Dec 19, 2022
Greetings everyone and welcome to this last extra podcast this year. Merry Christmas and may you have a very blessed new year.
If you are one who started around January 1 listening to the DBRP and are about to finish the plan on December 31, congratulations to you! I hope you celebrate that achievement! As always, I invite you to come back some year in the future and listen again, but suggest that after a full year with me, it is time to find another Bible reader to listen to in the new year. Don’t forget your own voice. Reading Scripture out loud is tremendously helpful, even if the audience is just you alone.
If you have listened to the NLT this year, for some future year remember that I have also recorded the GNT.
One of my projects during 2022 was to critically listen to the NLT series and fix poor recording quality and mistakes. I re-recorded a few episodes entirely, and made smaller improvements to others. I am continuing to do the same thing now in the GNT series.
For those not on our email list, Gale and I recently shared pictures from my recent trip to Indonesia. If you would like to see that letter and a few extra pictures, please click the link here in the episode notes.
Before January 1st, I will revise the dailybiblereading.info website and the Read This First pages, which contain all my advice about Bible reading and listening to the DBRP. (The link to the Read This First pages is found in the banner of dailybiblerading.info.)
If you have any question you would like me to answer in those pages, please use the Contact button at dailybiblereading.info. I would like to update the information I shared about podcast players. If you have a favorite podcast app that works well for managing your podcast listening, please tell me about it. I will need the app’s name, what platform it runs on, and why you recommend it.
In my October extra podcast, I gave the second lesson in the series I call Buckling the Belt of Truth. That lesson gives my advice about how to understand spiritual realities found in the Bible, which are spiritual things about you that cannot be seen with human eyes. In particular, I dealt with the biblical teaching that you have been united with Christ in his death (being crucified with Him), you died and were buried, and now have been raised with Him to new life. Since you and I never actually experienced death, the Holy Spirit has been so kind as to give us multiple metaphors to help us grasp the reality of our spiritual resurrection.
I think a key to grasping this concept is understanding our being one with Christ. At first I thought of giving you an allegorical treasure map, to walk you through the different ways Scripture repeats the same powerful idea. But in the end I had to recognize that I don’t have the literary gifts of John Bunyan. (But don’t miss reading his book, Pilgrim’s Progress.)
I started that Buckling the Belt series by saying how I struggled to find the promises that Peter mentioned in 2nd Peter 1, the promises needed for ‘living a godly life’, the ones “that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” I am thinking now that not all God’s promises need to be expressed in the future with statements like, “He who started a good work in you WILL …” (I’m referring there to a beautiful promise found in Phl. 1:6.) Promises can also be stated in the present, such as when Jesus utters 7-8 ‘I am’ statements in John, and when He proclaims ‘you are’.
One of those ‘I am’ statements is found in John 15, where Jesus said,
“I am the true
grapevine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch
of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that
do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and
purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will
remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed
from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
The statement, “I am the vine; you are the branches,” is actually a promise. It is a right-now promise. It is true of you now. But like many promises, there are conditions to fulfill. Some of the conditions are stated with the word ‘will’, like we expect for promises:
As a Bible translator, I don’t like the way our being united to Christ is expressed with the word ‘in’, as in “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” Greek talked like that. But we English speakers don’t normally talk of branches ‘remaining in’ a tree. Instead, branches are simply part of the tree. I would translate “Remain in me,” as “Stay joined as one with me.” We are organically one with our Vine, Jesus.
There is a constellation of ‘treasures’ found in staying joined to Jesus which He explains in John 15:
“If you continue clinging to Me in oneness, and if you internalize my teachings, then I invite you to pray asking for anything you want, and it will be given to you.
8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
This is another amazing promise: Answered prayers! Wow, how come we aren’t spending more time in prayer!
Let’s keep on clinging to Christ. Meditate on being Jesus’ branch. Ask God to help you internalize this new identity. Because then you will be able to reach out and touch God’s other promises, like the harder one I mentioned: Being crucified with Christ and raised with Him.
There is one more crowning jem of oneness with Christ in Ephesians that I didn’t mention in the last episode. Since we are joined as one with Christ Jesus, we ‘are seated with Him in the heavenly realms’ (Eph. 2:6). That verse doesn’t say that we ‘have a future position with Christ’, although promises to that effect are found elsewhere in the Bible. Instead Eph. 2:6 says we ‘are seated’ with Him right now. Where is Christ seated? At God’s right hand. (If you were standing directly in front of God, Jesus would be to your left.) The verse is a bit unclear as to how we could be seated with Christ. We might be seated circling God’s throne. I like to say, “There are no folding chairs in heaven.” None of heaven’s chairs are made of plastic. Your name is engraved at your place. There is a place reserved for you alone, and it is certain and permanent.
