8 Must-Have Bible Study Tools

Bonhoeffer - study the BibleIt’s been said that if the only tool a man has in his toolbox is a hammer, he tends to see every problem as a nail. In other words, we try to force every project to be handled in the exactly same way.

Sadly, for many Christians, the same is true with our knowledge of the Bible. If we have limited tools, we try to make every situation look like something we can fix with that smaller toolbox. It’s not enough for us to know only a couple of verses or a few biblical principles, and then try to use those tools to handle all of life’s situations. So let me share some basic tools that will help you expand your biblical toolbox.

Time and cultureThink about how much your culture has changed just in the 70-80 years since your grandparents were born. Think about how wardrobes have changed, and technology, and manners and customs. The earliest book of the Bible was written about 1400 BC, and the most recent book was written about 100 AD. To better understand the things I read in the Bible, here are some tools I like to use:

LanguageEven the English language has changed a lot since William Shakespeare penned his famous plays. But consider that the Bible was written in languages that are even older (not to mention they’re languages other than English!). To really get the full meaning of a passage, here are some tools I use:

Chain of pearls—The Bible is not a collection of isolated, independent stories or concepts, but it is a beautiful string of pearls. Every part connects to the rest of the Scripture. So some resources I use to help me discover how the pearls are strung together include:

What did I miss? What are your favorite Bible study tools? In the comments, please share books, commentaries, or online resources that you use to maximize your study of God’s Word.

This Sunday I’ll be sharing some different styles of Bible studies we can all do. If you live in the Cedar Springs area, please come join a really great group of people at Calvary Assembly of God. Otherwise, watch us on Periscope.

#EndIt Today

End It Movement

For some suggestions on how you can help end slavery and human trafficking, please click here.

End It Movement

End It MovementPornography has fueled the sex trafficking market. In The Porn Circuit, Sam Black reports that “between 14,500 and 17,500 sex slaves are trafficked into the US each year. Another 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking each year.”


You see, every time you click on a porn link, you are helping to keep someone in bondage. Those clicks mean money in the pockets of those who peddle in human flesh, so they do whatever they can to keep you clicking and viewing.

Think about this—Your porn viewing is keeping someone’s daughter or son in slavery! 

February 25 is the day the End It Movement wants us all to shine a bright light on the vile practices of those slave-holders who are keeping people in bondage all over the globe.

What can you do?

  1. FullSizeRender 2Wear your bright red X tomorrow, and share it for the world to see. Use hashtag #endit to let slave traders know you are on to them.
  2. Pray for those held in slavery and traffickedRemember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies (Hebrews 13:3).
  3. Support groups like The End It Movement or International Justice Mission who are working to free slaves around the globe.
  4. Stop viewing pornography!

We can #endit in our generation!

This Is My Doing

This is My doing“My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head: this is My doing [1 Kings 12:24].

Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? For whoever touches you touches the apple of My eye [Zechariah 2:8]. You are precious and honored in My sight [Isaiah 43:4]. Therefore it is My special delight to teach you. I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in like a pent-up flood [Isaiah 59:15], that this is My doing and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? This is my doing. I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be. Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.

Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? This is My doing, for I am the one who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I will meet all your needs [Philippians 4:19]. I want you to prove My promises so that no one may say you did not trust the Lord your God [Deuteronomy 1:32].

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? This is my doing. I am a Man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering [Isaiah 53:3]. I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive eternal encouragement and good hope [2 Thessalonians 2:16].

Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? This is my doing. You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. They also serve who only stand and wait. In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.” —Your loving Heavenly Father (as recorded by Laura A. Barter Snow)

4 Terrible Ways & 4 Great Ways To Study Your Bible

Isaac Newton Bible study.001There are two Greek words in the New Testament that have to do with trying to figure things out. One of them leads to less knowledge, and one opens the way for greater learning. Not surprisingly, Jesus never used the first way, but He confronts people who try to.

The first Greek word is defined as learning through self-calculation. In other words, I try to get at the right answer by either teaching myself, or by talking with people who don’t know any more than I do. This way leaves me in the dark.

