Welcome to Week 1 of the 52 Greatest Chapters Study. The most important questions of life are: “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I headed?” God answers all three of those questions starting here at the entryway to His Word. This is where we get to know God. Hope you will start investing that 30 minutes a day to unleash God into your life!
Hello, John Barnett speaking, and welcome to in journey through the Bible. I have my Bible here and we called this study that we’re posting online, the 52 greatest chapters of the Bible. This first lesson that we’re sharing is what for the last four years I’ve shared in small groups. I just had my Bible and my notebook here. At Panera, or Starbucks, or wherever I could meet people, I sat with an open Bible and a notebook, and just taught them how to mine truths from the scriptures. So, I have many, many things I want to share with you I’m so excited about.
Basically today, let’s go through week one now. Week one, and if you want to look on this slide, these are the handouts, by the way, that you would get if we were face-to-face. We’re looking at Genesis 1 and 2. This is the Greatest Chapters of the Bible, week one. The goal of this passage is meeting my Creator who made the universe.
Now, I want you to think with me about something. When the apostle Paul preached the gospel to a group of people that didn’t know Jesus Christ, he used a method of pointing them first to the Creator, explaining the Creator came as the Redeemer. If they did not acknowledge the Creator as their Redeemer, then He would come as judge. So, look back at our handout, Creator. This is Acts 17. Creator. Redeemer. There’s not more than one creator. Judge. Those two things are presented Creator and Redeemer, right here in this passage. Remember, in Acts 17 the apostle Paul uses this. That’s why week one is so important, for me personally to get to know my Creator, to worship my Redeemer, and take knowledge that every day I’m going to be a step closer to facing Him as the one I’m going to give an account to. The apostle Paul, in Acts 17, that said, Creator, Redeemer, Judge; acknowledge your creator; let Him save you as your Redeemer; face Him as your judge said, that we’re believers all of us, if you know Jesus Christ and you’re out there watching this video, then He’s going to make you individually and me individually give an account for our life.
Genesis chapter 1. Let’s just go through the premise for our study. This is the beginning. This is week one of a lifelong Bible study method I’d like you to just look at today and maybe prayerfully at the end embrace as your choice. The purpose is to unleash God. That’s my goal, to unleash God into my life.
What we’re following is this survey of the 52 key chapters. Here we are on week one, right there, the creation of the universe.
Now, the devotional method. Look up from your notes, those of you who are in the small group and those of you online. The devotional method is three parts. I follow them every time I study the Bible. I’ll be showing you a closeup of this in my journal. These three parts are so vital. What the Lord wants us to learn is: number one, that we need to get a personal mastery of every chapter of the Bible, because it’s God’s word.
This is Genesis 1 and 2. It’s the creation of the cosmos. It’s week one. Here is the summary of all the lessons. I broke out actually for you this first week the applications. So, this whole summary section is just finding the lessons, after I titled the chapter. Then, I write a prayer out. Now, I want you to think about this. This is not a prayer that I’m making for you. It’s not a prayer I’m making for my family, for my friends. This is transformational asking God to change me. Now, go back to our handouts and let me show you what I mean.
The devotional method. We title the passage. We find as many lessons as we can find. By the way, it isn’t a race and we’re not competing with others. It’s as many lessons, truths, doctrines, as I can find, in my own words. I really encourage you, if you want to invest the time, use the MacArthur study Bible or if you want to add to it, something like the Blue Letter Bible online, or Logos. Then look at this, here’s the last part. Write a prayer in which you asked the Lord to unleash one, I actually do more of those truths or lessons you found, into your lives.
This is an example. If you just glance at my Bible, you can’t really see it that closely when you’re on the video, but these are just some snapshots. You notice that these are orange. You see these orange right here? Those are imperatives. That’s something you can learn from an online study Bible. Those are commands in the scripture. I also, over on this side, these are repeated words. If you see repeated words, and any insights or anything that I find… deny the old master, here in Romans 6. As we’re reading this, I write down what the Lord touches my heart with. So, it’s just a thought.
