Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Pre-School To Lower Elementary Story Bible May 27, 2010

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 2:47 am
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Parents and Grandparents:  I would like to recommend you buy several copies of The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm and Gail Schoonmaker, Crossway Books, 2004).  The text is an accurate summary of the Bible around the theme of Jesus as the promised “forever King.”  They show how Jesus taught the apostles how to see pictures of this promise all through Old Testament.  (See pages 405-411).

“Do you see the Lord?  Painted on the pages of Israel’s hard and happy history is the big picture of God’s forever king” (p.410-411).

I would recommend you show your child these pages when reading each Part (their name for chapter.)  That way the Reformed Christian view of unity of the Old and New Testaments is made most clear from the beginning.

Helms also adds a great explanation of  how the New Testament centers around this same theme of  looking at Jesus as the Forever King:  

“God knew what to do for his people!  God chose some of Jesus’ special followers to write letters to complete God’s holy book.  These letters told God’s people: ‘Remember, hold on to the message.  Keep believing, Jesus! Love one another like family.  Forgive one another.  Be careful! Don’t let people trick you.  Run away from sin.  Endure hardship.  and look for Jesus’ return” (Helm, p. 432).

The pictures are large and inviting. It is divided into short “parts” that are easily connected to the main theme Forever King.  I think this book would make great presents for young mothers, grandmothers, and Sunday School teachers. It is also an excellent tool for those of us who need a good summary of the Bible for ourselves to read quickly and easily.  So young readers in the 4th-5th grade level would also benefit.

This children’s book should help those who read this blog understand more clearly the perspective I’m taking coming from and trying to get across.  You can order at  www.christianbooks.com

 Happy Summer Reading!

 

 

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Getting Along With Others May 25, 2010

Filed under: Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 6:12 am

Read Philippians 3-4:3

Two women in the church in Philipi had a difference of opinion.  Others must have noticed their quarreling because someone had told Paul about it.  (Remember, he was in prison, in Rome.)  Paul urged them to “agree in the Lord” and for someone who knew how to do that to help them (Philippians 4:2-3).  Paul didn’t go into detail here; he had already covered this in a previous letter to the church in Rome.  But, settling disputes among people in the churches was an important issue to him because of the way it interrupted their work together to plant churches, to tell others about knowing God through faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, to know God in a personal way, to relate to him.  This whole letter had been about  standing firmly together, showing endurance and strength in all of that.  He wasn’t about to let a difference of opinion between two good people destroy such good work. Yet, he never expected everyone to always agree, to have the same opinion about such things as dress, hair, food, celebrations of historical events, cultural or family traditions. He expected mature Christians to accept each other’s differences, yet get along.    

BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR GETTING ALONG  (Romans 12-15)

Paul gave specific instructions to the church in Rome about how to get along with each other so he did not need to repeat it all here.  He told them to:

  • Don’t think of yourself and your opinions as better than others. Don’t be haughty or think of yourself as wise  (12:3,16,17).
  • Don’t quarrel over opinions or look down on someone who has a different view about these “lesser things” (14:1,10).
  • Be patient with their weaknesses and the ways they fail.  Seek to help them be stronger Christians (15:1-2).
  • Do something kind for them instead of making yourself look or feel good (15:3).

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:4-7).

In other words, don’t pick on one another when you have different opinions. 

 

 

Simplify May 19, 2010

Filed under: Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 6:05 am
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Reading Philippians 

Reread Philippians 3-4:1.

Paul is urging us set an over-riding goal of knowing God more intimately, relationally, while reflecting his character by who we really are.  He uses the terms “pressing on” and “straining forward” so we may know God and his power as we willingly sacrifice our own interests and desires (3:10-12).  He urges these friends to follow his example, but to be aware that there are many whose example will be a snare and stumbling block to them. 

“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19).

The problem with these people is that they are chiefly interested in themselves, in satisfying their own desires, in pursuing their own interests. It is awfully hard to be singular in purpose when one is tossed about by every wave of worldliness or new trend.  We can’t be thinking of these things all the time, seeking to fulfill every desire even if it is against the Bible’s examples of how we are to live.

In another letter, Colossians, Paul explains how to have this singular eye of knowing God and reflecting him:

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth….Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you, sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk…do not lie to one another…Put on…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, …put on love…(Colossians 3:2-14).

Notice this is an active sense of determining to think about spiritual things.  Then to turn away from those actions and thoughts that will destroy that determination.  And to replace them with love.  It helps to keep an eye out for people who are humble, compassionate, kind, patient, sexually pure, truthful, forgiving. People like this are to be our role-models. We need friends like this!  We are to be examples for others of kindness, humility, love, while standing firmly, rooted and grounded in the gospel. 

This is really about setting priorities, watching what we think about, what we really like or desire because that will shape who we become.   Jesus talked about the same thing when he said,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money” (or possessions) (Matthew 7:19-24).

Simplify your life by having one desire that over-rides all others:  to know God more intimately and to let others see Jesus in you.

 

Cluttered Lives May 10, 2010

Filed under: Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 4:23 am

Reread Philippians 3-4 remembering Paul was encouraging them to stick together in believing, spreading, and living the good news of Jesus Christ.

They were to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ–to stop leaning on anything else for God’s approval and be happy they could know God, experience His grace and power.  Of course, this would mean bearing with rejections, shame, attacks, and most of all, self-sacrifice.  But, the result would be a degree of moral virtue and, eventually, eternal life.    

 This rejoicing would come from intentional thinking and setting of priorities.  It required self-discipline and and a single eye–consciously setting the goal of knowing God and living a gospel centered life. It could not be done alone; disagreements needed to be resolved; examples of others followed; mentoring cultivated.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss for the sake of Christ….I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”  (3:8;14).

It is “in” right now to declutter our homes, to decorate by giving the singular more significance–one vase of flowers instead of three.  But, our lives are ever more cluttered and fragmented.  We are distracted by all our options or burdens and technology: travel, jobs, malls, debt, sports, novels, facebook, email, the internet, blogs, cell phones… It is hard to finish anything.  There is so much to do; so many causes; so many pleasures; so much responsibility.

I am reminded of an old catechism question:

“What is the chief end of man?  To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

A way of implementing this is to ask:  What is my purpose in life? 

How do we hone it down to one goal, to declutter, streamline, take rifle aim?  Paul said the way to do that was to seek intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ as our purpose.  Trying to do and have and experience it all fragments, distracts, clutters.  Instead of joy and peace, there will be stress, restlessness, and unhappiness. What will you do today to further that intimacy amidst your responsibilities and desires?  Rejoice in your blessings? Pray for others? Turn away from your selfishness or hurt?  Get some rest? Support your church?

What clutter is distracting you today from focusing on knowing God better?

(Scroll “Categories” to Philippians for all the lessons.)