Bible Study Tools

I love to read (just take a peek at the number of books I read and reviewed last year). But without a doubt, hands-down, the clear runaway favorite read is my Bible. 

“The Bible alone seems broader, and deeper, and fuller the oftener it is studied. We have no need to look for allegorical and mystical meanings. The fresh truths that will constantly spring up before our eyes are simple, plain, and clear. Of such truths the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. Nothing can account for this but the great fact that the Bible is the Word, not of man, but of God.” —J.C. Ryle

I thought I’d share with you some of the current Bible study tools I’m utilizing—

  • I am reading through the Bible on YouVersion’s plan called As It Happened. This takes you through the Scripture in chronological order. 
  • Along with this chronological plan, I have also subscribed to the daily devotional called Missionary God—Missionary Bible. This comes as a daily email from premier missiologist Dick Brogden, and follows the readings of the chronological Bible.
  • I am reading through the John Maxwell Leadership Bible, where events and characters are studied through a leadership lens. 
  • Since I am presently in the Gospels in the Leadership Bible, I am also utilizing Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey, and Expository Thoughts On The Gospels by J.C. Ryle. 
  • I also utilize the Hebrew and Greek resources almost every day at Blue Letter Bible.
  • And I also love doing shared reading plans with family and friends on YouVersion. 

Please share in the comments what Bible study tools you are using so we can all learn and grow together. 

11 Quotes For Pastors From “Interpretation Of The Scriptures”

You don’t have to be a pastor to benefit from reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures by A.W. Pink, rather I think all students of the Bible will benefit from reading this classic book. However, the Apostle James did warn that “not many of you should presume to be teachers” because “we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). In that light, A.W. Pink directs several of this comments in this book exclusively to those who teach/preach from the Bible. Here are a few of those quotes.

“The preacher’s task is both the most honorable and the most solemn of any calling, the most privileged and at the same time the most responsible one.”

“The ministry is no place for trifiers and idlers, but for those who are prepared to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ. The preacher ought to work harder than the miner, and to spend more hours per week in his study than does the man of business in his office.”

“Particularly does the minister need to attend unto this injunction ‘take heed unto thyself’ in his study of the Scriptures, reading them devotionally ere he does so professionally; that is, seeking their application and blessing to his own soul before searching for sermonic materials.”

“To ‘open’ the Scriptures helpfully to the saints requires something more than a few months’ training in a Bible institute, or a year or two in a seminary. None but those who have been personally taught of God in the hard school of experience are qualified so to ‘open’ the Word that Divine light is cast upon the spiritual problems of the believer, for while Scripture interprets experience, experience is often the best interpreter of Scripture.”

“The preacher should be with his time as the miser is with his gold—saving it with care, and spending it with caution.”

“Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own minds instead of God’s.”

“The preacher should be, above everything else, a man of the Book, thoroughly versed in the contents of God’s Word, one who is able to bring forth out of his treasure ‘things new and old’ (Matthew 13:52). The Bible is to be his sole text-book, and from its living waters he is to drink deeply and daily.”

“Commentaries we consult only after we have made a first-hand and exhaustive study of a passage.”

“It is at the feet of God that the preacher must take his place, learning from Him the meaning of His Word, waiting upon Him to open its mysteries, looking to Him for his message.” 

“To discourse upon the chemical properties of food will not feed a starving man, neither will tracing out the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words (necessary though that be in its proper place) the better enable Christ’s followers to fight the good fight of faith.”

“Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself, and it does so only so far as the preacher sets forth its genuine import. Not only is he to explain its terms, but also the nature of the ideas they express, otherwise he is apt to make use of scriptural terms and yet give them an unscriptural sense.”

To read the other quotes I shared from Interpretation Of The Scriptures, click here. You may also check out my full book review by clicking here.

Paths To Power (book review)

As I read A.W. Tozer’s words I find myself saying two things: (1) “Ouch!” and (2) “Amen!” Tozer’s Paths To Power is a continuation in those responses as he outlines what robs the Church and individual Christians of the power God wants them to have.

Right at the outset, Tozer identifies a key element robbing the Church of power: a lack of obedience in the things God has commanded us. “A knowledge of the truth is not enough,” he writes. “The truth must be followed if we would realize in actual experience the blessedness which is here described.”

Another power-blocker is an unwillingness to let God confront us and help us change. We get stuck in a this-is-how-it’s-always-been rut and then shut our eyes to the times of refreshing God wants to send to us. Other blockers include poor doctrine, putting the Holy Spirit in a box, justifying our sin, and not unleashing our faith, to name just a few.

Thankfully, Tozer also points us to the straightforward cures for all of the blockages to power. If we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to God’s voice, His unlimited blessings could flow uninterrupted into our lives and churches.

Paths To Power contains only seven short chapters, but the digestion, contemplation, and implementation of Tozer’s cures will be something that will involve a lifetime commitment for those ready for God’s fresh power to be poured into their lives.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

10 Quotes From “#Truth”

Josh McDowell has a book that is perfect for this generation of youth. #Truth is a 365-day devotional that brings biblical truth to bear on the issues today’s students face every day. You can check out my full book review of #Truth by clicking here. Below are a handful of quotes that caught my attention.

“All healthy relationships require a willingness to be known and have things pointed out so that all offenses can be addressed.”

