Bible Reading — April 20

APRIL 20 — Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

IN ECCLESIASTES 7, THE BOOK’S FORM changes, taking on the more typical structure of Wisdom Literature: a string of proverbs. But these proverbs do not, by and large, adopt the stance of the person who holds that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (cf. Prov. 9:10). Rather, Qoheleth maintains his quest, searching out the meaning of things explored “from below.” These “common sense” proverbs are touched with an edge of cynicism that is brutally honest but not leavened with godly faith.

The first six are provocatively gloomy. Nothing in the first line prepares the reader for the rabbit punch of the second: e.g., “the day of death [is] better than the day of birth” (7:1b). This is not the confession of faith as in Philippians 1:21, 23. The most positive thing that could be said about this proverb is that it is bluntly realistic, and all of us would benefit from learning to live in light of the fact that we too must die—as the second part of verse 2 makes explicit: “for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (cf. Ps. 90:12). The line of thought to the end of verse 6 is similarly cheerless, but its brutal frankness has cautionary value.

The proverbs in 7:7-22 are harder to categorize. There is a kind of practical attempt to make sense of the world, but it is the attempt of the worldly person. Verses 8 and 9 are doubtless good counsel in the life of the believer, but in this context they have a merely pragmatic tinge. “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (7:10). This annihilates self-indulgent nostalgia, for the Teacher is unlikely to be impressed by the hazy glow that surrounds the past: he has already shown his hand on this point (see 1:9). True, Qoheleth praises wisdom (7:11-12), but with a cool affirmation of its utilitarian value—it has advantages, just as money does. In this mood Qoheleth can fluctuate between pious resignation (7:12) and outrageous cynicism (7:13-18)—what F. Derek Kidner labels “the shabby and self-regarding side of common sense.” So also verse 18 is moral cowardice tarted up with stoicism.

The ultimate failure of such wisdom, which does not begin with the fear of the Lord, is acknowledged in the closing verses of the chapter (7:23-29). The Teacher is determined to be wise, but his brand of wisdom “from below” leaves him unable to glimpse much of the real meaning of life; true wisdom is still beyond him (7:23-25), and his own wisdom is clothed with a cynicism regarding human relationships that says more about him than about the people he describes (7:27-28). Only when he returns to the pattern of Creation and Fall (7:29) does he begin to approach a more stable answer.

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

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Daily Bible Reading — April 19

APRIL 19 — Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

IN ECCLESIASTES 5:13—6:12, the Teacher enlarges upon two or three grievous evils “under the sun.” Here we focus on those described in Ecclesiastes 6.

One of life’s immense frustrations involves people who receive from God “wealth, possessions and honor” (6:2) such that they lack nothing their heart desires—yet they lack the ability to enjoy these things. The power to enjoy things (first introduced in 5:19) is itself a great gift from God. To have so many other gifts and not this one is immensely troubling. The Teacher does not spell out what exactly has foreclosed on the ability to enjoy all the other gifts. It might be a business failure (5:13-15). But it might be chronic illness, or war, or the evil manipulation of someone more powerful, or even some form of insanity. One might die prematurely, and a “stranger” will enjoy all the things one has accumulated (6:2). Or perhaps a person will die not only unfulfilled and barely noticed, but unlamented (“not receiv[ing] proper burial,” 6:3). Qoheleth insists that “a stillborn child is better off than he” (6:3). Such a child “comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded” (6:4). But even if someone should live ten thousand years and yet never enjoy all the prosperity God has gra- ciously given him (6:6), his life is meaningless. And in the end he goes to the same place as the stillborn child (6:6).

The chapter ends with a series of blistering rhetorical questions, all designed to substantiate the thesis that, under the sun, everything is “utterly meaningless” (1:2). We work to eat, and eating gives us the strength to go on working: what is the point? (6:7). But if someone replies that a person may not only work and eat, but become a “wise man” (6:8), is it all that clear that the wise are better off than fools? After all, much wisdom may simply bring much frustration and grief, as Qoheleth has already pointed out (1:18). Moreover, isn’t it better to be satisfied with the material world—with what one can touch and hear and see and feel, with “what the eye sees”—than to pursue “the roving of the appetite,” i.e., all the things hidden from view that we hanker after? For this, too, “is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (6:9).

Is this too wretchedly pessimistic to be realistic? But for those who are “under the sun” (6:12) and nothing more, what else is there? We talk too much and know too little (6:11-12). God help us! We need a deliverer from outside our myopic horizons.

