Tag Archives: finding God

Whats the point of those obscure bible books?

As I’ve been doing the Bitesize Bible study series, sometimes I end up wondering what the point of reading a particular book is.  There is such a variety of literature in the Bible; it’s full of history, poetry, prophecy, letters, and songs, all written by many different people over a wide span of history, but not all of it seems directly relevant to the message of salvation.

If you view the Bible as a whole, its clear to see that there is a thread running through it.  Right from creation you can see that there was a plan for a Saviour, and that God chose his special people and promised them the land of Israel for ever, and that these two plans are linked – eventually the Saviour will be the means of Israel, both physical and spiritual, being restored to the promised land.

The thing that can be difficult is understanding all the details in between the various strands of this thread.  Why do we care exactly how the Israelites prepared each sacrifice?  Why do we care how many from each tribe entered the land, the exact borders of their territories, and exactly how many gold plates they gave to the Lord?  What relevance do some of these details have for us?

Some books strike me as being very dry, or very difficult to understand or get into, and even when you do, the relevance for us today is not always obvious.

We have to have a starting point.  Having decided that the Bible is the way to find God, it stands to reason that all these details must be there for a purpose.  So, the question is, what is the point of the more obscure books and passages in the bible and how do they help us to find God?  The Bible says:

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 competent, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea…Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:1-2,11-12)

We can summarize the above quotes as follows:

  1. The whole written Bible is inspired by God – for people who want to follow him.
  2. It teaches us how to behave and corrects our wrong behavior, so that we become more righteous and do good works.
  3. The character studies and stories present examples so that we can see the right and wrong ways to behave, and can learn from the mistakes of other people, and in doing so we will keep on the right path.

How can we put this into practice when reading an obscure or slightly dry book of the Bible?

  1. Review the passage briefly to start with to get an idea of what is happening.
  2. Focus in on words spoken by God or the story elements involving people.
  3. Can you take a lesson from Gods words or see something in it for yourself?
  4. Can you learn from the situation a certain person found themselves in and their reaction to that situation?
  5. Can you obtain any practical advice from the chapter?
  6. If not maybe you need to place the book in its historical context.  Do some research and find out what period of history you are looking at, if there are links with any other parts of the Bible, and look at what the culture and society of the time was like.  This approach is often helpful with the prophets to place them in the relevant king’s time period, and also with Paul’s letters to see what topical issues in his current culture he had to deal with.
  7. If the above doesn’t help, look at the cross-references in your Bible margin and try to find some links with other parts of the Bible which may give you an insight into the chapter you are reading.
  8. Finally, if you find it difficult, get some friends at church to help you study, read some books around the subject, or use the internet for research or to have discussions with other people.

It may be hard work to persevere and find out the answers, but knowing that everything in the Bible is there for a reason will mean that everything you learn is beneficial and helping you to walk in the way of the Lord.  May God bless your studies.

Trust in the Lord

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go, He’s the one who will keep you on track.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message Bible) 

Do you ever wonder if the life choices you have made have been the right ones?  Have you made the decisions that will bring you closer to God in your everyday life?  Is it really possible for someone like you or me to be welcomed into the kingdom? 

Sometimes our lives in the western world can seem very self absorbed.  We are concerned with our education, our career prospects, our health and well-being, our worldly goods, and our self-sufficiency.  

We don’t depend on God for our daily needs as such, in the sense that there is food in our cupboards and money in our bank accounts.  It’s easy to take such things for-granted and forget how a quick change of circumstances can take away everything we have. 

Those verses from Proverbs quoted above emphasise that whoever we are, and whatever our situation, God is there, He is interested in us, and He will help us to make the right decision if we ask him. 

There is nothing wrong with a bit of introspection either.  Take some time out.  Think about your life, your work, your family, and the things you do for God. 

Whether you are supporting your family, or a busy homemaker, or retired, or in education, if you approach your life with prayer the things you do will work together to glorify God.  

If you wash the dishes so your husband can write a Bible talk, both of you working for the Lord. 

If you say a kind word to a stranger, or have a lonely friend over to dinner, you are becoming more like Jesus. 

If you read just a few Bible verses you are increasing your knowledge of God’s purpose. 

If you spend ten minutes thinking about the kingdom, or talking about it with someone else, you are making God’s plan a reality in your life.

God isn’t just at church; He is in every aspect of our daily life.  The more we think about this, the more all the separate aspects of our lives will come together as a whole, and the decisions we make with God’s help can only bring us closer to him. 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (King James Version)

What is faith?

Ask a child what faith is, and he or she will probably tell you that it’s “trust in God”, or “believing in God”.  Sounds easy!

