(Re)Discovering the Bible Relaunch Part 2

Image result for Very Excited images public domainGood News, the old podcasts are up. They have been found and reposted. I’m so excited. I will include a link on how to find them at the end of these notes. This episode is short, but I really needed to finish our review. It was just going to be incomplete. 

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Do remember if you listen on Stitcher, that it takes a while before the episode is available there. I’m working to make sure we’re connected to some of the other podcast hosting sites.

When we started this podcast, we were going to use it as a kind of supplement for my books of the same name. Those books, Vols 1 and 2, are still available on Amazon. I probably won’t get started writing volume 3 for a few more months. I’m writing a book of weight loss and eating right. It’s taking a toll on my brain, but I want to get it done before the beginning of 2020, because a lot of people start in January, thinking about losing a pound or two with their new years resolutions. Since I’m convinced I’ve found a plan that works, does not cause great hunger pains, and is consistent with what the Bible teaches about food, I’m really excited to get it finished. I’ll keep you posted on progress. My hope is, to finish my research on Re Discovering Volume 3, Pauls letters, and get started writing it, as soon as I get done with my food book.

I’m thinking that we should probably spend two or three weeks in review of Ground we’ve already covered just to get us all up to speed and get our minds in gear. Hopefully, that works for you.

If you are new to the Bible, or let’s say new again, you probably should listen to the last episode, ReLaunch. It will give you some good tips on what the Bible is all about, and how you can find a translation that suits you and your style. That’s really important. You need a version, a translation that matches your reading style. And there are lot’s of them available, for FREE, if you’re willing to download them to your smartphone, or tablet, or laptop, or even your desktop, if you’re still using one of those.

I really believe there are a lot of people, as in millions upon millions, who are really confused about faith and religion, and even Jesus. There’s a great deal of conflicting information out there. It can make your head spin. But you can go directly to the source of our available information. You can read the Bible for yourself, and draw your own conclusion.

But the thing is, and I’m sorry to say it, while the Bible is truly God’s love letter to the human race, the human race has put it together in a way that makes it harder to understand. Seriously. If you read the Bible in New Testament First, then Old Testament, it will make a whole lot more sense to you. It really will. And frankly, I have created a reading plan that will make it even clearer to you than that. If you’ll write to me, samburtonpresents@gmail.com, or use the comments section at samburtonpresents.com, where I put the show notes, and ask for it, I’ll send you the reading plan for the New Testament absolutely free.

You see, the Bible is not A book. Its 66 books, 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament. Those books are given to us by God himself. Truly. But the order in which they’re put together was created by book editors and Church leaders. Not by teachers who were trying to help you understand it. That’s where I come in. I’m just a teacher. A guy who wants you to read the Bible and understand it. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is who you’re looking for, whether or not you even know you’re looking for him. I also want the Bible to make sense to you. It’s not a bunch of religious jargon. And it’s certainly not boring. Sometimes we preachers are, but the Bible isn’t.

Don’t just listen to someone on YouTube, read it for yourself.

And for those of you who are familiar with the Book, my reading plan will help you see the Bible differently than you ever have before. You’ll understand the flow of the book much better. And I’ve got the harder to understand books later in the plan, because as you understand more of the thought processes in the Bible, the books are not so hard after all.

But whether or not you want to use my plan, do yourself a favor, and read the New Testament first. Then go back and read the old. The whole book is about Jesus. I encourage you to start with reading all about Him, then go back and see how the Old Testament is preparing the world for his coming.

Then after you’ve read the New Testament, think about all it says. After you read one of the Gospels, I suggest Luke first, you’re going to have some decisions to make about Jesus. Then read the book of Acts to find out what you should do about and with Jesus. After that, I’ll leave you to read it on your own if that’s the way you want to do it. But read all the New Testament before you read the old. But just before you read the old testament, read the book of Hebrews again. I believe that Hebrews is the key to unlocking the Old Testament. It’s like a magic pill.

You might be wondering why I ask you to read Luke’s gospel first. Instead of one of the other three gospels. It’s simply because he also wrote the book of acts and it’s literally reading part one and part two of the same story. I also believe that if you read Luke, then Acts, then the Gospel of John, you’ll have a real grip on the whole Jesus message.

