New Year

As 2023 came to a close, 2024 began with new promises and possibilities. These first few weeks of a new year mark a time when many of us reevaluate the way we did things in the past in order to change and make life better in the future.

It should come as no surprise that the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, read more, watch less, or simply become a more pleasant person. All of these are good aspirations, but it’s hard to find the perfect goal that you can stick with till the end. Instead, this list of resources are here to help promote practices that will benefit your body, mind, and soul.

However you choose to carry out the new year, it is our prayer that you will draw nearer to Jesus in 2024.

1. Read Through the Bible

Even though most Christians desire to read God’s Word all the way through, most of us simply haven’t been able to do it. The Haven Original book, Christ in All the Scriptures: Reading and Praying Through the Bible in a Year, is designed to help you do just that. It’s an easy‑to‑navigate, hardback book that contains overviews of each book in the Bible and prayers centered on each reading. We would like to challenge you to make 2024 the year you read and pray through God’s Word — and this book will help you do just that, all while finding Jesus on every page of your Bible.

2. Memorize Scripture

Many of us have tried to memorize short Bible verses in Sunday school, but this ambition usually isn’t prevalent among adults. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” and Paul also writes in Colossians 3:16 to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.”

To help you memorize portions of God’s Word, we recommend you listen to this podcast with Aaron House on how to memorize Scripture simply and effectively. You can also get a copy of his book on the topic here.

3. Pray More Consistently

Many of us pray at night as we fall asleep or when we need an immediate helping hand, but God desires that we continually communicate with Him. The trouble is, we so seldom do it.

Sherry Harney wrote a remarkable book on how to make continuous prayer a natural part of our lives rather than something on our daily spiritual checklist. Praying with Eyes Wide Open is a resource for anyone who wants to better understand what prayer is and why we need to do it continually.

4. Take Care of Body & Soul

This wouldn’t be a “New Year’s Day” post if we didn’t have one category on improving our health. But this topic is much more significant than looking better and feeling more energetic. When we take care of our bodies, we are being good stewards of the way we live and serve Christ in this world. Read about the practice of replacing your unhealthy cravings for certain foods with a healthy craving for God with Lysa TerKeurst’s bestselling book Made to Crave. Or simply follow your favorite blog or eating/workout plan to live healthier the life God has given you.

5. Take Care of Your Money

It is no secret that the Bible has a lot to say about how we use the very thing we often feel we can’t get enough of. But that’s the thing–there is always room for us to better handle how we look at the money we earn and what to do with it once we have it.

Dr. Ben Witherington is a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary, and he’s paid close attention to what Jesus said and didn’t say about money. Here’s an interview with Dr. Witherington on the topic with links to help you use your money in the coming year the way Jesus would want you to use it. Here’s his book.

It’s still January, right? Keep hanging on to those resolutions, whether you’re looking to lose weight or to read the Bible in a year. And we’ve got one more for you to add: memorize Bible verses.

I know, you’re thinking that you’re already barely hanging on to your other resolutions. But here’s the thing; Jesus said that “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

As you’re reading through the Bible, whether it’s in 90 days or 365 days, it’s good to find verses to pick up and put in your heart. These are verses you can cling to and say to yourself when you’re twisted up with anxiety or you’ve forgotten how much the Lord loves you.

We picked out 10 verses for you, and you may be surprised at how many you know already—it may only take memorizing the book of the Bible and verse number that goes with it. Choose one or all, and savor that delicious bread.

  1. Gen. 1:31
    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
  2. Gen. 9:14-15
    Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
  3. Exodus 15:2-3
    The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior;
 the Lord is his name.
  4. Leviticus 20:7
    Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.
  5. Numbers 21:8-9:
    The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
  6. John 3:14-16
    Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  7. Deuteronomy 32:7-9
    Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind,
he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.
  8. Joshua 5:13-14
    Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
  9. Ruth 1:16-17
    But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
  10. 1 Samuel 1:20
    So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

To help you, we’ll be posting these verses on our Facebook page. Follow us for encouragement, reminders, and community. It is our heartfelt prayer that you, and we, will be blessed.

Lindsey M. Roberts is the editor of the All About Jesus blog. After seven years in secular journalism, she is thrilled to explore in words how everything—from taking a walk to doing the dishes—is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband and son in Virginia.

Most people think about reading the Bible in a year, or in a lifetime. So where did 90 days come from? We interviewed Ted Cooper, the founder of the Bible in 90 Days program, to find out how he drew up three months as an appropriate time frame, and why this former skeptic even started to read the Bible. Find out and hear for yourself how God took ahold of Ted’s life through His word.

We all think about what we need to be doing and doing better in a brand-new year and that includes reading the Bible, doesn’t it?

For as many people who have now done this, there are still tens of millions, hundreds of millions, even billions of people who haven’t, so this is the crusade, this is the mission, to help all of God’s people read God’s word.

Tell us what was going on in your life when you even started to read the Bible.

