Stephenway's blog listings. Feed Zend_Feed_Writer 1.10.8 (http://framework.zend.com) http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway Bible Study- Part 5 Bible Study- Part 5:  The first book of the Bible begins with the story of creation.  It tells us about the first people with an account of their earliest descendants.  There is the account of the Great Flood (or Deluge), and its survivors— Noah, his family, and the animals.  We have the story of the Tower of Babel and how people began to speak different languages and were dispersed throughout the earth.  Then Genesis relates the story of Abraham, his faith in God, and God's promises to him.  The story continues with Abraham's descendants: Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's twelve sons who are the heads of the divisions of the Jewish nation.  Joseph, one of Jacob's sons, is sold into slavery in Egypt.  Later, Joseph becomes a ruler in Egypt and his father, brothers, and their families, all move to Egypt.  This is where Genesis leaves off, and Exodus, the next book in the Bible, begins.

Many Bibles begin their books with an introduction and outline.  Always read this for interesting information that will add much to your study.  From this you can learn more about the title, author, background, and overview of the book.

Early Hebrew Scriptures were not titled, but were referred to by their author and the first word of the book.  Genesis is from the Greek word meaning "origin, source, or beginning."  The Hebrew title is Ber’shiyt which also means ‘in the beginning’.  It is generally accepted that Moses wrote Genesis while he was leading the Israelites (the Jews, or Hebrew people) through the wilderness.  As this time in the wilderness lasted forty years, he had plenty of time for God to guide his hand in writing the first five books of the Bible.

We briefly looked at the contents of Genesis earlier.  Now we will start a simple outline that you will need to add to and may wish to expand on in your study.


Basic Outline: Genesis

I.  Early Events (Chapters 1-11)

II. Abraham's Family (Chapters 12-50)

 

Somewhat Expanded Outline:  GENESIS:

From Creation to a Chosen People

I.  Early Events (Chapters 1-11)

     A.  Creation (1-2)

     B.  Earliest Families (3-5)

     C.  Noah and the Flood (6-9)

     D.  Tower of Babel and Divided People (10-11)

II. Abraham's Family (Chapters 12-50)

     A.  Abraham--

    

     B.  Isaac--

    

     C.  Jacob--

    

     D.  Joseph--

    

Let us now consider a few verses that explain why God created.  Look these verses up as a cross reference study and meditate on the implications.

All creation: Revelation 4:11

Plants and animals: Genesis 1:29-30; 9:2-4

Mankind: Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15; Psalm 8:1-9; Ephesians 2:10; 3:9-11

Let us remember that plants provide oxygen for the breathing of mankind and animals.  Animals serve mankind as beasts of burden.  We will not forget the literal meaning of food as edible for sustenance; but look at food figuratively as well: Plants and animals give beauty to the earth which serves as food to the mind and spirit.

(BTW- it was probably 30- 35 years ago that I wrote this- all of the last several posts came from stuff I wrote for Sunday School classes etc.  I first typed it about that long ago; some years later I typed it all into a word processor and put on a 3 1/2 inch floppy; then some years later I had to format the floppy to be read into an MS Word program.)

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Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:34:49 -0500 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/28/bible_study-_part_5 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/28/bible_study-_part_5 Bible Study- Part 5:  The first book of the Bible begins with the story of creation.  It tells us about the first people with an account of their earliest descendants.  There is the account of the Great Flood (or Deluge), and its survivors— Noah, his family, and the animals.  We have the story of the Tower of Babel and how people began to speak different languages and were dispersed throughout the earth.  Then Genesis relates the story of Abraham, his faith in God, and God's promises to him.  The story continues with Abraham's descendants: Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's twelve sons who are the heads of the divisions of the Jewish nation.  Joseph, one of Jacob's sons, is sold into slavery in Egypt.  Later, Joseph becomes a ruler in Egypt and his father, brothers, and their families, all move to Egypt.  This is where Genesis leaves off, and Exodus, the next book in the Bible, begins.

Many Bibles begin their books with an introduction and outline.  Always read this for interesting information that will add much to your study.  From this you can learn more about the title, author, background, and overview of the book.

Early Hebrew Scriptures were not titled, but were referred to by their author and the first word of the book.  Genesis is from the Greek word meaning "origin, source, or beginning."  The Hebrew title is Ber’shiyt which also means ‘in the beginning’.  It is generally accepted that Moses wrote Genesis while he was leading the Israelites (the Jews, or Hebrew people) through the wilderness.  As this time in the wilderness lasted forty years, he had plenty of time for God to guide his hand in writing the first five books of the Bible.

We briefly looked at the contents of Genesis earlier.  Now we will start a simple outline that you will need to add to and may wish to expand on in your study.


