The most important thing for a Christian to do is to keep his or her relationship with God fervent. The best way to do that is with a consistent devotional life, a life of prayer and Bible study. We suggest that a Christian pray everyday, read the Bible and study it. Here we have listed for you several different programs to help you read through the entire Bible in a year. You can read straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, read it through in order of events (chronologically), or a few other ways, but whatever way you choose - READ THE BIBLE! Click on the title to download that program in PDF Format. Most "Through the Bible" methods were taken from backtothebible.org
Read the events of the Bible as they occured chronologically. For example, the Book of Job is integrated with Genesis since Job lived around the same time as Abraham.
Read the books of the Bible as they occured in the Hebrew and Greek traditions (the order in which they were written). For example, the Old Testament books in the Hebrew Bible do not occur in the same order as they do in our English Bible. The New Testament books are arranged according to their date of writing as well.
Read the Old Testament and New Testament together. Your knowledge of the Old Testament will be enhanced by what you read simultaneously in the New Testament.
With this guide there are no surprises. You simply read through the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.
This Through The Bible Plan was written by the Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne for his congregation. The readings in the left hand column are to be read by the entire family as a family. The readings on the left are individual (or "secret" as McCheyne called them) readings. They are meant to be read during personal devotion time.
In Times of Trouble, It Takes Courage to Believe God
INTERESTING FACTS : JACOB BROOM, LEGISLATOR; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION, A LETTER TO HIS SON, JAMES, ATTENDING PRINCETON UNIVERSITY:
"I FLATTER MYSELF YOU WILL BE WHAT I WISH, BUT DON'T BE SO MUCH FLATTERER AS TO RELAX OF YOUR APPLICATION - DON'T FORGET TO BE A CHRISTIAN. I HAVE SAID MUCH TO YOU ON THIS HEAD, AND I HOPE AN INDELIBLE IMPRESSION IS MADE."
DAILY READING : 2 KINGS 18 - 19
TEXT : 2Ki 18:1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2Ki 18:2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 2Ki 18:3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 2Ki 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. 2Ki 18:5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
THEME : COURAGE
As Israel is taken captive by the Assyrians for all their grievous sins against the Lord, Hezekiah begins to reign in Judah. He is Judah's most godly king, though his father was not godly. It is here we take note of an important truth. Parents, though they have influence on their children, nevertheless do not control their will, ways, or outcome of their lives. Thus, we see in the Bible and life, godly parents having ungodly children, and ungodly parents having godly offspring as we see here in Hezekiah. It is a mistake to think "like father, like son" since Adam had a perfect Father and rebelled against Him. Life is guided by the will of each individual, and each person in this life and the next will give an account of himself or herself. God has bestowed this prerogative and responsibility on every human being. Hence, there is comfort knowing we are only responsible for our own lives, and not for our parents, spouse, children, or friends.
"Hezekiah is the twelfth king of Judah; son of the unbelieving Ahaz and Abi or Abijah; ascended the throne at the age of 25 in 726 B.C. Of his faithfulness it is written (2Ki_18:5) "he trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him, for he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following Him but kept His commandments." Probably his mother, being daughter of Zechariah "who had understanding in the visions of God" (2Ch_26:5), was pious, and her influence counteracted the bad example of his father. In the very first year and first month of his reign the Lord put it "in his heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel" (2 Chronicles 29), so he opened and repaired the doors of the Lord's house which had been "shut up," and charged the Levites not to be negligent but to "sanctify" the house and "carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place," and to light the lamps, to burn incense, and to offer burnt offerings as in former times; all which, to the shame and disaster of Judah, had latterly been neglected." [Fausett]
Hezekiah comes on the scene during troubled times. He is king when Israel is taken away and Judah is likewise beginning to slip as well. However, his godly ambitions and actions will spare Judah judgment such as Israel is receiving and gain them a stay of execution from the [ultimate] judgment of God in the years after his decease. It is remarkable to observe how the gold from the gates of the Temple are stripped away and given to the king of Assyria. Remember, the Temple had been repaired during the reign of Joash only one century before. There is nothing more sacred in all the land then the House of the Lord. How heart wrenching it must have been for Hezekiah to be forced to stoop this low when your heart is right with God! More so, because Hezekiah was leading a great reform in Judah.
It took a singular act of courage - perhaps one unequalled by any other king, when Hezekiah destroyed the brass serpent made by Moses after the people had degenerated into idolatry by worshipping this icon. As you may remember, the brass serpent was used in the wilderness 800 years earlier by Moses, Israel's chief hero, and most imposing figure on the Old Covenant, to stay the plague initiated by God against the children of Israel. Therefore, when Hezekiah destroys this implement, he not only strikes at the heart of Israel's attraction to make idols out of legitimate religious objects [even God's own instruments], but he mutilates a piece of their history as well.
If one of our Presidents destroyed the Declaration of Independence, we would be outraged! Yet, what Hezekiah did in destroying the brass serpent exceeds even the destruction of one of our most sacred documents. The reason is, the brass serpent is a part of their relationship to God as well as their history. Therefore, Hezekiah in his zeal for the Lord and his desire to see the people of Judah return to worship only Jehovah, displays an act of courage not seen in any of the kings of Judah.
