to do so and that is my goal.

Enter: The Reader’s Bible

I’ve started my 2018 reading and this year I will be reading daily from the KJV Reader’s Bible. Bible layout design has improved in recent years to improve readability and such. The reader’s layout is an excellent treatment for not only reading, but also for studying.

What is a reader’s layout? If you’re not familiar with it, a reader’s layout is the text of Scripture presented without the chapter or verse divisions. It does not have any marginal notes, footnotes, or cross-references. It is a single column, paragraphed layout of each book of the Bible. Some say it helps the Bible read more like a novel, but I don’t love that description. What the reader’s layout does do, is let you read the Bible as it was given, except for the paragraphing and punctuation, but we shouldn’t complain about that. The early manuscripts were written with all capital letters, no spaces between words, no punctuation, and no paragraphs.

If you haven’t read the Bible this way before, I highly recommend it. It will be a different experience. The reader’s layout will help you read each book of the Bible with a better sense of the whole book. You will see the divisions between narratives, units of teaching, arguments, etc. It will help you get a better grasp of the big picture of Scripture.

Help for Preaching

If you are a preacher, or a Bible teacher and are planning on teaching a whole book of the Bible, the reader’s layout provides an excellent place to start. Read the whole book without the headings, chapter or verse divisions. Read it again and start noting divisions in the text. You’re looking for sections that naturally divide the text, e.g., changes in narrative in historical books, changes in narrative or teaching blocks in the Gospels or Acts, a complete thought or argument in the epistles, etc. Start noting these and you’re making an outline of the book, which is crucial to grasp the big picture and not lose sight of it while dealing with individual passages.

A Final Word

I hope these brief words help you see the benefits of the Reader’s Bible for regular Bible reading and for study. Obviously, much more could be said, but I hope you will read the whole Bible this coming year and this is a great way to do it. If you would prefer to read the Bible in a reader’s layout for Kindle, options are available. I’m using the following Kindle books: Genesis to Esther, Job to Malachi, and the New Testament.

A Simple Plan to Read The Reader’s Bible in a Year

  1. January: Read Genesis and Exodus
  2. February: Read Leviticus and Numbers
  3. March: Read Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth
  4. April: Read 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, and 2 Kings
  5. May: Read 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
  6. June: Read Job and Psalm 1 to 89
  7. July: Read Psalm 90 to 150, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon
  8. August: Read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations
  9. September: Read Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah
  10. October: Read Malachi, Matthew, Mark, and Luke
  11. November: Read John, Acts, and Romans
  12. December: Read 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation

Of course, you can always divide the number of pages by the number of days and get a daily page count to read. I pray God blesses you this year as you read and meditate in his word.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
– 3 John 2

1 Corinthians 10:10

“Neither murmur ye,
as some of them also murmured,
and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

~ 1 Corinthians 10:10

A Continual Dripping

A Continual Dripping

Murmuring. I don’t know why this stuck out to me. It really grabbed my attention. Murmuring. Let’s see. O yes, that’s the sin almost nobody remembers is a sin. It is also a universal practice; some would say art form. What is murmuring? It is complaining, grumbling, muttering, etc. Murmuring is experiencing or expressing dissatisfaction with some reality. For instance, the laborers complained about the wages the householder paid in the parable of the householder (Matthew 20:1-15).

Our world is filled with complaining. People complaining everywhere—in line at the store, waiting rooms, church fellowship, internet forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Start the day sometime with the determined purpose that you are going to be alert all day to people complaining. You will probably be surprised at how much you hear—I’ve had the worst day, the line is too long, the pump is too slow, the wind is too cold, this burger has pickles on it, and on and on it goes.

The Bible commands us not to complain. Our text is one of those instances. If the Bible forbids us from doing something, the doing of it is sin. Complaining is sin. It is one of the sins that brought punishment on the Israelites in the wilderness: “some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

Paul wrote that the Israelites “were our examples” (1 Corinthians 10:6) that we should learn from and not be like them. Complaining was one of the people’s characteristics along with lust, rebellion, idolatry, fornication, stubbornness, and other things that don’t exactly look good on a resume. So let’s take a few moments and think about complaining.

