a journey of discovery Getting the Most Out of God s Word For personal devotion or group discussion A Guide for Reading and Listening to God s Word

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1 Getting the Most Out of God s Word For personal devotion or group discussion A Guide for Reading and Listening to God s Word a journey of discovery Magnolia Baptist Church

2 WELCOME ALONG I believe there is no greater journey one can engage in life than to know Jesus of Nazareth...the Christ...the Son of God. CONTENTS Paul, a leader in the early foundations of Christianity, wrote For me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:27). Nothing else was more important to Paul. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8) WELCOME ALONG MAPPING JESUS LIFE I agree with Paul. There is nothing in my life more incredible than knowing Jesus. The words and ways of Jesus guide and enhance every facet of my life...at home with my wife and kids, at work, and in my community. TIMELINE OF JESUS part 4 HELPFUL ONLINE TOOLS DAY TWENTY-ONE: Friend of Sinners DAY TWENTY-TWO: Needing a Sign DAY TWENTY-THREE: Teaching through Parables DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Does that make me perfect? No. I blow it...big time. But it put me in a right relationship with Jesus...being a follower. This guide is a journey of discovery...of knowing Jesus. My hope in putting this together is to help guide you along this journey; to guide you into a personal discovery of Jesus in ways, that perhaps, you haven't thought of before; to introduce you to a very real Jesus who had a family and friends, knew incredible affirmation and suffered painful rejection; who knew hunger and thirst; who lived and died and lives again! Take courage and take the journey to discover Jesus: the Lamb of God who takes away sin, the son of Joseph and Mary, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lion of Judah, the Son of Man, the Son of God. Lord of All DAY TWENTY-FIVE: God Revealed In knowing Jesus more deeply, I hope also that you come to know yourself more clearly. That as you know Him more, you more and more become like Jesus and truly discover not just a person or a moment in history, but that you truly discover life in His name. Blessings, Jeremy K. Bratcher Senior Pastor MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

3 MAPPING JESUS LIFE

4 TIMELINE of JESUS LIFE part four Jesus returns from the second Passover 27 A.D. Nazareth He Came Again to His Own City (Matthew 9:1; Mark 5:21 Luke 8:40). The Parable of the Wineskins (Matthew 9:10-17; Mark 2:15-22; Luke 5:29-39). Jairus' Daughter and the Woman With the Flow of Blood (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56). The Blind and the Mute (Matthew 9:27-34). A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except.. (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6). He Was Moved With Compassion For Them (Matthew 9:35-38) Sent His Disciples Out With Power and Authority (Matthew 10; Mark 6:6-13, Luke 9:1-6)6). Machaerus John the Baptist is Beheaded (Matthew 14:1, 2, 6-12; Mark 6:14-16, 21-29; Luke 9:7-9) Near Bethsaids The Disciples Return, Feeding Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14) Sea of Galilee Jesus Walks on Water (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-21) Jesus visits Jerusalem for a third Passover April, 28 A.D. Am the Bread of Life (John 6:22-65) Do you also want to go away? (John 6:66-71) Unwashed Hands (Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23) A Woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30) Then Great Multitudes Came to Him (Matthew 15:29-31, Mark 7:31-37) Feeding Four Thousand (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9) Seeking From Him a Sign From Heaven (Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:10-12) MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

5 Helpful Online Tools for Personal Bible Study Home of the NET Bible and incredible background study resources. The NET Bible is full of notes from some of the best Hebrew and Greek scholars of our day. Bible.org offers self-paced theological studies, outlines and study guides for each book of the Bible. Bible.org is key word searchable. Some of the language and presentation of the material is a bit more scholarly than other sites, but it is fairly accessible in understanding. Great website for searching through the Bible. It offers several tools for study (as the name suggests): concordances, language tools, maps, commentaries...it even has an interlinear Bible (that is searchable and provides pronunciations and root word guides for those who desire to know more about Biblical Greek and Hebrew). This is a must link for anyone looking to study the word more. Thousands of dollars in print resources, all free for use here! Created using Google maps, this site offers a satellite view of Bible lands. The map is linked to Bible references and is searchable by book and verse. This site offers a dozens of translations that are searchable by book, chapter and verse. You can even compare various translations here to see how the texts might be handled a bit differently. This site also offers several language translations. A great mobile Bible accessible through Blackberry, iphone, and Android apps. There is now a windows/mac version of YouVersion available for desktop use. A great tool for anyone looking to keep the Word with them on the go! PreceptAustin.org is an incredible website full of Bible studies, outlines, maps, Greek and Hebrew helps. I have recently added it to this list. It is absolutely worth your time to invest here during your personal Bible study. SonicLight is the personal website of Dr. Tom Constable. Dr. Constable is an incredible Bible scholar with deep insight into God s word. Working expositionally through the Scripture, Dr. Constable presents a thorough and understandable breakdown of God s word.

