Bible reading plans aplenty

With the start of the new year I always determine to read through the Bible in a year. This is definitely doable and definitely challenging–at least for me. Of course it always helps to have a plan, so here are some links to Bible reading plans. Did you know people have gone to the trouble to make plans for 30,60, 90 days? chronological ones? topical ones? ones from several books at once or just straight through? One on the list here is sure to fit your needs and your life.

If you have Logos (like me)–or another computer program– then you can customize your plan how you choose with a keystroke. There are so many plans to choose from! When you live in a country with such free and easy access to God’s word I believe it’s all the more reason to read it daily. I pray you will dedicate yourself to reading God’s word daily this year.

What plan fits you best? Have you ever completed reading through the entire Bible?

 

My word for 2013

This is one of my favorite exercises each year. I determine a word to encapsulate the new year. Sometimes I spend a lot of time and sometimes one just pops out at me. It helps me live with more intention and purpose. Without further ado my word for the year is…

FRUITFUL–1. Very productive; producing fruit in abundance; as fruitful soil; a fruitful tree; a fruitful season. 3. Plenteous; abounding in any thing. 4. Productive of any thing; fertile; as fruitful in expedients. 5. Producing in abundance; generating.  (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)

2012 was a big year for me physically. I was pretty sick and had major surgery. I was VERY anemic and could not do much of anything. There were so many things I wanted to do but simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything more than the most basic tasks. Thankfully now my body has recovered and I feel better than I have in years!

I also completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing in December. It was a miracle to be sure! It was satisfying to walk across that stage after all that hard work. I’ve been an RN for twenty years (I can’t be that old mature!) and started on my BSN in 2011. One night a week was doable but it sure wasn’t easy.

My husband started a new contract business and I went to work as a school nurse. All said it was quite a busy year with four children and a menagerie along for the ride.

This year I don’t simply want to be busy. I want to be fruitful. I want to produce something someone else needs, starting with my family. I will post a lot about this as the year goes on. I believe God will provide opportunities for my fruit to abound, which will likely include some pruning!

What is your word for this year?

Word Study Wednesday: REST

This week’s word I chose a definition of:

REST: Quiet; repose; a state free from motion or disturbance; a state of reconciliation to God.

Key word definitions

Repose: To lay; to rest, as the mind, in confidence or trust; as, to repose trust or confidence in a person’s veracity.

State: Condition; the circumstances of a being or thing at any given time. These circumstances may be internal, constitutional or peculiar to the being, or they may have relation to other beings.

Reconciliation: Agreement of things seemingly opposite, different or inconsistent.

Scriptures

If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Heb. 4:3 MSG

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Rom. 5:11 NKJV

Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever. Ps.  136:23 NKJV

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Cor. 7:23, 24

Personal Application

My natural, lowly state is not rest. I cannot strive for salvation so I must continue in this rest and allow God to work on my behalf. His wisdom is much more valuable to my life’s plans than mine is. My reconciliation with God is complete in my quiet rest.

This is definitely not easy for me, this resting. Ceasing from my labors is totally foreign to my natural flesh. There’s got to be some way I can strive to obtain, work to get, labor to achieve. But as long as I do this I am frustrated and exhausted. What I need done I cannot do and that is the hardest struggle of all.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30 NKJV

He has completed. I can rest. All is well.

Words can mean so much

Ann has a splendid tradition of naming each new year. Last year I started that little exercise as well. You can read about that word here.

This year I have been carefully searching for the perfect moniker for 2012. It’s not an easy task, to be sure. Something about the process seems weighty and significant and it’s easy to become paralyzed as the word lies just out of reach.

Last year lives up to it’s name. I expect this year to as well. My word for this year is

Salient.

Salient–standing out conspicuously : prominent; especially : of notable significance

It is my aim this year to focus on the salient in my life, to always pay closest attention to the things that are most important and significant. It’s not easy to do in this world where everything—even the trivial—seems urgent and important.  I pray God will help me filter the salient in my life and place it prominently before me.

By shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.                       Romans 3:31 The Message

Caution: human under construction

It was in a nursing theory class a couple of weeks ago. It was another in a long line of Power Point presentations on theorists and their ideas. (I know, you probably had no idea nursing even had theories. Just stay with me.) We were discussing a particularly weird interesting theorist when the words popped up on the screen.

Human Becoming Theory

Hmmmmm. Not human being, human becoming. It took a moment for it to sink in. Her idea is that we are all growing, so becoming is a better word choice than being. I am quick to acknowledge that not everyone is growing, especially spiritually. But hopefully most of us are.

There wasn’t much I agreed with in her theory, but this is something I can really embrace. I like to think of meeting other people as a snapshot. People are a movie but all we get is a snapshot. If I see someone who’s not agreeable I think, well maybe they are struggling with something. It’s so easy to judge people in a second. No one wants to be sized up like that. There’s not much room for kindness or forgiveness that way.

I am a human becoming. I pray I am becoming–more like Jesus. I pray as I grow up in Him that I am less like my old nature and that I live as I have become a new creation in Christ.

