Showing posts with label Old Testament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Testament. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

5-Rock Bottom: Bible Survival

The Big Idea: At some point in life we hit rock bottom. Use the Psalms to pray through and survive.

Desperate prayers for desperate times.

Have you ever hit rock bottom? You feel desperate with nowhere to turn. Some may say they never experienced this. But surely most adults have at least had a season where they have had it. Exhausted. Fed up. Lost hope. No answer to a serious dilemma.

May I introduce you to someone who hit this point repeatedly? King David from the Bible. His life was often in danger pursued like a dangerous criminal. His political opponents were very vocal against him. He had family troubles (he had a total of four wives). His sons did not always live up to how the son of a King of Israel should act. David disappointed God with Bathsheba and had to live with the consequences. Evidently he had some physical ailments as he aged. I could go on.

If you need words of comfort and understanding in the Bible…

If it might be helpful to observe someone talk very frankly with God…

If you could use an example of words to pray in desperation…

Go to the Psalms.

The Psalms are in the middle of the Bible. It is the largest book of the Bible. It is easy to find. In it lies  very frank expressions of anger, loneliness, hunger, longing, sickness, revenge, abandonment, failure…

The Psalms teach us:

  • We can talk to God and He will listen and not be shocked or turn away.
  • How to guard and protect our heart and our emotions.
  • How to pray. We learn to be authentic yet turn to Him, not just vent.
  • Who God is. Faithful, creator, powerful, eternal…
  • People have been calling on God since the early ages of civilization. Even a Psalm of Moses in here.

Many are written by David under almost any circumstance of life that you can imagine. He vents. He cries. He laments. He grieves. He is very open and honest in his cries to God. Shock of all shocks, God listens and is never surprised. God never cuts him off. But David also reminds himself by the end of every prayer that God is God, and he will intentionally turn his trust toward Him. He says he will fix his eyes on God. He will put his trust in Him because God is all powerful and all loving.

It is useful to read it with a thought for thought Bible version such as the Message, or the New Living Translation. This is a time to soak up God's Word for your aches and pains. Try reading a passage that touches you like a prayer and pray it.  Or go line by line, stopping to think where you are touched and talk to God.

There are periods of my life that were tumultuous or difficult. Often this has revolved around illness or overwhelming circumstances in my living situation. I tell people "I lived in the Psalms at that time." What that phrase means is that I read them over and over, and soaked up as much of them as I could.

I have enjoyed marking up my Bible to remember different portions that have meant a lot to me. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, "What is your favorite Psalm." It was interesting to see Psalms that others appreciate. My favorite is Psalm 34. But I also love Psalm 1, 19, 23, 37, 51, 103, 139… and I could go on! These are a few that come to my mind right away! If you read five a day, you can finish the book in a month.

Find your favorite Psalm!


God helps us in trouble   Ps 27, Ps 46:1, Ps 86:7, Ps 32:7, Ps 34:17

God protects us   Ps 4:1, Ps, 16:1, Ps 91, Ps 27:5,

God helps us, asking for help  Ps 79:9, Ps 86:6-7, Ps 121, Ps 143:1

Grief  Ps 4:8, Ps 23, Ps 31:9, Ps 34:18

God hears our prayers  Ps 22:24, Ps 116, Ps 143:1

God is mindful of our needs  Ps 86:1,Ps 79:8, Ps 16:1, Ps 70:5

God will restore us  Ps 40, Ps 30:5, Ps 70:20-21

God heals and helps us cope with illness  Ps 31:9, 14-15, Ps 6:2-4, Ps 34:9-10, Ps 73:26, Ps 107:19-20, Ps 118:5-7, Ps 147:3, Ps 41, Ps 35, 38

Here is a Bible Study found on the Christianity Today magazine site on emotions and the Psalms.

Up Next: Danger Ahead

Previous Post: Waiting... and Waiting...



