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Before you start to read the Bible, it is crucially important that you first understand the character of God the Father. Once you understand God\'s nature in truth, scripture will open up to you and your life can change dramatically as the power and love of God fills your life and overflows to those around you. Addictions, depression, fear, worry and insecurity can melt away when you know and really believe you are totally forgiven and personally realize how much God loves you.
Unfortunately, a large number of Christians today see God as just waiting for them to mess up so he can punish them. They see God as a harsh and cruel taskmaster like the older son saw the Father in the prodigal son story Luke 15:11-32. Like the older son we live as though we must earn Gods favor and love while with our mouths we say it is all about grace. We have mixed the old and the new covenant and what we have is lukewarm. Therefore it is of a primary importance that you establish in your heart who God really is, what he is really like and what he wants for you. How you see God when you go to read his word, makes all the difference. If you feel condemned, fearful, anxious and have drifted away from God, there is a good chance you do not understand Gods true nature.
One of the primary goals of your enemy (satan) is to make you doubt the intense and deep love God has for you. Think about when you sin, isn\'t it usually when you feel rejected and unloved? For Eve to have disobeyed God, she had to be deceived into thinking God was holding out on her and Adam, that he really did not love them. He uses the same tactics today with us.
The truth is that in John 17:23, Jesus tells us that God the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus.
“I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17:23 NLT
In John 3:16 it tells us \"For God so loved the world that he sent his only son......\". Many miss the fact that it was God the Father who sent Jesus because he loves us. Utilize a red letter Bible and study Jesus Words in the gospel of John observing how he related to sinners. Notice the love, compassion, mercy and grace (throughout the New Testament) He showed to every sinner He had a direct encounter with. Notice the presence of no condemnation towards sinners. Here are a few specific examples: Woman at the well; Woman caught in adultery which could have been any sin and Jesus would have acted the same way; Zacchaeus the tax collector; Father forgive them they no not what they do.
Go Here for Verses about God\'s love for YOU.
GO HERE for 27 Bible verses that tell us we are saved by grace through faith alone. Salvation is a FREE GIFT, not something we can earn or something we need to add to.
Once you soak in Jesus love for us through his very actions and written in his very words, notice that when people asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus and his disciples clearly stated that in seeing him, we have seen the father. John 14:7, John 8:19, Col 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3 which states \"He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature........\"This means that we know exactly what God the Father is like by studying Jesus. The Apostle John knew how much God loved him and reflected this knowledge in the five times he calls himself \"the disciple whom Jesus loved\". We know that Jesus loved the other disciples just as much but John knew it and this was an integral part of his foundation in Christ. Hold on to this clear knowledge of Gods nature (the Fathers love for you) every time you read the entire Bible from here forward, old and new testament. God loves you, He is for you and not against you.
Believe Jesus in John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.\" Also John 3:18, 3:36, 6:40, 11:25. These are all very clear statements that those who believe are saved. A primary rule in understanding scripture is to never interpret clear scriptures by unclear scriptures. Simply believe and as Jesus states, you are saved. Who would know better? It was satan who led Eve to doubt God and act in unbelief and he wants us to doubt our salvation and will try to get you to doubt Gods clear message. He will even try and confuse you with verses that are harder to understand and scripture twisting. Remember God was very clear and told Adam and Eve if you eat of the tree you will surely die. God meant what He said but satan led Adam and Eve to doubt God and act in unbelief. Now God is clear about the way of your salvation and means what He says again \"Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29.
The Prodigal Son Found in Luke 15:11-24
In the following parable Jesus continues to correct man’s thoughts and reveals the true heart and nature of God the Father. Place yourself in the parable as the younger son, let Gods love for you into your heart and see the truth of what God has in store for you. Maybe you feel like you have sinned more or less than the younger son and have never trusted Jesus, maybe you once trusted Him and walked away, it does not matter. The parable applies to all sinners.
