December 19 – Importance of the Old Testament – Appreciating God’s Grace

Read Jonah 3:1-4:11

A story we all know too well from Sunday school is that of Jonah…not to mention the song that goes with it.

When we think of the Old Testament, we may not think of a “man of God” hating God for loving God’s enemies. Jonah was a little different than the other prophets called by God to send a message.  The book of Jonah is, as “The Bible Project” calls it; “a subversive story about a rebellious prophet who hates God for loving His enemies”.

The book of Jonah is a huge example of the grace that God bestows on those who may not see eye-to-eye with Him. The people of Nineveh are ones that God states “Does not know their right or left”. They do not know any better and yet Jonah takes it upon himself to be angry with the Lord for sparing the lives of people He created and cared about because they held no standard as Jonah thought they should. He wants these people to do good in order to earn God’s grace. When, really, since the beginning of creation, God’s grace has been offered so many times when it has not been deserved.

We see first-hand in the book of Jonah that God cares deeply about His creation and wants to have a relationship with them.

Three times in the book of Jonah, we see God’s grace at hand.

First, after Jonah runs away from God’s instructions (literally), he gets onto a boat with a group of pagans. When God gets their attention, Jonah may think, “Why live and go to Nineveh, when I can end it here?” So, he nobly (sarcasm) offers himself to spare the pagans on the boat. But the pagans are now aware and have witnessed the power of God and repent.

Secondly, God not only spares the pagans but He allows Jonah’s life to be spared in the belly of a large fish. After 3 days in darkness and a conversation with the Lord, Jonah agrees to obey and his life is spared.

Thirdly, there is Nineveh. A pagan, worldly city which held no regard for the power and might of God. God, loving them and wanting a relationship with them, spared their lives.

The book of Jonah introduces God’s grace in a great way, but He also shows us His love for His creation.

Because of His love, there is grace. Because of His love, there is Jesus.

“So, the Lord said, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?”

How many times do we forget that God will use our differences to bring us closer to Him? As we don’t see eye-to-eye with everyone around us, I have to believe that God’s grace is for all. He loved the WORLD so much that He GAVE His ONLY Son.

We must love; we must show grace in order to show Jesus.

Kelly Lawson

December 18 – Importance of the Old Testament – Emptiness of Pursuing Anything Other than God

Read Jeremiah 2:9-13

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

It’s like leaving Niagara Falls for a leaky, cracked water tower. Or stepping away from a freshly flowing river to find refreshment in a cracked concrete pool that barely holds a puddle. The Israelites had exchanged the very Source of water for a cracked container full of nothing but nothing.

Having loosened themselves from the only one who could provide what they needed – and that in abundance – God’s people had wandered away from Him in search of other sources of life. They tried to find the water of life in places that only proved to be broken, leaky pits at best.

Can you relate? How many times have you or I pursued what is not God in search of what only He can provide? Have you ever tried to replace the Giver and Sustainer of life with what looked like it might be enough? Maybe it’s work or a certain relationship. Maybe it’s the pursuit of all things comfort or the need for control. It might be something that in and of itself is good, like your family or your ministry. Still, the truth holds strong – pursuing anything but God Himself for real life is pointless. There is only one God. You and I can only have one master.

This is another reason the Old Testament is important. It helps us identify the emptiness of pursuing anything but God.

Nothing is better than the Source itself. Everything the Israelites tried fell short. The same rings true for you and me. Let’s turn to God and let Him be our one true source of life.

Bria Wasson

December 17 – Importance of the Old Testament – Introduced to the Messiah

Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12

On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke of the value of Old Testament words like those in today’s reading. He was traveling along with two disappointed men headed to Emmaus. The men were leaving Jerusalem, disenchanted because Jesus had been crucified and it was the third day since His death. Christ’s identity was somehow veiled from their recognition, so their raw discouragement shines through. In response, we read what Jesus did: “…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

As we continue to explore the many reasons why the Old Testament is important, we discover, then, incredible value in the fact that it introduces us to the Messiah.

In today’s reading alone, we read prophecies pointing us to such realities as Christ’s brutal death (52:14), His unassuming appearance (53:2), His rejection and opposition (53:3), His substitutionary death (53:4-6), His sinless nature (53:9), the nature of His grave (53:9), and His death satisfying the eternal plan and wrath of God (53:10-12).

This is but one of many passages that offer us a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah. Elsewhere, Old Testament readers like us can learn that Jesus would

  • Be victorious over Satan (Gen 3:15)
  • Be a descendant of Eve (Gen. 3:15), from the line of Judah (Gen 49:10), and the family of David (2 Sam 7:16).
  • Be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  • Be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • Spend time in Egypt (Hos 11:1)
  • Speak in parables (Ps 78:2–4)
  • Be a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4)

These are but a sampling of the many things we can learn about Jesus from the Old Testament. Jesus, you see, was not an afterthought in the mind of God. Our Father had planned and prophesied His coming. He faithfully keeps His promises.