What’s the long-term blessing? For all of you that are watching this, why would you invest a minimum of 30 minutes a day? Now that answers it, for some of you and you’re going to say, it’s not for me. If you want transformational Bible study, it’s made up of prayer, the actual hard work of study, then the recording of it, actually writing things down, then cultivating by meditating on it, the applications to your life, and then writing a prayer. It takes a whole week to master one of these passages or chapters, and half hour a day. So, think about that. You really want to master the scriptures? It takes time.
Back to the notes, what happens? My Bible slowly gets marked up. Then, it’s time to copy the best in the new Bible. The idea is, wear it out. Every time you see these notes in your Bible, it triggers your memory. The result, every day in the word stirs all we’ve ever learned in a lifetime of study. What I mean is, as you backtrack and do cross references, you’ll see past studies you’ve done, and those studies will touch your heart.
Why do we do this? The necessity of scripture is exemplified by Jeremiah. Let me just show you, probably my theme verse. For all of you that are watching this, if you look down here in my Bible, you will see that I love to mark the Bible, but Jeremiah 15:16 is really my all time, all time favorite transformational verse.
Let me get to it, Jeremiah 15:16. Right here it is. I’ll give you a much better view of it here on the slide, the handout. This is what it says in my Bible. “Your words were found.” So that’s what we’re doing as Bible study. “I ate them.” Do you know what that is? That’s meditating. That’s me prayerfully saying, God, I want You to work in my life. I don’t want to just be sure of the word, I want to be a doer. So, “Thy words were found.” It’s Bible study. “I ate them.” That’s meditating on the truths. Look back down at your handout “and Your word was to me,” it’s very personal. “The joy and rejoicing of my heart.” Why? “I’m called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” The essence of Bible study is, every day when I spend time with God, when I opened my heart to His word, every day as I labor in my notebook, as I write things down every day, I realize I belong to God. I’m called by His name. I’m a born again Christian.
One of the most thrilling parts of Bible study is that it helps you every day to feel that connection to God. Most of our Christian life is like flying a kite. You ever had someone say, go fly a kite? There’s a great spiritual lesson when you’re holding that string. Many times, I would get my kite just about out of sight. I would unroll the whole 1,000/ 1,500 foot spool of thread and just be holding the end of it. If I looked up, often it was too tiny and I couldn’t see the kite but when I tugged on it, I could feel it was connected. When you read God’s word, you feel the tug, that you’re connected to God.
Back down to our study notes here. “I’m called by your name, O Lord God of hosts.” So, I can know God through the scriptures. It’s the only source, look at this, of inextinguishable joy and hope. You know, what our world needs? A good dose of that.
Jeremiah testifies the pathway to supernatural joy and peace is devotion, meditation, transformation, identification.
Look back at that verse. “Your words were found,” that’s devotion. “I ate them,” that’s, I meditate on those. I write notes. Look right here. This is the meditation portion right here. Now, right down here, this bottom part, look what that is. That bottom part is transformation. Yes, “the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” This is when I am transformed by opening my heart to the word of God. Then, I identify with Him. Identification is that last element.
By the way, this is just a little something to throw in. In fact, I’ll look you in the eyes as I say this. Do you want to know the single most long-term transformational thing you can do is? As a by-product of your Bible study, as you’re going through the scriptures, and combing them, and underlining them, and studying, and marking, and spending a whole week reading the passage through. Every day? Yes. Week one, you read Genesis 1 & 2, day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, day seven. Each day of the week. Every passage we study, you’ve read through a minimum of seven times. Personally, I read through every chapter of the Bible I teach on, a minimum of 40 times before I speak on it. 40. Now, I’ve read, I have a little advantage on all of you. I’ve read the whole Bible 100 plus times. New Testament 120. The Old Testament a hundred. So, I never speak on any verse I haven’t read a hundred times. You in this course should have read every word of the passage we’re studying, once a day for that week.
So, that’s vital but going back to the challenge, the most transformational part is to grab the most valuable space in your life. Do you know what it is? It’s the back of your smartphone. Now, this phone right here is the one that’s looking at my Bible, but I took a picture of it for the class. This right here is the first letter of each word of each of these verses. This actually is Titus 2:1-8, I am personally meditating on. I’ve already memorized, “but as for you, speak those things which are proper for sound doctrine.” See? “But as for you, speak those things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith.” The first letter of each word. That’s how I memorize. So, I would encourage you to take the ultimate challenge and pick a verse. By the way, I’ve changed my verse. Today, I actually taped on the back of my telephone, Hebrews 13, verses 20 and 21. In the classes in the days ahead, I’m going to be sharing that with you.
