Through Every Ascent And Decline by Robert M. Hinnen
This wilderness path traverses steep inclines and deep descents With rambling roots and stumbling rocks hobbling our journey Oh, but to overcome our sin and pride and willful disobedience See the sacrifice of the supreme Sojourner on Mount Calvary
Faith alone in Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth and abundant Life Give Him your burdens for He has already born all that truly matters He never leaves behind even one redeemed by His grace and Light Guiding us through every dark valley and beside peaceful waters
Joy comes in the morn when these temporal tribulations we endure The straight and narrow road ahead leads to our heavenly home Hear the angels rejoicing as we finish this arduous adventure Finding the rest we seek in the loving embrace of Christ alone!
“So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it,” Proverbs 2:20-21 ESV
YouTuber John Stapleton shares on How To Use The Bible (Acts 8:26-35). Be sure to subscribe to John’s Weekly Bible Blog.
This video is also available as an Apple podcast below.
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
The first step is to read it the text.
Before we can apply it to our lives we need to know what it says. This should be the capstone of your devotional reading. Topical devotions are great, the problem is they tend to select some verses here and half of one over there to in essence say, “Hey, God agrees with me.”
There is nothing wrong with topical studies as long as they are faithful to what is in Scripture. Being overly selective with the Scriptures runs the risk of leaving out something that God had to say on the topic or not explaining it enough.
How much should you read?
As little or as much as you want. I don’t have a set opinion on this because I have found that reading the Bible with different methods help me at different times in my life.
For example, I am a huge fan of reading large chunks of Scripture. That’s how the original audience would have received God’s Word. Think of Moses reintroducing the covenant to Israel, which is the entire book of Deuteronomy.
Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in one sitting. Every letter aimed at a New Testament church was read in one gathering. It’s easier to get the flow of the narrative or the argument if you are looking at larger sections of Scripture.
On the other hand, where I find myself now is reading smaller portions of Scripture and just meditating on that periscope. The point is, there is no one way to do it.
Once I’ve read the text, I usually allow time for me to “live” in the passage. This is meditation. This doesn’t mean that you sit cross-legged with crossed fingers thinking positive thoughts.
This is mulling over what you have read repeatedly until you’ve internalized it. Now that the passage is familiar, you are ready to dig in and study.
There are several different systems you can adopt.
I’ve tried a few myself:
Use a Scripture journal which has the text of the Bible on one page and blank journaling space on the other.
Write your prayers down in the journaling space or write down observations.
Mark up the text – circling, underlining, or even highlighting key words or phrases.
Write down any questions you have and then work to answer those questions with the context around the text you just read. Sometimes, the answer is in the text itself!
Compare translations to get a fuller sense of what the passage means. Check out some cross-references.
Write down your own summary of the passage. After that, check out some commentaries to see what other people’s conclusions were. Sometimes you might change your mind and sometimes you will disagree, but that’s part of the fun of studying.
Speaking of systems, you can get a paper journal and grab your books from the shelf but there is a more efficient way to study. I recommend getting a Bible software program. They allow you to do word studies, read commentaries and lexicons, mark up your Bible and compare translations.
You can write notes and look at maps.
There are more features I could mention but you get the idea.
There are a few great programs to consider for study in our digital world. Accordance is good, so is Olive Tree, and my personal favorite is Logos Bible Software.
The Bible student lives in two worlds. They live in their present-day reality, but they also visit the ancient world of the Bible when we read and study it. But now that we have studied the text, we should be able to apply it to our life and become better worshippers because we know God a little better than before.
Remember, we don’t just read the Bible for information, but so we can love God more deeply, in a Psalm 119 kind of way.
YouTuber John Stapleton shares on How To Trust The Bible (Matthew 19:3-6). Be sure to subscribe to John’s Weekly Bible Blog.
This video is also available as an Apple podcast below. (Note that John’s Q&A are available on the Apple Podcast).
Matthew 19:3–6 (NLT)
3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
This is a passage that is about marriage on the surface, but today we will see how Jesus thought of the Bible. The main thing I want you to see is that the Bible is God’s Word. Let’s dive in.
1). The Bible Is God’s Word
The Pharisees came up to Jesus and tried to trap him in something he taught. They wanted Jesus to agree with their liberal interpretation of Moses’ teaching on marriage that allowed them to divorce their wife for “any reason” (19:3). Perhaps they wanted Jesus to appear as if he contradicted Moses. Regardless, Jesus wastes no time getting to the scriptures.\
“Haven’t you read?” (19:4) was how Jesus reminded people that his point is going to be made with Scripture and how his listeners need to be biblically serious. He then quotes to them that God made humanity in his image and that God brought them together. This is from Genesis 2:24 where Moses appears to be narrating. This is not a direct quote from God and yet Jesus is saying here that God said “a man shall leave….” (ESV) – in other words, the Bible says what God says and God says what the Bible says. The Bible is God’s Word.
2). You Can Trust God’s Word
So the Bible is God’s Word, good.
But some of you don’t trust God’s Word for a few reasons:
Why do we have so many translations?
Can we trust that the manuscripts are accurate?
Can we trust our interpretation of it?
These are good questions that many people ask.
Here at the Bible Blog, I want to provoke you toward the right answers and so I will be glad to point you to some solid resources.
In general, you need to know that the manuscripts are accurate and are the most attested documents of antiquity. Not only can we trust the manuscripts but we can trust the translations we have. We have a number of translations on a spectrum ranging from versions that seek to reflect the words of the biblical authors, while others seek to reflect the sense of meaning that the biblical authors perhaps had. Both are wonderful options that have significant pros and cons.
3). You Can Trust God’s Word
We have so far covered that you can trust the academics of the Bible, but what about spiritually? Peter reminds us that God has given us everything we need to live a godly life.
2 Peter 1:3 NLT By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
4). Scripture Will Never Fail
But what about all the ways the Bible has been abused? That might be the heaviest question on your mind and heart. I want to point you to something fascinating in the Gospel of John. One day as Jesus was walking through the temple, the people who have heard Jesus teach for a while step to him and demand him to clearly claim that he is God’s chosen one. And Jesus does. This turns to the crowd into a bloodthirsty mob. Jesus mentions that he has miraculously helped them many times and asks why they are trying to kill him. Their response points out the fact that they see Jesus as a mere man who thinks he’s God.
John 10:34–36 (NLT) 34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’ 35 And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’ 36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world.
Jesus decided to use Psalm 82, an obscure Psalm, to prove his point. God sarcastically called proud kings “gods” because that’s how they considered themselves (much like Pharaoh). Jesus’ point is if God uses the term “gods,” sarcastically applying them to the rulers of the nations, why is everyone so upset that Jesus called himself God? The people’s understanding of the scriptures was wrong, but Scripture is never wrong! To quote Jesus, “Scripture cannot be altered” (10:35).
Marching In The Tops of the Mulberry Trees by Robert M. Hinnen
When the Philistines come again to destroy you Call to the Lord for His promises are ever true Christ Jesus died for us, arose and will never leave He will see you through every trial if only you believe
When darkness spreads across the Valley of Rephaim Look to the everlasting Light the Son of Man He goes before us and knows our evil enemy For God’s Love bore our sins on Calvary’s tree
The Lord will always strike down the army of the Philistines “Hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees” Can you hear it, believer, death is defeated, the war is won! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Our Savior King is leading us home!
“And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.”” II Samuel 5:24 NKJV
So now what am I to do with this matchless mercy that freed me I did not even know I was a sinner, so unworthy, without redeemable merit Until the Holy Spirit removed the clouds before my eyes so that I could see The matter of blood, forgiveness and righteousness, the poured-out Gift
How can I not be transformed by this Love so great That I tried so hard to ignore, living like it did not matter But I cannot escape the depths of this unfathomable grace My long-parched heart satisfied only by this Living Water
Compelled by faith to share this Good News that has changed me No longer content to live in darkness, but willing to count it all loss For the bold light of truth and the joy of salvation are my living testimony To the only One who cared so much to suffer and die for me on the Cross
Come now, Lord Jesus!
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
YouTuber John Stapleton shares on How We Should Feel About The Bible. Be sure to subscribe to John’s Weekly Bible Blog.
We love the Bible so we can treasure the Bible.
1) 5 Reasons Why You Don’t Read the Bible
You’re not “religious” (oppressive).
You don’t understand it.
You don’t want to.
You are missing out on the single most rewarding piece of humanity – your ability to connect your soul to God.
Yes, we human beings can accomplish a lot on our own. We can dig deep and find strength. But there is something even richer. Your soul ponders things like, “Is there more?” “What’s the point? and “Why?” These answers are found in the Bible.
Your soul longs for completion, unconditional love, and peace. You can dismiss the Bible and say, “All I need, I can find within myself.” This is the beauty of God – He gives you free choice to do that. But I’m here to tell you, the way I would tell a friend who I could look squarely in the eye and with love and certainty say to you, THERE IS MORE. I can’t convince you to find it, but I will implore you to consider.” – Keri
2) 5 Wrong Reasons to Read the Bible
You believe it will make you a Christian, but it won’t. Jesus said in John 5:39-40: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” The Bible points to the reality of life that is found in Jesus.
You believe it will protect you from suffering. Ironically, the Bible not only records many stories about suffering, it tells us that we will suffer and it makes clear that God prefers to perfect his people by suffering, not get his people out of it.
You believe God will like you better the more you read it. However, God doesn’t simply favor some people over others because some have read more of the Bible than others. God actually tends to favor those who do what they read. Obedience is better than mere listening.
You believe reading it will make God do stuff for you. But God isn’t bought off by any of our good deeds, even reading the Bible. That’s manipulation, not worship.
You feel as if you have to be respected for proving points and having all the answers. I used to be that guy and it is not worth it. Bible studies are more fun when we are curious students instead of lecturing professors.
3) 7 Biblical Reasons to Read the Bible
Psalm 119:107 says, “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!”
Many of us like to skip to 2 Timothy 1:7 where it says that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but there is a healthy fear of God that the Bible gives us as we heed its warnings and learn from people who suffered God’s punishment because of their disobedience.
Promises About God
Psalm 119:122 says, “Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me.”
When we sin, God’s Word convicts us and sometimes we reap the consequences of our sins. We read the Bible to feel remorse for our sins. Without God’s special revelation, there is no way to understand the depth of how grievous sin actually is. Afterward, we should see the value of God’s Word because it can keep us from a lot of negative consequences if we live by it.
4) 3 Practical Reasons to Read the Bible
Build The Habit.
Regular Bible reading is not natural to a lot of people and it is something that you will most likely not get around to if you don’t make a plan. Unless you put in on the calendar, its not real. It is the things that we do habitually and continually that form our character the most.
Imagine what kind of person you will be after 20 or 30 years of sitting under the teaching of the Bible? If you feel the right way about it, it will make you holier, no question about it!
Gain Better Understanding
Gain a better understanding of God and your relation to him.
To know his plan for your life turn to the Bible. If you want to better understand yourself, look at God as he revealed himself in the Bible and you will better understand yourself.
Respond To God
Lastly, we read the Bible to respond to God’s self-disclosure of himself.
Everyone who who hears the Word of God instantly is responsible for what they heard. Hearing God’s Word with no intention on doing the Word is evil. We must act on what we heard.
James 1:23 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (NIV).
5) 8 Ways We Feel After Encountering God’s Word
Love for God’s law (Psalm 119:48, 97, 113, 163, 165).
It holds our attention and our delight (Psalm 119:14-16, 24, 47).
We are eagerly excited to get back to it (Psalm 119:18).
We depend on and crave it (Psalm 119:18-19, 103).
It is the most valuable thing (Psalm 119:72).
We can fee secure by it (Psalm 119:72).
Our enjoyment of it should be for our lifetime (Psalm 119:92).
It is our constant muse (Psalm 119:97).
6) Our Imagination of God’s Word
It is treasure!
We treasure God’s Word because 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that we are God’s treasure. The result of treasuring God’s Word is goodness (Luke 6:45), knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-7), and wisdom (Colossians 2:2-3).
Most of us have heard the saying that we can’t take any of our stuff with us when we die, but we can send it ahead. The Bible tells how to store up treasure forever (Luke 12:33; 1 Timothy 6:18).
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160 ESV)
In this first person struggle, Michael Furlonger shares his inner battle with finding Assurance of Salvation. With eternity in view, Michael could not settle on a few happy words of easy assurances.
In fact, Apostle Peter says to “make every effort to confirm your call and election” (2 Peter 1:3-11). He says that, with that “you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In The Author’s Words:
The biggest fear in my life is what happens afterwards. Believing in Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, why do I doubt? Because the same person that I put my faith in said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
There are many other people in this world that wonder the same thing: Am I eternally saved? This book is aimed to help people find out more about God, about his love, his justice, and with that, you will find your assurance.
This book is dedicated to my friend who works in prison and to my grandparents who wanted to have assurance that they are eternally saved.
God, Why Is This Happening To Me? Making Sense Of Our Suffering
Suffering. Nobody likes it, but everyone faces it at one time or another in life. And what really bothers us is why some seem to suffer more than others. The seeming unfairness of it all can perplex even the strongest of Christians.
Atheists love to bring up the issue of evil and suffering in the world as proof that there must not be a God. After all, how could a loving God allow so much suffering and evil to exist? Why doesn’t He do something about it?
In this book, you will learn where suffering comes from, why God allows it, and how God uses it in our lives to help us become more like Him.
Do you question the status quo of the Christian faith? Why does God get to tell you what is right and wrong? What does He know about it? Have you considered that God is The Master of Sin? And Satan is “The Beautiful”?
God: The Master of Sin and Satan The Beautiful discusses the topic of sin. What are sins and why are they sinful?
Sin, or to sin, means “to miss the mark,” and to sin against God means “to miss the mark” of God. We must understand that God didn’t simply give us a random set of rules to follow, but gave us a way to live.
God: The Master of Sin begins in the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The book continues bringing up what sins are sinful and shares a deeper look into the Law of Moses and redemption found in Jesus Christ.
On the topic of Law, many people misquote Apostle Paul and say, “Well, I’m not under the Law, I’m under grace.” But Jesus Christ himself said, “I did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it” (Matt. 5:17).