Could you help me make sense of the Bible?
I can’t even make sense of the Bible! My mind is full . . . thinking, thinking, always thinking. My mind is a busy place to be. This afternoon, I am flying cross country, going home to Southern California to teach and also lead a women's retreat - so naturally, I am composing, conceptualizing and writing thoughts I pray will inspire and embolden others. And then it happened. . . as I looked for an illustration to set up a lesson, a phrase ran through my mind that really grabbed me. I was certain it was from Scripture ... the Old Testament, I was sure . . . but where exactly? Turns out, after doing a search for the phrase, it was Scripture, and it fit perfectly to frame my remarks. Funny thing is, I have read it several times before, I have seen it etched in wooden wall-hangings, but I had never thought how very apropos it is to life, to living, for you and for me, for every day. But first . . .I have been writing these Morning Briefings for more than 14 years now and they go out to 146 countries. But regularly, I am asked a question: ‘Is there some way I can get a basic understanding of the Bible?’ So, here we go - How to get a grip on the Bible. First, pick up your Bible - grip it in your hands literally; that will help orient you. [Once again, if you do not have a hard copy of the Bible, hit 'reply' and give me your street address and I will send you one. There is nothing like having your own Bible to examine, read, study and reread.) See below, please. So, when you hold a Bible in your hands, what do you have? Your left hand has ahold of the Old Testament, and your right hand, the New Testament. The Old Testament spanned more than a thousand years, while the New Testament just 80 – 90 years, with 400 years of silence in between, (in which God did not speak). Old Testament -It is a written record of the history of Israel, written between 1440 b.c. and about 400 b.c. The books of the Bible are not ordered chronologically, particularly noteworthy in the Old Testament. -There are 39 books in the Old Testament which can be classified as: The Law of Moses – first five books – also called the Torah or Pentateuch The Prophets – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel + 12 minor prophets - Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Writings – Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles -The Protestant church accepts identically the same Old Testament books the Jewish people did, and as Jesus and the apostles accepted. The Roman Catholic Church, since the Council of Trent in 1546, includes an additional 14 books of the Apocrypha New Testament -finished before 100 A.D. (Knowledge of that is critical to supporting the veracity of Scripture) contained in 27 books: The Gospels – the four gospels record the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His training of the disciples History - the establishment of the early church and its spread through Mediterranean lands Letters – After Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road in Acts 9, we are able to read his 13 letters to the churches—the ‘epistles’. They teach us so much about Christianity. Apocalypse – the book of Revelation, written by the apostle John when he was on the Isle of Patmos The NT was written by the apostles of Jesus Christ or companions of the apostles. This means that the authors were either eyewitnesses of the events they described or they recorded eyewitness firsthand accounts (want more? take a look at: 2 Peter 1.16; 1 John 1.1-3; 1 Corinthians 15.6-8; John 20.30,31; Acts 10.39-42; 1 Peter 5.1; Acts 1.9; Acts 2.22; Acts 26.24-28) It is valuable to know that the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) were written at a time when many were alive who could remember the things Jesus said and did . . . and many would still be alive when the fourth one was written as well (John). They would have been refuted and the writers discredited if they recounted or represented falsehoods. Make no mistake: Scripture. is. defensible. Further, Christianity is reasonable because it is based on Truth. Remember that—the gospels were written when people who were alive could have refuted them--their claims about Jesus’ life, death, miracles, resurrection—they didn’t, that is because they were true. I think of the psalmist—the ‘man after God’s own heart’-who said, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119.89 As I stated in the last Morning Briefing, the Bible alone answers the big questions of life: how we got here, why we are here and what happens to us after death. The writer of the book of Hebrews described Scripture as living and active* and that it is! Which is why I will tell you about what captured me on the airplane in my next Morning Briefing!! God ahead, bust out your Bible or perhaps purchase one. . . To read it is to change your life, Christine **Hey! So, I was listening to a podcast at the gym yesterday morning about a smallish boy born into a really street-tough family. (Picture brothers and uncles, even his mother....all of them, fighters) But somewhere along the line, the boy was given a red New Testament. He was so enraptured by it, he would hide from his family to read it, sometimes wedging himself into a spot underneath the kitchen sink. As a result, he forged out a completely different life - his family's story is God's story. It is radical--here's the podcast: https://player.edifi.app/episodes/50-My-Violent-Rage-Filled-Family-Was-Hopeless-Greg-Stier/5303251?ts=1663185355621. 'Really worth your time.