It All Points to Jesus – The Bible is Greek to Me

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John 1:1-5 NIV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John begins his gospel with some of the most beautiful words found in Scripture. John’s gospel is a little different than the other gospels. Some of the same stories about Jesus are present, but his objective is different. John wrote his gospel to point out the deity of Jesus through his “signs” (miracles). John used these signs as undeniable proof to his readers that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, who gives eternal life to all who come to him.

As we move through the Book of John, we also see one of the most quoted verses in the entire Bible.

John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Again, John is directing his readers back to his original point: Jesus is the Son of God, sent to bring eternal life to all who believe in him. When we look through the Gospel of John, we see him continually drawing his readers toward the idea that Jesus is the promised Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. John’s Gospel is not the only place in the Bible where we can see direct connections between Jesus and other passages in the Old Testament. As we begin to read through Scripture and look at it as a whole, we come to see that it all points back to Jesus:

  • Jesus is with God in the beginning (Genesis 1).
  • Jesus is the innocent sacrifice to cover for the sins of his people (Genesis 3:21).
  • Jesus is the Ark within. All who trust in his name can be saved (Genesis 7).
  • Jesus is the spiritual manna sent to God’s people to sustain their lives in the desert (Exodus 16).
  • Jesus is the better David defeating the deadly foe of his people (1 Samuel 17).
  • Jesus is the suffering servant (Isaiah 53).

When we read the Bible as pointing toward Jesus as Messiah and the promise of eternal life, even confusing books such as Leviticus make more sense. John concludes his gospel by bluntly stating his objective.

John 20:30-31
30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

When we read the Bible, we see Jesus—and when we see Jesus, we see the way God has graciously provided all who believe with the gift of eternal life.

Questions:
Have you ever considered how the stories in the Old Testament directly point to Jesus? How can you see Jesus in the story of the exodus from Egypt? How is Jesus like David?

Next Steps:
Choose one or two of the passages linked above and reflect on how Jesus is referenced in these Old Testament verses.

Read John 1. Think about the words John uses to describe Jesus and how they shape your understanding of who Jesus is.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your word. As the Psalmist says, your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I seek your face with all my heart. Show me, Lord, how all of Scripture points to Jesus. Give me a longing to meditate on your word all day long. How sweet are your words to my taste, and through them, I gain understanding. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Hold Tight – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Today, we’re going to continue to unwrap the purpose of Scripture and its benefits—particularly the hope and encouragement it offers. The first time I sought encouragement from the Bible was when my father passed away. I was devastated and opened my Bible looking for comfort. My eyes fell upon John 14.

John 14:1-4
1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

I read this and was instantly comforted. I knew that my dad had gone to be with Jesus and I would join him some day. My eyes were opened as the power of Scripture came alive to me on a very personal level. Further study only strengthened me more.

Romans 15:4
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Shortly after I lost my dad, my mom passed, and then my marriage fell apart. As a single mother, my income wasn’t enough. I applied for a new position with my employer and hoped, prayed, and believed.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

I knew I would be alright, even if I didn’t get the position. I’ve learned that sometimes you ask and the answer is “no.” Father knows best, so it always works out.

Psalms 119:49-50
49 Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. 50 Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.

Having faith isn’t the solution to avoid going through the storms of life. Having faith is about finding peace while you’re in the storm. That’s what makes Scripture come alive for me.

Questions:
How do you know that you can trust the Bible? How do you find scripture that speaks to a situation or need in your life?

Next Steps:
Meditate on Hebrews 4:12, and consider how it applies to your life right now. Join a Bible study Group, or start one to help others use the Bible in practical ways.

Prayer:
My dearest Father in heaven, thank you for providing Scripture to teach me your ways. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, that I may come to better understand it. And help me to hold it in my heart and mind for when I need it most. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut, who is grateful for the opportunity to reflect, write, and share what God is doing in her life. She’s glad you came today!


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Guide Me to Freedom – The Bible is Greek to Me

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People once purchased road maps to guide them to their desired destination. By the late 1990s, MapQuest had launched, and drivers printed off directions. Today, virtually everyone has access to Google Maps or some other GPS app on their phones, or their cars have their own navigation system. Plugging in an address and receiving step-by-step instructions is a valuable tool for traveling any distance.

Guides are a necessary part of life, providing instructional short-cuts that establish the way to, from, and for. The best people push away their stubbornness and trust their chosen compass to lead appropriately.

Something extraordinary happens when a person trusts and learns the directions after following them for some time. The information is stored, and navigating a course becomes natural.

Proverbs 16:9
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

The Bible is a GPS of sorts that guides humanity to the ideal destination. Unfortunately, followers will not always have a physical copy of the word of God, which may leave them vulnerable to the enemy, or so it may appear. Only practiced reading will store God’s promises and lessons in the heart and mind. Attacks are avoidable when the word becomes a guide for life, providing navigation through moments of weakness or when lost.

Questions:
Do you doubt the Bible’s accuracy and authenticity? Have you taken the time to practice what the Bible preaches?

