The Ultimate Commentary on Philippians: A Collective Wisdom of the Bible. Albert Barnes. John Calvin. Adam Clarke. Matthew Henry. Charles H. Spurgeon. John Wesley. 2016. 1040 pages. [Source: Bought] I have spent the month of October reading the epistle ...
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90. The Ultimate Commentary On Philippians and more...


90. The Ultimate Commentary On Philippians


The Ultimate Commentary on Philippians: A Collective Wisdom of the Bible. Albert Barnes. John Calvin. Adam Clarke. Matthew Henry. Charles H. Spurgeon. John Wesley. 2016. 1040 pages. [Source: Bought]

I have spent the month of October reading the epistle Philippians for the Growing for Life Bible Reading project/group. I decided to go ahead and buy Philippians after LOVING the Ultimate Commentary on Romans which I read over the summer. 

There are SIX commentaries included. (The Romans' commentary had seven. I guess Alexander MacLaren didn't write one for Philippians? I don't know.) But readers are in for a big treat. Instead of a seventh commentary--all of Spurgeon's sermons preached from Philippians are included. These alone would have made it worth the $2. (For the record, I'm not sure that these are *all* the sermons he ever preached from Philippians. But every verse/paragraph is covered in the sermons included.) 

I decided to read this one cover to cover. 

