Bible Reading Challenge!

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Ok gang….sorry I haven’t posted this sooner.  But to be honest, I hardly even crawled out of bed yesterday!  And for me to stay away from the computer completely, well, you know I must be sick!

Anyway, here’s how this will work.

Each Sunday, I’ll post reading schedules for Monday thru Sunday.  Sometime during that week, at least once, to be a “TRUE” participant, you’ll need to post a comment about that week’s readings.  You can post everyday, or you can post once for the week.  Of course, I’d love for you to post each day, but we are all very busy, I understand.  Also, tell your friends, teens, kids, family, etc., to stop by and join our challenge!  I’ll be accepting new participants as the year goes by, but they won’t have the advantage of reading through from the beginning as we will.

Some ideas and hints for your readings:

Because this is reading through the Bible in a year, you may consider making these readings separate from your daily quiet times.  That way, you don’t get caught up on something and fall behind.  Instead, keep a notepad handy, and jot down verses you’d like to go back to later.

Consider making this a family endeavor. Reading aloud may take a bit longer, but the rewards earned by participating as a family will be worth it.

You’ll have two readings each day.  You can read these all at once, or split them up.  The most obvious way to do it is once in the morning, and again in the evening.  However, there are other ways to work it in:  read during your lunch hour at work; read while the kids are napping; in the doctor’s office;  while waiting for your daughter’s ballet class; read during baseball practice, etc.  The most important thing to do is to make it a habit.  It needs to be something you do everyday without fail, without question. 

Finally, and actually the most important of all, pray. Pray before you begin each reading session asking God to open your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to His wisdom and instruction.

Ok, now those are the “rules.”  Here is the schedule through Sunday, January 4, 2009:

Jan 1:  Genesis 1-2             Matthew 1

Jan 2:  Gen. 3-5                   Matt. 2

Jan 3:  Gen 6-8                    Matt 3

Jan 4:  Gen 9-11                 Matt 4

Next installment of schedules due out on the 4th!

Happy reading!

Toni

Will you accept my challenge this year?

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I have been feeling a need to do this, so here it is:

I am issuing a challenge to each and every one of you – EVERYONE that reads this blog!

The challenge is this:

Read through your Bible in one year with us!

Now, if you have done it before, GREAT!  Do it again!  And if you haven’t, PERFECT!  Do it now!

Here’s how it will work:

I will post a reading schedule at the beginning of each week.  It will list the daily readings for the week, and be the catalyst for comments during the week on the readings we are doing.  I plan to have some free goodies for those of you who participate (by participate, I mean, leave at least one comment per week on that week’s readings!).  And, there is a distinct possibility of having a drawing mid-way through and at the end of the year….if not quarterly!

So, join with us today….we begin on January 1st!

Leave a comment on this posting if you will be taking up the challenge to Sharpen Your Sword all year long!

Preparing for Battle,

Toni

Love letters

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Imagine this scenario:

You pick up your mail, like usual. As you sift through the endless amount of bills, credit card offers, sales flyers and more junk mail, you see a long white envelope with an actual stamp on it. You pull it from the stack and realize it is a letter from a dear friend you haven’t heard from in years! You pull into the driveway and read the letter before you even put the car in park!

Or, how about this one:

Ladies, you’re being courted (or dating as is said now, though the two are not interchangeable), and your betrothed presents you with a handwritten letter. The letter tells you about the way his life was before you met. It tells you about how great of a love he has for you and talks of future plans and dreams. And deep within, in the middle of the letter, is a wonderful surprise – a marriage proposal. This is definitely a letter you will read again just before you walk down the aisle. In short, it is a letter you will read over and over again, breathing in each and every word as if your very life depended on it.

Try this one:

You receive a poetic love letter from your spouse. The letter is very long, and handwritten, with all types of prose. It begins with the story of your lives together. It tells of the good times, and the bad. There are pages that talk of nothing but hardship, and other pages that are full of blessed memories. There are poems and beautiful language. You read this letter everyday, especially since your spouse is now deceased. You treasure every single word, and you can almost say the entire thing by heart. It is, by far, your most valued possession.

Now, imagine this one:

Imagine getting any of those letters, and only taking it out once a week to read one or two sentences. Imagine only reading the parts that are happy, and not ever bothering with the parts that are hard to understand.

Instead of reading it all, you pick out little bits of information here and there, but you miss the big picture since you never read the whole thing. But, after all, you don’t have time to sit and read the whole thing. Dishes must be washed, laundry folded, errands run, and emails to check. So you miss out on the wonderful words and sweet poetry your friend or loved one put together, specifically for you.

Are you wondering where I’m going with this? It’s been said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. And it struck me tonight that if it is indeed a love letter – or a letter at all – we have ignored it unopened on the desk corner for far too long. Unlike the long-lost friend’s letter, or the letter from our beloved husband or wife, we open it and read only a verse or two once a week. And we wonder in the meantime why there are days when we just don’t understand what’s going on. There are days when nothing makes sense, and when we ask God to explain it, we wonder why He doesn’t speak to us.

The truth is, He does speak to us still, and has given us something that the early church would have gladly died for – a book that contains His words and thoughts. We have in our hands something of such great value that people die for it everyday. And we leave ours all too often on a shelf or coffee table to gather dust.

Why don’t we give our Bible the same attention and care we give those love letters? After reading those love letters, we can quote so much of it word-for-word, and yet we have a hard time remembering much more than a few scriptures, and then may only know the jist of it. Knowing its address (the book: chapter and verse) is another thing.

So my challenge is this: treat your Bible and the word of God as 1000 times more important than any other love letter you could ever receive. Read it every single day. Read it all the way through (not all at once, of course!) – and then do it again. Carry it with you when you travel. When you feel worried, scared, happy, sad, or blessed, read it. Memorize it – hide its words in your heart.

Do that, and its guaranteed, when the hard times come, you’ll have a direct line to God – His written word. And you’ll have a much easier time of knowing how to handle everything that comes your way.

Spend time in His word today – and be blessed.

Tell us about your devotion times

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In an effort to jump-start devotions for those who haven’t yet begun them, or to reignite the fire for others, I’d like to talk about devotions.

Of course, I mean:  devotion times, quiet times, Bible reading, morning devotions, etc.

Would you be willing to share some of what you do?

Do you get up early or have your devotions late? 

Is it the first thing you do, or do you fix your coffee, etc., first?

How do you choose where you read in your Bible? 

Do you use a prepared study for this time, or is your time strictly Spirit-led?

Do you sing hymns, take walks, light candles, etc.?

Do you have a set length of time for your devotion or end when you feel God is “done for the moment?”

Do you take notes, and if so, do you do this by subject, or book?

How much of your quiet time do you devote to prayer, and what part of that prayer is speaking vs. listening?

Do you have additional family devotions?  If so, apply the above questions to those also, if you will.

If there is anything else you’d like to add, feel free!  Looking forward to yet another discussion!

Happy Thanksgiving, and Grace be unto you…

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Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;  That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:  So that ye come behind in no gift;  waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 1:3-8

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving today.  I do truly count this blog as a blessing, in that I get to speak on behalf of our Lord, and pray that something I write can and will be used by our God to enrich your life in some way.  My prayer is that there will be people who will find the Savior through this blog, or that at least a seed shall be planted.  Not my will, but His be done.  I write to be invisible so that He may be seen through me.

May you be unable to count the multitude of blessings that are given to you this Thanksgiving and in the year to come.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and thanks for reading.

Giving thanks in all things,

Toni