When you first start reading the New Testament, you’re going to be surprised at how short the books are. And you’re going to scratch your head at the Chapter and verse divisions. Especially the chapters. Keep in mind, those are not original. The chapter divisions came in the 1200s and the verses in the 1500s. They were to help with memorizing passages and in knowing where you left off reading from the last time you read. They’re not perfect, but they are helpful.

Each book was written for a specific reason. Maybe to answer some questions. Maybe to straighten out some misunderstanding. When the author was finished with that, the book was done. For example, the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus. Even all together they’re not a biography of Jesus. They are memories of Jesus. Kind of like at a family or class reunion, when everyone is telling stories. Sometimes, their not even chronological. That’s true with Matthew and Mark. They are sharing their stories and are not particularly concerned about chronology. Luke is very orderly, so he pays a lot of attention to things like chronology. So does John. But John and Mark don’t say a word about Jesus’ Birth or childhood. Because they are not biographies. Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. He’s the King of the Jews. Mark’s Book has a verse in chapter 10, verse 45 that says, the son of man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. And that seems to describe the book. The first part is huge on Jesus serving and healing people. Then he gives his life as a sacrifice for the human race. Luke’s book could be called, The son of man. That phrase is used many times in the Gospel. It shows that Jesus is a fulfillment of prophesies, and the gospel deals with the human race. Our problems. Our crises, our need for God’s intervention. And John’s gospel is clearly to prove that Jesus is both God and Man. He states that in the very first verse and each story clearly establishes one side or the other of Jesus’ dual nature.

The book of acts tells us how important the Resurrection was to the Church. It was not Jesus miracles, nor his teaching, but His death and Resurrection that set him apart. It tells us how churches were born and how the message spread through the Roman empire. And it’s the only book in all the Bible that tells us how people became Christians.

The rest of the New Testament is written to followers of Jesus, whether Churches, or individuals to help us learn to live for Him. And the book of Revelation is there to explain how things will turn out in the end.

I think that will catch you up if you’re new to the show, and is a great brief review for long time listeners.

Last Episode, Part One – Click HERE to listen 

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Just Do It!

 

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Episode 35

James

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Just Do It!

When I was a teenager, way back in the 70s, the two most popular NT books for Bible study were the Gospel of John and the Book of James. Several decades have come and gone since then, but the popularity of those books as not waned.

James is one of the first New Testament books to be written.  Many Scholars say it was first. I think that’s a real possibility, though Matthew may be slightly older. Both were written around the mid 40s AD.

James’ back story is every bit as fascinating to me as that of the Apostle Paul. James is from the tribe of Judah, and the biological son of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth. He is the direct descendent of King David through Solomon.  He, then, is the half brother of Jesus. Like Jesus, he would have grown up a tradesman, a carpenter.

With the exception of Mary, probably no one knew Jesus the way James did. They grew up, playing, rough housing, and working together. I would have loved to have been privy to some of their one on one conversations during their years together.

Despite, or possibly because of, their closeness, James was not a disciple of Jesus during His ministry years. In fact, as we read through the Gospels, it appears as if Jesus’ siblings took a bit of a sarcastic, if not outright cynical view of their older Brother’s ministry.

I tend to believe, though, that Jesus and James were close. I make that claim, based on the fact that James was one of the individuals Jesus made a personal appearance to following His resurrection.  You can read about that in I Corinthians 15.

The next time we meet James, he is already a leader in the Jerusalem Church. He seems to have been on equal footing with the Apostles. Obviously, his familial connection with Jesus would have given him some leverage, but his character and faith were obvious from the beginning. The legends that grew up around him, say he was so devoted to prayer, that great, thick callouses grew on his knees, earning him the nickname, ‘Old Camel Knees’.

7:227:48According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, James was martyred in A.D. shortly after Governor Festus died, and before the new Governor, Albinus, arrived.

There are two versions of James’ Death. One says that James was lured to the roof of the temple where he was invited to address the crowd. While he was preaching, some of the Pharisees threw him off in an effort to kill him, but failed. James rose to his knees and began to pray for the assassins, whereupon, they began to stone and club him until he died.

Josephus tells a much less fanciful tale, and says the high priest, Ananus, took advantage of his interim leadership, between Festus’ death and Albinus’ arrival to have a number of his least favorite people executed. James was among that number, when he was publicly stoned.

