Understanding the Bible – Dec. 24th

A Message for All Time

Understanding and Applying the Bible

Albert Einstein is best known for his wild hair and his famous theory of relativity. What most people don’t know is that he spent the last 30 years of his life searching for a theory he never found-a theory he knew in his heart would someday be discovered. Einstein believed there could be one grand theory that would explain how all the major forces of the universe are related.

Einstein’s quest continues to this day. Some call it the Unified Field Theory. Others describe it as the Grand unification Theory. Perhaps the most popular label is the Theory of Everything.

Even though most of us may not have much in common with someone such as Einstein, but no doubt we’re captivated by the thought of a Grand Unifying Theory, one for the Bible-a simple yet elegant theory that captures all of the facts from Genesis to Revelation, all the teaching of Scripture, and sums it up in a way that even a child can grasp.

Why? Because understanding the Grand Unifying Theory of the Bible reveals the heart and mind of God and what is most important to Him both now and throughout eternity. It helps us grasp the driving force that should direct our lives, and the primary purpose for which we were created.

A seminary professor once said that the reason there were so many chapters in Exodus devoted to seemingly endless details for building the tabernacle was an easy answer: “God Himself was coming to live with His people!” That simple answer actually can become the master key for the entire story of the Bible from beginning to end. In fact, in one of the final chapters of the Bible, the apostle John writes the following climax to his great vision:

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away'” (Revelation 21:1-5).

God created us to be part of a loving community with Himself at the center. Because God is love, He made us in His image so that we could experience the depth of His love-not only with Him but also with each other.

The fall of humanity in Genesis 3 was like an earthquake that fractured our God-given purpose. At its core, sin destroys relationships, community and fellowship with the One who made us.

But God never gave up on His original plan! Every book of the Bible, every story within its pages describes the great lengths He went to in order to bring us back to Himself-ultimately by becoming one of us and then by dying on the cross to remove the gulf that separated us from Him.

When you realize that the Bible isn’t primarily about rules but relationships, your Scripture reading will be transformed. And when you discover that God’s Word isn’t mainly about laws but love, you’ll feel the heartbeat of the One who made you for Himself.

The last section of Understanding the Bible is to help you to not just better understand the Bible but also how to apply the Bible to your life. So, let the “Grand Unifying Theory” be the North Star that guides you to your destination.

 

 

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Daily Scripture Series – Dec. 21st

“Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” (Psalm 120:2)

“Christian consciousness begins in the painful realization that what we had assumed was the truth is in fact a lie,” Eugene Peterson wrote in his powerful reflections on Psalm 120. Psalm 120 is the first of the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. And as Peterson explored this in “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, these psalms also offer us a picture of the spiritual journey toward God.

That journey can only begin with profound awareness of our need for something different. As Peterson puts it, “A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way…One has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”

It’s easy to become discouraged by the brokenness and despair we see in the world around us-the pervasive ways our culture often shows callous disregard for the harm being done to others. Psalm 120 laments this honestly: “I am for peace; but when I speak they are for war.”

But there’s healing and freedom in realizing that our pain can also awaken us to a new beginning through our only help, the Savior who can guide us from destructive lies into paths of peace and wholeness. As we get closer to the new year, may we seek Him and His ways.

Daily Questions

  1. How have you become accustomed to destructive ways?
  2. How does the gospel invite you into ways of peace?

Daily Thoughts

Loving God, help us yearn for and work for Your ways of peace through the power of Your Spirit.

Psalm 120:1-121:2

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. What will he do to you, and what more besides, you deceitful tongue? He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom bush. Wo to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.

