Moses writes Genesis, a book of beginnings, to tell us how God creates the world, how sin comes into the world, and how God loves mankind in spite of his sin. He reports exciting stories about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, how God cares for them and stands beside them, no matter what the do. As you read this book, think about how God enters into a personal relationship with you, cares for you, and wants you to make serving him a priority in your life.
In the first half of this book, Moses recounts the exciting story of God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt. In the second half he tells
about their stay at Mount Sinai, where they receive God's law and build the tabernacle. As you read this book, think about how God miraculously delivers
you from slavery to Satan and sin through the death of his Son Jesus and
how he wants you to obey his will (especially the Ten Commandments) in your daily life.
Moses writes this book while the Israelites are in the wilderness, before
they enter the promised land. In it he reports to them the numerous religious,
civil and moral laws that God revealed to him on Mount Sinai. As you read
this book, some of it may seem dull and boring. But think about how holy God is, how he wants you to serve him in every part of your life and in all you
Moses records in this book the number of the Israelites and how he organizes them around the tabernacle. To this he adds an account of what happens as they wander in the wilderness. Note especially that in spite of their numerous rebellions, God still loves them and watches over them. As you read this book, rejoice in God's love and care in your life in spite of your sins; promise God that you will do your best to trust and obey him.
In this book Moses records his farewell address to the nation of Israel as
they wait on the bank of the Jordan River, ready to cross over into the land
of Canaan. He reminds them of God's care in the past and of his laws, and
he challenges them to rededicate their lives to serving the Lord. As you read
this book, think about God's daily care in your life and his desire that you
dedicate your life to serving him.
Joshua tells the story of how the Israelites conquer their enemines in the
promised land and divide it up among the twelve tribes. As long as the people
trust God and obey his will, he gives them victory in their battles. By the
end of the book, the people choose to serve only the Lord. As you read this
book, make your own choice to serve the Lord, to do his will, and to depend
on him to give you victory over the evil one.
Judges recounts a regular pattern that develops for God's people in their
new land: the people serve idols, God punishes them by an enemy invasion,
they cry to the Lord, and he sends a judge (such as Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah,
or Samson) to save them. As you read this book, remember that only God can give victory over sin and evil and that you will receive his help only when you serve him alone.
Ruth's story, occurring during the time of the judges, recalls tragady of Elimelech's family. They desert God's land during a famine, but God still cares about them. When Naomi returns to Judah, her daughter-in-law Ruth marries Boaz to carry on the family name and becomes an ancestor of David and Jesus. As you read this book, think about how God cares about you even when you sin and how wonderful it is that he sent Jesus, son of David, into the world.
1-31    1 SAM
This book tells the story of Samuel, the last judge, and of Saul, Israel's first king. Saul's sin and disobedience lead God to reject him and anoint David as Israel's second king. In spite of numerous threats to David's life from both the Philistines and from Saul, God keeps him safe. As you read this book, think how God will protect and bless you if you trust in him; be warned that if you disobey God, you may face many difficulties.
1-24    2 SAM
This book tells the story of David's kingship over Israel, noting both his
many victories and God's promise that his descendants will be on the throne
forever. After David's shameful sin with Bathsheba, severe family problems threaten his kingdom. As you read this book, consider how terrible the consequences of sin can be, but also remember the faithfulness of God, who fulfills his promise by sending his son to reigh forever as David's ture son.
This book begins by covering the excitement of Solomon's building of the
temple, but it then goes on to describe the sad events that take place after
Solomon begins serving other gods. The kingdom is divided into two nations,
Israel and Judah. All of Israel's kings are wicked, half of Judah's are.
God sends prophets (like Elijah) to preach God's word and to warn the
rulers against idolatry. As you read this book, realize how severe it is to disobey God's word. Like the Isaelites on Mount Carmel, confess, "The Lord -
he is God" (1 Kings 18:39).
This book continues the history of Israel and Judah begun in 1 Kings. When good kings reign, the people prosper; but after persistent idolatry, God finally allows the Assyrians to destory the nation of Israel and the Babylonians to carry the nation of Judah into captivity. Yes God preserves the royal line because of the promise he made David (see 2 Kings 8:19). As you read this book, praise God for his faithful love to you in spite of your sins. But remember that God does eventually punish those who disobey.
