The Apostles’ Creed: Engage with God’s Word – Part I

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WEEK 4, DAY 1: Engage with God’s Word – Part I

For some, reading through the Bible on a regular basis is normal. They wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and engage with God’s Word for 15-30 minutes and then spend some time journaling before entering into the rest of the day. 

For others, reading through the Bible on a regular basis is challenging. Some of the responses I (Pastor Justin) regularly hear from others about the things getting in the way of engaging with the Scriptures regularly include: 

  • “I don’t have enough time.” 
  • “It doesn’t make sense.” 
  • “I don’t even know where to start.” 
  • “It’s not relevant to my life.” 

What’s interesting is that the majority of those who do engage with the Scriptures on a regular basis started out with the same kinds of thoughts. But as they began to engage with the Bible regularly, they began to see that they do have time for the things most important to them. And while they weren’t sure where to start, the more they read, the more God spoke to them, the more the Bible began to make sense, and the more they were able to see how relevant it is to their life.

READING & JOURNALING:

     HEBREWS 4:12, 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17, JAMES 1:22

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you engage with God’s Word? (This means not just reading it, but dwelling on it, talking about it with others, journaling your thoughts, memorizing it, etc.) 

What, if anything, is currently getting in the way of you being able (or willing) to engage with the Scriptures regularly?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I often make weak excuses for not spending time in Your Word. Like all people, I know that I have time for the things in which I make time. When I choose not to make time for You, it’s because I’m putting something else ahead of You. This week, I commit to engage with Your Word for at least (3, 4, 5, or more) days. As I do so, I pray that You reveal something new to me each day. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Proverbs 1 & 2

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: Week 3 Review

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WEEK 3, DAY 5: Review

What was your biggest takeaway from this week’s teaching — “[He] suffered under Pontius Pilate; [He] was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead?”

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: 1 Kings 8:1-9:9

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: On the Third Day He Rose from the Dead

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WEEK 3, DAY 4: On the Third Day He Rose from the Dead

Without a doubt, the entirety of the Christian faith rests on Jesus’ resurrection. And while the New Testament is filled with passages on the importance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, there are two major themes that are foundational for the Christian faith. 

First, the resurrection shows that Jesus is the true Son of God. While HIs disciples and countless others had thought Jesus was the Son of God, his resurrection left no doubt. As such, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11). One day, all will know who Jesus really is, as He will judge the world in justice (Acts 17:30-31). 

Second, Jesus’ resurrection shows that Christians are now justified through our faith in Him (Romans 4:24-25). The New Bible Dictionary notes that the word justified is a legal term meaning “to acquit, to declare righteous, or the opposite of condemn.” All who have truly professed faith in Jesus and believed in Him are justified before God. He sees us pure, holy, righteous, and without blemish. He sees us as His beloved daughters and sons. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     LUKE 24, JOHN 20, 2 CORINTHIANS 6:16-18

Some are able to grasp that, “Jesus died for the whole world,” but struggle to accept that, “Jesus died for me.” Do you struggle to accept that you are worthy of God’s love? 

For all who have professed faith in Christ, answer the following question by writing out your response in a minimum of 3-5 sentences: What thoughts come to mind as you ponder that God sees you as His beloved daughter or son? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I’m tremendously thankful that You see me as Your beloved daughter or son. May I rest in this truth each and every day, knowing that You have declared me worthy of Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: 1 Kings 3 & 6

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: He Descended Into Hell…

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WEEK 3, DAY 3: He Descended Into Hell…

The Apostles’ Creed has been regularly used since around 390 AD. During the first 1,000-1,500 years, there wasn’t much controversy surrounding the Creed or any of its Articles. 

But this has all changed over the past couple hundred years or so, as the line “He descended into hell…” has been scrutinized by many biblical scholars. One theologian, Wayne Grudem, wrote an article in 1991 titled, He Did Not Descend into Hell: A Plea for Following Scripture Instead of the Apostles’ Creed.”

Other scholars, however, note that the intention of the phrase was to say that Jesus descended to the dead and the Creed was written using the vernacular of its time. For example, in his book titled, “He Descended to the Dead,” Matthew Emerson argues that Jesus couldn’t be be raised from the dead if he didn’t first descend to the dead. 