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Daily Bible Reading — April 8

APRIL 8 Leviticus 11—12; Psalms 13—14; Proverbs 26; 1 Thessalonians 5

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE are often called the Pauline triad. They crop up again and again in Paul’s correspondence, in various combinations and structures of thought. Doubtless the best-known passage is 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It may be that the reason love is the greatest of these three cardinal Christian virtues is that love is the only one that God exercises. Elsewhere the Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8); it never says that God is faith or that God is hope.

In the epistle before us, the Pauline triad first crops up in chapter 1: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). Sometimes only two elements of the triad are present: e.g., “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing” (2 Thess. 1:3). Sometimes the three are linked in particular ways: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Col. 1:3-6). Although love may be “the greatest” of the three, in this passage hope is the foundation or even the motivation of faith and love—though that arrangement is far from invariable (e.g., Eph. 1:15, 18).

If the Pauline triad occurs at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians, so it recurs at the end: “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thess. 5:8, italics added). These variations suggest that faith, hope, and love were not, for Paul nor for the early Christians, a cluster of tired words always deployed in some bor- ing formula. Rather, they were the quintessential Christian virtues that they thought about and pursued, so that their reflections and experience prompted them to describe these virtues in many different ways. Here we find the metaphor of the armor of God, but not with the associations found in Ephesians 6:10-17— once again demonstrating that these were fresh and living forms of speech, not clichés emptied of all power except comforting repetition.

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Daily Bible Reading — April 7

APRIL 7 — Leviticus 10; Psalms 11—12; Proverbs 25; 1 Thessalonians 4

SOMETIMES THE BIBLE PROVIDES A GLIMPSE of the means God graciously used to produce the Bible. For instance, Luke 1:1-4 lays out some of the research the third evangelist did. Here in the opening lines of Proverbs 25, we catch another glimpse: “These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah” (25:1)—who of course lived two centuries after Solomon. Apparently some individual proverbs were passed down and finally collected by some scholars who worked during Hezekiah’s administration. That means that the entire book of Proverbs, which coalesces several collections, is even later. And at every step God was guiding the developments.

Sometimes the book of Proverbs serves as a quarry for quotations in the New Testament. We have already come upon a few instances (e.g., 3:11-12 quoted in Heb. 12:5-6—see meditation for March 16). Here there are two more: 25:7, adapted by the Lord Jesus in Luke 14:7-10; and 25:22, quoted by Paul in Romans 12:20.

But the theme on which I wish to focus attention today is self-restraint or self-control, which keeps resurfacing in this chapter. “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men” (25:6). The scramble for the top is ugly self-promotion. Far better to be self-restrained and develop integrity. Someone may yet say, “Come up higher.”

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone” (25:15)—far different from the bluster and splutter of the uncontrolled. Self-control and tact often achieve what a blunderbuss merely destroys. Self-control should also inform the degree to which you lean on others (25:17).

“If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit” (25:16). This proverb has application to more foods than honey, and to more plea- sures than food. Lack of self-control, far from multiplying pleasure, brings vomit and self-loathing. Another “honey” proverb tweaks the thought a little. “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor” (25:27). The same sense of nauseating disgust that accompanies eating too much honey accompanies self-promotion. Others feel as much revulsion, the proverb tells us, in the one case as in the other.

And the opposite of self-restraint? “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give” (25:14). “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (25:28). The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control (Gal. 5:23; 1 Thess. 5:6; 2 Tim. 1:7).

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Daily Bible Reading — April 4

APRIL 4 — Leviticus 7; Psalms 7—8; Proverbs 22; 1 Thessalonians 1

SEVERAL OBSERVATIONS ON Proverbs 22:

(1) A break occurs after 22:16, with a new heading. We now leave behind the proverbs of Solomon and begin the “Sayings of the Wise.” These must have been collected and perhaps circulated independently of the next section, “Further Sayings of the Wise” (24:23-34), which is then followed by more of Solomon’s proverbs (25:1ff.). Several cultures in the ancient Near East cherished and collected proverbs, and of course this fostered the rise of groups of “wise men” whose best utterances were preserved for posterity.

