Bible Book of the Month – October 2023 – Hosea & Joel
Not too long ago, we did a sermon series on the Minor Prophets. We spent one week in each of the twelve books that conclude our Old Testament. For this month of October, we have an opportunity to dive a little deeper into the first two of those books – Hosea and Joel.
In Hosea, we see a powerful depiction of God’s great love for His people, despite their continued unfaithfulness to Him. Hosea himself became a living example of this through his unique calling to marry a promiscuous woman. Through this book we are reminded that our God is far from indifferent towards us, but passionately loves and cares for us and desires us to passionately love and care for Him. Truly, we are created to be in beautiful, ever-deepening relationship with the LORD. May this book inspire us to intentionally cultivate this in our daily lives.
The book of Joel is a reminder of two major things. First, God is just and He will hold people accountable when they persistently reject His life-giving way. Our God sees all things and He will deal with injustice and sin in His time. And the New Testament teaches us that Jesus took humanity’s place and bore our sins, so that we might be forgiven and not have our sins count against us.
Second, God desires to pour out His Spirit over all people. This powerful prophecy would find its initial fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost, as Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on His early followers. But Jesus continues to pour out His Spirit today on all who choose to submit and follow Him. May this book of Joel make us ever-thankful for the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and how the Lord loves to work through us and speak through us as His vessels.
May our Triune God bless your time in Hosea and Joel this month.
Bible Book of the Month – September 2023 – Hebrews
We are blessed to highlight the letter to the Hebrews as our Bible book of the Month for September this year. Even though the author is not named within the letter, leading to various suggestions from biblical scholars today (i.e. Paul, Barnabas, Philip the Evangelist, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila), the author would have likely been known be the earliest recipients of this powerful epistle.
But even though the human author is unclear for us today, the contents of this letter are very significant. The letter to the Hebrews makes it abundantly clear to the Jewish people that the coming of Jesus the Messiah was great news for the Jews. As good and gracious as God’s covenants with Israel have been through their long history with God, the New Covenant that Jesus established is far better for them. Jesus’ sacrifice is better than the Old Testament sacrifices and does not need to be repeated, like those of the Old Testament (which only temporarily covered sin, but did not remove sin completely). Moreover, Jesus was raised from the dead and intercedes for those that put their trust in Him (He is an eternal High Priest). Additionally, Jesus is able to cleanse the guilty conscience of those that trust in Him.
By the time of the writing of this letter (which was probably prior to 70 AD, because it appears that sacrifices were still being offered at the Temple in Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD), many Jewish Christians have been persecuted for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah. This letter succeeds in conveying the truth that there is nothing more Jewish than believing in Jesus as the Messiah. Jewish people are not betraying their ancestry by putting their trust in Jesus as their King and Savior. Instead, Jewish believers in Jesus are completed Jews, as some messianic Jews refer to themselves today.
But the letter to the Hebrews is a great blessing not only to the Jews, but also to everyone that believes in Jesus. It should encourage us in our faith and fill us with gratitude for the great love of Jesus that led Him to do all that He did for us.
May your faith be strengthened as you prayerfully read and meditate on the letter to the Hebrews this month.
Bible Book of the Month – August 2023 – Song of Songs
This month’s Bible Book of the month is Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon). This poetic book is meant to help God’s people have a healthy view of biblical sexuality. Marriage is God’s idea and this book describes God’s blessing upon healthy biblical sexual relationships. There have long been many perversions or distortions of God’s will be healthy human sexuality, but His will is clear in the Scripture. And His will is faithfulness to Him in celibacy and faithfulness to Him in marriage. God desires for husbands and wives to honor Him by loving and honoring one another in faithful covenantal marriage. We are told in several places throughout the book to not awaken love prematurely (i.e. 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). This speaks of the wisdom in waiting for marriage to engage in sexual intimacy.
Additionally, while the focus of the book is to lift up biblical marriage and sexual intimacy as one expression of how God calls couples to worship Him, this book is also a reminder to all of God’s people that marriage is meant to be one way that God’s people’s can better understand their relationship with Him. There are many places in the Old Testament where the Lord refers to Himself as a husband to Israel. And then, in the New Testament, the Church is described as being the Bride of Christ. (See Matthew 9:15; Eph. 4:32; Rev. 22:17 etc.)
Also, attached with this handout is a literary structure for the Book of Song of Songs. May it help you to better grasp and love this beautiful poetic book that God has given us.