Basic Outline: Genesis

I.  Early Events (Chapters 1-11)

II. Abraham's Family (Chapters 12-50)

 

Somewhat Expanded Outline:  GENESIS:

From Creation to a Chosen People

I.  Early Events (Chapters 1-11)

     A.  Creation (1-2)

     B.  Earliest Families (3-5)

     C.  Noah and the Flood (6-9)

     D.  Tower of Babel and Divided People (10-11)

II. Abraham's Family (Chapters 12-50)

     A.  Abraham--

    

     B.  Isaac--

    

     C.  Jacob--

    

     D.  Joseph--

    

Let us now consider a few verses that explain why God created.  Look these verses up as a cross reference study and meditate on the implications.

All creation: Revelation 4:11

Plants and animals: Genesis 1:29-30; 9:2-4

Mankind: Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15; Psalm 8:1-9; Ephesians 2:10; 3:9-11

Let us remember that plants provide oxygen for the breathing of mankind and animals.  Animals serve mankind as beasts of burden.  We will not forget the literal meaning of food as edible for sustenance; but look at food figuratively as well: Plants and animals give beauty to the earth which serves as food to the mind and spirit.

(BTW- it was probably 30- 35 years ago that I wrote this- all of the last several posts came from stuff I wrote for Sunday School classes etc.  I first typed it about that long ago; some years later I typed it all into a word processor and put on a 3 1/2 inch floppy; then some years later I had to format the floppy to be read into an MS Word program.)

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Bible Study- Part 4 Bible Study- Part 4:  Studying the Bible as an entire unified work can be very rewarding.  First of all read the Bible through as you would a good mystery or science fiction novel.  Use an easy to read version, perhaps one suggested by your pastor.  I would recommend the TODAY'S ENGLISH VERSION, or the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION for your first reading.  This will give you an overall sense of the types of literature you will encounter, as well as how the various books of the Bible are fitted together.

A word of caution is in order here.  The Bible is God's Word.  The Bible says what it means and means what it says.  We should only use different perspectives recognizing that man is not perfect (complete) in his understanding.  We do not need to let the structure of our belief system become so rigid, as the Pharisees did, that we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit through God's Word to correct us when we err.  Also, we do not need to be so open to various worldly ideas, as the Sadducees, that we allow ourselves to be guided by our own ideas, rather than the Holy Spirit's guidance in the teaching of God's Word.  We must maintain a reverent heart, an attitude of prayer, boldness in faith that God will give us direction, and humility in our own knowledge with an open mind to learn from God.

One of your first observations should be that the Bible is divided into two or three main divisions: Old Testament, New Testament, and possibly the Apocrypha.  Altogether there are sixty-six books in the Old and New Testaments: thirty-nine in the Old and twenty-seven in the New.  Before you begin at Genesis 1:1, take the time to read the Preface and Introductions.  This will give you much interesting information.  Also look over the Table of Contents to note arrangement and structure.

The Old Testament is that portion of Scriptures which was written before the birth of Christ.  It is a record of creation, early life, origin and growth of the Jewish nation, God's laws and prophecies, and much Hebrew poetry, philosophy, and theology.  The New Testament begins with the birth, earthly life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son.  It continues with the early history and growth of the church followed by letters written by Christian men to Christians, and concludes with the Revelation, a prophecy given by Jesus to his beloved apostle, John.

If your Bible contains a section called the Apocrypha, this may be inserted between the Old and New Testaments, included after Revelation, or various books may be inserted among the Old Testament books.  This section is not a part of this study, although study methods contained herein may be applied.  The origins of these are not well documented nor attested to by the early church or early Hebrew writers.  Some strong historical inaccuracies are blatant in the Apocrypha.  Some students study these books as examples of literary types and general lessons on moral behavior.  I would caution more serious students of this section to give careful consideration to historical situations and sequence.  Sometimes the historical situation blatantly shows its inaccuracies in this.

The first five books of the Bible are called the Torah, the Pentateuch, Books of Law, or Books of Moses.  They begin with Genesis and continue through Deuteronomy.  The next twelve books are historical writings.  They begin with Joshua and finish with Esther.  Next from Job through the Song of Songs of Solomon are the five books of poetry and wisdom literature.  The Old Testament concludes with seventeen books of prophecy from Isaiah to Malachi.  The first five books of prophecy are called the major prophets and the last twelve minor prophets, not because of the importance of their content, but according to the volume of the authors.

In the New Testament the first five books are history, the first four being accounts of our Lord Jesus Christ by four individual men.  The fifth book records the spread of Christianity with the growth of the early church.  Next we have twenty-one letters to Christians followed by the last book of prophecy as discussed earlier.

The Old Testament was primarily written in Hebrew.  Some portions written after the Babylonian captivity were probably written in the Chaldean language.  After the Jewish captivity and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the earth, all of their Scriptures were translated into many languages.  Major portions of the New Testament were originally written in Hebrew, but there is some disagreement about portions that may have been originally written in Greek.

