Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Why Read Through the Whole Bible?

The Big Idea: Reading through the Bible in a year will give you perspective of God at work.

“Daddy, could I read the Bible through in a year, too?”

I was probably about eight years old. My father made a reading program before it was in vogue for the church to read the Bible through in a year.  Our pastor requested he make bookmarks of his reading plan and pass them around at the New Years Eve service. My father loved the Bible and wanted it to be a relevant part of people’s lives.


Why Should I Read the Whole Thing?

Reading the whole Bible through helps to see the big picture. We tend to go to our favorite places but the whole of Scripture is from the Lord. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

Have you used Google Map to find someplace and then decided to click on the satellite view? It explains a few things like why a road curves (mountain) or why the street dead ends (river). The bird’s eye view helps us get a better perspective.

So why read the entire Bible through?

  • It gives a clearer view of God and the Bible story.
  • It shows God’s bigger plan of Salvation.
  • It provides background material for characters referred to in the New Testament.
  • It gives fresh insight who God is and His love in a different context.
  • It keeps us balanced in our Christian life rather than have our hobby horses.

At Least Try

I’m embarrassed to admit it has been twenty plus years since I read the Bible through. In 2021 I decided I would. But 2021 has been an intense year health-wise for me.  I didn’t start it till March. I realized I just needed to start and then do the best I can. I am currently in Jeremiah. I tell you this goal adaption because sometimes we quit and don’t start again. We feel defeated. An amended plan is still a plan! I am still getting in to God’s Word! I plan to finish reading the Bible in 2022.


Then and Now

When my father created his program in the 1960s, we knew no other plan. Today so many are out there it can be overwhelming. There are a few things you can do to search for a plan.

  • One of my favorites is the Bible Project plan. An option is to listen to the audio daily.
  • Or check the many plans at and choose one (the Bible Project one is there too)
  • Follow a plan that your church may be using. Doing it as a group provides great support.

 Don’t give up, and don’t settle for doing it just once. My dad read a different version each year and said it was always fresh and new to him!


Up next: What Does Timeless Truth Mean?

Previous post: Shine: The Christ Candle

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Practical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. Have you ever tried to read the Bible all the way through? Did you make it? If not, what happened and what might help you follow through?

2. What do you think might be useful in reading the whole Bible?

3. Take a moment to pray about your time in the Word this year. Ask for God’s help and His guidance. As Him to help you stick with it even if you fall behind.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Shine: The Christ Candle

The Big Idea: About the fifth Advent candle, called the Christ Candle, focusing on Jesus as the light that has come into the world.


The Last Candle

The Christ Candle is lit last. Advent guides us to anticipate Him. A child gets excited for Christmas day to open presents. Advent gets us excited to celebrate His arrival into the world.

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1 (NKJV)

The Christ Candle is in the center. The reason for the season is Jesus. He is central to the story. He is the essential perfect One. God exalts Him above all for His willingness for this earthly mission. He is central and best for us when placed at the center of our life.

After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross. Because of this, God lifted Jesus high above everything else. He gave Him a name that is greater than any other name. Philippians 2:8-9 (NLT)

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; Revelation 7:17 (NIV)

The Christ Candle is white for purity. Jesus represents the spotless Passover lamb, the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is our Passover lamb, absolute perfect sacrifice once and for all!

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)

The Christ Candle shines brightest in the dark. I love lighting the candles best at night. It is brightest against a dark backdrop. Jesus brought light into the world. He lights our darkness, chasing away the shadows of doubt, fear and oppression.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12: 46 (NLT)

The Christ Candle shines together with all the other candles on the Advent wreath. Everything is created by Him and for Him, the Ultimate One worthy of all our praise.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. Colossians 1:16-17a

Shine in the Darkness

He came shine as a light in this world. We reflect Him. Others see Him through us. Our world is so ridden with darkness. May His light shine through you this Christmas.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV)

He has come. Blessed Christmas!


Up next: Why Read Through the Whole Bible This Year?

Previous post: Angel Tracking: The Angel's Candle

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Practical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. What darkness is around you right now? Is it the cultural climate? A family situation? A work situation? Consider God sent Jesus to light the darkness. How might this make a difference in your darkness?

2. Take a moment and reflect on Jesus as light to your soul.

3. Reflect on the light of Jesus in YOU. How do you reflect Him?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Angel Tracking: The Angel's Candle


The Big Idea: About the fourth Advent candle, the Angel’s Candle, focusing on the role of angels in the story of Jesus birth.

Angel Tracking

How do you picture an angel? A cute little cherub? A man in white with feathery wings?  A figurine at Grandmother’s house? The Bible tells us little about angel appearance. They are neither man nor woman and without age. Imperfect ideas of angels abound. They don’t earn their wings as the Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” implies.

Angels are heavenly spirit beings mentioned close to 300 times in the Bible. God created them to serve Him. 

Find the Angel

Angels have numerous roles in the Bible, such as protection, guarding, and serving. The Biblical word  “angel” means “messenger.” Angels play this role in the Christmas story.

