Exodus preview

All In Study Notes: Exodus

Exodus is the second book in the Pentateuch (five books) that start the Bible and tell the story of God creating a chosen nation in Israel from which to share His love with the entire world. Exodus is the account of how the children of Israel, some 400 years after Joseph first brought them to Egypt, escaped from slavery.   The main character, other than the Lord, is Moses, the unlikely liberator.  You will read of memorable events like Moses meeting God for the first time, the plagues upon Egypt, the night of Passover, parting the Red Sea, and eating a previously unknown food called manna.  In Exodus, God also makes His covenant with His people, including the Ten Commandments.

 

Themes to look for:

God wants us to know Him by personal experience.  33:11

The Lord is the One True God.  This was a revolutionary thought when Exodus was written.  It still is.

God demands obedience.  The Law is there for our good.  He is a good Father.

God demands exclusivity.  He will not abide competition for our hearts.

God demands holiness.  Two ways this is seen: 1) People could not casually approach God.  Needed a system to get right with Him.  2) He was making a holy people.  But He demanded they be distinct.  That was the main point of the Law.

God demands both justice and compassion.  The Law is a balance between punishing guilt so as to eliminate injustice from society, and taking care of the hurting.  He wants both from us.

Spiritual leadership is hard work.  Moses’ story resonates with anyone who leads.  People are the most frustrating part.  Why don’t they get it?

 

The Gospel in Exodus

Knowledge of Exodus is key to understanding the New Testament from a Jewish perspective.  So many details of Exodus find their fulfillment in the four Gospels, it is hard to list them all, but here are some main themes:

We need a deliverer.  Hebrews 3 talks about how Jesus is the greater Moses.

We need a mediator between us and God.  Jesus is our Great High Priest.

The Passover Lamb: A picture of how God would one day save us through Christ’s death.

The Tabernacle: A place where Heaven and Earth come together.  That is a picture of Jesus.

The Covenant: A reminder that we can’t save ourselves.  Jeremiah 31 foretells a New Covenant in Him.

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Acts preview

As we read through the Bible this year, it’s good to have some information about what we’re reading.  The Bible isn’t like other books we read: Each separate book of the Bible has a backstory and a cultural context that is critical to understanding.  It’s also good to know how the Bible fits together; specifically, how the Gospel (the main message of Scripture) is found in each book.  I’ve written these short previews so that you can have some basic information as you read.  I hope it’s helpful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

All In Study Notes: Acts

Acts is the story of the movement Jesus began—the Church—recording the years from Jesus’ ascension (around 28-33 AD) to around 62 AD.  It was written by Luke as a sequel to His Gospel (He mentions his friend Theophilus as the recipient at the beginning of both books).  Luke was a doctor, probably a Gentile, and a travel companion of Paul. He does not mention himself in Acts, but beginning in 16:11, he uses the pronoun “we,” which probably means that is when he joined Paul’s group.

There is a theory that Luke wrote this as a defense for Paul in his trial in Rome.  We know from 2 Timothy (Paul’s last letter) that Luke was with Paul at the end.  The ending of Acts is abrupt, which makes us think it is a story in progress.  And some think that Theophilus, because Luke calls him “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3) may have been a Roman official or Paul’s legal counsel.  A more widely held theory is that Theophilus was a Gentile believer or a “God-fearer,” and that Luke wrote to his friend to help build up his newfound faith. At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, he gives his purpose (Luke 1:4): That you may know the certainty of the things that you have been taught. 

 

Themes of Acts

To the ends of the earth:  This is a book about missions: the mission of God in the world and our part in it.  The story starts in Jerusalem, but shows how a mix of missionary work and persecution brought the Gospel ultimately to Rome (the most important city in the ancient world).

The risen Christ:  For the apostles, the resurrection was the key event in history.  They didn’t preach a new morality or new religious rituals.  Their main message was that God had sent His Son into the world to save us, and that this was proven by the resurrection.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it (2:32).  It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed (4:10).  If anyone had offered evidence that the tomb was not empty, or that someone had stolen Jesus’ body, the Christian movement would have died.  But no one could contradict this revolutionary message.

The Holy Spirit:  Some say the name of the book should be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”  He shows up in chapter two, and the apostles are never the same. He empowers the previously timid men to preach powerfully and work miracles.  He calls new men and women to do amazing things in His name.  He pushes the first Christians to take the message outside the Jewish world.  He calls Saul and Barnabas to the mission field.

