30 March 2016

Guide to the Bible (4) Poetry - By Jack Lewis

Hi everyone! Today I'm going back into my series going through the different sections of the Bible. So far I've done Law and History, and after those books come the books of poetry. The books in order are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. Some of those, i.e. Psalms and Song of Songs, are very obviously poetry. The others, Job for example, aren't really poetic, instead they tell us of conversations between people. 
To go through each book in more depth, we'll start with Job. This book tells us the story of of a man who is very wealthy and prosperous, and he is also a very Godly man. But then Satan goes to God, and tells him that Job is only loyal to him because of the wealth he has. So God grants the Devil's request, and allows Satan to inflict all kinds of losses on Job. He loses his family, livestock, slaves, and property, everything basically. (This part is all told in the first two chapters, after that the rest of the book - barring the last chapter - is conversations between Job and his friends.) Job, though, stays close to God all the way through, and eventually Satan admits defeat. God then blesses Job by giving him back much more than he lost. There is a very important lesson for us in this book, because we will all go through troublesome times in our lives. The lesson is that if we remain constant and with God through the trials, he will bless us if we come through still worshiping him. God could have chosen not to let Job go through all this, but God lets us all go through trials in life, that's where he finds his true followers, and those are the one's who will get the greatest reward both on this earth and the next. 
After Job, is Psalms. The Psalms are a collection of songs written by a variety of people, although many are thought to be written by King David. The songs vary greatly; some make up many of the shortest chapters in the Bible, while Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. The subjects vary too, some are songs of celebration and praise to God, while others are songs of mourning and sadness. 
Next up, is Proverbs. Again it's a collection, this time of wise sayings. It's written by King Solomon, and it's very analogical. It compares wisdom to a woman, and it's full of warnings against laziness and adultery. It can be split into three main sections: A general introduction to wisdom (chapters 1-9), a collection of wise sayings (10-30), and the book ends with a famous passage about the perfect wife (31). 
After Proverbs, is the book of Ecclesiastes. It's not exactly the most read book in the Bible, and it does have a bit of a depressing feel about it. It's written by an old, wise, and rich man; who looks back at his life and realizes that all his riches were eventually worthless. He struggles with one of life's big questions - What is the meaning of life, and he eventually comes to the conclusion that, without God, life is meaningless. Although the author is unknown, many people believe it to be written by the late King Solomon. The most famous part of the book is in chapter 3, "A time for everything."
The last of the poetry books, is Song of Songs. It's written by a younger King Solomon, which is why is sometimes also called Song of Solomon. It details a conversation between a woman, her lover, and their friends. It's very romantic, and shows how God wants us to love each other in a good way. It also shows that, in marriage, sex is a gift that can be celebrated and enjoyed.

26 March 2016

The real Easter story - By Jack Lewis

Hi everyone, just doing a bit of a bonus post seeing as it's Easter and I'm bored! 
Now, try to think of Easter, and what comes to mind? If it's the crucifixion, great, but what sort of image do you see when thinking about that? Most of us get shown images like the one on the left here, but after being whipped, flogged, and nailed to a cross; I really don't think you would look anything like that. You're skin would have been red with blood, and Jesus would have probably whipped so badly that that bones in his back were showing. (More like the other picture above.) I think sometimes we can focus only on the crucifixion itself and forget that Jesus suffered a whipping/beating so bad it would have killed any normal man! He was probably whipped with a Cat o' nine tails, a whip with nine cords that might well have even had flint or nails attached to the end. Think how much one hit from that would hurt, let alone thirty-nine! He was also flogged, and the crown of thorns on his head would probably have been driven almost into his skull. So he suffered all that, was probably half-dead, and then he still had to carry his extremely heavy cross up the hill. (He kept falling over so someone else had to carry it the second half of the way) 
So he did all that, and then he was crucified. That must have been the most painful experience ever, and it actually happened, it's a historical event. And if you were this earth's sole inhabitant, Jesus would still have gone through every single part of that, just so you could have the option of living on the perfect new earth, rather than going to hell were we all deserve to go. Doesn't that make you realize how much you are worth to God?