Bible Book of the Month – July 2023 – Daniel
I am excited to announce that our highlighted book of the Bible for the month of July is the Book of Daniel. Daniel is both one of the easiest as well as most difficult books in the entire Bible to read and understand. The first half of the book (chapters 1-6) is filled with vivid and familiar stories of the faithfulness of Daniel and his friends, as they remained loyal and committed to God in the midst of the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians. These stories powerfully reveal God’s sovereignty over all nations and rulers. Each of these stories are reminders that God is ruler over all and He is worthy for the complete trust of His people. This reminds us that no matter the cost of following Jesus Christ today, it is more than worth it. May we find courage and strength in our Christian living as we read these chapters of Daniel.
The second half of Daniel (chapters 7-12) consists of more complicated dreams and visions from God giving to Daniel. While these chapters are more difficult to comprehend, I would like to turn your attention to two things in particular. First, In Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel receives a clear message from the Lord that would come a human being that will one day be worshipped by people from every nation. THIS IS A VERY CLEAR PROPHECY THAT WAS FULFILLED IN JESUS CHRIST. JESUS IS THE SON OF MAN FROM THIS VISION WHOM THE ANCIENT OF GOD (GOD THE FATHER) WILL CELEBRATE BEING WORSHIPPED ALONGSIDE HIM. This is one of the many Old Testament passages that reveals God’s unfolding redemption plan for humanity.
Second, even though there are many confusing images that may seem unclear to us, as the handout (from Dr. David A. Dorsey) will show, God is in the details. The Lord knew in advance detail after detail about various rulers and events that would come to pass. May the handout on the fulfillment on various things mentioned in Daniel 11 strengthen your faith to trust God in the details of your life.
May the Lord bless you as you spend time with Him in His Word this month, Tim
Bible Book of the Month – June 2023 – Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
For this month of June, we are blessed with a three-for-one special for our Bible book of the month. We are highlighting 3 shorter letters from the New Testament. Each of these letters was written by Paul the Apostle during his two-year house arrest in Rome (see Acts 28).
Looking first at Philippians, this is an epistle filled with joy and encouragement. The young church of Philippi had been faithful to Christ, but persecution for the faith was a real possibility in the near future for them (See Philippians 1:27-30). Paul encourages them to humbly follow Christ and profess Christ as Lord, even when that might get them in trouble with the Roman authorities. And this letter to the Philippians should remind us that as we faithfully live for Christ today, we can find joy and peace in all circumstances.
Paul’s letter (in Colossians) to the Christians of Colossae addressed his concern that some of the church in that city was moving away from the simple message of the gospel and have become captivated by various philosophies. These philosophies, such as the worship of angels, although they had the appearance of humility and wisdom, were actually enslaving some of the believers in Colossae. This letter was meant to be a loving wake-up call to repent of these practices and to return to the simple, but life-giving message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. A contemporary parallel to this snare would be the lore of secret organizations. These organizations may appear noble and wise and knowledgeable of many things, but in actuality, they become something that bind and enslave people instead. Christ continues to call people out of these bondages and into the freedom of the true and simple gospel that faith in Christ makes us new and we are made alive in Him. And as a result, we are to set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2) as those who have been made alive with Christ through faith.
Finally, Paul’s epistle to Philemon is a short but powerful letter to his friend, Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus, had run away and had since become not only a believer in Christ, but also of help to Paul and his ministry. In this letter, Paul persuasively asks Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother in Christ. This letter is one of several ways in the Bible that the Lord has worked within culture to subtly transform it to become godlier (in this case, to move away from the common practice of slavery). Truly, any culture seeking to follow the Lord will undoubtably become godlier as well.
May God bless your time in His Word, Tim
May 2023 Bible Books of the Month – Ezekiel
Our featured Bible book for this month of May is the book by the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was taken from the Promised Land to Babylon (along with 8,000 other citizens of Jerusalem in 598 BC (2 Kings 24:10-17) and his call to be a prophet came 5 years later. He received his call at the age of 30, which would have been the same year that he would have began serving as a priest, if he was still living in Jerusalem (for he was of priestly lineage).
Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel called for the people of Israel to repent of their sins and to submit to the Babylonians. The core themes of the book center on the critical event of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. After focusing on the impending judgment of God in the earlier chapters of the book, the focus moves more towards the bright and beautiful future that God still had planned for His people. This book is a clear reminder that even in the worst circumstances, the Lord does not give up on His good plans and promises for humanity.
While there are different theories as to the structure of this important book of the Bible, Dr. David A. Dorsey proposes that the book consists of 7 units and within each unit there are 7 sections (see handout). This suggests that this book was put together with much care, as 7 is a common biblical number representing fullness or completion. May God bless your reading this month!