But capitalizing on the picture of vine-and-branch oneness with Christ, let’s imagine sitting on Jesus’ lap, while He is sitting on his throne next to God. You are right there with the King of the Universe. Lean back and whisper in his ear!
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask.
Keep on seeking, and you will find.
Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Mat. 7:7
John 15:7 “If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you,
you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted.”
Think of it: Jesus actually is inviting you to take advantage of your close position!
From this place of acceptance and privilege, you are invited to tell the King what You need Him to do for you. But when you sit there, filled with reverence and awe, you will suddenly realize that some things you thought about asking Him are not really what is needed or important. However when the Holy Spirit helps you find your voice to ask, the things you wind up asking will be ‘for His glory’ (that is to say, ‘in his name’). Such prayers are powerful!
Then our passage promised ‘you will be filled with joy.’ Why will we receive such joy? Because we will ask big things of God, and He will grant our requests, and God will be glorified. First of all, He will be glorified because we will sing his praises more thankfully.
This is where I am right now. I am working to understand and internalize all that I just shared, because I am asking God to do some amazingly big things.
Messages from my Think Cabinet:
Our church remodeled the worship center a few years ago. A heavy black metal audio cabinet, six feet tall containing a big rack of amplifiers was left abandoned. Eventually I asked if I might take all the outdated stuff from that cabinet and use it for something in my office. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I would do with it. I have enjoyed it mainly as my Idea Incubation Box. It has light of seven colors seeping out of the cracks from the string of LED lights I installed. For a little more than a year I have been posting Bible verses inside the box that grabbed my attention. I’m going to share those verses with you now. (The verse references are given in the episode notes.)
Quote from Dr. Bob Utley, Introduction to Habakkuk:
“It is acceptable to question God.
However, often it is God’s presence,
not rational answers, that satisfy
(as in Job’s case).”
(This note is posted folded and very low. You have to kneel to open it and read it.)
“Whenever you pray,
go into your room, close the door
and pray to your Father
in secret.” Matt. 6:6
The LORD is near
to all who cry out to Him
to all who cry out to Him sincerely. Ps. 145:18
Keep on praying with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. (Two translations of Jude 20)
Entrust your efforts to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Prov. 16:3
A heart that turns from God
becomes bored with its own ways.
But a good person is satisfied with God’s ways. Prov. 14:14
This is how our translation of Eccl. 12:11 sounds when translated into English:
The teaching of a wise advisor is like a shepherd’s stick
that is used to guide and direct his sheep.
May every saying given by this
advisor and shepherd
into the mind of every learner
and guide them in living rightly. Eccl. 12:11 PET
Without [fully believing//faith] it is impossible
to please God,
for the one who approaches Him must believe
that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Heb. 11:6
our bodies continue to share
in the death of Jesus
so that the LIFE of Jesus
may also be seen in our bodies. 2Cor. 4:10
You love Him
even though you’ve never seen Him.
And even though you don’t see Him,
you believe in Him,
and celebrate with glorified joy
that goes beyond anything words can say,
since you are receiving
the proper goal of your faith,
namely, the rescue of your souls. 1Pet. 1:8-9
The people of an evil and unfaithful era look for a miraculous sign. Mat. 12:39
Which of you
wanting to build a tower
doesn’t sit down first
and compute the cost? Luke 14:28
When he became powerful his pride destroyed him. 2Chr. 26:16
Do not envy sinners
in your heart.
Instead continue to fear the Lord.
There is indeed a future for you,
and your hope will not be crushed. Prov. 23:17-18
One dead fly
can make a whole bottle of perfume stink.
Even so, a little foolishness
can outweigh great wisdom and honor. Ecc. 10:1
Instead, clothe yourself with the presence
of the Lord Christ Jesus.
And don’t think about ways to indulge your evil desires. Romans 13:14
though you are sinful,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more your Father in heaven
will give good gifts to those who ask Him. Mat. 7:11
The LORD of armies has planned it.
Who can stop it?
He is ready to use his power.
Who can turn it back? Is. 14:27
It is God
who enables us, along with you,
to stand firm for Christ.
He has commissioned us,
and he has identified us
as his own by placing
the Holy Spirit
in our hearts
as the first installment that guarantees
he has promised us. 2Cor. 1:21-22
This note is my comment based on Weymouth’s translation of 2Cor. 5:14.
“His death was my death.”
Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge
can have great
as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
This hope is a
strong and trustworthy
anchor for our souls.
It leads us through
into God’s inner sanctuary. Heb. 6:18b-19
There is a 8 year old boy who visits my office weekly and asks if I have put up a new note. I had to put up a special note inside the box telling how to get out of the box if you shut yourself in.
My sister or brother, have a wonderful time celebrating our
Gale and I send you our love and together say
May the Lord bless you ‘real good’.
Phil & Gale