As you go through this series, consider what our culture typically puts into hashtags for when we are blessed. #blessed often refers to a new house, or kids getting in a certain school, or other material and external things. These things certainly are gifts and blessings from God, but contrast our culture’s definition of what #blessed is with the things Jesus teaches and “coaches” in his Sermon on the Mount. This week we start with #blessedarethepoorinspirit. With such a hashtag, are you willing to “get in the game” with Jesus?
An Epistle is basically a churchy word for a letter. The Epistles are letters from the early church leaders to the various churches that were spreading and growing. Although there are many cultural differences between then and now, the people of that era had the same struggles as people do today. Humans are humans. Our struggles and tendencies are the same. As King Solomon (the wisest person who ever lived) said: “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9).
The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) do not leave open the option of considering Jesus as simply a good, moral teacher. A man who was merely a man and said the things Jesus says in the gospels would not be a moral teacher. As C.S. Lewis points out, “He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” Who do YOU say that Jesus is?
The seventeen prophets are sometimes discounted because they are often hard to follow and understand. As Stephen pointed out, this is because they aren’t linear or follow a narrative format. Often, they are written in a visionary and poetic way. However, just because something is hard to follow does not mean they should be discounted! As one of the major prophets (Isaiah) wrote, “the word of God will not return void…” it is always worthy of our time and effort to spend time in God’s word.
The books we have navigated so far in this series have dealt with justice: when there is righteousness, there is blessing. When there is wickedness, there is punishment. That is black and white and everyone understands it. However, life is not always black and white. In fact, its’s rarely ever all black or all white. That is where the wisdom and poetry books come in…
The history books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther) tell of a seemingly never ending cycle. I don’t know about you, but it sounds very familiar to me: God’s people let the culture influence them, God extends grace (again), prophets or others sent by God speak the truth, and God’s people return to God (again). Sounds a bit like LIFE, doesn’t it?
To not understand the full picture of the Bible is a missed opportunity to know and understand God more intimately. Some folks leave it to a pastor, or perhaps a meme on social media, but that only ends up preventing you from seeing the complete picture. Every verse, chapter, book and section fits into a bigger picture. It is like a mosaic that all fits together culminating in Jesus. The Bible is God’s love story written for you and written for me. You are part of the bigger story.
Our guest speaker was Lt. Colonel Kent Walker. He is the Head Chaplain at Brooks Army Military Center. He gave an inspiring word for fathers about how God knows and sees how you make a difference in the lives of your family members. This is a hugely important role, yet there are no “manuals,” even though how a man fulfills his role as a father impacts the entire household and generations to come.
Mary’s faith can be an inspiration to us all. In this week’s study we see how faith leads to obedience. We see that obedience is measurable. We also see that obedience can be exciting, leading to seeing God doing things that only God can do. Finally, obedience is the key to making your faith real and alive. God is the same yesterday, today and always. He is still as reliable and trustworthy as he was for Mary. Can you trust him, believe him, and follow him today and moving forward? How can you learn from Mary’s faith and trust in God?