  • An angel informed Zachariah he’d become the father of John the Baptist to direct people to the Messiah (Luke 1: 11-19).
  • An angel told Mary she was favored of God and how Jesus would be conceived in her (Luke 1:26-38).
  • An angel reassured Joseph (Matthew 1:24-26) that Mary was  pregnant by the Holy Spirit not by another man, to care for Jesus and what to name Him.
  • An angel told the shepherds of Jesus’ amazing birth and how to find Him (Luke 2:9-15).
  • An angel warned Joseph in a dream to go to Egypt for Jesus’ life was in danger (Matthew 2:13)
  • After the threat subsided an angel advised Joseph in a dream to return safely to Israel (Matthew 2: 19-20)

Angels spoke on God’s behalf; special messengers with a specific message. Angels on track with God.

Advent, means “coming. ” This fourth week, reflect on angel involvement. The key word is peace, likly from the praise anthem preformed by a huge heavenly choir to the shepherds in Bethlehem. They proclaimed,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14 (NLT)

Tracking Angels

Angels are mysterious creatures. Curiosity pricks at us. Some apply more faith and energy into angel worship than in God. While true today, it was also true in Bible times. Jews in antiquity gave different names to angels, assigning specific powers to them. In this climate the author of the book of Hebrews reminded Christians of Jewish background that Jesus is greater than the angels (Hebrews 1:4-7).

Angels  perform a vital service. They are servants of the Most High; servants of Jesus Himself! At Jesus’ earthly arrival angels brought the word about the Word of God.  We can track these angels. Look closely at their messages. They remind us that God is at work in the lives of Hi people, and of His loving care for them.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Levitical Shepherds: The Shepherd's Candle

The Big Idea: The third Advent candle called the Shepherd’s Candle focuses on the station of shepherds (likely Levitical Shepherds) and their joy and amazement learning about the Savior.

 Shepherds for Worship

Our son’s favorite Candid Camera stunt depicts bright college bound high school students told, “You have the aptitude to be a shepherd.”

Shocked and dismayed, one says “I don’t even like animals!”

“Are people still doing that?” another responds incredulously.

Shepherds herd smelly stubborn animals they are not always highly esteemed. Why did the angels visit shepherds one dark night in Bethlehem? God must enjoy juxtapositions. Consider the contrast of Jesus, King of kings, God Eternal born in a stable, not a palace. God loves people of all kinds: the godly, the wealthy, the prominent, the middle man, and the poor who are invisible and despised. He has a special place in His heart for the lowly ones. (Psalm 4:21, Psalm 138:6)


What’s a Levitical Shepherd?

The tribe of Levi, son of Jacob (Genesis), managed the tabernacle/temple and sacrificial worship. Aaron’s descendents (the brother of Moses) were the priests. The rest ran the upkeep and logistics of the sacrificial system. They work for worship, so that others can come to the temple and properly worship God.

Some Levites handled sacrificial animals and grain. Some kept and refilled oil lamps, overseeing the oil and incense supply. Some managed special clothing. Some washed bowls, knives tongs etc. This was their vocation. The tithe of the people of Israel cared for them and their families.

Bethlehem, about 5 miles from the temple in Jerusalem, was a site outside of the big city, to raise lambs for sacrifice. Scholar Alfred Aldersheim wrote a book, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883), researching Biblical and extrabiblical sources on this. Search Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock). We cannot be 100% sure of this in Jesus’ period but it offers an interesting connection to these shepherds. Sacrificial bound lambs without blemish needed protection from cuts and injury in a rocky harsh land. It is suggested the new lambs were wrapped in strips of cloth (Swaddling clothes) and laid in feeding troughs (manger) to protect them (see articles below).

Great Joy

The shepherds were visited by an angel.

The angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2: 10-12 (NLT)

These shepherds, probably sleepy, cold and dirty were the first people chosen to meet the promised Messiah. If indeed they were Levitical shepherds, they knew the Messianic prophecies. They knew where birthing lambs were wrapped in swaddling cloth placed in a manger. Migdal Eder. They hurried to find Him (Luke 2:15). Imagine their wonder! They told everyone this story (Luke 2:18-19) and all who heard were astonished!

The pink candle lit on the third week of Advent is the candle of joy. I grow weary of TV news. I hunger for encouraging news. Reflect on the joy of our Savior (literally, our rescuer). It is good news indeed!

Useful articles:

About Those Shepherds

From the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Edersheim on the Nativity of Jesus the Messiah

Scholars do not agree on the documentation and current lack of archeological evidence available but the suggestion of Levitical shepherds is compelling and plausible.


Up next: Angel Tracking: The Angel's Candle

Previous post: Notable Small Town Residents: The Bethlehem Candle

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Practical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. Imagine yourself as a shepherd in the night watching sheep outdoors. What kind of conversations might you be having? What might you think about at night? What might be your hopes and dreams?

2. Imagine listening to the experience with the angels (Read Luke 2: 8-18). Why would you be afraid at first? Think carefully about what the angel says. Why is this good news? What would you as a shepherd feel. How do you feel about this declaration in your modern worldview?

