Category Archives: Bible Study

A Once In History Life

We’ve all seen coffee cup phrases.  The encouraging words that are just right to place on a coffee cup and present to someone as an encouraging gift.  Most gift shops stock these cups and they make great gifts for a person who just needs a little encouragement.  The phrases usually originate from Scripture as the Bible is full of them.

 

You do not have to read very far into Philippians before finding a coffee cup phrase; maybe even one of the most encouraging phrases in Scripture.  It is in the sixth verse of the first chapter; he, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.

 

There is no denying this is an encouraging statement.  The Lord is at work in our lives, and he promises he will complete what he has started.  God is completing a good work in our lives despite what we may do to try to stop him.  The Bible’s biography of Moses helps us understand how this truth works.  Despite Moses at times, God completed a good work in his life.

 

What do we have in common with Moses?

 

This may seem like an odd question.  You may be thinking, “We can’t possibly have anything in common with Moses.”  True, Moses had a once in history childhood, grew up to be a shepherd in the desert, and spent his senior years leading the Israelites through the desert.  Unique is an understatement when describing his life, yet we share common ground with Moses.

 

A Once in History Life

 

I said above Moses is the only one who lived his life story.  God placed Moses in a unique time and called him to a unique purpose.  Moses was the individual God needed in that moment to fulfill that part of his plan.

 

Glimpse through Moses’ biography, and you can see how each phase of his life prepared him for the next.  Growing up in Pharaoh’s palace would have enabled Moses to become familiar with Egyptian customs.  Shepherding sheep in the desert prepared Moses to be the shepherd of God’s people in the desert.  God began a good work in Moses and carried it through to completion.

 

The same can be said for us.  God has placed us in a unique position.  Every person has a spot in God’s plan and a purpose to fulfill.  Scripture speaks of each person’s uniqueness.

 

  • The Psalmist says to the Lord, “For you created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Esther was told, “You are here for such a time as this.”

 

Acting

 

Glimpse through your own biography.  See how the previous phases of your life have prepared you for the current phase.  He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.

 

Moses had a once in history life, and so do we.  Share how the past has prepared you for the present in the comments below.

 

5 Reasons Jesus Chose Fishermen

The Bible tells us 7 of the first 12 disciples were fishermen by trade.  It is no accident Jesus chose these individuals to be his first disciples.  As fishermen, these guys possessed characteristics every Christian should have.  Here are 5 reasons Jesus chose fishermen.

Fishermen know how to take orders.

 

These men took orders without questioning or debating.  Here are 3 examples.

 

  • When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, “at once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18).  At once was their response, an immediate reaction to Jesus’ calling.
  • A night of fishing resulted in empty nets, Jesus told Simon to go to deep water and let down the nets. “Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’  When they had done so, they caught so many fish their nets began to break” (Luke 5:5-6).  “Because you say so” was good enough.
  • A post resurrection appearance placed Jesus together with his disciples after a fruitless night of fishing. “He called out to them, ‘Friends haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered.  He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’  When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:5-6).  Listening to orders yielded great results.

 

While there is a time for questioning and debating, fishermen know sometimes the difference between failure and success is the width of their boat and the time it takes to cross from one side of the boat to the other.  They know when to simply take orders.

 

When Jesus said to cast their net on the other side of the boat, his disciples listened.  Christians, too, need to develop the skill of taking orders from the Lord.  It is okay to ask questions, but sometimes, situations call for simply taking orders.  The Psalmist records the Lord saying, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

 

Fishermen know how to work together.

 

Manually pulling in a net full of fish is a hard task.  Everyone on a boat works together to pull in the net.  The crew works as a team to accomplish their goal.  They do not let one person do all the work.

 

Scripture calls Christ’s followers to act in the same manner.  We are one body with many parts, and each part is to do his or her work to accomplish one common goal – introducing the lost world to the message of Christ.

 

Fishermen are dedicated.

 

Fishing requires a great deal of patience and dedication.  Fishermen might go hours, perhaps days, without even a nibble.  Giving up is not an option though.  A fisherman’s dedication pushes the person to keep fishing.

 

Jesus knew what was ahead for his followers.  He knew he needed followers who would not easily quit.  The same is true today.  Christians are called to pick up our cross and follow Christ daily.  It is never promised life will be easy, but it is promised the Lord will care for us and Heaven will be worth the wait.  As Christians, we must measure our dedication.  Are we as dedicated as fishermen?

 

Fishermen are courageous.

 

Fishing can require a person to travel into deep and treacherous waters.  It was common in Jesus’ day for fishermen to be caught in fierce storms while on the open sea.  It was their courage which pushed them to go back into the water after experiencing one of these storms.  Much courage was required.

 

Much courage is required for the Christian.  There are any number of circumstances that could cripple us with fear, but we must continue the journey of life.  This takes courage.

 

Did you know the most repeated command in Scripture is “do not fear?”  The Lord knew life would be rough and tough, so he gives us an encouraging command to have courage in the face of fear.  Psalm 46 reminds us the Lord is our refuge, strength, and protection.  In him, we can master fear with courage.  In him, we can have courage like fishermen.

 

Fishermen are skilled at using their equipment.

 

Good fishermen have a tackle box filled with various bates and lures.  Each one assigned a specific task.  Fishermen know each one’s job and how to properly use it.  They are skilled at using their equipment.

 

Like fishermen, Christians have some equipment at which we need to be skilled in using.

 

God’s Word – We have Scripture.  It is our double-edged sword.