Luke 15:11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12“The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13“ And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
The parable started out with the younger son (you) asking for his inheritance from his Father (God) so he could leave and go his own way. It is important to note the level of rejection the son express\'s towards his Father at this point. Normally the son would be required to wait for his inheritance until his Father had died. By making this request, in essence the son is rejecting his Father and entire family, basically telling his Father he wished he were dead. Even though the request was highly unusual, the Father agrees and the son leaves and goes off to live life on his own terms, forgetting about his Father for a time.
14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.15“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
In verses 14 - 16 we see that what the son has trusted in (money) has let him down. He ends up living in the ruins of his lifestyle as many of us do. He is wallowing in the mud and feeding pigs and longs for food but has none.
17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20a “So he got up and came to his father.
In verses 17 - 20, the son broke, destitute and at the bottom of the barrel decides to return to his Father (describes our return to God) even though he fears judgment. He realizes and admits to himself that he has sinned but rationalizes that he can offer to be a servant in his Fathers home to appease or bargain with Him and earn his way. He even rehearses what he will say when he sees his Father to soothe his Fathers anticipated anger. Unbeknownst to the son the Father who had been rejected and scorned by the son has been watching and hoping for his return. The son is in for a huge surprise.
20b But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Amazing, Jesus tells us that the Father (God) who had been rejected and had his son (You) do exactly the opposite of what He wanted him to do, welcomes home the son with open arms, incredible compassion and a huge celebration. This is how Jesus describes the Fathers love for YOU.
Once you realize how much God loves you, listen to Jesus above anyone else. He tells us what to seek first in Matthew.
But SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:33
The Kingdom of God is (HIS) righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Rom 14:17
To read the Bible correctly and be greatly blessed as God wants you to be, you must understand clearly that the only way a person was ever declared righteous, right with God, in the Bible is by faith, never by works or perfect law keeping. You need to understand His (Jesus) Righteousness.
Go here for more on His Righteousness:
Context is vital when reading the Bible. Is the text you are reading written to a Jew, Gentile, believer or unbeliever? If verses are taken out of context, all you end up with is a con.
In context the Old Testament was written to the Jews of that time only. If you are not a Jew, it was not written specifically to you. That is not to say you cannot learn things from it. It shows us the fall of man, the predictions and promise of a Messiah (savior of the world) and why we need a savior. It is filled with all kinds of information that points to mankind’s need for a savior in pictures, types and shadows that reveal Jesus as being that savior. The New Testament itself tells us that the Old Testament was a shadow of things to come not the reality. The reality is Jesus Christ, the messiah, savior of the world. Jesus is the answer to all of the questions in the book. Once you have the reality, the shadows can help your faith but are not vitally necessary.
One of the clearest pictures/shadows of Christ in the Old Testament is the blemish free lamb that was sacrificed for sins by the Jews. In the New Testament, Jesus is called the perfect lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The actual lamb was a shadow or picture of Christ and how things would work. The Old Testament is filled with these shadows pointing to Jesus yet no Christian thinks they need to go out and sacrifice a lamb for their sins. They know that Jesus is the one sacrifice for all sins for all time according to the Bible. Many have called the Old Testament Christ concealed and the New Testament Christ revealed.
The Old Testament presented the Old Covenant, in other words the Old Will, like in a last will and testament. The New Testament is the New Will. The New Will is what Jesus brought us according to the book of Hebrews and many other scriptures and does not actually start until after the death of Jesus, because a will does not go into effect until a person dies. Much of what you read in the four gospels is prior to Jesus death and resurrection and under the Old Covenant. If you are going to read the Bible, learn about the New Covenant. http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=182464
With a knowledge of who God is and how much he loves you, start with the Gospel of John in the New Testament and then all of the New Testament.
Here is a comprehensive study to set you on the right track as a new believer.
Now that you know how much God loves you and that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, start reading the Bible with the New Testament.
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