Love This Book, Part 2
Every story has a beginning. Last year we began to study the Bible by looking at the events and people that revealed the beginning chapters of God’s story. As we studied and listened to sermons, we learned more about the character of God through the first six chapters of the Bible.
As we start this study, there is one thing that we all desire—we want 2021 to be better than 2020! Inherent in this desire is the fact that we want to flourish, and we want our lives to be part of a meaningful story. This study is our journey through the second half of the Old Testament. It will include many familiar stories, as well as less famous people, places, and events. Yet, ultimately, these Old Testament books aren’t a string of isolated incidents—they are one unified story. They tell the story of promises made and promises kept—the story of God’s plan to bless the world and “be with us”. Remember that the Old Testament is your story; it’s your spiritual history. The promises and calling of God to Israel are your historical promises and calling!
This year, our study continues following the storyline of the Old Testament from the time of the Judges to the return of the Israelites from the Exile. Before we focus on this year’s study, it is beneficial to be reminded of the key concepts from last year’s study.
In order to get the most from the study of LOVE THIS BOOK: Shaped by God's Story, it’s important to grasp the overarching purpose and themes that permeate the storyline. The 66 books that make up the Bible have been put together to comprise “the Book.” Literally, that’s what Bible means; it is the Book. This is one book, one story that provides the foundation for our Christian beliefs and actions. It is fundamental to who we are and who we are becoming. The pages of the Book reveal the God of the Book and his heart for his children.
LOVE THIS BOOK: Shaped by God’s Story will take us further into the narrative of God by introducing us to ordinary people as they wrestled with their circumstances and how to respond to the events in their culture. We will meet real people who were less than perfect in their obedience to God but often continued to pursue him even in the midst of their struggle. We will also meet people who seemingly never truly understood what it looked like to follow God’s ways.
The purpose of the study is to help people see their story as part of the biblical story. This involves:
- Information—How do the stories of the Old Testament fit together?
- Formation—How can these stories shape us and our relationship with God and the world around us? How do they invite us into a better story than those offered by our post-Christian culture? How can our story be shaped by the stories in the Bible?
- Motivation—How do these stories challenge and encourage us moving forward?
This study should challenge us to re-examine our personal faith journey as we engage God and the people in the stories. May each of us be shaped by this study in deeper ways to reflect the character of God and to live as a part of a better story!
Engaging the Study:
- Begin each study with expectant prayer. Ask the Spirit to guide your thoughts as you read the passage and engage the questions. Then, conclude your time with a prayer that seeks how you can apply what you gleaned from the study during your day.
- For this study, we will use the rhythm of Read, Reflect, and Respond. Read the passages several times during the week and then take three days to engage the questions. The Read portion of the study will help you gain information about the story, the Reflect portion will help you focus on the formational element of your faith journey, and the Respond portion will allow you to act on how the Spirit is prompting you from your study.
- You are encouraged to journal your thoughts as you engage the passages.
- Use the links on hfcinfo.com to connect you to additional resources that will expand your understanding of the passages.