How About a Little Context (Part 3 of 3)

Discovering What Was Happening When the Bible Was Written

Two weeks ago we looked at getting to know the 40 people God inspired to write the 66 books of the Bible. (Check out Part 1 if you didn’t read it yet.) Last week we shifted our focus from authors to the audience? (Here’s the link to Part 2.) In this final, installment, we’ll shift one last time and look at the atmosphere. It’s time to answer the question What was the setting when this author wrote to this audience?

How about a little context? - Part 3

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

You’ve heard it said many times… Context is king. Nowhere is that more true than when you are reading the Bible.

How About A Little Context? (Part 2 of 3)

Discovering the people who first RECEIVED the Bible.

Last week’s post was devoted to discovering the 40 people God inspired to write the 66 books of the Bible. But what about the people who first read what those 40 people wrote down? (Check out Part 1 if you didn’t read it yet.)

How about a little context? - Part 1

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

We frequently miss out on some pretty cool stuff if we never think about the different audiences – sometimes vastly different – who were the first readers of what we have as the Bible. For example…

How About A Little Context? (Part 1 of 3)

Discovering the people who WROTE the Bible.

How much thought do you give to the author of a particular book or letter when you are reading the Bible? How about the first readers of that book or letter? Do you put any thought into what they were facing or the surrounding social and political climate?

How about a little context? - Part 2

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

Instinctively we know the importance of context in other areas of our lives.

For example, think about the sentence “I’ll be back before you know it.” If the person saying it is running to the refrigerator at halftime of the football game, it carries very different meaning than if it was spoken by your child as she boarded a plane bound for her freshman year of college.

It is impossible for us to grasp the big picture for any situation or idea – let alone accurately interpret the details – unless we first know the context. Understanding context can make that same kind of difference when you read a book of the Bible.

When we discover personal details and characteristics of the book’s author, the situations and challenges the author and recipients were facing at the time, and the events occurring in the world around them, we gain an entirely new perspective and depth of understanding for the book.

Taking even ten minutes (or a lot longer if you’d like) to do a background study will provide the necessary context for correctly interpreting and applying a passage to our lives.

There are three basic questions that background studies answer:

  • Who wrote the book? (Author)
  • To whom was the book written? (Audience)
  • What was happening at the time the book was written? (Atmosphere)

Most study Bibles have information at the beginning of each book or in the back of the Bible that provides some context. While this is certainly helpful, I have found this is rarely all the information I want.

Fortunately, you don’t have to own a massive, 300-volume library to do extremely thorough background studies. Do you have access to the internet? (I thought so. After all, you’re reading this.) I won’t go into every resource I use in this post, but you can find lots of amazing – and free! – resources at www.keithferrin.com/resources.

The wonderful thing about background studies is that you can dig as deeply as you want to, or simply skim over a few items to bring a general sense of context to the book you are reading. Background studies also don’t need to be done every day. Think of them as “seasoning” rather than the main dish.

This week – and the next two – I’m going to tackle one of the three types of background studies: Author, Audience and Atmosphere.

5 Simple Ways to Connect Your Kids With the Bible As School Starts

With TWO Free Downloads!

Are your kids in school yet? Some of you started almost a month ago. (Sorry.) Our kids started yesterday.

The start of school is always hectic. Here are some simple ideas for making sure the Bible doesn't get lost in the craziness.

NOTE: I have updated and re-posted this each of the last two years. This year, I have included a free PDF – Click Here – that takes these principles and put them into an applicable-all-year-round format so you can use it and share it anytime. I’ve also included a link to my eBook – 49 Identity Messages Your Kids Need to Know – that goes along with #1. I’d love to hear how you’re making the connection between your kids, the Bible, and school in the comments below. Enjoy!

Grab your “5 Simple Ways” Download for FREE!

If I had to choose one word to describe the first month of the school year it would be: HECTIC.

The pace is insane, isn’t it? Here’s a glimpse at life with the Ferrin Five:

  • Two kids in middle school.
  • A third in elementary school (with a different start/end time of course).
  • Three soccer teams.
  • A wife who teaches kindergarten.
  • My busiest travel season of the year.
  • Squeezed in between we all have to eat, clean, do laundry, etc., etc.

As I said…HECTIC. Where does the Bible fit into all this? Especially for our kids?! For me, I can get up early and grab some coffee, my Bible, and a corner of the couch. But I want my kids to connect with God and His Word as well. So…what can we do?

What Do You Pray When You Are Struggling with Your Past?

A prayer for you...

For some people, it happened in high school. For others, it was a decision made in college. For some, it was a season spanning several months – or years. The circumstances are all unique, but one thing is the same in every case: It won’t let go.

