I recently purchased a 1000 piece puzzle from the Ark Encounter, and I finally got the opportunity to start working on it last night. Puzzles are great because each individual piece is unique and have their own picture, but when you put them all together, they make one big picture. Well...Scripture works much the same way. Each of the 66 books are unique and tell their own story. But when you connect them all together, they paint one giant picture of God's redemption of mankind by his love through Jesus.
What if I told you that God could be seen in the most ordinary things every day?
What if I told you that everyday, ordinary events could teach us extraordinary eternal truths?
Would you believe me?
Hi, I’m BJ Sipe – and you’re listening to the Set Your Mind Above Podcast.
I am a Christian, a preacher, a husband, and a father.
Thanks for tuning in!
For those of you who don’t know where Danville, Kentucky is, I like to tell people that we are in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of everywhere. It seriously is the most accurate way to describe our geographic location. For instance, we are 40 minutes from the closest interstate entrance or exit. To get into our neighborhood, I tell people “Pass the cows, but if you pass the goats, you’ve gone too far” – and that’s no joke. Yep, we’re in the boonies. However, we’re also in the middle of everywhere. For instance, we are within just three hours in any direction of about 5 major cities. We are an hour from Lexington, just over an hour from Louisville, two hours from Cincinnati, three hours from Indianapolis, and three hours from Nashville. On any given day, you could get up and within a few short hours be somewhere exciting. However, by far the place that I am the most grateful to be so close to is the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky – about an hour and a half away. Every time we have friends, family, or a guest preacher come into town – it’s at the top of the list of places to take them. So when we had our dear friends Richard & Janet Rothweiler from Oregon come and visit for a weekend, naturally we were excited to take them. Actually, they ended up generously taking us, which was so thoughtful, and it was a wonderful day spent together with family. I never get tired of going to the exhibit, as I learn something new every time that I go. Usually, I’m on the hunt for some new books to read when I walk through their gift shops as their selection is incredible. I found one (Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species by Nathaniel T. Jeanson), but I also got something I’ve had my eye on for the last several trips: a thousand-piece puzzle of an artist’s rendering of the ark & water beneath during the flood. I am a huge puzzle guy, though I hardly ever get to find the time to do them with three small children at home. They regularly want to “help” me with whatever I’m doing, and you can just imagine how much help a rowdy 2-year-old boy is with a very difficult puzzle. Well last night, I finally got the opportunity to break it out and begin to work on it. The three kids were down for the night and Kylie was working on a homemade earing project, so I put on the Teskey Brothers (my favorite chill music), grabbed a cup of spearmint tea, and poured the thousand pieces out onto our living room coffee table. My usual routine with starting a puzzle is trying to get the border finished first before starting on the rest. However, with this puzzle a lot of the border pieces were illusive to find and similar in content – so piecing them together was going to take longer than I had. So, I just started trying to put together pieces that were of the same kind of theme together in their own groups. Schools of fish went in one pile. Pieces of the ark went into another. Then there were the vast, empty ocean pieces that make up most of the puzzle – which will be very difficult to put together. But that is what I appreciate so much about puzzles. When you look at the individual pieces, they are all so different from each other. Even the ones that have a similar pattern or theme and fit together to their immediate corresponding pieces are unique. In fact, if you were to look at 10-20 different pieces individually, you likely wouldn’t even know they there were all a part of the same puzzle. It’s not until you do the work & put in the time until you can finally see the big picture, and how it all fits together. The more you put together & connect, the more the big picture becomes increasingly clear. Every individual piece tells its own story, but when you connect them all together, they all tell the same story by painting one big picture.
Maybe you’re like me and you love puzzles for these reasons and more, or perhaps you’re one of those that just doesn’t have the patience or time to sit down and do one. Regardless of where you land, there is one puzzle that all of us must dedicate our lives to working on each and every day – and that is the Holy Scriptures. What do I mean by saying that Scripture is a puzzle? Let’s begin with just some foundational information about the Bible. The Bible is composed of 66 individual books: 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. These books were written by over 40 different authors, and over a period of 1500 years. Some of these authors were kings of great nations. Some were prophets, and others we simple shepherd boys, living in poor areas of the world. Each book is unique in it’s content, it’s message, and it’s audience. Some have more commonality than others, while others are vastly different from each other – especially between the Old & New Testament. But here is what is so incredible about Scripture: there is complete continuity through them all. When you look at each individual book on its own, you are only getting to see a small part of the big picture. As a matter of fact, even the inspired authors of the Scripture were left wondering what was all of this about? We read in 1 Peter 1:10-12, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.” When you place all of these books together, the same truths, same themes, and same foundational picture starts to come together: God’s redemption of mankind by his love through Jesus Christ. It is all about Jesus. Paul conveys the same message that Peter wrote in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul would write, “The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. By reading this you are able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:3-11) Paul’s words here are powerful: God’s workings have been a mystery for so long, as for generations we all have just been trying to put all of the pieces together. It was not until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the righteous, that it all would start coming together as one. Through Jesus, everything becomes clear and connected. Each individual book and piece is connected to the next, and together, they testify to the great hope that we have through faith in the Son of God. If the Bible has been hard for you to understand, know that you are not alone. No one has a perfect understanding of Scripture, and every time we return to it we put one more piece together. I just want to encourage you today to put in that work. Don’t give up. Put on some good music, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and lay out this most incredible puzzle of the Bible on your table and start to work on it. You will be amazed at how with each passing day the clear picture of Jesus will become evident to you.
Thank you for tuning in for this week’s episode, and I would invite you back every Wednesday for a brand-new episode each week. If you haven’t already, be sure to find us on Facebook for future announcements or even some special video sessions. If you have benefited from this podcast, share it with someone else that you think would benefit from it also. Until next time, know that I love you, that God loves you, and may we all each & every day set our minds above.