24 March 2016

Guide to the Bible (3) History - By Jack Lewis

After the books of law, there are a section of 12 books that are often referred to as the history books. They are like their name suggest, they are almost historical documents. The 12 books are listed below along with a famous Bible character/story in them.  

Joshua - Fall of Jericho
Judges - Gideon and Samson
Ruth - Ruth and Naomi
1&2 Samuel - David and Goliath
1&2 Kings - Solomon and Elijah
1&2 Chronicles - David and Solomon
Ezra - Ezra
Nehemiah - Rebuilding of Jerusalem
Esther - Esther

More or less all the history books follow/lead on to the books before and after them, it's quite an obvious sequence. To go through the books in order: Joshua carries on where Deuteronomy left off; Moses has died and the Isrealites are now led by the young Joshua. They first cross over the river Jordan (in flood season!) (http://godatthecentreofourlives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/be-patient-with-god-he-knows-what-hes.html/) to get to get to the promised land, and there they conquer Jericho without laying a finger on it! Joshua dies at the end of the book, and from then on the Isrealites really lack that Godly leader like Moses and Joshua. Their story carries on into Judges; and in this book the stories of Deborah, Gideon and Samson are told. After Judges comes Ruth, and it's a little like a footnote that tells a short story mixed in with the main document. It's still a really good book to read though, and there is a few great moral lessons that can be learned from it. The books of Samuel begin with a bit about the life of the person whom it is named after, before moving on to the stories of King David. Next comes 1&2 Kings, and they start off with the story of David's son and successor, Solomon. In these books we also have the stories of Elijah and Elisha, including the contest on Mt. Carmel (If you've never read that story, it's great! 1 Kings 18) After the mainly sequential first 7 History books, we find 1&2 Chronicles. They don't take on the Isrealite story, instead they recap what had happened in the past. The books were written for the men returning from the Babylonian exile, and it's a reminder to them to learn lessons from what happened when their ancestors turned away from God in the past. The last three history books are Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. They are a bit of a series in themselves, in fact Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book. In those two, we learn about the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and Esther tells the story of the person after who it was named.         

17 March 2016

Guide to the Bible (2); Books of Law - By Jack Lewis

After Genesis and Exodus, there are three more books that make up what it called the Pentateuch, or books of law. These books tend to have a bit of a bad reputation, and they are quite difficult to read, but that doesn't mean they are totally useless. The three books in order are Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 

The first one, Leviticus, probably has the worst reputation of the lot, and it's an incredibly difficult book to read. Basically, it's a detailed list of laws for the Isrealites to follow, and a lot of these laws seem very outdated to us. Many of the laws are about animal sacrifice, but we don't have to do that any more, because when Jesus died on a cross he was "the perfect sacrifice;" in other words his life was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, so now we don't have to slaughter innocent animals to repay God for our sins; Jesus did that once and for all. Perhaps Leviticus is a good book to read when we have read the books of the Bible that are more relevent to us. Maybe it's not where you would direct a very new christian!

After Leviticus is Numbers, and it's a slightly easier read! The first few chapters mainly deal with a large census in Isreal, (hence the name Numbers) and you could be forgiven for skipping those; but from about chapters 9 or 10, the book has a feeling much more like Genesis or Exodus. There are some really interesting stories in there, and it's well worth a read; it mainly tells of the time the Isrealites spent wandering in the desert. Towards the end it reverts a bit more to law.

The final book of the Pentateuch, is Dueteronomy. It's very similar to Numbers, it's almost like a follow up book. In fact the first couple of chapters basically sum up the whole of Numbers! When Moses wrote it, he knew that he was soon going to die, and so it's like his farewell letter, where he instructs the Isrealites how he want's them to live when he is gone. The start of the book is written in the past tense, and he gives all the Isrealite people a bit of a history lesson on why they are stuck in the desert! Then he goes on to explain that God has told him that Joshua, not himself, will lead them into he promised land. Moses did get to see the land from a distance, but he never went into it. And if you want to know how the book ends, basically, Moses dies!   