You will note many verses that you want to write down for future use or study.  There are many and various recurring themes.  I suggest you use a number of multi-theme divided composition books using each section for a different topic.  As you come to a verse you want to make note of, consider its main subject and write that topic down at the top of the page.  Then write the verse down along with any special thoughts or questions you have concerning it.  As you continue reading you will probably have a number of additional verses and thoughts to add to it.  You will probably have a number of verses that will appear repeatedly under various topics.

As your list of verses grow under one topic, you will probably expand your list into sub-topics.  For instance at Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God …," you may wish to set aside a section for the topic "God."  Later you would likely divide this topic into several: "The Names and Titles of God"; "God Is" (including verses about God's virtues and attributes); "God, the Father"; "God, the Son"; "God, the Holy Spirit"; "The Holy Trinity"  A section on Love may be divided into God's love for man, man's love for God, man's love for fellow man, marital love, and love for enemies.

It would also be helpful to set aside a composition book for outlining.  As you read you can make notes of events and their passages and use this information in formulating your own summaries and outlines.

A few interesting facts available in practically all books written about Bible study may enhance your interest.  The Bible message, as we have it today, was written over a period of approximately sixteen hundred years.  There were approximately thirty-five to forty human transcribers from various backgrounds and occupations.  These include: scribe, farmer, priest, fisherman, doctor, ruler, king, soldier, servant.  The Bible has many stories including the story of creation, action stories, love stories, poetry, law, history, and wisdom.  But for all the stories, there is one main story— the story of the faithful God dealing with unfaithful mankind.  Though many sermons have been preached, there is one main message— that God offers redemption to mankind.  The Bible will always be relevant.

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Tue, 28 Jul 2015 05:52:08 -0500 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/28/bible_study-_part_4 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/28/bible_study-_part_4 Bible Study- Part 4:  Studying the Bible as an entire unified work can be very rewarding.  First of all read the Bible through as you would a good mystery or science fiction novel.  Use an easy to read version, perhaps one suggested by your pastor.  I would recommend the TODAY'S ENGLISH VERSION, or the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION for your first reading.  This will give you an overall sense of the types of literature you will encounter, as well as how the various books of the Bible are fitted together.

A word of caution is in order here.  The Bible is God's Word.  The Bible says what it means and means what it says.  We should only use different perspectives recognizing that man is not perfect (complete) in his understanding.  We do not need to let the structure of our belief system become so rigid, as the Pharisees did, that we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit through God's Word to correct us when we err.  Also, we do not need to be so open to various worldly ideas, as the Sadducees, that we allow ourselves to be guided by our own ideas, rather than the Holy Spirit's guidance in the teaching of God's Word.  We must maintain a reverent heart, an attitude of prayer, boldness in faith that God will give us direction, and humility in our own knowledge with an open mind to learn from God.

One of your first observations should be that the Bible is divided into two or three main divisions: Old Testament, New Testament, and possibly the Apocrypha.  Altogether there are sixty-six books in the Old and New Testaments: thirty-nine in the Old and twenty-seven in the New.  Before you begin at Genesis 1:1, take the time to read the Preface and Introductions.  This will give you much interesting information.  Also look over the Table of Contents to note arrangement and structure.

The Old Testament is that portion of Scriptures which was written before the birth of Christ.  It is a record of creation, early life, origin and growth of the Jewish nation, God's laws and prophecies, and much Hebrew poetry, philosophy, and theology.  The New Testament begins with the birth, earthly life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son.  It continues with the early history and growth of the church followed by letters written by Christian men to Christians, and concludes with the Revelation, a prophecy given by Jesus to his beloved apostle, John.

If your Bible contains a section called the Apocrypha, this may be inserted between the Old and New Testaments, included after Revelation, or various books may be inserted among the Old Testament books.  This section is not a part of this study, although study methods contained herein may be applied.  The origins of these are not well documented nor attested to by the early church or early Hebrew writers.  Some strong historical inaccuracies are blatant in the Apocrypha.  Some students study these books as examples of literary types and general lessons on moral behavior.  I would caution more serious students of this section to give careful consideration to historical situations and sequence.  Sometimes the historical situation blatantly shows its inaccuracies in this.

The first five books of the Bible are called the Torah, the Pentateuch, Books of Law, or Books of Moses.  They begin with Genesis and continue through Deuteronomy.  The next twelve books are historical writings.  They begin with Joshua and finish with Esther.  Next from Job through the Song of Songs of Solomon are the five books of poetry and wisdom literature.  The Old Testament concludes with seventeen books of prophecy from Isaiah to Malachi.  The first five books of prophecy are called the major prophets and the last twelve minor prophets, not because of the importance of their content, but according to the volume of the authors.

In the New Testament the first five books are history, the first four being accounts of our Lord Jesus Christ by four individual men.  The fifth book records the spread of Christianity with the growth of the early church.  Next we have twenty-one letters to Christians followed by the last book of prophecy as discussed earlier.

