Bible Reading for 2020

“For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God” Psalm 18:21

Inside of Matthew and Luke’s Gospels we find our Lord in the wilderness for 40 day. During this period Jesus is tempted by Satan himself. The weapon Christ uses during this intensified battle is his knowledge of the Scriptures. Matthew 4:4 records Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”  Jesus armed Himself with the words of truth. He guarded Himself with a true knowledge of what God reveals in His Word.

Not only does knowledge of God’s Word arm for spiritual warfare and victory over sin, God’s Word draws us to Him. As 2020 has begun, let us make a united goal. Lets seek to know more of God through the reading of His Word. Below I have listed a number of reading plans to encourage each other in Bible reading!

Reading Options for 2020

Here is a 5 Day Reading Plan through the entire Bible. This allows for easy catchup if you fall behind or know certain days of the week are more challenging: 5 Day Reading Program

Maybe reading the entire Bible in a year is overwhelming to consider. How about trying a less lofty goal. Here is a plan to travel through the New Testament in 1 year that is broken into 5 days of reading: New Testament Plan

Another approach to reading the Bible is a chronological reading of the Bible. This plan seeks to present the Bible in historical order. This plan is scheduled for reading each day of the week: Chronological Plan

The way I usually read through the Bible is a straight Canonical Plan. This simple means I start in Genesis and read through until I reach Revelation’s end. Most of people prefer a different approach, but for some reason this particular plan has worked best for me. This plan is scheduled for reading each day of the week: Canonical Plan

Depending on your pace of reading, the Bible has been calculated to be a 72 hour read. If you read at the average pace, the Bible could be completed by reading an hour and a half each week! Seeing the goal in this light makes the idea of such a task more manageable.

My personal goal for 2020 is to read through the Bible 3 times. During my seminary days I had a professor, Dr. Stephen Wellum, challenge his students to try reading through the Bible between 3 to 7 times a year! In the future I would love to attempt 7, but this year I have set the goal to 3. I would love to hear what goals you have made for this year. May this time in God’s Word honor our Lord, encourage his saints, and bless those around us!

In Christ by His Grace,

Pastor Daniel

Echo Article: Meditation for the New Year 2020

Daniel Lawson, Pastor for Faith Baptist Church

By the time this article is printed the year will be 2020. Our old calendars will be thrown away, or at least on their way out soon. Many will collect a new set of goals, and I imagine, a great deal of us will reflect on the twists and turns of 2019. New Year’s is not a Christian holiday like Christmas or Easter, yet it is right for those of the faith to take a moment to pause, reflect, and set goals.

In Psalm 90:2 Moses asks the Lord to, “teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” This verse is often treated as a sort of proverb reduced to, “life is short, so live life wisely.” There is truth to this, yet the context of Psalm 90 provides more than a request of cautious tiptoeing. The phrase “to number our days” is a reminder we have few days on this earth. Psalm 39:4 forwardly comments, “let me know how transient I am.” We read the same sentiment in Psalm 89:48: “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” What Moses reminds us in Psalm 90 is our frailty and God’s eternality. “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps. 90:2).

Now allow me to hold your attention for a moment longer. My aim is not to usher in 2020 with the dismal statement: “We are all going to die!” What I hope to leave you with is the hope of God’s sovereign power over all things, and our security found in His faithfulness. This year many of us will make goals. I believe such a task honors God. Moving with intentionality throughout life is a sign of good stewardship. But what happens if we fail? What if we place all of our hope in what we can accomplish and then life interrupts our plans? I do not believe all hope is lost. No, the True and Living God of the Bible holds all things in His hands.

Moses knew at great length what it felt like to feel let down. Because of Israel’s stubbornness and lack of faith, they were left to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years. Even in those 40 years Israel was not always faithful to the Lord. Moses himself is not permitted entrance into Israel’s promised land because of his lack of self control. Being a man who knew the sting of failure he writes in Psalm 90:16-17, “Let Your work appear to Your servants

and Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.”

My encouragement for the New Year is this: Though our days are few, the God who created and sustains all things loves those who find rescue in Him. He is from everlasting to everlasting. And those who serve Him find beauty in what He has done. May all the goals that are tacked to your list be ones where God is glorified.

In Christ by His Grace,

Pastor Daniel Lawson

Echo Article: Pastor Appreciation

Daniel Lawson, Pastor of Faith Baptist Church

     October is pastor appreciation month. Over the last four weeks I have either seen or heard acts of appreciation expressed to a number of pastors. Many of my pastor-friends have received cards, books, meals, free childcare, tickets to an event, or other meaningful gestures of appreciation. I was extremely blessed, and also humbled, to receive a gift from my wife this year. Being honored by someone who is a constant source of support and love is extraordinary.  

