Not too long ago a friend from our small Wednesday night Bible study was sitting next to me in church. After the sermon she said, “Man, the preacher is getting so much better.”
I smiled because the preacher had always been a thorough and really great speaker and teacher.
She had changed.
She understood his references. She could identify with the stories. When he went deep, she put on her spiritual scuba gear and went deep with him. She was becoming more than a listener of scripture. She was digging into it to find treasure.
And whether she knew it yet or not, she had become a student of the Word. Which meant that she was also living it — which was shaking up the way she had lived before.
Sometimes when we bump right into a passage that we don’t understand (or like), we just keep on reading. But we might miss something if we do.
Today we are going to become students of the Word as we park in a passage in Ephesians. This passage is a little weighty. It’s tied to deeper teaching. It would be easy to skip over it.
Except that we want to have our spiritual eyes open to the Word. We don’t want to miss a single rich truth.
Let’s read Ephesians 1:9-14 together right now.
Maybe when you read this it made perfect sense to you. But for me, I had some questions.
This is what we can do when we don’t fully understand scripture.
We can STOP.
S – simply
T – take
O – an opportunity
P – to process
Using an acrostic might seem silly, except it’s helpful. It reminds me that I’m not trying to earn a gold star in Sunday school as I read the Bible. I’m opening my life to transformation. Simply taking the opportunity to process the scripture has the power to yield truth that completely alters the words that I’m reading, and my response to it.
So, where do we begin in this process?
Pray for understanding
Invite the Holy Spirit to join you right now. Right in the middle of today’s reading.
Write the passage in your journal. Underline anything that doesn’t make sense to you. I underlined the words below.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.
And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.
The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. Ephesians 1:9-14 (NLT)
These are the questions I wrote in my journal:
- Is Paul saying that some are some chosen and others not?
- What is the plan and why is it mysterious? (I believe I know, but I want to know for certain.)
- What exactly is this inheritance?
Maybe it takes you a couple of days, which is exactly what we are going to do today and tomorrow.
Diving deeper means that we take a few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days to unpack the verses, one by one.
That drives this girl to Commentaries and resources. While I have a stack of books and some pretty terrific Bible study software, I also love the vast number of free online resources. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Bible Gateway – You can search scripture in different versions. It also has free study commentaries available. (My personal favorite as it’s easy to navigate.)
Blue Letter Bible – Want to take it even deeper? You can look up the Greek or Hebrew words a verse. You can search commentaries and even sermons over specific verses.
Studylight – An easy to navigate site with all kinds of study resources.
Today and tomorrow we’re going to STOP so that we can dig into these verses. So, let’s do this together.
Ask the Holy Spirit to join you in today’s study
Read it in a different version of the Bible using any of the online resources above.
Write the verses down in your journal.
Underline anything that you don’t really understand or about which you simply want to know more.
From those underlined words, write down your questions.
Share them here.
We’ll be back here tomorrow to talk about all of our questions and to discover the GOOD treasure hiding in these verses.