(2) The proverb “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (22:6) is so well known that it cries out for comment. Recall that a proverb is neither case law nor unqualified promise (review meditation for March 23). When children go wrong, very often the careful observer can spot familial reasons that have contributed to the rebellion. But this is not always the case. Sometimes young people from evidently wonderful families kick the traces. Some return years later; some never do. Good families may produce prodigal sons. This proverb must not be treated as if it were a promise that fails periodically. Rather, it is a proverb: it tells how God has structured reality, and what we should do to conform to it. This is the principle of how families work; it includes no footnotes and mentions no exceptions.

(3) Proverbs 22:29 provides an instance of wisdom that is simply technical skill (see meditation for March 14).

(4) Once more it is worth reflecting on how many proverbs focus on social dynamics of one sort or another and on the desirability of peace, self-control, and restrained speech. “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended” (22:10). “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (22:24-25).

(5) Several verses in this chapter encourage the reader to remember that biblical proverbs are more than good common sense of a secular sort, with a little piety thrown in. They are deeply grounded in devotion to the living God and to all the revelation he has given. Sometimes the way of framing a proverb makes this reality sing. “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all” (22:2). The wise saying is grounded in the doctrine of creation. “The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is under the LORD’s wrath will fall into it” (22:14). The sexual sin everywhere condemned in this book is now seen as evidence of God’s sovereign wrath.

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Daily Bible Reading — April 3

APRIL 3 — Leviticus 6; Psalms 5—6; Proverbs 21; Colossians 4

HERE I SHALL FOCUS ON THREE of the several themes that surface in Proverbs 21:

(a) “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (21:3). The prophets say something similar (e.g., Hosea 6:6), and so does the LORD Jesus (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Every generation must remember that integrity and righteousness are more important than religious ritual. It should come as no surprise that religious people may sometimes cheat on their income tax, abuse their children, covet their neighbor’s car, and love nothing so much as personal plea- sure. Their religion may actually serve as a cloak to cover their sin with a veneer of respectability. This chapter includes another relevant proverb: “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—how much more so when brought with evil intent!” (21:27). The religious observance of wicked people is simply detestable in God’s sight; it is unimaginably revolting to him when the wicked person is less a wicked dupe than a self-conscious charlatan using his religion to deceive people. Implicitly, of course, this means that the religion of the Bible is more about character than choirs, more about real transformation than religious tradition, more about God and the Gospel than about leadership and glitz.

(b) Poverty may come about because of abuse and oppression by the strong and powerful. But it may also come about because of a character flaw such as laziness or love of self-indulgence. So it is in this chapter: “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich” (21:17). “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has” (21:20). “The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work” (21:25). “All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing” (21:26). By contrast, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (21:5). The wise will not pursue pleasure as one of the great goals of life, but will prove provident, generous, hardworking, faithful, and just—precisely the kind of qualities that make good employers and good employees.

(c) “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!” (21:4). “The proud and arrogant man—‘Mocker’ is his name; he behaves with over-weening pride” (21:24). The heart of all wickedness is this vaulting self-focus that deludes itself into thinking we are self-determining, such that God himself can never be more than an accessory. Small wonder that gospel transformation begins with repentance.

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Daily Bible Reading — April 2

APRIL 2 — Leviticus 5; Psalms 3—4; Proverbs 20; Colossians 3

THE CONTRASTS IN COLOSSIANS 3 are so stark they are haunting. On the one hand, the sins in 3:5-9 are foul: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying. Greed is labeled “idolatry” (3:5). One can see why. In effect, one worships what one most desires. If greed lies at the heart of our deepest desires, then acquisitiveness has become our god, and we are idolaters.

On the other hand, the virtues briefly spelled out in 3:12-17 have always been associated with genuine Christian character. Here I wish to focus on the last two verses: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:16-17).

(1) The “word of Christ” is not exactly the Scriptures. It is the Gospel—but the primary access we have to that Gospel is the Scriptures. The expression “word of Christ” is sufficiently flexible that it can mean either the word that Christ taught or the word about Christ. Insofar as the Gospel itself was both proclaimed by Jesus Christ and so embodied in his person and ministry that it is also what the apostles say about him, “the word of Christ” embraces both meanings.

(2) This is what is to dwell in us richly. It is to fill our memories, occupy our horizons, constitute our priorities. We are so to reflect on it, as we turn it over in our minds and learn how it applies in every area of our lives, that, far from occupying a little religious corner of our experience, it will dwell in us richly.

