A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Devotional - Exodus

This week‘s family devotional continues a series in which we take a family friendly look at each book of the Bible. If you’re using these Saturday devotionals with your family, please comment with your feedback, or feel free to email me privately if you have that info. I want to mold these into a format that will be a blessing to Christian families. For the record, this series will use the books of the Bible as they are in order in the Christian Bible and will only look at the 66 canonical books.


Exodus is the second book in the Bible, but it’s not second class! It tells the story of “the Exodus,” when God used Moses and Aaron, the Ten Plagues, and parting the Red Sea to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the wilderness of Sinai. It tells us how God called Moses into his presence atop Mt. Sinai and gave him the Law including the Ten Commandments (20:2-17). Exodus also explains how the sons of Aaron became priests in Israel and how the Israelites made the Tabernacle as a place for God to make his presence known among them—to live in their midst (29:46). God has always wanted to live among those who love him and still does. Today, he lives among us through the Spirit in the church (2Corinthians 6:16).

Whenever you try to remember what Exodus is about, just think “leaving.” Israel left Egypt. Remember also that the first Exodus that took place about 3,500 years ago showed us God’s heart and much of his plan for the faithful and foreshadows the second Exodus that is happening today through the church. Through Christ, we have been delivered from bondage to sin. Our baptism parallels the crossing of the Red Sea (1Corinthians 10:1ff) and we’re now in the Wilderness of trial and testing, each of us tasked with learning to fully surrender our lives to trust God while God provides for our needs. Like the land of Canaan awaited the ancient Israelites, a heavenly Promised Land and final, blissful, permanent rest and reward awaits all the people of God of every age when Jesus returns (Hebrews 4:9).

Nurture your habit of reading the Bible together as a family this week. You can easily read it through together every year, and it’s worth the effort. There are many Bible reading plans online. You can pick up a One-Year Bible at a Christian bookstore, or order one online. I suggest the ESV.

If I had to pick just one passage to memorize from Exodus, it’d be Exodus 3:13-14. It’s an excerpt from Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush, when God called him to go lead his people out of Egyptian bondage. Here it is from the (HCS):


Then Moses asked God, "If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what should I tell them?" God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you." God also said to Moses, "Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.
Finally, here are a few links to some family friendly books and activities about the Book of Exodus:

http://www.coloring.ws/moses.htm
http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product_slideshow?sku=0075459&actual_sku=0075459
http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product_slideshow?sku=606729&actual_sku=606729
http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ex

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Devotional - Genesis

This week‘s family devotional kicks off a series in which we’ll take a family friendly look at each book of the Bible. I won’t waste our time by explaining anything about format. It should be simple enough. If you’re using these Saturday devotionals with your family, please comment with your feedback, or feel free to email me privately if you have that info. I want to mold these into a format that will be a blessing to Christian families. For the record, this series will use the books of the Bible as they are in order in the Christian Bible and will only look at the 66 canonical books.

Genesis is the first book in the Bible. It only makes sense that it tells us how everything began. Moses was inspired by God to write it while the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, barely a nation; undoubtedly full of questions about how things came to be as they were. Thankfully, though our lives are very different from ancient Israelites in many ways, we have many of the same questions about this world and God they had. Genesis answered their questions, and it answers ours too.

Whenever you try to remember what Genesis is about, just think “beginnings.” Genesis tells about the beginning of this world in which we live; how God made everything in six days and rested on the seventh, thus completing the first week. Genesis reveals how many things got started—some good, like marriage, family, justice and God’s mercy—others bad, like sin, death, violence and dishonesty. Most important, Genesis introduces us to God’s plan to save the world through the descendant of a man named Abram, whose name God changed to Abraham. Now we know his promised descendant as Jesus. There are two sections of the book. Part 1 is about four great events: Creation, the Fall into Sin, the Flood, and the Dispersion of the Nations at Babel. Part 2 is about four great men: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

Kick off a family habit of reading the Bible together this week. You can easily read it through together every year, and it’s worth the effort. There are many Bible reading plans online. You can pick up a One-Year Bible at a Christian bookstore, or order one online. I suggest the ESV.

If I had to pick just one passage to memorize from Genesis, it’d be Genesis 3:14-15 (ESV):

The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
Finally, just as Genesis answers many of life’s big questions, living in the present world means your children are likely to have just as many questions about Genesis. I suggest the following reading list for both parents and children. The list is far from exhaustive--just a few suggestions:

www.apologeticspress.org

www.focuspress.org

www.apologeticspress.org



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Great Commission—Luke 24:44-47

The passage in Luke roughly parallel to those we’ve considered in Matthew and Mark that we might call a Great Commission passage is part one of the two part commission completed in Acts 1:8. Matthew’s focuses on discipleship, Mark’s on salvation, but Luke focuses on sin against a backdrop of prophecy.

