Welcome to Trina Bresser Matous’ Christian Living Bible Study blog tour! To kick off the tour today I am interviewing Trina – be sure to stay tuned the next two weeks(you can follow along on Twitter #CLBSBlogTour). Without further ado, here is our interview:
I did not actually set out to become a writer. Though I had learned in college that I could write I had only ever written occasional devotionals for my church. That changed late in 2006 when my church asked me to write a series of notes to accompany the read-through-
the-Bible-in-a-year program we were then doing.
I first wrote through the Old Testament and the next year I wrote through the New Testament twice. The notes were written specifically for each day’s reading and included background information, definitions, explanations of ancient cultural practices, cross-references to applicable scripture, historical context and modern day application. Fifty to 100 copies would be taken off the racks every Sunday and people frequently expressed their appreciation when a reference helped them better understand the scripture they were reading.
After the two years, I thought I was done with the project, but God had other plans. Just as He had opened the door for me to write the notes in the first place, He next opened a door that led to publishing the notes. And He has since opened another door for me to begin hosting online Bible studies.
I would have to say my favorite part has been the adventure. I did not set out to do this. God’s invitation to step through doors He has opened has been an incredible blessing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. This journey really has been the fulfillment of Ephesians 3.20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”The other part of this journey I love is the knowledge I’ve gained through the research. I’ve always been drawn to the Old Testament for some reason. As I wrote through the entire Bible, I really began to see the one incredible story God tells from the first words in Genesis to the last words in Revelation. The more I understand that story, the more I fall in love with the God who cares so much for me. Though the characters who make up the subplots of the Bible lived thousands of years ago, the main theme of the Bible’s story is the grace — the undeserved and unearned favor — God extends to everyone of us. The Bible is not really about the people who lived thousands of years ago, but how God invites each of us to receive His grace.
This is on the John 1. Feel free to use whatever part of it you would like to include.BACKGROUND
In his gospel, John never uses the name John to refer to himself, but always to refer to John the Baptist. John the writer was likely one of John the Baptist’s unnamed disciples before he began following Jesus (1.35-37).Throughout his gospel, John used the word testify (bear witness) over thirty times while he used believe nearly one hundred times. The words faith and repent do not appear at all in this gospel. John’s focus is on testifying to Jesus, the Messiah, in whom all people must believe in order to receive eternal life.
John 1 The opening words of John’s gospel speak not of the conception or birth of Jesus, but of His eternal existence in relationship and equality with God. The tense of the Greek verb was indicates a continuous existence. Jesus was not a part of the created order, but through Him the world was created. Life existed in Jesus and was given to humanity through Him. The text does not indicate that life was created when the world was created.
One of Jesus’ roles is to shine spiritual light into dark places.
John the Baptist was not himself the Light, but was sent by God to give testimony to the Light.
Through sin all of humanity is condemned and separated from God. Only through faith in Christ can one become a legitimate child of God and, therefore, eligible to receive the inheritance of eternal life.
Believing in Jesus’ name does not mean believing in what He is called, but in what His name signifies – the means of eternal salvation (3.16).
When writing that Jesus became flesh, John means Jesus took on human form. He does not use the term to mean sin, as Paul does (2 Cor. 7.1).
By the first century many people were anxiously awaiting the Messiah. The Sanhedrin (made up of Sadducees and Pharisees) was quick to investigate anyone claiming to be the Messiah. Not only was there a desire to know of the Messiah’s coming from a religious perspective, the Jewish leadership also wanted to maintain peace with the Roman authorities.
When pressed to identify himself, John the Baptist quoted Isaiah 40.3. This prophecy stated that God would send someone to announce the coming Messiah.
In Jewish tradition, baptism was generally reserved for Gentiles coming to the Jewish faith, and done by someone with religious authority. John’s response to the question of baptism indicated he was operating under God’s authority, not under the authority of established religion.
John’s allusion to Jesus as the Lamb of God is likely a reference to the Passover. Jesus would be the sacrificial lamb who brought freedom from the bondage of sin just as the blood of the Passover lamb brought freedom from the bondage of slavery for the ancient Jewish people.
Nathanael is not mentioned in the other three gospels. In those gospels, Bartholomew is connected with Philip. It is likely that Bartholomew and Nathanael were the same person.
Although Nathanael was likely familiar with Old Testament scriptures, Nazareth was a small, obscure town from which it was hard to believe anything of significance could come.
Every opportunity John the Baptist had, he made sure his listeners knew that his message was in preparation for One who would come after him. He never pointed to himself, but always pointed to Jesus. This is a good reminder for us today. God has gifted us with many talents, abilities and spiritual gifts. His purpose in doing so is not that we might gain glory and honor for ourselves, but that we might use these to point to the only One who deserves glory and honor – Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ question to the two disciples as they left John and began following Him is one all followers of Christ must answer.John the Baptist had a clear, concise and consistent message when he spoke about Jesus. Are you able to clearly articulate who Jesus is? When talking about Jesus to those God brings into your life, what phrase do you find yourself frequently using to describe Him?Jesus asked the disciples of John who came to Him a simple question, “What do you want?” When you first encountered Jesus, what was the question you felt He was asking you? What was your response? If Jesus asked you what you wanted, what would you say?
Practical, easy to read, chapter by chapter explanation of scripture that makes reading the Bible more meaningful and relavent.
My primary hobby is knitting, especially lace. I love the intricacy of lace and the challenge of creating something beautiful. About 12 years ago, I was introduced to the idea of prayer shawls, which serve as a reminder of God’s love and presence with those who are suffering. God has blessed me with a wonderful skill and I’m so honored to be able to bless others with the shawls and blankets I knit.I enjoy cooking, birding, gardening and reading. Cooking is another place my creativity shows it self. I love trying new recipes and cooking from scratch, especially bread and ice cream. I’m fascinated with cheese making and am hoping to give that a try in the near future.My birding life-list is currently about 750 and includes birds on 5 continents. I grow berries and vegetables every year and have to be cautious about when I pick up a good book. Once I begin the story, I have a hard time putting it down.
As easy as the series is to read, readers have been surprised by how much they have learned and the aid the books have been to their Christian walk.God has blessed each of us in unfathomable ways with His love. Each of us deserves His judgment, but instead are showered with His grace and mercy. May each person fall in love with the God who has loved them for all eternity!