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How to Study the Bible

with Nicole Unice

How to Study the Bible Episodes
Tamar: You Are Not Defined by Your Past (God of Our Mothers, Part 1)
November 28, 2022 - 20 min
We are kicking off a new Advent series! We are going to be looking at the women in Jesus’ lineage in a ‘God of Our Mothers’ series. In Matthew 1, we get a genealogy of Jesus’ family. Genealogies are put in place because the people matter to the story, and there are several women named in his family line. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look closely at the women in Jesus’ lineage and what they have to teach us about the God who loves us and came to rescue us.

This week, we’re looking at the story of Tamar.

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*WHAT DOES IT SAY?*

Matthew 1:1-3:

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…”

Genesis 38 – Who Is Tamar?

1. She is not an Israelite
2. She is unwanted
3. She is mistreated
4. She is seeking justice
5. She is shrewd

(Don’t forget how Judah’s mom came to have him--also veiled and in disguise)

Genesis 38:26 is the turning point in the story. Judah confesses his unrighteousness, and we see that Tamar is brought into his family and one of her twin sons becomes part of the lineage that leads to Jesus (Perez).

*WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY*

After Joseph is sold into slavery, we get this graphic story in Genesis 38. We see the wickedness of Judah as a foil to Joseph’s righteousness. But eventually, we’ll see Judah take a righteous turn. First, though, he marries a Canaanite, and they have three sons. One of these sons marries Tamar.

*WHAT DOES IT MEAN?*

1. God colors outside the lines.
2. We are never defined by our past.
3. God sees the marginalized.

*WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?*

How do we define ourselves? Are we righteous on our own, or sinners on our own? Can we relate to Tamar? If we can relate, we can receive. “I have come for the sick, for the sinners.

Matthew 9:10-12:
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
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How to Be “Seasoned with Salt” toward Outsiders (Colossians 4:5-6)
November 21, 2022 - 20 min
WHAT DOES IT SAY?

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

This is Paul’s last final instructions for us in this letter. 4 big points:
1. Be wise in your way
2. Make the most of every opportunity
3. Shape our conversation
4. Know how to answer outsiders


WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

A. On outsiders and opportunities:

People are being added to the church every day – God is not just the God of the Jewish people but of everyone. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about being saved through grace by faith. Paul is saying, “you have to engage with those outside the faith.”

Ephesians 5:15-16 states “Be careful then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

B. On conversation:

1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This verse assumes you are living hopeful. Amid your sufferings, you have a hope that makes people want to ask you, “Why are you the way you are?” Are you living hopeful? Are you living joyful, despite your troubles?

C. On being seasoned with salt:

Salt is used to season food, to make it palatable and enrich the flavor. But salt is also a “symbol of lasting concord,” and the Arabic expression “There is salt between us” implies eating together and developing a friendship. Speech seasoned with salt can mean several things:

1. Salt, as a seasoning, makes speech more intriguing and enticing to the listener. Paul was known to speak this way, as with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens. Salt, as a symbol of friendship, implies that believers were not to “preach” to their non-believing neighbors, but to be in relationship and friendship with them, letting their actions and conduct join with their “seasoned” words in sharing the gospel.

2. Salt has also been associated with wit and is sometimes rendered “common sense.” The multiple meanings bring forth vivid imagery that points the reader to the importance of graceful speech in the context of meaningful relationships with non-believers to share the “mystery of Christ.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

(Remember, at this point in Bible Study you are looking for timeless principles or truth that transcends our own time and culture) –

1. The gospel is for all! The playing field has been leveled.
2. As our hearts grow in knowledge and love for Christ, we also grow in wisdom and love for those outside of the kingdom.
3. The gospel requires intentionality in our relationships

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

1. Who is an outsider of the faith in your life? Can you write them down in your prayer journal and pray specifically for them?

2. Another application of the passage would be on the need to have a clear, succinct knowledge of our faith. Understanding the “mystery of Christ” and knowing how to present it with clarity and conviction is required “so that you may know how to answer to everyone.”

