Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 9

Previous lessons

Lesson 9.0 Topical Bible Study

Here is where I am going to veer off my original plan and switch lessons 9 and 10 around.  We will learn about topical Bible study today and next week about basic word studies.  Word study is one of the more complicated subjects, but topical studies can be a stepping stone into word studies.

Most Bibles have a concordance of their own.  We will use the larger Strong’s Concordance next week, but this week we will be using the concordance that we carry with us in our own Bibles.  If you look at the back of your Bible, you might find a concordance.  It often is limited in its content.  There are several advantages to this type of concordance.  First of all, it is attached to your Bible, so you don’t need a table full of books to use it.  I like to use mine in bed as I read at night.  Second, it has the same wording that your Bible has so you don’t have to find make sure your Bible and Concordance match translations.  Third, if it is the Bible you are use to using, you can become familiar with it quickly.  Finally, it is concise so you don’t have to wade through a bunch of entries to find what you’re looking for.

On the flip side while the back of your Bible’s concordance is concise, you may not find the verse you’re looking for.  The Hebrew or Greek word or definition is not often available in these concordances.
A concordance is not a dictionary, but more like the key is to a map.  Not every word in a Bible will be in a concordance.  For instance“articles” are not in there, so you won’t find every – and, the, a.  Looking at the verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  You would likely find the words, “God, loved, world, gave, begotten, son, whosoever, believeth, him, perish, everlasting, life.”  These would be key words to look for in the concordance.  

Why is do we need these?  One reason could be to find the verse.  If you remember the verse but not the reference, you can use one of those words to find where it is located in the Bible.  I would liken it to an internet search engine.  If I wanted to find out how to make chocolate milk, I could find it with the word “chocolate”or “milk.”  In the concordance, rather than giving me website options, I get scripture options.  If I look up “world,” in the back of one Bible, I get 14 different options including John 3:16, John 7:7 and Titus 2:12, but before each scripture reference, is a phrase from the verse it represents.  “God so loved the w…” is the phrase before John 3:16.  I can then turn to that scripture and see if it is what I was looking for.  Another entry says, “Don’t copy… this w…”Rom 12:2.  The “w” represents the word I looked up “world.”  That particular Bible gave a definition to the word as well.  Not every Bible Concordance will do that.

Here is an sample of the concordance entry from the NIV Study Bible for the word, "world."
Sometimes during a sermon, the pastor or teacher will share a thought or verse or something that triggers a verse in my head that may pertain.  I might flip to my concordance and look up a key word from that verse so I can find it while he/she’s preaching/teaching.  If I can find it, I add it to my notes.  When I go back over my notes from the sermon or teaching, I have the beginnings of a new personal Bible study.  I can go to footnotes or cross-references and get a bigger picture of what God is saying about that message.

The lesson today is about topical Bible study and it took me a bit to get there, but that you have a bigger understanding of the concordance use, we can discuss how it can be a valuable tool in topical study.  My kids and I did a month of lessons on “Trust.”  That is a big topic, so the curriculum writer has narrowed the areas down so at one point we learned about sheep.  Sheep trust their shepherd.  The Bible refers to sheep a lot and Jesus refers to us a sheep and God being the shepherd.  I want to know more about this.  While the people of Jesus' time and area of the world could relate to sheep, I cannot fully grasp the inferences.  I've worn wool and seen sheep in real life,but know nothing about their habits, so I did a topical study on them.   I went to my concordance for a good starting place.  I looked up, "sheep," and I looked up, "Shepherd."  Once I found a few verses about them, there was another word that was commonly used, "Flock."  It became another word I looked up.  Other words that were used in my search were: Sheepfold, wool, lamb and staff.  You can make a topical study quick or as lengthy as you want.  It's your study and either way you will learn.

I can also look up things like anger or sadness or joy or fishing.  If the Lord lays a word on your heart, check it out in The Word.  My language may not make sense to you, but if there is a word you hear in conversation or one just pops in your mind, especially in prayer, it may be something to look up.  I had the word “ubiquitous” randomly pop into my head.  I didn't even know what it meant.  The first place I went was not the concordance, it was a dictionary and since I like electronic devices, I actually used on my phone.  Instant gratification… it means the same as omnipresent.  Everywhere.  At that point, I found another search I could do in the Bible. It didn't take long… neither word is in the Bible according to the few translations I used.  Though I heard the word omnipresent as I was growing up in Sunday School, it was strange for me to find that it was not actually in the Bible.  The Bible does describe in several places, however, that God is everywhere.

