Tag archives: Bible

New Blog Series: Ways to Read the Bible

by Family Research Council

August 24, 2020

Are you looking to grow closer in your relationship with Jesus Christ, and in your knowledge of God’s word? Family Research Council has a 3-part series titled “Ways to Read the Bible.” This blog series shares helpful ways to be encouraged and directed by God’s truth by observing the text of the Bible and applying it to your life. There is no better time than now to get to know God through his word and to learn what it says about yourself, God, and humanity. Check out this helpful resource and learn how to read the Bible with not just your eyes, but with your heart and mind also.

Prayer Point #8: Pray for a Posture of Trust

by David Closson

May 18, 2020

The world is reeling from the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For many, our entire way of life has been upended by a novel virus that health experts say presents a particular risk to our elderly and immunocompromised friends and neighbors.

As Christians, we know that one of our greatest spiritual weapons is prayer (Eph. 6:18). But what exactly should Christians pray about amidst these trying times? FRC’s President, Tony Perkins, recently released nine prayer points to guide us in prayer. Each point provides a specific way for Christians to pray during the ongoing crisis.

As many parts of the United States and the world begin transitioning out of lockdown and returning to semi-normal operations, Christians have an excellent opportunity to model trust in God’s providence and provision to their friends and neighbors. Trusting God amid hardship is not always easy. But the Bible provides us with many encouraging reminders that can sustain and strengthen our faith. By reminding ourselves of these truths, Christians can maintain quiet confidence in God’s purposes, even as we face an uncertain future.

First, it is important to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). Throughout the Bible, God exhorts His followers not to be afraid, and He often ties these encouragements with timely reminders of His presence. Christians should take these promises to heart and pray for enduring faith during this season of heightened fear, anxiety, and confusion. Appropriate precautions should be taken; however, Christians should not live crippled by fear. Rather, we should seize the opportunity to model faith in God as we trust His purposes and plans (Rom. 8:28).

Second, believers should remember what the Bible says about trusting God. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of droughts, for it does not cease to bear fruits.” Another well-known verse that inspires trust in God is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God promised the Israelites, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2). And in the New Testament, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers to “not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26). Through these verses and others, God reminds us that He is with us, even amid challenging circumstances, and will neither leave nor forsake us (cf. Hebrews 13:5).

Third, Christians honor God by modeling a respectful posture toward those in positions of authority. By doing this, Christians recognize an important principle of political theology: that God instituted the governing authorities. Despite occasionally being frustrated by or disappointed in our leaders, Christians must commit to praying for them, remembering: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). President Trump’s plan to reopen America delegates significant decision-making power to state and local authorities. We should pray for these leaders as they seek to balance reopening the economy with public health and safety.

In the coming weeks, Christians have an incredible opportunity to model what sincere trust in God looks like. Although Christians are facing the same challenges as everyone else, we can have peace and confidence that surpasses all understanding if we stay rooted in the character and promises of God (Philippians 4:7). And hopefully, when we look back on these times in the months and years to come, we will be able to see God’s good hand of providence and how these difficult days produced opportunities for gospel advancement that would have been impossible any other way. Let us trust God to preserve and keep us as we lean on Him in these difficult days.

For more thoughts about trusting God during the coronavirus pandemic, see my Washington Update article “Choosing Faith over Fear.” Or listen to my recent conversation with FRC’s president, Tony Perkins, on Washington Watch about having a biblical perspective and looking to God, not our circumstances, during trying times.

In This Season of Loss, God Wants to Hear Our Hearts

by Adelaide Holmes

April 17, 2020

With lockdowns and stay at home orders in place, the coronavirus is affecting everyone’s life, and Christians are not exempt from the sorrows that the world is experiencing. Ever since the fall into sin in Genesis 3, death, loss, and grief have been a common human experience.

Even so, many Christians are hesitant to admit their disappointment or sorrow. This is because we often believe that grief shows a lack of faith in God. But the lamentations throughout Scripture disprove this misguided perception. In fact, the Bible contains many examples of people lamenting. Even Jesus wept openly over the death of his friend Lazarus (Luke 10:35). Experiencing grief reminds us that this world is not as it’s supposed to be. But Scripture also teaches that everything—including our grief—can work together for good (Rom. 8:28). In this coronavirus season, it’s time that Christians learned how to lament and embrace their sorrow as a way to hope in God.