(3) This must take place not only in the privacy of personal study and reflec- tion but also in our mutual instruction and admonition. Whatever teaching takes place within the local church, it must be full of the Gospel and its rich, life- transforming implications and applications.

(4) Over against all that is foul and all that is idolatrous, Christians are to be characterized by gratitude. We have been called to peace, the apostle says. “And be thankful” (3:15). The singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs is to be done “with gratitude in your hearts to God” (3:16). Indeed, the apostle con- cludes, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:17, italics added).

 

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 2 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 2. Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Bible Reading – January 2

JANUARY 2Genesis 2; Matthew 2; Ezra 2; Acts 2

WHAT A STRANGE WAY, we might think, to end this account of Creation: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). Hollywood would love it: what an excuse for sexual titillation if someone tries to place the scene on the big screen. We hurry on, chasing the narrative.

Yet the verse is strategically placed. It links the account of the creation of woman and the establishment of marriage (Gen. 2:18-24) with the account of the Fall (Gen. 3). On the one hand, the Bible tells us that woman was taken from man, made by God to be “a helper suitable for him” (2:18), yet doubly one with him: she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh (2:23), and now the two are united as one in marriage, one flesh (2:24), the paradigm of marriages to come, of new homes and new families. On the other hand, in the next chapter we read of the Fall, the wretched rebellion that introduces death and the curse. Part of that account, as we glean from tomorrow’s reading, finds the man and the woman hid- ing from the presence of the Lord, because their rebellion opened their eyes to their nakedness (3:7, 10). Far from being unashamed, their instinct is to hide.

This was not how it was supposed to be. In the beginning, “the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” The sexual arena stands to the fore, of course; yet there is a symbol-laden depth to the pronouncement. It is a way of saying that there was no guilt; there was nothing to be ashamed of. This happy innocence meant openness, utter candor. There was nothing to hide, whether from God or from each other.

How different after the Fall. The man and the woman hide from God, and blame others. The candor has gone, the innocence has dissipated, the openness has closed. These are the immediate effects of the first sin.

How much more dire are the same effects worked into the psyche of a fallen race, worked into individuals like you and me with so much to hide. Would you want your spouse or your best friend to know the full dimensions of each of your thoughts? Would you want your motives placarded for public display? Have we not done things of which we are so ashamed that we want as few people as pos- sible to know about them? Even the person whose conscience is said to be “seared” (e.g., 1 Tim. 4:2) and who therefore boasts of his sin does so only in some arenas, but not in others.

What astonishing dimensions characterize the salvation that addresses problems as deep as these.

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 1 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 1.Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.

Introduction to For the Love of God, vol 1 by D.A. Carson

INTRODUCTION

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was born in Edinburgh on May 21, 1813. He died in Dundee on March 25, 1843—not yet thirty years of age. He had been serving as minister of St. Peter’s, Dundee, since 1836. Though so young, he was known throughout Scotland as “the saintly M’Cheyne”; nor was his remarkable influence limited to the borders of Scotland.

His friend and colleague in ministry, Andrew Bonar, collected some of M’Cheyne’s letters, messages, and miscellaneous papers, and published them, along with a brief biography, in 1844 as Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains. That work has been widely recognized as one of the great spiritual clas- sics. Within twenty-five years of its initial publication, it went through 116 British editions, quite apart from those in America and elsewhere. Contemporary believ- ers interested in Christian living under the shadow of genuine revival could scarcely do better than to read and reflect on this collection of writings.

One of M’Cheyne’s abiding concerns was to encourage his people, and himself, to read the Bible. To one young man, he wrote, “You read your Bible regularly, of course; but do try and understand it, and still more to feel it. Read more parts than one at a time. For example, if you are reading Genesis, read a Psalm also; or if you are reading Matthew, read a small bit of an Epistle also. Turn the Bible into prayer. Thus, if you were reading the First Psalm, spread the Bible on the chair before you, and kneel and pray, ‘O Lord, give me the blessedness of the man’; ‘let me not stand in the counsel of the ungodly.’ This is the best way of knowing the meaning of the Bible, and of learning to pray.” This was not some quaint or escapist pietism, for at the same time, M’Cheyne was himself diligent in the study of Hebrew and Greek. While a theological student, he met regularly for prayer, study, and Hebrew and Greek exercises with Andrew Bonar, Horatius Bonar, and a handful of other earnest ministers-in-training. They took the Bible so seriously in their living and preaching that when the eminent Thomas Chalmers, then Professor of Divinity, heard of the way they approached the Bible, he is reported to have said, “I like these literalities.”