The Church: In Acts, we see the Church at its best.  In spite of challenges from outside and within, the people of God love each other and represent Christ boldly in a hostile world.

Unhindered:  The last word in Acts is appropriate (28:31).  Throughout the book, people try to stop the Gospel from spreading through legal maneuvers, riots, torture, imprisonment, and murder, but nothing works.  The Gospel is unstoppable.

Matthew preview

As we read through the Bible this year, it’s good to have some information about what we’re reading.  The Bible isn’t like other books we read: Each separate book of the Bible has a backstory and a cultural context that is critical to understanding.  It’s also good to know how the Bible fits together; specifically, how the Gospel (the main message of Scripture) is found in each book.  I’ve written these short previews so that you can have some basic information as you read.  I hope it’s helpful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

Matthew is one of the four Gospels (from a word meaning “good news”) or records of the life of Jesus. Three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are called “Synoptic” Gospels, because they tell primarily the same stories about Jesus in a similar order.  (“Synoptic” is from a Greek term that means “seeing everything together.”)  The Early Church believed this book was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles.   Matthew’s given name was Levi. He was a tax collector.  Both Mark and Luke refer to him as Levi, but in this Gospel, he is called Matthew (which means “gift of God”).  Perhaps Jesus gave him this new name, which would explain why he chooses to call himself Matthew instead of Levi.

This Gospel begins with a genealogy, to show that Jesus is descended from Abraham and David, as the Israelite Messiah.  It tells the story of His birth from the point of view of Joseph, includes the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), and ends with the Great Commission (28:18-20).

Themes to look for in Matthew:

Jesus the Messiah: Matthew points out many ways in which Jesus fulfills the OT promises.  For example: 1:22-23, 12:17-21, 27:9-10.  See also 5:17.

Israel and the new people of God: Matthew is often seen as the most “Jewish” of the four Gospels, because of the many OT quotes and other features.  But it also shows how most of His own people would reject Jesus (see especially Ch. 23, with its “seven woes” against Israel’s leaders).  This had to be a painful truth for Matthew to record.  However, he also shows how Jesus knew He was Savior of all humanity, not just Israel.  From the foreign magi who come to His manger at the beginning, to the words “make disciples of all nations” in the final story, Matthew wants us to see Jesus came to save anyone.

Jesus the King: He is called by the magi “the King of the Jews” (2:2).  At the beginning of His ministry, He is offered the chance to rule the world by Satan (4:8-9), but refuses.  Several times, He talks about the Kingdom of the Son of Man (His favorite term for Himself).  In 22:41-45, He tells the Pharisees He is greater than simply a Son of David.  In 27:42, while He is on the cross, He is mocked by the High Priests as “the King of Israel” while a sign written by the Romans calls Him the “King of the Jews.”  Ironically, it is at this exact moment He is fulfilling His destiny as our King.  The Gospel ends with Him saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 

Psalms preview

As we read through the Bible this year, it’s good to have some information about what we’re reading.  The Bible isn’t like other books we read: Each separate book of the Bible has a backstory and a cultural context that is critical to understanding.  It’s also good to know how the Bible fits together; specifically, how the Gospel (the main message of Scripture) is found in each book.  I’ve written these short previews so that you can have some basic information as you read.  I hope it’s helpful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

All In Study Notes: Psalms

 

Psalms is the longest book of the Bible, and the only one entirely made up of songs: 150 songs, to be precise.  It has been called “Israel’s hymnal.”  The Jews sang these songs in corporate worship, in traveling to Jerusalem, and in times of personal devotion or crisis.

Most of the Psalms were written by King David.  Other authors include Asaph, Korah, Jeduthun, Ethan, Heman, Solomon, and Moses (Psalm 90).

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible.  It is broken into sections that each begin with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Psalm 118:8 is the “center verse” of the Bible: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

The Psalms fall into five categories:

  1. Hymns of Praise: Ex: Psalm 8:1-4.
  2. Lament or complaint: Ex: Psalm 12:1-2, 74:1-3. This is actually the most common Psalm.
  3. Imprecatory: These are Psalms which pray for judgment upon one’s enemies. To “imprecate” means to curse. Ex: Psalm 69:1-4, 22-25.  You can find a great article about how as Christians we should see these difficult Psalms here: http://timothytennent.com/2012/11/01/imprecatory-psalms-are-all-the-psalms-suitable-for-christian-use/
  4. Royal: Ex: Psalm 20:7-9. These Psalms are asking a blessing on the King and therefore, the nation.
  5. Wisdom: Ex: Psalm 1. These Psalms give us wisdom about how to live.