Let’s jump into what I found in this first lesson, Genesis 1 and 2, before we run out of time. I am going to give you a little insight. I have my MacArthur study Bible right here and for all of you that may have already gotten one, I just got a note from someone in Scotland, and they said I got my Bible. I’m ready to go. One thing you might need, look how thick this is, you might need Bible tabs. These costs about $5 on Amazon, maybe seven, I don’t know how much. Mine are only $4.99, I bought them a while back. You take these Bible tabs off and you have a tab for Genesis, about an inch or half inch, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings. Then you start up here. 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles. It takes about three rows of Bible tabs, and it tells you, and it gives you a little guide to actually put these in and have them all beautifully lined up. But what’ll happen is, if you’re cross-referencing you can look down and go, ah, Haggai. Oh, Philemon, and go. It’ll save you hours to go right to the place where you’re looking. Now for me, you notice I don’t have Bible tabs. When I was in fourth grade, you couldn’t get out of fourth grade Sunday school until you could say the books of the Bible and in front of the teacher open to any part of the Bible. You couldn’t get out of fourth grade. So, I would encourage you either memorize the books of the Bible or get Bible tabs.
What do you use the MacArthur study Bible for? And let me take you to an electronic edition really quickly. This is the introduction to the Pentateuch. First, there’s the Old Testament in the MacArthur study Bible. Then, the introduction of the Pentateuch. It goes through the chronology of the patriarchs. Abraham, Ishmael his son, then Isaac his son. It gives you things later on, like in the life of David, a harmony. Chronology of all the different kings. King Saul, King David, Solomon. Then, you get to the first book of Moses called Genesis.
Now here, I started underlining in here. Notice what I’ve highlighted. Genesis serves to introduce the Pentateuch, the first five books in the entire Bible. The influence of Genesis has demonstrated by being quoted over 35 times in the New Testament. Hundreds of allusions appearing in both testaments. But look at this, the story line of salvation which begins in Genesis 3 is not completed until Revelation 21 and 22, where the eternal kingdom of believers is pictured.
Now look up from your Bible. If you have the MacArthur study Bible and if you take the time to read the introduction to every book that we’re studying, whatever the passage is, you read the whole introduction to the book, which I’m showing you right here. The title, the author, the date, the background, the historical and theological themes, the interpretive challenges, and the outline. If you do that, this book is like packaging a two year Bible college or even seminary education. Do you want to be most effectively equipped to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and the local church? In your small group Bible study? In sharing the gospel, and raising your family, and having a godly marriage? Whatever dimension of life that you’re focusing on, why not get grounded in the word of God. “Thy words were found, and I ate them, and your words were to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; because I’m called by your name,” and I knew you, O God. So, I would encourage you to use this study Bible.
Now, let’s zero in on our passage that we’re working on. Let’s go to chapter 1 and you notice that this is a note. If you have the electronic edition, I actually prefer the paper, but I’m doing the electronic because it’s so much easier for you to see it. Here’s the passage when I run over the hyperlink and then here’s the note. Notice what it is. “In the beginning” right here, that’s the text. All of this is the comments, the insights. So, God, here’s a good one, Elohim is a general term. It speaks of God as being strong and mighty. He created it, it’s a word study on creation. The heavens and the Earth, verse 2. It’s a note on without form and all the first day. The firmament, all this. So, that’s what the MacArthur study Bible is and that’s what I encourage all of you to use as a companion to this course.
Now most important of all the scriptures and this is what I do every time I open the Bible. Why don’t you join me for just a moments pause? Let’s pray.
Father, I pray Psalm 119:18, that you would open my eyes and the eyes of all those in this study. That we might behold wonderful truth from your word. In Jesus name, Amen.
