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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Imprisoned For 35 Years Until DNA Proved Him Innocent

Imprisoned For 35 Years Until DNA Proved Him Innocent
James Bain spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

When DNA evidence proved him innocent, he said it “was the right time for God to release me from this. I just had to be very patient... I cannot feel angry. I put all that in God's hands." (Read more)  

Bain reminds me of Joseph who completely forgave his brothers and told them, “Am I in the place of God? You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good..." (Genesis 50:20).  

The stories of Joseph and James Bain give us proof that we can trust God in the midst of terrible injustice.   

Both of these men understood Romans 8:28 in a way that few of us ever will:  
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   

Their lives are evidence that when we follow Christ, we have His DNA in our souls.
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Read a longer devotion about James Bain Here.

Bible Study
 

Imprisoned For 35 Years Until DNA Proved Him Innocent
1. Forgiveness is easier when we let God deal with the sins and offenses of others. There's no better Biblical example than Joseph.

Review the story of Joseph in this 1-Minute devotion: Imagine & Dream and think about being in Joseph's shoes. What aspects of Joseph's narrative below are especially incredible to you?
 

Genesis 50:15-2115 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

2. Forgiveness is choosing to trust God's mysterious truth instead of our human reasoning. Are there times in your life when you did something that seemed crazy but was God's perfect will? Why not share your story in the comment section.

Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." 

3. God always calls us beyond ourselves and our own strength to actions that require His strength. Underline the "impossible" commands in these verses. Have you ever "loved your enemy"? Leave a comment and share the situation.

Romans 12:14-21:  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

After doing this study, check out my insights HERE.

All verses NIV unless otherwise noted.
© copyright, Gail Burton Purath, 2013, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

These 1-Minute Bible Love Notes add some additional thoughts to this study:
We Can Be Victims or Victors
Didn't Want to Do it But Did it Anyway

Sunday, April 9, 2017

4 Guidelines for Understanding Figurative Language in Scripture

Believing the Bible is the inerrant Word of God doesn't mean taking everything in it literally...
 
Every word of God is true, but not every word of God is meant to be taken literally. Sometimes God uses figurative language to convey Truth.

Some Islamic courts cut off the hands of people caught stealing (source). Christians don’t advocate such harsh punishments but we would if we took Matthew 5:30 literally.

Scripture contains hyperbole, personification, metaphors and other figurative language. If we insist that every word is literal, we'll need to join the flat earth society.(1)

Four Guidelines for Understanding Figurative Language in Scripture:
1. It's true and accurate in the figurative sense.
2. It's divinely inspired.
3. Some parables are similes or analogies, presented as such: "the kingdom of heaven is like ...." (Matthew 13:24).
4. Stories and narratives are historical fact. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and God parted the Red Sea.  

It's not hard to discern figurative language in Scripture, but it's important that we do.

(1) A number of passages talk about the 4 corners of the earth (e.g.Rev. 7:1). If we took those passages literally, then we would have to claim that despite satellite photography the earth is flat. By the way, Christianity never promoted a flat earth - see Flat Earth Lie
If you want to study this concept more:
The Figurative Language of Scripture
How to Distinguish Literal from Figurative
 
Bible Study

4 Guidelines for Understanding Figurative Language in Scripture
Today's lesson is more a Bible Help, than study, designed to give us a foundation for Bible study.

Don’t be confused by figurative and poetic language in Scripture. Isaiah 55:12 says trees clap their hands in praise of God. We know trees don’t have literal hands but the imagery is beautiful. We trust and believe these are God’s perfect Words, but we know they are not meant to be taken literally. 

Remember: 

1. Believing a word is poetic doesn't mean it's untrue, nor does it mean it's not divinely inspired. It means that God speaks to us in creative ways to help us understand some concepts.

2. If a word or phrase contradicts other clear teachings of Scripture, it's poetic/figurative. For example, if God literally "forgot" our sins, he would no longer be omniscient (Hebrews 4:12-13) nor could He rebuke us for our sins (Revelation 3:19).  We should not even desire that God be literally unable to see our sins, our weaknesses, our problems – who wants a god with dementia? That kind of god can’t help anyone.

3. Usually (not always) poetic language is found in portions of the Old Testament prophets and in the "poetic books" - Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.

4. The narratives and stories in Scripture are real, not fictional analogies. Believing God uses poetic language does not mean he tells stories that aren't true.

5. Parables are not necessarily true stories if they begin with phrases such as: "The kingdom of heaven will be like...."  These are comparisons using the figurative speech called a "simile." 

6. Not everything referred to as a parable is figurative. The Good Samaritan is not introduced as a simile, so we should not automatically assume it is one. However, figurative or factual, it transmits the same truth. 

We must take great care not to interpret a figurative passage as fact when it contradicts other passages of Scripture (#2 above). Nor should we interpret true stories in the Bible as fiction.
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, April 2, 2017

6 Types of Liars Identified in 1 John

6 Types of Liars Identified in 1 John
First John identifies six types of liars.

1. People claiming to have fellowship with Jesus but walking in darkness (1:6). Ephesians 5:6-16 explains the contrast between worldly darkness and Christian light.

2. People who claim they haven’t sinned (1:10) because they've redefined sin according to culture’s standards, calling God a liar.

3. People who claim to know Jesus but don’t obey Him (2:4). Jesus says love = obedience (John 14:21; 15:10).  

4. People who claim to walk in light while hating their brothers (2:9; 4:20). If we can’t love Christians from different backgrounds, denominations, races, and cultures, we don't know Christ.

5. People who say they love God but really love the world (2:15). There’s only room for one master in our lives (Matthew 6:24). 

6. People who deny Jesus is the Christ, i.e. the Messiah, God Incarnate (2:22). The biggest lie of all! 

May we stand firm against these lies.

Bible Study

1. The first 5 liars John describes are "weeds" in the church: people claiming to have fellowship with Jesus, claiming to walk in the Light, claiming not to have sinned, claiming to love God.
6 Types of Liars Identified in 1 John

Matthew 13:24-30: Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. 29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

I find it interesting that Jesus says uprooting the weeds might uproot some of the wheat. Think of the ways that weeds damage a healthy garden. How might that apply to people in the church who are compromised, unrepentant, and self-serving?

2. Another passage talks about outward forms of godliness:

2 Timothy 3:1-5: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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