     During this month of pastor appreciation I have reflected on the book of Third John. This Epistle is extremely short. The greek text is only 219 words in length. I often describe the Epistle as an inspired email. John’s correspondence to the beloved Gaius is brief. The Apostle seeks to honor Gaius, humble Diotrephes, affirm Demetrius, and express his desire to visit Gauis’ church family soon. At the very beginning of the book, John writes in verse three: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” This “no greater joy” John speaks of is truly the greatest gift a church can grant their pastor. 

     So what is the ultimate joy a church can afford her pastor? I believe we see three things mentioned by John. The first is a good testimony. John has heard from other churches, missionaries, and ministry leaders a good word concerning Gaius and his church family. The testimony of John’s spiritual children greet him like a song. The word does not joggle him as a gong, nor pierce him like an awful screech. The words used to describe the congregation’s conduct are soothing. 

     The second gift these saints bless John with is their walking. They are not idle. They rightly understand believers are followers of Christ. Elsewhere John tells us, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” ( 1 John 2:6). John commends the saints in his third Epistle because of their conduct. They practice what is preached. They live out their faith with affection and conviction. 

     The unsurpassable joy John has received from these children of faith, stems from the third attribute mentioned: truth. There is a divide among commentators if this truth is a reference to Christ or truth itself. I believe an inclusion of both communicates John’s meaning faithfully. These Christians have followed the Christ and trusted in the ultimate truth. Those who receive Christ place their faith in him, walk in obedience, and build a testimony among others which honors the True and Living God. When this is seen in the life of Believers, know there is a supreme joy that is granted to the one who pastors such a people. 

     Faith Baptist, it is with true tears of love that I thank God for the great joy you place in my life. Allow me to encourage you to continue in clinging to Christ, walk beside him in obedience, and share His love with those around us. As you seek to honor Christ, know your pastor is blessed beyond measure…. And thank you for the cards, eggs, button-up shirts, car tires, vehicle loans, childcare, and pet sitting! Your pastor feels more than appreciation from you!

In Christ by His Grace,

Pastor Daniel Lawson

     

Echo Article: Handling Differences of Conscience

How are the people of God to handle differences of opinion and conviction among one another? Often times the church can become disgruntled over matters of conscience. Two or more people hold a difference of opinion, and where there was once unity, now division. I believe it is safe to say all pastors will wrestle with encouraging the members of Christ’s church to love one another amid diversity. I also believe many Christians desire to keep unity, but they cannot compromise their convictions.

In moments like these, may I encourage a pursuit of wisdom and humility? The Bible teaches that “All the ways of man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives” (Prov 16:2). People stand behind convictions they deem most true. Indeed, It is not natural for us to take a position we believe is wrong. When confronted with a difference of opinion, we should allow others to be heard. Often brothers and sisters are labeled and judged too quickly. Listen and evaluate if the differences of opinion are heretical, hypocritical, cultural, uninformed, experiential, a simple difference, partly true, or correct. You might be supervised what you hear from someone else. I have changed my opinion before because someone had the opportunity to speak.

Further, respect one another. We are to understand that God is Lord of the conscience (Jas 4:12; Rom 14:4; Gal 5:1). Though there are some beliefs and practices that are considered clean, if one’s conscience is convicted by such a practice it is considered a sin for them to engage (Rom 14:22-23). Because of this I do not hastily persuade someone to take my position on a variety of issues! Below are other principles that I seek to establish when dealing with differences of Christian liberty:

1. Desire to know God’s Word. By knowing the Bible we can ask, “Is God’s Law being transgressed? Does Scripture clearly speak on the matter?” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” A knowledge of what the Bible says is paramount. It shines light on decisions like these.

2. Understand that man must obey his conscience (Rom 14:1-4, 13, 22; 1 Cor 15:5; 1 John 3:19-24). Though brothers and sisters in Christ may differ on an issue, understand that rebelling against personal conscience is done outside of faith.

3. Keep all words and deeds edifying so God may receive glory(1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17).

4. Remember Christian liberty must be built on a foundation of spiritual freedom. Liberty is not a license to do whatever one pleases. Liberty is the right to do as God pleases without fear. Likewise, liberty must not surrender in a way that misrepresents the faith (Gal 2:3; Col 2:16-23). There are circumstances where it is appropriate to hold to liberty tightly.

I pray as we wrestle with matters of the conscience and liberty, our Lord sees His people loving and patient towards each other. May our conduct display His love and wisdom!

In Christ by His Grace,

Pastor Daniel