When we complain, we are expressing dissatisfaction with something as it is. The implication is that we would prefer that thing to be different. We might feel slighted, cheated, wronged, impatient, angry, manipulated, disliked, or something else but at the root of it complaining is dissatisfaction.

If we are dissatisfied with some reality and would prefer it to be something else, we are actually complaining against God. We are calling God’s wisdom into question when we complain about the rain that ruined our picnic. We are calling God’s justice into question when we complain about that coworker who has wronged us many times and still seems to get promoted. Ultimately, our complaint is against God.

Complaining is also contagious. It spreads like an infection. This seems obvious from the example of Israel, but we have also experienced it. I was once sitting in a waiting room with several other people. Everybody was sitting quietly and waiting. Then a disgruntled woman comes in and begins airing her complaints. Several others were quick to join in and add their complaints of the day to the floor. When we complain, we are encouraging others to do the same.

Complaining also contains an element of human pride. We might be seeking to exalt ourselves by complaining against others. We might be complaining because we feel that we should never be treated or be subjected to something as we are. In complaining we are boasting of ourselves, our worth, and what we deserve in our own mind.

Complaining is also a lie. Generally when we are complaining, we are dissatisfied with people and circumstances outside of ourselves. We think everyone and everything else is the problem, the root of our distress. The truth is: Complaining is the defilement of our own heart coming out of our mouth and defiling us before God and the world.

Complaining is sin. It is a sin for which people are condemned and it is a sin for which Christ died. We would do well to think about our complaining on the cross. Hanging between heaven and earth, Jesus Christ bore all the complaining of all His people. Speak of a contradiction of sinners against Him. The One who when “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

I pray that we take God’s Word to heart: “Neither murmur ye.”

Mark 12:44

“For all they did cast in of their abundance;
but she of her want did cast in all that she had,
even all her living.”

~ Mark 12:44

Usually when we come to this text, we talk about the widow. She is worthy of admiration and emulation. No question. But, other people put money in the treasury that day also. Mark reports:

“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much”
Mark 12:41

From this description, people of all classes were putting money in and some of them were rich, and many put considerable offerings in the treasury.

Christ commends the widow’s example, but He neither rebukes nor condemns the others. In other words, they were doing good by giving offerings into the treasury. Their gifts differed in size proportionally to their generosity and “many that were rich cast in much.” Everyone probably gave more than the “two mites” the widow gave.

All the contributors had one thing in common that distinguished them from this widow. Jesus said, “This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they . . . For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want” (Mark 12:43-44). All the people of all the different classes gave of their abundance. They were not all classified as rich, some were, but they gave of abundance. This means their offerings were not sacrifices. They weren’t wrong. They just weren’t sacrifices. The widow sacrificed.

Most of us are not the widow, we are the others. We might even be many that are rich. Imagine you are walking down a city street on a cold, windy evening. You round the corner and see an old woman shivering and trudging up the street. She has a thin tattered piece of cloth pulled about her shoulders. The wind is blowing loose strands of her hair across her face and she puts up no resistance. You are moved with compassion and become suddenly aware of the warm hands balled up in your coat pockets. You take off your coat and put it around the woman saying, “Here, Ma’am, take my coat.” She grasps it tight around her, says, “Thank you,” and goes on.

Though your heart is warm, a sudden blast of chill brings you back to reality of just how cold it is. You shiver and think. There are a few blocks to go to get to your car, which will warm up quickly and you will be nice and toasty to return to you warm house and another coat. There is also a clothing store at the corner, which is still open. You could go in and just get another coat. If it is really cold, most of us would probably just go buy another coat right there, but even if we chose to be thrifty and go home to our older coat, we could buy one if we wanted to.

Would it be wrong to give your coat in that circumstance? No, it would not be wrong in any way. Would it be good to do it? Yes, it would absolutely be a good thing to do. But the point is: It is not really a sacrifice. We might trade a few moments of inconvenience, but we really wouldn’t be doing without to give. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not being critical of this act, it would be the right thing to do.

The point in all this is to impact the way we think about giving. At least part of the point Jesus was making was that in God’s economy the bottom line is not the same as that in men’s accounting. Let us not be proud and think more highly of our giving than we ought to think. Let us also be ready to give when it has to come out of our want (2 Corinthians 8:2) and not just out of our abundance.

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