Themes to look for in Psalms:

Worship: The fact that the longest book of the Bible is a hymnal should tell us how important our worship is to God.  The Psalms teach us so much about the greatness of God.

Prayer: We think of prayer as asking God for things.  But the Psalms show us how to talk to God about all of life.  One way to grow in closeness to God is to re-write a Psalm in your own words.

Raw honesty: The Psalms say things to God that make us uncomfortable.  We’re used to “pretending” in our Christianity.  But God is not afraid of how we really feel.  We should talk to Him about our sorrow, our disappointment, our anger and doubts.

Comfort: The Psalmists compare God to a shield, a rock, a fortress, and a protective shepherd.  These words brought them comfort in times of stress, and they can do the same for us today.

The Gospel: All of the Psalms ultimately point to Jesus, either directly or indirectly. Psalm 22 is the Psalm Jesus quoted from the cross. Psalm 118:22-23 is the Psalm most often quoted in the New Testament.

 

Genesis preview

As we read through the Bible this year, it’s good to have some information about what we’re reading.  The Bible isn’t like other books we read: Each separate book of the Bible has a backstory and a cultural context that is critical to understanding.  It’s also good to know how the Bible fits together; specifically, how the Gospel (the main message of Scripture) is found in each book.  I’ve written these short previews so that you can have some basic information as you read.  I hope it’s helpful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

 

All In Study Notes: Genesis

Genesis is the first book of the Bible.  Its name comes from the Latin word meaning “origin.”  The Jews called it bere’shith or “In the beginning.”    In Genesis, we read of the world’s creation, the fall of humanity, a worldwide flood, and the creation of a new people who will redeem the world.  There are several genealogies tracing the lines of Adam, Noah and Abraham.

Themes to look for:

  1. We matter to God. We are made in His image, hand-carved from the dirt. In 1:26-28, He gives us a purpose: we are meant to bear His image and rule the world in His name.
  2. We have a sin nature. “East of Eden” is a common theme: Adam and Eve went East, Cain went East, the people who built the tower of Babel migrated East, Lot chose the land to the East. This is the Bible’s way of showing how we tend to run away from God and His will.
  3. God defies our expectations: In the ancient world, the oldest child was considered most important, and was made head of the family. Yet in Genesis, several times God chooses younger siblings over the older ones: Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over His brothers. Ephraim over Manasseh.
  4. Our God sees us. See 16:13. A rejected slave girl (Hagar), a barren woman (Rebekah), an unloved wife (Leah), and a forgotten prisoner (Joseph) all testify of this.
  5. God is in control, wait for Him. Noah waiting patiently in the Ark, Abram and Sarai waiting 25 years for their child, Joseph’s understanding of God’s plan in 50:20.

Hints of the Gospel in Genesis:

  1. The first messianic prophecy in Scripture: 3:15. Jesus is the Son of Man who was wounded, but crushed the head of our enemy.
  2. God clothes Adam and Eve, takes away their shame, just as Jesus would one day clothe us in His righteousness, taking away our shame.
  3. Noah and his family are rescued from the floodwaters by Ark, just as we are rescued by a cross.
  4. In Genesis 12, God’s promise to Abraham is that in Him, “All nations will be blessed.”
  5. In Genesis 22, one of the most difficult stories in the entire Bible, we see this note of grace: “God will provide a lamb, my son.” God provides a lamb in place of Abraham’s son. Later, God will provide His son as the lamb in our place.
  6. Judah goes from being the one whose idea it was to sell Joseph into slavery, to the one who offers to give His life to save Benjamin. Book closes with a surprise: 49:10, God will use Judah, not Joseph, to bring redemption.

All-In Challenge: Read the Whole Bible

At First Baptist Conroe, our theme for 2019 is All In.  We want to challenge our members to pursue Christ like never before.  I’ve already written about the All In theme itself (click here to read that post).  But now I want to give you some encouragement and tips to help you complete the first challenge: Read the entire Bible this year.

Most Christians I talk to have a strong reverence for the Bible as God’s inspired Word.  They also admit they don’t know it as well as they should.  Many feel guilty about this.  They’ve tried reading it straight through, but got bogged down and quit somewhere in the middle of Leviticus.  Some think they’re not smart enough or spiritual enough to understand the Bible.  They content themselves with the bits of Scripture they pick up from sermons and devotional books.  So why should you commit to such an awesome task?

