Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Bible (page 2 of 8)

The Epistles of Paul in Chronological Order

When I was planning my reading list for the summer I decided that I wanted to focus my Bible-reading-energy on the epistles of Paul for a couple months. I had the thought that it would be fun to read through his epistles chronologically to see how his thoughts and themes and concerns develop over time in different contexts.

So I did a little work to compile a timeline of the apostle Paul’s writings (see below). Since I had done the work anyway, I thought it might be worthwhile to share it here.

Book Date Authored
1 Thessalonians 50-51
2 Thessalonians 50-51
Galatians 55
1 Corinthians 55
2 Corinthians 56
Romans 57
Philemon 61-62
Colossians 61-62
Ephesians 61-62
Philippians 62
1 Timothy 63-64
Titus 63-64
2 Timothy 65

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The Story of the Bible as Told Through Motherhood

It occurred to me the other day, in preparing for a Mother’s Day sermon, that the story of the Bible (the story of God redeeming his people) could be told almost entirely in categories of motherhood. So I thought I’d give it a shot.

In Creation & Fall

God created and ordered the world — and it was good. But one thing was not good: Man was alone. So God created the helper suitable for him who would be not only his wife, but the ‘mother of all the living’ even before she had children (Gen 3.20). Once this ‘mother’ was created and given to her husband, creation was ‘very good.’

Of course, the downfall of humanity came when the one who was created to be mother took on a different role, was deceived, and led her family into transgression.

But God was not done with this woman and was not content to leave motherhood unredeemed. Rather, in the very context of pronouncing his judgement on motherhood (Gen 3.16) he also pronounced that the role of motherhood was going to be blessed with the privilege of redeeming all of humanity and all of creation (Gen 3.15). Through this mother would come the one who brings true life to all those who will truly live.

In the Old Testament Narrative

The narrative of Genesis unfolds as a fulfilling of the blessings and curses of God as the seed of the woman is forever opposed by the seed of the serpent. The climax of the stories in Genesis surround the wives of the patriarchs and their inability to bear children. If the women can’t become mothers, the whole plan of God falls apart. But each time God intervenes and gives children to the mothers so that his plan of redeeming the world continues through them.

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He Spoke

Last night at the dinner table, we were discussing our Fighter Verse for this week at church (Exodus 34.6-7). When God speaks about himself, the first thing he says is, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression…’. I asked the two older girls which of those things about God was their favourite.

One of our girls thought that ‘merciful’ might be her favourite, but she wasn’t sure what mercy was. So we tried helping her understand the difference between mercy and grace. DA Carson talks about the difference between mercy and grace in this way:

The two terms are frequently synonymous; but where there is a distinction between the two, it appears that grace is a loving response when love is undeserved, and mercy is a loving response prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one on whom the love is to be showered. Grace answers the undeserving; mercy answers the miserable. (Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Confrontation with the World, 24-25)

Now, of course I didn’t cite Carson to my four year-old. But we did try to show her that grace and mercy are both expressions of God’s goodness to those (like us) who don’t deserve to know his goodness and couldn’t help ourselves. I think they got it.

So I asked them, ‘What are some ways that God has been merciful to us?’ I expected the usual Sunday School answers (‘Jesus!’) and not much more. What one of my daughters said, though, really gave me cause to pause and consider. She simply said ‘He spoke.’

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A Cottage Meditation on Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God

Being at the cottage is good for me. I have found that usually I’m able to meet with God pretty quickly when I feel close to his creation.

This week has been special for me. It is the first time that I’ve been at the cottage and studying for a sermon at the same time. I’ve been able to enjoy God in creation and delight in him in his word. The comparison is worth thinking about.

I think sometimes we treat nature like the place we need to go to be near God. For example, when was the last time you saw a Christian retreat centre in an urban setting? And it’s not hard to see why. God is very present in the beauty and serenity of the water, the clouds, the open skies, the sunsets, the hills, and the beautiful vegetation. God is here.

Psalm 19 reminds us that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies above proclaim his handiwork.’ That’s true. In nature we see God. But we often stop reading (or at least remembering) the psalm there, even though it definitely doesn’t end there.

The second half of Psalm 19 goes on to recount just how amazing the revelation of God is in his Bible, over and above the revelation of God in creation. And David, who knew what it was to be ‘out in nature’, was writing that before most of your Bible was written.

From verses 7-11 the specific wonders of the Bible are made known:

  • It revives the soul
  • It makes wise the simple
  • It rejoices the heart
  • It enlightens the eyes
  • It endures forever
  • It is righteous altogether
  • It is more to be desired than sweet things or expensive things
  • It warns
  • It rewards

No glimpse of nature can cause me to discern my errors. No beautiful sunset can declare me innocent or keep me back from sin. No mountaintop experience could ever make my words and thoughts acceptable in the sight of God. Only God will do those things, as I meet with him in the Bible.

