One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: March 13, 2023
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Today’s Devotional: Darkness at the Cross
A Full Solar Eclipse
Have you ever experienced a full solar eclipse? In such an eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking out all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, with the moon completely blocking the sun creating total darkness for about two minutes and forty seconds (nasa.gov). The last time the U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 2017 and the one before was in 1979.
image from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eclipses/2024/apr-8-total/overview/
Darkness at Noon
The Bible tells us about another day where it was about noon and darkness covered the land until three in the afternoon because the sun stopped shining. (Luke 23:44-45a) On that day, Jesus Christ hung on a cross, bearing the sins of every person throughout all time. As he bore our sin, God could not look upon his own son as he suffered for you and for me. In that moment, God turned his back on his son.
As a mother with a 27 year old son, there is no way I could ever turn my back on my child and certainly not in his biggest moment of pain and suffering. Yet, God did turn his back on his only Son because he loves you and me enough that no matter what sin we may have committed in the past or currently are involved in, He wanted to have a relationship with us. Our sin, however, keeps us separated from Him because He is Holy.
Jesus willingly endured the torture of the cross and willingly gave His life to pay the penalty for our sins. He bore on himself all the darkness of our sin and God’s wrath for you and me. The Light of the World came to dispel the darkness of sin, death, and the grave so we can be free from their bondage.
The wages of sin is death and eternal darkness
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Our sin has consequences and there is a price to be paid for it. Just as you are paid a wage for the work you do each week, God has a paycheck to give you for the sins you commit and that paycheck is…death.
The darkness of sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve when they chose to disobey God and not trust in Him for their provision. Rather, they wanted control of their own life. They listened to the serpent. They wanted to be like God and do things their way. As a result, God told Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19, NET)
Death is the consequence of sin. But not just physical death. There is also spiritual death in that when you physically die without accepting Jesus a your Savior, you experience eternal darkness, torment, and separation from God in Hell. God never sends a person to hell. Every person that ends up in hell chooses hell by rejecting Jesus. So, if you have not placed your faith in trust in Jesus – you are on your way to hell. But don’t panic yet!
Good News! There is an alternative to death and eternal darkness
There is good news! Jesus took payment we earned on himself in our place. Jesus’s death on the cross covered our sin debt, and because he died in our place, he offers us the gift of eternal life. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (HCSB). Eternal darkness or eternal life? Wages of sin or a free gift of life? We each must choose.
If I hold in my hand a beautifully wrapped present and extend my hand to you, how does the gift become yours? It is a gift, because you did nothing to earn it. And if you pay me for it, it ceases to become a gift. There is only one way the gift can become yours. You must reach out and accept it.
It’s your choice as to what you will do with the gift of eternal life; only you can make that choice. Infant baptism or any other kind of baptism can’t save you. Having a father who is preacher won’t get you out of going to hell. You can’t do enough good works to earn your way into heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) He is the way into heaven as we accept the truth about who He is and the truth of our sinfulness. When we accept His free gift, we then experience an abundant and eternal life in His presence in Heaven.
How do you receive the free gift of eternal life and escape death and eternal darkness?
How do you accept the free gift of eternal life? You must receive it by faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and it’s not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: not of works, so nobody can boast.”
You begin by acknowledging that you have a sin problem. Romans 3:23 say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That little word “all, “means you. It means me. It means every single person that has ever lived with the exception of Christ. Because Jesus lived a sinless life, only He was able to offer His life in place of ours.
Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Deserving of God’s wrath. Our problem is sin. What we deserve is the darkness of death.
Our problem is sin, but there is an answer
Like any other problem, there is an answer. Ephesians 2:4-10 gives the answer. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The Answer to our Sin Problem is Jesus
The answer to our sin problem is God’s grace extended to us through the death, burial and resurrection of his only son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells why God allowed Jesus to die for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves all of us. It doesn’t matter what color skin we have, what our past looks like or what our present life looks like. It doesn’t matter how “big” your sin is because we are the only ones that puts value on sin. To God, a little small sin as just as big as the worst sin you can think of.
Sin is sin and only one sin will keep you from eternal life. But because of his love and grace, he allowed his Son to take the punishment we deserve. The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins…and rose (from the dead) on the third day” (1 Corinthian 15:3,4). “But God showed His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It also tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that we can be made righteous in the sight of God and this is what makes eternal life possible.
