I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t struggle with some aspect (or more than one) of God. In this book, Christopher Wright reflects on the tough questions of faith. I appreciated the honesty, humility, and Biblical integrity with which Wright approaches these challenging topics.
He tackles subjects such as evil and suffering, the bloodshed associated with the settling of the Promised Land by the Israelites, and the wonderful, glorious mystery of the Cross. He even addresses the difficulties of the eschatalogical issues related to the return of Christ and the end of this world and the new beginning God has in store for creation.
This is a great book to have on your Bible Study bookshelf. It is not stuffy and academic, but rather practical, conversational, and extremely helpful. Even if you don’t come to the same conclusions as the author on these topics, I can almost guarantee this book will help you think through the sticky subject matter and come out the other side with a better understanding of what you believe and why.
I am so excited to try something new! I don’t know about you, but I enjoy Bible study more when I study with a group of people. There is something about sharing insights and questions with one another, as well as the accountability, that makes group Bible study more rewarding for me. Is that true for you, too?
I thought it would be fun to periodically do an online study here on the blog. We will figure it out as we go, but this post outlines how I think it will work.
In this post, I’ve provided the key facts you’ll want to know to decide if this is for you. If you still have a question after reading this, just email me and I’ll get you the answers you need.
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Both of my boys had “lovies” when they were little. When they needed reassurance or comfort, Austin snuggled his blue blanket and stuffed blue elephant, and Justin hugged his many stuffed puppies. When their fear, pain, or disappointment ebbed, they discarded their lovies, forgetting about them until the next crisis.
My sons Austin and Justin with their lovies.
Sometimes I catch myself treating God more like my lovey than my Lord. “The Lord our God is holy.“ That sentence is the closing phrase of Psalm 99 and reflects two concepts: (1) God relates with us intimately, and (2) God is completely other, apart, and above us. How do those truths coexist? And how does that impact our lives?
In just nine verses, the psalmist communicates both concepts. Take a moment to read this short psalm. As you read, notice how the psalmist describes God’s holiness and also how many references there are to the intimate relationship between God and his people.
(Clue: look for the word “our” and the direct, personal references to God such as “you” and “your” as well as specific examples from historical people.) You can click this link to read Psalm 99 at www.BibleGateway.com.
Now let’s look at the two concepts (God’s holiness and his desire to relate intimately with each of us) and how these truths make a difference in our lives.
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The author of Ecclesiastes cautions there is no end to the amount of study one can do and reminds us amassing knowledge is not the point. He concludes his words of wisdom by saying the Scriptures spur us on to obedience. God calls us to engage in a reverent, loving relationship with him and obey his commands (Ecclesiastes 12:9–14). I love to learn but too often I’m guilty of not putting what I’ve learned into action. Can you relate? How can we be more intentional about applying the truth we learn from the Bible in our daily life?
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Application Starts with Study
We can’t apply what we don’t know or understand. So, we must start with studying the Bible in such a way as to gain access to the eternal truth revealed therein.
For this post, I’m going to assume you know how to study your Bible. If you need some help in that area, you may wish to read my posts: 7 Common Sense Keys to Unlocking Life-Changing Truth and How to Enjoy Reading the Bible and Get More Out of Your Time in It. In those you’ll find tips and links to helpful resources related to sound interpretation and study of Scripture.
Learning is not the end we work toward, though. We want to activate the truth in our life by reverently loving God and doing what he commands (Ecc 12:13).
I’ve broken down the process into the following easy to follow guide. Be sure to get the FREE Checklist that summarizes these steps. Just click the image above or the button below and I’ll email you the guide instantly.
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Now for the rest of the process…
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Do you ever find yourself feeling dried out, burned out, and overwhelmed by the challenges you face? Jesus told his disciples the secret to overcoming their difficulties. That same thing empowers us to overcome our challenges, too. What’s this secret to an abundant life of peace, purpose, and joy?
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What’s the secret?
