Posts tagged ‘study’

March 6, 2012

Courageous Faith

by pastortimfowler

In our men’s Bible study last night we finished the Courageous study based on the movie Courageous. I was not thrilled about teaching it because I have not seen the movie and probably will not see it. I don’t like movies, even if I see them with my wife. But the study was not really the movie, but the life of Joshua and the courage he had to stay true to God. I love his story and his faithfulness.
At the end of the study we were told to read this: 1 Peter 3:15 But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.
The challenge was to be courageous enough to share what God was doing in our lives on a regular basis. I love this verse and was thrilled when it was part of our closing for this study. The first thing it tells us is to dedicate our lives to Christ as Lord. Not to a Savior, although He is, but to a Lord. That means a master or ruler. We rarely have a problem submitting to authority. Sure there are a few folks who do, but your average person has no problems following the rules. If a policeman tells us to do something we do it because they have authority over us in certain situations. We do what our boss at work says and expect to be rewarded for when we do a great job and for the consequences when we don’t. But for some reason when God says do something we find a million excuses why we shouldn’t. That is not faith and it certainly is not courageous faith.
Next we are told to be ready to defend our faith. It is hard to defend what you don’t put into practice.The sad reality is that most Christians like the Savior of Jesus but not the Lord. We would much rather do what feels right or good and leave the tough Christian stuff to the professionals. We argue that the Bible really doesn’t say what it says and listen to people who have no formal training in the Bible as if they were the experts. We don’t ask our pastor because He might tell us what we don’t want to hear. That leads to the next part of this verse which always makes me uneasy about my own obedience. It says that we should be defending our faith to those who ask. Are people asking you about your faith. Not your church, but how you are acting because you are acting on what God says even if you don’t understand it. I have faith in the chair I sit in. It never fails me, although it could. I don’t know how it was made, and could not make it myself, but I trust it will support me, not just based on what the manufacturer says, but on how people have sat in chairs for years and now me too. That is faith. An action base on real belief not a wish and a desire to go to heaven. If Christians did what the Bible said, and believed that the Bible was the words of our Lord, not just our Savior, we may have more people asking us about our faith in God not our opinion of what the preacher says or an opinion about a church.
It is also very hard to explain something that we don’t really believe or understand. That is usually because we have not tried to understand it. Years ago I began to learn how to scuba dive. Now I am very proficient at it and can explain about anything you want to know about it. I can tell you exactly what you need to do to become a diver and I believe in the training that I received to save my life and yours if you chose to follow me. But I did a lot of study and training before I actually dove and still refresh my mind in the basics every time I go diving. I ask lots of questions of my instructor and those who I dive with me who have more experience. I never go to someone who only tells me that diving is dangerous and never trust someone who tells me my instructor is wrong. That could get me killed. I want to know who and what I am putting trust for my life in to. Who are you trusting to learn the Bible? How much effort are you putting into learning it and living how God says to live and what God says to believe?
Finally it tells us to be gentle and respectful while defending our faith. This is hard when you don’t really know what you believe. But if you are confident and like Joshua, have trusted God time and time again and seen Him come through for you, you will be confident and be able to be gentle and respectful. There is a difference in being gentle and respectful and being  pushed around because you aer weak in your faith. Jesus was a master at defending who He was and what He was teaching with amazing gentleness and respect. But He never let a religious nut mess with Him and teach something that was wrong. Jesus had courageous faith. Do you?

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August 3, 2011

Read It All

by pastortimfowler

Today I am reading the last few chapters of the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. I love this book. Every time I read it I get encouraged. As someone who has been a pastor for over 15 years, I usually hear the opposite from people who read Revelation. It usually brings on confusion and fears and that right there tells me that God is not leading them through it, but rather Satan is. After all God’s word is one of Satan’s most used tools. He used it in the beginning with Adam and Eve and he even tried to use it against Jesus, what makes us think he has stopped trying to use it on us? Here is wisdom; any time you get confusion and fear from God’s word, it is not because God doesn’t want you to understand it. Revelation ends with this blessing:Revelation 22:7 ~ I’m coming soon! Blessed is the one who follows the words of the prophecy in this book.” God would never offer a blessing and then make it confusing and scary.
So why does this happen?
Currently I teach a class to the men of our church and have offered it and will offer it to everyone who wants to attend, called, How to Study the Bible. Most people, even seasoned Christians have little practical knowledge of how to properly interpret scripture. For some reason the church teaches bits and pieces of the Bible and not the whole Bible. Most people want to know where to find their problem solving verse rather than live the life that solves their problems as described in the complete Bible. What I teach is that in order to know what God is really saying to His people, we must read the complete Bible, starting in Genesis and ending with Revelation. But instead we read a few verse here and a few there or we read only the New Testament and skip the Old Testament. What we don’t realize is that the New Testament was written not to void the old but to complete the Old Testament. This makes it impossible to understand much of the New Testament and correctly interpret what God wants us to know and be blessed by.
We do not read any other book like we read the Bible. I hear people get all excited about the latest greatest book by the latest greatest author and never hear them say that they are only going to read a few select lines or chapters or that they will read the last chapter and understand the whole book. We do not build a new shopping mall by skipping to the last page of the blue prints, yet we try to build new lives that way.
It is impossible to understand the book of Revelation without reading the entire Bible, so stop trying. I know that I have read the entire Bible at least 20 times and I still don’t understand it all, but every time I do it again, I get more understanding and closer to knowing that blessing that God promised. I have been through 7, almost 8 years of seminary and still learn something new each time I read it. There is not a quick way to understand an infinite God. The Bible is not everything that God knows, it is, however, everything that He wants us to know. God wrote us a love letter and we call it the Bible.
I challenge you to read your Bible from Genesis 1:1 and not stop until you reach Revelation 22:21. Let me rephrase that. Read it again and again and again from start to finish, then you will begin to understand and look forward to reading and seeing the encouragement and blessings of Revelation.
One final note. It is properly titled The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, for short, Revelation. There is only one. It is not Revelations. Just thought you should know.
So read your Bible and read it all.