This all started for me back in 1999. We were at a point where I was agnostic, my wife was agnostic, and we had three children at that point who were getting to the age where they were impressionable. And we decided that rather than have them grow up in a non-Christian household or in a household in which we were blatantly disavowing God and Jesus Christ, we thought, well gosh, you know, let’s let them go to church, be in Sunday School and make up their own minds. We had otherwise remained silent on the subject. So we decided to bundle them up, throw them in a car one Sunday, take them to a church that we knew had a great youth program, and that I had in fact attended as a child, and walked through the door with them. And as we joke now, that was our big mistake. Becky and I crossed the threshold ourselves.

You were Thomas. You were a doubter.

I had gone to church as a child, gone through in fact, even the confirmation process, but very much the kicking-and-screaming approach and did it more than anything else because it was going to make my parents happy. And I walked away from that. The bottom line was that we were agnostic, and I’ve always felt that the reason we were agnostic was we just weren’t brave enough to be atheists. We weren’t brave enough to say, “No, absolutely, there is no God.” But we just don’t think that there is one, and even if there is, why waste the time, frankly? Why waste our lives wondering about this thing that will never be proven, until in fact we die? That was very much my mindset. However, let’s don’t impose that thinking on our children. And if we were wrong, we didn’t want to impose that on them.

We joined a class called Discovery 101 that was led by a wonderful pastor by the name of Carl Hamilton, and a woman by the name of Susan Ray. They just did a wonderful job, for four weeks, of introducing what were prospective members of the church to the Christian faith, to the faith as practiced by that church. So we just went, and thought, “Well, we’ll see what they have to say.” And frankly, we would leave every week, kind of shaking our head, and going, boy, they’ve got this wrong. I remember vividly the opportunity to study the prodigal son. And Becky and I both left there thinking, “Wow, that’s just all about bad parenting.” But what did happen during this particular hour each week for four weeks, was that Carl Hamilton would ask a question, pose a question, that I just couldn’t answer, that my worldview couldn’t answer. And that would make me mad. And he suggested that the Christian worldview really did have the answer. This made me mad, it took me out of my comfort zone, and I wanted back in my comfort zone just as quickly as possible. The noodling that I did arrived at a point … and the plan was, I want to get back into my comfort zone, the way that I can do that is to actually read the book that’s supposed to tell me all about the Christian faith and I needed to do it and do it as quickly as possible so that I could go back to my disbelief and my own comfortable life.

Ted, how did you work this out? You’re a linear thinker, and you decided you wanted to check the book out to see if it was really true. 

I’m a businessman and I was used to thinking in terms of projects and I was used to thinking through things, how I make sure this project was going to be successful. This particular project was to read all of God’s word. I knew and had met plenty of people who had started out to read the entire Bible and the vast majority had failed. So I thought through the process of what kind of resource do I need, and that would mean a particular Bible, what would be the timeframe that would be successful for me, and in my case, I thought, “I won’t stick with it over a year.” And so 90 days made a lot of sense for me. I thought, “I can do anything for three months.”

It’s amazing that you did this, and went to all this trouble, to not believe in something—that you didn’t expect to be having any impact in your future or in your kid’s lives, either. But you started the project, and you started reading the Bible through in 90 days. So I guess, as they say, the rest is history, but what happened?

The first half, I was reading along. I was trying to be very open-minded about it. I didn’t want to go in with a defeatist attitude. I didn’t expect to have my mind changed by it, but I didn’t want to read it in such a way that I would clearly not have my mind changed by it. So with a fairly open mind, I started reading it. I kept reading it. I read 12 pages a day. And darned if halfway through, I didn’t realize that I was actually believing what I reading.

For anyone who’s never read the Bible all the way through, you were still in the Old Testament, you hadn’t even gotten to the New Testament yet, had you? 

I was still in the Old Testament, somewhere in Isaiah or Jeremiah. And you know, this was my first time through. I wasn’t keeping them straight, which one was which. But yes, in the Old Testament, and then back in the major prophets, which is not a particularly likely place to become a believer, but I did.

So you actually lost your agnosticism somewhere between Isaiah or Jeremiah. The spirit of the living God was actually speaking to you.

I believe so. I wouldn’t believe it before. But at this moment, this great revelation was, I believe this. It changed my life so dramatically and yet so subtly at the same time. When I woke up the next morning, I still had the same personality, I still had a lot of the same quirks and approaches to life and my compass had been changed. The big issue for me had been, I had always thought that I was in control. And once I accepted that there is a God, and that He sent his son to die for his sins, to be our savior, I had to accept that I wasn’t in charge but that he was in charge, is in charge. And if I’m going to have a life that has meaning, I better figure out what the creator’s plan for me is, and get with the picture.

I am so amazed. This is a risky thing. If you do not believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior, you know in your heart that you’re not a believer, we’re going to ask you to do this, but you better be careful for what you ask for.

I think that’s what people’s big fear is. And I do understand it, coming from one side to the other. The neat thing that I can guarantee is that if you take the leap, you will not regret it. If we accept the notion that God created us, that He created this incredible universe, with wonderful blessings, and also horrible tragedies, then what we want to do, I believe, is be on His team. And if we’re not, then what we have to understand is, that we’re in a battle against the creator. And that doesn’t make any sense. We’re not going to win that battle. So as much as we may fear change at any point in time, the great thing is, he has wonderful plans in store for us.