  • The soul of the believer is made happy at death. To be with Christ is synonymous with being in heaven - for Christ is in heaven, and is its glory. ~ Albert Barnes
  • Our happiness is almost all centered in love. It is when we love a parent, a wife, a child, a sister, a neighbor, that we have the highest earthly enjoyment. It is in the love of God, of Christ, of Christians, of the souls of people, that the redeemed find their highest happiness. Hatred is a passion full of misery; love an emotion full of joy. ~ Albert Barnes
  • If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain-glory,” how small a portion would be left! ~ Albert Barnes
  • We should seek the welfare of all others in a spiritual sense. We should seek to arouse the sinner, and lead him to the Saviour. He is blind, and will not come himself; unconcerned, and will not seek salvation; filled with the love of this world, and will not seek a better; devoted to pursuits that will lead him to ruin, and he ought to be apprised of it. It is no more an improper interference in his concerns to apprise him of his condition, and to attempt to lead him to the Saviour, than it is to warn a man in a dark night, who walks on the verge of a precipice, of his peril; or to arouse one from sleep whose house is in flames. He does a man a favor who tells him that he has a Redeemer, and that there is a heaven to which he may rise; he does his neighbor the greatest possible kindness who apprises him that there is a world of infinite woe, and tells him of an easy way by which he may escape it. The world around is dependant on the church of Christ to be apprised of these truths. ~ Albert Barnes
  • No one can designate one single moment of his life, and say, “I may safely lose that moment. I may safely spend it in the neglect of my soul.” ~ Albert Barnes
  • Paul had one great aim and purpose of life. He did not attempt to mingle the world and religion, and to gain both. He did not seek to obtain wealth and salvation too; or honor here and the crown of glory hereafter, but he had one object, one aim, one great purpose of soul. To this singleness of purpose he owed his extraordinary attainments in piety, and his uncommon success as a minister. A man will accomplish little who allows his mind to be distracted by a multiplicity of objects. ~ Albert Barnes
  • At every step of life, Christ is able to strengthen us, and can bring us triumphantly through. ~ Albert Barnes
  • we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, that the Lord has called us effectually to himself by his Spirit. ~ John Calvin
  • Let this be your strength and stability, to rejoice in the Lord, and that, too, not for a moment merely, but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated. ~ John Calvin
  • “I can do all things, ” says he, “but it is in Christ, not by my own power, for it is Christ that supplies me with strength.” Hence we infer, that Christ will not be less strong and invincible in us also, if, conscious of our own weakness, we place reliance upon his power alone. When he says all things, he means merely those things which belong to his calling. ~ John Calvin
  • Whether I live or die, Christ is gain to me. While I live I am Christ's property and servant, and Christ is my portion; if I die - if I be called to witness the truth at the expense of my life, this will be gain; I shall be saved from the remaining troubles and difficulties in life, and be put immediately in possession of my heavenly inheritance. ~ Adam Clarke
  • God gives power to will, man wills through that power; God gives power to act, and man acts through that power. Without the power to will, man can will nothing; without the power to work, man can do nothing. God neither wills for man, nor works in man's stead, but he furnishes him with power to do both; he is therefore accountable to God for these powers. ~ Adam Clarke
  • Be continually happy; but this happiness you can find only in the Lord. Genuine happiness is spiritual; as it can only come from God, so it infallibly tends to him. The apostle repeats the exhortation, to show, not only his earnestness, but also that it was God's will that it should be so, and that it was their duty as well as interest. ~ Adam Clarke
  • A contented mind is a continual feast! What do we get by murmuring and complaining? ~ Adam Clarke
  • Thanksgiving must have a part in every prayer and whatsoever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. What we have the comfort of, God must have the glory of. ~ Matthew Henry
  • Wherever this good work is begun it is of God's beginning: He has begun a good work in you. We could not begin it ourselves, for we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins: and what can dead men do towards raising themselves to life or how can they begin to act till they are enlivened in the same respect in which they are said to be dead? It is God who quickens those who are thus dead, Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13. ~ Matthew Henry
  • All those to whom to live is Christ to them to die will be gain: it is great gain, a present gain, everlasting gain. Death is a great loss to a carnal worldly man for he loses all his comforts and all his hopes: but to a good Christian it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and misery and the perfection of his comforts and accomplishment of his hopes it delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings him to the possession of the chief good. ~ Matthew Henry
  • Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when it is gloried in. ~ Matthew Henry
  • The worst enemies that the cross of Christ has are the enemies inside the professing church of Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration; Paul only spoke what was literally the truth. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Whatever happens to the true servant of the Lord will turn out for the furtherance of the Gospel. Therefore will we rejoice in tribulations and accept God’s will, whatever it may be. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Oh, we have not seen Him yet! Our views of Him are too dim to be worth calling sights. The eyes of faith have looked through a telescope and seen Him at a distance and it has been a ravishing vision. But when the eyes of the soul shall really see Him–Him, and not another–Him for ourselves, and not another for us, oh, the sight! ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • It is impossible to preach the Gospel without preaching the Person, the work, the offices, the Character of Christ. If Christ is preached, the Gospel is promulgated and if Christ is put in the background, then there is no Gospel declared. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Consolation is the dropping of a gentle dew from Heaven on desert hearts beneath. True consolation, such as can reach the heart, must be one of the choicest gifts of Divine mercy. And surely we are not erring from sacred Scripture when we avow that in its full meaning, consolation can be found nowhere except in Christ who has come down from Heaven and who has again ascended to Heaven to provide strong and everlasting consolation for those whom He has bought with His blood. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • You ought to seek the spread of the Truth of God, but you must first know the Truth yourself, and you must daily seek to understand it better. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Oh, it is not Hell hereafter which is the only thing a sinner has to fear–it is the wrath of God which rests upon him now! To be unreconciled to God, now, is an awful thing–to have God’s arrow pointed at you as it is at this moment, even though it flies not from the string as yet–is a terrible thing! It is enough to make you tremble from head to foot when you learn that you are the target of Jehovah’s wrath–“He has bent His bow, and made it ready.” Christ Jesus bore the wrath of God that we might never bear it. He has made a full Atonement to the justice of God for the sins of all Believers. Against him that believes there remains no record of guilt. His transgressions are blotted out, for Christ Jesus has finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • I will not give a rusty nail for your religion if you can be quiet about it. I do not believe you have any. That which is nearest to the heart is generally most on the tongue. You must be constantly bearing your witness by the words of your mouth for Christ, seeking to teach the ignorant, to warn the careless, to reclaim the backsliding and to bring the wanderers to the Cross. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Beware of studying doctrine, precept, or experiences apart from the Lord Jesus, who is the soul of all. Doctrine without Christ will be nothing better than His empty tomb. Doctrine with Christ is a glorious high throne–with the King sitting on it. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord! ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • I count it one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we commence our Heaven here below. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • True joy, when it is joy in the Lord, must speak–it cannot hold its tongue–it must praise the name of the Lord! ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • Mind that you seek no joy which is not joy in the Lord. If you go after the poisonous sweets of this world, woe be to you! Never rejoice in that which is sinful, for all such rejoicing is evil. Flee from it–it can do you no good. That joy which you cannot share with God is not a right joy for you. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • All other things are but for a season, but God is forever and ever. Make Him your joy, the whole of your joy, and then let this joy absorb your every thought! Be baptized into this joy! Plunge into the deeps of this unutterable bliss of joy in God! ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • While we are here on earth we should never attempt to make such a distinction between prayer and praise that we should either praise without prayer or pray without praise–but with every prayer and supplication we should mingle thanksgiving and thus make known our requests unto God. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • What is the peace of God? I would describe it, first, by saying it is, of course, peace with God. It is peace of conscience, actual peace with the Most High through the atoning Sacrifice. Reconciliation, forgiveness, restoration to favor there must be–and the soul must be aware of it–there can be no peace of God apart from justification through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ received by faith. A man conscious of being guilty can never know the peace of God till he becomes equally conscious of being forgiven. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • You cannot always rejoice in your circumstances, for they greatly vary, but the Lord never changes. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” If you have rejoicing in earthly things you must indulge it moderately. But rejoicing in the Lord may be used without the possibility of excess, for the Apostle adds, “Again I say, Rejoice”–rejoice and rejoice again! Delight yourselves in the Lord. Who has such a God as you have? “Their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges.” Who has such a Friend, such a Father, such a Savior, such a Comforter as you have in the Lord your God? To think of God as our exceeding Joy is to find “the peace of God which passes all understanding.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


