Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Connoisseur of the Word


The Big Idea: Sometimes we read the Bible like we take out fast food, and occasionally have a good feast. It's OK. Just don't live only on fast food. 

Happy Meal Bible Readings

Did you hear about the guy who ate McDonalds only, every day for ten days? It was a science experiment for his dad, a professor. After about three days he started turning gray and feeling awful. It was not a good plan for his health and well being.

The nice thing about fast food is that it is so easy. Go through the drive through. Ready-to-eat meals are a big part of grocery store business now compared to fifty years ago. Of course for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, as a mom and hostess I can slave over a meal for five hours and it is consumed in about fifteen minutes. It doesn't seem right somehow. Yet you probably agree the home cooked meal is so much better for you than eating convenient pre-packaged meals all the time.



Have you ever thought about how studying the Bible is like the way we eat food? Jesus quoted the Old Testament where it states:

"People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3b

We live by the Word of God. It is our sustenance as a Christian. If you read your Bible regularly, day by day, it will help you grow in your faith. Would you give your child nothing to eat for days on end? No, of course not. Why not? It is not good for their health and stamina. In the same way, we must take in God's Word every day for our spiritual health and stamina.

At times it is useful to grab a quick meal. At times we need a good solid meal of healthy food. In the same way, it is okay to grab a quick ready-made spiritual meal, such as a short devotional guide. These quick sources of spiritual food we grab are not bad in themselves. In fact, it is so much better to get in the Bible even in these devotionals But after awhile, it will do little more than sustain you. If you want to grow, you need a more meaty diet!


The New Testament writers liken the Bible to spiritual milk for the new Christian.

Peter the Apostle: "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment." I Peter 2:2

Paul the Apostle: "I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready." I Corinthians 3:2

Hebrews author: "You need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food." Hebrews 5:12

Perhaps you can read what I surmise in these verses, that milk is good for a child, but eventually if you want to grow you need to add solid food.


If you stop to think about it, the weekly sermon is like a carefully made meal our pastor makes for us to spiritually consume. It is fine teaching and good for us spiritually. You can read books about what the Bible says about one subject or some theme relevant to your life. Great! I applaud your efforts to learn more about the Bible and your Christian walk! There is a lot of great stuff out there.

However, I would plead with you to learn to take in God's Word for yourself. It is like learning to prepare your own well balanced meals. There is a place for using a devotional guide for a daily quiet time with God. There is a place for reading good books on the Christian life. But please learn to study and apply God's Word on your own, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you.



Learn the recipes for Bible study. Examine the Word and dig in! There are many tools and methods to do this. I decided to create this blog, Scripture Spy, to teach people how to investigate and explore God's Word on their own. This blog site has a lot of different ideas. Try checking it in the magazine view. You will also see the information in blog posts organized at my website,

This year I plan to systematically present a variety of ways to study the Bible in personal Bible study. There are times when one method resonates more than another. An example is a character study; what the Bible says about a Biblical character. Another example is a survey of a book of the Bible as a book study. There are numerous others such as a thematic study, a chapter by chapter method, and other styles to try. You may find one works best for you or you may want to insert some variety once in awhile.

We all realize we should not eat a big Thanksgiving meal every single day. But we do need food every single day. Likewise there are times when we need to grab the quick morning bite in the Word of God and save an hour of deep Bible study for later in the week. What needs to happen? Be intentional about getting into God's Word.

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Joshua 1:8

Let's Eat!


Up Next: Instruction Manual Fiasco
Previous Post: The Eyes of my Heart



1. Do you have any regular time in the Bible? If not, how might you start incorporating that into your routine? Do you have a devotional you could start using? There are many available on You Version.

2. Are you at a point in your Christian life when it’s time to add more substance to your study of the Bible? Pray about how to do that. Is there a Bible study in your church or community you could join?

3. How do you feel about studying the Bible for yourself? If you’re willing to try, how might you begin? Be sure to check my Scripture Spy website for ideas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Eyes of My Heart

The Big Idea: Use meditation with visualization to reflect on God during Advent.

Do you See What I See?