1. Do you have a favorite Psalm? Why?

2. Do you like the book of Psalms? Why or why not?

3. Can you remember a time when you could have used the encouragement of the Psalms?

4. Is there a desperate period you are walking through right now? Is it time to turn to the Psalms for your focus?


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Great BibleProject

The Big Idea: If you don't know about the videos from the BibleProject, you are missing out on a great resource. Here's why.

You think you know the BibleProject? Think again!  

Here are some things you might not know!
The day my Bible study co-leader introduced me to The BibleProject videos I was blown away. This non-profit computer animation video production company is about books of the Bible, Word studies, Biblical themes and so on. It is purely crowd funded and intends to always teach about the Bible for free. It uses fairly simple animation and illustrations that are able to be translated into other languages. In fact it has been  translated so far into 18 languages (with 10+ videos per language) and viewed in 200+ countries.

Tim Mackie, the theologian, is an excellent verbal communicator. His friend, Jonathan Collins, is the communications and animation specialist. These two guys roomed together at Multnomah Bible College and several years later decided to share their passion for the Bible to create this powerful vehicle of Bible education. Their videos can mesmerize young children and bring joy and profound understanding to adults. Launched in 2014 in Portland, Oregon, they have gathered a very skillful team around them. 


Videos: Book overviews, Bible themes, Word studies and the How to Read the Bible series.

Podcasts: They spend about 50 minutes with deeper explanations. Tim Mackie also has posted some of his sermons and teaching sessions in a blog called "Exploring my Strange Bible."

Blog: Posted by various members of their team

A Church at Home Series, especially helpful during the COVID 19 period, but also great for small group Bible studies and home schoolers.

Classroom: (NEW in Beta form) Graduate level Bible Classes Free. Currently 2 courses available. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (18 hours) and Heaven and Earth (19 hours).

Shop: Coffee Table book of each of the books of the Bible and another of the informational posters. The individual posters on each book of the Bible are also available for download on their website. They also have a couple t-shirts, and a stick drive with all their Bible Videos.


That is hard. I love their videos that give an overview of each book of the Bible. If I start studying a new book I always go to that first. We bought the coffee table book of all their charts.

I am very excited about their How to Read the Bible Series. These are uncommonly excellent in explaining the various genres and themes of the Bible, weaving together the basic theme and brilliant ways it is put together to express this basic theme about God and His partnership with us.

They have videos like: 

How to Read Ancient Jewish Meditational Literature 

How to Read Metaphor in Biblical Poetry

Spiritual Beings focus Angels and Cherubim

Theme: The Tree of Life 

Theme: Day of the Lord 

I refer to these videos and show them every chance I get! I currently teach a Sunday School class of an Overview of the Bible and I use one or two in each session. You always see light bulbs going on in people's heads as they watch them.

Check them out!

One last resource I just discovered… Top 75 Bible Study BlogsI recently checked into it and submitted my blog, and it was chosen to be featured as part of their list! How exciting! And if you go to this site you will find so many ideas from an amazing variety of sources.  You can check out the list of each blog's last five posts and it will give you so many wonderful ideas. It includes blogs from Bible Gateway, Bible Publishing companies like American Bible Society and author Liz Curtis Higgs.

Wow! I am passionate about the Bible and I hope it rubs off on you too! What an amazing God we have who has made a way to communicate with us in the written word, the spoken word and You Tube also! Join me on this fabulous journey! 

Up Next: My favorite Bible Versions

Previous Post: Old Testament: God's Partnership Plan

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

OT-5 God's Partnership Plan


Engaged on  Mount Lemmon, Arizona

The Big Idea: The Old Testament is the background for God's hope to bring us into partnership with Him. 

The Backstory for Salvation History

This is the last in a 5 week series on studying the Old Testament. It is not everything there is to say, but it gets you started on principles to apply it. Check out the previous blogs for more!

I have been married twenty years. Recently my husband heard something about me he never knew. When we got engaged, he told me he wanted knowing me to be a lifelong study. There is always a new layer of history, something new we learn about each other still today. Our past builds into who we are.



