Books about a book?

So I wanted to do something a little different today. I was looking around my office and noticed I have a few books. To be honest, I have more than a few books and I keep adding more. This is partly because of classes and partly because of sales. To be honest though the start of my collection was given to me from my father in law Gil. He started the habit so I guess he’s to blame. The reason I bring this up is because when I am reading my Bible a lot of times I turn to these commentaries or studies if I am stuck or want to see what others think about the same passage. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree, and sometimes I learn. I realized though that a good portion of people does not have the same type of library so I thought I would offer some ideas and thoughts. I’ll break down some basic categories below, but please keep in mind this is just a high-level overview not an in-depth look at all possible options. This is just meant to get you going.

Commentaries:

Commentaries are great but to be honest, most people are not ever going to pick one up or read one. I love them but even I don’t read them front to back. I skim through to find what I need. I might read chunks but not a front to back kind of book. There are two-three categories of commentaries but I doubt you care. The most popular in a non-academic setting is a devotional commentary. This is going to go through a book of the Bible and give you thoughts on it. Very good for going deep in a single book.

*It is important to note that there are commentaries that cover a single book like Luther’s Commentary on Romans, commentaries that cover a few books like Alter’s commentary on the Wisdom books, and whole Bible commentaries like MacDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary.

Bible Handbook:

Bible Handbooks are like commentaries but smaller and for the books of the Bible. They usually have a few pages dedicated to a book and offer background and highlights. Some are bigger than others but they are great to have because it can fill in some needed information about the book, author, and other relevant background info. Halley’s a good one because it does some chapter breakdown, but the Holman Illustrated is good as well because it is smaller.

Software:

Software is in its own category because there are so many options and ways to customize. If you watch the video then you can see the one I use. There are some free/cheap options like Word Search or E-Sword and I have used both. Word Search is nice and is free and then you buy books to add to it (some are free). I have used Logos in the past because a friend of mine has it and it is great but you need some money to invest in that one. Accordance is another but I have never used it. It is supposed to be as good as Logos. For websites, you can use them to get some help but be weary there are a lot of fruitcakes out there.

Study Bible:

I saved Study Bibles for last because this one of those things you should get. A study Bible is like having a commentary in the Bible. There are hundreds to choose from depending on what you are looking for. There are application study Bibles that tell you what to do with a Scripture, women’s Bibles, men’s Bibles, military Bible’s, children’s Bibles, apologetic Bibles, and just about anything else you can think of. They are great to have and I used one for years as my daily reader. They provide just a little info or help on almost every verse and are a great resource.

Why?

Why get any of these things, though? I mean can’t you just read the Bible and go from there? Sure you can. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of teaching you what the Word says if you are listening. But adding extra things into your Bible study is not about hearing or not hearing from the Holy Spirit. Instead, it is about going deeper. It is about digging deeper and adding to your faith knowledge. How do you know though if what you think the Holy Spirit is telling you is true? Maybe you are reading your own bias into the text. What if you pick up a study note that says there is no mention of three kings just three types of gifts would that change the way you read the section? What about reading and finding out that Isaac was not a little boy during the testing of Abraham. He was a young man somewhere between 18-30. That kind of changes things doesn’t it. We add in these things because we don’t know everything. We should never assume we do. That is arrogance. So grab your Bible, study notes, highlighter, or tablet and dig deep.

 

Just a thought,

Mike

 

Compounding Interest and Faith

On one hand, I know it might sound silly and to those who think it does you can just ignore this post and move on to something in the Archives, but I want to be a better Christian. I want to know more and do more for God. Not because I am trying to earn favor or get something from Him but because I love Him and want more of Him. I guess I just want to add to my faith. The question is can I and should I? Should this even be a desire to have?

2 Peter 1:5-7 says it is possible and more so that I should give all diligence to this very task of adding to my faith. That I should actually not just want this but do it. There is a lot in these three verses, and it might just spill into two posts so bear with me because as my daughter used to sing “we’re going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship…”

There are seven things we are told to add to our faith in these three verses. Seven things that are supposed to be compounded upon each other. It is like compounding interest which is awesome when investing and horrid when paying. Compound interest works like this; You put money in and then interest is added to that, but that interest money that is given is now added to the total and you get interest on the whole amount. So for example, you put in $100 with 25% interest (unheard of I know) for four years, you would have somewhere around $244 at the end. Whereas if the interest did not compound you would only have $200 at the end of the year. It is like the whole doubling a penny a day trick where you end up a few million in a month or something like that. Peter is talking about the same thing. Start with your faith and then compound it.

2 Peter 1:5-7 But also for this very reason (see verse 4) giving all diligence add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

These are the things that are supposed to be compounded on each other. It is not faith, then virtue, then knowledge and so on setting them aside after each use. But they are supposed to go one on top of the other so that as you compound them so we will have knowledge of Jesus and not be shortsighted or unfruitful. So let’s look at the list:

Virtue

Knowledge

Self-Control

Perseverance

Godliness

Brotherly Kindness

Love

I also think it important to mention that this is not a 1-7 list. It is not first Virtue then Knowledge as if when you do one you are done with it. No this is a continual list as in keep adding to these things. Sometimes you are working a little more on Self-Control then Brotherly Kindness. The order is not nearly as important as the act of the adding. So onto to Greek….

Virtuearetē

Moral excellence as modesty or purity. Think of Virtue as being ethical. If it is right then do that. Regardless of ease do the right thing and take the right path. Virtue is added by doing.

Knowledgegnōsis

Knowledge here is actually specific to the things of the faith. It is not just any old knowledge. It is not learning more about Starfish (which are pretty cool), but the things the Bible says. This is done by reading and meditating on the Word of God.

Self-Controlegkrateia

Self-Control is funny to define because it is like defining the word “is.” But I shall try. Self-Control is not giving in to your desires. It is realizing that you can say no to the TV, girl/guy, yes to quiet time, and so on. Self-Control is only done when tempted to not have it. You can only have it when you need it.

Perseverancehypomonē

Perseverance in the Christian faith is a whole lot like exercising. It is that dig deep moment. It is the my legs are shaking but I am going to keep going moment, the I want to quit or let this discouragement in moment but I am going to keep at it. I am going to push forward. If courage is doing it regardless of fear than discouragement is giving into the fear. Perseverance is not giving into the hardship but pushing on towards the goal.

Godlinesseusebeia

Godliness is reverence and respect for God. It is just the realization that you are not God. It is understanding that your ways are not His ways and that He can do as He pleases and that His purposes are good.

Brotherly Kindnessphiladelphia

Not this city or movie. This means love. Not agape love because that is slightly different but this is love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you see others being persecuted or hurting or needing help it is doing what is needed. It is taking time to serve and love the body.

Loveagapē

Now, this is real God like love. This is 1 Corinthians 13 love. I won’t say too much because a lot has been said, but suffice to say it is giving of yourself.

So there we have it. There are seven things and all of them hard. All require something of us, but all give us something better than what we can be without them. When applied and compounded we get a faith that is strong and we will have fruit.

We managed to get it all in one post. It’s a long post but oh well.

Just a thought,

Mike