The Old Testament was primarily written in Hebrew.  Some portions written after the Babylonian captivity were probably written in the Chaldean language.  After the Jewish captivity and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the earth, all of their Scriptures were translated into many languages.  Major portions of the New Testament were originally written in Hebrew, but there is some disagreement about portions that may have been originally written in Greek.

You will note many verses that you want to write down for future use or study.  There are many and various recurring themes.  I suggest you use a number of multi-theme divided composition books using each section for a different topic.  As you come to a verse you want to make note of, consider its main subject and write that topic down at the top of the page.  Then write the verse down along with any special thoughts or questions you have concerning it.  As you continue reading you will probably have a number of additional verses and thoughts to add to it.  You will probably have a number of verses that will appear repeatedly under various topics.

As your list of verses grow under one topic, you will probably expand your list into sub-topics.  For instance at Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God …," you may wish to set aside a section for the topic "God."  Later you would likely divide this topic into several: "The Names and Titles of God"; "God Is" (including verses about God's virtues and attributes); "God, the Father"; "God, the Son"; "God, the Holy Spirit"; "The Holy Trinity"  A section on Love may be divided into God's love for man, man's love for God, man's love for fellow man, marital love, and love for enemies.

It would also be helpful to set aside a composition book for outlining.  As you read you can make notes of events and their passages and use this information in formulating your own summaries and outlines.

A few interesting facts available in practically all books written about Bible study may enhance your interest.  The Bible message, as we have it today, was written over a period of approximately sixteen hundred years.  There were approximately thirty-five to forty human transcribers from various backgrounds and occupations.  These include: scribe, farmer, priest, fisherman, doctor, ruler, king, soldier, servant.  The Bible has many stories including the story of creation, action stories, love stories, poetry, law, history, and wisdom.  But for all the stories, there is one main story— the story of the faithful God dealing with unfaithful mankind.  Though many sermons have been preached, there is one main message— that God offers redemption to mankind.  The Bible will always be relevant.

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Bible Study- Part 3 Part 3 in this Bible Study series I want to discuss some tools that can be very useful in understanding the Bible.  Many of the tools below may be very expensive to purchase, but most are available for free on many web-sites.  Simply type Bible study into your search box.

Some tools that may enhance study can be invaluable.  A concordance is a listing of words found in the Bible with references to where these words may be found in the Bible.  This can be especially helpful if you are studying a particular word or subject, or if you can remember part or all of a verse, but cannot remember where it is located.  Many Bibles have a short concordance in the back.  More complete concordances can be purchased.  If you buy a concordance, make sure it matches the version of the Bible you are using.  A little more will be said about versions later.  Concordances are also very valuable in cross referencing, which will be discussed later.

Another good tool is a Bible dictionary for Biblical terms the student is not familiar with, or finding more information about a word or subject.  Bible atlases are available from pamphlet size to large volumes.  Most atlases contain not only maps showing geography, political boundaries, and locations mentioned in the Bible, but also texts that discuss land features, weather, culture, and history associated with the maps.  Several good Bible handbooks available which give summaries of passages throughout the Bible with essays on archaeology, chronology, and certain problematic issues.

The best way to overview the many Bible study helps available is to browse through the nearest Christian book store.  Salespeople there can be very helpful in getting you started with basic resources or more advanced volumes.  There are also Christian book listings and stores online.

Many believe, and I agree, that the best way to interpret the Scripture is through the Scriptures.  First see what the text says, and then see how this compares with other texts.  Select a passage of your choice.  What specifically does this passage say?  Is the passage general information, moral instruction, a history lesson, or revealing something future?  Who wrote the passage?  If someone is speaking in the passage, what do you know about the speaker, who the speaker is speaking to, their circumstances, and the message of the speaker?  Does the passage immediately before or after the passage chosen add anything to the meaning of your study focus?  Next, do you see any way that your passage can add meaning to your life today, or can the situation in your passage be compared to situations you see in your own life or others' lives?

Cross referencing is a way to use other passages to clarify a meaning or add more information for your study.  This involves finding other verses or passages throughout the Bible related to certain words or subjects in your study text.  Many Bibles contain their own referencing system in the left, right, or center column, or in footnotes.  This is called chain referencing.  The references cited relate to the verse, or a word or subject within the verse.  When you go to the reference and read it, there may be another reference to yet another related verse, and so on.  Concordances are very useful in cross referencing.

There is much to be gained from Bible study in considering passages from different perspectives.  This can be done in many ways.  (1) Read a passage and see what it says literally.  Consider whether any of it may be metaphorical (figurative).  Meditate on the passage and sometimes think, "What if …"  This can open our minds somewhat so they do not become too rigidly set in dogma, and offer more opportunity for perspectives.  (2) Check for verses that can be cross referenced with your passage.  These will give you more perspective.  (3) Read what others have written on this passage.  There is a great deal of church literature written on every verse in the Bible.  There are many books written on the Bible: some from a devotional attitude, and some, such as handbooks and commentaries, which have varying degrees of in-depth research.  (4) Using different study methods can offer new perspectives.  (5) Studying a verse or passage from different versions can add depth of meaning and perspectives.