Death, sickness, and suffering afflict everyone: Christians and unbelievers alike. But as Christians encounter afflictions, their grief should be different than an unbeliever’s. In Mark Vroegop’s article “Dare to Hope in God” he says, “To cry is human, but to lament is Christian.” Lamenting is different than natural grief because it turns grief into a prayer. Through the three stages of a lamentation—crying out to God, asking for help, and responding in trust and praise—Christians learn to be real with God about our pain, rely on Him, and acknowledge our trust in Him.

In the first step of lament, God invites us to cry out to Him. This is difficult for some Christians who believe we must approach the throne of God in a put-together fashion. This most certainly excludes deep grief. But we forget that God knows our every thought, and our darkness is not dark to Him (Ps. 139:2, 12). God is not put off by our grief or the possible doubts that accompany it. He wants to hear our heart. In this season, almost everyone is experiencing loss: loss of a loved one, a job, not being able to visit sick or elderly family members, loss of wedding plans, graduation ceremonies, and sport seasons for athletes and spectators. Everyone is affected in some way by this virus, and it is painful. No grievance is too little or big for God. We can tell God we’re frustrated, deeply hurting, or angered by changes or loss.

A biblical example of someone honestly voicing their aching heart to God is found in Psalm 10. In this passage, the psalmist boldly asks God, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). Clearly, the writer feels abandoned by God and candidly tells Him: I don’t feel You here. This cry—and the affirmation of God’s goodness expressed at the psalm’s conclusion—demonstrate an important truth: God can handle our strongest emotions, even when we struggle to believe His promises.

Second, a lament’s raw cry to God is followed by a request for help. Sometimes we are uncomfortable with being needy towards God. But this is the foundation of the gospel: that we need Jesus to restore us to God. Paul reminds us that if God did “not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God is a good Father who encourages us to ask (Matt. 7:7-11). Whether we are asking God to provide the means to pay for groceries during this economic recession, asking for healing for a dying family member, or asking for a way to see college friends or a significant other, we do not need to be ashamed of the request, regardless of its perceived importance. He promises that He will supply every need of ours (Phil. 4:19).

This truth is evidenced again by the psalmist when he pleads with God: “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted” (Ps. 10:12). Evidently, there were times in the writer’s life when he needed help. He knew that God was able to rescue him from any situation, so he persisted and didn’t hold back in asking his Creator for help.

The final stage of a lamentation focuses on expressing praise to God and declaring our trust in Him. Despite our feelings, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). When we praise God for how He specifically provided in our personal lives or praise Him for the promises that He gives us in His Word, we shift our minds from our changing and uncertain situations to the unchanging, faithful Savior. While God wants to hear our worries about the coronavirus or hear about what is breaking our heart in this season of loss, His deeper desire is to see us learn to rely on Him, regardless of our situation.

Despite the psalmist’s own feelings that God had abandoned him, he ends by saying, “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more” (Ps. 10:17-18).

As the coronavirus continues to rage around the globe, Christians must remember that we can grieve the losses in our lives. Whatever the loss, God wants to hear our hearts. In this stretching and trying time, it is important to be honest with God about our pain and learn to rely on Him for help. As we do this, we can say with David, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5-6).

Ways to Read the Bible (Part 3): Inductive Bible Study

by Patrina Mosley

April 16, 2020

Read Part 1 and Part 2

Now, finally, we will take a brief look at how to study the Bible using the inductive method. Bible study, particularly with the inductive method we will be learning here, is where you are spending time looking into the Bible to see what it says about itself, God, and humanity. You are letting the word of God speak for itself. We accomplish this through tools and learning skills to help us “observe the text, dig out the meaning, and then apply it to our lives.” The three basic steps of the inductive Bible study method are: Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

There are a range of questions to ask the Scriptures throughout these steps, but this will be an overview to help get you started. If you’re looking to deepen your grasp of the three steps, I would highly encourage you to read Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word. She is a prolific author, speaker, and teacher of the inductive Bible study method and President of Precept Ministries that teaches people all over the world how to study and know the Bible for themselves.

Let’s get started!

Prayer: Pray “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Psalms 119:18).

Tip: If you are new to this method, it is recommended you start practicing this method with a short book of the Bible, like the Book of James, for instance.