For example, notice the phrase “discussed among themselves” in Matthew 16:7 and Mark 11:31. These are people who wanted to try to get answers without going to someone who could teach them. So that leads to four terrible ways to study your Bible—

  1. Approach your Bible with a know-it-all attitude.
  2. Try to figure out what the Bible is saying all on your own.
  3. Try to be your own Bible teacher.
  4. Grade your own tests as to your answers being right or wrong.

These are not only terrible ways to learn, but they are the exact opposite of what God desires. God says things like, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), and “Call to Me and I will tell you things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

There is another Greek word which means to learn by having a conversation with someone more knowledgable than myself. So that means four great ways to study your Bible are—

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you (John 16:13).
  2. Study the Bible in a daily systematic way (Acts 19:9).
  3. Don’t take anyone else’s word for what the Word says (Acts 17:11).
  4. If you’re confused, ask God to make it clear to you (Jeremiah 33:3).

Luke records an important story for us that took place on the day Jesus was raised from the dead. Two men were walking along “discussing these things with each other,” but not consulting the Scriptures. The result: they were sad and confused. Jesus join them on their journey (although they didn’t recognize Him at first), and took them to the Scriptures that showed them the answers for which they were yearning. They even said, “When He talked to us from the Scriptures, that’s when our hearts burned within us!” (see Luke 24:13-32).

You can try to figure life out on your own, and you will probably end up stymied like the religious leaders in Mark 11, or downcast like the disciples in Luke 24. Or you can ask the Holy Spirit to show you truths from the Scriptures, and have your eyes opened, like the two disciples after Jesus met with them. I think the choice is obvious!

Join me next week as we continue our series How To Study Your Bible.

Poetry Saturday—The Friends Beside Us

Oswald ChambersWhen the powers of hell prevail
   O’er our weakness and unfitness,
Could we lift the fleshly veil,
   Could we for a moment witness
      Those unnumbered hosts that stand
      Calm and bright on either hand—
Oh! what joyful hope would cheer!
   Oh! what faith serene would guide us!
Great may be the danger near,
   Greater are the friends beside us. —Anonymous, quoted by Oswald Chambers in Not Knowing Where


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. —Hebrews 12:1-3

Thursdays With Oswald—Experience Or Expression?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Experience Or Expression?

     It is not sufficient to have an experience. If all I can do is to preach and recount the experiences God has given me, it is dangerously inefficient. … Experience must be worked out into expression; the expression is a strong family likeness to Jesus, and its mark is found in the secular life, not in the sequestered life. … 

     A witness is not one who is entranced by Jesus, by the revelation He gives, by what He has done; but one who has received the energy Jesus Himself had, and is become a witness that pleases Him, wherever he is placed, whatever he is doing, whether he is known or unknown. … 

     The spiritual life can never be lived in religious meetings, it can only be lived on sordid earth, where Jesus lived, amongst the things that makes human life what it is. 

From The Place Of Help

It’s not what I’ve experienced from Jesus, but how I am expressing that experience in my daily life. People don’t need me to be a storyteller of my experiences, but a living expression of the change that has taken place in me because of that experience with Christ!

All of the stories of my spiritual experiences can be undone in a single moment of un-Christlike living. But when I live a life energized by the power of Jesus in me, the story of His life-changing power is told without words.

Do I want to merely experience God’s life-changing power, or do I want to be a living expression of His life-changing power?

Powerful Pro-life Challenge

Se. Ted CruzThis is one of the most articulate statements on the pro-life position that I have ever heard. And Sen. Ted Cruz is exactly right when he says the values that someone has for the unborn are a clear reflection on how they will conduct all of their affairs. Please watch this video—

6 More Quotes From “Light & Truth—Acts and the Larger Epistles”

Light & Truth [Acts]Horatius Bonar’s wisdom and insight in the Scriptures is still clear and relevant for us today. Here are some additional quotes I highlighted in his commentary. The reference in brackets is the passage in the Bible on which Bonar is commenting.