9. NASB Single Column Reference


NASB Single Column Reference, Wide Margin, 1995 Text. February 2020. Zondervan. 1920 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I was super-super-super-super excited to read this one! It arrived in the mail just a mere week before the world turned topsy-turvy in 2020. Here are the features that excited me and screamed out BUY ME, BUY ME, BUY ME.
  • Line-matched Bible text minimizes see-through
  • Verse-by-verse format
  • Black letter edition
  • Full-color presentation page
  • Eight pages of full-color maps
  • Exquisite, durable cover
  • Premium European Bible paper, 36 gsm
  • Two satin ribbon markers
  • Exclusive Zondervan NASB Comfort Print typeface
  • 10.5-point print size
On paper it looked like it would be THE ONE. I wasn't able to track down a copy in a physical store to see it before I bought it. But I took a leap of faith and ordered it online. 

I was not disappointed. This one has it all--or at least almost all. I love, love, love, love the 1995 NASB. I love, love, love single column bibles. I love, love, love, love black letter editions. I love, love, love, love, LOVE the new COMFORT PRINT type. I LOVE that there isn't ghosting or bleed through. I love the ribbons. (Though three or four ribbons would have been even better.)

In addition, it wasn't too heavy. It was slightly heavy. But I'd say it was pleasantly heavy. 

The way it lays flat is a dream. 

If I could combine everything I love about this one with everything I loved about the ESV Creeds Bible, then I would definitely have my ONE. If this one had an appendix of the creeds, it would be perfectly perfectly perfect in every way. 

I read the first three or four books in February--the week I got it. Then I put it on a shelf--back when I thought, hoped, that Covid would be a thing that passed relatively quickly--like by the summer. But this October I decided I might as well READ IT NOW. I read the rest of the Bible in October. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


89. First and Second Thessalonians


First and Second Thessalonians (Thru the Bible #49) J. Vernon McGee. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: This wonderful epistle is almost at the end of Paul’s epistles as far as their arrangement in the New Testament is concerned. However, it was actually the first epistle that Paul wrote. It was written by Paul in A.D. 52 or 53.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Psalms 1-41.

This commentary covers both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. He did a great job! 

While reading McGee I'm always pleasantly surprised in how TIMELY and RELEVANT his insights are. Most of the commentaries were first published in the 1970s, but it's as if he's talking to us right here, right now. Though I'm sure he'd get even harsher if he could truly witness how far we've come as a society.

