Thursdays With Oswald—A New Look At Some Old Bible Studies

This 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.

A New Look At Some Old Bible Studies

     It is important to notice the difference between the Wisdom of the Hebrews and the Wisdom of the Greeks. The Wisdom of the Hebrews is based on an accepted belief in God; that is, it does not try to find out whether or not God exists, all its beliefs are based on God, and in the actual world of things as they are, all its mental energy is bent on practical living. The Wisdom of the Greeks, which is the wisdom of our day, is speculative; that is, it is concerned with the origin of things, with the riddle of the universe, etc., consequently the best of our wits is not given it to practical living.

     The value of the Book of Job is not in what it teaches, but that it expresses suffering, and the inscrutability of suffering. In the Book of Psalms, Wisdom is applied to things as they are and to prayer. The Book of Proverbs applies Wisdom to the practical relationships of life, and Ecclesiastes applies Wisdom to the enjoyment of things as they actually are; there is no phase of life missed out, and it is shown that enjoyment is only possible by being related to God. 

     The record of the whirl of things as they are is marvelously stated in these books of Wisdom: Job—how to suffer; Psalms—how to pray; Proverbs—how to act; Ecclesiastes—how to enjoy; Song of Solomon—how to love. … 

     Solomon sums up the whole thing as follows: If you try to find enjoyment in this order of things, you will end in vexation and disaster. If you try to find enjoyment in knowledge, you only increase your capacity for sorrow and agony and distress. The only way you can find relief and the right interpretation of things as they are it is by basing your faith in God, and by remembering that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Jesus Christ is the One Who can transmute everything we come across.

From Shade Of His Hand

Sometimes the “wisdom” books of the Bible can be difficult to understand in our modern day, Western culture. But perhaps you may be able to read them differently with these insights that Oswald Chambers shares.

Why not try giving a new look at some old Bible studies, and then comment below on how it worked for you.

2 More Bible Studies For You To Try

Character studiesLast week I shared three types of Bible studies you could try to go a little deeper in your time studying Scripture. Today I’d like to share two more studies.

Remember that I’m a big proponent of reading systematically through the Scripture. I recommend that you begin reading in Matthew (the first book of the New Testament), and read all the way through the New Testament. Then return to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and read straight through to the end of the Bible.

Here’s why? (1) Jesus said that all of Scripture pointed to Him, so in reading the NT first, you will get to know Jesus through His own life, and then through the lives of His first followers. (2) Then when you are reading anything in the OT that is confusing, you can ask yourself, “How does this point to Jesus? What do I learn about man’s fallen state? How do I see the need for a Savior?”

As you reading systematically through the New and Old Testaments, here are two Bible studies for you to try.

Character Studies

When you come across someone’s name in your systematic reading, use a concordance to find all the other places they may be mentioned. You may also want to look up their name in a Bible dictionary, or Strong’s Concordance to find out about their ancestors or meaning of their name.

As an example, let’s look at King David. He first shows up in Ruth 4:17 in a brief genealogy. Then beginning in 1 Samuel 16, we read page after page of his entire life.

Using a concordance, you would also spot some of the Psalms that were written by David, and you would see how David’s life and words were used in the New Testament setting. For instance, in Matthew 1:1 you would see another genealogy that traces Jesus Christ through King David’s family line.

Another example is a man named Barnabas. He first shows up in Acts 4:36. But unlike David, we don’t read consecutive pages about Barnabas. Instead, he sort of pops into the narrative of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 9:27; 11:22-26; 12:25-13:3; 15:37-39).

In the Acts 15 passage, we see that Mark’s behavior was a point of serious disagreement between Barnabas and Paul. As a result, they went on separate missionary journeys, and we don’t  read anything explicitly written about Barnabas. But continuing to use our concordance of the Bible, we find that Barnabas was still at work behind the scenes to reconcile Mark and Paul (see Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11).

Prophesy

The easiest way to see prophesy at work is noticing what OT passages are recorded in the NT. Here is where you might want to make use of a Bible with cross references in the margins. For example, in Matthew 1:22-23, you see the words, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet….” Looking at the verses in my reference Bible, I find mentioned Isaiah 7:14, where the prophesy of Christ’s virgin birth was foretold. Keep your eyes open for phrases like “to fulfill” or “it is written.”

When you are reading in the OT, you will come across certain passages that the Holy Spirit will use to remind you of something that sounds familiar from the NT. Here you would use your concordance or Bible software to search out NT references. Here’s a couple of exampled:

  • In Isaiah 9:6, there is a reference to Prince of Peace. I used my concordance to search for the word peace and I found passages like Romans 5:1-2; Philippians 4:7.
  • In Isaiah 11:1-3 the phrases about God’s Spirit resting on the Messiah intrigued me, so I used my concordance to search for the words Spirit and rest, and I found Matthew 3:16-17.
  • Isaiah 61:1-2 sounded very familiar to me, so when I searched for Lord’s favor I found Jesus used this phrase in Luke 4:16-19.

