>The English Standard Version Study Bible

>I have truly enjoyed the English Standard Version for several years, and a bit over a year ago got the Study Bible. It is phenomenal. If you are looking for a fresh start for this “fresh” year, you may order it at the bottom link.

Here is what Bob Kaughlin says, not only about the ESV, but about the benefits of reading the Bible through:

1. If God made sure his words were recorded for us, why wouldn’t I want to read all of them numerous times?

2. Reading large portions of Scripture regularly slows me down so I can think about life from an eternal perspective. I was in tears today as I finished Revelation, realizing the purpose for which I was created and the sure future that lies ahead.

3. In my daily life, I am constantly bombarded with images, philosophies, thoughts, reasonings, and attractions from the world, my flesh, and the devil. I need large quantities of God’s thoughts, empowered by his Spirit, to resist them.

4. I trust my own thoughts too much.

5. Each time I read through the Bible, I’m humbled as I realize how little I actually know and understand God’s Word.

6. Reading a lot of the Bible helps me more easily see how it all fits together.

7. As a leader of congregational worship, I want people’s faith to rest on God’s Word, not my music or opinions. Therefore, I want Scripture to be the overflow of my heart, not something I occasionally use for a desired emotional effect.

8.The ESVSB was very even-handed in providing alternate interpretations of difficult passages, while continually directing my attention to other Scriptures for greater clarity.

9. The ESVSB notes never seek to say more than the Scriptures themselves say.

10. The large number of maps, charts, and illustrations were extremely helpful for understanding the geographical settings, details, and overall flow of different books.

11. I repeatedly felt pastored through the comments, as my heart was directed towards the living Word, the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. 
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>Targets Acquired!

>

What do I want to do in 2010?

Be in the sweet spot of God’s will. That needs to be my moment-by-moment desire, goal, passion.

But I’ve “acquired” a few specific targets. Dare I make the public? Sure…

1. Refocus targeted prayers. Learn to “pray without ceasing” and maintain discipline to pray through my written prayer list.

2. Read my favorite book…Colossians…once daily for the year.

3. Research and help start a training, transition-type, Bible/mission school for young adults.

Lock and load! or, more pertinent, Pray – Aim – Do!

>Sober Thoughts for the New Year

>Good stuff from RAY ORTLAND


2010 might be your year of release.  It might be mine.  One year from today, we might be with the Lord.  Better by far.


How to get ready and stay ready?


One, let’s die fully reconciled.  Are we clear with every brother?  “Strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14).


Two, let’s die fully consecrated.  Are we set apart to God?  “Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).


Three, let’s die fully forgiven.  Are we enjoying the grace of God?  “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).


Four, let’s die in sweetness.  Is any resentment spoiling our hearts?  “See to it that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).


Five, let’s die in purity.  Is the blessing of God more savory to us than the pleasures of the body?  “See to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:16).


The battle rages.  Let’s be ready to die at any time.  Our moment will come.

>Missing Ingredient of Most "evangelism"

>J. C. Ryle with a vital reminder as pertinent now as it was a century ago; as God’s Word is never out-dated…read this and then listen carefully to “evangelistic” messages and read carefully “evangelistic” tracts…

“John the Baptist spoke plainly about sin. He taught the absolute necessity of ‘repentance’, before any one can be saved. He preached that repentance must be proved by its ‘fruits’. He warned men not to rest on outward privileges, or outward union with the church.

“This is just the teaching that we all need. We are naturally dead, and blind, and asleep in spiritual things. We are ready to content ourselves with a mere formal religion, and to flatter ourselves, that if we go to church we shall be saved. We need to be told, that except we ‘repent and are converted’ we shall all perish.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Because of this missing ingredient, we see lots of “decisions” but few “disciples,” lots of people laughing to the “counseling room”, but little lasting fruit. Praying “the prayer” (which is not found in Scripture) and recording a “decision” does not a convert make.
People must be recognize they are cosmic rebels and thus “lost” before they can genuinely be converted and “saved.” And, of course, the only One who can do that is the Holy Spirit, usually through the proclamation/sharing of the Word of God.

>It’s Not "Just" How We Get Saved

>
“From start to finish, the whole Christian life is by grace through faith. A new life in Christ commences with faith, continues by faith, and will be completed through faith. To put this another way, the Gospel is for Christians just as much as it is for non-Christians. We never advance beyond the good news of the cross and the empty tomb…Therefore, the Christian always looks back to the Gospel and never to the law as the basis for his righteousness before God…There is no such thing as performance-based Christianity…Justification is a doctrine for the whole Christian life from start to finish. It is not simply a doctrine for coming to Christ in the first place…Justification is a doctrine to live by each and every moment.”
Philip Ryken, Galatians, pp. 90-92

>Read B4 Resolutionizing!

>
Though I am one who likes to evaluate, examine, and resolve at this time of the year, I am grateful to
 JUSTIN TAYLOR for this:

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in Spiritual Depression

Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression?
The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past.
Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ.
Never look back at your sins again.
Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’.
That is your first step.
Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you.
What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying.
No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone.

And, remember this from Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

 For one look at yourself,
take ten looks at Christ!