And I can tell you, 13 years ago, I would have been very, very cynical if I heard somebody telling me. What I would just ask people, invite people, very heartily to do, is to go find out for yourself. That is a big part of what we think the mission of this ministry is, to help people find out for themselves what this wonderful scripture says. God gave us this gift. And most of us including the vast majority of Christians, have never fully unwrapped it. Please do. When you do, you get to respond to it. You get to decide whether it makes you happy, it makes you mad, it makes you knowledgeable, it confuses you. You go through this process, and I think you’re going to come out on the other end going, “Gosh, I’m glad I did that.”

As the leader of the 80-year-old Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” Charles is a former secular journalist, working for United Press International, and a former press secretary for two U.S. senators. After seminary, he started working in the Christian world, coming to Haven as the fourth speaker in 2000. He and his wife Janet are looking forward to their soon-to-be-released book Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story.

You have read more than 1000 chapters of Scripture! God’s plan to save His people has come to pass with the coming of Christ. And the story did not here. Nor did it end after the Resurrection or Ascension.

Much to the joy of Jesus’ friends and followers, and the frustration of Jewish leaders, this was just the beginning. Rather than killing the Author of life Himself, the Crucifixion had only managed to set off a wildfire that would soon spread all over the world!

As we read this week, God was (and still is) making a kingdom for Himself through His church and the power of the Holy Spirit. The plans and ways of God are always different than ours and tend to surprise us. The first century disciples of Jesus would never have guessed their Teacher needed to die so that they could receive the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. But this is exactly how the Lord intended to bring about His kingdom on earth.

Acts 6:8-Philemon 25 Themes

Acts   “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These were Jesus’ last words to His disciples. They would soon meet the third person of the Trinity who, for the first time in Scripture, would be seen, heard, and recognized by God’s people.

Romans  Being a Christian is much more than just waiting to go to heaven. God calls believers to live as members of a new creation. In the letter to the Roman church, Paul outlines why this should change how they live. He writes, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (3:23). And he shares, “But now a righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (3:21). This does not give us freedom to live however we please, but to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship” (12:1). The good news of faith in Christ completely changes us!

1 Corinthians  Paul saw himself as a father taking care of his spiritual children from far away. He accomplished much of his spiritual parenting by writing to those he called, “my beloved children” (4:14). His “children” in Corinth had split into various divisions, some calling themselves followers of Paul, and others of Apollos or Peter. The young church was sexually immoral, they were bringing lawsuits against each other, and they were marrying unbelievers. They needed to be admonished, but Paul still had great hopes for them. Paul reminds them of the pure simplicity of following Jesus, “I decided to know nothing while I was among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2).

2 Corinthians  Whereas the first letter Paul wrote was a rebuke, the second is softer. He reminds them that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “comforts us in all our troubles” (1:4) so that we can extend a comforting word to others. Paul points these Christians to place their hope in heaven which, after they have suffered for a little while, will surely come.

Galatians  Paul gets right to the point: “I am astonished you are so quickly turning to a different Gospel” (1:6). Among other things, Jesus’ death and resurrection meant the walls between Jews and Gentiles had been torn down, and this made Jewish people uncomfortable. They wondered if they should go back to their old ways. This letter presents a clear decision that must be made: justification by faith or by works? On this specific point there is no middle ground.

Ephesians  Few books have occupied the attention of those who love God’s Word like Ephesians. The enthusiasm of Paul for the gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious. All you have to do is scan the first chapter and count how many times Paul references Jesus to realize the depth of his passion. The first half focuses on our blessings in Christ and the new reality we live in as children of God. The second half devotes itself to the implications of those truths. Our identify in Christ impacts how we live, what we do privately and in public, how we treat others, and how we make a stand in our world while continuing to grow in Christ.

Philippians  Written from Rome by Paul while he is “in chains” for the gospel, Philippians is a letter to the church in Philippi. It is one of the most joyful books in the Bible, as Paul encourages his readers to rejoice no matter their circumstances. He models it for them as he fixes his eyes on Christ, regarding everything else as “rubbish” by comparison. As you read, look for words and phrases related to joy. There are at least 20 of them in Philippians.

Colossians  One of the so-called “prison epistles,” Colossians was written while Paul endured his first imprisonment in Rome. Unique from other New Testament letters, this one was written to confront specific challenges and heresies that had risen up against the gospel. Most of his attention is placed on the supremacy, sufficiency, and lordship of Jesus Christ over all of creation. It also clarifies the full deity of Christ as Paul writes, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (2:9).

1-2 Thessalonians  Like the church at Philippi, the church at Thessalonica was a fairly healthy church. Paul commends them for their love for each other and for the way they live in eager expectation of the return of Christ. However, shortly after sending the first letter, Paul received a report that the Thessalonians had accepted a false teaching that the “day of the Lord” had already passed. While confronting this false teaching, Paul clarifies several points related to the doctrine of heaven and provides some answers to the age-old question, “What happens when we die?”

1 Timothy  Paul loved Timothy like a son and had travelled extensively with him. Paul likely wrote this letter after being released from his first imprisonment. In it he encourages Timothy to persevere in his ministry and admonishes him to live a life of Christ-centered godliness. This letter is jam-packed with doctrine applicable to life, godliness, and church oversight.