Quotes from 1 Thessalonians:
  • If a person will teach the total Word of God, he will deal with every subject in the Bible—he will be forced to play every key on the organ and to pull out every stop. It isn’t possible to ride one hobbyhorse and emphasize one theme to the exclusion of all others if one teaches the entire Bible. I wish we had that kind of discipline in our churches today. I wish every church would go through the entire Bible.
  • Any believer who is in Christ Jesus is also in God the Father. That is a very safe place to be, safer than any safety deposit box!
  • Every man lives with some hope for the future. And that hope, whatever it is, will sustain him. Down through the centuries man has expressed this. Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”
  • If your hope is in this world, you are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp of happiness that will shatter like a bubble when you get it in your hands. You are following a Pied Piper who is playing, “I’m forever blowing bubbles.” God put man out of Paradise because man was a sinner, and man has been trying to build a paradise outside ever since. God have mercy on anyone whose hope rests upon some little, frail bark that man is paddling! I don’t think that any man or any party or any group down here can work out the problems of this world. The sceptre of this universe is in nail-pierced hands, and He will move at the right time.
  • We need to recognize that God created the universe. I’m not concerned with how He did it, nor am I concerned with the account in Genesis. I simply want to emphasize the fact that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  • Now there are those who are willing to say He created, but they deny Him the right to direct the universe. They deny Him the right to give a purpose to it. May I say to you that we live in a universe that was created by God and exists for His glory.
  • I say especially to you, my Christian friend, that God is the Creator, and this universe exists for His glory. He is God, and beside Him there is none other. He doesn’t look to anybody for advice. He is running this universe for His own purpose.
  • You and I live in a universe which is theocentric, that is, God-centered. It is not anthropocentric, man-centered; nor is it geocentric, earth-centered; but it is uranocentric, heaven-centered. This is God’s universe, and He is running it His way.
  • “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” Maybe you don’t like this verse, but this is the way it happened. And God is running this universe. Instead of joining a protest march against Him, I suggest that you fall down on your face before Him and thank Him that He has brought you into existence, and that He has given you the opportunity as a free moral agent to make a decision for Him.
  • I believe the Spirit of God can take the Word of God and make it real to you. I believe the Word of God is that kind of thing. I don’t think the Spirit of God could do much with the telephone directory or the Sears and Roebuck catalog or with popular magazines that are published today. But I do believe that the Spirit of God can and will take the Word of God and perform the greatest miracle possible—changing an unbelieving, lost sinner into a child of God!
  • Without the Holy Spirit the gospel is merely words. With the Holy Spirit it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. This is exactly what the Lord Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do:
  • If a man doesn’t turn from his sin, it is because he hasn’t turned to Christ.
  • The message of the Lord Jesus to the churches is to repent. Today it seems that the church is telling everyone outside the church to repent. The Bible teaches that it is the people in the church who need to repent. We need to get down on our faces before God and repent.
  • The coming of Christ for His church is called the Rapture of the church. It is not a doctrine to argue about; it is a doctrine to live.
  • Every believer is a preacher. Maybe you don’t like me to call you a preacher, but you are one nonetheless. You can’t escape it—you are saying something to somebody by the life you live.
  • The greatest sermon you will ever preach is by the life that you live.
  • One of the things that disturbs me about some ministers is that they give a good, clear-cut gospel message in one place, but then they show up in another place where they need to be equally clear in giving out the gospel, and they are fuzzy!
  • I have always felt that the gospel is not presented in the power of the Holy Spirit unless it is presented as something that the Holy Spirit can use to convict a man. That means that He convinces a man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Those three elements are always in the gospel message.
  • The popular thing is to have a little sermonette given by a preacherette to Christianettes. There is so little urgency. Someone has defined the average church service in a liberal church as when a mild-mannered man gets up before a group of mild-mannered people and urges them to be more mild-mannered. Oh, that is sickening, my friend!
  • “Some sermons don’t have enough gospel in them to make soup for a sick grasshopper.”
  • How do you receive the Word of God? Do you receive it as the Word of God? Or do you get angry? Does the hair stand up on the back of your neck?
  • The Word should go out as the Word of God, and it should be received as the Word of God. And, my friend, if you will receive it that way, then it will be able to work in you, and there’s blessing there for you. Otherwise, you are wasting your time in church.
  • We have seen how Paul has been giving out the Word of God. It irritated some people because God’s Word is salt, and salt stings when it gets into a fresh wound of sin in the life of an individual. The Word of God is also a light, but there are a lot of people who love darkness because their deeds are evil.
  • I believe that if revival came to the church, we would all know it. No one would need to ask, “Do you think this is revival?”
  • Love is not affection or just a nice, comfortable, warm feeling around your heart. Love seeks the welfare of another. That is the way love is expressed for anyone. If you love someone, you seek his welfare and you actually would jeopardize your own life for the person whom you love.
  • The fact of the matter is that you will have trouble after you become a child of God, even if you haven’t had any trouble before. He has never promised that we would miss the storm, but we will go through all the storms of life. What He does say very definitely and dogmatically is that He will go with us through the storms and that we will reach the harbor.
  • You cannot lose as a Christian. Even if you have trouble, it is going to work out for your good—you can always be sure of that.
