Where is the Action?
Be FOUND Bible Study Method - Part 8
When the entire world was shaken to its core, what did we collectively reach for? In the darkest most vulnerable moment we have ever globally known together in our lifetime, what did we reach out with straining hands and take hold of?
Yes, that’s right. Toilet Paper. “Toilet paper demand shot up 845% during the coronavirus pandemic”
Church, where were you? What did you reach for? I will tell you. You were right beside me, reaching and clawing for that last roll on the top shelf. “When the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there” has taken on a whole new meaning. Pitiful. Embarassing. Shame on us. Shame on me. What does that tell the world about what we deem to be most essential?
Throughout this study we will periodically “Zoom Out” for context or frame of reference and “Zoom In” for a closer look at a certain word.
Zoom in with me: “Essential” absolutely necessary; extremely important; indispensable
Dream with me for a moment. What if when the sky fell, we as believers in the One True God, collectively, reached and grasped the Word of God?
Zoom in: “Grasp” seize and hold firmly.
What if the only thing we knew to seize and hold firmly was the Word of God? What would that have told the world? What would that tell the world today?
Church, we will be held to account as a neglectful parent is held to account for the neglect of their own child. Be assured, we will be held accountable. Generation after generation of ill-equipped malnourished Christians have sat bleeding out on the battlefield, left vulnerable to the very clear and present attack of the enemy. We have left them exposed, defenseless, unprotected, and so susceptible because we have not equipped them in the most basic of all training in how to read the Bible. It is time to own our part in creating this gap that we have allowed to continue to grow.
Own up. Step up. Armor up. Help the defenseless come to know that One that is their Defense. The only way to know God is to step right up to the diving board (maybe even the high dive) and swan dive deep into the Word of God.
When we are in the Word of God, our lives can’t help but be changed by the power of God.
So, let’s high dive deep! We have been studying the F.O.U.N.D. bible study method here in this sacred space each week. Remember that the only wrong way to read the Bible is to never open it.
Open it. Unleash the Word, that is alive, and let it come alive in you. It is simply a “letting” my friends. God’s Word will do it’s work in you, whether or not you ever do any work in it. However, what sweet rewards lie in wait for those who choose to dig a little deeper. Bible study is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the saint of heart.
Zoom in: “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G40&t=ESV)
(First and foremost, pause to pray. It can be as simple as “God guide us into your Word.”)
F - Frame of Reference: who the author is, who the o.g. audience is, where the passage fits into the book as a whole and the bible as a whole.
O - Observe:
Who are the pronouns referring to?
What is the function of the conjunction?
When something is compared or contrasted, take note!
Where is the action? This is where we will camp out today!
Why is something listed or repeated? God uses these tools as exclamation marks to add emphasis!
How is God choosing to reveal who He is in this passage? His character? His pursuit of mankind?
U - Understand, in light of what you have observed and the form of literature it is, what this passage meant to the original audience.
N - Now, in spite of the difference between our culture and time and that of the original audience and in spite of the baggage we bring in our imaginings of what the passage “should” say or mean, Now what does it mean to me?
D - Dwell. Simply “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” Col 3:16
Pause with me in this space and discover the unique function of all the verbs of the Word. We normally associate verbs with action, however some of my favorite verbs have less to do with an action and more to do with a state of being. Those verbs are called stative verbs.
Sometimes it is the inaction or inside action that we need to pay the most attention to. Be sure to note the tense of the verb. Is it past, present, or future? Is the verb an action, dynamic “doing” verb or a state of being, stative verb? Is this verb a part of an imperative sentence? At times simply by noticing imperative statements, we are able to see direct commands of God.
A stative verb is a verb that is mostly used to describe a state of being like “I am” or situation like “I have.” It is how someone or something is, feels, or looks. Stative verbs don't show actual physical action like the dynamic verb in “I jump.” Stative verbs can communicate an emotional or mental state of being “I love”, as well as a physical state “Lily was here”.
Simply put, stative verbs are more of a “BE- ing” and less of a “DO- ing”- whereas action verbs or dynamic verbs are the “DO-ing,” where the actual action happens!
I think that it is very important to understand these truths. Pausing to consider the verbs is an essential tool to be able to see if what you are looking at is more of a “doing” or more of a “be-ing.” This is fundamental in allowing God’s Word to set the boundaries of your identity- let’s LET Him do and we just BE.
You could also take this tool one layer deeper and pause here to consider the dynamic effect of verbs in a cause and effect scenario. God chooses to use these types of literary devices to illuminate specific truths as treasures that He has prepositioned in His Word, on purpose, for us to find. “To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.” John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407
Let’s treasure hunt together and study Ephesians 1. I want to challenge you to read the Bible for just four minutes every day. Did you know that is how long it takes the average person to read just one chapter of Ephesians? Just one chapter. Four minutes. You can even listen to it while you are brushing your teeth in the morning and then finish it up when you brush your teeth in the evening. Which, if you want healthy teeth, should be a total of about four minutes!
Let the Word of God begin to be the background sound track of your life. Intentionally saturate yourself with it, be in it- all the time. You will never accidentally get to know someone in an intimate way. It is deliberately done on purpose. It takes work, but what a worthy work it is my friends! “We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” R.C. Sproul
While it is a worthy work, do not get overwhelmed. When you feel yourself starting to reach for your invisible brown bag to hyperventilate, pause and take a deep breath. Then, back up a bit. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Bit by bit. Bite by tasty bite. Let’s feast on the Word of God together.
Give yourself permission to just use one of the tools mentioned above. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight the tool that will help you the most in this moment, which may very well not be the tool you use tomorrow.
Highlighting the Who is a good tool to use for this passage, as you observe all the pronouns. You can choose to pick up the tool of noticing Where the action or inner action is taking place through the verbs of the passage. Remember to consider the tense of the verb and if it is an imperative, which can clue you in on a direct command of God. Specifically, pay close attention to the actions of God and the actions of man. You could even just read through the passage and answer two questions.
How is God dynamically acting out? How should we just BE? The truth in those answers will be enough for you to chew on for the rest of the day. Then BE changed by the Truth.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory…
You can see how I italicized some of the verbs having to do with man and put in bold and italics some of the verbs of God.
God blessed us, chose us, (so that we should be holy), predestined us to adoption to Himself (for His purpose and for His glorious grace praise, with which He blessed us), redeemed us through His blood, forgave us according to His grace, which He lavished on us, made known to us the mystery of His will (for His purpose which He set forth to unite all things in Him), gave us an inheritance, & predestined us (repeated word) (to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will).
Who is the obvious focus here? God. That should bring you great relief. Do you really believe that He is who He says He is? That He will do what He says He will do? Either He speaks truth and is Truth, or He is a liar.
What is your answer?
Let Truth change you, and as you slowly begin to realize that your life is so much less about you and so much more about God, then and only then, can you begin to sync your life to the rhythm of His and allow the steady cadence of His heart to be the thing that defines you.
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