In line with his desire to foster serious Bible reading, M’Cheyne prepared a scheme for daily reading that would take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice each year, and through the rest of the Bible once. It is reproduced, in slightly modified form, at the end of this Introduction.1 Some explanation of the chart may be helpful.

The first column is self-explanatory: it lists the date for every day of the year. The following points explain the other features of this chart and the way this book is laid out.

(1) Originally, M’Cheyne listed two columns labeled “Family,” and two labeled “Secret.” He intended that, with some exceptions, the Scripture listings in the “Family” columns be read in family devotions, and those in the “Secret” columns be read privately, in personal devotions. The choice of the word secret was drawn from Matthew 6:6, and was in common use in M’Cheyne’s day. I have labeled the two pairs of columns “Family” and “Private” respectively.

(2) For those using the chart for purely private devotions, the headings are of little significance. Over the last century and a half, many, many Christians have used this chart in just this way—as a guide and a schedule for their own Bible reading.

(3) That there are two columns for “Family” readings and two columns for “Private” readings reflects M’Cheyne’s view that Christians should read from more than one part of the Bible at a time. Not only will this help you link vari- ous passages in your mind, but it will help carry you through some of the parts of the Bible that are on first inspection somewhat leaner than others (e.g., 1 Chronicles 1—12).

(4) If you read through the four passages listed for each date, in the course of a year you will, as I have indicated, read through the New Testament and the Psalms twice, and the rest of the Bible once. But if for any reason you find this too fast a pace, then read the passages listed in the first two columns (headed “Family”) in the first year, and the passages listed in the last two columns (headed “Private”) in the second year. Obviously this halves the rate of progress.

(5) One page of this book is devoted to each day. At the top of the page is the date, followed by the references to the four readings. The first two, corresponding to the entries in the “Family” columns, are in italics; the last two, corresponding to the entries in the “Private” columns, are in Roman type. The “Comment” that occupies the rest of the page is occasionally based on some theme that links all four passages, but more commonly is based on some theme or text found in the italicized passages. In Volume Two, the second pair of passages is ital- icized (rather than the first), and the “Comment” is based on this second pair. In this first volume, I have not restricted comment to passages in the first column, because, in agreement with M’Cheyne, I suppose that to focus on only one part of Scripture, in this case the historical books of the Old Testament (the first col- umn), will not be as helpful as a broader exposure to Scripture. So I have nor- mally commented on a passage of Scripture in one of the first two columns. The first time I refer to the passage on which I am commenting I put the reference in boldface type.

(6) In no way do these pages pretend to be a commentary as that word is com- monly understood. My aim is much more modest: to provide edifying comments and reflections on some part of the designated texts, and thus to encourage readers to reflect further on the biblical passages they are reading. If there is something unusual about these comments, it is that I have tried to devote at least some of them to helping the reader keep the big picture of the Bible’s “story line” in mind, and to see what relevance this has for our thinking and living. In other words, although I want the comments to be edifying, this edification is not always of a private, individualized sort. My aim is to show, in however preliminary a way, that reading the whole Bible must stir up thoughtful Christians to thinking theologically and holistically, as well as reverently and humbly. Volume Two includes an exhaustive index of names, subjects, and Scriptures for both volumes.

Finally, I should venture a few practical suggestions. If you must skip something, skip this book; read the Bible instead. If you fall behind, do not use that fact as an excuse for giving up the effort until next January 1. Either catch up (by an afternoon of diligent reading, perhaps some Sunday), or skip ahead to where you should be and take up there. If your schedule allows it, set a regular time and place for your Bible reading. M’Cheyne himself wrote, “Let our secret reading prevent [i.e., precede] the dawning of the day. Let God’s voice be the first we hear in the morning.” Whether that is the best time of the day for you is of little consequence; regular habits are of more importance. When you read, remember that God himself has declared, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2). Learn to distill what a passage is saying, and pray it back to the Lord—whether in petition, thanksgiving, praise, or frank uncertainty. In time your Bible reading will so be linked with your praying that the two will not always be differentiable.

This reading is from For the Love of God, vol 1 by D.A. Carson. You can download the entire book as a free PDF here: For the Love of God, Vol 1.Alternatively, you can pick up a hard copy at the church or at your favorite book retailer.