“We are described as feeble men, bearing on our shoulders a burden too heavy to be borne; the Holy Spirit comes up to us; not exactly to take away the burden; nor to strengthen us under it; but to put His own Almighty shoulder under it, in the room of, and along with ours; thus lightening the load, though not changing it; and bearing the heavier part of it with His own Almightiness. Thus it is that He ‘helps’ our infirmities; making us to feel both the burden and the infirmity all the while that He helps; nay, giving us such a kind and mode of help, as will keep us constantly sensible of both.” [Romans 8:26

“How real, how true, how fast must that love have been. Here is its sincerity demonstrated. Here are its dimensions measured. What is its height? The answer is, ‘He spared not His Son.’ What is its depth? ‘He spared not His Son.’ What is its length? ‘He spared not His Son.’ What is its breadth? ‘He spared not His Son.’ Nay, He delivered Him up. Nay, He laid our sins upon Him; He made Him a curse for us. The more that we meditate on this one gift, the more does its greatness display itself. It passeth all measurement and all understanding.” [Romans 8:32]

“Prayer takes for granted that God is full, and we are empty; that He is infinitely full, and we unspeakably empty. … Prayer takes for granted that there is a connection between His fullness and our emptiness. The fullness is not inaccessible. It is not too high for us to reach, or for it to stoop. It is not too great for us, nor too distant, so as to be incommunicable. There is a connection, and it has been established by God Himself; it is a divine medium of communication: ‘Ask, and you shall receive.’ Prayer takes for granted that we are entitled to use this channel.” [Romans 12:12

“If you are Christians then, be consistent. Be Christians out and out; Christians every hour, in every part, and in every matter. Beware of half-hearted discipleship, of compromise with evil, of conformity to the world, of trying to serve two masters. … Half-hearted Christianity will only dishonor God, while it makes you miserable. There is abundance of Christianity, so-called, in our day. Who does not call himself a Christian? But who cultivates the holiness, the blamelessness, the devotedness, the calm consistency of a follower of Christ? Who hates sin as it ought to be hated? Who separates from the world as he ought? Who follows Christ as He ought to be followed? Who walks in the footsteps of the holy Son of God?” [1 Corinthians 1:8]

“Let us walk worthy [of the blessings in Christ Jesus]; as men who really believe it; happy, holy, unworldly, zealous, generous, loving. Let us carry the consciousness of our calling into everything—great or small; into business, daily life, recreations, reading, education, everything; maintaining our true position before men; manifesting our proper character; letting the world know our prospects, and doing nothing inconsistent with what we profess to be now, and with what we shall be when the Lord comes.” [1 Corinthians 1:9]

“Thus, then, is our whole earthly life, in all its parts, to be regulated by the magnitude of the eternal. Things present must be subordinated to those which are to come, the seen to the unseen, the earthly to the heavenly. It is by the light of the coming glory that we must walk while here. It is from the clock of eternity that our time is to be always taken. Arrange your business, your recreations, your duties with reference to the invisible and unending future. Live, speak, work, move, as those who believe that the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” [1 Corinthians 7:29-31]

The first set of quotes I shared from this book can be read here. And my review of this book is posted here.

I Wish My Pastor Knew…

I wish my pastor knewOur youth pastor passed out cards to the youth group, and told them they could anonymously finish this sentence: “I wish my pastor knew…

  • … that I regret a lot of my past
  • … I don’t know if I believe in my religion fully
  • … I need to talk to God more
  • … I am nervous about school
  • … even though I act happy I’m the total opposite
  • … I’m really scared to go back to school. I’m scared that I’m going to get really depressed again. I am already struggling with self-harm and being so emotionally tired. I’m scared it’s going to get worse. I just want to be okay. I want to be better.
  • … I have a hard time trying not to hate myself
  • … sometimes I’m very selfish and not Christ-like … a lot of the time actually
  • … that I’m troubled with life
  • … I was losing my mind, feel like I’m not where I need to be, I don’t know where I belong
  • … that I have very little faith, and I am trying to get closer to God. And that I live a sin
  • … about the situation with my brother and how we haven’t spoken in six years


Here’s what I learned—

  1. I need to pray more for our youth pastors a lot more than I have been!
  2. Lots of people are hurting. Not just youth, but adults too.
  3. Jesus loves hurting people.
  4. What a privilege—and responsibility—I have as a pastor to show the love of Jesus!
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