Message Follow Up | Context: Part 4 – The Prophets

By Matt Dawson

I’ve really enjoyed diving into the Context Series here at Journey, and I hope it’s been beneficial for you too.

Even if you missed a few weeks, or if you missed yesterday – I want to just recap one statement that brings it all together for me:

Understanding the Context of our Faith helps us SPEAK AND LIVE out of the Greatness of God.

I firmly believe that many of us are NOT living out of the fullness and greatness of God in our lives.  There are many reasons for this spanning from doubt, faith in the wrong things, hardships we don’t understand, or a western apathy towards God fulfilling all of our needs because we can honestly fill most of them ourselves (or think we can).

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Weekend Preview | Context: Part 4 – The Prophets

By Chris Denning

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I hope you guys are diggin’ this series as much as I have been.  Having a better understanding of the Old Testament and why it matters in my life today is an essential part of having a growing relationship with Christ.

The last section we’re hitting in the Old Testament is the Prophets.  Included are some guys you’ve probably heard of, like Isaiah or Jeremiah, as well as some guys you might not have heard of, like Zephaniah and Haggai.  The Prophets represent such an important part of the history of the Jewish people, and remind me how easily I could become hard-hearted and disobedient like the people they tried to reach.

We’re so convinced about the importance of the Prophets that we’re actually doing a series this summer all about them to dive a little deeper there.  For me, I find two reasons that the Prophets are so important to study:
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Old Testament Stories | Gideon

By Matt Dawson

One of my favorite narratives in the Old Testament is the story of the man named Gideon.  The story of Gideon raises 2 questions that I believe are important for us to consider in our life of faith.

When Gideon is introduced in Judges 6 – we actually find him working in the field (in the bottom of a winepress, think hole in the ground) because he was living in fear of the Midianites.  Yet when the angel of the Lord shows up to speak to Gideon, he calls him out and says “Mighty Hero, The Lord is With You” (Judges 6:12).

Question #1: How would God address you if He walked up to you today?

What words would he use to describe you in your current state? “Loser, Slacker, Hypocrite, Failure, Liar, Cheater?”  Many of us don’t know how to answer this question.  We are not sure what He would call us – but it probably wouldn’t be MIGHTY HERO!

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Message Follow Up | Context: Part 3 – The Wisdom Books

By Matt Dawson

I’m on a mission.  It’s deeply personal to me.  It’s one of the things I feel God calling me to engage in more and more as I’ve served in the church.

I’m on a mission to help people know – It’s OKAY to ask Questions!

Yesterday, I shared in our Context series that the Wisdom/Poetry books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecc, and Song of Solomon) help display the LOVE OF GOD and the INTIMACY AVAILABLE TO US.

The primary example I used was Job’s encounter with God in Job 38-42.  This is a hard encounter to read if we don’t understand the beauty of the closeness Job experiences when God reveals Himself to him.  It seems harsh, but it was just a reminder to Job WHO HE WAS and WHO GOD IS.

THIS CLOSE ENCOUNTER with GOD… started with questions.

Job was asking WHY?  He was doubting the reasoning that his wife and friends were bringing to him as to ‘why’ God was allowing the hardship in his life.  His trust remained in God, but he DID QUESTION why God was doing it – what he gained from it – what were the reasons – did he deserve it?

Please understand: THESE QUESTIONS ARE COMPLETELY NATURAL.  We are NOT God – we don’t understand it all.  We cannot comprehend all that God is doing and because of this – we have NO CHOICE but to form questions in our minds.  God understands this – He made us.  He knows what’s in our minds even before we have the chance to voice it. (Psalm 139:3-4)

I have spent many years counseling and coaching Christians on their spiritual journey and I am convinced that somewhere along the way in the last 30 years of Christendom – SOMEONE convinced us that WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO QUESTION GOD!??!? I don’t know where this came from, but NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Now . . . we are not to TEST God. We are not to DEMEAN God with our attitudes. We are not to approach Him with disrespect or arrogance. (Job 40:2) BUT WE CAN ASK OUR QUESTIONS!  God expects us to – HE KNOWS we don’t have the answers and HE WANTS US TO SEEK THEM FROM HIM.

I believe many wayward followers were derailed in their faith when someone tried to convince them that God was not interested in their questions.  That He didn’t care – or that He would be MAD if you questioned Him about anything.  I’ve even had people tell me they don’t really think they can be a Christian because of the questions they have.  This does not align with what we read in scripture.

Many saints of old grew in their faith because of their questions to God.  The disciples were FILLED with questions – and Jesus was always patient to help them, teach them, work with them to help them understand.  His CLOSEST followers (the inner 3) had questions even after His resurrection!

Please, bring your questions to God.  DON’T STOP following Him because you don’t understand something or question something.  He wants to talk.  He wants to hear from you.  He wants to help you along the way.  He wants to DRAW YOU CLOSE through your questions.

Just think about it:  The questions that you have and are not asking God – could be the very doorway to the breakthrough in your faith that you’ve been longing for!

Don’t wait, bring your questions to God TODAY!

Weekend Preview | Context: Part 3 – The Wisdom Books

By Chris Denning

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I’ve really enjoyed these few weeks taking a look at the Old Testament, learning more about it, and how it applies to our lives today.  This weekend we’re focusing on my favorite section of the Old Testament, the Wisdom Books.

These are the books Job through Song of Solomon, spanning everything from truisms and stories meant to teach us about life, to songs and poems inspired by God.  Sometimes, I feel like the wisdom books were written just for me (mostly cause I could use A LOT of wisdom in my life).

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Old Testament Stories | Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

By Don Gentry

I absolutely love the Old Testament (OT)!  There are so many things to learn and gain greater understand into the heart and mind of the great God we serve.  One of my many favorite OT passages comes out of the book of Daniel.  You have probably heard of the story but maybe there is some contextual information that will help bring this story to life for you.

Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego are three characters that continue to inspire me every time I think about their situation.  If you don’t know the whole story then you really need to read all of Daniel especially Chapter 3, but I am only going to highlight one part because it encapsulates an incredible faith, and an incredible response, against incredible odds:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18 (NASB)

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Message Follow Up | Context – Part 2: The Historical Books

By David McNeely

My childhood is filled with memories of Old Testament stories.  I loved it.  I was a rowdy, obnoxious, desperately-in-need-of-the-not-yet-popular-ADHD-medication kid and yet I would sit spellbound for flannel-graph vacation bible school story time.

Story captures our imagination.  Story stirs our souls.  Story has a way of bringing our minds and our hearts to the same location where belief is bred.  The Old Testament historical books (Joshua – 2 Chronicles) are stories.  Among them are some of the most well-known stories in human history: Joshua and the battle of Jericho, Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, just to name a few.

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Weekend Preview | Context – Part 2: The History Books

By Chris Denning

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As we continue to look into the Old Testament, our next stop is in the History Books.  This isn’t a name given by the Bible itself, but rather a term we use to talk about the books from Joshua to Esther.

These books record the history of the Jewish people, from the time they entered the promised land to the two deportations and loss of the land because of their unbelief & disobedience.

These books cover about 800 years of Israel’s history, and include many of the major events in their history.  You can split these books into three smaller sections:

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Old Testament Stories | David

By Chris Denning

You’re Never Too Far From God

I don’t know if you’re like me, but if I’ve had a bad week, heard some rough news, or done something I regret, I have a hard time worshiping.  Mentally, I have a hard time getting past all that stuff to focus on what really matters.

I can even remember a time in my life where I was so deep in regret and shame that I couldn’t even turn my attention from myself for even a moment.

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