Many people are unsure or even suspicious that there are so many versions of the Bible.  It is best to discuss which version is best with your pastor or priest.  Some groups are very limited as to which versions they accept.  I love the King James Version, but sometimes its wording can be ambiguous and sentences can be very long.  I like to use the English Standard Version, but which version is best for the individual may depend on how familiar the reader is with the Scriptures.  The Today’s English Version is a good simplified reading, but direct translation from the original languages is not the best.  The New International Version is, in my opinion a good one, though there are many who disagree.  (To any international readers, I am not familiar with Bibles printed other than in the English language.)  There are updated versions of the King James Version that are easier to read, though I am still fond of the older (1789) version.  Be careful to see that your version is labeled as a ‘version’ or ‘translation’ and not labeled as a ‘paraphrase’.  The Way was popular at one time, but it is only a ‘paraphrase’ and I would not recommend any paraphrase for study as they do not generally refer back to the original languages and are more likely to stray from the original intention.

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Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:03:10 -0500 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/27/bible_study-_part_3 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/27/bible_study-_part_3 Part 3 in this Bible Study series I want to discuss some tools that can be very useful in understanding the Bible.  Many of the tools below may be very expensive to purchase, but most are available for free on many web-sites.  Simply type Bible study into your search box.

Some tools that may enhance study can be invaluable.  A concordance is a listing of words found in the Bible with references to where these words may be found in the Bible.  This can be especially helpful if you are studying a particular word or subject, or if you can remember part or all of a verse, but cannot remember where it is located.  Many Bibles have a short concordance in the back.  More complete concordances can be purchased.  If you buy a concordance, make sure it matches the version of the Bible you are using.  A little more will be said about versions later.  Concordances are also very valuable in cross referencing, which will be discussed later.

Another good tool is a Bible dictionary for Biblical terms the student is not familiar with, or finding more information about a word or subject.  Bible atlases are available from pamphlet size to large volumes.  Most atlases contain not only maps showing geography, political boundaries, and locations mentioned in the Bible, but also texts that discuss land features, weather, culture, and history associated with the maps.  Several good Bible handbooks available which give summaries of passages throughout the Bible with essays on archaeology, chronology, and certain problematic issues.

The best way to overview the many Bible study helps available is to browse through the nearest Christian book store.  Salespeople there can be very helpful in getting you started with basic resources or more advanced volumes.  There are also Christian book listings and stores online.

Many believe, and I agree, that the best way to interpret the Scripture is through the Scriptures.  First see what the text says, and then see how this compares with other texts.  Select a passage of your choice.  What specifically does this passage say?  Is the passage general information, moral instruction, a history lesson, or revealing something future?  Who wrote the passage?  If someone is speaking in the passage, what do you know about the speaker, who the speaker is speaking to, their circumstances, and the message of the speaker?  Does the passage immediately before or after the passage chosen add anything to the meaning of your study focus?  Next, do you see any way that your passage can add meaning to your life today, or can the situation in your passage be compared to situations you see in your own life or others' lives?

Cross referencing is a way to use other passages to clarify a meaning or add more information for your study.  This involves finding other verses or passages throughout the Bible related to certain words or subjects in your study text.  Many Bibles contain their own referencing system in the left, right, or center column, or in footnotes.  This is called chain referencing.  The references cited relate to the verse, or a word or subject within the verse.  When you go to the reference and read it, there may be another reference to yet another related verse, and so on.  Concordances are very useful in cross referencing.

There is much to be gained from Bible study in considering passages from different perspectives.  This can be done in many ways.  (1) Read a passage and see what it says literally.  Consider whether any of it may be metaphorical (figurative).  Meditate on the passage and sometimes think, "What if …"  This can open our minds somewhat so they do not become too rigidly set in dogma, and offer more opportunity for perspectives.  (2) Check for verses that can be cross referenced with your passage.  These will give you more perspective.  (3) Read what others have written on this passage.  There is a great deal of church literature written on every verse in the Bible.  There are many books written on the Bible: some from a devotional attitude, and some, such as handbooks and commentaries, which have varying degrees of in-depth research.  (4) Using different study methods can offer new perspectives.  (5) Studying a verse or passage from different versions can add depth of meaning and perspectives.

