Friday, December 27, 2013

Bible Reading Plans for 2014

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014

Do you want to read the whole Bible?

The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.

Audio Bibles are usually about 75 hours long, so you can listen to it in just over 12 minutes a day.

But the point is not merely to read the whole thing to say you’ve done it or to check it off a list. The Bible itself never commands that we read the Bible through in a year. What is commends is knowing the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and meditating or storing or ruminating upon God’s self-disclosure to us in written form (Deut. 6:7; 32:46; Ps. 119:11, 15, 23, 93, 99; 143:5).

Someone has said: “A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.”

So reading the Bible cover to cover is a great way to facilitate meditation upon the whole counsel of God.

But a simple resolution to do this is often an insufficient. Most of us need a more proactive plan.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s plan has you read shorter selections from four different places in the Bible each day. There are many other useful schemes.

For those who would benefit from a realistic “discipline + grace” approach, consider “The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.” It takes away the pressure (and guilt) of “keeping up” with the entire Bible in one year. You get variety within the week by alternating genres by day, but also continuity by sticking with one genre each day. Here’s the basic idea:

Sundays: Poetry
Mondays: Penteteuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Tuesdays: Old Testament history
Wednesdays: Old Testament history
Thursdays: Old Testament prophets
Fridays: New Testament history
Saturdays: New Testament epistles


Monday, December 23, 2013

Your Christmas Complaint List

What do you find most frustrating about Christmas?

Without sounding like a Dickensian Scrooge this is my list:

1. The excess consumption of food;
2. The spending of money you don't have;
3. The endless wrapping of things which will in seconds be opened and the paper binned - if you are frugal and economical you could reuse the paper!;
4. The receipt of presents that you don't really need.

I think I am quite a contented person. My Christmas present list is usually non- existent and when asked I struggle to think of things I really need. Maybe this is because I am so well look after that I have very little need of anything. This is most likely true!

This whole idea of being content poses questions that we would be wise to ask every once in a while:

Am I satisfied with my life?

Is there meaning in my life that is bigger that merely maintaining my existence?

The bible suggests that we were not placed on this planet for our own pleasure! We are actually most satisfied when living life in the way God designed. Focusing on self is not the best way although it is our natural bias. Isaiah 43:21 and Revelation 4:11, in the bible, state these principles.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the best example of the right way to live. In fact He was the only person ever to live who lived up to the exacting and high standards of God as defined in the Bible, see Exodus 20 etc. In the biblical letter to the Hebrews He is described as 'holy... and undefiled'. BUT in addition to this He lived for the glory of his Father (read John 17:4) and for the good of the people He came into contact with (see Acts 10:38).

I think that you may agree that none of us can hope to reach the standards of perfection that are required of us in the bible. None of us live lives like Jesus did! That puts us in a difficult situation. The bible not only defines the unrelenting standard but it spells out the consequences of falling short of it. One of the most searching statements of the bible is 'for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God' add to this the consequence of sinning (wrongdoing) - 'the wages of sin is death' and the situation becomes impossible.

This is when the offer of forgiveness comes to the surface. God in the bible describes in numerous passages His intention to provide a solution, usually called salvation. One clear statement of truth is this 'Christ died for our sins'. In addition to this we read 'Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that might bring us to God'. In other words the death and resurrection (coming to life again) of Jesus satisfies the legal case against us for all our shortcomings.

How then do we benefit from such a provision? Is it automatic? Do I have to do something to enjoy it? The answer to both questions is no! The only requirement in the word of God is that we recognise and feel the need of forgiveness. When we get to the point were we see our danger and our inability to resolve the issue ourselves then we must turn to God. Leaving everything else behind we need to admit to God our need and cry to Him asking for mercy. The action on our part is 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ'. That means trust Him, rest on Him and rely on Him as Saviour. The guaranteed response is 'you shall be saved'. Now this will sound crazy to you unless you are already a believer. If not pray and ask God to reveal your need of salvation to you. Your part is to simply believe what God says He will do when you call upon His name.