Scripture that is central to salvation must be written on the Christian’s heart. Knowing how to answer to everyone implies that there are questions! Slick programs and spiritual platitudes cannot cultivate a faith that is rooted deeply enough for the demands of life. When believers understand that they must meet “outsiders” where they are, they are alert to opportunities for spiritual conversation. To prepare to know how to answer, a teaching from this passage could prompt listeners to process some of their own questions as they came to the knowledge of Christ, and then use that conversation to prepare their own wise, “seasoned with salt” responses.

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How to Practice Radical Forgiveness with Carley Marcouillier (Colossians 3:12-17)
November 14, 2022 - 24 min
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WHAT DOES IT SAY:

12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

OBSERVATIONS:
- Where we start from: we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly beloved. That is our identity.

- Clothing yourselves with these character traits is a daily, intentional practice

- Forgiveness practices: it’s NOT sweeping things under the rug. It’s going to the person and explaining the hurt. It’s countercultural, it’s not in our nature outside of Christ. The new nature that we are able to put on enables us to practice forgiveness.

WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

- Forgiveness is a regular practice. Most pastor letters like Colossians are addressing human problems and conflict.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s a foundation from which we build on repair and reconciliation.

“Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.” - It’s hard to hold on to hurt if you’re praying for a person, praying for their heart, their hurt, their healing.

This starts with identity, then moves into practice. We can’t give what we don’t have. We receive forgiveness, and then can forgive

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

- If you can’t clothe yourselves with these things, it’s probably because you’re in a place of unforgiveness. And if you CAN clothe yourselves in these things toward the person you have a grievance with, the way you engage in a spirit of forgiveness comes out in a place of love for them.

- We’re calling it forgiveness, but are we trying to get polite vengeance or justice? That’s a self-focused perspective. But if we have put on the character traits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience – those are others-focused traits.

- It really creates more resentment and pain in my life to cling to wounds. Our job is to communicate the wounds. How the other person responds is not our job, it’s not up to us. My movement toward Christlikeness is my duty.

- I know I have reached forgiveness when I desire goodwill toward the other party. Even if I’m no longer in their life, my heart is inclined toward their blessing.

- When we pray over the person who has wounded us, we take back our power.

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Jesus Has Authority Over All (Colossians 2:1-5)
November 7, 2022 - 19 min
I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?
- Paul’s goal: that the church would be encouraged in heart and united in love--that’s the vehicle for how we know Christ.
- All wisdom is in Christ
- Deception is real!

WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?
- Paul is writing to a church he helped to start. Usually, these Pauline letters are a response to a conflict or question in the church.
- Use your cross-references to build your own bible study. For example, in this chapter, our cross reference points us to 1 Peter, where we see there are things within the church that are deceptive: 1 Peter 5 and Ephesians 6

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
- To stand firm and discern wisely, I need to be finding my wisdom in Christ by remaining in him.
- John 15:4: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

Stop/Start/Continue -
- What do I need to stop? Start? What do I need to continue in order to be walking in the way of Jesus?

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

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Jesus Is Enough for All (Colossians 1:15-20)
October 31, 2022 - 18 min
Last week, we covered the big idea of Colossians, be sure to check that out if you haven’t:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3U6gRAC
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WHAT DOES IT SAY:
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Look for repetition – in this section of scripture, the word “All”:

- Over all creation
- All things were created
- All things were created
- Before all things
- All things hold together


WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY:
He existed before his earthly life (before all things) – he is supreme

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
v 18 - “so that” – cues us in to the reason Paul is explaining this to the Colossians

v 19-20 - Jesus is God, and He is a reconciling agent (bringing back into proper order)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?
There is nothing in life that is untouched by Christ--either now or later. Either you choose to have Christ’s reconciling work bring you to communion with the Father, or ultimately that will happen later. I choose to be friends with God now.

Revelation 21
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Be thirsty for God.

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

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NEW SERIES! A Vision for All (Colossians 1:3-7)
October 24, 2022 - 18 min
Our new series starts today!! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be in the book of Colossians.

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Starting 10/31 we will have a reading plan as we cover the book of Colossians. You can receive that by following me in one of a few places:

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INTRO TO COLOSSIANS:

Colossians is an early letter in Christian history, about 30 years after Christ’s death and resurrection, written by Paul (with help from Timothy).

Why are the New Testament letters usually written? Because conflict in the church is happening, and Paul (the planter of churches) is writing to address those issues help them through those conflicts.