Step 1: Observation (What does this passage say?)

This is the foundation. This is where we are not only reading the Bible with our eyes, but also with our minds. Here you are reading and re-reading (repetition is the key to observation and understanding) to observe the context, discovering what the biblical author intended to communicate to their original audience. Understanding the context is key before making an interpretation and application. Without establishing proper context, we can easily read into the text what we want it to say based on our assumptions and experiences. This can (and unfortunately throughout church history has) lead to unbiblical and heretical applications of the text. The inductive Bible study method has developed some categories and questions to help you look more closely at the text and establish an accurate context that will serve as the basis for your interpretation and application: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

  • Who: Who is the author? Major ideas?
  • When: When was it written?
  • Where: Where was this done?
  • Why: Why was there a need for this to be written?
  • How: How was it done? How did it happen?

You are also observing:

  • Words that are repeated multiple times in a passage
  • Anything written as a list
  • Words that indicate a change in topic or time
  • Words that contrast one thing against another
  • Words that indicate cause and effect

Here you are learning the historical background, dates, key people, and whatever information the text plainly gives. This helps in setting up the context for accurate interpretation. This is where a good study Bible comes in handy because they often provide summaries at the beginning of each book that details a lot of this information.

More on step 1 can be found here.

Step 2: Interpretation (What does this passage mean?)

Here you are seeking to understand what the biblical author meant to communicate to his original audience by understanding the historical and cultural background of the text.

This may mean looking up words you do not understand in a good “Bible Dictionary” or using a “concordance” to cross-reference to other passages for better clarity and understanding. Again, this is where having a good study Bible that combines all these tools is helpful. The best interpretation of Scripture is Scripture. Letting Scripture interpret Scripture means considering the passage in light of the surrounding verses and chapters, the book in which it is found, and the entire word of God.  If you’ve already taken the step of reading the Bible from start-to-finish, you will already have a fuller understanding of God’s over-arching story, which is the context needed to interpret the Scriptures. You will find yourself remembering themes, characters, references to things in the past, and more. You will simply have a more complete context before digging into the nitty-gritty of a specific passage. Therefore, when seeking to know what something means, ask yourself (as Kay Arthur has written): “Is my interpretation consistent with the theme, purpose, and structure of the book in which it is found? Is it consistent with other scriptures about the same subject? Am I considering the historical and cultural context of what is being said?”

To gain an “interpretation” of the text, you are using the understanding you have gained from “observation” and the examination of the context to interpret the plain meaning of scripture, not a hidden meaning. I found these questions used in this article to be helpful:

  • What did the author intend for his readers to understand?
  • How does this passage unfold a broader theme of this particular book of the Bible?
  • What doctrinal or moral problem was he addressing?
  • What action did he want readers or listeners to take?
  • What is still unclear? (Are the confusing terms or phrases used elsewhere in this book, or elsewhere in the Bible?). Before reaching for your dictionary, allow Scripture to define its own terms contextually through cross referencing.

Bible Translations: Remember that when you read the Bible you are reading a translation (the Bible was originally written in Hebrew (most of the Old Testament; although a few portions were written in Aramaic) and Greek (the New Testament). Here is a short list of some easy-to-read versions of the Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New International Version (NIV), and New Living Translation (NLT). Any of these Bible translations strike a good balance between literal word-for-word translation and contemporary phraseology.

Study Bibles: All of the aforementioned translations are available in study Bible versions. Study Bibles typically include extra materials for greater understanding of the text by providing historical context, geographical information, character profiles, word dictionaries, commentary, etc. Some even provide book introductions for each of the 66 books, so the reader gets an overview of what they are about to read. I cannot overemphasize the advantages of having a good study Bible. There are libraries full of resources to help you study the Bible. You can pull out several  different kinds of books, commentaries, maps, and concordances to study God’s word, but for the average individual person who is not writing a theological doctoral thesis, a simple study Bible that combines several of these tools into one volume is a sufficient tool for better understanding God’s word.

You can find more on step 2 here.

Step 3: Application (How does this apply to me?)

The goal of Bible study is not merely knowledge, but to get to know God and apply his truths to our lives. Once we know what a particular passage means, we are now responsible for putting it into practice in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. As Kay Arthur has written, “When you know what God says, what He means, and how to put His truths into practice, you will be equipped for every circumstance of life.”

