Last spring, I had the pleasure of helping Kristin with her Soul Sisters church group of ladies. They were doing a devotional study and asked me to come in early each week and help to explain theological concepts and Bible stories that made their weekly lessons easier to understand. I really enjoyed helping out – and was rewarded with honorary “Soul Sister” status by the group.
Well, with the Coronavirus and all that is entailed with social distancing and the wearing of masks, I was once again asked to help out this fall – only this time it would be virtual on Zoom each week. The study that was chosen for this fall happened to be be another devotional – a trip through the Bible in 40 days. The idea is that each day, certain chapters are assigned to be read with questions to be answered each week. Of course, the first week was devoted to readings from Genesis and working though the rest of the Pentateuch during the next week.
Suffice it to say that it was a daunting task to travel from one end of the Bible to the other within 40 days. The reason I mention it is that this morning I taught the highlights of the last half of Acts, the sixth chapter of Galatians and Revelation 1 all within 90 minutes. While I thoroughly enjoy my time with the “sisters”, it is difficult to know what to concentrate on each week. But it got me to thinking about the Bible and what the main themes are that run through it.
Certainly, the Creation story, the Exodus, entrance into the Promised Land and some of the Old Testament covenants are very important. This all lays the foundation for understanding the Law and then we are led to the birth of Jesus in the beginning of the New Testament. His birth, baptism, choosing the disciples, ministry, teachings and parables give us a great idea of what it was like to walk with Jesus and sit at His knee learning about the kingdom of God.
The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus are vitally important, as they define what sets Christianity apart from other world religions. And then, the ministry of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus and the beginning of the church highlight the next big step in spreading the Good News of Jesus in the New Testament. The travels of Paul, the witness of the apostles to both Jews and Gentiles and the books on how to live a Godly life make up the bulk of the New Testament books.
Paul’s various letters to the churches in remote areas teach us important theological points as well as how to lead others to Christ, how to organize churches and become more Christlike as we progress in our faith. The shorter epistles near the end of the Bible, written by John and several others, warn us about deceit from within the church and teach us about testing prophets and teachers to see if they believe in the deity of Christ. These warnings prepare us for problems within the church and help us keep the church pure in its mission to serve Jesus and lead others to Him.
Finally, the book of Revelation helps us understand the future – those things that are as good as done but haven’t happened yet in real time. John was given the rare privilege of “seeing” these things before they happened and he was told to write them down so others could catch a glimpse of what was to come.
Of course we also have the ongoing battle of good versus evil and we learn about Satan and the measures that are undertaken to shake our faith in Jesus. However, we have the assurance that Jesus wins that battle and that good triumphs over evil. Genesis begins in a garden and Revelation takes us to another garden in the endtimes. Adam started out walking with God and in the end we are told that we will once again be with God forever. What a great story about the people of God and their eventual journey to heaven.
If you haven’t ever read the Bible cover to cover, I highly recommend it. It takes about a year of consistent reading to complete it. And trying to teach the highlights in forty days is very difficult but it will give the Soul Sisters a better understanding of the most important doctrines, promises of God and love of Jesus throughout history and eternity.
Our verse for tonight sums up the Scripture in one short verse. John, in the last chapter of the book of Revelation tells us, Rev. 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” In other words, Jesus was there at the beginning, will be there at the end – and with us every step of the way in between…
My encouragement tonight is that it is important to personally know Jesus and we have the promise that Jesus wants to have a relationship with each of us. My prayer is that we will all take the time to invest in a deeper relationship with God – the one who created us and every living being everywhere. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…