THEME OF COLOSSIANS:
The overarching theme of this book is how Christ is in all things, and the ramifications of that for us.

Most commentators agree that perhaps someone in the church was teaching different rituals and superstitions for a “different level” of faith, a “Jesus plus ‘this ritual’” – and Paul is returning the church to this true doctrine, that Jesus is ALL. There is nothing else we must add to our faith. Jesus is ALL.

LET’S READ TOGETHER:

Colossians 1:3-7 -

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

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Jacob: Wrestling for the Truth (Genesis 32:22-32)
October 17, 2022 - 16 min
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
Jacob Wrestles with God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.


WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY?

It’s really important in the Old Testament to zoom out and figure out where the story you are reading is placed within the larger story surrounding it. If we cut Genesis into fractions, we’ll miss out on its meaning.

Let’s first look back at Jacob’s life -

Jacob is a twin, who struggled inside his mother’s womb. His life is marked by struggle, an ongoing theme throughout his life. He steals his brother’s blessing and birthright, and then leaves home.

Jacob prays to God in Genesis 32:9-12. He is fearful and trying to control the situation he finds himself in (about to meet Esau).

After the dream – Esau is a picture of grace. He runs to Jacob, kissing him.

During the dream encounter – struggling with his identity. He is given a new name, “Israel” – he struggles with God. And he doesn’t let go of this person he is encountering – he wants relationship! He is finally responding to God. He takes the journey we all take--moving from fearful to free, from wrestling with God and man, to accepting what He gives us.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

AW Tozer – “God formed us for himself.” Anytime we are out of relationship with God, we will struggle. Until we find ourselves in him, named by God and identified with him, we will struggle in our souls.

Genesis 47 – he bows in worship at the end of his life. He is in relationship with God, and lived out of the identity God gave him. He still struggled, but not in the way he had before he wrestled with God.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

Deep soul struggle is addressed through Christ. He makes a way for us to cease striving and have relationship with God.

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. - Isaiah 43:1

Do you know where you belong? Do you know you have an identity? Do you feel at home in my soul? Is God dwelling in my heart? If yes, your only response is praise! Your only response is worship and gratitude.

If not, invite God into your life in this real and meaningful way.

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

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Jacob: God Is Committed to Dwelling with Us (Genesis 28:10-22)
October 10, 2022 - 22 min
We are part of a very big story. Every single one of us who calls on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is a living stone. Every single one of us has a precious and important part to play in creating this spiritual house, this place where God dwells. I am living my life out as a piece of the dwelling place of God! I take my little piece everywhere I go.

Everywhere you go, you bring a dwelling place of God with you.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel - Genesis 28:10-22:
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[a] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[b] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning, Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[c] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[d] will be my God 22 and[e] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Questions you might ask the text:

1. What does the dream mean?
2. Jacob receives the blessing?
3. Do the stones matter?
4. Call the place Bethel?

Observations:

1. Standard approach: humans quake with fear when God shows up
2. Same blessing is again repeated--maybe we also need to hear things a lot to believe them, especially when they take faith.
3. Gen 28:13-15: Sounds like a covenant
4. Gen 28: 20-21: IF God is with me… Jacob is not totally sold?
5. Gen 28:22: Promised sanctuary, the stone is the consecration…

WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY?

1. Jacob’s childhood and adolescence - he has swindled his brother out of this birthright AND blessing
2. His father Isaac sends him away and confers God’s blessing on him
3. God then confirms the blessing through the dream.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

1. God is committed to making the earth his dwelling place.
2. This story is linked to the bigger story of lineage in Genesis, which is linked to the BIGGER story of a coming king, which is the story of Jesus and the story of you and me.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

1. God is committed to dwelling with us.
2. Are you committed to dwelling with him?
3. Jacob’s stone is a signpost pointing us toward the promised sanctuary in 1 Peter 2:4-6:

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

FOLLOW NICOLE:

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Do You Believe the Lord Will Bring You into a Spacious Place? (Genesis 26:22-26)
October 3, 2022 - 18 min
God calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, over and over in Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments. God is establishing his covenant through these families; God’s chosen people is created – these families become the Israelites. And we, through Christ, are the new Israel as believers. As Galatians 3:18 tells us, “we are all one through Christ Jesus.”