Ask any Bible student the question, “What is faith?” and he or she will probably give you the following answer:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Maybe it’s not so easy after all.  This verse tells me that faith is a very difficult concept.  First of all, what is it that we hope for, and what is it that we do not see?  Hope in the Bible talks of the hope of God’s glory, and the hope of Christ and the good news of the gospel.  That good news is the news of the coming kingdom of God, and it is that which we hope for.

We do not see God at the moment, and we do not see Jesus either.  The word of God which has been given to us allows us to see those invisible things, and read about God’s purpose with the world.  The Bible is a window through which we CAN see God and Jesus, and it offers us proof of those things we cannot see by its accuracy, internal consistency, historical details, and fulfilled prophecies.

But how do we get faith in the first place?  And how can we increase our faith when we are being asked to believe in something intangible?

If, as children, we went to Sunday school, or our parents told us about God, we probably believed them automatically.  Faith seemed natural, and we did not doubt that there was a God in heaven looking after us.

But sooner or later some incident, or simply the passage of time, will make us question that faith and look at its roots to see if we truly have a substantial faith or not.  We may experience a serious illness or some kind of suffering.  We may become overwhelmed by the suffering at large in the world.  Perhaps we doubt God’s existence without physical proof.  Perhaps unbelievers around us ridicule our faith and undermine the Bible.

The apostle Paul tells us how to get faith, and encourages us to grow our faith:

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17

So if we want to verify our faith, if we want to question it, we shouldn’t be looking to man’s explanations – we should continue to read the Bible, and the words of Jesus.  This means that when we feel spiritually low, or that our faith is lacking, we should do the one thing we probably don’t want to do – read our Bibles!

Faith is still a difficult concept.  The problem is that if there was an empirical proof of God’s existence, no faith would be required, and God would not know who His true believers are.  By requiring us to have faith, he knows that we are truly interested in finding Him.  Having faith does not negate a logical approach to believing in the existence of God, and does not mean we don’t need to study the Bible, but it gives us a quiet confidence in the things that we read, knowing that the kingdom we hope for will not be long in coming.  Sometimes it’s best to go back to basics and look at things the way we did as children:

In God I trust; I will not be afraid. – Psalm 56:11

How do I find God?

Now that we have our new brand name – Finding God – it’s up to us to give you some idea of how to go about finding God for yourself.  Easier said than done isn’t it? If you’re someone new to the Bible you may not know where to start looking.  If you’re an old hand at Bible study you may feel full of knowledge, but are you confident that you really know God?  Maybe you just want to know more about God – you’ve heard about Him, but He doesn’t seem to be there in your life.

So where’s the best place to start?  I’m going to suggest that God has told us how we can find him, and we need to let him speak to us through the pages of His word, the Bible.

Come near to God and he will come near to you – James 4:8

So there it is.  To find God we have to come near to him.  As that church slogan says:- “Feeling far from God?  Guess who’s moved!”  But how can we get near to God?  He’s an omnipotent being, without a physical presence on earth, with mental abilities so far above us that we are no more than ants in His sight, and yet we are told in the Bible to come near to Him!

Here are my suggestions on how we can come near to God:

  1. Prayer
  2. Reading the Bible
  3. Spending time with other people who want to come near to God

Let’s elaborate on those ideas:

1. Prayer

How can you come close to someone without talking to them?  God wants us to talk to Him, to ask Him for help, to thank Him for our blessings, and to recognize how small we are in His presence.  Of course He knows what we will say before we say it, but without prayer we can’t build up that relationship with God.

Still don’t know where to start with prayer? Why not try the Lord’s Prayer – that’s what Jesus gave the disciples when they didn’t know where to start with prayer!

2.   Reading the Bible

The Bible is not just any old book that talks about God.  It’s actually the mind of God, inspired directly by Him, so that we can learn more about Him and His purpose.  If we read it, we may get a little closer to understanding what God wants from us and what he has promised for us.

Still don’t know where to start with reading the Bible? Why not order these free bookmarks from BibleQuizzes.org.uk and commit to reading a little every day!

3. Spending time with other people who want to come near to God

This point speaks for itself – the more you interact with others who have similar viewpoints to yourself, whether that be moral values or a similar hope for the future, the closer you will come to God.  Knowing that God has had a positive impact on someone else’s life will encourage you to find out more for yourself.

Don’t know where to find other people to talk to?  Do your friends or family believe in God?  How about finding an internet community to join?  Even better, leave your comments here, and together we can work towards Finding God.

Things are changing

Exciting new changes are afoot! We’re in the process of networking all our sites around our new theme of Finding God, reflecting our purpose in helping bring people closer to God. An update of The Bible Study is in the pipeline and we’ll soon be launching our new Finding God facebook group.

We also hope to have a few guest contributors on board to give you a wide variety of inspirational material. This is all going to take a while to roll out, but it will create a better linked network of sites that will work together in harmony with each other. Keep seeking out God with all your heart and soul!