Somehow, Josephus’ account has a more ring of truth to it, but Hegesippus’ tale of intrigue and conspiracy would make a great movie. Perhaps someone should get Mel Gibson on the phone…

Again, according to tradition, James never left Jerusalem. He lived, ministered, and died in that great city.

The letter that bears his name, might be a favorite now, but has not always been so. Martin Luther and many of the early reformers disliked it because of its emphasis on good works. In fact, Luther called it, ‘an epistle of straw’, or, ‘a right strawy epistle.’

For some reason, it appeared to the reformers that James was somehow contradicting Paul’s emphasis on Grace and Faith.  A few people continue to make that mistake even in the 21st century.

Frankly, I just can’t see the conflict. It is clear from Paul’s letters that he was comparing salvation by faith, to trying to keep the law of Moses as a way to earn salvation. James is saying that if we truly have faith, it will show itself in the way we live. A faith that doesn’t shape our behavior is not faith.

The little book of James is much more, though, than a challenge to walk the walk we talk.

In Chapter one, he encourages the Church to sees their suffering as growing spiritual stamina and patience.  He finishes the chapter by reminding the readers that we need to do more than hear or acknowledge the gospel. We need to put it into practice.

In short, James says, the Gospel isn’t dressed until it has shoes on.

Chapters 2 and 3 contain the juiciest bits. These are the two chapters that have stirred the pot for centuries.

James begins chapter 2 by denouncing favoritism; especially economic favoritism. When we show favoritism for the wealthy, we look really tacky.  Examples.  But back in Exodus, God told Moses not to show favoritism to the poor OR the rich.  The truth (which is, or should be, implied in the word, justice), is blind. It doesn’t show favoritism. That’s why we always see ‘lady justice’ wearing a blindfold.

11:08 These days, we see it in other ways, too. Talent. A struggling congregation will grab a musician like a monkey grabs a peanut.  Good looks will get you a seat at the table PDQ as well.  Celebrity. The list goes on. Its so tempting. But it’s still wrong.

After his excellent words on favoritism, James returns to the subject of putting faith into action. Here he says things like, ‘it is by works a man is justified and not by faith alone. And Faith without works is dead.

Chapter 3 is all about how much our mouths get us into trouble. No man can tame the tongue.

Chapter 4, while not nearly as dramatic as 2 and 3, is deep. It reads almost like a commentary on Jesus’ statement, ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. ‘  The source of quarrels, ugly words, selfish actions all have their roots buried in stony, self engrossed hearts.

In Chapter 5, James returns to the danger of riches. Coveteousness and greed are siblings and they  hide everywhere.

From there he goes back to patience, especially as we wait for Christ’s return.  And he finishes with a powerful statement about prayer. He reminds us of the power of prayer, and that every Believer has access to that Power. Prayer is for everyone, especially ordinary people.

I won’t dive any deeper into James’ letter, because I want you to read it for yourself and discover just how much is packed into it. This little letter by the camel kneed brother of Jesus is both powerful and practical. I think you’ll love it. Let me know.  For now, that’s all I got. See you next week. Until then….

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Episode 17 – The Gospel of Luke

 

God’s Route 66 Part 3

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Author: Luke – Physician, Companion of Apostle Paul, Gentile, Historian, Author of Acts

Date Written – Mid 50s – A.D. 66

Recipient – ‘Theophilus’ Probably a real individual as the name is not uncommon in the first century, but possibly a pseudonym for ‘Christian’ as the name literally means, friend or lover of God.

Focus – To establish the universality of the Gospel by identifying Jesus as ‘The Son of Man’. Since Luke is a Gentile and ‘Theophilus’ is a Gentile name, it is safe to assume that the earliest appeal was for a Gentile Audience.

Key Passages – 1:1-4, Chapter 2, 3:16, 4:18-21, 10:1-9, 10:25-37

 

Episode 13 – Prime Directive Part 4 –

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Luke 10:1-11

  1. A model for world evangelism.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with the harvest, there’s just a shortage of farmers.
  3. Step 1. Pray. Bless
  4. Step 2. Stay Remain in the same house
  5. Step 3. Care. Heal the sick. Find a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Meet physical needs
  6. Step 4. Share. Announce the arrival of the Kingdom.