Many people are unsure or even suspicious that there are so many versions of the Bible.  It is best to discuss which version is best with your pastor or priest.  Some groups are very limited as to which versions they accept.  I love the King James Version, but sometimes its wording can be ambiguous and sentences can be very long.  I like to use the English Standard Version, but which version is best for the individual may depend on how familiar the reader is with the Scriptures.  The Today’s English Version is a good simplified reading, but direct translation from the original languages is not the best.  The New International Version is, in my opinion a good one, though there are many who disagree.  (To any international readers, I am not familiar with Bibles printed other than in the English language.)  There are updated versions of the King James Version that are easier to read, though I am still fond of the older (1789) version.  Be careful to see that your version is labeled as a ‘version’ or ‘translation’ and not labeled as a ‘paraphrase’.  The Way was popular at one time, but it is only a ‘paraphrase’ and I would not recommend any paraphrase for study as they do not generally refer back to the original languages and are more likely to stray from the original intention.

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Bible Study- Part 2 Bible Study- Part 2:  Many people are interested in Bible study, but are not sure of the best way to approach it.  Though there are many ways available, sometimes it is simply a matter of selecting the way that to the Bible student is most convenient, interesting, or suitable to his/her purpose.  Sunday School teachers may be looking for a fresh way to present material to their classes.

Some people may be intimidated by the size of the volume or its perceived complexity.  By concentrating on a small passage each day, in time one will be looking forward to a daily communion with God involving not only his words to Him in prayer, but His Word to him in the Bible.  Before long the reader will see that the size of the volume has greatly diminished.  As to complexity, I do not know that anyone in this life will ever develop a perfect understanding of its total message.  From time to time there may be a portion that may be read and pondered, but we just have to say, "Well, Lord, one day when You are ready (or I am ready to understand), I will understand."  On a daily basis many passages which were once seen as too complex to understand will open up to us to add more meaning and purpose in our day to day living.

Some people say that since there are so many different denominations teaching different things from the Bible, and there are so many things they do not agree on, then who really knows what the right answers are?  Do not be concerned so much with what other people or denominations believe.  The important thing is for each individual to study and believe that God has a message for each individual.  Even though different denominations do not agree on every issue, most all agree on the importance of certain concepts and that the Bible is God's True Word and has a personal message for each individual.

What is important to each person today is not so much what the Bible says to collective bodies in each denomination, but what does God say to YOU personally.  No denomination within itself is to be the sole (or is that soul?) basis of a person's relationship with the Creator.  Each family and each individual within the family needs to understand the importance of cultivating his own relationship with the Lord.  Jesus is concerned that His collective church worships together.  Jesus also wants each person to spend time with Him personally.  Jesus loves the church.  Jesus also loves each individual personally.

The most advanced Bible scholar will admit that he is only a Bible student.  When a Bible student becomes puffed up with pride in his knowledge of the Bible, he is being impudent; and herein is the seed of cultism.  God's ways and wisdom are so far above man's ways and wisdom, that we can only marvel at the nuggets of Truth we discover as we come to understand them.  You may know someone whose knowledge of the Bible you have a great deal of respect for.  Yet each person is obligated to study the Bible as an individual.  Do not try to believe things simply because someone you respect, or some group you belong to believes them.  Learn what it is you really believe, and why you believe it.

Many people read various novels from mystery to science fiction.  After finishing they remember the people, situations, basic story line, and plot.  Have you ever sat down and read the Bible from beginning to end as you would a novel?  Doing so, without trying to interpret or analyze any particular verse or passage, can be very rewarding and will give you a sense of involvement in the action.  You will have an overall sense of the Bible's message, and more of a feeling of being at home in the Bible later when you begin doing more in depth studies.  Also it can give you new directions to go in study.  If you have not done so, I would encourage you to take the time to read it straight through from beginning to end before attempting particular studies.

There are certain essentials to Bible study, certain extras to enhance Bible study, and then there are in-depth studies that utilize commentaries with historical, political, Hebrew/Greek, word, and subject studies.  Among the essentials is a quiet time with no distractions.  This allows for concentration and moments of meditation.  Begin with personal prayer to establish two-way communication between God and yourself.  Sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.  A clearly printed Bible with a good type size makes for comfortable reading.  Some fancy printing styles may be beautiful, but over time makes reading tiresome; that is why I said "clearly printed."  Naturally it would be unfruitful to expect a serious Bible study without a reverent heart.  A last very important ingredient for a good Bible study is pen and paper.  Many good thoughts are lost to memory because they are not written down.  Write down a verse you may use later or cross-reference with another passage.  Write down thoughts and impressions you may want to remember or study deeper later.

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Mon, 27 Jul 2015 07:04:46 -0500 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/27/bible_study-_part_2 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/27/bible_study-_part_2 Bible Study- Part 2:  Many people are interested in Bible study, but are not sure of the best way to approach it.  Though there are many ways available, sometimes it is simply a matter of selecting the way that to the Bible student is most convenient, interesting, or suitable to his/her purpose.  Sunday School teachers may be looking for a fresh way to present material to their classes.

