Welcome to Villa Scriptura!

Welcome to Villa Scriptura! If you wish to begin our home Bible study in the Epistle to the Hebrews, go to the bottom of the page and hit "older posts." You can then go to the beginning of our studies from Hebrews 1:1. If you have any questions about our study or wish to interact over anything we've discussed, you may contact me here: timurzhan1@gmail.com. I have also included a couple of songs I've sung within the blog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A 3,000-Year-Old Rock Song

It is hard to believe that it has been so long since I posted our last Hebrews study podcast episode.  So much has happened since then!  We enjoyed a summer conference in Canada with the MacMillan family, studying Jude's short epistle, 1 Thessalonians, Proverbs 1-9, and sections from Ecclesiastes.  Our time together was also capped off by a wonderful trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island with the MacMillan family.  Since that time, our family has been spending a considerable amount of time back in the Portland area studying Isaiah, Romans, and James.  In fact, just last weekend, we had the privilege of delving into the first couple of chapters of James with the MacMillan family when they were down for their Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  We are also looking forward to becoming grandparents in April, when our son Chris and his wife Amanda will have their first child.

I wanted to post this song--"Only In God" (Psalm 62)--tonight, inspired by Psalm 62 and written by John Michael Talbot. It is one of the first Christian songs I learned to play on my guitar, and I have been playing it for over 30 years now. The metaphor of God/Christ as a "rock" is found frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments. Originally written as a psalm over 3,000 years ago by King David, one can well imagine why David used this metaphor, as he was often found hiding in caves when pursued by Saul or perhaps even by his own son Absalom. This is a song I have come back to time and again in my life, as it encourages God's redeemed child to look to Him for ultimate safety, protection, and eventual salvation. I hope it encourages you as it has me over these past thirty years of walking with the Savior through the wilderness that is this life.
Here is Psalm 62 in its entirety (NASB):
Psalm 62
For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
4 They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse.
5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
9 Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.
10 Do not trust in oppression
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
11 Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;
12 And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Epistle to the Hebrews Study #15 (Hebrews 13:1-25)

In this episode (Villa Scriptura Podcast Episode #15), we will examine chapter 13, the final chapter of this extraordinary letter of exhortation addressed to “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling.”  Last time, we learned those who are to receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, are to “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe,” for their God is a “consuming fire.”  In what follows then in Chapter 13, the author offers up some very specific and practical ways this admonition is to be lived out in the community, particularly in the face of the anticipated and serious persecution to come.  The holy brethren are also called upon to adhere to the apostolic, pure, and foundational teaching they had heard in the past and reject the “strange and diverse teachings” which are beginning to draw them away from their pilgrimage toward the city of the living God as new covenant disciples of Christ.

Notes for this podcast episode can be found here: Study Notes for Lesson #15

Monday, February 21, 2011

Epistle to the Hebrews Study #14 (Hebrews 12:4-12:29)

In this episode (Villa Scriptura Podcast Episode #14), we will complete our study of Hebrews 12.  As you may recall from our previous study, the author had presented us with a list of fellow pilgrims who had run the race of endurance--by faith--toward the city of the living God.  And as we concluded last time, we took note of how the author brought this list to a climax by exhorting us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” and to “consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,” so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Before we resume our discussion, we will hear a reading of Hebrews 12 in its entirety.  We hope you will be as encouraged and challenged as we were by what the epistle’s author has to say, as we learn about the role God’s discipline plays in bringing many sons to glory, how committed faith finds expression as persevering faithfulness to God, and how what lies ahead under the New Covenant provides greater privileges and, at the same time,  sober responsibilities for God’s redeemed people.

Notes for this podcast episode can be found here: Study Notes for Lesson #14

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Epistle to the Hebrews Study #13B (Hebrews 11:23-12:3)

In this episode (Villa Scriptura Podcast Episode #13B), we resume our examination of those in Hebrews 11 who lived out the kind of faith God commended, that which exhibited the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”  As we begin today’s study with an overview of where we’ve come so far in the epistle, we are reminded of how this definition of commendable faith relates back to the promised earthly kingdom of Christ Jesus and His present ongoing ministry as Great High Priest in the heavenly tabernacle.  As the list of those who refused to shrink back and kept looking faithfully to the One who made the promises heads toward its climax, we are provided with the ultimate and perfect example of the premier “endurance runner”: the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who--for the joy set before Him--endured the cross, despising the shame, and now is exalted at God’s right hand in the place of highest honor. 

Notes for both parts of podcast episode 13--covering material in Hebrews 11:1-12:3--can be found here: Study Notes for Lessons 13A and 13B

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Epistle to the Hebrews Study #13A (Hebrews 11:1-22)

In this episode (Villa Scriptura Podcast Episode #13A), we will begin by reviewing the warnings and encouragement the author has presented to his readers in his letter of exhortation, particularly toward the end of Hebrews 10.  In our previous podcast study in Hebrews 10, we witnessed how the author held before the holy brethren their own steadfast commitment to Christ under adverse circumstances in the past in order to encourage the same courageous stance in the present.  As the political winds of the mid-60’s A.D. in Rome began to shift, the men and women of the house-church suddenly found themselves weary with the necessity of sustaining the high level of commitment they had brought to Christ in those earlier years.

As our author moves forward in Chapter 11, he urges his readers not to throw away their boldness and to keep looking to the reward of the inheritance in the age to come.  Endurance is what is needed at such an hour, along with a continued assurance in things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. We hope you are as encouraged and challenged as we were, as we considered the lives of the “men of old” who “gained approval” by exhibiting faith in God’s unchangeable promises.  Indeed, God is utterly reliable, and His faithfulness to his promises guarantees that the reward for doing the will of God—as righteous ones who live by faith--will be reception of what He has promised!
Notes for both parts of Episode 13--covering material in Hebrews 11:1-12:3--can be accessed here:  Study Notes for Lesson 13 (Parts A & B)