 

Jesus shows us how to use our sword in Matthew 4.  Jesus has just been baptized and is immediately led into the desert to be tempted.  Satan tempts Jesus, and each time Jesus runs Satan off by quoting Scripture.  There is great power in God’s Word, so Christians need to be skilled in using it.

 

Prayer – James says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

 

Again, Jesus shows us how to use this tool.  Reading through the Gospels reveals Jesus withdrawing to pray frequently.  Before any major event, Jesus takes time to pray.  How well do you follow this example?  Prayer is an awesome tool the Christian has been given.  It is our responsibility to be skilled in using it.

 

Jesus could have called anyone he wanted to be his first disciples, and he called 7 men who were fishermen.  This was no accident.  These men possessed characteristics Jesus desires for all his followers to possess.  We know, of course, the Christian life is one of continual growth, so if you feel you are lacking one of these characteristics, ask the Lord to help you grow in that area.  Pick one as your focus and enjoy the adventure of growing.  Share some of the excitement of your adventure in the comments below.

 

 

5 Tips for Understanding the Bible

Just beginning to read the Bible can feel overwhelming for some people. They desire to know what it says, but they find it difficult to understand. Comprehending the 66 books, for them, is like trying to scale Mount Everest. Difficult for a few people, and impossible for most people.

Does this describe you? If so, please know you do not have to feel overwhelmed. God desires for you to know what He says in the Bible. Understanding the Bible takes time, and can be an exciting journey. Here are five tips to help you understand the Bible.

1. GET AN UNDERSTANDABLE TRANSLATION

Walk into a book store and ask for a Bible, and you are soon overwhelmed with choices. The clerk takes you to a section filled with rows of Bibles. How do you know which one to get? Which translation is right for you?

Selecting a Translation

There are numerous translations of the Bible available. Each has its own positives and negatives. Selecting a translation should begin by asking yourself if the translation is understandable. Knowing what is said is the first step in understanding its meaning.

A couple good translations to consider are the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT). Both are written in modern English, so they use words which are familiar. Both translations are easy to read.

Adding a Paraphrase

There are also a number of paraphrases of the Bible available. A paraphrase of the Bible does just what you would think; it paraphrases what is said in Scripture. Many have found these books easier to read and understand. They don’t replace an actual verse by verse copy of the Bible, but make a great addition. A couple paraphrases to consider are The Message and The Story.

2. UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE’S ORGANIZATION

The next key is to become familiar with how the Bible is organized. Begin by understanding the Bible is divided into two sections: the Old and New Testament. The dividing line is the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament contains the books of Genesis through Malachi. It can be divided into sections such as books of the law, books of history, books of wisdom, and books of prophecy. Your Bible’s table of contents can provide a more specific breakdown. The Old Testament begins with the creation account and spans a length of time to about 400 years prior to Jesus’ birth.

The New Testament

The New Testament begins with Matthew and goes through Revelation. It too can be divided into sections. Matthew Mark, Luke and John are the Gospels. Acts tells the story of the church’s beginning. Except Revelation, the remaining books are letters which were circulated to believers to help them grow in Christ. Revelation is a prophecy about Christ’s Second Coming. The New Testament starts with the events surrounding Christ’s birth and spans the length of time to Jesus’ Second Coming. This is the era in which we are currently living.

Organized like a Dictionary

It is also helpful to realize the Bible is organized like a dictionary. The first verse on the page will be listed in the upper left corner, and the last verse on the page will be listed in the upper right corner.

3. GET A GOOD STUDY BIBLE

A third key is getting a good study Bible. Study Bibles provide commentary and other resources to help you grasp the meaning and context of the text. They also help apply the text to life in today’s world. A couple to consider is the NIV Study Bible and NIV Life Application Bible.

4. SPEND TIME IN THE BIBLE DAILY

It is important to spend time in the Bible each day. Remember, you are growing in a relationship with the Lord and this is how He speaks to you. There are as many ways to develop a daily devotional time as there are people. Each person has to pick what works for him or her. Here are some suggestions to help you develop this practice.

Find a Daily Time

The time of day does not matter. It can be any time during the day. What matters is that you strive to make it a part of your daily routine.

Find a Reading Plan

There are a number of reading plans to help guide you. Bible Gateway is a good place to find plans. One plan starts at the beginning and takes you to the end. Another plan puts the events of the Bible in chronological order. No one plan is better than another. Each plan guides your reading by highlighting a portion of Scripture to be read each day. Bible Gateway offers daily email reminders for the plan you choose.

Download a Bible App

Bible Gateway is a good app to consider. It offers the audio Bible in a number of translations. The app makes it easy to listen while you drive. You can select a daily reading plan and view other resources in the app.

Consider a Devotional Book

There are many aavailable. Devotionals highlight a passage of Scripture accompanied by a thought for the day.

5. ASK QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE

This may be the most important key to understanding the Bible. Asking questions can bring answers and insight not found any where else. The desire of Christians is for others to grow in Christ. Jesus commands us to make disciples. This involves answering questions. Spending time answering questions is not a burden but a privilege. It is exciting to see other Christians growing, and answering questions fosters growth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. A wise man said, “The only dumb question is a question that is not asked.”

Understanding the Bible takes time. It should be an exciting journey filled with anticipation of what you will discover next. It should not feel overwhelming. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help through prayer. The Lord is willing to help us understand Scripture. You can also ask for help from the church. We are all on the same journey and desire for you to join us. Hopefully, these suggestions have helped you get started understanding the Bible, and keep us posted. Tell us what new and exciting discoveries you are making as you grow in your understanding.