6 Having returned from the second Passover journey, Jesus will invest much of ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? his time training and equipping those who follow him. Significant portions of his teaching ministry are attributed to this time frame. On one quiet night, Jesus takes up an invitation to dine with Simon, one of the religious leaders in his hometown. As the evening meal progresses, a unique visitor interrupts. DAY TWENTY-ONE: Friend of Sinners Pray: Lord, show me truth in this reading today. Help me see you and your grace in my life. Read: Luke 7:36-50 Which character do you most relate to in the passage: Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman of the city? Why do you say this? Then I read that Jesus was a friend of sinners. This still bothers me. Not because Jesus was a friend of sinners (because that came in really handy in my case). It bothered me because if I'm trying to live like Jesus, that means I'm supposed to be a friend of sinners too. Do you think in v. 40 Simon was more inviting Jesus teaching or preparing to defend himself? Again, why do you think this? Dillon Burroughs, Undefending Christianity: Embracing Truth Without Having All the Answers How would you respond to Jesus statement in vv if you were Simon? What questions do you still have? MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

7 Reflect: This woman of the city has been said to be a prostitute. Whatever she was, her reputation in the city definitely preceded here in the room. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment...regardless of your sin, we are all sinners. None of us...not one of us...is worthy of Christ s honor. You enter the room, unannounced and definitely unwelcomed. The gasps and whispers already fill the air. Across the room is Jesus. You run to him. Bow to him. And honor him. But what do you honor him with? Your reputation? That s what Simon did. All that you have is what s in the box...that alabaster box, polished and white and full of the tools of your trade: oils and perfumes. Think about it for a moment: proper bathing wasn t as accessible in the ancient world. To keep the clients happy, a prostitute would have used perfume and oils between each of her appointments to prepare for the next. When this woman came in and poured the perfume from her alabaster box on Jesus, she was truly repenting. She was pouring everything that increased her sinful profit out on Jesus and turning away from the sin she was in...no longer needing this perfume. As much as this perfume would have cost her, Jesus meant more. And then...then he spoke the words, Your sins are forgiven. Jesus was far more than a friend of sinners. He was the one who forgave, restored and renewed sinners. Jesus said to Simon, Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. When you think about how you respond to Jesus, do you respond as one who is forgiven much or one who is forgiven little? Which is more important to you: being recognized by the friend of sinners or being forgiven by the savior of sinners? Why? Where do you struggle to be forgiven today? Why? Turn this struggle into a prayer of forgiveness and a praise for being forgiven.

8 DAY TWENTY-TWO: Needing a Sign As Jesus continues throughout the region, his reputation is questioned. Friend of sinners...master teacher...miracle worker who is this Jesus? Although everything about Jesus points to him being the Messiah, those most educated in the Hebrew Scriptures cannot see Jesus clearly. His interaction with the unclean and the unholy draw ire and resentment. These leaders come to Jesus demanding proof that he is from God...because his actions seem certainly like nothing a holy, loving, gracious God would do...right? Pray: Lord, what more proof do I need. Give me courage to believe and believe all the more. Read: Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:10-13; Luke 12:54-56 What differences or similarities do you notice between the three passages? We cannot find Him unless we know we need Him. We forget this need when we take a self-sufficient pleasure in our own good works. The poor and helpless are the first to find Him, Who came to seek and to save that which was lost. What do you think the religious leaders were after: proof to believe or evidence to accuse? Why do think this? Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island Why do you think Jesus does not fulfill the religious leaders request? What questions do you still have? MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

9 Reflect: The rumors of Jesus miracles were all over the place. Every town, village and hamlet...every seaside port, every large city, every outskirt...all had heard or witnessed this Jesus. In the center of all of the buzz, the religious leaders came to Jesus demanding a sign. Why? Had they not seen? Had they not heard? Jesus sighs. The demand for a sign was emotionally exhausting. His own disciples saw firsthand miracle after miracle and heard teaching after teaching. They even had private explanations of events and teachings so that they could understand more clearly. And they still struggled with faith. Have you ever fallen into the just give me sign God trap? Maybe God did give you a sign. Maybe you re still waiting. We often think, If you give me a sign (proof) then I ll never doubt you again. And just like that we cover our own disbelief. What starts out as a declaration of wanting to increase our faith is really just a cover up of our doubts. I look at the world today and see no greater historically influential person than Jesus of Nazareth. His name has been used for peace and war...attributed to unity and division...to righteous indignation and selfish judgments. I cannot think of one nation that hasn t been effected by Jesus one way or another. Yet, the world today still demands a sign from God. I wonder if any new sign would really make much difference. I wonder if demands for heavenly signs are still exhausting for Jesus. Maybe the point of faith is found greater in a lack of signs. After all Jesus did tell Thomas, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet, believe. (John 20:29) Have you ever asked God for a sign? Do you feel that God gave you the sign? Why do you think people are still searching for proof to believe God is real or evidences that God isn t real? Just a thought: Focus on what God has already done (provided for your salvation through Jesus and a way to know Him and His way through the Bible). Turn your focus on what has already been done into a prayer of strengthening faith.

