Well, I am a week late with the blog and it is a concern to me. So before I do anything else today, I need to sit down and write. My daughter-in-love, Marchelle, who writes our youth studies, was on my calendar to write the blog this past week. But she became ill and was unable to do it. I’m so sad that Marchelle was not able to write to you because she has some amazing and inspirational things to share with you about our youth studies. Besides being a wonderful wife to my son, mother of five of my grandchildren, homeschooler of three, and active in her church, Marchelle is responsible for a homeschooling Disciplers group of nearly fifty young ones from fourth grade through high school. She has five willing and able adults who work with her to lead the various age group discussions. As if this is not enough, Marchelle also writes the youth lessons weekly as they are being done. So she has a deadline every week. I constantly stand in awe of her. As you read this blog, please stop for a moment and pray for Marchelle. She has an immune disorder, so when she becomes ill it can quickly turn into something more serious. I know she would appreciate your prayers. And I know you will be blessed by her blog when she is well enough to write. That is Marchelle in the picture with my son, Rob.
In the meantime, I want to share some exciting things that have been happening here at Disciplers in the past few days. At least they have been exciting for me! First, there has been a deluge of downloads of lessons from our website. Since I make it a point to email each person who downloads, that has kept me busy. Among the downloads I discovered that we have a new study group at Edwards Air Force Base in California. How wonderful to be able to minister to Air Force wives who are the loving support behind the men who selflessly serve and put their lives on the line for us and for our country. Perhaps the most exciting part to me is that we at Disciplers have the joy and privilege of praying for these men and women and their families. Did you know that we pray for every Disciplers group? I personally am blessed to pray for you all, but we also have a group in Southern California which prays. They are the leaders group from the original Disciplers class in Rolling Hills Estates. Each Wednesday evening when they meet, they pray for Disciplers overall and for the classes which use our studies. So if you are in a Disciplers group, you are being prayed for! Praying for you is our honor and privilege! The ladies who pray for Disciplers are pictured above. Mary Lou Damon, past Director of Disciplers is second from right in the front row.
Also, this past week I heard from two Disciplers groups which meet in women’s correctional facilities. Faithful women, armed with their Bibles and Disciplers lessons go into the prisons each week and lead discussion groups for the inmates. I was amazed and praising God to learn that one of these groups ministers to over one hundred and eighty women each week. How exciting it is to think about one hundred and eighty women prison inmates doing their lessons every day and faithfully attending Bible study each week. And God bless the faithful women who go every week to lead the groups and minister Christ behind prison walls. So here is another opportunity for you to pray. The ministry is Shepherds Heart Prison Ministries and I know they would appreciate your prayers.
In addition, I heard this week from a man who was thrilled to find our website, looking online for a study on Psalms. He found us by googling “Psalm 1”. We had another download by a man who leads a Sunday morning group of men before their church service begins. That is the only time in the week these men are free and they get up early to study God’s word. Another man uses Disciplers studies at his work where a group of twenty men meet early each Tuesday morning to study God’s word before their workday begins.
As I write, I am filled with joy that God is using Disciplers in many remarkable ways. Perhaps you have a story you would like to share through our Disciplers blog. If so, please let me know. You can find our contact information on the website. In the meantime, may God bless you and lead you in His narrow way, filling your heart with joy as you faithfully study His word.
Have you ever wondered why the books in the New Testament are arranged as they are? Is there a reason for the order? I always thought it was puzzling that the apostle Paul’s letters were not presented in chronological order. If you wish to read Paul’s letters chronologically, you do not start with Romans, the first in the Biblical order, but you begin with Thessalonians (eight books later), then flip back to Galatians, back again to 1 Corinthians, then back to Romans, and so on, a lot of flipping back and forth. Well, just a few weeks ago I discovered the answer to why Paul’s letters are ordered as they are, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Yes, there is a reason. I came across this information while researching for the upcoming new study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The following is a sneak preview from lesson 1 of that study.
The New Testament begins with four gospels, each of which gives an account of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Next comes the Book of Acts, a history of the early church and a record of the acts of the Holy Spirit through Christ’s apostles after His resurrection. Finally there are twenty-two epistles (or letters) which represent the correspondence of the apostles and other early church leaders with new and struggling Christians, both fledgling churches and individuals. The first nine of these epistles were written by the apostle Paul to various churches he had founded. The letters are not presented in the order in which they were written but by looking with prayer and care, the reason for their order becomes clear.
The gospel of Christ is centered at the cross and that is also where our salvation begins. The cross is the central point of Christian doctrine, for without the cross there would be no salvation. Paul’s first four church epistles, as presented in the New Testament (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians) emphasize Christ and the cross. In these letters, Paul calls his readers to look to the cross to understand Christ’s sacrifice and what it means. The stress is upon one’s individual personal relationship to Christ through the cross. This is basic Christian doctrine that every believer should know.
Paul’s next three epistles as they appear in the Bible are Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These all place an emphasis upon Christ and the church. Christ is the reconciler of all men to God, giving us peace and access to the Father, and bringing us into the body of believers, the church. Thus, these three epistles stress not only an individual's personal relationship to Christ but also his or her relationship to others in the body of Christ, the church. It is through the fellowship of the church that believers may be strengthened in their faith.
Paul’s final two epistles written to churches are 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The emphasis in these is Christ’s coming, the blessed hope of every believer. At His coming, He will take us to Himself as the perfecter of our salvation (see Hebrews 2:2). “In the two Thessalonian letters, the doctrine of the Cross and of the Church is presented very simply; but the wonderful prospect of the Lord’s return is elucidated in relation to His church as nowhere else in the New Testament” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book). It is the hope of His return that strengthens our faith as we wait for Him.
So you see that the order in which the church epistles were placed in our Bibles is with sound reason and for the benefit of those who pick up God’s Book to read and study. First we are introduced to the doctrine of the cross, then to the fellowship of the church, and lastly to the consummation at Christ’s coming -- a very orderly order indeed!
I hope this information was helpful to you, as it was to me.
And may God bless you to overflowing as you faithfully study His word.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.