Steve Kern

December 16 – Importance of the Old Testament – The Price of Sin

Read Leviticus 4:1-35 and Hebrews 9:16-28

I sat across the table from my mother-in-law at an Olive Garden in Sebring, Florida during a recent visit to my wife’s hometown. I try to make it a point to spend some one-on-one time with Momma Patty whenever I can because…well…she’s just that awesome. Momma Patty didn’t have it easy. She was a single mother who raised 4 kids on her own while working full time. How she made ends meet and provided for all 4 of her kids, I will never know. In many regards, I look up to Momma Patty, not only because she shares my love of action movies, but because of her strength and “do what you gotta do” attitude. As I stuffed my face with that incredible Olive Garden salad, I asked her simply, “How did you do it?”


There are many things that Kelly and I do in parenting that was influenced by Momma Patty. Many lessons Kelly has learned from her mom that we are beginning to teach Mattie.

One of the main things that Momma Patty taught Kelly and her siblings was that there are consequences for your actions. If you chose to do something, you will have to live with the consequences from getting tattoos to getting involved in the wrong crowds.

This same consequence mindset is part of what makes the Old Testament so important. In it, we begin to understand the price (or consequence) of sin.

As you read (or skimmed) through our Leviticus reading today, you began to see just what consequences there were for sin back then. The Israelites definitely came to understand the price for sin as it was never something that God could just “forget and move on from”.

Sin was something that had to be dealt with completely.

For many, many years, Leviticus 4 was the solution.

Everything changed when Jesus came.

Hebrews 9 talks about how Jesus came once and for all to take away the sin of the world. When Jesus was on the cross, He bore the sin of the world and was the recipient of the wrath of God that was the punishment for sin.

What often goes unnoticed in Genesis 3 is the thread of promising redemption. Literally a verse after cursing the serpent (Satan), God reveals His plan for redemption. Sin would ravage the world and would make life so incredibly difficult but, in the end, salvation would come through the eventual offspring of the woman and the ultimate consequences of sin would be done away with.

This theme of redemption is a common thread throughout the Bible. We are introduced to the price of sin right away and, throughout the Bible, we read about how God’s plan of redemption unfolds.

How thankful are you that, regardless of the price of your sin, Jesus paid for it by dying on the cross in your place? Will you take a moment to thank Him for that and commit to live for and glorify Him?

Jake Lawson

December 15 – Importance of the Old Testament – God’s Passion for People and the Nations

Read Genesis 12:1-3

Every four years, I really enjoy the Olympics. I love seeing the talent in every sport from the track and field events to gymnastics to archery. And, I have to admit, I enjoy cheering for Team USA. My upbringing has instilled a sense of national pride and patriotism in me.

That national pride and patriotism can sure be positive. But those two realities also can have a dark underbelly that can lead me to personal convictions of exceptionalism, superiority, and even xenophobia. I must remind myself that citizens of the United States are not somehow God’s unique, chosen people.

As we continue in our series on why the Old Testament is important, we discover today a nation that God did select. From Abraham, Sarah, and their offspring, God purposed to make a great nation. To Abraham and his descendants, He would give land and offer blessing. In fact, this nation would be a conduit of blessing to the other peoples of the earth.

That is quite a chunk to swallow, so let’s break it down into some bite-size morsels.

  1. The nation of Israel plays a prominent role in the Old Testament. They were to be a people of God’s own possession, set apart for His purposes.
  2. God’s offering of blessing to the nations is clear throughout the Bible. Israel was to be a conduit of blessing to the nations of the Old Testament. Some of the surrounding people were attracted to Yahweh as Israel kept the law. Meanwhile, the church is to be a bold witness for Christ as people intentionally go to share the life-changing gospel with the peoples of the world.
  3. Jesus is the ultimate offspring of Abraham, who offers blessing to all (Gal 3:15-17).
  4. Believers today are to follow the example of Abraham who was declared righteous on the basis of faith (Rom 4:18-25; Gal 3:7-9). Still today, we are justified only by faith.
  5. The church does not replace the nation of Israel, but God’s plan for Israel does serve as bookends to the church age.

Bottom line for today, you and I need to replace any kind of unhealthy national superiority. All nations of the world have incredible value in the sight of God. In both the Old and New Testaments, He exposes His plan to bless them in the person of Jesus. While you and I can cheer for Team USA, we must also be fans of and players in God’s plan to redeem people from every nation.