There are a few other books that are useful for topical studies.  Some are devotional books and some are encouraging mini books.  There are topical Bibles as well.  There are many emails going around with multiple scriptures on a subject too.  A way to make these things into a study can be to look up the verse about a topic and then go back and look at the verses surrounding it as we've done before to get the context.  Then you can go to footnotes and cross-references and ... you get the idea.

One book that I have that is topical was given to me as I graduated from High School.  It is called, "God's Promises for the Graduate," published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  There are headings in the table of contents that lead to pages of scriptures related to that topic.  One such topic in that book, for example, is "For in Times of Anger."  There are 21 scriptures that are quoted in that section.  One of them is Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you."  If I need to know more of what the Bible says about anger (likely I do) I can look up all of those scriptures in context and make a great study out of them.

LESSON 9.0 Worksheet

When would you use the concordance in your Bible?

Do concordances in the back of most Bibles give every scripture reference for each entry?

Does every back of Bible concordance also include definitions for the words?

Are dictionaries useful for topical studies?

Is there a topic that is dear to you that you've been curious about?  Don’t wait for Joel Osteen or some great preacher/teacher to write a book about it.  Look up the key word(s) and search out the Word of God concerning that topic over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 8

Previous Lessons

LESSON 8.0 Application of the Word.  
It is amazing to me to see how something recorded so many years ago can still apply to me today.  Some scriptures are plain: Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized…” while others  may be a little confusing.  Mark 10:21 “Go and sell everything you have ...”   There is more to each of these phrases and that is when we need to focus on learning to apply the word.  Often times, when you do a devotional or even look on Facebook, there is a scripture just pulled out.  One stand alone verse.  While this is appropriate in its intent, if you want to know the full meaning of each verse, you need to go deeper.

Let’s start with one verse and see how we can put application to it.
I John 1:9 NIV  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.”
This verse can definitely stand alone or be used with other scriptures especially when beginning or leading someone into a relationship with Christ.  Let’s take a closer look and apply it.  Let’s read it in context.  That means read what comes before it and what comes after it.  Open your Bible to I John 1:9.  What is a good place to start?  What is a good place to end?  Letting the Bible interpret itself is a wonderful way to study it.  Some may look at our Bible's subheadings as my NIV Life Application Bible shows a subheading just before  I John 1:5 that says, "Walking in the Light."  Others may wish to go to the beginning of the chapter.  If you don't understand a verse by reading the verse or two before it, go back further.  This may mean to go to the beginning of a book or a chapter.  My life Application Bible continues a section from I John 1:5 to I John 2:14.  This may all be necessary to read to understand the true intent of that single verse.

Let’s look at a few other places in the Bible and use 2 different application worksheets.  The first one is called “Application Worksheet.”  This and the other worksheets in this lesson are adapted from “Inductive Bible Study Handbook from Leadership Resources International.  I have looked into trying to order more of this book, but it has no ISBN and I can’t find them online.  The front cover said to photocopy and put to use. While I do not understand if there would be a copyright infringement by using those sheets on a blog, I have recreated them and really they do look a lot different, the ideas are just the same.  This first one is not intended to be completely filled out because not every passage covers everything on this worksheet.

Look at Matthew 6: 19-34 and use it with this sheet.  This passage is loaded so we can fill out several sections of the worksheet.  You also may have more than one answer for each question.  Is there a lesson to learn? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Is there a prayer to pray?  I don't see a specific prayer to pray her, but if I look at Matthew 6:9-13, I would find a whole prayer.  Is there a sin to confess?  This is personal.  If there is an instruction in this passage that I struggle with as sin, I would likely write it here.  Is there a promise to claim?  Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Is there a message to share?  There are several messages in this text.  This is a place where you need to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Some of these messages need to be shared, but if you do so in your own power, you could turn people away.  If I go to my wealthy Christian friend and say, "You can't serve both God and money!"  I don't think it would be well received.  That is likely me judging my friend saying that they worship their money.  Is there an instruction to obey?  This is similar to the first question.  Do not worry about your life.  (One of several answers that can go here)  Is there a conflict to avoid?  Again, this is a personal application so if you struggle with money, maybe that is a conflict you need to avoid.  Is there an example to follow?  One could say that we should follow the example of the sparrow and don't worry about what you will eat.   Is there a new understanding to embrace?  There could be if you've never really noticed any of these teachings before.  Is there an attribute of God to marvel?  My heavenly Father knows my needs.  Each person who fills out this sheet will fill it out differently from others.  You really don't even need this sheet, you can just keep these thoughts in mind as you read new scripture.  You can answer some of these questions in your journal as well.