2 Timothy  Written a few years after his first letter to Timothy, this letter is deeply moving. The apostle Paul seems to realize that he has reached the end of his life and ministry. Soon Jesus will call him home and, at least in this life, he will never see Timothy again. Read in this light, 2 Timothy is almost like a last will and testament. But Paul has few earthly possessions to be concerned with. His greatest concern is for Timothy’s faithfulness, effectiveness, and endurance as an overseer and leader of the church.

Titus  Titus is a young pastor who leads the church in Crete. This body of believers has two problems, one on each end of the spectrum. One on hand, they struggle with godless, rule-free living. On the other hand, they struggle with legalistic rule-following. The apostle Paul helps Titus see that the root of the problem is the same – putting hope in the flesh. Paul guides Titus toward the antidote – living in the grace of the Lord Jesus, from which springs godliness motivated by gratitude.

Philemon  Philemon is a unique letter. It is a case-in-point as Paul writes to a wealthy Colossian Christian whose former life was that of a slave owner. Both he and one of his runaway slaves have encountered the grace of Jesus Christ, which presents them both with a conundrum … how to reconcile their past lives with their new identity in Christ. This short letter is as fascinating as it is rich!

 


Encouraging Comments from B90 Readers

I am now reading the exciting story of the birth of the church, and the living presence of Jesus among the early Christians. My thoughts went back to the years the Israelites spent in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. There, too, the living God was manifest among them, but now in the book of Acts, Christians now know Jesus alive & powerful among them. I look forward to the conclusion of the wonderful story in the Book of the Revelation.

Ken Seburn, International


B90 Insight of the Week

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From time to time, we all catch ourselves regarding someone as beyond the reach of God’s grace. At times, in our heart of hearts, we may not even want them to repent and turn to Jesus. Somehow it feels justifiable to condemn them in our hearts for the evil they have done or the things they stand for.

The life of Saul-who-became-Paul is a powerful testimony to the fact that nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace! Aren’t you glad that this persecutor of the church and accessory to murder encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus?

Next time you find yourself regarding someone as unworthy of God’s grace, stop to consider the matter from another perspective. How greatly would this person’s conversion showcase the saving power of Jesus Christ! Instead, pray that, like Saul, they might become a Paul for the glory of God.



The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

Only one week left! Throughout the last 12 weeks surely there have been times when the finish line seemed impossible to reach. But here you are in the home stretch. Take a moment to praise God for His faithfulness.

What sections or themes in your reading of the Scriptures stood out? Which of these would you like to study further? Please post on this page to encourage others as you finish strong!

This week you will read the “Non-Pauline Epistles.” These letters were written by some of Jesus’ disciples and close followers. Though Jesus was no longer physically on earth, His church was growing and needed guidance. These letters show continuity in doctrine and serve as encouragement to all Jesus’ followers.

Hebrews – Revelation Themes

Hebrews   Some scholars believe that Paul wrote this epistle, but since it wasn’t “signed” by him they refrain from calling it a “Pauline epistle.” This letter further explains God’s plan of redemption for both the Jew and the Gentile, and how it’s fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the promised Messiah. The first few words of Hebrews powerfully describe Jesus as, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (1:3).

James  It is easy to read James’ epistle as a “list of rules” that Christians must follow in order to be saved. In fact, James even states, “faith without works is dead.” One of the most misquoted verses from the Bible, this verse is used by many cults to promote “works-based salvation.” However, we must read and interpret James in its entirety. In the last chapter, he reminds us that God “gives more grace” (4:6). This is not an excuse to keep sinning, but a reminder to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (4:10).

1 Peter  Both of Peter’s epistles were written with the heart of a pastor for his flock. In the first epistle, Peter reminds his readers, who were suffering in life, that it was God’s great mercy that saved them and gave them “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable” (1:3-8). It is this living hope in Jesus that abides in our lives and helps us endure suffering. Christ gives us the strength so we can “stand firm” in Him (5:10-14).

2 Peter  Peter once again felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to admonish his brothers and sisters in Christ because of the heretical teachings and destructive stories which had begun to creep into the church. He encourages his fellow believers to “be on guard” against these false teachings and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (3:17-18).

1, 2 & 3 John  As he neared the end of his life, John, “the disciple Jesus loved,” was the only original disciple still living. As a spiritual father he shows his affection for his fellow members in Christ when he addresses them as “dear children.” John’s first letter encourages us to be more like Christ. He explains that God is love and, if we are in Christ, we can love like Him (ch. 4).

John’s second and third epistles talk about hospitality. He teaches that our full hospitality cannot extend towards false teachers and their teachings, but we are instructed to be welcoming towards those who are in Christ.

Jude  Jude, the brother of James, writes this epistle to encourage fellow believers to “contend for the faith” (3) and avoid false teachers (4). He reminds us that we cannot “live” a godly life without Jesus. It is He who “keeps us from stumbling” and it is He who will present us “blameless” to the Father (24-25).