Is this just semantics, or does it really matter? Here are a couple things to keep in mind: 

  • What you believe does matter, and it’s good to think about what you believe and where those beliefs come from. 
  • This statement in the Apostles’ Creed is interesting, but is not an essential belief for salvation. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     1 PETER 3:18-22

The Life Application Study Bible notes on this passage: “… While some Bible passages, such as this one, may remain unclear, we can discover certain truths from them along with the context of the rest of Scripture. In this passage, we discover that: (1) God speaks. While we puzzle over what, where, and how, we can see that God is communicating to the world. (2) God triumphs. Christ victoriously preached, indicating his power, control, and transcendence over all creation. (3) God saves. God exerts himself to rescue those who desire him. This mysterious passage tells us at least this much—and that is much indeed.

Why do you think it may be a good idea to wrestle with the meaning of hard-to-understand Scripture passages such as this one?

PRAYER:

Today, write out your own prayer to God.

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: 1 Kings 2

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: [He] Died and was Buried

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WEEK 3, DAY 2: He Died and was Buried

There’s a lot about Jesus’ life and ministry between His birth and crucifixion that the Apostles’ Creed doesn’t mention. (Feel free to read Matthew 1-25, Mark 1-14, Luke 1-22, and John 1-17 for a thorough review.) But from what we do know about His life and ministry, there is a lot that was written about the day He was crucified, dead, and buried.

First, we know that Jesus was beaten, and the measure to which He was beaten would cause just about anybody to look away in horror. He was repeatedly whipped with sharp stones tied to the ends of the leather straps. It was a severe beating. 

Second, we know that Jesus was crucified on a cross. This was a common form of execution in the Roman Empire. 

Third, we know that Jesus died, and that He died without any broken bones. Soldiers responsible for crucifixions would often break the legs of those hanging on a cross in order to force their lungs to collapse in on themselves. But Jesus had been so badly beaten that He died before His legs were broken. 

Finally, we know that Jesus was buried, as a tomb was provided for Him by a righteous man named Joseph. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     LUKE 23:26-55, JOHN 19:16-42

What does Jesus’ crucifixion tell you about what God thinks of your sin? 

What does Jesus’ crucifixion tell you about how much God loves you and wants the best for you? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I know there are some today who don’t like to think or talk about the subject of sin, yet Your Word is clear in showing how much of an impact it has in my life. Help me to see my own sins for what they are – a deep violation against You. Help me to see my sins as You do. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Psalm 148, 149, & 150

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: Under Pontius Pilate He was Crucified

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WEEK 3, DAY 1: Under Pontius Pilate He was Crucified

A careful reading of the Apostles’ Creed will show that the only names mentioned include God (God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit) and two others, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Pontius Pilate. 

Pilate was a political governor whose job was to oversee the the area in and around Jerusalem. As such, nobody could be sentenced to death without the governor’s approval. The Jewish leaders could find lawbreakers to be guilty, but they could only offer punishment to a certain extent. Serious punishment had to be agreed-upon by the proper authorities. 

For his part, Pontius Pilate was not Jewish, nor did he know much about Jesus. In fact, there were three separate occasions in which Pilate declared he could find no fault in Jesus, and certainly nothing that would make Him punishable by death. 

But the Jewish leaders refused to back down and continued to press their case. Not only that, they declared allegiance to the Roman Empire and warned Pilate they would inform the emperor that he refused to eliminate a rebel against the empire. Pilate knew what was right, but made a decision based on fear. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     LUKE 23:1-25

Read through today’s reading carefully. What sticks out to you most from today’s reading?

Write about a time when you (1) Made a decision based on fear, like Pilate, (2) Mocked somebody or something you didn’t fully understand, like Herod, and (3) Experienced suffering at the hands of others, like Jesus? 

PRAYER:

Today, write out your own prayer to God based on the your response to the above question. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Psalm 119:127-176, Psalm 137

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: Week 2 Review

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WEEK 2, DAY 5: Review

What was your biggest takeaway from this week’s teaching — “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary?”

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Psalm 119:49-128

 

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: Born of the Virgin Mary

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WEEK 2, DAY 4: Born of the Virgin Mary

The story of Jesus’ conception by the power of the Holy Spirit and the virgin birth is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. While there aren’t any scripture passages that speak of praying to Mary, it’s clear that Mary had a significant role in the birth and upbringing of Jesus. In fact, Jesus wanted to ensure his mother was well cared for after his death (see John 19:26). So, who was Mary? And what lessons do we learn from her life? 