Seek Heaven. Identify with community. We’re not a hit and run, one night stand kind of kingdom.. Meet felt needs. They can only be truly learned by being there and identifying. It’s only when a community can see how much care that they will care about what we say. But in the end, all the praying and caring in the world, only matters once we share the Gospel.

Here’s a link for the 1984 edition of the NIV Bible

Thanks for stopping by; Please use the comments section for questions or feedback. We love interacting.

Radio Show Episode 12

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Show Notes

Conversions in Acts

Chapter 2 – Pentecost

Chapter 8 – Ethiopian Official

Chapter 9, 22, 26 Saul of Tarsus

Chapter 10 – Cornelius,

Chapter 16 – Lydia, Jailer,

Someday will do a study on baptism, but today we want to merely show how intimately it is tied to receiving the Gospel. In the 21st century we have made conversion a private inner arrangement where we say a prayer and at sometime in the future we may, or may not, make that decision public. We have no examples of that in the New Testament. Even the commission itself says nothing about going and leading in sinners prayers, but rather going and baptizing. At it’s core, Baptism is the place where disciples publicly claim a change of allegiance. I was a follower of Moses, Diana, Apollo, myself, now I am a follower of Jesus. There are no examples of a delayed decision to baptism. It’s immediate in every case. Pentecost is a feast day, lots to do, yet 3000 people took time from preparations to wait their turn to be dunked in water. The Gaza road is a desert, the only water would have been standing pools or runoff streams. The Jailor was in the midst of pandemonium in the wee hours of the morning. Something about this Gospel demanded immediate action.

I find it really interesting that these days, we have days, weeks, sometimes even years between initial decisions and baptisms. Often, we even have classes to make sure ‘candidates’ understand what they’re doing, whereas in the book of acts, there is no such thing. They don’t have a theology of conversion, in fact, as the stories are told, baptism is virtually synonymous with conversion. My personal testimony is this. I was 10 years old when I followed Christ and was baptized. I remember the youth pastor came to visit and hold a ‘class’. I remember zero about that visit. All I knew was, I wanted to follow Jesus, so I was baptized. I got Jesus as a 10 year old. I got theology much later (and some of it was wrong).

Here’s what I want you to do. Go back and read all of the accounts of conversions in Acts. How do they look in side by side comparisons to how ‘decisions’ look today. Are we calling for radical discipleship in the same way the early followers were? Are we getting radical results?

Please share you thoughts. Go to the show notes and use the comments section. Or email me directly. I would dearly love to dialogue with you.

No Wonder There’s A War On Christmas – Scandalous, Part 5

Royal Seal of King Hezekiah
Royal Seal of King Hezekiah

Rediscovering the Bible Online Radio Show – Episode 8 is on the air.

 

  1. Royal Seal of King Hezekiah of Judah has been found. The weird part is it took 6 years to make it public… Read about it here
  2. Question from a listener related to the women in the family tree of Jesus is asked and answered
  3. Some of the things said about Jesus in the Christmas Story as told in Matthew and Luke no doubt fuel the ‘War on Christmas’. Especially the names and titles used for him;
    1. Jesus – The Lord Saves – Savior  – Matthew 1:21 , Luke 2:112. Son of God – Luke 1:35 – John 10:29-33

      3. Emmanuel – God With Us-Matthew 1:23

      4. Christ – Luke 2:11

      5. The Lord -Luke 2:11, John 8:58

  4. Each of these names and titles distinguishes Jesus from other religious leaders and points to Him as the Divine Son of God. Pretty dramatic claims.
  5. Link to Show

We Three Kings? – Podcast Episode 7 Is UP

wise_men.jpg (474×253)

Part 7 of the “Scandalous” series is now active on the “Rediscovering The Bible Online Radio Show

 

 

  1. Despite the famous song, they weren’t Kings. What is a Magi?
  2. We don’t know how many there were, and we certainly don’t know their names.
  3. They didn’t come to the stable
  4. Their appearance testifies once again to the universal nature of the Gospel.
  5. Their gifts likely changed Jesus life from one of poverty to one of relative comfort
  6. Their home countries will raise eyebrows this Christmas