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem..." (Luke 24:44-47 ESV).
The church and her mission is the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. It isn’t an afterthought or “plan b,” but has been God’s plan from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 1Peter 1:20). The church is God’s plan to save the world, and the commission which is the church’s mission from Jesus was, is, and forever will be the only way!

Luke’s parallel to the Great Commission passages focuses on sin in two ways. Christians are commissioned to preach (1) repentance and (2) remission of sins. Repentance means a change of mind resulting in a changed behavior. What Jesus did for us is enough motivation to inspire all of us to want to follow him. He died for our sins which means we were (or still are if outside the church) all dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1; 2Corinthians 5:14-15). Matthew and Mark taught about belief and baptism as steps into salvation. Luke shows us that repentance, or turning from our sins to embrace the will of Christ is part of the process. Putting it all together, by believing in Jesus, accepting his authority and repenting of sin, we may be baptized (immersed) in water for, as Acts 2:38 shows, the remission of sins. This is what every true believer believes and proclaims and all true churches of Christ are unified in carrying out this truly Great Commission.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Great Commission—Mark 16:15-16

Picking back up with the Great Commission passages after last week’s posts, we’ll consider a few things about what Mark has to say.

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’” (ESV).

Mark’s account of the Great Commission is perhaps the simplest. Its emphasis, as Matthew’s, is on the church’s responsibility to preach the gospel everywhere, and on the ideal results: salvation. The terms are as simple as can be: believe in Jesus and be immersed into him and you’ll be saved. Fail to do that, and you’ll be condemned. That’s true for every man and woman alive.

Some people try to argue against the essentiality of baptism as part of the plan of salvation by saying something like, “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Whoever does not believe and isn’t baptized will be condemned.’” It’s beyond me why someone would make the argument, but there it is, so what of it? The answer is as simple as the truth of the passage. If you would be saved, you must both believe and be baptized. To be lost, merely leave out one of the two. If you don’t believe, the likelihood of your being baptized is slim, and even if you did, it wouldn’t mean anything, because baptism is an act of faith. It’s not that difficult.

We Christians have a mission—a responsibility to the Lord regarding “the whole creation.” Eternal salvation and condemnation for countless souls is at stake. Let’s all wake up and work fervently to fulfill it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Great Commission -- Matthew 28:18-20

The Great Commission is the mission statement of the Lord’s church. Each passage in the New Testament that describes it is unique. They all refer to the same singular mission of the church, but stress different aspects of it. It’s important to understand them all as we work to fulfill the mission as each passage describes it.

Perhaps the foremost of them is Matthew 28:18-20. The commission is actually in verses 19 and 20, but what verse 18 says is its fountainhead. It’s an authority statement. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (ESV). Jesus is now the king of everything! If he wanted to he could descend to earth again and force everyone to recognize his authority (one day he will absolutely enforce it –Romans 14:11), but part of the point of the commission is for us to proclaim his authority in the hope that many will accept it willingly and so be blessed. So, how do we fulfill this great mission?

Matthew’s commission gives the church a single mission accomplished in two steps; one short and sweet, the other a life’s work and more—and it ends with a promise. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (ESV).

The mission? –Make everyone into a disciple of Jesus—man, woman, child—everyone! The term “all nations” is the Greek “ta ethne,” which means all ethnicities. How? First, by baptizing them (which implies we teach them the basics of the gospel and the meaning and purposes of baptism); then by teaching them their responsibility to obey Jesus in all things. The second part, however, requires persevering in the lifelong and generational process of continual teaching and discipline within the church.

It closes with a promise. We’re not alone in this. Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus? Discipleship is the whole meaning and purpose of your life. He’s with us, so let’s stay busy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Great Commission (Intro)

There are many good reasons to become a Christian. The list is endless. There is no salvation apart from Christ (Acts 4:12). But, salvation isn’t just a clean conscience with regard to standing before God’s throne in judgment someday. It has to do with being rescued from the futile pursuits of this dying world (1Peter 1:18) into the healthy pursuit of God’s kingdom which will one day conquer and consume everything in its glorious truth and beauty (1Corinthians 15:24-28). If you’re saved, you’re called to pursue Christ’s agenda as your new purpose in life. This is what repentance is really all about!

Christ’s purpose is perhaps most succinctly stated in the Great Commission. In fact, there are two passages we most readily recognize as Great Commission passages, but I think there are really five—one in each of the four gospels, and one in Acts. Additionally, the mission into which believers are called by the Great Commission passages is repeated numerous ways, expounded upon, and explained throughout the New Testament specifically, and the whole Bible in general.

This week, I’ll be writing about these five passages, and resume the Saturday Family Devo posts (after a couple of weeks off) with a little bit of a format change. I hope you’ll check out the posts all this week to both read and interact!