  • The first coming of Christ was an epiphany. It has the idea of a shining through. A second Greek word is apokalupsis, which means a “revelation” or an “unveiling.” That is actually the name of the Book of Revelation. One could hardly call His first coming an unveiling, because actually His glory was veiled in human flesh when He was born in Bethlehem.
  • The Ten Commandments were not given to save us; they were given to show us that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. That is their purpose. If man could not keep the Ten Commandments, how can he keep higher commandments? The Bible makes it very clear that man was not able to keep the Ten Commandments.
  • Sanctification of the believer is a work of the Spirit of God. We need to review the threefold aspect of it, because this is so very important: Positional sanctification means that Christ has been made unto us sanctification. We are accepted in the Beloved, and we will never be more saved than at the moment we put our trust in Christ. We are never accepted because of who we are, but because of what Christ has done. This positional sanctification is perfection in Christ. Practical sanctification is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce a holiness in our walk. This practical sanctification will never be perfect so long as we are in these bodies with our old sinful flesh. Total sanctification will occur in the future when we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Then both the position and the practice of sanctification will be perfect. 
  • One cannot live in sin and be a preacher or singer or Sunday school teacher or an officer in the church. I don’t care who you are, if you do, you will wreck the work of God.
  • You and I need to recognize that it is only in Christ that we can be acceptable to God. Paul says that we have been sanctified, brought to this high state, set apart for the use of God.
  • A child of God cannot continue in sin. The prodigal son may get in the pigpen for a time, but he won’t live in the pigpen.
  • After we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, then God talks to us about our lives. The child of God is not under the Ten Commandments as the way of life—he is way above it. He is to live on a much higher plane, as we can see by the commandments in this section.
2 Thessalonians Quotes:
  • Peace is the world’s softest pillow that you can sleep on at night. It is the peace that comes when you know that your sins are forgiven.
  • Well, if you have a good view of the future, it will give you the patience of hope—a hope that looks way down yonder to the good smooth road coming up. And it may be closer than you think.
  • Patience is an interesting word. The Greek word translated by the English word patience has the literal meaning of “standing under.” It means to be placed under. A great many people try to get out from under the problems and difficulties. The person who is patient is able to stay under, and he keeps on carrying the load. He doesn’t throw it off; he doesn’t try to get rid of his responsibility.
  • Whatever you are going through, you have company. It is not a strange thing for suffering to come to us. Peter goes on to say, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:13).
  • The Word of God actually says very little about heaven. One of the reasons is that it is so wonderful we could not comprehend it. And the Lord does not want us to get so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.
  • Scripture not only says very little about heaven, it says less about the condition of the lost. It is so awful that the Holy Spirit has drawn a veil over it.
  • When God judges, He does not do it in a vindictive manner. He does it in order to vindicate His righteousness and His holiness. There is nothing in the Scriptures to satisfy our curiosity about hell, but there is enough said to give us a warning. It does not mean that it is less real because so little is said. Actually, Christ Himself said more about hell than did anyone else. Hell is an awful reality.
  • Hell is ridiculed today, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Our beliefs are sometimes only wishful thinking.
  • The important thing to say in a testimony is not what He has given you but from what He has delivered you. That was the whole purpose for the coming of our Savior. He came to redeem us!
  • He didn’t come to give us new personalities or to make us successful. He came to deliver us from hell! That’s not popular to say. Folk don’t like to hear it.
  • There are too few people today who are willing to confront folk with the fact that they are lost.
  • What can withhold evil in the world? The only One I know who can do that is the Holy Spirit. Governments can’t do it—they are not doing it. The Roman Empire couldn’t do it; it was an evil force itself.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word of God. Today we have the Bible, which is the written Word of God. The written Word is about the living Word, and it is alive and potent. When the Lord Jesus returns, He comes as the living Word of God.
  • God is going to judge those who have rejected the truth. I have said this many times, and I am going to say it again: If you can sit and read the Word of God in this book and continue to reject Jesus Christ, then you are wide open for anything that comes along to delude and deceive you.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ brings comfort and consolation to our hearts. He does this through His Word. That will establish us in every good word and work. The study of the Word of God will lead to the work of the Lord.
  • “Pray for us.” Prayer is something that every believer can engage in. I do not think prayer is a gift of the Spirit. Prayer is something that all believers should do. Every work must have prayer behind it if it is to succeed. Every successful evangelist and preacher of the Word, every teacher of the Word who is being used of God, has people who are praying for him.
  • Pray that people will exalt the Word of God in their own lives. It troubles me and it worries me to see that even those who claim to believe the Word of God give so little attention to it. Pray that if people profess to believe the Word of God, they will get into it and find out what it says.
  • The foundation of the church rests upon the doctrine which the apostles have given to the church. That is what we should teach and preach.
  • Christians need to be established. Right now the home is in disarray, the church is in disarray, and the lives of believers are in disarray. We need to be established. How can you as a believer be established? By coming to the Word of God and letting it have its influence in your life. The Lord operates through His Word. The Word of God will keep you from evil.
  • Someone has said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the Bible.”


