What Are You Offering to God? (Days 1-7): Read Leviticus, Numbers, and Acts

Have you given an offering to the Lord? Maybe it was money, time, or worship. In Leviticus and Numbers, you’ll read about various offerings which were God-prescribed ways to offer something to Him for various reasons: showing devotion to God, acknowledging sin and repentance and desiring forgiveness, and showing thanks to God for His provision and for fellowship, or peace.

The awesome thing about these Old Testament offerings is that when Jesus came, He fulfilled the Old Testament ceremonial law, so there’s no more need for shedding blood to cover our sin since the perfect sacrificial Lamb died once for the sin of the whole world. The Old Testament priests and sacrifices foreshadowed the ultimate Sacrifice who was simultaneously our Great High Priest. Therefore, as you read Leviticus, remember that it’s not outdated laws from another time but a picture of your redemption realized in Christ. This is what Peter understood after the resurrection, and then he proclaimed boldly this gospel to the crowds on the day of Pentecost which you’ll read about in Acts along with so many other historical accounts of disciples telling the gospel story.

This week you’ll read…

Leviticus 1-7: The following links will explain the various offerings.

Numbers 1-7: “May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace” (Numbers 6 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Psalms 31-33: Sometimes we get the mistaken notion that God was not merciful or gracious in the Old Testament. The truth is that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Read about God’s grace in Psalm 32 this week as King David recalls his sin. “How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!” (The Christian Standard Bible)

Acts 1-7: You’ll experience the exciting birth of the church as the Holy Spirit falls upon the believers and empowers them to share the gospel even in the face of persecution.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Glory (Days 22-28): Reading through Exodus, Psalms, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

Glory! Preachers sometimes use this term in exclamation regarding a great biblical thought. Glory is used of valorous soldiers in war. No guts, no glory. Of course, God is the most glorious and the One who deserves every bit of glory from us. When we try to take credit for our noble feats, we get into trouble as we steal the show from the Lord. He gave you the strength, breath, and mental ability to get the job done, so we should give the credit to the One it’s due.

God’s glory can be displayed visibly to humans, and light is a common manifestation of God’s glory. You’ll read about Moses’ radiant face after he’d spent time with God on the mountain and at the tabernacle. Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James, and John on a mountain. In our Luke reading this week, we’ll hear of Jesus’ resurrection which surely displayed some of the Lord’s glory. In your Zechariah reading, the prophet prophesies of the end times when God observably wields His glorious power as King over all the earth. In Revelation, that glory is displayed in the eternal city as light in the absence of the sun and moon.

Let us not neglect to deflect back to the Lord any glory given to us. He’s our Creator and Sustainer and deserves all the glory. After all, pride is not appropriate attire for a Christian.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 34-40: In a passionate display of anger, Moses threw down and broke the first stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, so Moses meets with God again and new ones are made. Following God’s instructions, the tabernacle gets built and God’s glory fills it up.

Psalms 26-30: “The Lord is my light and salvation—whom should I fear?” (Psalm 27 in The Christian Standard Bible)

Zechariah 8-14: As you’re reading in Luke of Jesus’ arrest, torture, and crucifixion, you’ll also read Zechariah prophesy hundreds of years in advance of Jesus’ coming to earth as a baby, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13 in The Christian Standard Bible). That is exactly what happened and what Jesus prophesied as well as He quoted Zechariah’s words, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Luke 19-24: In addition to the events surrounding the end of Jesus’ life, we see Jesus encounter and save Zacchaeus the tax collector. We also see the marvelous encounter of the resurrected Christ with the men on the way to Emmaus.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Hard-Headed (Days 15-21): Reading through Exodus, Psalms, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

When I was younger, my dad made this ridiculous claim that I was hard-headed. I didn’t think so, but now I have some of my own kids. Maybe it wasn’t so ridiculous after all. Humanity has a sin problem and coming with that is a varying degree of hard-headedness. You’ll read about some of this this week with the Israelites in the wilderness after the Red Sea deliverance, admonishments given by Zechariah, and reprimands from Jesus to the Pharisees. Are you ever hard-headed with God? Do you need to turn from your hard-headedness right now?

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 27-33: God continues to give Moses many instructions on top of Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, but the Israelites break their word in impatience and unbelief. “God said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, “You’re one hard-headed people”’” (Exodus 33 in The Message Bible).