Revelation  This final book was written to the “seven churches” that were facing very real challenges in their day. John reminds us that Jesus Himself walks in the midst of His churches, encouraging the faint and exhorting the lukewarm. Despite your interpretation of how some of the “apocryphal” descriptions will play out in the future, the ultimate purpose of Revelation is to encourage all followers that Jesus will triumph over evil. The Lamb will win! (19:1-21)

 


Encouraging Comments from B90 Readers

I am almost there! It has been extremely tough keeping up with it but I am keeping up. It has been a lot of fun and I have learned a lot.

Elizabeth Bell, Connecticut


I started late and it has been a struggle to catch up … wanted to finish with everyone today, but here I am on Day 81 … what I find amazing about God’s ways … is that wherever I am His Word is pertinent to the things I am going thru … God speaks thru His Word, it is alive and active in my life and I am so thankful. This has been a real discipline for me to read so much in a day, and not to stop and study … and it still takes me a lot longer than half an hour. : )

Marilyn, International


B90 Insight of the Week

Well done! You have now finished reading through the Bible in 90 Days. Now what will you do with your time? We want to encourage you to keep reading.

Some people will turn back to Genesis and start it all over again (perhaps at a slower pace this time). Others will select a book that really stood out to them and begin to dig deeper. Maybe you want to look closer at Isaiah and read more about the promised Messiah. Or maybe you want to look closer at the gospel of Matthew and read how Jesus fulfilled the promises of Isaiah.

No matter where you go next in the Bible, we want to encourage you to stay connected with God through His word. It is the only trustworthy place where you can read and hear His thoughts about life. And He’s given it to us so that we can grow closer to Him.



The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

From the very first words of the Bible, the foundation for all of human history is laid out – creation, the fall of humanity, and God’s promise to redeem us from the curse of sin.

The first week of your 90-day challenge should be an enjoyable one. This section is fast-paced and covers a lot of ground. Pay close attention as you read stories that may be quite familiar. God has a way of bringing fresh insight to what we have heard and read many times before.

And if you get behind, don’t be discouraged! Pick up where you left off. Or catch up by going to a coffee shop, settling in for a couple of hours, and maybe even getting ahead! 

Genesis – Exodus:   Themes

Genesis and Exodus are packed with stories tracing the history of one particular family, often with great attention to detail. Here are the major characters and storylines to watch for:

  • Gen 1-11: Creation to Babel
  • Gen 12-25: The Life of Abraham
  • Gen 26-36: The lives Isaac and Jacob
  • Gen 37-50: The story of Joseph and how the family of Jacob came to Egypt
  • Exodus 1-4: God Calls Moses
  • Exodus 5-11: Moses Returns to Pharaoh
  • Exodus 12-15: Passover and God’s Deliverance
  • Exodus 16-23: Ten Commandments and Giving of the Law
  • Exodus 24-31: The Tabernacle and Worship
  • Exodus 32-40: Israel Sins, God Forgives, then God Comes to Abide with His People

Genesis and Exodus are full of stories foreshadowing God’s great plan of salvation through Jesus. Look for this especially in the stories of Noah, God’s promise to Abraham, and Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery. Consider the parallels between the details of the Passover and the cross of Christ, such as the blood of the sacrifice covering those who took shelter under it as the angel of death passed over. This is perhaps the greatest foreshadowing of the cross in all of scripture!

How did God speak to you through His Word this week?


Encouraging Comments from another B90 reader

Like Hagar we cannot run away from our problems….

El Shaddai “I am God Almighty” Or More than enough, Not God I am getting by, More than enough!

Nothing is too hard for God, He gave Abraham and Sarah a son, He can help you too.

I did not realize that after Sarah died, Abraham married again and had several more children.

God has no Grand Children, we each must have our own relationship with Him. We cannot get into heaven on someone elses coat tails.

Wow I am really excited about this, the Holy Spirit is shining light where before I had not understood, I am also reading this in my Life Application NIV, and it sheds alot of info.

Connie L.


B90 Insight of the Week

Again and again Abraham and his descendants sinned terribly against God, often to such an extent that we wonder why God chose them in the first place. Yet God commends the faith of Abraham and confirms His promise to save all nations through him.

This is the same God who calls us to Himself today, not because we are so morally righteous or deserving, but because of His great love for fallen and helpless sinners. So great was His love that even thousands of years beforehand, He shows us evidence of His plan to send His own Son to do what we could not and to bring us back to Himself.


The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

Congratulations!  You’ve completed Week 1 of your 90-day challenge. And in the process you have read hundreds of years of biblical narrative; a family history of sorts that sets up the rest of the Bible!

The plot of God’s great story has taken shape. His perfect world was shattered by our sin and the curse of death held creation captive. But God did not leave us there. He promised to redeem, he showed the dramatic rescue from slavery (a detailed picture of God’s great rescue yet to come), and the journey of God’s people through life as they learn to love, trust, and obey him from the wilderness to Canaan.

When we read these first books of the Bible it can be tough to see ourselves in Israel’s story. It’s tempting to look at the sin of God’s people and wonder how they could be so foolish. And yet, if someone else were to read a history of our life – complete with the details we would rather leave out – would we really look that different than Israel?

As the Apostle Paul later wrote about sin’s continuing presence in our lives, “Nothing has overtaken you except that which is common to man.” God wants us to see our own inability to keep his perfect law, and then see how big a savior we need.