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


88. A Kid's Guide to the Names of Jesus


A Kid's Guide to the Names of Jesus. Tony Evans. 2021. [March] 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: What makes a person famous? Does being famous mean having a certain number of followers on social media? Do famous people need to star in blockbuster movies or release popular songs or appear on TV? And what about those who are super well known in their school or community—the people whose names everyone seems to know? Are they famous? Everyone wants to be recognized. Everyone wants to be known by others. And some people do become famous—meaning that if someone says that person’s name, others are going to instantly know who they are. In today’s world of Instagram and YouTube and TikTok, average people who aren’t athletes or musicians or actors can become famous if enough people start following them.

Tony Evans' has a new children's book releasing in the spring of 2021 on the names of Jesus. The names studied/introduced include: 
  • Immanuel
  • Alpha and Omega
  • King
  • Lamb of God
  • Great High Priest
  • Sovereign
  • I AM
  • Lord
  • Jesus
  • Christ
  • Son of God, Son of Man
  • Word of God
Each chapter blends stories and light-hearted conversation with scripture to present an aspect of the person or work of Jesus Christ. Some chapters expand a bit from just the one to include others that weren't included elsewhere. Each chapter includes an activity or two (or three) to get kids more involved. (Some of these felt relevant, others not so much. For example, "Write down the first ten words that come to mind when you think of Jesus" versus "“YHWY” (“I Am”) is a word without any vowels. Can you think of any other words without vowels? Write them down—if you can think of any! (“Y” is sometimes used as a vowel, so don’t write down words like “my” or “cry.”)"

There are also a few illustrations. 