So it is with Salvation History in the Bible. You can know God. In fact He wants to partner with you. He has always intended to be part of our life since He walked with Adam in the garden and had Adam help him name the animals. He wants a relationship with you. He loves you can save you from the worst parts of your stubborn nasty self. It is a bit scary and yet wonderful at the same time. He knows you and still loves you. Do you strive to know Him more and more too? It is spiritually healthy to continually discover more about Him. To know Him allows us to dive deeper in love with Him, deeper into His strength for our life.

The Old Testament is a great place to learn about God and His history to know and love you. Woven into its layers is His love for humans, desiring a personal, deep friendship with each individual who wants that too. When we learn He is holy it ought to fill us with awe and wonder. Get to know the lengths He went through to make a way for that relationship. It is all there in the first Testament of the Bible. The Old Testament.



The word "Testament" can be a synonym of "Covenant." "Marriage" is also a synonym of "Covenant." A branch of Theology, the study of God, is called "Covenant Theology." It is a very beautiful concept to study through the Bible because it is about God pursuing us, desiring a relationship with us. It is also a little like someone who pursues a love relationship. 

The entire Bible, from the book of Genesis, builds on the idea of the relationship between God and mankind. It usually involves an agreement from both sides to respect the covenant, though usually God promises more and agrees to more than He expects of man.

There are four main covenants in the Old Testament, though the concept of covenant occurs over and over again, explaining more and more of how this partnership with God works.

  • The Covenant with Noah
  • The Covenant with Abraham
  • The Covenant with Israel/Moses
  • The  Covenant with King David

The final covenant that encompasses and fulfills them all is the New Covenant with Jesus in the New Testament. In fact if you are in a communion service in a church you will often hear Luke 22:20, part of the Last Supper.

"After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you." Luke 22: 20 NLT

A very helpful five minute video explains the 4 Old Testament Covenants. This is from the Bible Project.


Download a timeline of mine that inserts thoughts about the different eras of Old Testament History, with the four Old Testament Covenants made in their place in time along with comments about Salvation History. 



"Salvation History." This is another beautiful name for another category of theological study. Theology, as I wrote earlier, is the study of God. Salvation History is about following throughout the entire Bible how God has been reaching out to man, explaining and foreshadowing Jesus the Messiah, who would make perfect the necessary work to save us from ourselves and bring us into that amazing relationship with God. 

This is a great reason to study the Old Testament. It points us to Christ!

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah." Jeremiah 31:31 NLT

Here is a link to a webpage on how every book of the Old Testament points us to the right relationship with God through Jesus Christ in all of Scripture. It is like a big puzzle putting together what is the epitome of God's merciful and gracious plan. This is included in the introduction to a Study Bible for the English Standard Version of the Bible.



This week I met a woman for the first time at a conference at my church. We were both wearing masks. As we talked we reflected that someday we will see each other without masks. Will we recognize each other? Wearing masks during this COVID 19 period has made me think a little about mystery. This fits in perfectly when talking about Jesus in the Old Testament. There are a lot of verses in the Bible about the mysteries of God. Here is a sample.


“Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty?    Job 11:7 NLT


Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.    Isaiah 45:15 NLT


He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.    Daniel 2:22 NLT

The New Testament talks more about the fulfillment of those mysteries. Again a sample of verses.


When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,  I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began… But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.1 Corinthians 2: 1-2, 7, 10-12 NLT


And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. Ephesians 6: 19 NLT


Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ  was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. I Timothy 3:16 NLT


The Bible talks about mysteries in the plural sometimes. God is so much bigger than we are and we won't fully understand until we are face to face with Him and can ask Him our questions. We don't know everything (we are not God LOL). But we do know a lot about Him and we know we can trust Him. We know He knows better than we do.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 NLT


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I Corinthians 13:12 NLT


You may have noticed in the I Corinthians 2 passage that a key feature we have available to unlocking the mysteries is the Holy Spirit. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg about God's communication to us in the Old and New Testament. 