More on step 3 is available here.

Tip: Designate a study time once a week. Studying takes time. We don’t have to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves about studying the Bible by saying we are going to do it every day (even though we should make reading God’s word, even if it is just a chapter or a few verses, a daily goal). The goal is not how fast or how much ground we cover but that we habitually do it. The point is to get close to God by knowing, understanding, and applying his word.

Write it down: Certainly, all of this should warrant you to write it down! Either by notebook, computer, or even app—keep track of what you are learning!

During this time of isolation and quarantine, getting closer to the one who created us is a great use of our time. This life comes with so many distractions that can take our eyes off of who and what matters most. Let us see this time as a gift and use it to receive comfort and truth from God.

Ways to Read the Bible (Part 2): Reading the Bible Start-to-Finish

by Patrina Mosley

April 14, 2020

Read Part 1 and Part 3

Before attempting to study the Bible, I would highly encourage that you first read the Bible in its entirety, from start to finish. If you are a believer, ask yourself, “Have I ever read all of God’s word?” If we say we are followers of Christ, we should read all of what he has said. Moreover, God has sovereignly preserved his word for us in a language that we can understand. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Because every word in Scripture is “breathed-out by God,” every follower of Jesus ought to prioritize reading the Bible in its entirety.

Reading the Bible cover-to-cover will also give you an overview of the story God is telling before digging into the nitty-gritty of specific texts. Without a full understanding of the Bible’s metanarrative, it will be more difficult to understand the big picture. In other words, trying to study the Bible without having read it is like trying to dissect a scene in a movie you’ve never watched. Things won’t make sense because you will be missing a lot of context. Take it nice and slow and read the Bible like you would any other book—start to finish.

There are a lot of different ways to read the Bible because the 66 books contained in it can be easily separated by the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospels as well as different genres (such as narratives, poetry, prophecies, epistles, etc.), but my recommendation is that before you start breaking off into different segments of the Bible, read the Bible like a real book within its complete context! The story will come alive for you and you will be fascinated at how much you’re learning just by reading. 

Here are two ways to do this:

  1. Simply pick up your Bible and start from Genesis! Here is a two-year Bible reading plan from Family Research Council that will take you through the entire Bible, day-by-day.
  2. Follow a chronological Bible reading plan or read through a chronological study Bible. Although the majority of the books of the Bible are in order, some events and books are not arranged in chronological sequence. Reading chronologically will open up your understanding even more because you will have greater context by the sequence of events.

Bible Translations Remember that when you read the Bible you are reading a translation (the Bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament; a few portions were written in Aramaic) and Greek (New Testament). Here is a short list of some easy-to-read versions of the Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New International Version (NIV), and New Living Translation (NLT). These Bible translations strike a good balance between literal word-for-word translation and contemporary phraseology.

Write it Down: As you’re reading, keep in mind that you are not reading to make theological applications (although that will come to you naturally over time as you learn good Bible study methods) but you are reading to get to know God. Whatever you don’t understand you can always go back and study later, so write down your questions. Often you will find that the more you keep reading, the more will make sense. But when that doesn’t happen, you can come back to all of your questions when you’re ready to study the Bible. Here is where I would highly recommend having a study Bible. For those who can’t wait to have their questions answered until they’ve read all 66 books, a good study Bible will provide a fuller understanding of a specific passage that might confuse you.

Study Bibles: All of the aforementioned translations are available in study Bible versions. Study Bibles typically include extra materials for greater understanding of the text by providing historical context, geographical information, character profiles, word dictionaries, commentary, etc. Some even provide book introductions for each of the 66 books, so the reader gets an overview of what they are about to read. I cannot  overemphasize the advantages of having a good study Bible. There are libraries full of resources to help you study the Bible, but for the average person who is not writing a doctoral thesis, a simple study Bible that combines several of these tools into one volume is a sufficient tool for better understanding God’s word..

Tip: You can choose a book or a passage of the Bible to read along with a helpful commentary during your daily devotional reading or study time!

Prayer: Don’t forget to pray before you start seeking God. Ask him to “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Psalms 119:18).