April 2023 Bible Books of the Month – Galatians & Ephesians
Dear beloved of God,
I am blessed to share a few words about our Bible Books of the Month for the month of April. For April we are highlighting two of the Apostle Paul’s letters to the early church – Galatians and Ephesians. Both of these epistles are six chapters in our English Bibles and both letters are extremely important to healthy Christian living today.
Galatians was written first, likely around 48-49 AD. In this letter Paul is very emotional and angry. This is because Paul is aware that some of the Christians to whom he was writing were abandoning the true gospel of Jesus Christ and instead embracing a legalism that was being taught to them by other traveling teachers. This false gospel taught that in order to be a true Christian, someone must put themselves under the Old Testament Law. For example, men were being pressured to become circumcised if they really wanted to follow the Lord.
But Paul’s letter clearly blows this false teaching out of the water. It is by grace alone, through faith alone that anyone is saved from their sins. And Jew and Gentile alike needed Jesus’ sacrifice for them. May this powerful epistle remind us of the dangers of legalism and call us forward to live out the new covenant as people saved by God’s amazing grace.
Ephesians, on the other hand, was likely written around 60-61 AD. Paul was under house arrest in Rome and this letter was written to encourage the Christians living in and around Ephesus. Ephesus was very well known for its widespread practice of magic and witchcraft and Paul was seeking to strengthen the believers there in the knowledge that Christ reigns above the evil spirits that are in rebellion against God. And not only that, because Christians are united to Christ through faith and share in Christ’s victory, they need not be afraid of these evils. May this beautiful epistle encourage you as well to be strong in the Lord and to not be afraid of anything that Satan may throw at us in this life.
March 2023 Bible Books of the Month – Jeremiah & Lamentations
I find it fitting that we will be highlighting the Bible books of Jeremiah and Lamentations during this month. This entire month of March (excluding Sundays, which are considered to be celebration or feast days) takes place within the Christian season of Lent. Lent is often viewed as a season that the Lord invites His church to grieve and mourn over sin and its effects in our lives and in the world. And Jeremiah, who is sometimes referred to as “the weeping prophet,” and who wrote the book Jeremiah and likely the poem, Lamentations, would be very appropriate to spend significant time reading and reflecting on.
Besides the handouts, which were all put together by Dr. David A. Dorsey, an excellent professor of mine, I would like to mention a few other important things that can help us to grasp these books well.
First, Jeremiah was a prophet that prophesied in the years leading up to and following Judea’s conquest by the Babylonians. This conquest was a result of Israel turning from God to worship idols and commit various other grievous sins. Throughout this powerful book, we see God’s sovereignty over the nations. And in the middle of the book (chapters 30-33), we see that God still has a bright hope for the future. This hope would center around the new covenant that He would eventually establish. We see this eventually happening about 600 years later through Jesus Christ.
Second, the Book of Lamentations teaches God’s people that lamenting is very appropriate at times. Jesus would later say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Mt. 5:4).” Interestingly, in the poem that is Lamentations, for the first four chapters it is written as an acrostic. By this I mean that the verses in each stanza begin with successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. But in chapter 5, this is not the case. This is definitely intentional and likely is one way that Jeremiah, and God who inspired Him, is conveying that sense of disorder and loss and confusion that is felt in times of lament. But again, remember Jesus’ promise to comfort those who mourn.
February 2023 – Bible Books of the Month – 1-3 John
I am excited to spend time reading and meditating on February’s Bible Books of the Month with you. They are 1, 2, and 3 John. On this month in which love is especially celebrated in our culture, we are reminded time and time again from these powerful letters from the Apostle John (who is sometimes referred to as the Apostle of love) that Christians are to be people filled with God’s love. God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16) and His desire is that His people embody His love in this world as we love God and love one another (1 John 2:10; 3:16-18; 3:23; 4:7-12; 4:16-8; 5:1-3; 2 John 3-6; 3 John 5-6). We also demonstrate our love for God by not loving the things of the world that stand in opposition to God (1 John 2:15-17).
As you take time to read and ponder these important letters that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write, may the love of our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, grow greatly within you. One thing I pray pretty much every day is to be filled with the love of God. I would recommend this for everyone.
These letters remind us that we are called to live lives of love in this world. Embodying the love of Jesus does not mean that we are to affirm wrong behavior, but rather that we have deep care for and desire the well being of everyone. And may the love of Christ compel us to share Jesus with others as He leads us (2 Corinthians 5:14).
January 2023 – Bible Books of the Month – 1st and 2nd Corinthians
Hello Brothers and Sisters and welcome to 2023! I believe that this year will be an amazing year of growth and discipleship here at Chestnut Grove!