Psalms 21-25: Psalm 23 is a favorite psalm for many and is used at many funerals. “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have…” (Psalm 23 in The Message Bible). God has done so much for us. He’s our shepherd. He leads us, protects us, provides for us, corrects us, teaches us, and more. When we’re in Him and looking to Him, we realize that we’re in need of nothing else.

Zechariah 1-7: Zechariah, son of Berechiah, was a prophet around 500 years before Jesus was born on the earth. Zechariah was murdered by his countrymen, maybe the last prophet martyred in the Old Testament. Jesus referenced Zechariah to the religious leaders, “Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse. You can’t squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. All this, I’m telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation” (Matthew 23 in The Message Bible). In Zechariah this week, you’ll read eight visions which he received from the Lord.

Luke 13-18: Jesus teaches many parables in this week’s reading, and He hangs out the Pharisees’ dirty laundry for all to see. After all, they like to be seen by people. He chides them in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. He rebukes them concerning their love of money, too, and He heals people on the Sabbath which caused quite a ruckus with those rule-keepers. Again, in Matthew 23, Jesus harshly chastises these men about things such as these in Luke, “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” (The Message Bible)

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Love (Days 8-14): Reading through Exodus, Psalms, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

Love. The week leading up to Valentine’s Day is a week of much romantic love on display. God will deliver the Ten Commandments to His people in your reading this week, and you’ll hear about love from the lips of Jesus as well. However, have you ever thought of the Ten Commandments as God’s love on display to His people? A while back, I read a good little book by Ron Mehl called Right with God: Loving Instructions from the Father’s Heart which is a condensed version of his book called The Ten(der) Commandments. He points out that before Moses was given the Ten Commandments, God told Moses what to say to the Israelites before presenting the Ten to them. Exodus 19 reads this way in The Message Bible: “As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain: ‘Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel: “You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep My covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be My special treasure. The whole Earth is Mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel.’” Do you see how awesome God’s love is to Israel? Now He has lavished His love on all who will surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. Whatever you’re going through, know today that if you’re in Christ, you’re deeply loved.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 15-26: God provides. We learned that with Abraham on the mountain as he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, but God provided a ram for him. God was only testing Abraham. In Exodus, we see God providing for the entire Israelite community which was in the millions of people. “The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand able-bodied men on foot, besides their families” (Exodus 12 in The Christian Standard Bible). As God provides food and water, He leads them into victory over the Amalekites and leads them to Mount Sinai where Moses and the people receive the Ten Commandments and other laws.

Psalms 19-20: See the sun in the day. Observe Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper in the night sky. All these speak without speaking of a marvelous Creator. “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere” (Psalm 19 in The Message Bible).

Micah 2-7: “Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Luke 7-12: You’ll begin and end the week with love as you read about love on February 7 where Jesus links love for God and forgiveness from God. Then you’ll be reminded of love on February 14th because it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you have a Valentine or not, you have a God who loves you greatly. “Let me be your Valentine/Hold you close and call you Mine/Wipe every tear from your eyes/And when your heart breaks/Know, My love, I’ll find a way/To give you all you need/Just trust in Me” (“Valentine” by Broken Vessels on their album Deeper).

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Smaller Bites (Days 1-7): Reading through Exodus, Psalms, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

When my youngest daughter was in preschool, I’d have to get on to her for shoving a whole Chick-fil-A nugget in her little mouth. She couldn’t even close her mouth as she chewed. I tried teaching her to take smaller bites. Taking a big bite out of something is one way to get it done, but we can also take smaller bites. This reading plan can be taken either way, but anyone can jump in each month since every month is a completely new plan with only Psalms bleeding over from month to month. In February, you’ll read completely through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke and Psalms 16-30.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 1-14: God is miraculous, and, in your reading this week, you’ll see for the first time in the Bible God’s use of people in displaying His miracles to the world. Moses is born, leaves Egypt under duress, is called by God at the burning bush, and then goes back to Egypt as God’s agent (with Aaron) of deliverance for His people through the display of God’s might in 10 plagues against Pharaoh and his gods. Ultimately, Pharaoh and his army are destroyed at the Red Sea after the Israelites walk through on dry ground.

Psalms 16-18: “Paint grace-graffiti on the fences” (Psalm 17 in The Message Bible). If you look for God’s grace, you’ll see it displayed everywhere. The souls of redeemed rebels and sinners are often tattooed or tagged with God’s grace-graffiti. Are you looking for people’s imperfections or for God’s grace on display?

Micah 1: It’s easy to get comfortable in our lives and forget God or at least put Him on the backburner, but God is not unresponsive to our complacency and sinfulness.