In a Fallen World, Easter Reminds Us of the True Victory in the Battle to End Abortion

by Adelaide Holmes

April 9, 2020

While shelter in place and stay at home orders caused by the coronavirus have limited some forms of pro-life work, Christians should use this time to reflect on a needed change in their mindset to end abortion. We should continue to aim to eradicate abortion by making it illegal and unthinkable. But as Easter approaches, we should be especially reminded that we live in a sinful world and our work to end injustice may never be completed until Jesus comes again. If we believe that we can purge our world of sin, we buy into the lie that our world can be made perfect, and we will get burned out in our efforts to love our littlest neighbors and seek justice on their behalf.

We live in a fallen, Genesis 3 world which means there can be no return to a sinless Eden. Unfortunately, this means that abortion may continue to exist in some form until Jesus returns. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament affirm that everyone is sinful. In Romans 3, Paul references Psalm 14 by saying, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” He more explicitly says in Romans 3:23 that, “all have sinned.” With this perspective, Christians engaged in the pro-life movement should recognize that our work to end the sin of legalized abortion may continue for the rest of our lives.

Biblically, Christians understand that abortion is condemned in God’s command explicitly prohibiting murder. Therefore, violation of this command is sin. That is why from the very beginning of the church Christians have opposed abortion and infanticide. In fact, it was the pro-life ethic of the early church that motivated them to oppose infanticide in the Roman Empire. Because of their efforts, infanticide was eventually made illegal. Early Christians were also responsible for making adoption a mainstream practice.

Although the early church did much to reinstate a culture of life in Rome, tragically, it seems that the culture in America has returned to the old pagan practice of child-sacrifice on the altar of choice. In 2018 alone, Planned Parenthood murdered 345,672 babies through abortion. To a Christian, this shouldn’t surprise us. A sinful world will continue to sin until Christ returns.

This raises an important question: how should the reality of sin influence our perspective on ending abortion in America?

First, we should not believe the lie that our efforts are futile and thus quit fighting for justice (or for some, refuse to start). If pro-life advocacy failed to save even one unborn baby, it would still be imperative that we follow God’s command to do justice and advocate for the lives of the unborn. But having a proper understanding of sin requires that we refuse another subconscious lie that tells us our world can be made perfect. Romans 8:22 reminds us that “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth.” Only after the judgement day when God has gathered all believers into His kingdom will He “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4).

Our job as Christians isn’t to make the world perfect. Our job is to honor God. By obeying His commands to share the gospel, love our neighbors, and act justly towards every person, we are honoring God, showing our love for Him, and preserving His image in our world as reflected by His people. Because of these commands, Christians have a duty to advocate for the life of our littlest and most vulnerable neighbors. The best way we can seek to love our unborn neighbor as ourselves is to advocate for their life as if it were our own.

Second, Christians need to be committed to fighting the injustice of abortion. This means we aim to eradicate abortion, take whatever victories we can get, all while being aware that this fight may last us our lifetime or beyond. But we should not lose heart. We cannot quit. There is life-saving work being done across the country by local pregnancy resource centers and state legislatures. Earlier this year, President Trump became the first sitting president to address the March for Life. The pro-life movement is seeing progress! But while we are seeing progress, we know the abortion lobby and the culture of death will not bow out without a fight. Thus, having a biblically informed perspective on fighting this injustice will help prevent us from getting burned out. While we should pray and fight for a day when abortion is illegal and rare, we must realize that God has already ordained that day when He judges the world, and sin as we know it is no more.

In this Easter season, Christians remember and celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For those of us engaged in the pro-life movement, Easter reminds us that our ultimate hope is the victory that Christ won on the cross. But we also remember that as we live in “the time between the times,” between Jesus’ first and second comings, there is gospel work for us to do. So, as we share the message of His death and resurrection, of His forgiveness and His desire to see the world reconciled to Him, we also commit ourselves to obeying His commandments, which include loving our unborn neighbor and seeking their justice, knowing that at the end of time, He will make it so that “death shall be no more.”

Adelaide Holmes is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

Ways to Read the Bible (Part 1): Devotional Bible Reading

by Patrina Mosley

April 8, 2020

Recently, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell announced at the White House that his company would repurpose their production facilities to make 50,000 face masks a day for health care workers combatting the pandemic. You would think there would be united praise for his patriotism. But left-wing, anti-God critics have ostracized him for simply encouraging Americans to use this extra time at home to read their Bible and connect with God.

He is right.