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the human flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us…”
Romans 8:3-4

Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy:   Themes

Leviticus  Named for the tribe of Levi, who assisted the sons of Aaron with the priestly duties in the tabernacle. This book gives detailed instructions for various types of offerings and sacrifices.

  • Burnt Offerings:  To make atonement for sin, this sacrifice was totally devoted to the Lord and completely burned.
  • Grain Offerings:  Given to honor God’s provision for life, also includes instructions for other types of “firstfruits” offerings.
  • Fellowship Offerings: Given out of love and devotion for one’s relationship with God.
  • Sin Offering:  For unintentional sins which, although accidental, still made someone impure before God.
  • Guilt Offerings: For sins committed intentionally (sometimes referred to as “sins with a high hand” in defiance of God) to restore relationship with God and atone for the evil committed.

The rest of the book is devoted to instructions for worship, priestly service, laws for cleanliness and daily life.

INSIGHT:  Note how many of the laws and regulations are not simply arbitrary “because-I-said-so” rules, but are for the good of God’s people. In this era of history before germs and diseases were better understood, these laws prescribed basic hygiene that would have made life better for everyone. Indeed ALL of God’s laws are for our own good, that we might live life to the fullest as God lovingly intends!

Numbers  So named because of the censuses taken of God’s people at the beginning and end of the book. Sadly, much of Numbers is the story of how, despite God’s miraculous provision again and again, the Israelites doubt, grumble and rebel against God.

As Michael Williams notes in How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens:

The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt with mighty displays of divine power. Before their very eyes they had witnessed incredible demonstrations of God’s sovereignty … but in the Israelites’ eyes, the visible, physical challenges they saw lying ahead of them in that land seemed greater than the invisible, un-physical God who was with them. Their trust gave way to doubt and rebellion. God’s patience love and forgiveness had to make room for his discipline.

Deuteronomy  The first five books of the Bible are sometimes referred to as “The Law” or the “Books of Moses”. This final book of Moses contain God’s final instructions through Moses to the Israelites. Soonthis great prophet of God will die, and then Joshua will take his place as leader. In effect, Deuteronomy summarizes the previous four books, highlighting events and instructions to remind God’s people to follow Him in faithfulness as they proceed to take the Promised Land.

In the final day of your reading this week, note how Moses summarizes the purpose and intent of the Law:

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.  (Deut 10:12-13)

How did God speak to you through His Word this week?

 


Encouraging Comments from another B90 reader

 

It amazes me how God’s people kept up with all the sacrifices and offerings that they had to make. When I think of all the offerings: the grain offering, the peace offering, the drink offering, the burnt offering, etc., I am thankful that Jesus was all those things because of His life that he poured out for us. And now, He is the perfect sacrifice and there will never have to be another because He has done it once and for all!

Debra Reed


B90 Insight of the Week

You might think Israel would have learned something by now about grumbling against God. But once again, in Numbers 21, Israel’s stomachs growled and the rumblings of discontent began. In response, God sent snakes into the camp whose venomous bites were deadly.

It’s hard to mistake the visual imagery of how God provided relief from the venomous curse of the serpent. When the Israelites repented, God responded by instructing Moses to set up an image of their sin, a bronze snake, on a pole. Anyone who gazed upon – as they were dying – it would be given back their life.

In the same way, later God would raise his own Son on the cross and all who turned from their sins and looked to him would receive eternal life. John 3:14-15: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.Jesus would be lifted up on the cross so that those who grumble and complain against God could turn from their sins and – in him – have eternal life.


The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

You made it to week three! If you are still on schedule, then you’ve completed one of the hardest weeks in the 90-Day challenge.

If you’ve fallen behind, don’t give up. Reset your schedule and keep going! Maybe you can even plan a date with just you and your Bible and catch up over the weekend.

Last week you read how God’s people were left wandering in the wilderness. The week ended with Moses giving his final instructions to the Israelites on how to live faithfully in the Promised Land.

This week you will leave the books of the Law and read about how God begins to fulfill His promises.

At this point in the 90-Day plan the clear benefit of reading through Scripture at high speed becomes clear. Only a few days ago you read how God promised Abraham that his descendents would inherit the land of Canaan. For Israel the fulfillment of this promise took hundreds of years, but for you – it’s only been two weeks!

Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth & 1 Samuel:   Themes

End of Deuteronomy    Moses blesses and exhorts God’s people before passing the reigns of leadership to Joshua.  After Moses dies, Joshua faces the tough task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land where they are sure to encounter hostility.

Joshua  God uses Joshua to lead His people and give them what He has promised. The first half focuses on God’s fulfillment of His promise by delivering the land of Canaan into the hands of the Israelites.

Along the way we learn the danger of being presumptuous that things will always go our way. We see that looking to the Lord for guidance matters more than anything else.

The second half is devoted to dividing the land among the tribes. God tells Israel He intends them to become a land of justice and worship, but sadly this does not last long.

Judges  The people of Israel are on a downward spiral of chaos and apostasy, so God raises up “judges” in the land to lead the people out of their depravity.