This book, after listing the genealogies of God's people from Adam to David,
describes in great detail how David conducts his administrative, military,
and religious affairs. Note David's desire for the true worship of God,
shown by organizing the priests and Levites and by making extensive plans
for building the temple. As you read this book, think about the importance
of worshiping the Lord and the priority in your life that such worship deserves.
This book continues the history of God's people begun in 1 Chronicles,
concentrating exclusively on the nation of Judah. It stresses God's powerful
presence in the lives of those kings who believe the word of the Lord and
obey his laws. Even though the people are eventually carried away to Babylon,
the book ends with a reminder of God's faithfulness in bringing them back. As you read this book, think about how God keeps his promise to surround you with his love in spite of your sin.
Ezra tells how God helps two groups return from Babylon to the promised land, the secound group led by Ezra himself. The temple of the Lord is rebuilt despite opposition, the worship of the Lord resumes, and the people realize they must not sin through mixed marriages as their ancestors did. As you read this book, rejoice that God always gives you a second chance to serve him; promise to do your best to remain faithful to his word.
The book of Nehemiah recounts Nehemiah's time as governor of Canaan when God's people were returning from Babylon. He rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem, along with Ezra he leads God's people in worship, and he administers their affairs. Important to his daily work is prayer, throuth which he expresses his dependence on God. As you read this book, ask yourself how God wants you to serve his people; be sure that everything you do is accompanied by prayer.
Esther records God's remarkable, providential care of his exiled people when their enemies threaten to destroy them completely. Though his name is not actually mentioned in the book, God is in control, using Esther's position
as queen to reverse the plan of wicked Haman. As you read this book, think how God takes care of you in your everyday life, even making good come out of evil.
Job presents a striking example of the news behind the news -- of God at
work behind the scenes of human suffering. After numerous attempts by Job
and his friends to uncover the reasons for his suffering, God himself enters the dialogue with a majestic description of his power and love. As you read his book, realize that God may not answer all your questions about life's suffering; realize too that God does control Satan, who can go no farther than the Lord allows.
David, the shepherd-boy and Israel's greatest king, writes most of the psalms. Together these 150 songs form the greatest collection of prayers ever written. A wide range of human emotion is expressed-joy, excitement, compassion, love, anger, grief, depression. As you read this book, remember that no matter what you are feeling, God wants to hear about it in your prayers to him. He promises to listen to all your concerns and to answer them for Jesus' sake.
Solomon "spoke three thousand proverbs" (1 Kings 4:32), many of which are collected in this book. These wise sayings describe patterns that operate in everday life, offering us advice on how conduct ourselves in various situations. Solomon's fundamental instruction is to fear and trust the Lord. As you read this book, remember that God has something to say about every aspect of your life; seek his wisdom in the decisions you must make each day.
The Teacher, a king in Jerusalem, searches in this book for a purpose to his life, After various pursuits, frustrated by not finding satisfactory answers, he discovers that happiness is in the Lord and in obeying his word (Ecc 12:11-14). As you read this book, think about how life without God has no meaning but how life regulated by God and his word is wonderful indeed. Be sure to dedicate your life to the Lord when you are young (Ecc 12:1).
Solomon's "songs numbered a thousand and five" (1 Kings 4:32), of which this is one. It focuses on the spontaneous and exclusive love between a lover and his beloved, demonstrating at the same time the sort of love Christ has for his beloved bride, the church. As you read this book, rejoice not only in the love that can exist between a man and woman, but also bask in the warmth of a personal love relationship with Christ.
Isaiah ministers during the events recorded in 2 Chronicles 26-32. He portrays graphically the sins of the kingdom of Judah (idolatry, hypocrisy, materialism, and oppression of the poor) and prophesies that severe judgement is coming. At the same time, he extends to God's people the promise of redemption, offering hope for a glorious future, particularly when the Messiah comes. As you read this book, listen to God's offer to redeem you through Jesus, the Messiah; express your own Christian joy by singing one of Isaiah's songs of thanksgiving.
Jeremiah prophesies in the kingdom of Judah as Jerusalem is being destroyed and God's people are being carried away into Babylon because of their sins (see 2 Chron 36). It is a time of judgment and of suffering for all the people and for Jeremiah personally. But Jeremiah also cites God's promise of restoration after seventy years, assuring the people of a coming new covenant. As you read this book, remember that sin has its consequences but also that through Jesus, your mediator, God's last word is forgiveness and eternal life.