Passion for God and His commands enable a person to do exploits since God is with them. To amplify the example, imagine if we had a section of Christ's cross from Calvary. Yet, when people begin to make pilgrimages to see it on display - praying to it, looking for miracles from it, trying to touch it to be healed, etc. it is burned by a Church leader. Again, rage and outrage would be the result. Yet, this is what Hezekiah did, calling the worship of the brass serpent - "Nehushtan" ["He called it Nechustan, through contempt, which is as much as to say, a brazen serpent." Some have supposed that the word is compounded of נחש nachash, to divine, and תן tan, a serpent, so it signifies the divining serpent; and the Targum states that it was the people, not Hezekiah, that gave it this name. נחש nachash signifies to view, eye attentively, observe, to search, inquire accurately, etc.; and hence is used to express divination, augury." - Adam Clarke]
In many Churches, the people of God would be well served if their statues, religious symbols, unbiblical rules and regulations, etc. were destroyed as the brass serpent. Perhaps then, they would return to worship the One True God only, instead of idols of stone, wood, silver, and gold.
"and he called it Nehushtan; perceiving they were ensnared by it, and drawn into idolatry to it, by way of contempt he called it by this name, which signifies "brass"; suggesting that it was only a mere piece of brass, had no divinity in it, and could be of no service to them in divine things; and, that it might no longer be a snare to them, he broke it into pieces; and, as the Jews (o) say, ground it to powder, and scattered it to every wind, that there might be no remains of it." [John Gill]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : IN TIMES OF TROUBLE, IT TAKES COURAGE TO BELIEVE GOD!
The godly are not exempt from trouble. Nor are they immune from fear. The difference however, between one man and another is who overcomes their fears and who succumbs. It is all a matter of choice. Further, it is our choices that make us who we are - godly or ungodly, courageous or cowards. Hezekiah consistently chooses God - without the influence of a godly father was we have observed. He is his own man, and makes up his mind as we all do - by an act of the will.
"Hezekiah, like his officers, probably rent his clothes on account of Rab-shakeh's blasphemies: and he put on sackcloth in self-humiliation and in grief. The only hope left was in Yahweh, for Egypt could not be trusted to effect anything of importance. Rab-shakeh's boldness had told upon Hezekiah. He was dispirited and dejected. He perhaps began to doubt whether he had done right in yielding to the bolder counsels of Eliakim and Isaiah. He had not lost his faith in God; but his faith was being severely tried. He wisely went and strove by prayer to strengthen it." [Albert Barnes]
As the people of Judah as faced with the same armies that overcame their brethren to the north, fear strikes the hearts of the people. Sennacherib's representative Rabshakeh, rails on the people of Jerusalem trying to discourage them from resisting the coming onslaught of the Assyrian army. He says many things, but what is most confusing [to the people] must have been his insistence that the Lord told the Assyrians to take Jerusalem, and that Hezekiah should not make them think they should resist the Lord Himself. [2Ki 18:25 "Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it."]
This singular trick of deceitful men and demons is the bane of the people of God. "God told me..." How often have we seen in our generation the willful and misguided [depending on the person who employs this sacred term] use of this phrase - "God sent me," "God told me," God is speaking," etc. Thus, the damage done to the people of God from men and women who either presumptuously or manipulatively use God's Name for their own ambitions and purposes has been extensive. In some cases, the absurd, bizarre, ridiculous, silly, strange, purposeless and meaningless "prophecies" - left hanging in the air and settling in the minds of the people - not censured or discarded by the judgment of Elders of the Church, has done to the Church what Sennacherib could not do. That is, it has destroyed the Word of God! Truly, these are the days Jesus warned us about, particularly in regard to delusions and false teachings and teachers.
Still, Hezekiah is a brave and sagacious man. He sends the message to Isaiah, already a great prophet in Judah, and acts on his instructions.
"God, by Isaiah, sent to Hezekiah, to assure him that he would glorify himself in the ruin of the Assyrians. Hezekiah sent to Isaiah, not to enquire concerning the event, as many did that sent to the prophets (Shall I recover? or the like), but to desire his assistance in his duty. It was this that he was solicitous about; and therefore God let him know what the event should be, in recompence of his care to do his duty, 2Ki_19:6, 2Ki_19:7. 1. God interested himself in the cause: They have blasphemed me. 2. He encouraged Hezekiah, who was much dismayed: Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard; they are but words (though swelling and fiery words), and words are but wind. 3. He promised to frighten the king of Assyria worse than Rabshakeh had frightened him: "I will send a blast upon him (that pestilential breath which killed his army), upon which terrors shall seize him and drive him into his own country, where death shall meet him." This short threatening from the mouth of God would do execution, when all the impotent menaces that came from Rabshakeh's mouth would vanish into air." [Matthew Henry]
Prevailing over the Assyrians through faith, the Word of God [given by Isaiah] and the intervention of God when He sends His angel should encourage us to trust and be courageous as Hezekiah. In times of trouble, it takes courage to trust God!
"Prayer is the never-failing resource of the tempted Christian, whether struggling with outward difficulties or inward foes. At the mercy-seat of his almighty Friend he opens his heart, spreads his case, like Hezekiah, and makes his appeal. When he can discern that the glory of God is engaged on his side, faith gains the victory, and he rejoices that he shall never be moved. The best pleas in prayer are taken from God's honour." [Matthew Henry]