Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 8, 2011

Thought for the Week November 13, 2011

Well, here we go. I told everyone last week that we would launch a weekly installment by which you could invest in growing in Christ-likeness by growing to love God and to love others. Let me preface everything by saying that much of what I will be teaching is fundamental and basic to everything we are as believers. Some may read these articles and think that it’s too elementary and below their level of maturity. Don’t let these kinds of thoughts distract or sidetrack you. We all need to be reminded often about the basics.

Peter wrote Do these things, and you will never fall away…therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. (II Peter 1:10, 12). Did you catch what he said? He is reminding them of things they already know because in doing them they will never fall away.

Let me illustrate why basics are so important. For three years I tested every six months to be advanced to petty officer first class. Every test, I missed the cut-off for advancement by just a few points. Every cycle, I would study the material for first class very hard, then just miss it. Finally, on my sixth try, I decided to go back and study the material for third and second class since I was responsible for everything up the rank I was going for. That cycle only six men in my rating in the entire Navy were advanced and I was one of them. It was the basics that did it!

So what’s the most basic thing we need to cover as Christians? I think it would be the manual where we get all of our guidance for becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I’m describing, of course, the Bible. After all, how am I to get to know the One I am commanded to love first and foremost in life, other than seeking Him in His direct communication to me? The Bible is God’s revealing of Himself in every way that we need so we can get to know Him and grow in love for Him. In my experience as a pastor, I can say that many, if not most, Christians are not as intimately familiar with the Bible as they should be. So lets start with the basics.

Let’s start off with a verse that tells us why the Bible is so important. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Do you know that God’s Word literally speaks to every situation you will face in life and provides guidance so you can handle it correctly? It actually lights the way for us in life. Here’s an assignment for this week. Memorize this verse. If you have never memorized Scripture before, this will profoundly aid you in walking with the Lord. Just think, you don’t have to look it up – you’ve got it in your head. The verse I listed is in the New Living Translation. If you prefer another version, that is OK. Just memorize.

Let’s get familiar with the book itself. The Bible is a book that actually consists of 66 “books” all bound together. The first 39 books make up the Old Testament. They were written by many different human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit during a period from the time of Moses up to about 400 years before the time of Jesus. Our Old Testament is essentially identical to the Jewish Torah. The next 27 books we call the New Testament. They were written from as early as ten years after Jesus rose from the dead until about 96 A.D. when John penned Revelation. Right now, take a break from reading and thumb through your Bible. Look at the table of contents. Read the names of the books. Notice the order in which they are arranged.

The Old Testament documents creation and God’s dealings with mankind, specifically with a certain group of people, the Israelites who are better known as Jews. If you examine the books you will find different forms of literature.

The first seventeen books are history and document God’s interaction with man from creation, through the calling of Abraham and formation of Israel as a nation all the way until the kingdom of Israel is overthrown, taken captive in Babylon, and eventually returned to their decimated homeland. Some of it is chronological and some is repetitive, but you will see how God continually interacts with man to bring them to Himself.

The next five books are poetic in form and add great depth to our understanding of God in ways that elicit praise and wonder. The Psalms are literally songs that can be sung as worship and Proverbs contains gems of wisdom that have application to everyday life and make it better.

The remaining Old Testament books are classified as prophecy, each written by a person who was widely identified, in his own day, as a prophet or one who spoke directly for God. Some of their writings directly spoke to situations Israel was facing during their lifetimes. Others spoke in great detail of future events, like the coming of Jesus, which have been fulfilled in every way. In fact, Old Testament prophecy is so accurate that it serves to confirm the divine inspiration of the Bible. Only God could tell future events so precisely hundreds of years in advance!

The New Testament documents the life of Jesus (the gospels), the beginning of the church (Acts), and specific instructions for living as followers of Jesus (the epistles or letters). The gospels and Acts are historical like the first books in the Old Testament. The next twenty-one books are written by apostles to Christians in the first century to help them learn how to live out this life from Jesus. There is also one prophetic book, Revelation, which documents a vision God gave to John the apostle regarding things going on in his day and events that lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the age.

For your assignment this week memorize Psalm 119:105, then begin to memorize the names and locations of the books in the Bible. It might be easiest to memorize the New Testament first since there are only 27 books, then work on the Old Testament. You can arrange the New Testament as history, letters, prophecy and the Old Testament as history, poetry, and prophecy. A hint is to first get a general understanding of the location of the different types of literature, then put names on the books.

Think how good it will be when you are in a Bible study or in church and the leader says, “Turn to…whatever book.”, and you know exactly where to look. It will make your adventure navigating through God’s Word much easier and more enjoyable. If you have any feedback or questions drop me an email or respond on my blog. God’s Word is your lamp and light. The only question is how often do you turn it on? Just a thought.


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