10 DAY TWENTY-THREE: Teaching through Parables I recommend to you Jesus Christ, the unchanging One. I recommend to you God's answer to your questions, God's solution to your problems, God's life for your dying soul, God's cleansing for your sin-cursed spirit, God's rest for your restless mind, and God's resurrection for your dying body. For advocate above, I recommend Him to you. You will find Him to be all He ever was-- the very same Jesus. A.W. Tozer, Jesus reputation for being a teacher or rabbi in his day was remarkable. He taught with authority. People marveled at his command of the Scriptures. He taught with compassion revealing the grace of God s Kingdom for those who would believe. He taught with truth. Sometimes though, Jesus hid the full meaning of that truth from those who would oppose God s Kingdom. Thus, Jesus taught in parables...stories that used everyday objects to teach a deeper truth which most people couldn t grasp otherwise. Parables don t hide the lesson, but rather teaches it in a way that could be better grasped by the one who was open to receiving it. Pray: Lord, guide me in your way as I read your word. Read: Matthew 13:1-53 Look back at vv What lesson do you learn about Jesus from the parable of the sower? Why does Jesus teach in parables? Hint: v10-13 How does Jesus response about teaching in parables make you feel? The Attributes of God: Deeper into the Father's Heart What questions do you still have? MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

11 Reflect: Compared to His earlier teaching during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus's turn to parables might seem odd. He'd used clear instruction to teach His followers how to live and about the Kingdom of God, and He'd exhibited the Kingdom in a tangible way through His miracles. But suddenly, when the crowds come to hear Him, He hops into a boat and speaks in parables, stories about sowing seeds and gathering wheat (Matthew 13). When the disciples ask Him why, since they obviously noticed the change, His answer may seem even more astonishing: "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been granted" (Matthew 13:11). In other words, the parables are meant to divide the crowd. While this may seem as if Jesus denied some people access, the difference He means is not in the message but in the response. The parables themselves present clear stories from everyday events that many in the crowd would recognize. Jesus did not code His teaching to prevent some people from understanding, since all equally would understand the imagery. All those gathered there certainly comprehended the aspects of the stories related to their everyday lives. Instead, His teaching divided the listeners into two groups based on their own responses. His miracles had attracted many, and others had perhaps been astonished by His earlier teaching. But the parables themselves, just as in the story of the seed falling on various places (Matthew 13:3-9), revealed the true nature of their responses and their real decisions. Those committed to the Kingdom of God would seek and find further understanding. But those uncommitted perhaps listening only because of the initial excitement would reject the teaching as unintelligible. Adapted from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (Book III, Chapter XXIII). What type of soil are you? Why do you think this? What do you think needs to happen for you to have the kind of life in Christ that v. 23 describes? Pray: Make your answer to the last question a focus of prayer today.

12 Today s reading is a build up passage. The Gospel of Mark records an incredible sequence of events that reveals the limitless nature of Jesus power and command. His closest followers react in fear and uncertainty, others marvel in wonder. Who is this Jesus? Pray: Lord, what a word to call you. Help me see your power and command. Give me courage to see you move in power and command in my life. Read: Mark 4:35-5:43 DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Lord of All What does each account tell you about Jesus? Jesus calms the storm: Jesus doesn't adjust to us, and He doesn't submit to our whims. We adjust to Jesus and submit to Him. Jesus is King, not an accessory. Jesus casts out demons: Jesus heals the sick: Justin Buzzard, The Big Story: How the Bible Makes Jesus raises the dead: Sense out of Life Do you think the disciples have a right response to Jesus in v 4:41? How does their response change in 8:27-30? What questions do you still have? MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

