Second Baytown Blog
Personally, I have often been fearful to approach the prophets and characters in the Old Testament. For starters, they have names that no loving parent would name their children AND they use language that make most of us cringe. On top of all of this, the OT (Old Testament) starts with the word “Old” and I do not want that word in any way associated with me! However, The Bible is clear that God’s word is “Living and Active, sharper than any double edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV) and that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). These passages are clear that the red words in our Bibles are not the only ones that bring life, and that every portion of scripture is valuable. If you are still questioning if the OT is applicable to you in our current state today check out Jesus’ words in His famous Sermon on the Mount,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18, NIV).
It seems as though Jesus took the Old Testament very seriously, and I believe that we should too. Jesus overcomes temptation (Matthew 4:1-13), Preached out of (Matthew 4:14-21), and even declared His authority using (Matthew 4:22-30) the Old Testament. And that is only in one chapter in one of the four Gospels! Jesus found the Old Testament important enough to base His ministry off of. Why is it that we think as His followers we can neglect the Old Testament and expect to understand and follow Him? Church, may we not neglect the Old Testament because we are scared we might not understand it. If you want God’s word to get into you, you must first be willing to get into it. And ALL of it. This leaves us with the following question, “Ok Jeremy, how in the world do I actually do that?”. And this blog is aimed at giving us the tools to better understand and apply the Old Testament. So here are 5 keys to unlock the Old Testament and see it’s relevance for us now:
1. Find the Gospel in every book, story, and page.
Yes, I believe that the Gospel is portrayed in every single OT book. I would even dare argue that you can find the Gospel somehow unfolded in every chapter in the entire Bible. In relation to the OT and specifically the prophets, Jesus proclaims that He came to “fulfill them”. May we be students of the Old Testaments so that we can become better heralds of Christ. Know the scriptures so that you can finish what Jesus started (Matthew 28:18-20).
2. Seek out, Claim, and Pray His Promises.
The Old Testament is filled with promises from God to His people. If you are in Christ you are now His people. His promises to His people in scripture are now His promises to you (Romans 11:17-18). You cannot call out to God or claim His promises if you don’t know what they are. However, if you seek out, claim, and pray His promises you will find yourself gravitating towards the things of God. Be careful or your heart might actually break for the things that breaks the heart of God.
3. Start in Psalms.
Every Christian, and I would dare say everyone on planet earth, can identify with what David and the other psalmists write in the book of Psalms. Often times we can become overwhelmed by the longest book in the Bible and avoid it like we would avoid Charles Dickens Great Expectations. Notwithstanding, can one read the Psalms and find them not relatable. The Psalmists right in such a real way that all of us can relate and learn from them.
Within the Psalms we find verses of defeat, loneliness, and hurt like:
“My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for Help?” (Psalm 22:1, NLT).
We find Psalms of comfort like:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” (Psalm 23:1, NLT)
And we find Psalms of intimacy and identity such as:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV).
Regardless of your place in life, you can identify with the Psalms.
1. Stay in Proverbs.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom that will prove to be a lamp for your feet that illuminates the path you are supposed to go. It almost seems as though God had proverbs penned for devotional reading because there are 31 chapters in proverbs which means you can read one a day and finish proverbs in a month. A proverb a day will keep foolishness, heartache, and wickedness away. (Much better than apples right?).
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You will come across passages of scripture that seem as though they might be from an alien culture in a galaxy long long ago. When that happens, in the name of Jesus, ASK SOMEONE FOR HELP! Be it your pastor, small group leader, father, grandfather, crazy uncle psy, whoever! Just be willing to say, I don’t understand this. Until we are willing to crucify our pride, we will never begin to live. (Maybe that’s an aspect of what Jesus was saying in Luke 9:23-25...).
Bottom line, dig into the Old Testament. It’s too rich, robust, and valuable to neglect because of cowardice. May we be creatures of the word, let it be said of us that we let the word of God dwell within us richly. And as Jesus adjures us to, let us hear these words and put them into practice so we can be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. A man whose steps are guided by the Old Testament will not be swayed by swells of this age.
Life was not meant to be experienced alone. We believe that life is best lived in relationship with others. Often times, it is in these unique relationships that we find encouragement, gain support, and grown in our faith.
Small Groups gives us an opportunity to experience life change. Our groups are made up of 6-15 people that meet together in homes in the Baytown area. To discover more about groups check out our groups home page.