As many of us are doing our part to #StaySafeStayHome in the midst of the coronavirus, some of us have more time and fewer excuses to do the things we’ve been putting off for a while. Perhaps one of those things is reading the Bible more. There is no better way to get to know God than by spending time in his word. And there is no better time than now.

When it comes to studying the Bible, there are a lot of options. There are different methods, Bible translations, commentaries, podcasts, and sermons. Even within the Bible there are different genres (epistle, historical narrative, poetry, etc.) that can seem confusing if you are unfamiliar with how to interpret the particular genre. The goal of every Christian should be to rightly interpret the Bible.

My hope and prayer is that this blog series will help you learn to read the Bible and have it become a habitual part of your life. More tools will also be mentioned for going deeper in your journey to learning God’s word. It is a journey—not a destination.

So, let’s get started!

The first thing we should always do before reading God’s word is to pray.

Prayer: Starting with sincere prayer humbles us and focuses our heart to hear from God. When we are engaging his word, we are engaging God himself. Praying first helps eliminate distractions by pouring out our heart to God (Psalm 62:8) and laying our burdens down at his feet (Psalm 55:22). After praying, you will often find that God speaks to you through his word about the very things you prayed about. Knowing that he hears you will encourage your faith.

Before Bible study, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and help you understand God’s word. John 16:13-15 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals truth to us. Pray that he makes your time in Scripture fruitful.

You can pray the Scriptures as well. What better way to pray for God’s will in your life and others than by praying his word! For example, you can pray, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Psalms 119:18).

Devotional vs. Inductive Bible Study

Two components essential to getting closer to God and having our lives transformed are devotional Bible reading and inductive Bible study. What’s the difference?   

Simply put, inductive Bible study (which will be covered in the third part of this series), is where you are spending time looking into the Bible to see what it says about itself, God, and humanity. Devotional Bible reading is time spent looking into your own heart to see where God’s truth needs to be applied to your current circumstances.

Let’s start with devotional reading.

Devotional: This is where we spend time meditating on God’s word to be encouraged and directed by God’s truth. Devotional reading can be done by reading a Bible-based devotional book, a passage of scripture, or both. During devotional time you are looking into your own heart and asking God to illuminate his truth and apply it to your present circumstances. Knowing and thinking (meditating) about God’s word is how we can learn to follow God more closely. Some good questions to ask while meditating on God’s word are:

  • What does this passage say about God? What does it say about me? My sin? My struggles?
  • What is the lesson I need to learn? What example is given that I need to follow?
  • What is the command I need to obey?
  • What fruit or character development needs to take place in my life?
  • What is blocking God’s work in me? What sins do I need to avoid? Consider how you are spending your time, your thought life, your motivations, and relationships.
  • What promise does God have for me to receive? How am I encouraged and strengthened?
  • What is God asking me to surrender or submit to him?

Write it Down: This is where I would encourage you to write down your reflections, pray, and ask God how you can implement his truths in your life. Writing down reflections and truths God reveals to us helps to focus our minds and disentangle our thoughts. By having this record, we can look back and remember what God has said to us. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us that meditating on God’s word day and night brings much fruitfulness in our lives. Beginning and ending our day by thinking about what we have read will bring us into closer fellowship with God and help us to become more like him.

Helpful Tool: The YouVersion Bible app is a free resource that is jam-packed with a variety of Bible reading plans that include devotionals; some even include videos. Take some time to scroll through the app and choose something that speaks to you.

Bible Translations: Remember that when you read the Bible you are reading a translation (the Bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament; a few portions were written in Aramaic) and Greek (New Testament). Here is a short list of some easy-to-read English translations of the Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New International Version (NIV), and New Living Translation (NLT). These Bible translations strike a good balance between literal word-for-word translation and contemporary phraseology.

Tip: There are study Bibles that provides helpful commentary and notes. You can choose a book or a passage from the Bible and read the accompanying notes as part of your daily devotional reading or study time!

Read Part 2

Women’s History Month: Deborah and Jael - No Man’s Victory

by Laura Grossberndt

March 30, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Be sure to also read our previous Women’s History Month posts on Shiphrah and PuahEsther, and Jehosheba.