Jeremiah writes these laments as he watches the intense suffering of God's people and the utter devastation of Jerusalem and the temple. He does not question God's justice in sending this suffering; instead, in the middle of the suffering, he celebrates God's faithfulness and unfailing love (Lam 3:22-32). As you read this book, think about what Jesus suffered to pay the penalty for your sins and rejoice in the incredible love of the God who offers you salvation.
Ezekiel, living among the exiles in Babylon, wants the people to know that God is everywhere. He reminds them that worshiping false gods has brought about this catastrophe, he emphasizes the need for a new personal relationship with God, and he assures them that God wants a new covenant of peace with them. As you read this book, think of the Prince of Peace who has come to give you eternal life in his name. Be sure to make your own personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
Daniel, writing from Babylon during the time of the exile, wants us to know that God controls everything and that the victory always belongs to the Lord and to those who do his will. Even the pagan kings in Babylon must admit this truth. As you read this book, think about how God controls your life and how you will win out over the forces of evil because you obey the Lord.
Hosea prophesies during the last days of Israel (see 2 Kings 14:23-17:41), focusing on her sin of spiritual adultery (that is, idolatry). He warns them that God will punish them unless they change their ways. But he also reminds them of God's incredible love, pleading with them to repent. As you read this book, think of God's love in sending his Son Jesus to die for you, in spite of your sins. Repent of your unfaithfulness to the Lord and turn to him.
Joel uses a famine (due to a devastating plague of locusts) to picture the coming day of the Lord. He calls on God's people to repent and turn to the Lord, promising that everyone who does so will be saved and will receive God's Spirit. As you read this book, listen to God's call to repent of your sins, so that you may be saved and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Amos prophesies during the time of Jeroboam II (2 kings 14:23-29), a time of prosperity for some but extreme poverty for many others. He reprimands those who oppress the poor and make them suffer even more. As you read this book, think about how angry God becomes when you show more interest in your wealth than in obeying him. Remember, though, that God will forgive you, if you confess your sins and seek to do his will.
Obadiah prophesies judgment against Edom for her violence against Israel, promising that God will restore his people. As you read this book, remember that no one can fight against God's people and hope to win in the end. The final victory belongs to Christ and his church.
Jonah is sent by God to Nineveh, the city of the enemy of God's people during the time of Jeroboam II (2 Kings, 14:23-29). After he tries to run away, God gives him a second chance to prophesy, for the Lord wants the whole world to hear the message of his grace. As you read this book, think about how many times God gives you a second opportunity. Don't forget to tell others about your Lord.
Micah prophesies during the time of Jotham and Ahaz (2 Chron 27-28) against the numerous sins of the kindom of Judah, insisting that God wants justice in society. He inspires hope by speaking of the coming Messiah and his kingdom of peace. As you read this book, promise the Lord that your lifestyle will be one of justice, mercy, and peace in his Son Jesus Christ.
Nahum prophesies against the wicked and cruel nation of Assyria, probably during the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22-23). In so doing he testifies that God, as judge of the nations, is in control of all that happens. As you read his book, be comforted (Nahum means "comfort") by the thought that God is Lord of history.
Habakkuk prophesies in Judah when the power of Babylon is growing (2 Chron 35:20-36:8). When he questions God's justice in allowing evil to go unchecked, he receives the answer that God knows what he is doing, leading to a concluding celebration of God's glory and power. As you read this book, remember that the majestic God is in control of your life, no matter what happens to you.
Zephaniah, early in Josiah's reign and before his reforms (2 Chron 34:1-13), prophesies about a coming devastating day of the Lord. But he promises a wonderful future to those who humble themselves, seek the Lord, and live righteously. As you read this book, remember that a day of judgment is coming but that you can escape by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Haggai encourages the returning exiles (Ezra 4:24-5:2) to set proper priorities by rebuilding the temple of the Lord before they rebuild the temple of the Lord before they rebuild their own houses. He goes on to envision a time when all nations will come to the temple. As you read this book, decide to seek God's kingdom first, and rejoice in his promise of a new world when people everywhere will worship the Lord together.
Zechariah writes to inspire the returning exiles to turn to the Lord and continue rebuilding the temple in Jersalem (Ezra 4:24-5:2). He encourages them with his visions that show God's control over eveything and the coming new kingdom of the Messiah. As you read this book, be sure you have turned to the Lord and let these visions of hope inspire you to continue serving the Lord.