The next worksheet we will look at is a character worksheet.  It is possibly a little more thought provoking .  Here is one reason that this type of worksheet would be good.  If you’ve ever been told something like, “You have the heart of David.” or, "You have an Esther anointing."  It is important to review the Word and find out exactly what David or Esther did.  David is spoken of over a long portion of the Bible and though Esther is a small book, we’ll use something that is fresh in our memory from a recent study.
Let’s look at the Character Jonah.  Last week we looked at the book about him, this week, let’s look at some character things.  We will find out about him in his book, Jonah.

Jonah is mentioned in the Bible in the Old Testament book of Jonah.  He is also mentioned in Matthew 12:37,39,40,41; Matthwe 16:4,17; Luke 11:28,30,32 and II Kings 14:25.  I found this by doing a search on my digital Bible e-Sword.  When I searched on YouVersion, it misinterpreted my search and looked for John as well.

Always remember that when we use a new method of study or a new worksheet that we still have all of the other things we’ve talked about to go back to as well: footnotes, commentaries, cross-references, 5 W’s and patterns.

Here are 2 other possible worksheets to use.  They will be used in the homework section.

Lesson 8.0

Each new lesson adds to the previous.  Now that we are learning to apply the Bible, we can use the previous lessons to help.  Name 2 of these things:

In your own words, describe why it would be valuable to you to study a certain character of the Bible.  This answer doesn’t have to be the one given in class.


Use “Personal Application Worksheet” to look at Matthew 6:19-34 again.  Use “Parable Study Worksheet” to look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-37.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


A few months ago my niece spent some time at my home. When she was here, she brought with her a kit to make a kaleidoscope. The outside had a few templates and colored pencils would complete the design that would be most evident at first glance of the toy. She colored it quickly and beautifully as was no surprise to me. It was ready to be assembled with the mirror to give the view of the pretty design. The chamber of shapes was neat. There was confetti and different shapes that float in a circular chamber.
When the completed kaleidoscope is in use, only a small wedge is truly seen and a reflection is repeated to make a new design. The shapes within the circular chamber aren't always recognized, but a fantastic pattern emerges in its place. As the chamber is rotated, the view changes and dazzles eyes, but the whole of reality is never seen again.
I had a dream where there was some type of calamity where the inside of a shopping center was in shambles. There were people and merchandise scattered awry and I was a news reporter. My associate and I were given a few moments to discuss and witness the scene and then we were to report on it. I'm ashamed to say that I saw the clothes first scattered and thought about the mess. Upon closer observation, I saw the people. Their lives shaken. They were being photographed in their various states of crisis. Some girls with their legs exposed as they had fallen in skirts. My dream didn't have blood, but there was obvious injury by the position of people. When it was time to report, I could only think of a kaleidoscope. Even I, with a first hand view could never see the full picture.
In life, I often miss reality because I am dazzled by the piece of the world I can see and it's distortions. Satisfied with the picture I get, I don't look for more. The world is in chaos! People are dying! I saw a picture of a world leader who recently died with a joke beside it as he was known as a Tyrant and his enemies are gloating. It disturbs me that this was a lost soul. I chose not to look at that image again. I will shuffle the images that are in my view until it is pleasing again and forget what is hidden. This is the way I carry on day after day. I shuffle the bad until its out of view.
I was going to say that this is an epidemic in Christianity, but I will dare to expand it to say this is an epidemic in America. Some people choose a pleasant view and some choose to keep an offended view, others have a mixture and feel they have perspective. Really only a very slim few are truly not looking through kaleidoscope view.
I Corinthians 13 says that we see through a glass dimly. Some translations say that we see a dim reflection in a mirror... So true! Like the kaleidoscope view, the picture that we see this side of heaven will never be complete. That doesn't mean that we should ignore what we choose not to see. In fact, everything that will come into our view in the future is affected by the portion that we cannot see at the present. In a kaleidoscope, the unseen portion is likely 80% or more of the possible whole. And every time the toy is shaken, the view changes. It will never look exactly the same again because the part we could not see shifts into view and things are rearranged. We never know when something that has left our view will reemerge either.
I don't yet have a conclusion to this analogy. There are so many directions that it could go ... I guess it's like a kaleidoscope in itself. Each of us can take the chamber of shapes and twist or shake it to see our new view of it.
I guess I will end with this: I can do a lot of things myself or let the environment change my view randomly or I can ask God to align my vision with His. May the eyes of my heart be enlightened.