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 2 Cor 3:18 The Message

Charity brings: kingdom

This is part three in my series on charity. (Here are posts one and two.)

Webster defines kingdom as “In Scripture, the government or universal dominion of God.” This is the kingdom I am referring to–God’s kingdom.

I’ve heard it said that love is the currency of heaven. I think it’s more like the air. Where God is, love is there. God chooses not to exist without love. We cannot live without His love.

Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do. Ps. 89:14 NCV

When we extend our hands to the poor we bring God’s love to earth. We bring His kingdom here.

You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” James 2:8 GNT

Charity, or love, enables God’s kingdom, His government, His way of doing and being right to exist right here with us. Charity opens the door to Heaven on earth.

Sell what you own. Give to those who are poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out. Put away riches in heaven that will not be used up. There, no thief can come near it. There, no moth can destroy it. Luke 12:33 NIrV

That’s where we belong–in heaven. That’s where our true possessions should lie. Charity brings His kingdom to us and us to His Kingdom. We are moved by what moves Him. His agenda is ours. We strive to please the King, even to our own discomfort. Love begins to motivate us to do more, to reach higher and to advance His kingdom.

Government is, in a nutshell, “who or what is in control.” I want to always choose God’s government over my own. My own government is lazy and self-serving. His is generous and full of unselfish love (charity). He is patiently waiting for us to prefer His government, His kingdom, so heaven can visit us here in the everyday.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Mt 6:9–10 NKJV

Charity brings: emancipation

This is Part Two in my small series on charity. In installment 1 I provided a definition of “charity” from Webster. Charity is used in the King James as a word for love.  As we practice charity a beautiful thing begins to happen in our own lives: emancipation.

EMANCIPA’TION, n. The act of setting free from slavery, servitude, subjection or dependence; deliverance from bondage or controlling influence; liberation; as the emancipation of slaves by their proprietors; the emancipation of a son among the Romans; the emancipation of a person from prejudices, or from a servile subjection to authority.

  • We are free from fleshly desires. Setting aside our desires is difficult. Maybe a reason bigger than ourselves helps us do that.
  • We are free from sin’s hold. When we love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, as the two Great Commandments say, there is little room for sin in our own lives.

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 KJV

  • We are free from trappings of the world.  Be warned: charity can cause a loss of personal possessions. Stuff is not as important as people. Meeting the needs of others is important, even if it means meeting them with your own stuff. People know love by meeting basic needs first.

Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. 11 There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. Deut 15:10-11 The Message

  • Seeing others through the lenses of charity we are free to see others for who they are (Webster notes freedom from prejudices).   And we are free to do the same for ourselves. But most of all we get a new perspective on who God is. If we can be charitable, how much more charitable is He? (see John 3:16) We stop picking and choosing who we will help. We seek out the unlovely—in all forms—because that’s where the hurt is.

Add…to brotherly kindness charity. 2 Peter 1:7 KJV

  • We are free to hope. It’s wonderful to have the hope you give others offered to you in return. When you see freedom in action you cannot help but be filled with hope.

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.    Galatians 5:14 The Message

I am not saying that we love so we can get something. These are simply a sacred by-product of charity. God set it up that way and I’m so glad He did. It’s beautifully summed up in this passage:

Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” Luke 6:31b-38 The Message

Charity brings: healing

I have been meditating on charity and this is the first in a short series about my thoughts.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, Charity is:

CHARITY, n.

1. In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men.

It brings healing to the giver. It’s a wonderful way God made it to work. Somehow when we give love and give out of love we receive love in return. Maybe not from the source we expect, but it does happen. When we give out of our need our need is met.

It also brings healing to the receiver. The warm salve of love heals. It binds up broken hearts. It creates a soft place to fall. It restores and nurtures and blesses.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. 1 Tim 1:8 The Message

Charity invites healing to all involved. When we prefer one another, “thinking favorably” about our fellow man, the door is opened to restoration. Allow God’s love to flow to another person through your actions and through your deeds. Love without strings shows others that we belong to Him and points others to Him.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Col. 3:14b, 15a NIV

The very best kind of garden

The best kind of soil is soft and pliable through tilling the hard ground of insensitivity and free of the weeds of cares and sin.

The best kind of seed is God’s Word.

The best kind of nourishment for the seed is faith.

The best kind of light is Jesus.

The very best kind of garden is the one in my child’s heart.

It’s pouring

I am trying to keep my word for the year in the front of my mind. Pour. I am a seeker, searching meanings and clues to what this word means in my life this year. I want to be truly transformed by this idea of pouring.

“Pour” denotes an activity, which is very different than emptying. Being emptied is passive, it can happen without your consent or participation. Things can happen every day to empty us. Tragedy and stress and life itself can tear holes and drain out most everything.

Pouring takes action. You can’t pour out of a container without first taking hold. Purposeful holding. I want to not just be emptied this year, but to be poured. I place my earthen vessel in the hands of Jesus and trust that I will be poured out as He sees fit, as He fills me with whatever He deems useful and worthy.