Some people may be intimidated by the size of the volume or its perceived complexity.  By concentrating on a small passage each day, in time one will be looking forward to a daily communion with God involving not only his words to Him in prayer, but His Word to him in the Bible.  Before long the reader will see that the size of the volume has greatly diminished.  As to complexity, I do not know that anyone in this life will ever develop a perfect understanding of its total message.  From time to time there may be a portion that may be read and pondered, but we just have to say, "Well, Lord, one day when You are ready (or I am ready to understand), I will understand."  On a daily basis many passages which were once seen as too complex to understand will open up to us to add more meaning and purpose in our day to day living.

Some people say that since there are so many different denominations teaching different things from the Bible, and there are so many things they do not agree on, then who really knows what the right answers are?  Do not be concerned so much with what other people or denominations believe.  The important thing is for each individual to study and believe that God has a message for each individual.  Even though different denominations do not agree on every issue, most all agree on the importance of certain concepts and that the Bible is God's True Word and has a personal message for each individual.

What is important to each person today is not so much what the Bible says to collective bodies in each denomination, but what does God say to YOU personally.  No denomination within itself is to be the sole (or is that soul?) basis of a person's relationship with the Creator.  Each family and each individual within the family needs to understand the importance of cultivating his own relationship with the Lord.  Jesus is concerned that His collective church worships together.  Jesus also wants each person to spend time with Him personally.  Jesus loves the church.  Jesus also loves each individual personally.

The most advanced Bible scholar will admit that he is only a Bible student.  When a Bible student becomes puffed up with pride in his knowledge of the Bible, he is being impudent; and herein is the seed of cultism.  God's ways and wisdom are so far above man's ways and wisdom, that we can only marvel at the nuggets of Truth we discover as we come to understand them.  You may know someone whose knowledge of the Bible you have a great deal of respect for.  Yet each person is obligated to study the Bible as an individual.  Do not try to believe things simply because someone you respect, or some group you belong to believes them.  Learn what it is you really believe, and why you believe it.

Many people read various novels from mystery to science fiction.  After finishing they remember the people, situations, basic story line, and plot.  Have you ever sat down and read the Bible from beginning to end as you would a novel?  Doing so, without trying to interpret or analyze any particular verse or passage, can be very rewarding and will give you a sense of involvement in the action.  You will have an overall sense of the Bible's message, and more of a feeling of being at home in the Bible later when you begin doing more in depth studies.  Also it can give you new directions to go in study.  If you have not done so, I would encourage you to take the time to read it straight through from beginning to end before attempting particular studies.

There are certain essentials to Bible study, certain extras to enhance Bible study, and then there are in-depth studies that utilize commentaries with historical, political, Hebrew/Greek, word, and subject studies.  Among the essentials is a quiet time with no distractions.  This allows for concentration and moments of meditation.  Begin with personal prayer to establish two-way communication between God and yourself.  Sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.  A clearly printed Bible with a good type size makes for comfortable reading.  Some fancy printing styles may be beautiful, but over time makes reading tiresome; that is why I said "clearly printed."  Naturally it would be unfruitful to expect a serious Bible study without a reverent heart.  A last very important ingredient for a good Bible study is pen and paper.  Many good thoughts are lost to memory because they are not written down.  Write down a verse you may use later or cross-reference with another passage.  Write down thoughts and impressions you may want to remember or study deeper later.

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Why Study the Bible? One may ask, "Why should I study the Bible?"  We study the Bible to learn of God.  We study to learn more about God's mercy in salvation.  We study to learn our Christian heritage.  We study to find commitment and become equipped for service in knowledge, steadfastness, humility, strength, encouragement, hope, and courage.

Why study the Bible?  We are so busy living our lives.  What do we know about our lives and living?  What do we know about why we are here or what is expected of us?  The Bible is the message from our Creator that answers such questions.  It does not necessarily answer every question we may ask, but it gives the answers our Creator wants us to have.

It is not written in question and answer format because our Creator does not want to make it so simple to be approached.  He wants us to feel a yearning need for Him, to call upon Him, and to search for Him.  But too many people are too busy living their lives to spend much time with the One who created them.  They are too busy taking care of business to concern themselves with reason and purpose.  If all there is to life is to be born, live (exist), and get along well with self and others while living (existing), and then comes death, then life would be lacking any real meaning.  But still too many people seem to be too busy living to concern themselves with meaning.

Whereas many people feel the Bible to be too complex to understand, the Bible was intended to be a light to guide our lives.  Yet people in darkness will often turn away from the Light.  The Lord wants people to search for Him with a sincere heart, not half-heartedly.  The Bible is not so complex but only appears to be, so that only those who are sincere about a deeper relationship with the Lord can appreciate the search.  For those who search deeper, the Lord's Spirit comes to guide the way.

The Bible records a great deal about human nature.  Human nature since birth has been surrounded by worldly wisdom and conditioning.  This is what David was talking about when he said, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5)  Mankind is arrogant and takes foolish pride in his own wisdom.  Mankind glories in working out intricate mathematical and scientific deductions.  "See how intellectual we are!  See how much we have achieved!"  People love to work out complexities that make them look intellectual.  Some people come to the Bible seeking to work out its complexities.  Communion with the Creator is so simple, many people overlook it.