“If a person is unwilling to forgive others, it’s a clear sign he or she hasn’t really experienced God’s mercy and grace. When people refuse to forgive those who wronged them, God knows that any confession of their own sins is less than genuine and sincere. How could anyone who truly experiences God’s amazing grace of forgiveness not also give mercy and grace to others?”

“Jesus died and rose again so that you could be set free from sin and death and enjoy the benefits of spiritual freedom. That freedom is not a license to live however you want to live, but to live as God meant you to live.” 

“Don’t believe the lie that you are alone and no one cares. Since Christ sees you as a member of His body, accept this as your new reality and realize that you are always wanted and very much needed.”

“Jesus too had a totally different view of this world than those around Him. … Because you have accepted Jesus as the Truth and follow Him, you too see the world differently. You see the world through a spiritual lens that makes you sort of like an alien.”

“Jesus’ Kingdom message is a whole new way to see God, yourself, life, and relationships. It is a view of the world defined by Jesus and His Word. … Loving God and making Him the first priority in your life develops a Kingdom mindset that brings everything into perspective—love God and those around you as you love yourself [Matthew 22:37-39].”

“This life is short in comparison to eternity, and God wants your thoughts to include Him and make His Kingdom a priority in your life. … Letting heaven fill your thoughts is about keeping Jesus first in your life.”

“Only those who have been made alive to God and have His Spirit can listen and understand the spiritual insights of Scripture.”

“When you read from the Bible you are reading God’s words as if He were writing them for you. … Scripture is a supernatural book that has come from God Himself.”

“Jesus felt misunderstood. He spent years telling His followers who He was and why He came to earth. ‘But they didn’t understand any of this…and they failed to grasp what He was talking about’ (Luke 18:34). Because Jesus faced misunderstanding He is able to identify with your hurt and give you the help you need when you need it.”

#Truth (book review)

Josh McDowell has consistently pursued two things: (1) Teaching people how to find and defend truth, and (2) Equipping students to overcome the challenges they will face. His book #Truth is the perfect convergence of these two pursuits.

#Truth is a 365-day devotional specifically written for teens. Each day’s reading starts off with a statement of truth from the Bible. Then Josh gives insight from his years of study and experience which shines a light on that biblical passage. Each devotional then concludes with a prayer that is designed to help the student settle the illuminated thought in his or her heart.

But for me the real payoff in each day’s devotional is the paragraph that starts off “Truth is….” This is not a man’s opinion. It’s not some touchy-feely sentiment. It’s not even some hard-to-grasp philosophy. It is a real-life, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road application. Each and every day Josh is pouring into students’ lives words of truth to help them see how biblical truth and real life intersect.

Although this book is written to teenagers, I would encourage adults who love teenagers to read it with them. Parents, youth pastors, grandparents, and mentors will all find great material each day to have a meaningful conversation with their teen.

I would highly recommend #Truth as a study guide to stimulate life-impacting conversations.

I am a Barbour Publishing book reviewer.

Streams In The Desert (book review)

streams-in-the-desertGod said, “Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). This verse perfectly sums up the dominant message in Lettie Cowman’s book Streams In The Desert.

Everyone has been there: things haven’t gone as we planned … we’re not sure how we could have ended up in such a dry, barren place … it seems like nothing is working out right … we begin to think that even God has lost sight of us. But it’s in this painful, desert place that God is ready to do something unheard of!

Lettie Cowman knew the pain of sickness and disappointment and thwarted dreams. Yet in the midst of her desert place, as she poured out her raw emotions, she began to see a river springing up in her wilderness. This book is a heaven-sent blessing to anyone in those dark, barren places.

Each day you will get a glimpse of God’s spring, as Lettie shares her personal discoveries, insights from Scripture, quotes from other desert wanderers, poems of reflection, and even prayers for help. Each day’s short reading is thirst-quenching and soul-satisfying.

If you are going through a desert place, get a copy of this book for yourself. If you have a friend who is struggling, buy a copy for them, and find times to get together to discuss each day’s reading. There’s a reason why this book has stood the test of time and has been an immense help to so many throughout the years.

Absolute Surrender (book review)

absolute-surrenderAnyone who calls himself a Christian is more than likely searching and striving for a way to become a closer follower of Jesus Christ. That, says Andrew Murray in this book, is where that Christian will perpetually remain stuck. Rev. Murray makes the case that the only way for a Christian is Absolute Surrender.

Andrew Murray never pulled his punches when he spoke and wrote. Whether he was challenging fellow pastors or the congregation in his church, he spoke directly and authoritatively, like a New Testament apostle. For instance, he warned, “The great hindrance to trust is self-effort. So long as you have got your own wisdom and thoughts and strength, you cannot fully trust God.”

In nine short chapter, Rev. Murray brilliantly shows how God’s Word calls the Christian to absolutely, unreservedly yield to Jesus. We cannot progress in our Christian walk by our own best efforts, but we must daily make the decision to surrender to His hand.

In one sense this is an easy book to read. Rev. Murray doesn’t use big words or deep theological concepts. But in another sense, it’s a very challenging book, in that I found the Holy Spirit convicting me through Murray’s biblical messages. In the opening pages, Rev. Murray asks a simple question: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? If you can answer “yes” then this book is for you; if your answer is “no” or “I’m not sure” then you should probably wait awhile before attempting to read Absolute Surrender.

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