God’s Extravagant Gift Requires a Response
Just as the only way you could possess a wrapped present from me is to reach out and take it, there also has to be a response from you towards the gift that God offers you. You reach out and accept His gift of eternal life by acknowledging your sin, asking him to forgive you of your sin and placing your faith and trust in Christ alone. Acts16:31 tells us, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” In John 6:47, Jesus said, “Truthfully I say unto you, He that believes on Me has everlasting life.
For Christians, I hope the next time you experience an eclipse it will serve as a reminder to you of what it cost Christ for your gift of eternal life. For non-Christians, I hope you will think of this moment in time when the sun did not shine as Jesus hung on a cross in payment for your sin. As he hung in total darkness, separated from God, so you too are in spiritual darkness and separated from God. Jesus went to the cross so that you could have eternal life with God rather than everlasting separation from God.
You Can Receive God’s Free Gift Right Now
If you wish to accept the free gift of eternal life right now, you can simply pray the prayer below with a sincere heart and God will hear you.
“Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. Right now, in this moment, I trust you as my Savior. I believe that you died for me and rose from the dead as payment for my sins. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, let us know in the comment sections or send us a note through the contact us page. Also, find a local evangelical church in your area and talk with the pastor and let him know of the decision you have made. He can then help you as you follow in obedience to God and grow as a Christian.
Praying, Meditating, and Journaling the Psalms:
Choose one of the following Psalms: Psalm 13, 43, 73, 103, or 133.
1: Read the psalm through in its entirety.
2: Take one verse at a time and pray the verse back to God as it applies to your life.
3: Meditate on the verse and ask the Holy Spirit what He is trying to teach you about God, your Christian walk, or about yourself.
4: Journal what you prayed about and the results of your meditation.
5: Move to the next verse. Continue through the entire psalm this way.
6: Write down one verse that stood out the most to you today on a 3X5 card and carry it with you throughout the day. Memorize the verse and hide it in your heart.
Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template
Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.
Week 11: March 13-19
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|NET, The TEXT Bible, Hardcover, Comfort Print|
By Thomas Nelson
The NET The Text Bible is a new approach to engaging God’s Word, with the attention and in-depth nature of your favorite podcast, as if you’re in such a thought-provoking conversation with a friend that you lose all track of time because you are communicating on a level that piques your interest on multiple subjects and emotions.
With a four step Bible study approach: Talk to God; Encounter God and humanity; eXamine your heart; Talk to others, this Bible features study notes, questions and articles all designed to get you to dwell on the biblical stories; to let your heart and mind truly soak in the warmth of God’s wisdom and truth found in the Scriptures.
Focus on the Text:
- Text-ing the Text: use the 4-step process of Scripture engagement
- Big Q of the Text: big life questions with short answers
- Praying the Text: learn how to start praying God’s Word right back to Him
- Get to Know the Text: provides concise history of a major event or character
- Follow the Thread: navigate the Bible across topics
- Anatomy of the Text: describes parts of speech or important types of literature such as parables or apocalyptic books
- Terms of the Text: what you need to understand about some of the unique words in the Bible
- “Who is God?”: 100 short devotions on the person and character of God
- Book introductions
- 8 full-color maps
- Clear and readable 9-point NET Comfort Print
|Spiritual Formation Is…: How to Grow in Jesus with Passion and Confidence – eBook|
By Rod Dempsey & Dave Earley / B&H Academic
Rod Dempsey and Dave Early draw on years of experience as pastors, church planters, professors, and transformed believers to equip readers to grow in their spiritual walk with Christ.Spiritual Formation Is… challenges believers to grow upward, inward, and outward in their spiritual formation by loving God, loving one another, and loving our neighbors. Written in a down-to-earth, approachable style that invites readers to come as they are, Spiritual Formation Is… introduces the principles, philosophy, and practice of sanctification.
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Romans 8:37 – Kneels Before God
Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” Our victories come when we are on our knees praying.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Kindness never goes out of style. Scatter some wherever you go.
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God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars
by Julia M. Bruce
What’s Inside God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars?
This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:
- Scripture to memorize and meditate on
- Conversation Starters
- Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages
- Romance Builders
- Relationship Builders
- Personal reflections
- Date ideas
- Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples
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