  • It’s how we know God.  (See Jeremiah 9:23-34, Philippians 3:8)  The Bible is a letter from God to us, telling us the history of His dealings with humanity; letting us know who He is and how we can live with Him.  If there was a newfound letter from a loved one you hadn’t seen in years, would you want someone to tell you the highlights?  Or would you want to read it for yourself?  Reading the whole Bible assures that you learn all about God, not just the truths that we tend to find more comforting or easy to grasp.
  • It’s how we know ourselves.  (See Hebrews 4:12)  We tend to be lousy at seeing ourselves realistically.  We need someone from the outside, someone who knows everything about us and loves us totally, to tell us truth about our lives.  That’s what God’s Word does.
  • It’s how we know how to live.  (See Joshua 1:7-8, Psalm 119:105)  The Bible is not a rule book or an instruction manual for life.  But it does show us how to make decisions that keep us in step with God and His plan for our lives.

Tips:

  • Don’t read the Bible so God will love you.  He already does!  That’s true whether you read His word or not.
  • Reading the whole Bible is difficult, especially the first time.  We’ll all be doing this together.  Stick with it!  You’ll be glad you did!
  • The Bible raises some difficult questions.  God’s ways are different than ours, so reading His Word will shake you up at times.  Don’t hesitate to ask your Life Group or one of our ministers about things that confuse or trouble you.
  • Prepare: It only takes, on average, fifteen minutes a day to read the entire Bible in a year.  Decide now what time of day and where you’ll do your reading.
  • Pick up a copy of our reading plan.  (or download it here) We chose this plan because it allows you to read a little bit from four different parts of the Bible each day.  It also has only 25 readings per month, so if you miss a day, you can easily catch up.
  • You can also read on your smartphone through the Youversion app.  It’s free!  Once you have the app, go to the “plans” tab at the bottom of your screen. Then press “find plans.”  Search for “Discipleship Journal Reading Plan” (not “Discipleship Journal 5x5x5” or “Discipleship Journal Book-at-a-time”).
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you understand His Word, and that He would help you stick with this new discipline in your life.
  • Keep a record of the things you learn.  Each day, write down one thing that stood out from your reading.  Pray and ask God to help you apply that truth to your life.  Go back periodically and see what God has been teaching you.
  • Talk about what you’ve learned.  This is a great way of reinforcing God’s truth, and sharing it with people around you!

I’m so excited about 2019!  I can’t wait to see what God will do in our lives as we go All In on seeking Him through His Word!

FBC Vision for 2019

Here at FBC Conroe, we’re on a journey together.  We’re a church with a wonderful history, amazing people, and we’re sitting in the center of a growing region, led by a God who never stops seeking the lost.  But when our current ministry staff took our first retreat in the Fall of 2016, we knew our church needed a DNA transplant.  We wanted to see God bring us back to being a church that transformed ordinary people into world-changing disciplemakers.  In other words:

–Instead of seeing the church as a place we go to hang out with others like us, we will begin seeing it as a group of people who are called to transform our city through the power of Christ.

–Instead of seeing Sunday mornings as a time for us to get fed, encouraged and comforted, we will see them as a time to get equipped for God’s purpose in our lives.

–Instead of thinking of the church in terms of programs, we start thinking of it in terms of people—the people Jesus wants to reach through us.

–Instead of seeing ourselves as a minority group holding on to some important traditions, we will begin seeing ourselves as missionaries to the places we live, work, and go to school.

We’ve been praying that God would make this change in us over the course of three years.  We’ve been focusing on connecting people to God, helping them to grow into His image, and equipping them to reach others in His name.  We’re now two years into that vision, and we’ve seen some exciting changes in us already.  But in this third year, we want to strive for more of Him than ever before.  We want to challenge our people to make the greatest commitment to Christ they’ve ever made.  In other words, we want to be All In.

So this year, we are challenging every FBC member to commit to four actions:

I will read the entire Bible.

I will pray daily for the people in my life who don’t know Jesus.

I will engage in mission work outside the church walls.

I will commit to greater generosity.

Don’t worry, the details are coming; we’ll provide you with a Bible reading plan, a specific way to identify and pray for people in your life who need Jesus, mission opportunities, and a specific challenge regarding generosity.  But for now, consider this: We believe a church full of people who are pursuing these four goals will be a church that grows spiritually like never before.  We can’t wait to see what God will do with such a church.  Will you join us?  Are you All In?