Luke 1-6: A miracle conception happens for the old couple Zach and Lizzie, and the virgin conception and birth occur to bring the Savior, the ultimate grace-graffiti artist, into the human world. The Artist displays God’s grace, tagging the sick and sinners with God’s grace as He heals, forgives, and teaches.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Finishing What You’ve Started (Days 29-31): Reading through Genesis, Hosea, Psalms, and Matthew

If you’ve been keeping up with your January readings, then once you finish these three days of reading, you’ll have completely read through the Bible books of Genesis, Hosea, and Matthew. Congratulations! That’s roughly 9% of the chapters of the whole Bible (107 of 1,189 chapters). Later this week, you’ll step into Exodus and Luke. As you come to the end of Genesis and Matthew, you’ll come to the end of Jacob’s life and Jesus’ life, but of course, Jesus comes back to life and proves that He’s the Lord.

This week you’ll read…

Genesis 48-50: Jacob blesses his sons and dies in Egypt, far from home. Joseph dies in faith that his father’s family will eventually go back to their home in the Promised Land.

Psalms 13-15: “God, who gets invited to dinner at Your place? How do we get on Your guest list?” (Psalm 15 in The Message Bible) Read this psalm to find out.

Matthew 26-28: You’ll see Jesus anointed, betrayed, denied, crucified, buried, and resurrected. Are you bold in your witness of Christ, or are you denying Him with your lips or lifestyle?

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Plans and Reality (Days 22-28): Reading through Genesis, Hosea, Psalms, and Matthew

Have your plans ever met with reality? Life doesn’t coordinate with or make compromises with your expectations. You adjust to life and reality. You may be a Christian, and you may have a close walk with Jesus. However, that doesn’t excuse you from life’s disappointments and fiascoes, yet through it all, you have the opportunity to remain faithful or turn tail and run (but where are you going to run?)

This week you’ll read…

Genesis 37-47: Joseph was Jacob’s favored son, and he had a special gift of dreams and of annoying his brothers with them. God’s hand was on this young man who desired to please God above all else, but at times it seemed like God’s hand was against him. However, God had big picture plans for this man which included putting him through the fire to accomplish His purposes.

Hosea 11-14: You’ll finish Hosea this week. Congratulations!

Psalms 10-12: Have you ever felt like God wasn’t paying attention to you? “God, are You avoiding me? Where are you when I need You?” (Psalm 10 in The Message Bible) If we could see the whole picture, we’d see that God knows it all and is aware of it all and that He has it all in control and will work it according to His master plan.

Matthew 20-25: You’ll hear Jesus teach through parables, scold pompous religious leaders, and prophesy about the temple and the end times. Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

Daily readings are linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

Dysfunction Junction (Days 15-21): Reading through Genesis, Hosea, Psalms, and Matthew

Every family has issues. Some are obvious, and everyone knows. Others are hidden, but close family members know the dysfunction. Family issues stem from sin ultimately but can also be the products of health and life situations, poor decisions, greed, selfishness, and character flaws. You can’t solve the problems of the world or even your family’s glitches, but you can work on you. You’ll learn about a dysfunctional family in Genesis this week, and as you do, let God work through you to make your family better, not by nagging or being overbearing but by loving unconditionally.

This week you’ll read…

Genesis 25-36: Isaac and Rebekah have their twins, Jacob and Esau. Deceiver Jacob leaves town and eventually goes back toward home with a large family and has a name change. Later, a well-orchestrated massacre happens.

Hosea 9-10: God continues to warn Israel. Is there something from which you should be turning and turning back toward God?

Psalms 7-9: David asks how God could even care about mankind in the midst of the wonders of the heavens. “I look up at Your macro-skies, dark and enormous, Your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do You bother with us? Why take a second look our way?” (Psalm 8 in The Message Bible)

Matthew 13-19: Jesus has much teaching in this section including the parable of the sower. He heals, walks on water, feeds five thousand, and castigates the religious leaders. Peter makes his heavenly declaration, and later he experiences the Transfiguration. Then Jesus encounters the rich young ruler.

Daily readings are linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

Family You’ve Never Met

How did the gospel make it to Colossae?
(Christocentric Lesson 1)

Family reunions. They’re loved and hated. Perhaps you go to one every year. A great thing about family reunions is that you get to see faces which you only see once a year. Some of those relatives you’d never see if it weren’t for that get-together. That can also be the bad thing. You have to visit with those relatives from whom you tried to stay away all during the year. Then WHAM! You’ve got to deal with them at the reunion. But then there are those family members which you never get to see. You know they exist. You know they are Uncle Jack’s grandkids, but you’ve never seen them—never met them, but you know they’re part of your family. They just never show up at the reunions or anywhere else where you happen to be.