Time and time again, throughout the Old and New Testaments, God chose unlikely individuals (by worldly standards) to join Him in completing His sovereign plans and purposes. As the apostle Paul explained to the church in Corinth:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

In the Old Testament, most of the celebrated political and military leaders were men. But not all these men were natural leaders by worldly standards. (Consider Moses, who had a speech impediment, or David, who was a shepherd.) Nor does it mean that God exclusively worked through men to do His sovereign will. For one example, in the book of Judges, God used two women to defeat an enemy that had left even the bravest men of Israel cowering in their homes for over two decades. These women were named Deborah and Jael.

Deborah was an Israelite, a prophet, and a judge. She was married to a man named Lappidoth and may have belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, either by birth, marriage, or both. She lived “between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim” (Judg. 4:5). In Judges 5, Deborah describes herself as “a mother in Israel” (v.7). Biblical scholars are not sure if she was literally the mother of natural children or if she was speaking figuratively of her position as a judge. Nevertheless, this description shows us that Deborah embraced the role of a mother figure, biological children or not.

Deborah is one of only five women the Old Testament refers to as prophets. The other four are Miriam (Exod. 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), and “the prophetess” (Isa. 8:3). In addition to being a prophet, Deborah was also a judge—a rare combination. Judges were leaders that God raised up to lead Israel after they entered the Promised Land. These rulers judged Israel until Saul was anointed Israel’s first king (circa 1050 BC). Not every Israelite judge was also recognized as a prophet.

Unlike some of the other judges, such as Gideon, Deborah did not lead the Israelite armies into battle. Instead, when Barak had received a military directive from God—and was dragging his feet—Deborah summoned Barak. She reminded him of the Lord’s command to lead 10,000 men of the Naphtali and Zebulun tribes into battle against Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army (Judg. 4:6-7).

Barak was reluctant to trust in God’s promise of victory, however, and refused to go into battle unless Deborah accompanied him! “If you go with me, I will go” (Judg. 4:8). Deborah agrees to go with Barak, but because of his lack of faith in God’s promise, she informs Barak that he will not be the hero: “the road on which you are going will not lead to glory.” Instead, God would choose His own hero from an unexpected place: “God will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judg. 4:9). Mighty Sisera, commander of 900 iron chariots, who had oppressed Israel for 20 years, would be defeated not by male soldiers, not by the strength of arms, but by the arm of a woman who God would providentially set in Sisera’s path: Jael.

Jael was the wife of Heber, a Kenite (Judg. 4:17). The Kenites were a nomadic people living in Canaan, who emanated from Midian, Edom, and the Arabah. Moses’ father-in-law had been a Kenite. However, while they were generally on good terms with the Israelites, they were not Israelites. In fact, Heber was on peaceful terms with the Hazorites, oppressors of the Israelites. So, when Sisera, commander of the Canaanite army, fled from the battlefield (after Barak’s army decisively defeated them) and sought shelter in Heber’s wife’s tent, it made sense tactically; Sisera believed he was hiding in an ally’s tent. He was wrong.

Commentators have debated why Sisera chose to hide in a woman’s tent (did he think it was the least likely place to be searched?); why Jael, the wife of a Kenite, decided to kill the Israelite enemy (had he offended her in some way?). Whatever the reasons, when Sisera walked into Jael’s tent, he walked unwittingly to his demise at the hand of an unlikely person. While Sisera was sleeping, Jael took a tent peg and hammered it into his head (Judg. 4:21-22). Thus, the mighty oppressor of Israel died at the hands of a Kenite woman.

The author of Judges concludes the story by attributing the victory to the Lord: “So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel” (Judg. 4:23). Indeed, this victory was God’s doing and not man’s. Afterward, the land was at rest for 40 years (Judg. 5:31).

Deborah exemplifies God’s authority and faithfulness to His promises. Jael exemplifies God’s use of weakness to defeat strength. While God used 10,000 Israelite men to rout the Canaanite army—a remarkable achievement and sign of God’s blessing—God’s glory shone most brightly in the slaying of the mighty general by a housewife, as predicted by a female prophet and judge.

Women’s History Month: Esther

by Patrina Mosley

March 19, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Esther, whom God used to save the Jews from genocide in the late fifth century (483-473) B.C., is one of the most admired women in the Bible.