Psalm 121:2

I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Bonus Information

Psalms 120 and 121 are among the Psalms or Songs of Ascents, which were most likely memorized and sung as the israelites traveled to Jerusalem for the feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles. Some of these ascent psalms are assigned to David (Psalms: 122, 124, 131, 133) and one is attributed to Solomon (Psalm 127), but most have no listed author. This diverse group of psalms includes lament psalms, thanksgiving psalms, a royal psalm, wisdom psalms, and more. Yet although they may not have been written to be used as ascent psalms, they were later used for that purpose. Psalm 120 is an individual psalm written by someone far from home longing for the peace of Jerusalem, while the reassuring words of Psalm 121 instill confidence in pilgrims making the journey to Jerusalem. Today, the Psalms of Ascent continue to be significant in worship for both Jews and believers in Jesus.

 

Bible Fun – Christmas #8

Bible Fun – Answer These Trivia Questions

Have fun answering these questions with the kids.

  1. Name the prophet who predicted the birth of Jesus Christ.
  2. What was the profession of Joseph?
  3. What country will you find the city of Bethlehem?
  4. What territory did King Herod rule over?
  5. What is Myrrh?
  6. Bethlehem is often called the “City of…” what?
  7. How many centuries before Jesus was born did the prophet foretell of His birth?
  8. Name the Three Kings.
  9. There were 42 generations between Jesus and Abraham. True or False
  10. The birth of John the Baptist was foretold by the Angel Gabriel before the birth of Jesus. True or False
  11. Jesus was a commonly used name used in Judea when Jesus was born. True or False
  12. The Bible contains two nativity stories in two different Gospels. True or False
  13. Luke describes Mary riding to Bethlehem on a donkey. True or False
  14. What are the Wise Men called in the Gospel of Matthew?
  15. What is described in Matthew 1?
  16. What did the Wise Men call Jesus when they met with King Herod?
  17. Which emperor ordered people to return to their hometowns for the Roman census?
  18. Which of the 12 Tribes of Israel was Jesus descended from?
  19. Which Christmas carol is the retelling of Luke 2:8-14?
  20. What does the name “Immanuel” mean?

 

 

ANSWERS

  1. Isaiah
  2. Carpenter
  3. Israel
  4. Judea
  5. A spice used in perfumes and oils
  6. David
  7. Seven
  8. Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar
  9. False. Even though Matthew lays out 42 generations, he actually missed a few generations.
  10. True
  11. True
  12. True
  13. False. The Bible never specifically says that she traveled on a donkey to Bethlehem, it’s just assumed.
  14. Magi
  15. The genealogy of Jesus.
  16. The King of the Jews
  17. Caesar Augustus
  18. Judah
  19. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  20. God with us.

Well, I hope you had a little fun with this short Bible Fun series for Christmas.

Remember one very important thing about Christmas this year and that is this truth that Jesus came to earth for YOU! Never forget that!

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Bible Fun – Christmas #7

UNSCRAMBLE THE WORDS

These words are all Christmas related, most of the words are Bible related but others are just regular words associated with Christmas. Have fun.

WORDS TO UNSCRAMBLE

  1. YCNDA ECNA
  2. YRMA ADN HPSEJO
  3. SCTMSARIH ETER
  4. LGEAN LBGRAEI
  5. BSLTAE
  6. TAASN SCUALS
  7. SSPEERTN
  8. GEG GON
  9. ERTEH  SKGNI
  10. MEEBTHHLE
  11. SDSPERHHE
  12. RGNEMA
  13. GKNI DRHOE
  14. HNZAATER
  15. NRANO SNSCUE
  16. EGJLNI LSBLE
  17. NSMWOAN
  18. ESFNRKANICES

 

 

ANSWERS

  1. CANDY CANE
  2. MARY AND JOSEPH
  3. CHRISTMAS TREE
  4. ANGEL GABRIEL
  5. STABLE
  6. SANTA CLAUS
  7. PRESENTS
  8. EGG NOG
  9. THREE KINGS
  10. BETHLEHEM
  11. SHEPHERDS
  12. MANGER
  13. KING HEROD
  14. NAZARETH
  15. ROMAN CENSUS
  16. JINGLE BELLS
  17. SNOWMAN
  18. FRANKINCENSE