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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bible Literacy and Correct Ideas About God (Romans 15:4)

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

The stories of Noah, Abraham, Hannah, Josiah, and the many other individuals who walked with God in the Old Testament cause the reader to have hope. Why?

They were ordinary people with ordinary problems who experienced intimacy with God. People like me who struggle with faith, obedience, and suffering.

Before I knew the Old Testament stories well I perceived the God of the Old Testament as harsh, stern, and just a little mean. So, I rushed through reading the Old Testament in order to get to the New Testament and to Jesus Christ, the kind One in the Trinity. Silly me.

I used to have a warped idea about God because I didn't know the Old Testament stories well. Even though the Old Testament frequently states that He is gracious, kind, patient, loving, merciful, etc. I didn't see Him that way. As I read those stories over and over again I have begun to think of God as He is, not as I perceived Him to be. Yes, God does judge sin and disobedience. He does so, not because He is mean, but because He has provided redemption for man at great cost to Himself, yet man refuses His overtures. The problem isn't God, but man.

Commenting on the wilderness experience, the Psalmist (95:10) says it this way: "For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways." It is through the Old Testament stories that we know the ways of God.

Unfortunately, many believers no longer read and study the Old Testament. And they are malnourished on the ways of God, the attributes of God, and the ability to experience the intimacy of God. Warped views of God and secular thinking accompany Bible alliteracy (where people can read but they don't read). A correct view of God comes from knowing the stories of the Bible. God's interaction with His people in the Bible help us understand His ways of working in our lives today.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Romans 15:1-16:27
  • Upon what basis do believers accept one another?
  • How were the Roman believers involved in Paul's ministry?
  • How does Paul demonstrate his high esteem for women?
  • What warning does Paul close his letter with?
  • What does Paul communicate about God in the closing paragraph of his letter?
Acts 20:7-38
  • What defines Paul's teaching method as he prepares to depart from the believers at Ephesus for the last time?
  • What does Paul understand about his future and how does Paul know what lies ahead for him?
  • What does this tell you about the Holy Spirit?
  • What warning does Paul give to the believers, especially the leaders in Ephesus?
  • Why is Paul so confident in his departure from Ephesus?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to encourage you heart as you read the Scriptures this morning. Declare to Him that He only is your rock, stronghold, and fortress.