Do you enjoy watching children reenact the Christmas story, a living Nativity display or a Nativity set up in your home? Seeing the Christ child in humble surroundings is a meaningful part of the holiday. It reminds us of the reason for the season. The Christ who came to earth as a baby for our redemption.

Saint Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Nativity scene. In 1223 A.D. Saint Francis asked the Pope for permission to do something special to spark more devotional interest in the birth of the Christ Child. He gathered a manger of hay with an ox and a donkey and used it to illustrate the humble means to which Jesus came into the world. Ever since then it has been represented in paintings and as Nativity scenes both life size and miniature. The Bible never mentions animals being present at Christ's birth, nor do we see the shepherds and the magi present at the same time in Bethlehem. Even so, the Nativity tableau is meaningful and useful to us in remembering the literal incarnation of our Lord. Here is a video from Sight and Sound Voices of Christmas showing St. Francis so many years ago starting a new Christmas tradition. 

Visualization in meditation of Scripture has its value. I am a visual learner so this is particularly helpful to me. I am not referring to New Age type visualization and meditation. That kind of focus can detract from or eclipse Scripture and God as core truth. I am referring to what we can see directly in Bible passages.

Remember Jesus was a story teller with parables and illustrations. A large chunk of the Bible (at least 40%) are narrations of stories in both the Old and New Testament. When we picture stories so vividly presented, we learn more about God, the Biblical characters and even ourselves. The Bible tells about sounds (i.e. the crow of the rooster), smells (i.e. the incense) and tastes (i.e. honey). Always pray asking the Holy Spirit to guard and guide you in your time in the Word.  Learn to read the Bible using your mind's eye and think about what you can see, hear, smell and taste. Pastor John Piper discusses visualization of Christ as a way to overcome lust. He talks about both the usefulness and the pitfalls of Biblical visualization.

A favorite Michael W. Smith song for worship reminds us to look with spiritual eyes toward God.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

You may have found as I have, that songs we sing in church over and over with repetitious verses can cause the mind to wander. A little trick I do to keep my mind on the Lord while singing is to visualize what the song says and how it impacts me.


The shepherds went to see the child in the manger.

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15 NLT

The wise men followed the star, and thus saw the Christ.

The star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! Matthew 2: 9b-10 NLT

The Bible points us continually to look to Jesus. In fact we are to fix our eyes on Him as our compass for life. That is what this verse means when we dig into the meaning in the original language - to focus our view fixed on Him.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12: 1b-2a. NLT

Take time this Christmas to focus on Jesus' birth and dwell on it a little. Reflect on His humble birth in a manger and the players who moved in and out. Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall as you read the Christmas story. Imagine what may have been the sounds you heard and the scents. Does this give you insights into the Christmas story? What does it tell you about God become man?

God became flesh to identify with us and be sympathetic to our pain, our suffering and our temptations. He became like us to empathize and extend to us mercy and grace when we need it most. What a gift!

[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:15-16

Jesus became flesh to take our sin upon Himself, to make us right with God. To rescue us completely from our sin and make us right with God. What a gift!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

Merry Christmas!

Up Next: Connoisseur of the Word

Previous Post: Pondering...Mary and Joseph Style



Have you ever visualized a Bible story? If so, how did it impact you? 

What comes to mind when you reflect on being in Bethlehem at Jesus' birth? 

What might the benefit be to take time at Christmas to reflect on the Christmas story and the Christ child?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Pondering... Mary and Joseph style


The Big Idea: In the Christmas story both Mary and Joseph model reflection. Take time to reflect during Advent.

Time to Think.

Most years Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year (this year of COVID may be an exception). We do special baking, shop for gifts, attend parties and special programs. Everything takes longer getting stuck in traffic with everyone else prepping for the holidays. Basically at Christmas, we do, do, do and find little time to ponder.

Thinking is important. Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men in the world is said to spend 80% of his time thinking and reading. Those who want to be a successful leader, businessman or to be well rounded and influential are advised to carve time in their schedule to just think. 

The Bible certainly advocates thinking.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  Joshua 1:8 NLT

“Be still, and know that I am God!  Psalm 46:10a NLT

I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.  Psalm 119:15 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2 NLT

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8 NLT

I find it intriguing that the Nativity Bible passages tell us about both Mary and Joseph's think time. Clearly at this busy time of year, it is useful to observe Jesus' parents as they took time to think during this monumental life event. The birth of the Savior.