Next Steps:
Start each day by studying God’s word. Join a Bible study Group if you aren’t ready to take it on yourself. Take notes during the weekend message and revisit key topics in the Bible throughout the week.

Prayer:
God, I am blessed to have such a powerful guide in my life by studying your word. Help me gain understanding when the passages seem confusing. Help me focus when reading becomes an afterthought. Lead me to the truth when self-doubt pulls me away. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Transforming Hope – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Some years ago, I reached the age of realization—I am not a kid anymore. The harsh reality is, I know without a doubt, riding roller coasters at amusement parks is foolhardy for me. Refusing to accept that reality was not easy, but it was necessary. Back in the day, roller coasters were my thing. That is no longer the case.

Another activity comes to mind as I reflect on a few things life has taught me. As much as roller coasters physically do me in, life experiences have reminded me that failure to read the Bible with intentionality does me in spiritually. Spiritual bankruptcy is a condition that has but one remedy—engaging with the word of God. Genuine relationship with Christ is not an Olympic event to be achieved and then forgotten. My past, lackadaisical spiritual habits taught me that lesson the hard way!

It is the foolhardy Christ-follower, not leaning into God and his word, who becomes poor in spirit and lacks a deep relationship with God. Only through his word is it possible to understand his character and ways. In his loving kindness, he exposes innermost thoughts and desires, as Hebrews 4:12 eloquently states—“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

No doubt you have noticed too many are all-in when it comes to examination, that is the examination of others. Applying the truths of God’s word to ourselves will reveal our wretched condition: the very condition we attempt to keep hidden from others and God. Followers of Christ, at times, are quite adept at applying the truths of God’s word to others and their questionable behavior(s), but it is when we apply it to ourselves that the most gain is within our reach.

It is through the transforming power of God’s word that lives can be changed. No one except God possesses divine power that allows powerful changes within. I am determined, as a follower of Christ, to continue to battle the ways of this world. One Bible verse from Romans offers much hope:

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Questions:
What methods have you used to get to know God? What methods do you find yourself repeating for self-improvement? Are you satisfied with your path in life? Upon taking a close analysis of your closest friends/associates in life, is their spiritual influence in your life positive or negative?

Next Steps:
Make a decision to know God on a deeper level. Dedicate your efforts to embrace his characteristics as a loving, compassionate Father—he is. Choose to spend time reading his word with an emphasis on understanding its content. Allow yourself to feed on spiritually healthy teachings, and engage in reading and studying the Bible on your own. Consider reading one chapter daily in Proverbs—it offers much wisdom.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as I read your word as a spiritual habit, may my motives be pure. Help me to keep the focus on my own spiritual growth, accompanied with a genuine caring for others, especially those who are lost and wandering through life. That once was me. May the words you speak through me penetrate the hardest of hearts. Fill me with the same compassion Jesus exhibited—genuinely loving, yet gently confronting others with your truth. Protect me from false spiritual influences. As you transform me into a new person, may you receive much praise! Amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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What is the Bible Anyway? – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Although the Bible is the bestselling book in history, it can also be one of the most perplexing books ever written. This holds true for newer Jesus followers as well as those who have attended church for years. Although reading the Bible can seem intimidating, it is the most important book we will ever read and is integral in our walk with Christ. Thankfully, this past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder provided us with a crash-course on what the Bible is and how to use it.

The Bible is a collection of written texts, spanning over 1,500 years, from a wide set of authors. It consists of the Old Testament (ancient Jewish teachings) and the New Testament (eyewitness accounts of the life of Christ and letters to the early churches). The writings include storytelling, poetry, letters, and teachings on how to live a holy life. It is amazing to think how such a diverse set of texts has one common theme: the fall of humanity and the need for a Savior to rescue the world from its sin.

The Bible teaches that God loved us enough to send his Son to Earth as a sacrifice to save his people from their sins. It provides us with the truth every human longs for and answers the question of the meaning of life.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

The Bible is divinely inspired by God; it is not based on human perspective and bias. The books of the Bible were carefully selected to include those that were inspired by the Holy Spirit and recorded by trustworthy sources. God provided the writers with the knowledge and wisdom necessary to record the most important events of human history, preserving it so that future generations would know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Overall, the purpose of the Bible is to help make us aware of our sin, show us our need for Jesus as our Savior, and teach us how to live as God intended. This way, we can live out the unique purpose that God gave to each of us.

Questions:
What do you think is most difficult about reading the Bible? In what ways has this affected your faith?

How do you think that understanding the Bible will help you grow in your relationship with God?

Next Steps:
Choose a book of the Bible that you are interested in reading. Look online for a Bible study plan that will help you break it down and understand how God is working through each chapter.

Join a Group to connect with a community of Jesus followers who will help you grow in your faith. Prayerfully ask God to guide you to the Group that will help you grow in your relationship with him.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for graciously giving me access to your living word. I praise you for providing a roadmap on how to live life in relationship with you. Thank you for saving me from my sin and correcting me when I follow the wrong path. Please guide me in reading and understanding the Bible and give me the strength to actively live out your teachings. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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