Check out this video to see how I describe these Bible studies in more detail.

You can also check out this video to watch how I described the three previous Bible studies. I hope you grow deeper in God by studying His Word more in-depth!

3 Bible Studies For You To Try

Book by book studyLast week I spoke and wrote about some tools you might use to study your Bible. Now I’d like to share some Bible study projects you might try with those new tools. As always, I recommend that beginning Bible studies go verse by verse through the Bible. I believe you will lay a strong foundation for your faith when you systematically put God’s Word into your heart.

Book By Book

I’ll use the book of Ephesians as an example. Using my Bible atlas I find that the city of Ephesus is located along an important trade route, and it is the Roman capital of the province of Asia. My Full Life Study Bible tells me that because so much trade passed through this city, this letter was probably intended to be a circular letter for all of the communities near Ephesus. As a result, Paul is not addressing any specific problems in this church, but writes theological ideas for a broad spectrum of people.

As I begin reading, I paused in the first verse when I came to the phrase “the faithful in Christ.” I asked myself, “What does it mean to be faithful IN Christ? Can I be faithful outside of Him?” By the time I got to verse 3, I saw a similar phrase: “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Now I went back and used a blue highlighter (there’s nothing special about blue, it just happened to be the first highlighter I grabbed), and marked those two “in Christ” phrases. I see two more in verse 4: “He chose us in Him” and “holy and blameless in His sight.” Going through the whole book I discovered 36 times the phrases “in Christ” or “in Him.” This is helpful to me to know the kind of security I have in Jesus.

Another thing that stood out to me were Paul’s prayers for the church. I see His very moving prayers in passages like 1:15-19 and in 3:14-21. I also see in 6:18 that he tells us to pray all kinds of prayers for ourselves and for others. And I see in 6:19 that Paul asked the church to pray for him too.

And always look for “therefore” phrases. For example in 4:24-25 or 4:32-5:1. The “therefore” phrases tell us how to live or think in light of the ideas that were just shared.

Chapter By Chapter

A good place to do this is in the Psalms or Proverbs. These are usually stand-alone chapters. When reading the chapters in these two books, I love reading them in parallel with other translations. For example, check out this from Psalm 1.

In Psalm 59, notice the superscript (or introduction). This gives us some background information to the psalm. Using my concordance, I found that this psalm was written this time in David’s life.

There is usually a theme to each chapter of the Proverbs, so try to discover that. In Proverbs 2, I noticed the “if … then” statements. In the first four verses I see things like “IF you will seek wisdom like this,” and then in verses 5-22 I see a whole bunch of blessings that follow the “then” that starts verse 5.

Word By Word

Sometimes I like to go really deep in a passage, so I slow down and look at it word by word. Here you need to use a Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. I like the one available on Blue Letter Bible. For example, next to 2 Peter 1:5, you can hover over the word “Tools” and select “Interlinear.” Clicking on “Interlinear” you will see all of the Greek words that make up this verse. By clicking on the Strong’s number, you can see the definition of that Greek word. Scrolling down a bit, you can see all of the other verses where that Greek word is used in the New Testament.

None of these tools are meant to take the place of the Holy Spirit. He is called the Spirit of Truth, and since He is the One who inspired all of the Scripture, ask His help before you begin any Bible study.

Here are two more Bible studies for you to try.

In this video I go into more detail on how I undertake all of these Bible studies. And be sure to join us next week as we take another look at different types of Bible studies.

3 Quotes About Bible Studies

New Bible study toolsYesterday I shared 7 must-have Bible study tools. Here are three powerful quotes on how and why we should make studying our Bibles an ongoing, lifelong pursuit.

“Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them—search them; look up the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there—that is not fair.” —Charles Spurgeon

“One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Let us resolve to read the Bible more and more every year we live. Let us try to get it rooted in our memories, and engraved into our hearts. … Let us resolve to be more watchful over our Bible reading every year that we live. Let us be jealously careful about the time we give to it, and the manner that time is spent. Let us be aware of omitting our daily reading without sufficient cause. Let us not be gaping, and yawning and dozing over our book, while we read. … Let us be very careful that we never exalt any minister, or sermon, or book, or tract, or friend above the Word. Cursed be that book, or tract, or human counsel, which creeps in between us and the Bible, and hides the Bible from our eyes! … Let us resolve to talk more to believers about the Bible when we meet them. Sorry to say, the conversation of Christians, when they do meet, is often sadly unprofitable! How many frivolous, and trifling, and uncharitable things are said! Let us bring out the Bible more, and it will help to drive the devil away, and keep our hearts in tune.” —J.C. Ryle

3 Steps To Better Bible Studies

Inspired WordThe Bible is God’s inspired Word—literally, that means it is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the Holy Spirit inspired the Word to the biblical writers, He can best illuminate the same Word to you as you read and study it.