I’ve experienced that this week. God is good. I’ve met with him and enjoyed him in creation, but his word is better. It alone gives the pure joy of the knowledge of God. The place I need to go to meet with him is not some remote vacation spot, it is the book he has given me.

Am I thankful for sunsets? You bet! Am I more thankful for the word than ever before? Absolutely.

Bible Reading Plan for 2011

Pretty much any Christian who has lived for a little while as a Christian can look back at their lives and recognize that the seasons of life when they’ve known the most blessing are those seasons when they’ve been most faithful to read through the Bible. That’s certainly been the case for me!  You look at life through an altogether different set of eyes when your mind is being renewed and transformed by the word of God.

What better New Years resolution could there be than to spend more time hearing from God in his word?

As you may or may not remember, last year I posted a Bible reading plan that I had put together. I was thrilled to have a few brothers and sisters eager to use it. I even got the big thumbs-up from uber-blogger extraordinaire, Tim Challies.

This year I made a few revisions to that plan (largely to the order of the reading for the NT books). As I’ve had a couple people ask, I thought I’d post the new plan here for this year for any more people who are still looking for a Bible reading plan for 2011.

You can download the 2011 Bible Reading Plan here.

While there are certainly myriads of Bible reading plans out there, I’ve found this one pretty helpful. Here are some of the features of it.

  • You will find that you are reading through the OT and the NT simultaneously. That helps keep you from getting too bogged down at certain points.
  • OT prophets are placed in (roughly) where they would have ministered chronologically. This helps break up the monotony of reading through huge chunks of narrative and prophets, by intermixing the two. It also helps you understand the historical and redemptive context for the prophets.
  • The NT is organized into bodies of literature. You begin with the the Petrine body of literature (Mark, which was sourced from Peter’s eye-witness account, and Peter’s epistles). Then you read Matthew and the other books written particularly for Jews. Next, with Luke-Acts and Paul’s epistles, you read through material written for Gentile audiences. You will conclude the year with the Johannine body of literature (all the books written by John).

Overall, the variety and structure hopefully helps to ‘change things up’ enough that it doesn’t feel like every other time you’ve tried to read through the Bible.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions / comments / suggestions for improving the plan for next year!

And just as a PS, here’s Piper talking about the Bible. I offer it as a little ‘kick in the pants’ to get reading! 🙂

Enjoying the Bible So Far in 2010?

If we’re not enjoying the Bible, reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, praying it, etc., it’s because we’ve forgotten what it really is.

If we’re spending money to be entertained but we’re too lazy to read our Bible for free, it’s because we’re convinced there’s more joy to be had in being entertained by the world than having communion with God. John Piper rightly corrects us.

Bible Reading Plan for 2010

Pretty much any Christian who has lived for a little while as a Christian can look back at their lives and recognize that the seasons of life when they’ve known the most blessing are those seasons when they’ve been most faithful to read through the Bible. That’s certainly been the case for me!  You look at life through an altogether different set of eyes when your mind is being renewed and transformed by the word of God.

What better New Years resolution could there be than to spend more time hearing from God in his word?

As you may or may not remember, last year I posted a Bible reading plan that I had put together. I was thrilled to have a few brothers and sisters eager to use it.

This year I made a few revisions to that plan and we’ve offered it to the whole church to see if anyone would like to read along with us. I thought I’d post the new plan here for this year for any more people who are still looking for a Bible reading plan for 2010.

As with last year, there are two versions, one for reading through the Bible on your own and one for reading through the Bible with your spouse.

While there are certainly myriads of Bible reading plans out there, I’ve found this one pretty helpful. Here are some of the features of it.

  • You will find that you are reading through the OT on your own, and the NT together (if you do the couples plan)
  • OT prophets are placed in (roughly) where they would have ministered chronologically. This helps break up the monotony of reading through huge chunks of narrative and prophets, by intermixing the two. It also helps you understand the historical and redemptive context for the prophets.
  • The NT is organized into bodies of literature. You begin with the the Johannine body of literature (all the books written by John). Then you read Matthew and the other books written particularly for Jews. Next you read through Luke-Acts, you read through material written for Gentile audiences. Finally, there is Mark and Peter.

Overall, the variety and structure helps to ‘change things up’ enough that it doesn’t feel like every other time you’ve tried to read through the Bible. The main changes from this year over last year are the ordering of the NT books and some of the prophets have been placed differently.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions / comments / suggestions for improving the plan for next year!

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