In previous blogs I wrote about Jesus' love for the Old Testament while He lived on earth. Next I explained how God has a purpose in everything in the Old Testament including the boring parts of the Bible. I showed the different styles of writing in the Bible, and said knowing what we are reading helps us understand it better. I gave tips on studying the OldTestament. In that blog I mentioned the importance of knowing Salvation History and Covenants, and that you should ask yourself where the passage you are reading falls in the overall plan. That is why I added this blog to explain what Salvation History is.

I hope this series has been helpful and given you some concrete ways to look at the Old Testament and study it. If you don't already, I hope you fall in love with it like I have, as you walk with Jesus.

 Up Next: 

Previous Post:


For Reflection:

What do you think a partnership with God looks like? Do you have a relationship with God? Do you feel like it is a partnership?

What do you struggle with as a mystery of the Bible or about God? What do you want to ask Him about when you are face to face with Him?

Have you ever asked the Holy Spirit to help you study the Bible?

Has this series on the Old Testament given you a better understand of the Old Testament and more confidence to study it?

If you don't understand what I am talking about having a relationship with Almighty God or asking the Holy Spirit to guide you. I would also invite you to talk to a pastor or friend who knows Jesus well, or email me at

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

OT4 Tips for Studying the Old Testament


The Big Idea: How to study the Old Testament even though it is very different in style from the New Testament. 

The Old Testament is essential to the Bible.  It has a lot of background information on the nature of God and how He interacts with human beings. The period is before Jesus came, but there is something in every book of the Old Testament that points to Jesus' coming to earth to fulfill redemption. We call this Salvation History. In other words, the Old Testament gives us the back story of God's big idea to redeem us and bring us into a right relationship with Him. The preparation for this started long, long ago near the beginning of time and is annotated in the Old Testament.

Here are some tips for an individual Bible study approach to the Old Testament.



  • Start with prayer
  • Read longer passages to get the big picture. Perhaps read the entire book first in one or two sittings.
  • Use a couple of tools, such as a Study Bible, Bible Handbook, and Timeline chart. But always start by reading the Biblical text first.

A great way to study the Bible is the tried and true three pronged method of:

  • Observation
  • Interpretation
  • Application



For tips on studying any passage in the Bible, check out my previous blog on making observations about what's in your Bible passage here.  Here are a few key reminders and specific tips for the Old Testament.

  • Start with observations. Who What Where When Why and How.
  • What does it say/show about God?  About mankind/human nature?
  • What genre is the book/passage I'm reading?
  • Who are the characters? What is their relationship and attitude towards God? How do they treat people?
  • Visualize yourself in the story or in the character's place.
  • Are there any repetitive words in the passage or key words/phrases?

            Example:         Genesis 1 - "And God saw that it was good."

                                    Exodus 29 - repetition of the word "Holy"



 For tips on interpreting a passage in the Bible, I refer you to a previous blog on Interpretation. here.

  • Now is the time to consult a Study Bible or Bible Handbook for the introduction, author, time frame, outline/theme, map, etc.
  • What do you LEARN about God, about mankind through this passage.
  • Check a Study Bible or eBible with cross references (other passages/verses related to this passage /verse)
  • Look especially closely at New Testament cross references
  • Does this passage point me to Jesus? Does it prophesy His birth, life, death/resurrection?
  • How does this fit in the timeline of the Bible?
  • How might this fit in God's revelation of His plan for Salvation?
  • Do I have any questions about this passage? Does anything make me uncomfortable?
  • Are there other passages in the Bible with the same key word or repeated phrase to add understanding?
  • Why might God have included this in the Bible?
  • What might be an example to follow, sin to put aside, promise God makes from this passage?



Review my blog on application here as you seek to apply this passage to your life. Remember, the reason we study the Bible is for a life transformed to be more who God wants you to be. So as you look at your notes, think about what God is telling people in their context and what the timeless truth God has for you. While God transforms lives in every cultural setting, beware of making a cultural ultimatum to your culture from Scripture. Also be careful to not take one isolated verse and apply it incorrectly to a pet subject of yours. Rather use these tips to get at what God has for you.