This is how Jesus said the Holy Spirit would help us handle God’s Word:

Teach (John 14:26a). This word means to teach by holding a discourse with someone (or in this case, with Someone). Reading the Bible is meant to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

Remind (John 14:26b). The Holy Spirit is actively involved in us recalling and applying the Word to the situations in which we find ourselves. The Bible tells us to study to be prepared (1 Peter 3:15) and to handle God’s Word like a good worker (2 Timothy 2:15). We are also told not to pre-plan what to say if we are put on the spot, but that words would be given us (Matthew 10:19) as the Holy Spirit recalls to our memory which we have studied.

Convict (John 16:8). This word means both to refute and to confute. Confute simply means proving something is wrong. Refute means to show us we’ve reached a false or illogical conclusion, perhaps a conclusion we reached without giving it very much thought.

Guide (John 16:13). We get a good idea of the meaning of this word from the negative use of the same word—Can a blind man lead [the same word for “guide” in John 16:13] a blind man? Will they not both fall in a pit? (Luke 6:39). We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth in the Scriptures that we can apply to our lives.

Quite simply better Bible studies come from:

  1. Praying for the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you as your read it.
  2. Reading the Bible.
  3. Obeying what the Holy Spirit illuminates to your heart and mind.

Try it and see what happens. I think you’ll like the results!

Go Deep Bible Study

I would like to invite you to an in-depth Bible study.

We will be meeting at 6:00 on Wednesdays to discuss how to apply to our daily lives the lessons from the most recent Sunday sermon. Even if you missed the Sunday message, there will be so much for you to learn at our mid-week Bible studies.

Each Bible study will last about an hour, and I will endeavor to make the video of the teaching available in a day or so following the class. You can get a map to the church by clicking here.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Logical Conclusions

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Logical Conclusions 

     Every doctrine of the Word of God has its practical bearing. … Hence you will find the apostle Paul very full of ‘therefores.’ … I marvel that our excellent translators should have divided the argument from the conclusion by making a new chapter where there is least reason for it. 

From The Watchword For Today: “Stand Fast”

 

The Bible is the most practical, applicable, and timeless Book I know! In order for this Book to be of both immediate and eternal help to us, it has to be a book that is logical. The Bible is a logical book, but far too many readers miss the logic unfolding right before their eyes. 

In this particular sermon, Charles Spurgeon takes his text from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, so let me use that epistle as an example. There are three logic signposts that I would ask you to look for: therefore, so that, and if…then. 

Let’s start with “therefore.” I have trained myself—and I endeavor to train the folks in my church—to ask this question every time they come to the word “therefore” in the Bible: What’s that there for? Therefore always signals a logical conclusion to a set of premises that are constructing the argument. As Spurgeon mentioned, sometimes the verse and chapter breaks can obscure this, so we must always go back from the “therefore” to see what the argument was. 

I find the word “therefore” used three times in this letter in the New International Version: 

  • Therefore God exalted Him [Jesus] to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (2:9). What’s it there for? Because Jesus was obedient, therefore God exalted His name. 
  • Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (2:12). What’s it there for? Because Jesus has conquered death and purchased our salvation, therefore this is how Christians should now live. 
  • Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (4:1). What’s it there for? Because our citizenship is in Heaven, we must stand firm in that hope. 

A second logical statement to watch for when you’re reading is “so that.” This logical phrase, much like “therefore,” is telling us what comes next in light of what came before. I see this phrase multiple times in Philippians (1:10, 13, 20, 26; 2:15, 19, 28; 3:21). 

Finally, watch for those “if…then” statements. These also follow the logical argument of, “If you do this, then this will happen” or “If you ignore or disobey this, then you can expect this to follow.” I see this quite clearly in Philippians 2:1-2 and 4:8-9. 

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down and watch for these very logical and practical arguments—the Bible is absolutely full of them! By reading your Bible this way, you will be getting your doctrine directly from the Holy Spirit, which is the best way to know the heart of God. 

If you’re interested in digging deeper into this, I’ve shared some other Bible studies you can try:

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Bible Translations

There are so many quality translations of the Bible to help us read God’s Word profitably, but many people ask me about the origin of each of these translations. I have shared three views of biblical translations below—two serious and one comical way of looking at them.