God's Word records much about human nature to demonstrate the folly of human nature in worldly wisdom.  Human nature is not recorded in the Bible to explain the complexities of human nature, but to show man how vain, futile, and unreliable human nature is.  Knowing God is simple, but one does not come to know God until he/she has a sincere and humble heart.  Human nature is recorded in the Bible, and is very complex and generally, anything but humble.  God's Message of love, redemption, and communion with Him is very simple.

Many people feel they are not "good enough" to understand.  I have felt that way many times.  In the final analysis this is one of the key ingredients to understanding God's Word.  We are not "good enough" in our own rights to approach God.  This feeling of not being "good enough" is part of being humble before God.  Something else to be considered here: how do we respond to this feeling of "not good enough"?  Do we become so discouraged, we give up on our search for the Creator?  Or do we confess our unworthiness and press on for God's love, mercy, and forgiveness?

God's Word is simple.  It is human nature that man will never understand.  Bible study records a lot about human nature, so that is why is seems complex.  David, a man after God's own heart, said, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people." (Psalm 22:6)  But David did not stop there.  He went on to say that those who seek the Lord shall praise Him and live forever. (Psalm 22:26)  Paul, the great missionary, said, "I know that in me (in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing...  O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18, 24)  Paul went on, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord …" (Romans 7:25)

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Sun, 26 Jul 2015 17:12:38 -0500 http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/26/why_study_the_bible http://community.beliefnet.com/stephenway/blog/2015/07/26/why_study_the_bible One may ask, "Why should I study the Bible?"  We study the Bible to learn of God.  We study to learn more about God's mercy in salvation.  We study to learn our Christian heritage.  We study to find commitment and become equipped for service in knowledge, steadfastness, humility, strength, encouragement, hope, and courage.

Why study the Bible?  We are so busy living our lives.  What do we know about our lives and living?  What do we know about why we are here or what is expected of us?  The Bible is the message from our Creator that answers such questions.  It does not necessarily answer every question we may ask, but it gives the answers our Creator wants us to have.

It is not written in question and answer format because our Creator does not want to make it so simple to be approached.  He wants us to feel a yearning need for Him, to call upon Him, and to search for Him.  But too many people are too busy living their lives to spend much time with the One who created them.  They are too busy taking care of business to concern themselves with reason and purpose.  If all there is to life is to be born, live (exist), and get along well with self and others while living (existing), and then comes death, then life would be lacking any real meaning.  But still too many people seem to be too busy living to concern themselves with meaning.

Whereas many people feel the Bible to be too complex to understand, the Bible was intended to be a light to guide our lives.  Yet people in darkness will often turn away from the Light.  The Lord wants people to search for Him with a sincere heart, not half-heartedly.  The Bible is not so complex but only appears to be, so that only those who are sincere about a deeper relationship with the Lord can appreciate the search.  For those who search deeper, the Lord's Spirit comes to guide the way.

The Bible records a great deal about human nature.  Human nature since birth has been surrounded by worldly wisdom and conditioning.  This is what David was talking about when he said, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5)  Mankind is arrogant and takes foolish pride in his own wisdom.  Mankind glories in working out intricate mathematical and scientific deductions.  "See how intellectual we are!  See how much we have achieved!"  People love to work out complexities that make them look intellectual.  Some people come to the Bible seeking to work out its complexities.  Communion with the Creator is so simple, many people overlook it.

God's Word records much about human nature to demonstrate the folly of human nature in worldly wisdom.  Human nature is not recorded in the Bible to explain the complexities of human nature, but to show man how vain, futile, and unreliable human nature is.  Knowing God is simple, but one does not come to know God until he/she has a sincere and humble heart.  Human nature is recorded in the Bible, and is very complex and generally, anything but humble.  God's Message of love, redemption, and communion with Him is very simple.

Many people feel they are not "good enough" to understand.  I have felt that way many times.  In the final analysis this is one of the key ingredients to understanding God's Word.  We are not "good enough" in our own rights to approach God.  This feeling of not being "good enough" is part of being humble before God.  Something else to be considered here: how do we respond to this feeling of "not good enough"?  Do we become so discouraged, we give up on our search for the Creator?  Or do we confess our unworthiness and press on for God's love, mercy, and forgiveness?

God's Word is simple.  It is human nature that man will never understand.  Bible study records a lot about human nature, so that is why is seems complex.  David, a man after God's own heart, said, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people." (Psalm 22:6)  But David did not stop there.  He went on to say that those who seek the Lord shall praise Him and live forever. (Psalm 22:26)  Paul, the great missionary, said, "I know that in me (in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing...  O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18, 24)  Paul went on, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord …" (Romans 7:25)

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