  • How might this reminder or this fresh understanding of who God is, impact you?
  • Should something in this text cause me to examine my life, my attitudes, my actions? Does it warrant a specific plan of action for my life? How can I implement it?
  • What gives me hope in Jesus? Reflect on the difference Jesus, His forgiveness of sin and His victory over death, makes in our life because He came.
  • Is there a plain, direct command or promise? Not all Old Testament passages will have as obvious application, but there are golden nuggets that are very clear and valuable for our Christian life.



We have looked at some of the basics of Observation, Interpretation and Application and how they pertain  to Bible Study in the Old Testament.

I love photography. I have a complex digital camera. It is already out of date but there are still so many features I have not figured out how to use unless I consult my manual. When I practice a feature new to me it helps when I memorize and practice the feature I want to use. This enhances my photos and makes it easier to use.

I have an older camera I use manually. It help me learn the basics and why they work. Learning those basic principles helps me understand my digital camera better and makes me a better photographer. I am constantly reading and learning about camera techniques.

In a similar fashion, the Old Testament has background for us about God, sin, the need for forgiveness, Christ coming into the world and the beauty of His complete work of salvation which is much better than animal sacrifice. Learning these background principles helps us understand what Christ has done for us in the New Testament. It makes us a better Christian. Learn to use the background manual! The Old Testament.

Up Next: Old Testament: God's Partnership Plan

Previous Post: Old Testament: Poetry, Legalese and History Lessons


For Reflection: What confuses you about the Old Testament? 

Do you think following this approach to the passage might be helpful? 

Are you willing to try it? 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

OT-3 Poetry, Legalese and History Lessons

The Big Idea: Literary styles of the Old Testament writers is useful to understand they are saying.

So what are you in the mood for tonight?

On movie night at our house my husband will ask, so what kind of movie interests you tonight? On Netflix or movies at the library there are categories to choose from. Action/Adventure, Comedy, Romance, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Historical Docu-Drama… It depends on what you are looking for. These are called Movie Genres, which are categories of stylistic categories of theme and presentation. 

The Bible likewise has a number of writing genres. Categorizing the Scriptures goes way back to the Old Testament (OT) times. They were categorized as the Teachings (Torah - Law of Moses), the Prophets (Former Prophets and Latter Prophets), and the Writings (Psalms and Wisdom Literature). Jesus referred to these categories too (Luke 24:44).  It helps us to understand what we are reading better if we understand the intention and style of the book. So let's look at the typical literary styles of the Old Testament.


The Bible is like a huge library. There are 66 books in two separate parts. The Old Testament, the books about the calling and forming of the Hebrew people before the time of Christ, and the New Testament, with books about Christ and the early church. All the books have one central theme. God who created mankind loves each one of us and wants a dynamic ongoing relationship with us. We are His creatures and He has great love for us. He wants to be part of our life. But He won't force us to love Him.

Each book of the Bible has to do with this theme. Just like a library, there are different types of literature. There are stories. There are poems. There are legal sounding laws. There are prophecies and declarations. These different categories of writing present God's ideas in a variety of manners. People are different. I'm sure you've noticed that. Even within one culture, even within one family, people have different personalities. And the variety of ways that God communicates resonates more with different people. Additionally, the stories and the sub themes weave together to give us the bigger picture of God's message to us. God likes it that we can know Him and His love. He also likes it that we need to continually seek Him and learn more about the mysteries of who He is. Loving God is never boring.

One of my favorite online Bible resources is The Bible Project. They have wonderful videos that explain the Bible. Here is their introduction to the styles of books in the Bible. It is helpful to watch this 5 minute video first. 

As the Bible Project explained, 43% of the Bible is Narrative, stories, characters introduced, history, and so on. Poetry makes up a whopping 33%. But if you don't like poetry, like "Mary had a little lamb," Don't write it off.  Bible poetry is ancient literature filled with imagery, metaphors and analogies about life, not cute little rhymes. And 24% of the Bible is discourse. A discussion type of conversation about life. Useful information.