They only caution I would point out is a translation or paraphrase that is from a single person’s point of view. The Bible itself talks about success that comes from the combined wisdom of counselors, so a single-person paraphrase does open itself up more to the author’s whims than to true scholarship.

I shared a series of posts about my favorite book, and I have also shared some Bible studies that you may want to try with your favorite translation, or perhaps a new one that you are exploring.

But And And

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Proverbs 10 begins with these words, “The proverbs of Solomon…” (Proverbs 10:1). 

Over the next six chapters (184 verses) Solomon generously employs the contrasting conjunction “but” 144 times—that’s nearly 80 percent of these verses! He clearly tells us the blessings of trusting God’s wisdom contrasted with the pitfalls of trusting our own wits. 

I am also intrigued by the 21 verses where Solomon uses the amplifying conjunction “and.” These proverbs give us either the double advantage of leaning into God’s wisdom, or the double whammy of trying to do it our own way. 

I’ll let you read through these six chapters and notice the contrasting conjunction “but” for yourself, but in this blog post I want to especially direct your attention to some of the “and” statements. I’ve listed these in three categories.

(1) The double whammies—

  • malicious people cause grief to others AND ruin to themselves (10:10) 
  • trusting mortals is short-lived AND self-defeating (11:7) 
  • a quick-tempered person does foolish things AND is hated (14:17)

(2) The double blessings—

  • a generous person prospers AND is refreshed (11:25) 
  • a righteous life is a blessed life now AND an eternal life forever (12:28) 
  • fearing God brings security for you AND gives your children a sure refuge (14:26) 

(3) And these mixed proverbs using both a whammy and a blessing—

  • a righteous person is rescued from trouble AND it falls on the wicked instead (11:8) 
  • a prudent person is praised AND the one with a warped mind is despised (12:8) 
  • evildoers are trapped in their own evil AND innocent people escape evil (12:13) 

There is so much wisdom to be gleaned not only in these words of Solomon, but throughout the entire Bible. Take your time and soak it in as you read the Scripture for yourself. 

Here are some of the other posts I’ve shared that may help you in your Bible study time: 

I’ve also posted reviews on these study Bibles: 

However you do it, and whatever tools you may use, get into your Bible every single day, and then let the Word of God get into you too. I can promise you this: Your time in God’s Word will absolutely change your life! 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Context Is King

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Context Is King

And the glory that You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (Jesus in John 17:22-23)

     Some words serve many uses and have many meanings. We are very apt to make mistakes if we give the same sense in all places to the same word. The word world throughout Scripture is used with a very remarkable variety of meaning, and one had need to have his wits about him and to read carefully in order to know what is the precise source of the term in each place where it occurs. …  

     I say again, the word world, therefore, has many shades of meaning ranging from that jet black meaning in which the world lies in the wicked one—‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ (1 John 2:15)—upward to the milder sense in John 1:10, ‘He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.’ And yet higher to the bright meaning, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ’ (Revelation 11:15). It is not in the worst sense that our text speaks of the world, but in the same manner as we find it used in such passages as these: ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). And again in 1 John 2:2, ‘And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.’ 

     It is certain that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16), and we cannot suppose that the great Redeemer would refuse to pray for those whom He was given. I understand in this particular place by the word world the whole mass of mankind upon the face of the earth who are not as yet converted. … 

     For the sake of the world, He would have the church in a high state of holy beauty and strength. May His gracious prayer be answered in all of us by the working of the Holy Spirit! … Our wish is to bring multitudes to the Savior and to conquer province after province of this revolted world for King Jesus. ‘Let the whole earth be filled with His glory’ (Psalm 72:19) is a prayer that we cannot, we dare not, we would not fail to pray! 

From The Glory, Unity, And Triumph Of The Church

When we are studying our Bibles, we must remember that context is so vital. We have to read each inspired word in its proper context so that we know how to believe, think, live, and pray. I urge you to slow down in your Bible reading—aim for better and richer comprehension than to just try to read a lot in one sitting. Sometimes in my own personal Bible study time, I may spend several minutes just thinking about one phrase, and that may be the only part that I read on that particular morning. 

I would also counsel you to use some trustworthy Bible study tools. I have a list here of 8 must-have Bible study tools, and you can find some new ways to use these tools in this post about three types of Bible studies you may not have considered before. 

However you read your Bible, make sure you are reading each part in its proper context. Pray before you begin reading and ask the Holy Spirit—Who inspired the Scriptures—to illuminate them to your heart and mind. These thoughtful Bible studies will do more to grow your spiritual maturity than simply rushing through your reading time.

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