16 March 2016

My hard things story by Nathan Jukes

This is the story I wrote for the hard things contest last year!

My hard things story is really how I changed from not having a real relationship with God to having one. I come from a Christian home, I am home schooled. When I was 11 years old I went to camp for the first time. The leaders talk about having a relationship with God. God was trying to win me over to him, even though I had been saved when I was 3 or 4. I had not been living for God, there were times when I felt closer to God, but I just did not have a relationship with him at that point in my life. It brought me closer to God for a little while but, then I went away from God instead of getting closer to him and growing in my Christian walk. It was the same for the next few years. When I was at camp, I could hear God talking to me. He wanted me to change to live in me. To me it seemed that I was not saved, when they ask us if we wanted to talk to the adults about it. I felt as though I was being called to go and talk to them about it, but I didn’t I was too afraid to do that. My mind was telling me that I was fine, I was saved. But really I did need to go and talk with them about it. So each year when I came back from camp felling a bit closer to God for a few weeks and then going back to be old self. From I was about 10 I started doing quiet time I used to rush thought it without thinking about it. I did not do it every day maybe 2-3 times a week.
Things seem to get worse for me. I started not doing my school work on the computer.  I started to look at some things online I shouldn’t have been looking at. Some weeks I did not even do my Quiet Time once. Then about a year ago my grandma died. At her funeral the man who took it preached a good gospel message it really spoke to me. A few weeks later I prayed a pray that changed my life. I told God I was sorry for the way I had been going. From then on things began to change. Nothing happen straight away but slowly things changed for me. I did my quiet time more, I did my school work and I stopped, looking at things online, I should not been looking at.
 At camp I felt different. No more did I feel like I was not saved. God was doing a work in my life that week like he had never done before.  After camp I went back home feeling like I could still spend more time with God. Before camp I hadn’t been doing my quiet time every day, but after camp I started doing my quiet time even more. I found that when I missed a day things did not go right that day, it was almost like I had gone back to when I had not been doing it. So I tried even harder. I found it is best for me to do my quiet time before bed. If I know that we are going out for the evening I do it before we go out.  On New Year’s Eve, We were going out to see friends that evening but somehow I forgot to do it before we left. We stayed at their house until about eleven thirty and then left. We stopped on the way home to see the fireworks and see the New Year in. We got home about one o clock in the morning. I went in and got ready for bed and then did my quiet time I stayed up to about two o clock that night. If you really want to do something you can always make time. So if you really want to make time for God you can.
 I started getting to know God last year but this year, I have felt really close to God. Me and my brother started a blog this year, before that I had never done any writing about Christian things. I read Do Hard Things and Start Here this year, they are two of the best books I have ever read.  That’s my hard things story. I haven’t done anything big for God, but I got to know God in the last year and that’s the best thing that could ever happen to me!   

Nathan Jukes 15 Cornwall UK.

5 March 2016

Guide to the Bible (1) - Genesis & Exodus - By Jack Lewis

I am going to attempt to do a series now looking at every book of the Bible, and give a basic guide to it. I hope it will be enjoyable to read! Starting at the beginning, the first two books are Genesis and Exodus. They are both thought to be written by Moses, and tell the story all the way from Creation to the tabernacle. A great reason for reading them is that these first books are the home of many great Bible characters: 
  • Adam and Eve 
  • Noah
  • Abraham 
  • Issac
  • Jacob 
  • Joseph
  • Moses  
These books are also the place where we can find many of the great Old Testament Bible stories. You don't have to look further than the first two books of the Bible to find: 
  • The story of Creation 
  • The Fall 
  • The Great Floo
  • The Tower of Babel 
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
  • Joseph's colourful coat
  • The Famine in Egypt
  • Moses and the Burning Bush 
  • The Israelite slavery
  • The Ten Plagues 
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Parting of the Red Sea  
  • The Manna and Quail in the Desert
  • Water from the rock  
 To put it simply, Genesis and Exodus are full of the Bible stories we know and love. There are a few Old Testament laws mixed in but in general, the first two books of the Bible are great reads and we will have a far better knowledge of some of the best and most well known Bible stories and characters.