Through a series of providential events, the Jewish maiden Esther was chosen by King Xerxes of Persia (alternatively named Ahasuerus) to be his new Queen. Shortly after Esther was crowned, Haman, one of the king’s officials and an enemy of the Jews, manipulated the king. He acquired approval to annihilate all of the Jews living in the kingdom. Up until this point, Esther had never spoken of her nationality. But her cousin Mordecai urged her to petition the king about the matter. Esther was reluctant, knowing that going before the king without an invitation could result in her execution.

Here are two lessons we can glean from Esther’s story:

1. She was confronted with the truth and then committed to doing the right thing.

[Mordecai] sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

- Esther 4:13-16

2. Her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom.

On the third day, Esther went before King Xerxes despite fearing for her life. But God had given her favor with the king since the moment he met her. That favor continued when she approached his throne. Instead of coming right out with “save my people from slaughter,” she invited the king and Haman to a banquet. No better way to get a man’s heart than through his stomach!

At this banquet, the king asked Esther what she really wanted and promised to give her whatever she requested. Again, Esther did not come right out with her true request but instead invited the king and Haman to another banquet she would hold the next day (Esther 5:1-7). That night, fueled by discontentment and hatred, Haman set up gallows to execute Mordecai on. However, at the second banquet, Esther revealed her nationality to the king and exposed Haman’s plot to annihilate her people. The king was so furious with Haman that he had him hung on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai! (Esther 7)

Since the prior edict of a king could not be reversed, Esther asked the king to give the Jews permission to annihilate anyone that tried to kill them, and he did (Esther 8). Esther repeated her request for a second day, and the king granted her request a second time! (Esther 9)

Esther’s Role “For Such a Time as This”

Once Esther decided to do what was right, her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom. From the moment Esther first requested the king come to her banquet, to the end of the story when she asked for the Jews to defend themselves for a second day in a row, we see her courage grow more and more with each request as God gave her favor with the king.

Esther’s dependence on God allowed her to reach the king in a winsome way, and by delaying her actual request, it gave time for Haman to build his own deathtrap! Only God could have orchestrated the timing of such events to bring about deliverance for his people. Esther knew how to listen and obey God for his instructions and timing. Mordecai even said God could use someone else to accomplish deliverance for his people, but it was evident that God had allowed her to be in a position of influence “for such a time as this.” Those six words are known synonymously with the story of Esther because it was evident that God’s providential hand was at work throughout.

Like Esther, it’s okay if all our courage and strength doesn’t come immediately; sometimes it doesn’t. But once confronted with the truth, we must decide to do right, regardless of the consequences, and immediately seek God for wisdom on how and when to do the right thing for his glory.

The Bible and the Founding of Our Country

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 7, 2011

FRC’s friend Daniel Dreisbach holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University and a law degree from one of America’s most prestigious law schools (the University of Virginia). He is also a full professor in the Department of Law, Justice, and Society at American University. When Dr. Dreisbach speaks, the academic world listens.

His latest article is titled, “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,”1 and is published as the lead article in the current edition of the American Political Science Association’s Politics and Religion Journal. Dr. Dreisbach reviews in thorough detail in what ways and how often America’s Founding Fathers used the Bible in their political discourse. Putting it simply, they used it constantly. As he writes in his article, “The Bible and biblical precepts penetrated the core beliefs of many founders and the ubiquitous manifestations of those beliefs in public and private utterances.” In another section of the paper, he observes that the Bible “was also a source of normative standards and transcendent rules to order and judge public life.”

Of course, as Dr. Dreisbach also notes, sometimes the Founders quoted Scripture simply because the broad cultural familiarity with the King James Version. “The nature of political rhetoric,” as he notes, means that sometimes they used biblical phrasing “for literary, rhetorical, or political purposes.”

Yet with that said, there can be no doubt that the teachings of the Word of God had a profound effect on the beliefs and actions of those who created our Republic. “Both influential and ordinary citizens drew on biblical language, ideas, and themes in thinking and talking about the political challenges that confronted them,” Dr. Dreisbach concludes.

Biblical illiteracy is widespread in our time. Still, an acquaintance with the Bible is essential to understanding the foundations of our country and culture. Even more, biblical principles are eternal. They were critical at the nation’s beginning, and remain so today.

To listen to Dr. Dreisbach’s FRC lecture on the Christian roots of America’s founding, click here.


1 “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,” Politics and Religion Journal, December 2011.

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