What do I think of this one? I really was enjoying it for the first third. The first two to four chapters I was really approving of it--is impressed the right word? thinking that I could/would recommend it. The rest of the book, however, my mind slowly but surely started changing. I will admit to some bias. I am Reformed. Tony Evans is not Reformed. (For those not in the know, Reformed has nothing to do with character and everything to do with theology--doctrines and creeds. Reformed may be a fancy way of saying Calvinist as opposed to Arminian.) But I think even beyond the matter of free will versus God's sovereignty over salvation, I feel there were a few instances of concern. 

An example of a statement a Reformed person would groan about, "Even though everyone’s sins have been paid for through Jesus’s death on the cross, not everyone chooses to follow Jesus and receive eternal life."

Here are some of the other statements that I felt unsure/uncertain/iffy about.

To get God’s help, though, you have to do God’s will, be good in His sight, and fear Him. The Bible tells us these things. John 7:17 says, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” That’s the doing God’s will part. Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.” That’s the being good in His sight part.
Perhaps because he's trying to keep things as simple as possible and doesn't want to elaborate on the complexities and tensions between JESUS PAID IT ALL and ALL TO HIM I OWE...this sounds a bit quid pro quo. If and only if you do God's will, then God will definitely do this and that as a reward. This wasn't the only place it felt a bit like that, but I didn't need to show all the examples...just the main one that made me squirm a bit. Now I am not debating that a person who has been filled with the Holy Spirit who is fully trusting in Jesus will out of love and thankfulness choose to respond with obedience and serve God. But to think that God only helps those who help themselves...well...it's a bit unbiblical. 

Do you have any power strips in your house? Look around and notice everything that is plugged into power strips. What are some things in your life—friendships, school, feelings—that you can plug into God’s power strip and get His help with?
This just read as TACKY. A bit like using God to get God's benefit. 

Jesus is God’s selfie. That might sound funny, but it’s 100 percent true. A selfie always reflects the image of the person taking the photo, and an image of Jesus is also an image of God. Jesus is God’s selfie because He is the exact representation of God Himself.
This read as TACKY as well. Though I will say that perhaps in trying to keep things "current" and "cool" with kids, his imagery goes just a little too far for my liking. I think it's incomplete at best. There's a difference between a person--an actual person--and a representation of that person in a photograph or portrait or sculpture. And to get technical, a selfies does NOT always reflect the image of the person taking the photo. There are FILTERS. Selfies--and/or any other photo--can be edited and photoshopped. They don't necessarily represent the truest image of the person. 

God is always in the present tense. He’s always there for us. That’s why we can believe anything He says—because what He declares will happen has already happened in His existence. He’s not hoping it will happen. He knows it’s already happened!

I couldn't tell if he was saying that God knows the future because he has lived out the future. And/or if he was disputing the fact that God knows the future because he has DECREED the future. God has a SOVEREIGN PLAN and has ORDAINED everything--everything big and little--from beginning to end. 

The secret to life is simply to give more and more glory back to Jesus. Because when you do, He will put more and more life into you and whatever it is you are doing.
Again sounds a bit like IF you do this for God, God will do that for you. You can work for God's approval, gain God's acceptance, and be rewarded for it. 

If you live in the light of Jesus and follow His written Word (the Bible) and His guidance, you will experience the best kind of life possible.

This just sounded a bit BEST LIFE NOW to me. The Bible does NOT promise anyone of any age the "best kind of life possible" if you are obedient and do x, y, z. The Bible does promise that in this would you will experience pain, sorrow, and sufferings. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world. The Christian life isn't about escaping the hard things of life and experiencing happy-clappy-comfy-cozy peace. It's about being delivered from death to life. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

87. Psalms 1-41


Psalms 1-41. (Thru the Bible #17) J. Vernon McGee. 1977. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The title in the Hebrew means Praises or Book of Praises.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Philippians and Colossians. 

I love, love, love the book of Psalms. McGee does too. We are kindred spirits in that. He has some great things to say about the book of Psalms. "It is the only book which contains every experience of a human being. The Psalms run the psychological gamut. Every thought, every impulse, every emotion that sweeps over the soul is recorded in this book. That is the reason, I suppose, that it always speaks to our hearts and finds a responsive chord wherever we turn." and "The Psalms are full of Christ. There is a more complete picture of Him in the Psalms than in the Gospels. The Gospels tell us that He went to the mountain to pray, but the Psalms give us His prayer. The Gospels tell us that He was crucified, but the Psalms tell us what went on in His own heart during the Crucifixion. The Gospels tell us He went back to heaven, but the Psalms begin where the Gospels leave off and show us Christ seated in heaven." and "Christ is the subject of the Psalms. I think He is the object of praise in every one of them. I will not be able to locate Him in all of them, but that does not mean that He is not in each psalm; it only means that Vernon McGee is limited."

This commentary covers the first division of the book of Psalms.