Malachi prophesies during the deplorable conditions described in Nehemiah 13. He calls those complacent in their spiritual life to a renewed relationship with God, promising them God's blessing if they do. As you read this book, promise the Lord that you will not be complacent in your faith but will put his will before your own concerns.
Matthew writes this gospel to emphasize how Jesus fulfills God's promises from the Old Testament. He includes numerous saying of Jesus about living as one of his disciples and as a member of the church, concluding with the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. As you read his book, ask yourself whether you are living as a disciple of Jesus, as well as how you can tell others the story of Jesus.
Mark writes this gospel to tell the basic story about Jesus. He recounts miracles, parables, and other sayings of Jesus. Almost half of his book deals with the final week of Jesus' life, ending with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. As you read this book, notice how full of life and emotion Jesus is and how caring he is. Note too why he came into the world-to give his life for you (Mark 10:45). God wants you to accept his Son Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord.
Luke writes this gospel to present Jesus as a Savior for the whole human race. The stories emphasize how kind and loving Jesus is to those despised by society (such as tax collectors, Samaritians, the poor, and women). He stresses the importance of prayer in Jesus' life. As you read this book, be sure that you have repented of your sins and have claimed Jesus as your own personal Savior. Ask yourself whether you show the same sort of compassion to others that Jesus showed.
John writes this gospel to present Jesus as the powerful Son of God who comes in human flesh to do his Father's will by giving his life on the cross, and then returns to him - all with a view that we may believe in him and receive eternal life. His coming shows us how much the Father and the Son love us, and his parting command is that we should show the same sacrificial love to one another. As you read this book, be sure that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and promise him that you will love others as he loves you.
Luke begins the second volume of his history of Christianity (Acts 1:1-3) by telling how Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the apostles. The Spirit in turn inspires them to spread the message of salvation from Jerusalem to Rome. In his story Luke stresses how unity and love provail in the church and how God protects the missionaries from their enemies. As you read this book, think about how powerful the Holy Spirit still is in the church and in your own life and how God protects you against the forces of evil.
Letters of Paul
Paul, planning a mission trip to Spain (Rom 15:23-29), writes this letter to introduce himself to the church at Rome. In it he summarizes what he has been preaching about sin, Christ, and the way of salvation. Everything you need to know about God's great plan for redemption lies in these sixteen chapters. As you read the book, think about how much God loves you in sending his Son Jesus and how you can say thank you to him by the life you live.
Paul, while staying in Ephesus (Acts 19), writes this letter to the church he started in Corinth (Acts 18:1-17). He addresses various problems he has heard about and answers questions they have asked of him in a letter (see 1 Cor 7:1). He places a high priority on being obedient to Christ and on striving for unity, humility, and love in the church. As you read this book, make a decision to seek the Lord's will in everything you do and to work hard to be humble, to love others, and to become one in spirit with your fellow believers.
Paul writes this second letter to the church in Corinth from Macedonia (Acts 20:1; 2 Cor 7:5), while on his way to Corinth (2 Cor 13:1). As the most personal of all his letters, he expresses both how exciting and how painful his life as a missionary has been. He also finds it necessary to defend himself against those who are criticizing him. As you read this letter, think about how exciting it can be to serve the Lord, but realize too that being a Christian can sometimes lead to pain and suffering.
Paul writes this letter to the churches he founded in Galatia (Acts 13:13-14:28), warning them against certain false teachers. He reminds them of the simple message of salvation by faith alone that he and other church leaders teach and concludes with advice on how to live a Spirit-filled life. As you read this book, be sure that you are saved by a personal faith in Jesus, and ask God's Spirit to help you walk in Chistian love and peace.
Paul writes this letter from prison (Eph 4:1; probably in Rome, see Acts 28:30-31) to the church he started in Ephesus (Acts 19). In the first half he explains God's great plan to redeem the world through Christ, showing what this means for individual Christians and for the whole church. In the second half he gives practical advice on how to live the Christian life. As you read this book, first examine yourself to be sure that you are saved. Then move on to fight against Satan and show your love to your family, your church, and your community.
Paul writes this letter to the church he started in Philippi (Acts 16:11-40). Even though he is in prison, he feels happy when he thinks of what Christ means to him and of what the Philippians are doing for him. He is especially thankful for a gift they sent him. As you read his book, remember always to rejoice in the Lord and to be content, whatever the circumstances.