What do you pray when you are struggling with your past

I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians a lot. I was reminded today how Paul’s call to “put on the full armor of God” isn’t only about general spiritual warfare.

What would happen if you and I put on each piece of armor and went to war against the specific past event, decision, or season that doesn’t want to let go?

For today, how about you and I go to war?

No commentary. Just prayer. (Something tells me that’s what you and I need anyhow.)

Armor Piece 1: The Right Mindset

Lord Jesus, Defeater of the devil, Conqueror of death and hell. Help me recognize this isn’t a battle against flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle against the devil and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The devil has schemes and he is using them to try to convince me that my past defines me. Today, fill me with your Spirit, and help me stand firm, so that in the end, I may stand.

Armor Piece 2: The Belt of Truth

Help me Lord, to speak truth to myself about my past. I confess that I have sinned. I have made choices that don’t glorify You. And yet, these choices, patterns, seasons, and habits are not who I am. While I confess my sin, I profess that what You say about me is true. I am Your child. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. I was bought with a price, the price of your precious blood on the cross. I am being sanctified day after day after day. You, Lord Jesus, are the Truth and what You say about me is true. May Your truth always ring truer and louder than Satan’s lies.

5 Bible Reading Options Designed for Summertime

Summertime is especially hard when it comes to consistency in Bible reading. Kids are out of school. Vacations are taken. Churches typically don’t have any “structured” Bible studies. Small groups frequently take a break. So…what options are there for a Bible study that fits into a summer schedule and can be completed in eight weeks?

5 Bible Reading Options Designed for Summertime

Here are five options I specifically designed to be completed in eight weeks.

What do you do when things go horribly wrong?

The scene in Genesis 41 is about as bad as you can imagine. Joseph has been sold into slavery by his own brothers. He’s wrongfully accused of rape by his boss’s wife. He’s sent to prison. He’s left there for two years.

You won’t believe what happens next…

Like this video? Want to see more like it? Head on over to the Along the Road Video Playlist on my YouTube Channel.

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How to Drastically Reduce Distractions During Your Time with God

Includes a Free eBook to download, print, or share

Have you lived out this scene? You pour a cup of coffee. You sit down to read the Bible. You pause to pray. And then you realize – before even cracking open your Bible – your mind is pulled in a million different directions.

6 Tips Distraction Free Quiet Time

Why does this happen? After all, you want to be fully present. You want to focus. You want to spend time with God.

And yet the distractions come. More accurately – the distractions bombard! 

It seems like every time a teach a workshop on reading and enjoying the Bible this topic shows up. I get questions about it. I receive emails about it. I see comments on Facebook about it.

We live in a distracted – and distracting – culture.

Hear this clearly: You can focus. You can reduce distractions. You can read, pray, and simply be with God without having your mind wander every 30 seconds.

However, it’s not easy. It takes practice. And it takes intentionality.

I have written a longer post – and recorded a podcast episode for you listeners out there – that dives into greater detail on the 6 Tips for a Distraction-Free Quiet Time. You can read the post or listen to the podcast here (or search “Keith Ferrin” on iTunes).

Today I want to give you – for free – the eBook version.

Get Your Free PDF!

Use the button above (or click the picture of the eBook cover at the top of this post), enter your email address, and I’ll send it to you.

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Thanks for helping me get this in the hands of people who need it. (I would guess that’s all of us!)

Question: What helps you stay focused when you sit down to read the Bible or pray? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What Does the Bible Say About Itself?

17 Bible Verses About the Bible

We write a lot about the Bible. We preach about it. We (ahem…I) blog about it. How we got it. Why you can trust it. How to study it. Ways to apply it.

When was the last time you – or I – simply paused to explore what the Bible has to say about itself.

Today will have no commentary. No video. No unpacking and applying. (Though I highly recommend you have a conversation with God about when and how you can do that!) No ranking in order of importance.

This is simply a list of 17 Bible verses about the Bible.

I have put them in the order you can find them in your Bible (except the last one). One quick note: For this post, I’ve focused on verses that speak of what the Bible is, rather than verses exploring why or how to apply it.

3 Questions to Check Your Heart

"Along the Road" Video from Zechariah 7:1-6

Zechariah. There’s a name you don’t hear very often. It’s also a book of the Bible people don’t read very often. That’s too bad. There’s some good stuff in there.

3 Questions to Check Your Heart - Zechariah

As I was nearing the end of Month #3 of Bible Read Thru 2016, I spent one morning reading Zechariah, the second-to-last book of the Old Testament.

As I read the first six verses of Chapter 7, God stopped me in my tracks. Check out this Along the Road video to see the three questions God is still asking me (and might be asking you).