Genesis teaches that man was created in the image and likeness of God: spiritual, creative, thinking, feeling, and able to communicate. The image was marred when Adam and Eve sinned. The rest of Scripture deals with how to restore sinful man with a Holy God. God created first Adam and then Eve, the woman, to be a completer for man. Marriage, man and woman united exclusively, is Gods perfect plan. As they grow closer to God, they grow closer to each other.
The book of Ezra teaches us that many times adversities are the sign of approval that the work of God is being carried out. But Ezras message is not about being defeated or distracted by opposition. There are many principles we learn from Ezra, and they can be summed up: It is the Plan of God to use the Power of God in the People of God to accomplish the Purposes of God according to the Plan of God.
Why do the righteous suffer? That is a question people have asked for thousands of years. We normally do not ask or even wonder when bad or evil people suffer, but why do good people suffer? Not only does the book of Job address that question, so do many other parts of Scripture. In fact, the issue of suffering comes up in nearly every book in the Bible. The Bible gives many reasons that help us understand why we suffer.
Pauls second letter to the Corinthians is all about the ministry God wants every believer to experience, the ministry of reconciling all people to Himself. But our lives must be characterized by Christ who has saved us and lives in us. Paul described our relationship to Christ in three ways: by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. When we respond to pressures, storms, and trials, people will see that we are different, we are filled with a priceless treasure: Jesus Himself.
In addition to Paul's experience when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, he learned from Jesus in the Arabian Desert, and was taken into heaven and given revelations too deep for words. Paul was also given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger from Satan. No one knows exactly what this thorn was, but it is clear God used it to keep Paul humble and to use Pauls weakness to show His strength. God likes to demonstrate His adequacy through our inadequacy.
In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul writes about an offering for persecuted believers in Jerusalem. Paul describes the faithful stewardship of the Philippians, giving us a masterpiece on the subject of Biblical stewardship. God accepts our gifts, not based on how large they arethe Philippians gave generously even in their povertybut on the attitude with which we give it. Our motivations should be love and gratitude, joyfully giving back to God a portion of what He has given us.
Paul concludes 2 Corinthians challenging those who are in the church to examine themselves to see if they are really in Christ. The next book we study is the letter of Paul to the Galatians where Jewish leaders were teaching that to be saved and stay saved one had to observe the Jewish laws. Paul said that if anyone comes preaching a different gospel, they should be rejected and cursed of God, because the Gospel he preached was from God not from men.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the beatitudes, or blessed attitudes, because each one is introduced by the word blessed. Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word blessed can actually mean happy, spiritually prosperous, or in a state of grace. Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
The word mercy means unconditional love. When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for follow actually means pursue. Gods unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek Gods answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.