Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Journey Begins Here

I know I am posting a bit early for the first week of the year, but I will be out of town on the 3rd and wanted to make sure I posted before that date.

Are you ready? Did you buy your "One Year Bible" yet? It's not too late. I will post the first couple of weeks readings for you until you get your new Bible. Let me know if you need help locating one. I would be glad to help.

We start at the very beginning... a very good place to start. The reading for January begin at Genesis for the Old Testament, Matthew for the New Testament and we will start at the beginning of Psalms and Proverbs.

Week 1: Genesis 1:1-18:15, Matthew 1:1-6:24, Psalm 1- Psalm 7, Proverbs 1:1-2:5

The Old Testament starts off in Genesis. Here are the vital stats for the book:

Purpose: To record God's creation of the world and his desire to have a people set apart to worship him.

Author: Moses

To Whom Written: The People Of Israel

Setting: The region presently known as the Middle East

Key People: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Joseph

The New Testament begins with Matthews account of the life of Jesus. Here are the vital stats on the book:

Purpose: To prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal King

Author: Matthew (also called Levi)

To Whom Written: Matthew wrote especially to the Jews

Setting: Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who became one of Jesus' disciples. This Gospel forms the connecting link between Old and New Testaments because of its emphasis on the fulfillment of prophecy.

Key People: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the disciples, the religious leaders, Caiaphas, Pliate, Mary Magdalene

Key Places: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Galilee, Judea

Special Features: Matthew is filled with Messianic language ("Son of David" is used throughout) and Old Testament references (53 quotes and 76 other references). This Gospel was not written as a chronological account; its purpose was to present the clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior.

Tips for comprehension this week:
-Find a Bible map and located the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, find the city of Ur. Compare this map to a modern day map. What countries are located in this region now?
-Make a list for each day of creation and describe what was created on that day?
-Each time you see the word LORD (all capitals) the Hebrew word here is usually God's personal name, Yahweh.
-Why do you think Matthew starts with a genealogy of Jesus?
-Since Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience he lays out a specific plan at the beginning. All of his readers would know about the escape from Egypt the crossing of the Red Sea and the wandering in the desert for 40 years by the Israelites so Matthew's Gospel takes a similar beginning. Jesus and his family come up out of Egypt. The next time we see Jesus he is being baptized in the waters of the Jordan and then he goes out to the Desert for 40 days and is tempted by the Devil. Is this just a coincidence or is Matthew (being led by the spirit) telling more than just a story? I think he uses this to point to the divinity of Jesus and his fulfillment of being the Messiah.

Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to use the comment section of this blog to share your thoughts, concerns, prayer requests or anything at all. I will give an introduction for Psalms and Proverbs next week. May God Bless you as your read His word.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Reading The Bible

Make a New Year’s resolution this year that can change your life. Challenge yourself to read the entire Bible in 2006. It will take hard work and discipline, but the benefits are eternal. Here are some suggestions and some helps as you begin this journey.

Purchase The One Year Bible in a version that is easy for you to read. These books arrange the entire text of the Bible into 365 daily readings. Choose from the New International Version (NIV), the King James Version (KJV), the New Living Translation (NLT), or the English Standard Version (ESV). You can purchase these Bibles at a Christian bookseller such as Lighthouse Christian Stores (corner of Spring and Bellflower in Long Beach), a large bookstore such as Boarders or Barnes and Noble, or you can order them on-line at www.christianbook.com or www.amazon.com.

Each day in The One Year Bible you will find a selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a portion from the Psalms, and a selection from the book of Proverbs. January begins with Genesis, Matthew, Psalm 1, and Proverbs 1. When the year is over you will have read through the entire Bible and through the Psalms twice.

Getting in the Habit
If you are not in the habit of spending time each day in the Word it may be a struggle at first to find time. You will need to experiment and find a time that works for you. For many people, the morning works best, for others it’s after the kids are in bed. Others find that during lunchtime works well. You may want to divide up the reading and do part in the morning and part at night. It will take about 15 minutes to read through the passages for each day. Regardless of the time, you will need to do what works and then do it every day.

Find a Partner
It is always helpful to find someone who is willing to read with you. You can keep each other accountable and bounce questions off of one another as you read. There will also be a weekly on-line study to help keep you on track and to provide a place for questions and comments. Each week (usually on Wednesday) a new study will be posted at www.bethanylutheran.blogspot.com.

Tips for Comprehension
-Begin your time in prayer and ask God to send His Spirit to guide you as you read.
-Find a place to read that is relatively free of distractions.
-Read the passage aloud and slowly if necessary. The goal is not just to finish, but to understand.
-Make some notes in the Bible and underline key verses. Look back at them later.
-Remember the Bible tells one story. That story is about redemption from Sin by the work of Jesus. Keep that in mind as you read.
-Take your Bible to Church and read along to see what comes before and after.
-Keep a journal about what you read and how it has affected you.
-Memorize key verses. Some key verses will be highlighted each week in the on-line study.
-Look at a children’s Bible storybook to get a mental image of the stories. This is especially helpful for the Old Testament stories.
-Teach what you have been reading to your children. This will help reinforce the stories for you and introduce them to your children.
-Share what you are reading with coworkers or friends who are not Christians. This can happen especially if you are reading during your lunch hour at work. If they are interested in the Bible point them to 1 John and to Mark.
-Use a daily devotional book (Portals of Prayer, Strength for the Day, etc.) in addition to your reading.
-Look at some Bible maps and get a layout of the land. This is important when talking about events in the Old Testament.
-Don’t worry if you miss a few days. Just double up your readings for a while until you catch up. Don’t try to read it all in one day.
-Some questions to ask as you read: What is the Biblical context of this passage? What is the historical context? Who is speaking and to whom are they speaking? How can I use this information today? Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.
-Some Internet resources to help: www.biblegateway.com, www.crosswalk.com, www.studylight.org, www.bible.org.

If at any time you have some questions, concerns or just need a pep talk, feel free to contact me, smoorman@bethanylutheran.org, or (562) 420-7783 x. 13. May God richly bless you as you embark on this journey and remember:

“All Scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” –2 Timothy 3:16-17

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