Old Testament Genres are often put into these categories. It is common for a couple of styles tend to blend together in a book, but most books are predominately one type. Also you will find some teachers who change a few of the category names but it follows the same principles. The categories are:

  • Law
  • History
  • Poetry
  • Wisdom
  • Prophecy
  • Apocalypse



These sections of the Bible read a little more wooden than others sometimes. They sound like legal binding contracts, or how-to instruction manuals. Background studies of the nations in the world at that time, had contracts and guidelines similar in form to Biblical passages. The format was familiar to its time, though foreign to us. This includes things like the various covenants God made with man, the Ten Commandments, and guiding rules for the people. This falls into the discourse category. They generally cover:

  • Moral laws on how to live
  • Ceremonial laws on tabernacle and sacrificial worship
  • Civil law that governed and protected the people of God

The first five books of the Bible are considered books of the Law.  They are interspersed with some history, poetry, and even prophecy.


History writings are narrative in nature. They tell us what happened. They include various components such as background, location, political conditions, even weather conditions and crop factors that influence normal human life.  We see character development of key Biblical figures. We observe conversations and life choices. Sometimes there is a very evident spiritual lesson. Other times it gives background and flesh to the whole of the Biblical journey of God's people. These are the books from Joshua to Nehemiah.



Often these two categories are combined when grouping books of the Bible. Poetry is all the Psalms, and sections of other books. Wisdom literature and the Prophets intersperse poetry. 

Poetry from ancient Middle Eastern Literature is a whole different meter and flow than the way we read poetry. The Bible Project devotes several informative videos to explaining poetry of this period. What we do know is poetry expresses the gamut of human emotions and the human experience. They can be teaching aids. Imagery and metaphors play a part in this genre.

Wisdom literature, which often uses poetry, is a collection of wise sayings and advice to shape the quality of life and moral values of its readers. These are true principles with guidelines for life such as how to live and how not to behave.  They are not as direct in terms of doctrine and the promises of God.

The books of Wisdom are considered to be Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes.



Many see prophecy as a prediction of the future.  More accurately a human being speaks on God's behalf what He wants people to know. Often in the context God states He sees what they are doing and tells what will happen if they obey or disobey. A blessing or curse forward may be conditional. Often it forshadows into the future but the future is not the only aspect of it.

There are four major prophetic books and 12 minor prophetic books in the Old Testament. The only difference is the volume, not how great the prophet was. These prophets emerged when the Hebrew people seriously strayed from God. God wanted the prophets to make clear His covenant love for His people; the consequences of straying and the blessing to return. God assured the people no matter how angry they made Him and no matter how far they strayed, He would be faithful, and there would be faithful people (a remnant) who would emerge. The promise of the coming Kingdom of the Messiah abounds.

Biblical prophecy is often telescopic. When one looks through a telescope or a zoom camera lens they can pull into focus several points along a spectrum. Prophecy has a current application to the people and a future application as well. It may fulfill an aspect at a future time and may apply much futher down the road too. I call this the telescopic layers of prophecy. This would probably be a good blog subject someday. 



Apocalyptic literature is similar to Prophetic books in that prophets speak God's urgent message to the people of both warnings and comfort. It is about the Last Days. Daniel is the primary apocalyptic book in the Old Testament, though it occurs in some of the other Prophetic books too. It is important to not take any one piece of Apocalyptic literature as a stand-alone text. Part of its beauty is the message intertwining and verifying future events with other passages in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. It has a lot of metaphorical, symbolic language.



When you read the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, you might find some books seem a little obscure or difficult to read. It helps to ask yourself, what type of literature might this be? You might find the answer in a study Bible in the introduction of the book. It will help you to place why the book may have been written. It will also steer your focus. Is it background to God's codes of conduct, worship guidelines, or life illustrations of key characters on what not to do? How does it fit with the rest of the Bible and other books that are similar to it or in the same time period? Why might God have included this in our Bible?

