April 16, 2020
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16.
Most of America and, indeed, most of the world is in seclusion. Self-isolating and social distancing are phrases that were meaningless a few months ago, but are now heard everywhere. Today we cannot stand closer than 6’ from another human being, face masks are encouraged, and we are told to stay home unless there is a real need to be out and about. I never dreamed of a time like this. I’m very happy staying home, but I have to admit that I’d rather have it be a choice. What about you? I’m sure everyone has activities they miss. School kids miss being around friends, sports fans miss their favorite sports teams fighting for the championship, young people are unable to date, and many more social activities are no longer available. This virus will pass and life will return to some sort of normalcy, but what lasting affect will it have? Maybe we need to take a look at life before COVID-19 and see how our priorities were out of whack.
People are now forced to stay home. Many people, Christians included, have lost their jobs. With no sports activities, clubs, and slumber parties to shuffle the kids to, there’s a lot of time in a day to fill. With no other options, do you stay home and watch TV or play video games? For all of you who have said you don’t have time to study your Bible, you now have the time. Why is it so hard to pick up the Bible and start studying? Unfortunately, many Christians will opt to get hooked on a soap opera rather than open their Bible. Instead of instilling God’s word into your heart, do you listen to news report after report telling you one contradictory story about COVID-19 after another? Rather than that, it would be better to use this time to get to know Jesus better and examine your walk with Him. Go ahead, search the Scriptures. Use this time for good. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore man of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Acts 17:11-12. We can’t do anything to change what’s happening around us, but we can change our own thinking. Scripture is good for that. Draw closer to Jesus in this time of trouble.
Where do you start when studying Scripture? That depends upon where you are in your walk with Christ. Are you a babe in Christ? I don’t mean did you just come to know him recently. No matter how long you’ve claimed to follow Him, if you haven’t grown in your walk with Him, then you’re still a babe. Most Christians have a Bible but seldom open it, so they have no real knowledge of what they believe or what Scripture says about how we are to live. A good place to begin studying is always the Gospel of John. It’s not a race, so don’t rush through it. Stop and really think about what you’re reading. This Gospel opens with a very revealing statement. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1. Compare that verse to Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. So, logically, if the Word was in the beginning with God and was God, then the Word, Jesus Christ, is the Creator. John confirms that. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:3. Yes, Jesus was the Word made flesh and Creator of all creation. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Can you imagine what else you might learn as you read through John’s Gospel? Have a note pad and pencil with you as you read. Take notes and make comments. If a question comes to mind or something is unclear, write it down and research it. There are wonderful surprises in Scripture and you won’t find them unless you study.
Another way to study is to choose a subject, such as God’s love, or the Rapture, or did Jesus ever claim to be God. Then, find Scriptures that talk about the particular subject. You would be wise to get a concordance and use it to find other verses where a word or phrase is used. Be sure to look at the context of each verse. It’s not a bad idea to also look up the Hebrew or Greek words to give you a deeper understanding. English translations are good for those of us who speak English, but unless you can understand the meaning in the original language, you miss a lot. For instance, the New Testament talks a about love, but there are many Greek words that are translated “love” in Scripture. Each one has a different meaning. There’s the love of God, but there’s also the husband/wife love and brotherly love, etc. Love isn’t the only word like that. Scripture is full of wonderful discoveries and God gave us Scripture in order that we will come to know Him better and mold our life to His will. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
You might also begin a study of prophecy. Prophecy is being fulfilled rapidly, but many Christians argue about things like the Rapture, or whether Christians have replaced Israel. There are many opinions, but the only opinion that matters is God’s. God spoke through prophets of old about events of today. “That ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:2-4. Scoffers only scoff because they haven’t studied Scripture and don’t have a clue as to what it says. Many say that the word Rapture isn’t in the Bible so it isn’t a valid belief. It’s true that the word isn’t found in Scripture, but no English word is found in the original language. We say “Rapture”, but the Greek word is “harpazo”. Paul spoke of the Rapture/harpazo many times. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The phrase “caught up” is translated from “harpazo”, which means to be “snatched out or away”. In this case we will be caught up/snatched away before God’s wrath of the Tribulation. Not only that, but God gave a “picture” of the Rapture way back in Genesis. Enoch was Raptured prior to God’s judgment by the Flood, just like Christians will be Raptured prior to God’s judgment. When Paul first visited Thessalonica, he was there three weeks and taught them about Jesus, how to find salvation, and about the Rapture. Most Christians can sit in a pew every Sunday for many years and never hear of these things. That’s a sad comment on pastors. As for Christians replacing Israel, that’s just wrong. God will never replace Israel with any people group. Many Old Testament prophets talk about Israel returning to their land and much more that we see happening today.
Another wonderful book in the Bible to study is Ruth. It’s a beautiful love story, but it also is filled with symbolism. Naomi was a Jewish widow who needed to redeem her land. She had a Gentile daughter-in-law, Ruth, who was also a widow, but loved Naomi and learned about God through Naomi. Then, there is Boaz, who was Naomi’s next of kin and eligible to redeem her land. He did that by marrying Ruth, a Gentile bride, just as Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, will marry His Gentile Bride and redeem all of Israel. It’s a wonderful book to read and study.
With so much time on your hands, now might be a good time to study about sin. What is sin? Where did it originate? When you study sin, you’ll begin to see things in your own life that you need to change. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3. Too often we can see the sin of others but then justify the sin in our own life because “everybody does it”. Instead of comparing your life to world standards, compare your life to God’s standards. Then, when we are allowed to venture out into society again, we can be better ambassadors for our Lord. People will see a change in us and we can share the Gospel. Many Christians talk about how we need a revival, but they just don’t want to revive their own love for Christ.
Brothers and sisters, we are living in the end of days (study about that in Scripture). There should be nothing more important to us than serving Jesus and spreading the Gospel. Instead of stuffing your head full of the latest COVID-19 news story, stuff your heart, mind, and soul with Jesus. His love is eternal. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. When you’re trying to decide what to do with the extra time you have on your hands, try spending time with Jesus.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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