According to notes in the Life Application Study Bible’s we can note the following strengths and accomplishments of her life:

  • The mother of Jesus, the Messiah
  • Willing to be available to God
  • Knew and applied Old Testament scriptures. 

Additionally, we learn the following lessons from her life:

  • God’s servants are often ordinary people who make themselves available to Him. 
  • A person’s character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     LUKE 2:1-52

What do you think about the note from the Life Application Study Bible that, “God’s servants are often ordinary people who make themselves available to Him?” 

Be honest, how much do you make yourself available to God? What would it look like to make yourself fully available to Him today?  

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, while I like to think I regularly make myself available to You, I know there are times every single day when I am living for myself and my own desires. Your Word affirms that Your servants are often ordinary people who make themselves available to You. May I make myself wholly available today. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Psalm 103, Psalm 119:1-48

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: He was Conceived by the Holy Spirit

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WEEK 2, DAY 3: He was Conceived by the Holy Spirit

Another core teaching of the Bible is that of the trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the Scriptures never use the term trinity. Each ‘person’ in the Godhead is mentioned at different times and in different ways. And there are other moments, such as Jesus’ baptism, in which all three are present. 

Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit is yet another core teaching of the Christian faith. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was a virgin. As a young woman — whom scholars would agree was likely between the ages of 12-14 years old — she had not yet slept with a man. Instead, an angel from heaven appeared to Mary to inform her she had conceived a child through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Being of Jewish faith, Mary would have had a lot of knowledge about the work of the Holy Spirit through the writings of the Old Testament. But to have an angel appear and tell her she was with child through the power of the Holy Spirit would have been a tremendous shock to her, her family, and the man to whom she was betrothed. Yet Mary responded by saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

READING & JOURNALING:

     LUKE 1:26-38

Why do you think Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit was made part of the Apostles’ Creed? 

What do you find most remarkable about Mary’s response to the angel in Luke 1:38? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I recognize that the story of Jesus’ conception and birth may seem radical, yet the evidence of the Holy Spirit in my own life cannot be denied. Today, I commit to listening to Your voice so that I may better experience the life You have for me and live it to the full. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: Psalm 1, Psalm 19

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.

 

 

The Apostles’ Creed: God’s Only Begotten Son, Our Lord

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WEEK 2, DAY 2: God’s Only Begotten Son, Our Lord

The term begotten isn’t one we use as a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s included in the Apostles’ Creed, however, to show that Jesus was a physically born Son of God. While He did come from heaven down to earth, He did so in a way that was completely unexpected. He was…begotten. Fathered by God Himself. Conceived by the Holy Spirit. And born of the virgin Mary.

But here in this Article of the Apostles’ Creed, there are two other words that are seemingly out of place — our Lord. Up until now, the Creed has focused on what the person saying it believes, “I believe…” But now there’s a sudden turn in direction, bringing unity to all who are saying the Apostles’ Creed aloud. “I believe in Jesus Christ…our Lord.”

More than anything, this shows that Jesus is at the very center of the Christian faith. In other words,  it’s not possible for somebody to say, “I believe in Jesus, but he’s not my Lord.” Instead, anybody who says, “I believe in Jesus,” must be able to follow it up with, “…our Lord.” He is Lord not only of one person, but of all people who have professed faith in Him. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     ROMANS 5:1-11

Why do you think the words “Our Lord” are used in this part of the Apostles’ Creed? 

On a scale of 1-10, how difficult is it for you to sing, pray, and worship with those who profess faith in Jesus, but who have different political beliefs (or other different convictions) than you do? Why do you think that is? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for struggling to worship You when I am with others who live or think differently than me. This struggle proves that I put other issues ahead of You. May I continue to grow so that You and You alone are my Lord and King, and the most important person in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

The F260 is a Scripture Reading Plan designed to read through the foundational passages of the Bible through a year (September 2019 – August 2020). It is a separate reading from the daily devotional but is included for those who would like to engage with the Scriptures on a deeper level throughout the year.

Read: 2 Samuel 24, Psalm 24

Journal: Write it out. Following the pattern from 7 Arrows Page (click here) what did you learn from today’s reading?

 

Note: Are you looking for a Study Bible to help you engage with the Scriptures at a deeper level? If so, click here for some recommendations.