One Purpose of the Old Testament

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

The Old Testament comprises about 2/3’s of the Bible, yet some Christians who aren’t sure what to do with it and therefore have not read much of it. The main purpose of the Old Testament is to point us to Jesus. In John 5, Jesus himself said that the Scriptures (at that time: the Old Testament) all testified about him.

The Old Testament sets the stage for where we find ourselves now in the story of God and his plan to rescue humanity from our rebellion against him. The books and stories of the Old Testament drip with truths about our need for a Savior and how God is the only true Savior and the Great King.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, gives us another purpose of the Old Testament. He speaks of stories of Israel’s failure, especially in their wilderness travels, and says, “Now these things took place as examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).

In addition to showing us our need for Jesus, the Old Testament is meant to give us examples of what it means to be faithful to God and what it means to not be. The examples of faith, we embrace and emulate (like described in Hebrews 11); and the examples of faithlessness show us things to avoid.

Several examples of faithlessness to avoid that Paul gave include: idolatry, sexual immorality, and complaining, especially against God’s provision or our perceived lack thereof (10:7-10).

Paul also warned that we must keep careful watch on ourselves, after all we are prone to face the same temptations as those in the ancient past. But Paul gives hope of God’s faithfulness–he supplies ways out of temptation, if only we will seek them by seeking God and following his ways. (10:11-13)

Even though the Old Testament might contains things that seem foreign to our culture and the modern mind, it is very relevant to our lives. The Old Testament, after all, is God’s word, inspired, profitable, and able to correct, rebuke, and teach (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, let us not fail to embrace the Old Testament as well as the New as we seek to grow in Christ through a devotion to his word.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Sunday 4.14.19 (old wineskins)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke with a look at 5:33-6:11 where Jesus tells a parable about old and new wineskins in relation to traditions about fasting and the Sabbath. We’ll see how traditions can be valuable, but our love for Jesus must be greater. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Video Study in Youth Room

Sermon Notes
Old Wineskins ~ Luke 5:33-6:11

The sermon in one sentence: Traditions can be valuable, but our love for Jesus and for others must be greater.

  • The value of traditions
    • Traditions can be good when they help us love and honor God and point others to Jesus
    • Traditions can be bad when we elevate personal preferences to the level of the Gospel or God’s Law
  • Love Jesus more than your traditions (5:33-39)
    • Fasting was important and appropriate, but while Jesus was with them, his disciples had a different focus
    • Like old wine in old wineskins, Jesus fulfills God’s ancient purposes and is better than our traditions; we must evaluate everything in light of him
  • Love others more than your traditions (6:1-11)
    • The Sabbath was important, but Jesus’ interpretation is greater than that of the Scribes and Pharisees
    • The Sabbath was meant for rest and refreshing, not to hinder and burden
    • Doing good to others helps fulfill the purposes of the Sabbath

Songs for Worship
Glorious Is Thy Name
My Chains Are Gone
Speak, O Lord
Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling

Luke

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The Promise Keeping God

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

If we’re honest with ourselves, when we read through the Bible there are parts that cause our eyes to glaze and we wonder: What’s the point? Genealogies can do this. So can chapters like Joshua 13-21. In these chapters, we read verse after verse about how the Promised Land was divided up among different persons and tribes of Israel.

We know that all Scripture is “God-breathed and profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16), but we might question just how profitable.

So what do we do when we encounter passages and chapters that cause us to struggle?

We learn to see the beauty in the words.

To see the beauty in Joshua 13-21, we have to reach all the way back to Genesis 12. There, God took a man named Abram and made him a promise: I’m going to give you a numerous offspring, they are going to inherit a land, and through them you will be a blessing to the whole world.

Abraham’s offspring were the people of Israel, and despite the number of times that they disobeyed, failed, and grumbled throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God kept pressing forward with his promises. He chose Abraham (Abram), he loved Abraham, and he loved the offspring he promised to Abraham. He had made promises, and he would keep them.

As the Bible’s story unfolds, we find that those promises ultimately led to Jesus, the faithful, unfailing Son of Abraham who made it so that people from every tribe, tongue, and peoples could become children of Abraham through him–a new promise given to us.

Those chapters in Joshua remind us that God will be faithful to the promises he made us through Jesus, because he was faithful to the promises he made to Abraham in the past. The division of the land is a declaration that Abraham’s offspring inherited the very thing that God said they would. Though it took centuries after God first appeared to Abraham, God’s word proved true.

So, we can have confidence that God’s word to us will one day come true. Even if it’s years, decades, or centuries before we see the fruit. God has promised us salvation in Jesus. He has promised us resurrection after death, glorified bodies, and a share in the new creation. We experience part of those promises today. Some are still future.

But God is always faithful.

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Sunday 4.07.19 (the healer)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through Luke’s gospel by taking a look at 5:12-32 and seeing how Jesus is the great Healer who heals us physically and spiritually. Then on Sunday night, we’ll join at First Baptist Rich Hill for the Voices of Zambia concert. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School
@1045 Worship Gathering
@Noon Business Meeting and Spring Fellowship
@6pm Voices of Zambia at FBC Rich Hill

Sermon Notes
The Healer ~ Luke 5:12-32

The sermon in one sentence: Everyone is in need of healing; Jesus is the Great Physician who makes us whole.