Steve Kern

December 14 – Importance of the Old Testament – We Understand What’s Wrong…

Read Genesis 3:1-24

If you read the news headlines, you are likely reminded of more that is wrong in the world than what is right. There are tensions between political parties, between races, and between nations. You might hear news of wars, of ecological challenges, of addiction, or of the latest leader who has fallen victim to sexual impropriety or lack of financial integrity.

How did we get here, anyway? In answering that question, we discover just how important the Old Testament is. Specifically, today’s reading offers us incredible insight.

At first glance, you may think that Genesis 3 is just the story of Adam and Eve. And, in some ways, it is that. God had clearly instructed them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, they caved to the temptation. There were consequences for their disobedience, and they were forced from the Garden of Eden. End of story, right?

Not so fast there! The consequences of their eating reach to us in the twenty–first century.

  • Enmity with Satan – Still today, he is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour and destroy people (Gen 3:15; John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8).
  • Pain of Childbirth – The development of special pain medications and epidural blocks serve as good reminders that giving birth is still painful today (Gen 3:16).
  • Creation’s Curse – Romans 8 personifies creation, describing it as frustrated and groaning in its longing for its ultimate, future liberation from the consequences of Adam’s choice (Gen 3:17, 18; Rom 8:18–22).
  • Work Challenges – Ask any person who seeks to accomplish a personal task or who works for an employer, and you will likely hear frustration (Gen 3:19.
  • Separation from God – The consequences of Adam’s choice demonstrated in exile from the Garden are also depicted in our alienation from God as well (Gen 3:22–24; Rom 5:8-10).
  • More than being handed the consequences for Adam’s sin, as his descendants, we have become guilty of and accountable for our own sin (Rom 5:12-21). That is how we got to where we are today!

But, thankfully, God provided a solution to all of the pain, suffering, frustration, and even to the separation from Him. He sent the descendant of the woman, Jesus, who crushed the serpent’s head through His death, burial, and resurrection (Gen 3:15; Heb 2:14). That is how we move beyond where we are today!

Steve Kern

December 13 – Importance of the Old Testament – We Meet the God Who Created Us

Read Genesis 1:1-31

When you think of meeting someone important, do you think of how you might look and what you might say? One time, I was meeting some important people from my husband’s office for dinner. Oh, the agony of what to wear! I debated whether to buy something new, or just wear something I already had. Should I wear a dress or pants? What will we talk about? What should I order for dinner?  Maybe I just shouldn’t go! Funny how I don’t have the same anxiety when it comes to meeting God. I know Him. I know He loves me and wants me to return that love. He has revealed this love throughout His creation.

You can know that love, too.

I know God loves me because He has provided for my every need.  He created the sun which gives me warmth and light. He created plants and animals which give me things to eat.  He created water which sustains my body, as well as all living things. Not only did He provide for my physical needs, He also provided for my emotional needs. He gave me other people to live life with. God created days for work and days for rest, seasons for planting and seasons for harvesting. He provided order to the environment in which I live so that I can depend on its patterns and cycles.

I know God loves me because He, the uncreated One, created me in His image. I have His fingerprints on my life. He didn’t fashion me after any other animal or any other extraterrestrial being. He made me in His likeness. He saved that special defining attribute for humankind. There is a special bond that exists between God and humans because of this. The all-powerful God wants to connect with me and you. He wants to have a relationship with us, His created ones. I know this because God did not create mankind, then walk away. He desires our love and wants to lavish His love on us and call us His children.  (1 John 3:1)

I also know God loves me simply by the glorious world He has given me to live in while I am on Earth. I have had the pleasure of visiting mountainous areas, beaches, and lakes in several different countries of the world. The views were magnificent! As I traveled to a secluded island in a remote part of Canada with my dad, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the ruggedness and beauty of the trees and water. I found myself singing “How Great Thou Art.” I don’t remember starting to sing that song; it was as if my soul needed to acknowledge the Creator and the words poured out of heart. I can have the same experience on my front porch as I watch my children play and hear the birds chatter and watch my garden grow. You can, too. Just look around you. We have been incredibly blessed by a God who loves us.

Through creation, we get to meet a God who loves us. The extent of His love is immeasurable. When you take a moment to meet with God, the Creator, you will know you are loved. Acknowledge how He has provided for your every need and made a way for an authentic relationship with Him forever. You will not feel judged or like you have to measure up to gain His approval. He made you for Himself. Spend some time today thanking God for all that He has created for you. Take a minute to look around you and feel blessed by His creation.

Know you are loved by the One who created you.

Tammy Finney