I am drawn to quiet classical or soft jazz music. I like to read classic mystery novels and classic devotional literature. In a similar fashion I have my favorite books of the Bible. I love the Psalms and could read them every day. However it is important for me, and for all of us, to not just stay in the same books of the Bible all the time.



In college I was a nursing major. But the university required courses from several areas of study. My
Nursing program included what, at first glance, I thought were some rather odd courses. Statistics. I really hate math classes, but its importance was toward understanding nursing research. Communication Theory helped nurses integrate our ability to connect with patients, coordinate with patient teams and to organize and lead support groups.  There were subjects I would not have chosen for my dream class list, but they made me a well-rounded nurse and a better human being.

To apply this analogy, we may gravitate to our favorite go-to books of the Bible. We may choose the same type of Sunday School class or read/listen often to favorite authors or preachers on a favored subject. But to have a well rounded understanding of the Bible and a Christian walk, have some familiarity with the Bible as a whole. Read different genres and ask God what He has for you. Become a well rounded Christian, rather than one fixated only on their favorite subjects. This is how we will grow to maturity in Christ.

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 

Hebrews 6:1 NLT

Up Next: Old Testament: Tips for Studying the Old Testament

Previous Post: Old Testament: The Boring Parts by Design?


For Reflection:

1. What are your favorite books of the Bible. Why?

2. What type of Scripture might you challenge yourself to read or study for something different? Be willing to ask God to teach you something special.

3. Consider talking this over with a friend and sharing questions and ideas.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

OT-2 Boring Parts by Design?!!


If you assembled the Bible what would you include?

This week, a post by Pastor John Piper got stuck in my head and I could not shake it. It is called, "How do I feed my soul in the hard books of the Old Testament." Writers often do a literature review. I like reading what others say about what I'm researching. The audio/article is worth checking out. If you do, you will see I am echoing a lot of what he says.

As a teen I decided to read the Bible from front to back. Genesis was pretty exciting. There were familiar stories from Sunday School. Exodus was also great about Moses raised in a palace, his wild rebellion, the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt… But then I got to Leviticus. That was so dry. Yawn. I wondered why so many details from an ancient culture were put in there?


For starters the Bible was orchestrated and inspired by God the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15-16, Hebrews 4:12-14, 2 Peter 1:21). Individuals of many different backgrounds wrote the different books with writing implements. But God was in the workings of it all. The Bible is His master creation, His Word to us. And it is for all who have ever existed or will come to be.

There are 66 books total, written over a thousand year+ time span by writers of various backgrounds. Realize it is inspired by God with one central message throughout. God who created mankind loves and wants a relationship with every person if they sincerely, earnestly seek Him. He wants to bring immense value to our life. He wants to delight in us and we in Him. In the odd, hard-to-get-through passages of the Bible, know it is the story of Almighty God desiring an amazing relationship with each of us.


Try wrapping your head around this. God was interested in a relationship with people of every culture, every nation, during every century of the Bible times. Now think of the spread of the early church. Same thing. It was not just for Israel. His desire was for every culture of every nation in every century through the first one thousand years A.D. For the second thousand years A.D. too. In fact, for every culture, every nation on the face of this earth today too. Hard to fathom, but it is true!

Let me back this up with choice Scripture. We see here an interest on God's part for people from all nations to be blessed and have a relationship with Him. Let's start with what God tells Abraham when He calls him.

 The Lord had said to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 NLT)

From the Psalms we read…

The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. (Psalm 22:27 NLT)

Here is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus,

 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)


Check out some examples in the Bible and Early Church history demonstrating God loves and accepts people of all nations who want Him. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Old Testament

Abraham and Sarah were called to follow God from an area near modern Iraq (Genesis 12).

Rahab was a Canannite who was of a tribe God ordered purged from the land. But she declared adoration for God and she was saved from Jericho's destruction. She ended up being an ancestor of Jesus (Joshua 2:9-14, Matthew 1:5)

 The Queen of Sheba (thought to be from Ethiopia) visited King Solomon. She declared the goodness of God (2 Chronicles 9: 1-8). The early church of Ethiopia harkens their faith to the Queen of Sheba.