3. Why is this about joy? Meditate on the angel's words.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Notable Small Town Residents : The Bethlehem Candle


The Big Idea: About the second Advent candle called the Bethlehem Candle, giving insights on the town where Jesus was born.

The Bethlehem Candle of Advent

We light the second Advent candle to remember Bethlehem, known for the birth of Jesus. Some small towns are known for a famous citizen. While living down south we visited Plaines, GA, home town of former President Jimmy Carter. He grew up there and now resides there. We visited his church one Sunday and met the Carters.

Bethlehem, famous for the birth of Christ, is also famous as King David’s hometown. The story of Ruth happened in Bethlehem. Ruth is King David’s great grandmother.

Read this prophecy for Jesus’ birth written by the prophet Micah.
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity. Micah 5:2 (NASB)

This prophecy was pinpointed by scholars to King Herod when the wise men came looking for Jesus (Matthew 2:5-8).

What you may not know about Bethlehem

Mary and Joseph, descendants of David, went to a census with mandated registration in their hometown, Bethlehem. Since they lived in Nazareth it was a long trip to walk. Though now a bustling metropolis, Bethlehem was a small village at that time.

A couple of interesting notes about Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth. The name means “House of Bread.” Very interesting that He who calls Himself “The Bread of Life, ” (John 6:35) would be born there.

Bethlehem raised lambs birthed for Passover. A Passover lamb had to be one year old and in perfect condition without blemishes or injuries. So the lambs born there were treated very carefully. Newborn lambs were wrapped in cloth to guard from injury. The shepherds were probably Levitical shepherds. Curious that the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, Rev. 5:6) would be born there. Remarkable He was wrapped in swaddling cloth like the Passover Lambs. Also extraordinary Levitical shepherds were most likely those to whom the angels announced this glorious news (Luke 2:10-14). The Apostle Paul put Jesus’ sacrifice plainly. “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us” I Corinthians 5:7b. (NLT)

The Bethlehem Candle represents where Jesus, King of Glory, took on human flesh and became a man who worked with His hands. This man, God made flesh, sacrificed Himself on the cross and rose victor over death. The Bethlehem candle is often called the Faith Candle. Faith in the Son of God is indeed our source of eternal life (Phil.2:6-8). This is so well explained in the familiar carol, “Hark the Harold Angels sing.”
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled
Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem


Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the God-head see, hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel


Hail the heav'n born Prince of Peace, hail the Son of righteousness
Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth


Up Next: Levitical Shepherds: The Shepherd's Candle

Previous post: What is Prophecy?

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Pratical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. What image comes up for you reflecting on Jesus born in Bethlehem? Close your eyes and reflect what the town and manger looks like to you. Think of the smells, the sounds around you.

2. Have you ever thought of the baby Jesus as the one who died and rose again for your sins?

3. Bible study exercise: List ways how Jesus might be like a Passover lamb (metaphor) during His time on earth. Reflect on that.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

What is Prophecy? The Prophecy Candle

 The Big Idea: An explanation of prophecy especially during Advent regarding the arrival of Jesus.

What is Prophecy?

Prophesy! Who hit you!” (Luke 22:64 HCSB) said Roman guards as Jesus was blindfolded and beaten before being hung on the cross.

People often consider prophecy in this way: as a foretelling of the future or as a special knowledge. These two verses reveal a lot about prophesy.

No prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT

Guidelines for Biblical Prophecy

  • Prophecy doesn’t come from a prophet’s own understanding.
  • God the Holy Spirit moved them what to write.
  • Prophets spoke from God.

Prophecy is a message from God revealed to us. It is God’s Word to us. God reaches out to us because of His desire to intimately connect with us.

The Prophecy Candle of Advent

The first candle on the advent wreath is called the Prophecy Candle. It reminds us of all the passages in the Old Testament that point to the coming of Jesus as the Messiah.

There are eight verses from the Old Testament that point to Jesus’ birth in the Matthew account alone. There are many more that foretell His life and death.

An Old Man's Joy

A beautiful story from the Gospel of Luke is recorded in Luke 2:25-35. A really good devoted follower of God named Simeon spent his elderly years in Jerusalem because God revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. He was moved to go to the temple courts at the same time that Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple. Simeon scooped the babe into his arms and began to praise God with words from Isaiah 40. Mary and Joseph were amazed! Prophecy in the Word of God spoke to him and the Holy Spirit moved him. That’s prophecy in action!

Advent is a Tool

Advent is a tool to remind us of His coming. In a very real way it is about not only His first coming as the incarnate baby in the manger, but also Jesus the glorious King who will return.

Check into the prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament. His coming is more than coincidence. A great pamphlet from Rose Publishing, “100 Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus”is a great tool to study. Check out this blog from Focus on the Family too.

Dig into His amazing Word and enhance your anticipation for Christmas!


Up Next: Notable Small Town Residents: The Bethlehem Candle
Previous post: Advent Starter Kit

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Pratical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.


1. How would you describe prophecy? How do you feel about it? Does it assure you or is it a bit scary?

2. Do you think the verses could be construed as chance?

3. Why might it be it valuable to you to notice Old Testament prophecies in anticipating Christmas?