Friday, September 21, 2012

Bible Study 101

Bible Study 101

Originally Submitted to Logos Bible Software:  (

Bible study has to start somewhere. At some point the mature Christian will want to develop an appreciation for Greek, Hebrew, exegesis, and theology. But the young Christian needs a place to begin his or her study of Scripture (i.e. Bible Study). I was first introduced to the method presented here as a very young believer while reading a Moody Press book published many years ago.

Though the method is best suited for those who are just beginning the journey of faith, I do find myself returning to it occasionally, especially when I am feeling dry and unmotivated. As a Bible Study method, it does not demand a great deal of intellectual activity. It does demand a willingness to listen to God.

The very simplest of tools are needed.

1. A Bible (Use a favorite translation)
2. A Pen or two (different colors)
3. A Notebook (I use spiral bound steno pads)

Though the method can be applied to any book, chapter, pericope, or paragraph, young Christians might be encouraged to begin with one of the gospels. Many suggest the Gospel of John where the author asserts, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.” (John 20:31 NLT) On the other hand, I will have young Christians begin with the gospel of Mark. It is short, written so that the life of Jesus would not be forgotten by the early church or by the church of any other era. I also suggest that young Christians begin with single paragraphs or (more likely) pericopes. Occasionally, it is the sentence or a phrase that will speak to the Christian just beginning their own Bible Study.

Regardless of the size of the passage being studied, the new Bible student will need to use his spiritual SPECTS as he or she reads the scripture:

S – Sins to avoid
P – Promises to remember
E – Examples to follow
C – Commands to obey
T – Truths to believe
S – Special verses that hit home

As each section is read, the student is asked to note in their notebook which of the six parts of their SPECTS they find God showing them. If the student feels comfortable, he might want to put a small letter in the margin of their Bible as a visual reminder of what God showed them early in their Bible Study.

The final step in the Bible Study process is to share what has been learned. It might be with a friend, a mentor, a Sunday School teacher, or a pastor, but what God is teaching me only becomes mine when I have shared it with another. The depth of understanding and application will grow with maturity, but the method presented here encourages even the most recent believer to get into the word of God and apply it to their life. What more could I ask for as the believer opens the Bible for the first time?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do I Talk Too Much? (James 3:1-12)

Do I Talk Too Much?

Intro.: I like stories with talking animals.
  1. Here are some of my favorites:
    1. Mr. Ed a horse
    2. Babe – a talking pig
    3. Garfield – a talking cat
    4. Stuart Little – a mouse
    5. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore - chipmonks
    6. Homeward Bound – two dogs and a cat
  2. These are fun – but there is a problem
  3. These animals are never faced with the problem of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
  4. James suggest that the same is not true for you or me.
Read: James 3:1-12

  1. James gives three reason for the tongue being a source of trouble.
    1. What we say, how we say it – becomes a measure of our faith.
      1. James says, that person who can control would be perfect – but none of us are perfect.
(Ill.) Let me ask you a question.This past year, if someone had paid you ten dollars for every kind word youever spoke about other people, and also collected five dollars for every unkindword, would you be rich or poor.1
      1. James reminds us that “not many of usshould become teachers, because … we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
(Ill.) A poster crossed my path thisweek – the poster read, “The non-Christian world reads Christians, not theBible.” We may not desire to be teachers, but we are teachers. We are beingwatched, we are being looked at. As a person looking to buy a book will turn itover in their hand as they consider the purchase, people will turn over whatthey see and hear from us in their minds as they consider this thing callChristianity.
    1. Not only is the tongue measure of our faith, James also presents it as being a small part that has a much bigger impact than it size.
      1. When I was a teen, one of my dreams was to own a boat – nothing too big, just big enough for me and my family to sleep on for trips. It's never going to happen – but it was a dream.
      2. What is interesting about a boat is that it does not take much to keep it going in the right direction. Weather it be a rudder or a sail that is shifted just a bit – the boat changes direction.
(Appl.) Our tongues proceed us. Andwill set the direction that our lives go – whether we are talking about ourwords as teens, as young adults, as middle agers, or as seniors. Our words maybe used by God to know who we are- but they also set the direction in which weare living our lives. Do you want your life to go a different direction –listen to yourself. Those around you are.
    1. During my second year of college I worked for the US Forest Service.
      1. Our primary job was surveying roads.
      2. But at the same time we were on call to fight fires as the cropped up in Northern California Sierra Nevadas.
      3. Before we did anything, we attended “Fire School” - a week long introduction into the dangers, behaviors, and procedures for fighting fires.
      4. Now James says the tongue is like a tiny spark that can create a great forest on fire.
      (Ill.) Let me show you how my experience in Fire School. Here is a mountain. If someone throws a cigarette out right here – because heat rises, the flames will start to move up the hill.
      1. A small spark can cause a large flame – our tongues can be disastrous to the reputations of our churches, to our reputations,
      2. What James does not say is that this same spark can spread a good reputation as well as a bad.
      3. We have no control over that fire – the only control we have is how we start it, how we use our tongues.
      4. Let me end with a question – what kind of reputation does your tongue spread?
    1. James has given us three concerns about the role the tongues play
      1. Our tongue will become a measuring stick for our spiritual lives.
      2. Like the rudder of a ship, our tongue can set the direction of our lives.
      3. Like a small spark, our tongue can start a huge fire.
  1. That all sounds pretty disastrous. But James does not leave us stranded. He gives us some principles to consider as we open our mouths.
    1. Principle #1 – Talk less -
      1. James had said it earlier – be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
      2. Patience is hard -
(Ill.) Lewis Chafer was a well-known theologian and the firstPresident of Dallas Theological Seminary – he showed his understanding of theimportance of patience when he said, “When led of the Spirit, the child of Godmust be as ready to wait as to go, as prepared to be silent as to speak.”2
    1. If listening is this important, then we might conclude that talking is not evidence of a strong faith -
      1. James put it this way, “If you claim to be religious but don't control you tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
      2. We don't need an answer to everything – we can hold
    2. Remember everything that comes from our mouth must be root in the standard that is to define all that we do – that standard is LOVE.
Conclusion: Let me conclude by telling you story about John Wesley.One evening after John Wesley had finished preaching a young lady came up toWesley and said, “I think I know what my talent is. It's to speak my mind.”Wesley paused for a few seconds and turned to the young woman and replied, “Idon't think God would mind if you bury that talent.”

1Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P.Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). GrandRapids: Baker Book House.
2Lewis Chafer quoted in Larson, C. B., & Lowery,B. (2009). 1001 quotations that connect: Timeless wisdom for preaching,teaching, and writing (199). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.