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The Bible

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Luke 24:44

As I’ve progressed in the study of the Bible, I’ve learned that the entire Bible teaches us about one subject – Jesus.  From beginning to end Jesus appears.  He is part of the creation team, the angel of the Lord speaking to Hagar, the prophecy of Isaiah, and so much more.  So, when Jesus, after His resurrection, reminds the disciples that His death fulfilled all that the Old Testament taught us we should be spurred to investigate further.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47

You can buy a Bible that only includes the New Testament.  But that would be like getting dropped into the middle of a battle not knowing why it started and which side you should be on!  And while there are so many great lessons and the message of salvation in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the full weight of those gifts lies in the cornerstones set in Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah and more.

It’s believed the first book of the Bible written was Job, around 2000 BC. After that the 10 Commandments and then the Book of the Law were placed in the Ark of the Covenant around 1000 BC.  The New Testament books were written about 50 AD.   Emperor Constantine commissioned the Codex Vaticanus, considered the original entire Bible, in 312 AD.  And in 1381, John Wycliffe defied church authority and began translating the Bible into English and distributing handwritten books to laypeople.  With the advent of the printing press in 1455, the Bible began its journey to being one of the most popular books ever printed.

I’m so thankful God took His Word and through man put it in this book we call the Bible.  With it we can learn about His character, His promises and fulfillment of them, His expectations, His plans for us.  My Bible sat for years gathering dust, not respecting its long history and those who died to make it accessible to all.  It seemed unwieldy and confusing.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, teachers and the fellowship of Christians I’ve come to see the beautiful story, the amazing truth of Jesus, Son of God.  The Bible is a living document, one which grows with us as we dig deeper into our faith.

Today on this great day of Thanksgiving in the United States I want to spur you to open your Bible.  To read the history of our broken world.  To read the entire, true story of a God who loves us.  Of a God who never leaves us.  Of a God who promises to deliver us from our sins.  Of a God who sent His son to be sacrificed so that we will be brought home, cleaned and forgiven.

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He Pursues Us

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shouldersand goes home.  Luke 15:3-5

I’ve always been the kind of person that makes sure no one is left behind or left out.  This served me well as a Girl Scout leader.  I was always counting heads making sure none of my little sheep got lost.  I can count two times in my 13 years as a leader of two troops where someone was lost.  One was an adult so I wasn’t quite as concerned about that.  But the other was a child, who was being supervised by another adult while at an amusement park.  When all our groups gathered for a “touching base” the adult mentioned he hadn’t seen her in a bit.  The casualness of his report shocked me.  I went immediately into “Lost Sheep” mode – sending out the troops to start searching and contacting the park security team.  Thankfully the young lady was found within a short period of time.  But my trust in the adult was gone.

As a Christian we should take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus will never take our missing status casually.  I praise God today that he pursues us even when we don’t realize we are lost.  

In past praises I’ve mentioned I love the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.  She didn’t realize she was lost.  She just knew her life was miserable.  He sought her out and changed her life forever.  A sheep brought into the fold.  This weekend I had the pleasure of learning about another woman at the well that was pursued by God – Hagar.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  Genesis 16: 7-8

Hagar, as a refresher, was Sarai’s slave.  Sarai encouraged her husband Abram to sleep with Hagar in order to have offspring.  But once Hagar became pregnant, Sarai treated her slave terribly.  Hagar fled to escape further persecution.  And the “Angel of the Lord” – Jesus – sought her out.

What I learned about this small scene in Genesis made the story all the more comforting.  First, this is the first instance in the Bible that the “Angel of the Lord” makes His appearance.  Second, this is the only time God addresses a slave and calls her by name.  On top of that He makes what can only be called a promise, or a covenant, with someone other than the Israelites.  And it’s this slave who names God.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Just think of it.  This lowly slave.  Someone not worthy of anything in man’s eyes being sought after and called by God.  Being allowed to speak with God and helping us know who He is.  If God pursues her, how can He not pursue me?

That little Girl Scout that got separated from her group? She didn’t think she was lost. She was distracted by the bells and whistles of the amusement park. Left on her own long enough she would’ve certainly gotten emotional. Friends, so many of us lose our way or become slaves to something or someone.  And sometimes we run away from everything to try and be free. In all these circumstances we’ve moved from His safe folds to the dangerous pitfalls of the world. But He will pursue you.  You just need to stop and rest at the well for a minute and listen to His voice beckoning you home.