Family can be a tremendous blessing, but when you’re a believer, you have another family, a spiritual family, because you have a common Father in heaven. Everyone who has turned from sin and turned to Christ in faith and repentance is a member of God’s family, and that bond is eternal. That’s the situation of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He’s writing to a group of believers which he’s never met, and the letter serves as Paul’s point of contact with his spiritual family in Colossae which he’s heard about through Epaphras, a beloved brother in Christ. Because he’s seen the concern of Epaphras for the Colossian believers, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, takes up the task of proclaiming Christ and His supremacy to the Christians in Colossae.

A Big City, a Big Message

Paul was a missionary, and he started churches where he traveled. In one particular metropolis called Ephesus, he started a church and stayed on for around three years. He ministered daily in Ephesus as he shared the gospel and built up the believers in solid Christian teaching. Because Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia, the largest city in the area, and a great commercial center, people came from miles around to do business in the city. The city also housed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the temple of Artemis, or Diana.[1] Paul was able to spread the gospel to people from all around as they came to Ephesus and crossed his path there. In fact, so great was his daily teaching influence upon Ephesus and upon those who visited that Dr. Luke said, “…all the inhabitants of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the message about the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

A New Believer, a New Church

I grew up in rural Southwestern Louisiana and lived about seven miles from the nearest small town. My sisters and I made the trek each day to attend school there. My family could get most of our basic needs met right there, but sometimes we needed to go a little farther away into the city. Similarly, this seems to be the case with a man by the name of Epaphras. Possibly, he had traveled to the big city of Ephesus from a smaller town called Colossae which was about 120 miles east of Ephesus. Perhaps, Epaphras went to the city to sell merchandise or buy supplies, or maybe he journeyed there to visit the synagogue or to worship the goddess Diana. For whatever reason, he found himself in Ephesus and possibly heard Paul teaching somewhere in the city. Whether after his first hearing of the gospel or after multiple hearings, Epaphras believed the good news about Christ and repented of his sin. He became a follower of Christ, and Paul became his father in the faith.

At some point, Epaphras left Ephesus and went back to his hometown of Colossae. The evident fact is that he could not keep this news to himself. He shared it with others in Colossae. Paul wrote, “…You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you….You learned this from Epaphras….” (Col. 1:5-7). Soon there was a group of believers meeting together worshipping the one true God and honoring Christ, His Son. Since Paul’s life was Christocentric, or centered on Christ, he was faithful to the task of sharing Christ’s message, and countless lives have been changed by Christ through Paul’s faithfulness. Paul made himself available for the Lord’s use, and God used him to change a man’s life and that man’s eternal destiny and thus bring change to a town he’d never even visited and become a spiritual grandfather of sorts to family in Colossae.

Questions to Ponder

  • Have you considered that what you think is a chance encounter with someone may be a God-ordained opportunity to share the gospel with that person?
  • If you’re a believer in Christ, is there an Epaphras in your life? If not, why not?

For Further Study

[1] Stott, John R.W. God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians. (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1979, 1980), 23.

Sermon on the Mount (Days 8-14): Reading through Genesis, Hosea, Psalms, and Matthew

Making a yearlong commitment to read the Bible can seem big. In order to finish well, you’ve got to prioritize. Sure, you have 50 things to do in the morning, but you have to carve out time for first things. Start your day with the word. Other things will crowd your time during the day, so make the word your first thing.

This week, you’ll read…

GENESIS 13-24: God and Abraham discuss Sodom and Gomorrah, and God forms some future enemies for His future people through the descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot who fled the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. You can count on it. God keeps His promises. However, He’ll test you, too. Abraham’s promised son is born, but God puts Abraham to the ultimate test. Are you being tested right now? Are you passing the test?

HOSEA 6-8: God warns Israel and Judah and calls them to repent. Are you ignoring God’s chiding in areas in which you need to repent?

PSALMS 4-6: I always love the Psalms.

MATTHEW 6-12: We could spend a year just in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), but a quick read is good, too. Soak in as much as you can. Jesus heals and teaches. John the Baptist has a doubting spell. Are you doubting God? Are you not believing His word in some way? Trust Him today.

Daily readings are linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.