We are launching into an 8 week adventure known as the Community Bible Experience. Our small groups and sermon series will align around this resource. It’s an exercise Covenant churches are doing across the country. We will be reading through the entire New Testament in a version of the Bible that has removed all the study aids that were added long after the books were written, such as chapters and verses. We will be reading Paul’s letters, for example, in a format that feels much more like a letter, and less like a textbook for a class.
We decided that we would look at the authors of these books we will be reading, and get a window into their lives.
And here’s what’s interesting: every single one of them had something in their life or an aspect of their character that led them to be less than adequate to the task. That their qualification for being a contributing author to the most influential book in the history of the planet came not from their innate adequacy, but from God’s empowerment.
And my prayer is that if we don’t learn anything else in these 8 weeks, we will learn that we ARE qualified, because it is GOD HIMSELF who makes us so.
January 8: “A Gentile”
Our first author, Luke, was not a Jew but a Gentile. This alone might have caused him to be eliminated from being included in the writings of the New Testament. However, we end up reading much of Luke’s writing in the New Testament – almost 1/3 of it was written by this “unqualified” Gentile. He also was not an eyewitness to Jesus. He was a relative late comer. However, because of his faith, God used him in mighty ways.
January 15: “The Killer”
1 Corinthians 15:9-11
The Bible’s authors were far from perfect – and Paul was no exception. Even though he was well-educated, intelligent, and had the ability to straddle both the Roman and Jewish worlds, he was a murderer. But God, in His infinite grace, turned Paul around and made this unQualified man into one of the most influential people in history.
January 29: “A Slave Owner”
Our series continues this week with a story of a slave and a slave owner. Neither was what we would normally think of as a “saint”, however, through the grace of God, both were able to go beyond their normal human nature and practice forgiveness, sacrifice, and blessing.
February 5: “A Tax Collector”
Matthew was a tax collector who was a Jew. Romans didn’t like him because they didn’t trust the Jews – Jews didn’t like him because he collected money from them for the hated empire. Matthew illustrates how we sometimes believe we are unqualified for God because of what other people believe (or say) about us. Jesus gave Matthew a new identity – his “qualification”. Who are you today? This story illustrates the Lord’s call on our lives and the possibility for NEW identity in him. Grab hold and see where it leads.
February 12: “A Deserter”
This week, our story starts out with the premise that we all fail. The Bible includes many stories of failure. The good news is that the redeeming grace of Jesus takes us beyond our failures. The key is in allowing God to pick you up, brush you off and restore you to His calling.
February 19: “A Coward”
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to push through it and do what needs to be done. Peter’s impulsive spirit, and his susceptibility to fear, were tamed and redirected by the empowering love of Jesus Christ in his life.
February 26: “An Ordinary Follower”
It is easy to assume that God only uses extraordinary people for the work of His Kingdom. We forget that the Kingdom is most often advanced through ordinary people doing small acts of obedience on a day to day basis. John was an ordinary blue collar fisherman with a sensitive personality who was used in mighty ways to help launch the Church of Jesus Christ.