Sep 302018
 

I was intrigued by a report by the BBC about Kanye West changing his name to “Ye”.

The reason he gives in the article is:

“I believe ‘ye’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and in the Bible it means ‘you,'” West said earlier this year, discussing his album title with radio host Big Boy.

The problem is that this isn’t true!

Assuming the use of the Authorised Version (“ye” doesn’t appear in some recent translations) then the word “ye” occurs 3,985 times.

“The” is the most common at just over 64,000.

Other pronouns which occur more frequently are:

  • he (10,431)
  • I (8,853)
  • his (8,478)
  • they (7,377)
  • him (6,667)
  • thou (5,474)
  • thy (4,603)
  • my (4,367)
  • me (4,096)

My point isn’t to criticise Kayne West – I don’t know where he obtained his information or if anyone was advising him – but it is to raise the importance of being sure what the Bible says.

I think there are at least two areas where this is very important:

  1. For those of us who believe the Bible is inspired by God, helps us understand and appreciate who Jesus is, shows us how we can live in relationship with God and provides guidance and direction for living – it is vital that we understand what it says and don’t make assumptions
  2. To be able to respond to things people claim to be in the Bible and are not – as sometimes people “quote the Bible” incorrectly to make a point which it doesn’t support or to suggest problems with the Christian faith

Now – as much or even more than it has ever been – there is a need for those of us who believe the Bible reveals God to us to study it, to understand it, and to apply it properly.

As the apostle Paul said:

and:

Sep 272018
 

Once we finish Nehemiah in early October, we will have 13 books left in the Old Testament – the last books in most translations of our Bibles, books containing prophetic words and actions.

They relate to different periods of the history of God’s people and it’s not always easy to get the order exactly right.

For our purposes we will cover them in the following order:

  1. Books written with a major focus on the Northern Kingdom before being taken into exile by Assyria
    1. Jonah
    2. Micah
  2. Books focusing on the Southern Kingdom before being taken into exile by Babylon
    1. Joel
    2. Amos
    3. Hosea
    4. Nahum
    5. Zephaniah
    6. Habakkuk
    7. Obadiah
  3. While in exile in Babylon
    1. Daniel
  4. After returning from exile in Babylon
    1. Haggai
    2. Zechariah
    3. Malachi

So not quite the same order as in our Bibles but this will hopefully give a sense of progression and development as God speaks through his prophets into the lives of his people.

We will intersperse these with the remaining books in the New Testament.

Aug 302018
 

After we finish looking at the book of Hebrews (on Tuesday), we’re going to go back into the Old Testament and look at three historical books – telling us stories of what happened during the Babylonian exile and as people started to return home to Jerusalem.

In Esther, we’ll see the story of a young woman who became queen and was instrumental in saving her people from genocide

 

In Ezra, we’ll see the rejoicing that took place as they rebuilt the Temple – a place for God’s people to worship Him. We’ll also see some of the challenges they faced in doing it.

 

In Nehemiah – we’ll see a butler turned governor rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem. We’ll see how he was prepared to trust in God even through real challenges and difficulties.

There is some confusion over when these events actually happened so putting them in the right order is a bit of a challenge!

This is particularly the case with Ezra and Nehemiah with Nehemiah 7:6-72 being a duplicate of Ezra 2:1-69 and with Ezra appearing in Nehemiah 8 & 12.

But they each have a powerful story to tell – and to look at them in a possibly chronological order we’ll work through Esther, then Ezra and finish with Nehemiah.

 

 

 

 

Jul 282018
 

After finishing Paul’s letters this coming Thursday, we’re going to go back to the Old Testament and look at a couple of books that are traditionally identified as having been written by Solomon.

Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of an old, wise man – looking back on a full and varied life and reflecting on his search for satisfaction and meaning.

It starts out by claiming that everything is pointless and finishes by encouraging people to remembering God:

 

 

 

 

 

Song of Solomon is, on the face of it, a collection of love poetry between a man and a woman but some assign theological meaning to it as well.

 

Back in the New Testament, we’re going to be working through the rest of the books in the order in which appear in the Bible which takes us to Hebrews. A letter written to encourage believers to stay faithful to Jesus Christ – and full of many expressions of the supremacy and greatness of Jesus. A really wonderful book.

 

Jul 182018
 

We’re going to finish looking at Ezekiel on Friday 20th July with the message of hope of restoration of the city, of the, with God’s presence and glory coming back to the temple, and God living, again, amongst His people.

And we’re going to move on to finish our look at the letters of Paul, three letters known as the Pastoral Epistles where he writes to two men about how they should conduct themselves and carry out their ministry.

Writing to Titus, Paul speaks about how he expects different groups of people in the church to live and to work, and stresses the importance of living as people who have received God’s grace, and – as those people – to carry out the good works God has for them.

 

 

 

 

 

In the first of his letters to Timothy, Paul reminds him of the greatness of God, encourages him to fulfil his calling, to carry out his ministry and to follow Paul’s example. Clearly someone for whom Paul cares deeply, and holds in the highest regard, Paul encourages him as he nears the end of his own life.

 

 

 

 

 

And in the second of these letters, Paul gives thanks for Timothy, encourages him to stand up under opposition, to show what it means to be a good worker for God, to resist those who are unfaithful and to rejoice in God’s faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

As we listen in to Paul’s encouragement and challenge to these two servants of Christ, how does he speak to us in our different situations as we seek to live and work for God?

Mar 152018
 

We’re going to finish looking at 2 Chronicles on Saturday March 17th and will leave the people of Judah in exile, with their city in ruins but with a message of hope that they will come home and rebuild.

When we come back to the Old Testament we’ll look at how these stories developed and unfolded through the words of two of the “major writing prophets” – Isaiah and Ezekiel.

In Isaiah we find words of criticism, challenge and warning to the people of God before the exile; words that speak to the people in exile and words that speak of their homecoming. And often words that take on even deeper significance in light of the life, work, death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then in Ezekiel, we find words of someone in exile to whom God’s word came and he speaks about God’s holiness, humanity’s sin, the reality of judgment but also the hope of restoration.

(See Lamar Eugene Cooper, Ezekiel, vol. 17, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 40. for some more context)

 

 

 

 

 

An opportunity to step back a little from just the historical events and to see something of what was going on behind the scenes through this time in the history of the people of God.

But we’ll also pick up again our look at the writings of Paul – working through Colossians & Philemon (probably both written at the same time) and then Ephesians.

Colossians reminds us of the supremacy of Jesus and the implications of that for those who have chosen to follow him, while Philemon is a much more personal letter written on behalf of an escaped slave who had come to believe in Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

Ephesians reminds us of the wonderful things that God has done for us through Jesus and calls us to live in unity with each other as we seek to follow and serve Him.

Exciting books and themes to explore – looking forward to sharing thoughts and reflections on them.

In terms of our “progression” we’ll be doing:

  1. Colossians and Philemon
  2. Isaiah
  3. Ephesians
  4. Ezekiel