Constantly, the author tells us that this was an era when people “did what was right in their own eyes.” Their behavior turns into a vicious circle of sin, punishment, repentance, peace, and regress. In fact, it can be summed up in this passage:

The Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. (Judges 2:16-17)

Have you ever felt like we live in a similar era today? Secularism is on the rise, and the values of a Christian worldview are increasingly disregarded as irrelevant.

Like Israel in the time of the judges, the whole earth is waiting for the true King to finally deliver creation once and for all.

Ruth  She lived during the time of the Judges. Most of Israel had turned away from God, except for the small group of people in this story. We follow Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, both widows. They are destitute and powerless to change their situation. They need a savior.

Have you ever felt like that?

As you read this and see Boaz step into the roll of “Kinsman Redeemer,” think about how Jesus did this very thing for us by becoming the redeemer who brings the fullness of life to our emptiness.

1 Samuel  This book brings a nice change of pace. We read stories of hope, many of which clearly foreshadow the coming of Christ.

Saul is appointed the first king of Israel, and he seemed the perfect candidate for the job. But things go badly – fast. David is then anointed as the next king of Israel, but before he can don his crown, he will have to live on the run from Saul who is trying to kill him.

You’ll read many of the stories you’ve grown up learning in Sunday school, but instead of drawing out the same moral lesson, try to focus on the character of God. If you do that, you’ll learn more about who God is, what He does, and what life is like with Him and without Him.

 


Encouraging Comments from a B90 Reader

 

As I was finishing chapter 8, I tried to picture Joshua reading ALL of Moses’ words (our Genesis through Deuteronomy) to the WHOLE assembly — ALL the men, women…EVEN the children.  Imagine the patience of the listeners.  Yet, they had just witnessed God’s power and justice and mercy, so they were hungry to hear His voice.  I, too, have witnessed God’s power and justice and mercy in my own life.  He saved me!   May I be hungry to hear His voice…and attentive…and patient.

Nancy


B90 Insight of the Week

One of the most interesting things to discover in Scripture is how God uses unlikely characters to bring about His will. This time, it’s Rahab. Not only was she a Canaanite (the very people Israel was fighting), but she was also a prostitute.

When two Israelite spies are sent to check out Jericho, she hides them and helps them escape. She confesses her faith in the Lord as the true God and King over the land that she was living in.

Much later, we find Rahab to be a great-grandparent of David, and therefore an ancestor of Jesus. Her story is a beautiful picture of how we are not saved by works, but by faith in the living God.


The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

You have now read 25% of God’s Word!

If you find yourself falling behind, ask the Lord to help you. Even when reading God’s Word you need His grace and His Holy Spirit. Join together with a prayer partner who is also reading the Bible and ask for accountability in getting through your 90-day challenge.

What you read in the last two days from 1 Samuel sets the tone for the reading in week 4. Israel rejects God as king and asks for a king like the other nations have (1 Sam. 8).

But because God is always faithful to His promises, He will not forget Israel completely. He first gives the people a king according to their own desires – Saul, a tall and handsome man – but an ungodly king. In time, God replaces Saul with David, a man after God’s own heart. 1 & 2 Samuel could be called, “A Tale of Two Kings.” We see the stark contrast between the first type of king, Saul, esteemed in the eyes of men, and the second, David, the anointed of the Lord.

1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings:   Themes

1 Samuel (Conclusion)    Even though the Lord had commanded Israel not to associate with those who summon spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11), Saul seeks the words of Samuel’s dead spirit. God mysteriously allows this and Samuel predicts that Saul and his sons will join him in death the very next day.

As anticipated, the Philistines overwhelm Saul and the first king of Israel meets his end.

2 Samuel  The first six chapters of 2 Samuel describe the transition between the houses of Saul and David. These crescendo in a series of victories for David and God’s promise in 2 Samuel 7 that David’s “throne will be established forever,” a messianic promise anticipating the King of Kings to come from David’s line.

1 Kings  In 1 & 2 Kings David becomes the measuring rod for what it means to be a faithful king. As Solomon begins his reign the Lord says, “If you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Sadly, this is an enormous if. In the end, keeping the decrees of the Lord would prove too difficult for Israel’s kings.

Their wickedness increases generation after generation to the point that even a prophet like Elijah is run off by King Ahab. In this story, Elijah cries out to the Lord in anguish becuase he believes he is the last worshiper of the true God left in Israel.

And yet, God always keep a small group of faithful followers for Himself. The Apostle Paul calls them “a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).

2 Kings  As the decline of Israel continues, the moment of judgment finally comes as the now-divided northern and southern kingdoms are sent into exile.

The indictment of God’s people is somber: because they worshiped worthless gods they themselves became worthless (2 Kings 17:15).

Although it had its glory days with David and Solomon, even the great city of Jerusalem (of the southern kingdom of Judah), is eventually besieged and captured by Babylon in 2 Kings 25.

As we finish this book, our hearts should be longing for Jesus: the promised coming Messiah and the only truly faithful King.

 


Encouraging Comments from a B90 Reader

“What does it mean when the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart? This time through the Bible I thought about it again.  I think that it means he understood how God works; how God thinks. What gives it away are the unusual ways he reacts in situations where people expect him to do something totally different.

