My memory verse this week:
"You have made known to me the paths of life; you fill me with joy in your presence." Acts 2:28
NT Challenge Day 3
Matthew 5-6 and Acts 7-9
Reading today's chapters caused me to have a question: how can we take part of what Jesus says literally and know that part of what he says is figurative? For example: In Matthew 5, (which my grandmother called the Beatitudes) Jesus talks about how different suffering people are blessed. Then he goes on to talk about sins, such as adultery and lust, saying that you should gouge out your eyes instead of lusting and if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. I am smart enough to realize that this is an exaggeration to get his point across. However, in the same sermon, Jesus also talks about loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek when wronged and willingly loaning to people when asked...these are also pretty outlandish commands when you think about them...Jesus mixes hyperbole (exaggeration) with his commands. This is what makes the Bible confusing sometimes and why it is so important to study what you read, working to truly understand the meaning behind the words.
I like the Acts readings for today, because mixed in with other stories, we learn about Saul's murderous actions toward Christians and how he sees Jesus and becomes Paul and a great leader of the early church. Even though Paul's words sometimes rub me the wrong way, I love the thought that God uses the most unlikely people for good. No one is beyond hope!
There are so many stories in the Bible where we never hear the ending...we don't know how the story turns out. For example, in Acts 8, we hear of Simon, a known sorcerer who is well known for his magic. He witnessed Philip doing great miracles in the name of Jesus and believes and is baptized. He follows Philip around everywhere and wants to do miracles too. He sees Peter laying hands on someone and bringing the Holy Spirit to them. Simon wants to do that too and offers Peter money to show him how. Peter explains to him that you cannot buy the gift of God with money and tells him he should be ashamed! Then...the story ends! What happens to Simon? Did he learn from the lesson Peter taught him? Did he continue believing and following Christian beliefs? Or, could he have been offended by Peter's statement, get mad and leave the church? I wish I knew! I want to believe that this even further strengthen his faith and he went on to share the good news with others. But, I have known people who have been offended by someone in a church and left the faith altogether...that is sad to me!
Reading God's word amazes me because even though I have read these stories many times before and taught about them in KidsPraise, I still find I learn something knew every time, more questions arise and make me want to learn more! How are you coming in the NTC? Are you still with us on day 3?