So, to have a Bible study, you invite the author to open your mind to it. Then, you open to the passage. Let me get to Genesis 1. In the passage we start reading and as we read, we start taking notes. Now, this is what I found, and I have them down. The summary is, and this is from reading the background, God wanted the children of Israel to know where they came from and who the God was that had liberated them from Egypt’s bondage. Wow. The truth. As you look down here, God wanted the children of Israel to know that. He wanted them to meet the Creator. He wanted to know who liberated them. Then, I start the lessons.
The Bible opens with the Creator, Redeemer, Judge linkage. Whoa. Do you remember what I told you about how Paul shared the gospel? Meet your Creator, bow to Him crying out for forgiveness as your Redeemer, and realize you’re going to face Him as the one that you give an account for. So, I wrote that down here in my notes.
Then it says, After the Passover, the Exodus event, is when this was written, God emphasizes His power to speak. Then He said, “spoke all things into existence.” It says that actually in the text, that He spoke, and it came into existence.
The third lesson I found is God was involved in every stage to build the universe.
The fourth one was, God measures times by evening and morning. Look right here. It says the very same event every time we read this. Look at verse 8 in your Bible. “And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.” It appears in verse 5, “the evening and the morning were the first day.” Verse 13, “the evening and the morning were the third day.”
Now pause and look up from your Bibles. Do you know what I wrote in my notes? God measures time differently than we do. This might be a lesson that will grab some of your hearts. God says, “the evening and the morning were the first day.” What we call the day, God says starts in the evening. So, when we fall, unable to keep ourselves awake, unconscious to sleep God starts working and God has already worked through half of the day. Then, we finally get started in the morning and pick up where He’s already started.
Now, is that how you think about chronology and days? No, no, no, no. The day starts when I started. See, because I’m so self-centered. See, that’s something that this passage humbled my heart, convicted me, and made me cry out to the Lord to change my attitude. God looks at time as the evening, when I’m waning, He’s starting. The morning, when I’m starting, He has already begun and framed a day for me. He wants me to stop and start my day, reaching out to Him. Saying, God, you have been keeping me alive and protecting me through the night. You’ve kept my heart beating, my brain functioning, and all my body just under your control. Now, as I start this day, I start it for you. So, back down to the notes, I wrote God wants me to release all my burdens to Him so He can work on them while I sleep, as He starts the day when I go helplessly asleep. Wow.
It’s time to conclude this study because we’ve been going longer than the 15, 20 minutes. I wanted to go right down here at the bottom of the pages, the prayer. I would like to do this. I wrote this prayer based on all the applications I saw in there for me. Since you’re launching into this lesson this week, how about if I pray it. In your heart, whatever trues I bring out, that you agree with, why don’t you offer those to the Lord in agreement with me as I pray. Okay? So, I’m going to let you see the prayer right here. This is what I wrote.
Lord, you created me and I am yours. You bought me at a price and I want to live today as your servant. Teach me your truth so I can see You at work each day. Then, as evening comes and you start the next day, help me to give everything to you as I go into helpless, unconscious sleep. You are my God, and I love you.
Real quickly. Jump into week one as soon as you can. Grab a notebook. I actually have printed out the list of the 52 chapters, pasted it in the front. The little how to guide I put here. I number and leave one page, a blank here and a blank on the backside for every day. You can do it any way you want. I just have piles and piles of these notebooks. It’s just a tool to make you capture your thoughts at the moment. Run through the scriptures. Find what God has for you in His word. Bow and ask Him to open your eyes. Read the scripture through each day. Record what you find.
Now, one last thing. Why not take the ultimate challenge. Grab the most valuable space in your life, the back of your smartphone, and tape a verse on there. Start memorizing scripture and asking God to transform your life.
The greatest chapters of the Bible, summarizing all the doctrines, all the theology, all the truth, all the attributes in these 52 passages, but it’s not about knowledge. It’s not about mere expanding my factual knowledge. Is Jeremiah15:16.
I want to close with that handout. “Your words were found,” get into the Bible. Have your devotions every day. After you find things, eat the truth, meditate on it, write it down and you will find it starts changing you on the inside. That’s the transformation. That prayer really will change you. It’s all because we’re called by God’s name.
Have a great week in the Lord. God bless you as you launch into the 52 greatest weeks with week one.