New Testament

The Apostle Paul went as a missionary to many places far and wide. Here is a sampling of a few countries familiar to us today. He spent time in Ephesus which is modern Turkey. He started churches in several other places in Turkey. He preached in Athens Greece (Acts 17:22) and many other places in Greece. He ministered in Rome (Italy). He died in Rome. A great longing before he died was to go preach the gospel in Spain.

Paul sent those he trained as pastors to new regions to work. The most notable is Titus, to whom he wrote the book named Titus. He sent Titus to the island of Crete to begin churches there. Later he sent Titus to  Dalmatia which is called Croatia today.

Early Church History

72 A.D. Thomas (one of the twelve, "doubting Thomas") was killed by spear in India. It is thought he brought Christianity there. By 300 A.D. there was a growing population of Christians in India, but the latter 300s has such ferocious persecution many left (many went to Syria, some to Bahrain, Dubai other places such as France).

160- c240 A.D. Tertullian, an early church father and writer, was from Carthage, which is still today a part of Tunis, Tunisia. There was a huge Biblical library of written works there. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was also from Tunisia.

150-215 A.D. Clement of Alexandria. He was Greek but he taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Egypt which was a huge theological studies center. Many other well know church fathers spoke or taught there as well, such as Origin, Jerome and many more.

347-420 A.D. Jerome. Quite widely travelled. He was from an area we call Bosnia. He spent some time in France, teaching in Trier, Germany, and also some time near Bulgaria. He died in Bethlehem. A very interesting Biblical scholar.

Gallaus Oratory
600s - St. Patrick. He was from Britain and went as a missionary to Ireland. He has an amazing life story.

In the history of Christianity in China/Mongolia, Genghis Kahn reigned from 1206-1227. A grandson who became the Khan, Möngke Khan, listened carefully to Christians and protected their rights.

Today there are Christians in or from every corner of the Globe. Many Christians in America are concerned Christianity as they’ve known it is having less and less impact in America. However, rapid, even massive, church growth has shifted to the southern hemisphere especially in Latin America and Africa.


So let us get back to the original question? If you assembled the Bible what would you include? Remember it is not just for you and your corner of the world. It is for every century there ever was or will be, for every person.

When a Bible passage doesn't thrill you, seems boring or irrelevant, remember it is put there by God for a reason. It is for someone, for a people group, for some time frame. There just may something there for you too. Ask God what insight He might have for you. I will have tips for how you can work through some of those passages in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned! But let me pass on a final story Pastor John Piper recounted. I was so tickled by it I researched this Bible translation story from Papua New Guinea for myself.


It seems a young missionary and his wife (Des and Jenny Oatridge) worked on Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea with a very small tribal group. Over the years, many from that people group were wiped out by war and displacement. They were decimated from 3,000 to 111 people when the translation work began.

When Des finished the book of Matthew he had left the first 17 verses out, which were the genealogy of Christ. He realized he needed to include it to say the book was complete. His language helper sailed through helping translate this section. He then insisted they absolutely must read it at a village meeting that night. Why the urgency, Des wondered.

As Des read the passage that night, more and more people arrived and pressed in to hear. The room got so quiet it seemed even the night insects were silent.
 He wondered if they are angry. Had he broken some taboo?

"Why have you not told us this before?" they urgently demanded.

They explained no one records the ancestry of a spirit or a make believe tale. This Jesus must be a real person!  The whole room chattered as it dawned on them that Jesus and the stories about Him in Matthew were real. They had to be true. "What the mission has taught us is real," they said.

Who knew? Who knew that one of the more boring parts of the Bible to us would be the key that would unlock the reality of the Son of God made flesh for the sake of a small isolated people group on the other side of the world.

Don't disrespect the boring parts of the Bible! They are part of God's master plan. Ask God to speak to your heart, what you need today, from God's Word.

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