13 Reflect: In the New Testament, kurios means lord. Sometimes, the New Testament may have the less exalted meanings of kurios in mind when it addresses Jesus as Lord, but the title is undoubtedly used of Him in the highest possible sense as well. The old Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint translates the Hebrew names for God, Yahweh and Adonai, as kurios. Yahweh is the revealed name of God in Hebrew and Adonai is one of His titles; thus, kurios, or Lord, is the most important title for God in the Greek, which is quoted throughout the New Testament. When kurios is used in this sense, it conveys the idea of one who is absolutely sovereign. It is a majestic title, conveying God s sovereignty and divine power, and it is a remarkable proof of Jesus divinity when it is applied to Him in this manner. Philippians 2:5-11, in which Paul discusses the humiliation and exaltation of God the Son, calls Jesus Lord in the highest sense. Lord is the name above all names that is given to our Savior when the Father exalts Him (vv. 9 11). When we read this passage in Mark, we see Jesus as lord over the natural word, the supernatural world, disease and death...truly what we see all the more clearly is that Jesus indeed is worthy to be Lord of all. Jesus is the name above every name. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Because he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross, God the Father highly exalted him and gave him the greatest of all names. Before him every knee shall bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Jesus holds the reins of history in his hands. He rules the nations. He raises kings and dethrones them. He raises kingdoms and destroys them. Angels, human beings, and demons bow at his feet. What does Jesus is Lord mean to you? In your life do you see Jesus more as Lord of All or Lord over Some? Why do you think this? Take time today to think of ways to praise Jesus, Lord of All.

14 Jesus has revealed much of God s Kingdom to his disciples. They have heard ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? Jesus teach and explain truth to them. They have been eye-witnesses to miraculous events. When asked, these first disciples professed that this Jesus was indeed the Christ. With this confession, Peter, James and John are ready for one more display of Jesus uniqueness. Pray: Lord, continue to prepare me to see you in truth. Read: Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36 DAY TWENTY-FIVE: God Revealed What is the most amazing detail of this encounter to you? It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can t be packaged, and it can t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement. Eugene H. Peterson Use your own words to describe Jesus appearance? Read Revelation 1: Do you think this is what John saw on the mountaintop we read about today? Why do you think this? What questions do you still have? MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH

15 Reflect: Have you ever had an encounter with God that has left you speechless? Or maybe you ve had that kind of God-encounter where you wish you could simply stay in that moment. Or maybe you feel like a few of the other disciples who weren t on the mountaintop, but could only hear stories from the others about how awesome it was. The encounter for Peter, James and John was incredible. I believe Peter is writing about this encounter when he shares, For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18 NIV) And John may have been alluding to this same event when he wrote, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV) Those two, along with James, saw something that day that would carry them through the dark days to come. They saw the glory of the Lord. Sometimes we live an unseeing faith. We believe in the Bible or in some doctrine; we affirm faith by good works yet, something about our faith doesn t seem quite together. In hard times we turn away. In uncertain matters we doubt. Maybe, just maybe, what s missing in your faith-walk is beholding glory. We won t all see the transfigured Jesus or have a fiery bush speak out to us or see waters part or seas calm. Yet, we are invited to see his glory in our lives. Maybe our words should be that of Moses as recorded in Exodus 33:18, Moses said, Please show me your glory. So how does see God s glory? In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer models how pondering God's attributes can lead us there. Getting out in God's creation may assist this work if nature speaks to you. Contemplating the Word can direct our gaze toward Jesus; as can worship, prayer and art. It's fitting that this path can't be prescribed in five easy steps, but the Lord's majesty and glory await the one who refuses to be satisfied with anything less. ACTIVITY: Look over your schedule. Make regular time for thinking about God. Maybe you start with a book like The Pursuit of God or Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Maybe you need to take a walk on the beach or along a wooded trail. Maybe your pursuit begins in worship. Think through the words of the songs and sing them to God. What ever you select to do or think otherwise to do...simply pray, Lord, Please show me your glory. And let God do the rest.

16 MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH SEEKS TO EMBODY A: Gospel-centered (I Cor. 15:1-4) Family-redeeming (Acts 16:25-34) City-focused (Jeremiah 29:7) Church Community (I Thess. 2:5-8) We value Gospel Proclamation believing that the 66 books of the Old & New Testament are our highest authority of God s selfdisclosure and as it is faithfully explained, explored and expressed, the Holy Spirit will elicit a response. We value Gospel Community believing that people were created to explore the Gospel together with honest, vulnerable dialogue about difficult things pursuing depth in friendships to facilitate growth. We value Gospel Mission believing that the Gospel compels us to learn from, interact with, and generously give back to our culture in the way we live our lives. MAGNOLIA BAPTIST CHURCH CONNECTING PEOPLE to JESUS 720 S. Magnolia Ave Anaheim, CA ph