We do not know much about Joseph, Mary's spouse. Typically in ancient Israel, the men were older and more established when they took a young wife. There was a long period of engagement, but it was a very serious commitment that demanded a divorce to break the deal. When Mary was found to be pregnant, she and Joseph had already become formally engaged. Since Joseph knew he was not the father of the child, this really set his mind reeling. Here is what the Scriptural text says.

Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 1:19-20 NLT

This text tells us Joseph was a righteous man. He did not want to disgrace Mary publically. He must have been a good man with a kind heart, but this was a serious situation. If this was not his child, whose was it? Would it be obvious it wasn't his if they stayed together? Did someone else want Mary for a wife? Was she molested? Just imagine all the thoughts swirling around his head.

He wanted to do right by Mary, so he "considered" (NLT) how to deal with this. This word "considered" in the original language means to reflect and ponder, but it is a very strong emotional word. Let's take a peak at how a couple of Bible versions choose to describe this. The bulk of them use the word  "considered" (ESV, NLT, NIV).  Some use "thought or thinking" (KJV, NASB).

If you want to check how different translations present a verse (it is after all a translation from the original language of the New Testament, ancient Greek), go to Bible Gateway and only enter 1 verse. You will find a link to see it in numerous translations.

The Passion translation says, "While he was still debating with himself."

The Living Bible says "As he lay in bed considering this."

We all know what it is like to have night thoughts. The weight of the world goes to bed with us. I know this happens to me time to time and it is likely you have done this too.  In fact right now we have lots of issues to contemplate, that weigh us down in the night, wondering what life will be like tomorrow morning for a financial matter, or a health matter, or some other grave concern.

It is good to have an example such as Joseph, a righteous man. He was a man who wanted to do what was right, a man who wanted to be kind in the midst of what seems a betrayal. And God spoke to him in a dream through an angel. Today we have the wonderful Word of God to speak God's very intentions to us. Slow down and think. Ponder. Reflect. And see what insights His Word reveals to you.



We are never given Mary's age when the angel first comes to her. Given tradition in Israel at that time, scholars put her age as likely 14-15 years old. When I worked as a nurse in West Africa, I was the health care worker for quite a few newlyweds whose wife was between the age of 14-15.  Yes it is still like that in some parts of the world. These young girls at our Bible Institute joined their husband studying for ministry. Many had left a village of family and familiar community to join ministry preparation in a new place without the usual support structures of an ancestral village. These women had a sharp learning curve to care for their own household. Many became pregnant in their first year of  marriage. They were so young with much to learn.

Mary remarkably took on this pregnancy at her young age. It was all a learning experience of life. She travelled with her new husband to Bethlehem during her final trimester. Here's a Google map of Israel with the traffic routes of today. Nazareth to Bethlehem is almost 100 miles apart. They would have travelled on foot and perhaps with a donkey. Google says the modern route is a 33 hour walk, not counting a stop for meals and other needs.

Traffic is busy in our world during the holidays. Bethlehem was similar as the census caused new travel bottlenecks. Imagine Joseph and Mary's situation, arriving late to Bethlehem with no place to stay, everything unknown. They were offered an animal shelter for lodging. No woman of the family was with Mary to help with the birth. What must have been going through Mary's mind at that time was probably the cold, finding a sheltered place, the unknown of how well the birthing process would go, food and care for the baby and a myriad of other practical things. Perhaps the birth went rapidly and smoothly. We do not know but I am more inclined to think our Savior came into the world in pain, just as He died before He resurrected. He was not sent from heaven to earth to have a kingly life of ease and comfort. He was born to die. First time births are often hard and long. And so our young and brave teenage Mary gave birth in the night among the animals.

Then, a group of motley shepherds smelling of sheep and dirt and sweat come rushing through the entrance of their shelter. Their story is fantastic, describing the angel choir and God's message of "good news of great joy which shall be for all people" (Luke 2:10). Their lives are clearly changed. They will never be the same again. They pour out of the shelter telling everyone they see about this wondrous event.