Paul writes this letter to the church in Colosse at about the same time as he writes Ephesians. False teachers are deceiving some of those to whom he writes (Col 2:4). Therefore, Paul stresses the power and glory of Christ and instructs his readers on how to live as Christians. As you read this book, put your faith in this glorious Savior who died for you, and promise him that you will show Christian love compassion to others.
Paul writes this letter to the church to began in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9), shortly after leaving them and being unable to return ( 1 Thess 2:17-18). He is excited about their Christian faith, reminds them of his intense love for them, and answers questions about what death means for a Christian. As you read this book, find comfort as a believer that when you die you will still be under God's care and will "be with the Lord forever" (1 Thess 4:17).
Paul writes this letter shortly after 1 Thessalonians to clarify some things that the church failed to understand in his first letter. He tells them that the antichrist is coming, but they must continue with their regular schedules until Jesus returns. As you read this book, remember that God wants you to look forward to Christ's return as well as to continue doing your daily work.
1-6    1 TIM
Paul, writes this letter to young Timothy, who is serving as a pastor in Ephesus. He instructs him how to organize and run the church and how to deal with false teachers and refute what they say. As you read this book, promise God that you will not stray from true faith.
1-4    2 TIM
This second letter to Timothy is written by Paul shortly before Paul dies (2 Tim 4:6-8). Times are difficult, both morally and spiritually, and Paul wants to encourage Timothy to persevere in his Chistian faith and life. As you read this book, be sure to find your daily strength in Jesus Christ and in God's inspired word.
Paul writes to Titus, a pastor serving in Crete, to advise him both on what to teach the churches and on how to organize them, especially with false teachers around. As you read this book, note God's concern for proper order in the church and for true teaching about Christ.
Paul writes this brief letter to ask Philemon, a Christian brother living (probably) in Colosse, to forgive and take back Onesimus, a runaway slave who had become a Christian and in helping Paul in prison. As you read this book, be willing to forgive others, no matter what they do to you.
The author of this letter encourages Christians who are being persecuted for their faith by pointing them to the greatness of the Son of God who became man. Christ is the full expression of God's revelation, better than anything in the Old Testament; the author warns his readers to depend on him alone. As you read this book, commit yourself firmly to Jesus your Intercessor, and be sure to persevere and grow daily in your Christian faith and life.
James (a brother of Jesus) writes this letter to urge Christians to express their faith in daily living. He reminds them of what Jesus said, especially in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). As you read this book, ask yourself whether others can see by what you do and say that you believe in Jesus.
1-5    1 PET
Peter writes this letter to a group of Christians suffering for their faith, reminding them of how much Jesus suffered. He inspires them with hope for the future and shows them how to grow in their faith. As you read this book, decide to do your best to live a holy life as you look forward to the return of Jesus and to the reward he promises to give his followers.
1-3    2 PET
Peter writes a second letter because false teachers are troubling the church and distrubing the faith of some by their heresy, immorality, and greed. He wants Christians to grow in the knowledge of the truth of God's word. As you read this book, remember that God will eventually win the battle against false teaching, and promise the Lord that you will study to increase your knowledge of the Bible.
1-5    1 JOHN
John writes this first letter to emphasize some of the same themes as his Gospel (such as "walking in the light," "knowing the truth," and "loving one another"). He does so because antichrists are promoting false views of the Son of God. As you read this book, realize how much God wants you to fight sin, to love others, and to believe in the true Jesus for eternal life.
1    2 JOHN
John writes this second letter to warn the church to stand firm against false teachers and to keep loving other Christians. As you read this book, learn how to stand up for your Lord whenever you encounter false teachers.
1    3 JOHN
John writes this third letter to commend a church leader for his hospitality and to warn against another on who is unfriendly and even cruel. As you read this book, think how you can act as a friend toward other Christians.
Jude (a brother of Jesus and James) writes this short letter to warn Christians against false teachers in the church and to urge them to strengthen their faith and love. As you read this book, begin to grow in faith and love by depending on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
John, banished to the island of Patmos, writes what Christ reveals to him in order to comfort Christians suffering for their faith. Through visions of God in control of both the present and the future, he offers them hope, assuring them that in the end Christ will achieve victory over Satan, who is doomed to eternal punishment. As you read this book, rejoice in the awesome power of Christ, and remember that regardless of what happens now or in the future, nothing can ever separate you from his love.