Why the Old Testament Matters

By Zack DeBerry

I love doing series like Eat Your Peas at Journey. I love being reminded of the rich history and incredible stories that are present in the Old Testament that sometimes we forget about. To me you should have a good grasp on the Old Testament to truly have a proper understanding of all that is great about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. There are several reasons why I feel the Old Testament is incredibly useful for us to study today.

  1. It is the beginning of a Grand Love Story.
    The Old Testament was never intended to be read by itself, it was like Act 1 of a great story. We tend to love Act 2, but without Act 1 we can’t fully understand the totality of the story being told. The Bible is ONE Story told in 66 books by a variety of voices and stories across different times and places.  To fully appreciate the Old Testament, we must have the view that the story would be incomplete without understanding it.
  2. We see the Human Condition
    In the Old Testament we see the human condition from Genesis 3 to Malachi. We see the sins of the nation of Israel as well as many individuals on display. We see nations and families at war. We see the same problems we face today in the stories of the Old Testament. The reason for this is that we all suffer from the same problem, Sin. Sin is the great problem that must be dealt with in our lives and it had to be dealt with in the Old Testament. We see this common theme of the human condition throughout the stories of the Old Testament.
  3. We get a glimpse of God’s Character
    In the stories of the Old Testament we see God’s character of Love, Mercy, and Grace on display. Israel had a history of messing up, but God had a plan and His love for His people never changed. In the stories of the Old Testament we see this on multiple occasions. God’s love ultimately culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but God’s character and nature are fully displayed in the writings of the Old Testament.

So, those are just some of the reasons I believe the Old Testament is valuable to us today. I hope that as we continue to share some of the history and stories of the Old Testament over the next few weeks together, that you would see the beauty and importance of the Old Testament in our lives today. I pray that as we see more of the story of God’s Love toward broken humanity, that we could see His loving nature more clearly, and become people that share that love and hope those we encounter daily.

Series Preview | Eat Your Peas

By Don Gentry

Remember when your parents made you eat your veggies?  Personally, I used to love to eat peas, but I hated spinach.  Punishment awaited me if my spinach was not eaten.  I used to figure out all kinds of ways to be sneaky and throw it away, or make it appear as if it was gone.  Maybe you are a healthy eater and can’t relate. The moral of the story is that many times there is an intrinsic value to things that we may not always see, when we do things that we don’t enjoy. 

For example, I have heard many people tell me how they don’t read the Old Testament. They don’t understand it.  They think it shows a mean, unloving God.  It is not applicable.  I could go on.  The reality is that the Old Testament is full of wisdom, stories of how a loving God guided a disobedient and rebellious nation, it is a story of love, betrayal, war, and so much more.  To hear how some view the OT is so disheartening.

In order to help change people’s perspective we are starting a new series called Eat Your Peas.  We want people to have a better understanding of how to read the OT and why it is important. We want people to have a practical tool (SCMC) to tackle any story in the OT to better understand it.

You might be wondering what SCMC stand for?  I guess you better show up on Sunday at find out!  J  See you all on Sunday!

Why the Old Testament?!?

By Don Gentry


Why the Old Testament?!?

Have you ever told someone or been told by someone to read the Bible?  One of the comments that I have received in reply is, “I just don’t understand it,” or “It doesn’t really apply to me.  I receive a host of other replies as well and they very seldom imply a love of the scriptures. 

To help read the scriptures, especially the Old Testament there are a few foundational thoughts and steps that I think can help create a better understanding of the Bible. 

  1. Ask God to help you fall in love with the Bible.  The Bible is literally God’s word to you.  It was written by the Holy Spirit through men so that we could understand the heart and story of God’s interaction with and love for mankind. 
  2. Put yourself in character.  The Bible is a compilation of the stories of God.  Try to imagine yourself as the character in that story.  The Bible reads differently when you are the character that you are reading about.  To do this, you may need to visit a few museums and study some history books so that you can understand the culture in which the Bible was written.  When you understand the culture,  then you can become a part of the script.  For example, are you the mom that dedicates her son to the service of God, or are you the son?  Are you the warrior that drove your sword into the fat of the king, or are you the husband that gave your wife to the whims of a king so that you wouldn’t die.  Become a part of the story. 
  3. When reading the OT, remember it was before Jesus came as the final sacrifice. This is imperative for understanding the OT.  God uses the OT to help us understand how righteous and Holy he is.  He uses the stories and characters of the OT to help us understand the fallenness of mankind and how separate from man God is.  He uses the stories to show that the only way to him is through holy right living and sacrifices.  He uses the stories so that we can see that even in all the failing of mankind for over 4,000 years, he was infinitely patient before he finally said enough.  The OT builds up to the point where we understand our need for a perfect sacrifice.  Jesus.
  4. We have to understand that the Holy Spirit was not given to all equally in the OT.  Not until the New Testament are all people equal in their ability to hear and respond to God.  The giving of the Holy Spirit in the NT is the great equalizer for humanity.  In the OT relationship with God is very detailed and works driven. The Holy Spirit’s activity was limited to prophets, judges, key leaders, priests, and other isolated incidents in the OT.  In the NT we all have equal access. 
  5. The OT is an account of a 4,000-year story of God’s interaction and dealings with mankind that should lead us to a very clear understanding of why we need a savior like Jesus Christ. 
  6. There is a three-step process to help you do this.  1. Observe the passage of scripture.  Observation will help you gain context so that you can become a part of the story. This is where research and study must come in. 2. Interpret the passage.  Once you have observed all that you can, then we can begin to interpret how this story points us to the bigger story of God’s interaction with man.  We can begin to see what God was saying to the early audience.  3. Then we can apply the passage.  Once we have observed the correct context of the story and interpreted what it meant to the early audience, then we can ask the question: what can I learn from this and how can I apply it to my personal walk.  There are all kinds of tools that can help you with this three-step process.

You could read the OT with just this three-step process, but I believe by having a solid foundation as outlined in points 1-5 your scripture reading will come alive in a whole new way

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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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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