Over the next few weeks we are looking at different characters of the Old Testament to discover insights, principles and practices that can help us grow in our own discipleship journey. Repeatedly the bible tells us how important it is to learn from the past:Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:11)Remember your former leaders. Think back on how they lived and ministered. Imitate those excellent qualities you see in their lives. For Jesus Christ is the same today, as he was in the past and as He will be in the future. What he did for them he will do for you to inspire and enable your leadership (enables your disciple making journey in our 2019 CityLife context). Hebrews 13:7-8 (paraphrased by Dr Robert Clinton)
People identify with the joys and sorrows, and the successes and failures of others. They find it easy to learn and draw strength from the lives of others. We can draw solace from the Bible, where there are many characters who failed, and yet learned from their mistakes to grow towards later success. God worked with them to help them learn from their failures, and to accomplish good things despite their limitations.Authentic Heroes who Overcame Real Issues
Our world desperately needs models worth following. We need authentic heroes and people of integrity whose lives inspire us to take God seriously, to follow His Word obediently, and to pursue Christ passionately. Thankfully, the Bible places before us a spiritual "hall of fame"—raw, uncensored, gritty stories of men and women sometimes soaring, often stumbling, through the incredible life of faith. They wrestled with sin, experienced God's grace, struggled with weakness, and overcame by faith. Their inspiring biographies have been memorialized in Scripture, not simply because of their faith in God but because of God's faithfulness to them.
When you dive deep into the lives of biblical characters, you realize that there was nothing special to set them apart; God didn’t choose these individuals because of any intrinsic greatness. In fact, God delights in using sinful, flawed people who nevertheless turned to him in reliance on his grace. In short, character studies remind us that God uses messed-up people like you and me. They faced real issues – fractured family relationships, character flaws, greed, adultery, murder… you name it. These great lives from God's Word not only provide realistic portraits for appreciation but also relevant principles for application.Learning from their Example
Since our vision focus for 2019 is on developing disciples who will make disciples, we want to learn about people with similar life struggles, needs, and responsibilities. They can help us to understand how to navigate life and relationships. The Bible does not shy away from presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of those it portrays. This makes the characters in the Bible ‘practical’ in the sense that we can relate to them and ‘educational’ in the sense that we can learn from their successes and failures.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”. Ultimately, that must be our purpose when we study Bible characters. Where they were successful in following God, we are to emulate them. Where they failed, we are to avoid making the same mistakes. Failure is not something we need to fear. We too can learn and apply the stories of these Biblical characters to our own lives.The Life Journeys of Some Old Testament Heroes
Across our sites from May 18/19 to June 29/30 we will be hearing weekend messages from the lives of eleven different “super ordinary heroes” in the Old Testament. Their names and key chapters in the Bible that record important events and seasons in their life journey are given below. Some of these stories will also be part of our daily bible reading as a church. As Life Groups we encourage you to choose two or three heroes you will be hearing about at your site, and then explore and discuss their life journey, and its relevance to your own lives.
Old Testament Hero Some Relevant Bible Chapters Sites Where a Message will be SharedAbraham Genesis 11-22
All SitesDavid 1 Sam 16-30; 2 Sam 1-2
All SitesElijah 1 Kings 17-19; 2 Kings 1-2
Casey, Whittlesea, KnoxEsther Book of Esther
Manningham, Knox, WhittleseaJeremiah Jeremiah 1; 20; 38-40; 43; 52
ManninghamJehoshaphat 2 Chronicles 17-20
WhittleseaJoseph Genesis 37; 39-50
CaseyJoshua Joshua 1-14
WhittleseaMoses Exodus 1-14
All SitesRuth Book of Ruth
Casey, KnoxSaul 1 Sam 9-15
Here are some questions you can discuss as you reflect on the “super ordinary hero” that was presented to your congregation:
- Where did they lack wisdom?
- How did they fall in sin?
- How did they overcome? How did they trust when things seemed impossible?
- How did God deal with them? How did he move or interact with this person during their life?
- What were the consequences of their actions (think of the death of David’s son), how did they experience incredible grace (both David and Moses were murderers, yet they are some of the greatest “heroes of faith”)?
- What can we learn? What biblical principles can we glean from their life?
- What is their legacy and why?
- How is that applicable for us in our everyday lives?