For our first Bible book of the month of 2023, I stand amazed at God’s grace and sense of humor. I put together the schedule for the biblical books many months in advance and had no idea at the time that I would also be starting a new sermon series on themes from 1 & 2 Corinthians beginning on January 1st, 2023. I take this as a sign that God is ordering our steps.
As we explore these powerful letters from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, there are several things to remember. For one, Corinth was known to be an especially ungodly city. But in the midst of this darkness, the truth and power of the gospel had taken root and lives were being transformed. Next, the Corinthian correspondence reveals that maturity in Christ is a process that takes time and understanding. The believers in Corinth had many questions for Paul, and the Holy Spirit was guiding Paul to respond to these questions with clarity and wisdom. Additionally, these letters teach us that it is good to ask questions to God and God-appointed leaders, who will be able to offer help in your living out your faith in Christ in practical ways. And finally, in a town that cared much for status, these letters teach the Corinthians (and us) that greatness in the Kingdom of God is found by growing in God’s love and by humbly serving others in His Name. ———————————————————————————————–
Isaiah – Bible Book of the Month for December, 2022
One of the most beloved books of the Bible is the Old Testament book by the prophet Isaiah. It is not only the prophet with the most chapters in his book, but Isaiah is also sometimes called the messianic prophet, because his prophecies in several places point ahead to Jesus. Perhaps this is nowhere clearer than in and around Isaiah 53, as he describes many details about the suffering servant. I am happy to give you a handful of helpful handouts on Isaiah as well. These were all put together by an excellent Old Testament professor of mine, Dr. David A. Dorsey. I trust they will be a blessing to you as they are to me. As we journey together towards the celebration of the birth of Jesus this month of December, may these inspired words of our faithful brother in Christ, Isaiah, nourish your soul and strengthen your faith.
July 2022 – For the month of July, our Bible books of the month are again a two-for-one special. We are highlighting the Book of Proverbs from the Old Testament and the Book of James from the New Testament. These books are lumped together because godly wisdom is a major theme in both books of Scripture and we need all the wisdom we can get to navigate these times where confusion and ungodliness thinking and living are very prevalent. As Christians, we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. God’s Spirit has given these books to us to help us to walk in His wisdom. May we prayerfully read these books, knowing that the Lord will help us each day to grow in His wisdom and better reflect Him to those around us.
See the Handouts document below for the reading of Chronicles – June 2022
Handouts for Chronicles Bible Study – June 2022
In the beginning…
Every story has a beginning and without grasping how the story begins, it is difficult to understand the story itself. The Book of Genesis is the book of Beginnings. In it we learn of the beginnings of our human race and our Triune God’s desire for people to walk in relationship with Himself. In it we are reminded that God is always the hero and God works through imperfect people. In it we see the start of God’s redemptive plan begin to take shape in the forming of a new nation that was called to be His representatives on this earth and be the means by which Jesus the Messiah would come.
During this current time of restart, both as a nation and as a church, it is fitting to take a fresh look at the start, at the story of beginnings in Genesis. Read/Hear God’s Word with an expectancy to hear the Lord speak to you. Read with a desire to get to know our good God better. Read with joy knowing that you are part of His continually unfolding story today!
Book of the Month:
July – Matthew
August – Genesis
September – Acts
October – Psalms
November – Romans
December – Exodus
January 2021 – Mark
February 2021 – 1 & 2 Corinthians
March 2021 – Leviticus & Hebrews
April 2021 – Galatians & Ephesians
May 2021 – Numbers
June 2021 – Deuteronomy
July 2021 – 1 & 2 Thessalonians
August 2021 – Joshua
September 2021 – 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus
October 2021 – Judges & Ruth
November 2021 – Philippians & Colossians & Philemon
December 2021 – Luke
January 2022 – 1 & 2 Samuel
February 2022 – 1 & 2 Peter & Jude
March 2022 – Revelation
April 2022 – 1 & 2 Kings
May 2022 – John
June 2022 – 1 & 2 Chronicles
July 2022 – Proverbs & James
August 2022 – Matthew
September 2022 – Job
October 2022 – Romans
November 2022 – Ecclesiastes
December 2022 – Isaiah
January 2023 – 1 & 2 Corinthians
February 2023 – 1 John, 2 John, 3 John
March 2023 – Jeremiah & Lamentations
April 2023 – Galatians & Ephesians
May 2023 – Ezekiel
June 2023 – Philippians & Colossians & Philemon
July 2023 – Daniel
August 2023 – Song of Solomon (Dr. Dorsey’s Translation)
September 2023 – Hebrews