  • Everyone is in need of healing
    • We are holistically (physically and spiritually) marred by sin (Genesis 3)
    • We need healing in both
  • Through Jesus, God will heal you physically (5:12-16)
    • Jesus came to reverse the effects of the fall
    • For followers of Jesus, healing is guaranteed, but it’s a matter of timing
      • God heals some temporarily; God heals all eternally
    • Temporary healing is a blessing, but there are things that matter more: Communion with God and forgiveness of sin
  • Through Jesus, God will heal you spiritually (5:17-32)
    • Jesus came to the sin-sick to be the Great Physician
    • As followers of Jesus, we are to bring the hope of healing to others

Songs for Worship
Nothing but the Blood
I Lay My Sins on Jesus
There Is a Balm in Gilead
What a Day That Will Be

Luke

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Drained to the Dregs

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

God is judge.

That statement is controversial to some, especially to those who want to view God as one who would never discipline or punish. But the Bible is clear: God is judge.

The good news is that God is a fair judge. He judges both motive and action. He will not be bribed or bought. He will do only what is just and equitable.

The bad news is that God is a fair judge. We all have done evil. We all have acted with unrighteousness. We cannot earn or buy our way out of this. When compared to his demand of perfect righteousness, we all fall short. We all fall under his judgment.

Psalm 75:8 says of this judgment: “For there is a cup in the Lord’s hand, full of wine blended with spices, and he pours from it. All the wicked of the earth will drink, draining it to the dregs.”

Dregs are what’s left in the very bottom of the cup–not just the liquids, but any sediments that have settled there be they from grounds or backwash. To drain to the dregs is to drink down every last drop.

Yet, this psalm of God’s judgment opens with thanks (75:1) and closes with praise (75:9-10). How can that be? If all of us have done evil and fall under God’s judgment, then how do we become people of thanks and praise?

The answer is Jesus.

God is fair and just, but he is also loving and merciful. We can’t escape his judgment, so he gave us himself. God the Son willingly went to the cross where he drank the cup of God the Father’s wrath all the way to the dregs. When Jesus cried from the cross, “It is finished,” he meant, in part, there remained no wrath left for those who would trust in him.

There remains not even a drop.

For sinners, unable to save our selves, this is the best news. News that leads us to praise God for his kindness. News that leads us to thank him for his grace.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

Follow the Leader

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

By nature, most people are followers. Even those in various leadership positions typically have someone else who they follow. As such, we tend to gravitate toward our favorite personalities–those men or women who have had a positive influence on our lives, who possess wisdom, and who shares that wisdom in a way that encourages us to follow.

The problem, however, is when we elevate one leader over another in order to elevate ourselves.

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and chastised them for divisions that stemmed from preferences for different leaders. We read:

For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by members of Chloe’s people that there is rivalry among you. What I am saying is this: One of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” Or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? – 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (CSB)

Paul, Apollos, and Peter (Cephas) were all men who loved Jesus and had a great impact on the early church. Paul was a missionary who worked to found the church. Apollos was an excellent speaker who came later and edified the church. Peter was the original leader among the Apostles.

Each contributed much to the life of the early church (and through Scripture to our churches as well). Be it because of personality, tone, style, or location, different groups in Corinth began to elevate one leader over the other and used this as a source of pride against their fellow church members. Then some would respond by saying, “Those human leaders are good for you, but we follow Jesus.” Given the tone of Paul’s remarks, this wasn’t an act of humility encouraging others to grow deeper in Christ, but rather an act of self-righteousness and seeming spiritual superiority.

Paul rebuked the church by saying, “Enough!” Jesus is the true Leader, the rest are just servants who point to him. (Paul continued with and expanded on this thought in 3:5-9 where he calls Apollos and himself “servants”–one who planted and one who watered, while God gave growth.)

We need to remember this today. We might have our favorite pastors, authors, or mentors. We might belong to different church denominations.

But there is only one Jesus, the Leader of leaders, our King.

Strong in Faith

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

In Romans 14, Paul wrote on the topic of what some have come to call “Christian liberty.” In short, it is the freedom that a Christian has to operate based on wisdom and conscience in areas where the Bible gives no clear direction. As a principle, we hold that if the Bible declares something good or instructs us to do something, then we should embrace that. If, however, the Bible declares something bad or instructs us to not do something, then we should avoid that.

But there are areas in life where God has chosen to not give clear direction. Examples that Paul gave include eating a variety of foods including meat vs. eating just vegetables, or considering certain days as religiously special vs. assigning equal value to all days. Paul wrote to tell us that in such matters, we should seek to live according to our conscience and not judge others if their conscience leads them in a different direction.

The unity of brothers and sisters in Christ isn’t worth sacrificing over tertiary matters.

At the end of Romans 14 and into the beginning of Romans 15, Paul addressed those who considered themselves “strong in faith.” In a way, each of us with our own views, would probably consider ourselves in this category. And if we think ourselves stronger spiritually because of how our conscience guides us, then Paul has a clear message for us:

Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength. – Romans 15:1

At the end of Romans 14, Paul wrote that we should not do anything to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble. His point being: If we consider ourselves free to enjoy something, but another such activity goes against the conscience of another Christian, we should not flaunt our freedom nor engage in the activity around them.

With Romans 15:1, Paul places the impetus upon those who think they are stronger. Their place is not to force the weaker to see their viewpoint but to willingly sacrifice their freedom for the good of another. This does not stop us from encouraging those we see as weaker to dig more deeply into scripture and prayerfully reconsider matters of conscience. But it does show us the importance of fellowship in the Christian life.

The second greatest command, Jesus said, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love says, “My thoughts and needs are important, but so are yours. I willfully take a step down in order to help lift you up.”

To be strong in faith, then, is to think of others more highly than we think of ourselves (which Paul also wrote about in Romans 12:10, 16; and Philippians 2:1-4).

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.