It’s actually not a secret, but a relationship. I grew up going to church, and if you would have asked me back then, I would have told you I was a Christian. But I wasn’t. I just didn’t realize I wasn’t.
I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ until I was in my mid-twenties. In the years prior, I heard people talk about living by the Spirit, walking with God, and other such phrases, but I didn’t get it. How did you walk with someone you couldn’t see? And what in the world did being covered in some guy’s blood have to do with saving me? Saving me from what? It just made no sense to me.
I eventually learned being a Christian is not about going to church, doing “churchy” things, or even at its core about doing good works. It is foremost about being in a relationship with Jesus through which God conforms us to his character and likeness. So, how do we have that kind of relationship?
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Many people wish they read their Bible more (61% in the 2013 Barna “State of the Bible” poll), or want to know how to get more out of reading the Word. This came up in my Reader Survey, too. A devotion a day isn’t cutting it for many readers, but reading it cover to cover seems overwhelming to most. So how do we get into our Bibles and get something relevant and understandable out of it? A good reading plan or Bible study will (1) get you into the Scriptures on a regular basis and (2) show you how to connect God’s truth and grace with your real life. Here is a simple three-step process to select a study/plan that works with who you are and what you have going on in your life.
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Most of us need help to see how the truth of the Bible applies to our time and situations. We also benefit from guidance in terms of where to start, how much to cover in each session, and where to go for help when something doesn’t make sense. For these reasons, a study or reading plan offers one of the easiest ways to productively interact with the Scriptures.
Simple Three-Step Process
If you follow this simple process, you will know exactly what type of reading plans or studies you will enjoy the most and which will help you glean helpful and relevant teaching from the Bible. Be sure to download the free cheat sheet I’ve made for you.
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Next, grab a pen and some paper and jot down notes as you go through the following process. Then, use your cheat sheet and notes as criteria against which you evaluate reading plans or studies to find those that best meet your needs.
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When I began studying the Bible, I was amazed by how my pastor offered such relevant teaching from these ancient writings. When he explained the text, stories that had seemed irrelevant began to resonate with wisdom applicable to my life. I wanted to be able to do that when I read the Bible. But I didn’t know how he did it. I assumed a seminary degree was the key that unlocked that kind of useful information. But that isn’t true. Actually, seven common sense keys can be used by anyone to unlock the useful and powerful truth contained in the Bible.
Created with photos from SXC.hu © pipp and abcdz2000
God’s truth for us is not hidden or secret. But it is revealed through events and people far removed from us. The differences in languages and cultures can act as barriers to our understanding the Bible. The following principles, or keys, work in conjunction with each other to empower you to read the Bible in a way that makes it exciting, inspiring, and applicable to what is going on in your life.
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I’ve made you a Checklist you can tuck into your Study Bible to help you recall these keys when you study God’s Word. Just click on the image or button and I’ll instantly email you the checklist.
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Now, let’s get to those 7 essential keys…
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How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003)
This book is one every Bible reader should have in their library. The authors are biblical scholars who also preach and teach in a variety of church settings. Thus, they provide the best of both worlds: expertise of scholarship and practical, common sense, real life application of that expertise. They explain how to read the Bible and apply the teaching contained within it.
They begin by addressing interpretation. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets the Bible. It is not a question of whether one interprets but whether one will interpret responsibly and with good common sense or not. This book covers what goes into a good, sound interpretation and what leads to an interpretation that plays fast and loose with the inspired word of God.
They cover practical matters like how to choose a translation. They also provide guidelines for studying each genre of Scripture. One doesn’t read a Psalm the same way one reads Leviticus. They explain why, and they offer guidance for profitably reading each genre. Finally, where this book excels is in helping the reader apply the truth from the “then and there” of the original text to the “here and now” of our lives today. For each of the ten different genres, these authors teach us how to extract what the original text meant to the original recipients, and then apply that meaning to to the situations we face daily now. As believers, and not just academics, Fee and Stuart have as their goal that the reader would be empowered to read the living word of the Bible, understand it, and obey it.