*WHAT DOES IT SAY?*

Genesis 26:22-25
He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

-- There is so much humanness playing out in these verses - arguments, playing favorites, lying! Humanity makes mistakes, even God’s chosen people. Isaac lied about his wife just like Abraham did.

-- Just because you are struggling or in conflict, doesn’t mean you are outside of God’s favor.

*WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?*

-- There is a famine in the land, but God tells Isaac to stay in the land and promises blessing.

-- Both Abraham and Isaac fall prey to being scared about their wives’ beauty and lies about them – a pattern of lying for self-protection (and not trusting God).

-- God’s chosen people are not perfect. Isaac and Rebekah, and their children, lie and manipulate. Human family disfunction is playing out.

*WHAT DOES IT MEAN?*

-- “The Lord has given us room.” This phrase points to the idea of “a spacious place” told to us in scripture, such as in Psalm 118:5. “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.” We are most likely to sin any time we get into a scarcity mindset – there’s not going to be enough for us, that God is not actually going to provide, that God is not trustworthy to make sure we’re going to be okay. We see this in Abraham and Isaac’s lives.

-- A world of anxiety exists when we believe we must protect ourselves and our stuff. When we do this, we become small people. OR – we can have a centered place in us, a spacious place – where we trust what God is doing and will do for us. Do you believe God will bring you into a spacious place?


*WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?*

-- Does your family still struggle with generational sin? You’re not alone. These patterns of living are as old as the stories in the Bible. God still faithfully shows up and works in the people who trust him – not the people who are necessarily righteous. We have to deal with pain caused by other people’s sin, and our own.

-- God is faithful even when we mess up. 1 John 3:16 – we can keep coming back to God, every day, to experience God’s spacious place for us.

-- The priority is your availability. Are you available to God? Do you put God’s plans in front of your own? “God, what you want is more important than what I want. What you want leads to spacious places, so I’m going to want what you want.”

A simple prayer for today –

“God make me aware of your presence, make me available for your interruptions. Make me purposeful on my path and restful in the spacious place of your grace. Amen.”

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

FOLLOW NICOLE:

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Isaac: Saved by Grace (Genesis 22:11-14)
September 26, 2022 - 18 min
Why does it matter that we study these Old Testament stories? When we’re able to zoom way out and see what God has been stepping in to help the generations before us, we’re able to place our own sufferings and struggles in context. The God of our Fathers is our God, too. The covenants God has made with our forefathers are for us, too.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” - Genesis 22:11-14

God appeared to Abraham and told him to sacrifice Isaac. We have to remember; this is a different time and day. Abraham trusts God and obeys. As he moves toward the action of sacrifice, God intervenes. God calls out personally to Abraham, and he provides an alternative. He doesn’t just cancel the plan, he provides a substitute sacrifice.

WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY?

If you’ve been reading Genesis, you know a few weeks ago that God made a covenant with Abraham through his descendants, promising him that he will in fact have children. Sarah does in fact get pregnant even though she’s ninety years old.

Then the bizarre happens: God tells Abraham to sacrifice this son, who is the fulfillment of the covenant. What is going on here?

This is another chapter in a long life with a faithful God. Many commentators believe that Abraham might have thought even if he killed Isaac, God could bring him back to life.

God tests us to show us what’s already there. He tests us to show us the strength of our faith that is already present. When we go through testing, we’re getting more and more anchored in our identity in God, who he is. Something eternal is growing and developing in us.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The Lord Will Provide--beginning of a pattern of substitutionary atonement. God is faithful to his promises. We are seeing the start of God’s people, the Israelites.

Romans 3:24-25:
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

Redemption means something is bought back, recovered, or handled. God redeems us through Christ. Abraham was required to take his beloved, one and only son to sacrificed, but God stayed his hand, and provided a sacrifice instead.

But when God sent his one and only son to the mountain to be sacrificed, he did not stay his hand. He allowed Christ to be sacrificed for our sins, once and for all.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

1. Even when all hope seems lost, God will still provide.

2. Sometimes going backward in our story can give us the strength to face what’s ahead

3. Our faith in Christ’s substitution is built on generations upon generations of God showing his faithfulness to us as his people.

WANT MORE?

Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216

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