He spared the life of his enemy Saul twice, he challenged Goliath and didn’t take any armor, he mourned when his child was sick and stopped when his child died, he accepted the cursing from Shimei as from God, and he was absolutely stricken with grief when the usurper to his throne was killed. Each of these incidents shows a deep understanding of what God would think in those situations.”

Tim (California)


B90 Insight of the Week

It is through the darkest moments in Israel’s history – days of exile, disappointment and death – we are reminded of the one true King of the world – Jesus Himself. The Isaelites may not have realized it then, but He is the King they had always looked forward to!

Faithful and selfless, Jesus surrendered His life to be lifted high on the cross so that sinners who have made themselves like the worthless gods they served can draw near to God. He rose with authority over death and ascended to the right hand of the Father sending out disciples to preach Good News to the world.



The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!

“No one is righteous. No, not one” (Romans 3:10).

It’s true. We can’t please God with our works. But we can’t be all that bad, can we? Perhaps we tithe, we donate to charitable causes, we bring soup to the sick, or we listen to the hurting. God must nod approvingly at us for some of the things we do for good, right?

And yet, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah paint a very different portrait of the human heart. Isolated acts of obedience and goodness cannot atone for sin or even prevent it. For if we were to rule kingdoms on earth, we would also fall short. Perhaps we would commit adultery and murder like David. Or acquire countless wives like Solomon. And if we weren’t given the gift of rule, then we might be like David’s son, Absalom, and revolt against our own father!

At this point in history Israel has returned from a humiliating, defeating, and painful trip to exile. 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah remind the Israelites of their years of disobedience, and how they got to the point of exile in the first place.

This is one crucial distinction between the books of Kings and Chronicles. Whereas Kings was directed at Israel before exile, Chronicles is directed at Israel after exile. See if you can keep yourself in that mindset as you read.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this section is that the hope is found in a recognition of failure. Knowing we have fallen desperately short of God’s standard is beginning of repentance, and repentance is a prerequisite of grace. Only then can we recognize that it is God who accomplishes all the good in us and through us. In that light, those who believe in Jesus’ power to save have tremendous hope.

At this point in the 90-Day Challenge, you are most likely saying, “OK, I get it! When is the happy ending going to come?” Hang on, keep reading, Matthew is getting much closer. Soon we will be rejoicing with the magi.

1 Chronicles 1:1—Nehemiah 13:44:   Themes

God had promised the Israelites a king. With the death of Saul and God’s promise to establish David’s house, it seemed like David was the one God would use to fulfill His promises. But David committed sins of such serious magnitude that it was clear he was not the one. King after king would come after David, none wholly good, in a general trajectory down into depravity and sin. But surely, God will keep His promises. Surely, there is a king to come that will rule over all creation and eternity.

1 Chronicles   How did Israel land in exile? God, through the writer of Chronicles, answers this question through genealogies, beginning with Adam. The book shares a common storyline with Kings, with a few differences. In some ways it is painful to have to read, again, all of the sins that Israel committed.

There are drastic consequences for not following the Lord.

2 Chronicles  As with Samuel and Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally written as one book. The second half of Chronicles picks up with Solomon and David, and ends with the sequence of kings that followed, the majority of which disobey the Lord. Chaos reigns, not kings. Most of the 39 (yes 39!) kings following Solomon and David are faithless, one after another, except for a very few. Is there no hope? There is. The kings who are faithful are enough for Israel to keep their confidence in God.

The Lord raises the humble, but He will humble those who take their pride in anything other than Him.

Ezra  The Israelites return to rebuild their temple, per the permission of Persian King Cyrus. It is encouraging that they do, despite the fact that nearby adversaries make them afraid to do so.

Nehemiah  Just like children today who don’t remember 9/11, the children described in Nehemiah don’t remember exile. So they don’t worry so much about straying to other gods away from the one true God of Israel. Nehemiah leads Israel and rebuilds the city wall — a physical and spiritual separation between Israel and those who follow pagan gods. At the end of the book, the people of Israel once again begin to act as God’s children.

 


Encouraging Comments from a B90 Reader

We are truly more sinful than we ever imagined…   God motivated pagan kings to bless the people of Israel. The foundation of the temple was built.  People shouted and sang, making noise unto the Lord.   But their hearts were not content to focus on God alone — and they disobeyed by marrying unbelievers.  But God did not abandon them.  He motivated Ezra who interceded for Israel.  And his example –and God’s prompting – brought others to the place of confession and repentance and obedience.  Though we all are more sinful than we could ever imagine, we are more loved and accepted than we could ever dare hope.

Nancy
California


B90 Insight of the Week

Clearly, God’s people are not able to maintain His law and they are not able to rule themselves. They are hardly able to do anything right.

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah mirror the state of our own hearts. Again and again and again we will fail on our own. Even when we triumph over sin, we are quick to be prideful. Even in our repentance, we are not fully humble. As Isaiah said, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (64:6).

Praise God that He has a far better plan for our righteousness than we ever could. His perfect love means not only that Christ died so that we might live, but that when God looks at us, He sees only the perfect righteousness of His Son.

Can you imagine God looking at you with love and seeing nothing but goodness and purity?



The Bible in 90 Days

Reading the Bible in ninety days is easier than you thought!

Once you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be a formidable challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Fulfill what for many Christians is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible!