Live by the Book

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Episode Synopsis

Have you ever read through the whole Bible as a book? Jani shares some ways to approach this for the coming year.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Hello, everyone. I’m so glad you’ve tuned into He Restores My Soul. I’m really enjoying going through this discipleship series with you. I hope you are. I’m hearing from many of you that this is helpful and I’m also hearing some good suggestions. So feel free to send in your suggestions. What’s working for you? What’s not working for you? What questions do you have?

Free Download: “How the Bible is Organized” (PDF)

This is a simple, practical overview of how all 66 books of the Old and New Testament are lined up, so they can make sense to us in their structure as it pertains to History, Experience, and Prophecy.

“What Should We Do With The Bible?”

Now, I want to start off this session with teaching. Last time we were together we talked about the value of God’s word, why we find it so valuable. Today we want to discuss, “Well, if it’s valuable, what should we do with the Bible?”

First, keep it simple: Read It

First of all, we need to read it. We need to take God’s Word in every day. We want to develop a habit of daily reading God’s Word in our discipleship groups. We need to read it every day just as we take in food, or we sleep each night, or as we brush our teeth every day (hopefully). We want to become women who read God’s Word every day. We want to let his Word sink down so deeply into our hearts, that it will flavor the atmosphere of our homes, of our conversations, of our families of our thoughts.

Think of what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

As you read your Bible, day to day, month, after month, on through the years, you will come to value it as a treasure of incomparable worth. Oh, take it from this old lady who’s podcasting with you: I don’t regret one day that I spent reading God’s word. And I do regret those days that I’ve missed taking time to be with Jesus. Don’t miss a day. Take it in daily.

My mother-in-law, Mom Ortlund, used to teach us about reading God’s word. She would say, “Why do you think we don’t know our Bibles better? Well, maybe because it’s we don’t read it like a book.” Now why is that? She would go on to say, “Maybe deep down, even subconsciously, we think some parts of the Bible are good and some parts are boring.” So we read a little New Testament and a little Old Testament and some songs and we insidiously develop a spirit of judging this book, rather than letting this book judge us. We think Psalm 23 is great, but Leviticus?! Ezekiel?! Judges?!

Well, turn in your Bibles to Romans 15:4 with me. It says this,

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

Did you notice what Paul said? “Whatever.” All of the Old Testament, whatever was written, it was written for our instruction. All of it is for our instruction that we might have hope. It’s meant to bring hope into our lives. Oh, don’t miss out on this blessed hope.

Second: Believe It (and Accept It)

So, what should we do with this book? Well, we need to believe it. We need to accept it and read it, and we need to receive what we’re reading.

For example, look with me at Genesis 5:1-2. Listen as I read them out loud, Genesis 5:1-2.

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”

Genesis 5:1-2

Now, did you notice that phrase “named them Man”? Dear woman, does that bother you? Do you bristle at what our present day culture calls gender correctness? Or is it okay with you? If God decides to call the whole human race, “Man”? We need to believe it and accept it and receive it. Let’s not fight it. Let the word of God touch your heart. Let’s open our “inner man” to it, so to speak. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to make his word delightful to us.

Do you remember Psalm 1:2-3 that we read in a previous podcast? It says,

“Blessed is the man…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 1:2-3

You see, he finds God’s word delightful. Oh, ask God for the grace to find his word delightful.

Or what about Colossians 3:16?

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

Colossians 3:16

Dwell in you, live in you, spread out throughout your whole being, your mind, your heart, your body, your soul, your tongue, your thoughts. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

An Overview Of the Bible

Now, this coming year, I’m going to encourage all of you disciples to read through the Bible together. Have you ever done that before? Have you ever read through the whole Bible as a book? Well, it might help you and it will be a good review for me and others who have done it to start with an overview of the Bible. So today, I want to give us a little bit of an overview of the whole Bible in our teaching time together.

Beautiful Symmetry: History, Experience, & Prophecy

There are two testaments. Each has three sections. The three sections are: History, Experience, and Prophecy. History, Experience and Prophecy. Now from Genesis to Revelation, it’s all about Jesus.

Turn to Luke 24:27 in your Bibles. Luke 24:27. Luke records for us there,

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Luke 24:27

Did you get that? All the prophets and all the scriptures, the things concerning himself? They’re all about Jesus, they’re all pointing to him. A few verses down, just let your eye travel down to verse 32, when the disciples are talking after Jesus has left them:

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures.”

Luke 24:32

Or look at Luke 24:44. Jesus is mentioned in all three sections, Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

John 15:39, Jesus is talking and he says “the scriptures” which of course, in those days would have meant the Old Testament—they didn’t have the New Testament yet—so the Old Testament,

“The scriptures bear witness about me.”

John 15:39

Our very Lord taught us that the Old Testament teaches about him.

As you read through the Bible, ask yourself, “Now what does this passage show me about the God who provides redemption and the people who need it? What does this passage teach me about the God who provides redemption and the people who need it?” And then, on January 1, begin reading it through. Maybe five pages a day or three to five chapters a day, you can set your own pace if you want.

I’ll introduce some ways that I read through the Bible in a minute, but first of all, before we do that, I want to ask you leaders to hand out the paper you copied off hopefully from our website. If not take time right now, pause the podcast and go copy off the three worksheets for today’s lesson.

The “Hours in a Week” Handout

The first handout is called “The Hours In A Week” handout. Leaders, I want you to talk through this handout with your group. And it’s good if they can have it right in front of them so they understand the figures and where we’re going with this.

“Do I have time to read the Bible Daily?”

As you can see, in a seven-day week, with 24 hours in each day, that gives us each 168 hours for every week we live. Now, if you take off 56 hours for sleeping—that means seven nights a week, you get eight hours of sleep; hahaha, some of you are saying, “Jani, I never get eight hours of sleep,” but let’s just say just imagine with me, your ideal week of 56 hours sleeping—that still gives you 112 hours left for living/waking.

Now, I don’t know how many of you work. Some of you might work five to six days a week, I figured let’s take off 50 hours of working per week, which would be five days of 10 hours of work or six days of eight hours of work there about. If we subtract 50 hours for working, that still gives each one of us 62 hours for everything other than sleeping and working.

Now, what if you took off 30 minutes, six days a week. I’m thinking usually Sunday morning I don’t have a quiet time. Maybe you do. But let’s say you take off one day a week but you don’t have your quiet time. That would only be three hours a week with God. And if we subtract that, then we still have 59 hours left each week. That means almost 8.5 hours each day for eating, shopping, reading, social media, exercise, housework, friends, car repair, bills, extra Bible study, good deeds, volunteering, fun with make up, laundry, bubble baths, letter writing, baking, gardening, napping, you name it!

What I want you to see is for you to read your Bible for one half hour a day, six days a week really isn’t that much. It’s three hours out of 168 hours each week. We all have time for Jesus. You can do this! I know you can.

Methods Of Reading Through The Bible

Now there are many different ways you can read through the Bible and leaders, I’m going to leave it up to you. I use the Daily Walk which is put out through Walk Through the Bible, and I’ve left a web address on our website that you can look up if you want. It has been so helpful to me. I subscribe to their Daily Walk. I get a little monthly magazine and it tells me what to read each day and I can keep on track. It has me reading six days a week. Most weeks, there are three or four weeks throughout the year where I read on Sundays as well. But however you decide to do it, find a plan that you can stick to as a group. On that website, you can find a free plan: “How To Read Through the Bible In A Year”—very easily found, go there, search it out, think about it, decide as a group, where you’re going to start on January 1, and where you want to end up December 31 of this coming year.

Now, I want you to remember something, this is an overview. This is a walk through the Bible. It’s like you’re up in a hot air balloon. You’re not digging deep as in a Bible study. So don’t worry about that. Hopefully, you’ll be in the Word in other situations, maybe a Sunday school class, or a ladies Bible study where you’re digging more deeply into the Word and you want to do that. But for this daily read through the Bible, think of it as an overview.

How The Bible Is Organized

And with that in mind, I’d like you to turn to the table of contents in your Bible. And we’re going to look over that table of contents. And just talk through a little bit of an overview of how the Old and New Testament are lined up, how they can make sense to us.

We said that there are two testaments: the Old Testament and the New Testament. You see that there in your table of contents. And each testament is divided into three sections: history, experience, and prophecy.

Now your leader hopefully has two more handouts for you. The Old Testament handout and the New Testament handout. Keep that Old Testament handout near you as you look at your table of contents. In the Old Testament, there are 17 history books: five in the Pentateuch, and 12 others. If you look on your paper, you can see that the history books are divided into three sections there. The Pentateuch are the first five books (they’re written by Moses), and then you have the 12 history books. The first nine are “Pre-exile” and the last three are “Post-exile.” And if you don’t know what the exile means, simply basically it’s when Jerusalem was captured and was no longer free. They were dragged off to Babylon. We’ll talk more about that in our Old Testament overview later in future podcasts. But for today, let’s read through those history books. Do you see them in your table of contents? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Those are all written by whom? Yes, Moses.

And then we have 12 history books. Why don’t we read through them together? You just read through them with me: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are the post-exile books.

Then we have the five “Experience” books, you see where it says, “Books for the heart in the heart of the Bible.” These are some of the most quoted and I would say some of our favorite books, if we’re allowed to have favorite books of the Bible. Let’s read aloud those five experience books together. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

Let me explain something here about Psalms. This is the hymn book of the Bible. And it’s filled with hymns, Psalms. So if you mentioning in more than one song, you would say Psalms one and two. But if you’re just referring to one Psalm, like Psalm 23, it just ends with “m” – you don’t say “Psalms 23,” you say, “Psalm 23.” So I just want to explain that because occasionally we can get confused on that.

Then we have the prophecy books and you see how balanced this is? We have 17 books there just as we had 17 history books. There are five “major” prophesy books. Now, major does not mean they’re more important. They’re just longer. There are two pre-exile, and then Lamentations and two post-exile. Let’s read out loud the five major prophecy books, are you ready? Read them as a group: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel. They’re your prophecy books.

And then the Old Testament ends with the 12 Minor Prophets. They’re shorter books. And again, we have nine pre-exile and three post-exile. Let’s read these nine together: Hosea, Joel, Amos Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi. Those are the ones I always get mixed up on. I don’t know about you. But don’t you love how balanced it is? Oh, I thank the Lord for that. It’s just a beautiful compilation of balanced literature.

Now let’s look at the New Testament, which you’re also going to be reading through, but actually, you won’t get to it probably till October of 2022. You’ll spend most of your time reading through the Old Testament. But let’s talk about the New Testament.

In the New Testament, there are five history books, four gospels, and then the book of Acts. The gospels are written by different authors. And they tell us of Jesus as our King, as a servant, as the Son of Man, and as the Son of God. And then the book of Acts tells us of His ascension, and the birth and life of the church.

Then we have 22 experience books, these are all letters. The first nine are letters primarily to Gentiles, and then we have four personal letters, and then there are nine letters primarily to Jewish believers. And that concludes with Revelation 1-3.

The final section of New Testament is prophecy, from Revelation 4 through the last chapter of the Revelation 22.

Now I’m going to ask you, as a group to turn off the podcast, pause it, and read through the New Testament books together. Think through where the three sections are. Maybe mark them with your fingers as you read.

Well, I hope this helps you a little bit with an overview of the Bible. Keep those handouts available, as you’re reading through this year, so that you can figure out, “Oh, this is a prophecy or this is a personal letter,” it will just help you as you read to understand what type of literature you’re reading.

Finishing up

SHARING AND PRAYER

I want you to spend now the rest of your time together sharing if you have any questions or concerns about reading through the Bible together. Are you scared to do this? Are you eager to do this? Are you willing to do it? You’re going to need to hold each other accountable. You’re going to need to pray for each other. And of course, we’ll spend the first few months doing it together. But then you may be on your own over the summer months.

Leaders, I’m going to ask you to go to the daily walk website and look at their free read through the Bible plans and choose one for your group or use another plan of your choice. But by next week, have it ready, please.

Singing & Questions

Now why don’t you sing your song together and then I’ll give you the assignment. Just pause the podcast and spend some time with your questions and then sing your song together and come back on for the assignment.

Assignment For Next Week

Your assignment for next week is this: have five quiet times and write out one answering those two questions: ”Who are you, Lord?” or, “What would you have me to do?” Remember those questions from Acts 22:8-10. Also meditate on your verse three times a day. Pray for each other however your leader directs, if you’re exchanging names, you’re praying for everyone in your group, maybe you’re praying for one specific person each day of the week. However, your leader directs you, you decide. Make sure you have a date set for your extended quiet time. And then finally, memorize the books of the Old Testament through Esther so you can say those next week when you come together.

Now, take some time to share your prayer requests and pray for each other and may God restore your souls as you spend time with him and each other.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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