Finally for those who trust Jesus Christ, as Lord and Saviour, he gives us power to live differently. This is another subject but if you are interested email me ( and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Business on the Up!

The Retail Think Tank produced this on-line report about the health of the UK’s retail business. 

“The health of UK retail has shown some signs of improvement over the past quarter and the outlook is looking more encouraging than it has done for some time, particularly as the nation heads into the Christmas season feeling better about itself.  

Following its quarterly meeting in October, the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) upgraded its Retail Health Index to 79 and its panel of retail experts forecasted that this could improve to 81 in quarter four.  This would not only mark the highest level since Quarter Three 2011, but the strongest quarter-on-quarter leap for four years. 

Two of the three key drivers of retail health – demand and margin - were more positive in quarter three than in the previous quarter, and cost factors over the period were largely neutral. It is the first time for three years that both demand and margins have contributed positively to the improvement of retail health….The RTT predicts an even more promising outlook for UK retail over the next quarter, not only because it’s the Christmas trading period; consumer confidence appears to be on the increase, the housing market is more buoyant and economic conditions are generally improving.   

One important consequence, the RTT believes, is that as people become less nervous at losing their jobs and interest rates remain low, they are less intent on saving and becoming more comfortable to spend. And if people do start shopping more, they may be inclined to ‘trade up’ to premium goods, particularly over Christmas.”

The UK’s economy having experienced a double-dip recession plunged many a business into an unhealthy state, so this news from the RTT will put some colour back into the cheeks of boardroom members, and brighten the eyes of their shareholders.

People generally are feeling upbeat about their job security and prospects and are more confident to spend some of their disposable income instead of saving it for a time of possible unemployment.
The construction industry is often first to feel the effects of recession and last to benefit from any recovery, so it is good to hear that business is on the up in that sector with contracts being placed that previously had been put on hold until better days.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer whose business was on the up. Luke 12:16 reads, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  

His business plan would have pleased any bank-manager; he was an expansionist and was prepared to invest his potential profits in building new bigger barns. The man may have been good with numbers but he made the great error of neglecting No.1. Many years ago when I was trading as a small jobbing builder, I was a bit run-down and consulted my doctor. He advised me to ease up, saying, “You are your most important asset in your business”. I never forgot that! In my case it was physical and temporary, but in the farmers case it was terminal and spiritual, it concerned his soul.

There is a great danger in making provision for the body and neglecting the soul, the body is not permanent but the soul is.  The big question is - Where will one’s soul be in eternity? A bank-manager might have considered the farmer’s business plan as prudent, but the Lord said that he was a fool to go after the transitory material things at the expense of his soul’s eternal need. What about you my dear reader? A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. ‘To lose one’s wealth is much, to lose one’s health is more, to lose one’s soul in Hell is such that nothing can restore.’

When Christ was born, the Inn Keeper at Bethlehem must have thought that his business was on the up when Caesar commissioned a census and taxation of everyone in the known world. It meant for him that Bethlehem would be inundated with people needing accommodation, and he was right. When the time came every room in his establishment was booked solid, business was booming. To be confronted by a young couple seeking a room, and her being heavily pregnant was something he could do without. There was no consideration on his part about Mary’s condition, no compassion to move him to offer his room for the birth of the Son of God. 

One might say that he did not know, he was ignorant about Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  

The Inn Keeper missed his opportunity to be involved in the birth of Jesus, for him, the outside place of a stable would be his level of interest in this amazing event of the incarnation of the Son of God.

In 1878 Daniel Whittle adapted the hymn, ‘Have you any room for Jesus’, one verse reads 

Room for pleasure, room for business, 
But for Christ the crucified, 
Not a place that He could enter, 
In the Heart for which He died.

The busyness of business, whether on the up, or on the down, can rob a person of the most important decision that a person has to face, that of, what shall I do with Jesus which is called the Christ?

Why not put the Lord in the first place in your life this Christmas, no longer outside but inside directing the future path of your life, and say with Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. 

The life will be altogether on the up!

Written by a Guest Blogger for FTMP.
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