Quotes:
  • My friend, it is one thing to listen to counsel, and good counsel is fine, but certainly not the counsel of the ungodly. We are to walk by faith. Listening to the counsel of the ungodly is not walking by faith. Who are the ungodly? They are the people who just leave God out. There is no fear of God before their eyes. They live as though God does not exist. Around us today are multitudes of people like this. They get up in the morning, never turn to God in prayer, never thank Him for the food they eat or for life or health. They just keep moving right along, living it up. They are ungodly—they just leave God out.
  • The delight of God’s man is in the law of the Lord. In other words, he finds joy in the Word of God. I wish I could get the message over to folk that the Bible is a thrilling Book. It’s not a burden; it’s not boring. It is real delight to read and study the Word of God. Blessed is the man—happy is the man—whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
  • My friend, God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by meditating upon the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in your thinking until it becomes a part of your life. This is the practice of the happy man.
  • The primary business of a Christian is not soul-winning, but getting out the Word of God, my friend. It “bringeth forth his fruit in his season.”
  • The Lord Jesus said that He Himself is the sower and that He is sowing seed in the world. Then He said an enemy came in and sowed tares. The servants wanted to go in and pull up the tares. When I entered the ministry that is what I wanted to do. I was the best puller-upper of tares you’ve ever seen. But I soon found out that we’re not called to pull up tares (I sure found that out the hard way!). That is the reason I don’t try to straighten out anybody else. I’m having enough trouble with Vernon McGee, so I don’t worry about the others. He will take care of them. But what He said was that the wheat is growing, the tares are growing, they are both growing together, and He will do the separating. He will take care of that.
  • May I say to you, my friend, the Jesus that the world believes in today doesn’t even exist. He never lived. The Jesus we preach is the Jesus of the Bible, and that is the One against whom there is opposition in the world today. There is a tremendous build-up, a mighty crescendo of opposition against God and against Christ in this day in which we live.
  • It is disturbing as we look at this world in which we are living. In the political world there is confusion. In the moral realm there is corruption. In the spiritual sphere there is compromise and indifference. And in the social sphere there is comfort. This affluent society never had it so easy, and their goal is to make it easier. We are living in that kind of a day. It is disturbing, and I’ll be honest with you, I do worry about it a little.
  • Today I live in a world where every man is tooting his own little horn. Every little group wants to be heard. Everybody wants to tell you what he thinks. Everybody is playing his own little fiddle, and I want to tell you, it’s a medley of discord. Everything is out of tune. But one of these days the spotlight is going on, and the Lord Jesus Christ will come. When He comes to this universe, He is going to lift His scepter, and everything that is out of tune with Him is going to be removed.
  • The comfort given in these psalms is for all of God’s children. There are three ways to look at these psalms. The primary interpretation, of course, concerns the personal experience of David. Then there is a direct application to the godly remnant in the nation of Israel during the Great Tribulation. There is also an application to God’s people everywhere at any time in the history of the world. If we look at the psalms from this point of view, they will become more meaningful to us.
  • Only mercy can save us. We are told over and over again in the New Testament that God is rich in mercy. He has had to use a lot of His mercy on me, but He has some left over for you. He has plenty of mercy, and we certainly need it.
  • I feel that before a man preaches on hell he ought to search his own heart to make sure that the subject affects him—that his heart is broken because men are lost.
  • May I say to you, not only should there be sermons on hell, but the right kind of men should preach them. He is the One who declares what is right. If you don’t think so, you are wrong. That is just the way it is. It is as simple as that. Someone has to make the rules.
  • Do you want to know who the wicked are as you look around the world? They are those who are filled with pride, the “great” of the earth, who have no place for God in their lives. Also they do a great deal of boasting. I don’t know how you feel, but I am not impressed by politicians and world leaders who are always boasting that they will solve the problems of the world.
  • Frankly, I do not like this distinction that I hear today that, “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” God has loved you so much that He gave His Son to die for you; but if you persist in your sin and continue in that sin, you are the enemy of God. And God is your enemy. God wants to save you, and He will save you if you turn to Him and forsake your iniquity. Until then, may I say, God is not a lovey-dovey, sentimental, old gentleman from Georgia.
  • Today the enemy huffs and puffs like the wolf did in the story of the three little pigs. Two little pigs lost their homes because the big bad wolf blew them down. But the last little pig had a house that stood up under the huffing and puffing. The story of the three little pigs illustrates what David is saying here. God says, “I will set him in safety at whom they puff. I will hide him in the clefts of the rocks. I will put him in a place of safety.”
  • My friend, wherever you are and whoever you are and however you are, you can still sing praises to God.
  • We need to be full of life and joy all of the time. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons [Ps. 16:7]. What do you think about at night when you cannot sleep? The psalmist thought about the Lord.
  • I don’t know about you, but I am not asking for justice from God; I am asking for mercy. What most of us need from Him is mercy.
  • He is our high tower. A high tower is also a good place for protection and a good place to get a vision and a perspective of life. Many of us need to go to the high tower.
  • Oh, that there might be praise in your mouth and mine, in your life and mine, in your heart and mine, toward our God! Praise to God. “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Ps. 107:1–2). If the redeemed do not say the Lord is good, nobody else in the world will. The redeemed ought to say so. We need some “say-so” Christians.
  • Whatever God does is right. This is a tremendous section. We ought to learn to love all of the Word of God—all of it. Several people have written to me because they think I am opposed to the Ten Commandments. Why, the Ten Commandments are wonderful; I am not opposed to them. I am opposed to Vernon McGee—he can’t keep them. If you can keep them, then you can ask God to move over; and you can sit beside Him because you have made it on your own. But God says you cannot keep them, and I agree with Him. He told me I would not make it on my own, and I agree with Him. I have to come as a sinner to God.
  • I can give excuses, but God won’t accept them. God says that you cannot understand your errors. Just take His word for it that you are a sinner.
  • When we come to Psalm 22 I feel that we are standing on holy ground, and we should take off our spiritual shoes. This psalm is called the Psalm of the Cross. It is so named because it describes more accurately and minutely the crucifixion of Christ than does any other portion of the Word of God. It corresponds, of course, to the twenty-second chapter of Genesis and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah.
  • Why was He forsaken of God? Because on the cross in those last three hours, in the impenetrable darkness, He was made sin.
  • Psalm 23, which is so popular, would be meaningless without Psalm 22, which leads me to say that we have a trilogy or triptych of psalms that belong together. They are Psalms 22, 23, and 24, and they are called the shepherd psalms. To put it succinctly, in Psalm 22 we see the cross, in Psalm 23 the crook (the Shepherd’s crook), and in Psalm 24 the crown (the King’s crown). In Psalm 22 Christ is the Savior, in Psalm 23 He is the Satisfier; in Psalm 24 He is the Sovereign. In Psalm 22 He is the foundation; in Psalm 23 He is the manifestation; in Psalm 24 He is the expectation. In Psalm 22 He dies; in Psalm 23 He is living; in Psalm 24 He is coming. Psalm 22 speaks of the past; Psalm 23 speaks of the present; and Psalm 24 speaks of the future. In Psalm 22 He gives His life for the sheep; in Psalm 23 He gives His love to the sheep; in Psalm 24 He gives us light when He shall appear. What a wonderful picture we have of Christ in these three psalms!
  • This psalm begins by saying, “The LORD is my shepherd.” By what authority do you say my shepherd? Is this psalm for everybody? I don’t think so. Since Psalms 22, 23, and 24 go together and tell one story, you have to know the Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep before you can know Him as the Great Shepherd. You must know the Shepherd of Psalm 22 before you can come to Psalm 23 and say, “The LORD is my shepherd.”
  • The psalmist speaks not only of the kindnesses of God but also of His loving kindnesses. It is difficult for me to distinguish between the two, but I think what a little girl once said in Sunday school is a good definition. She said, “When you ask your Mother for a piece of bread with butter on it, and she gives it to you, that is kindness. But when she puts jam on it without you asking her, that is loving kindness.”
  • David had whittled his life down to one point: “One thing have I desired of the LORD.” Also Paul did that with his life. He said, “… but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).
  • God can strengthen and enable us to go through the storms of life and know what peace is afterward. The storm with all of its fury may lash across the land, but Jehovah is still in control. In every storm of life He is in control, and He will bless His people with peace.
  • There are two things you should remember: the storm will end, and the Lord will see you through it.
  • Friend, you will find a psalm that fits you. I believe that every person can find a psalm that will be just his size.
  • Most of the psalms are very unfamiliar; yet they comprise one of the richest portions of God’s Word. My feeling is that if proper emphasis were given in this section, it would give a different perspective to Scripture, especially relative to God’s purposes in the nation Israel.
  • Sin required a penalty; and, if the sinner did not pay it, someone else would have to pay it. God has a plan, and He can save sinners because Someone else has paid the penalty for sin. That Person is His Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • The Savior, Jesus Christ, is the strong Rock upon which we can rest. I am reminded of the little Scottish lady who was talking about her salvation and her assurance of it: “There are times when I am frightened and I tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me.” It is a strong Rock.
  • “My times are in thy hand”—and those are crucified hands. I can see my sin in His hands. And they are the tender hands of a Shepherd. He picked up a lost sheep and put it on His shoulders. My care and protection are in those hands. Some future day He is coming with blessing, and those hands will bless. I rejoice that my times are in His hands.
  • When you are saturated with this portion of God’s Word, it not only will bring comfort to your heart, it will solve 99.4 percent of the problems of the church. Oh, that it might become meaningful to you personally and be translated into shoe leather! This is a rich area of the Word of God.
  • if you think God is not going to take vengeance on evildoers, you are mistaken. He will do it without being vindictive. He will do it in justice and in righteousness and in holiness.
  • I think that one of the things the lost will have to live with throughout eternity is an old nature that he is going to learn to hate. That is the thing that will make his own little hell on the inside of his skin!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

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