If you enjoy watching the new series, The Chosen, enjoy seeing the shepherds visit Mary and Joseph on that night here on YouTube (~25 minutes).

Our verses of contemplation for Mary follow the Shepherd's visit:

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. Luke 2: 18-19 NLT

The phrase in the New Living Translation, "thought about them often," is one word in the Greek that is often translated as "pondered".  The origin of the word implies weights used on a scale. It is the balancing of the weights. Used in this case Mary weighs the various happenings in her mind. She goes over it again and again. The pieces of the puzzle start coming together in amazement at what God is doing.


Both Mary and Joseph had much to think about in those early days of Jesus' life. There were angels, shepherds with their lambs, Uncle Zachariah, Old man Simeon and Anna… It certainly deserved much contemplation.

This Christmas, find the time to think. Take time to weigh the truths of Jesus the Messiah, Emmanuel God-with-us, Savior and Coming King.  Consider your life, your family, your dreams and your future. Live life intentionally.  Be prone to ponder.

Up Next: The Eyes of my Heart

Previous Post: Spying on Christmas



Do I take time reading the Bible during this season? Do I take time at Christmas to slow down and reflect on the Christ? Why or why not? 

If I don't already, how can I incorporate thinking regularly about spiritual things and life issues? 

Do I have a plan to to make time to reflect on God, life and family before the New Year begins?


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Spying on Christmas


The Big Idea: How to inductively examine the Christmas passages. 

Investigate Christmas passages.

I call my blog and website "Scripture Spy" because I love to investigate deeply into the Bible. I want to discover what really matters and explore how it applies to my life. Better yet, I want others, like you, to learn how to dig into it yourself.

This may sound a little like a cooking blog with how-to instructions, pictures and a recipe. Only it is a recipe for Inductive Bible Study, not food.

This Advent I want to guide you to dig into a Christmas passage. Here is a recipe on how to study the first two chapters of Matthew and of Luke so you can dig into God's Word. I hope you can discover insights from God's Word for yourself today!

There are a few inductive steps I take with any passage I want to work on. Let's call it the recipe. Others may have a different recipe, but this is mine. Gather your ingredients.


1. Colored Pencils and markers/highlighters

2. Find a digital version of the Bible like You Version or Bible Gateway.

3. Cut and paste the passage from the Bible program on the computer. Paste it into a word processer document like MS Word. Make the print a little bigger. Print the page. I have a blog with more specific instructions for making your own worksheet.

4. Paper for extra notes


1. Pray.

2. Highlight all words referring to God in yellow

3. Differentiate to which member of the Trinity is it referred

4. Underline all locations in green

5. Circle all time references in brown

6. Circle  key players (or the author in some cases), in one color and lesser players in another color.

7. Look for words that reoccur, as well as relationships such as contrast, synonym, etc.

8. Underline or star lines that touch you spiritually.

9. Ask yourself the 5 interrogative Ws and H.

            Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

10. List theme and learning points on spare paper.

11. Apply to your own life, today


1. Pray.  Always start devotional time with prayer for God's blessing. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead you.

2. Highlight all words referring to God in yellow. This includes pronouns referring to God such as in Matthew 1: 21, "He will save his people from their sins." You would highlight "he" and "his."

3. Differentiate to which member of the Trinity is it referred. I use the Precepts International symbols on the Trinity. This is what they look like. Each member of the Trinity is represented in Matthew 1.

4. Underline all locations in green. Precept has geographical places double lined with green on top like grass and brown underneath like dirt. I sometimes just use green. It is for towns, countries, etc. I would also underline things like tent, house, the sea, etc. It is about location and setting. The only location I noted in Matthew 1 was "Babylon."  Matthew 2 on the other hand has a lot of geographical references.

Not all of these steps are as predominant as another in different parts of the Bible and different chapters. But these steps do get you to slow down and re-read the passage and examine the Word for yourself.

5. Circle all time references in brown. This can be a word like "yesterday" or "hour," as well as "suddenly" or "after a time." In Matthew 1 there are not too many time reference. I circled "fourteen generations," for instance.

6. Circle  key players (or the author in some cases), in one color and lesser players in another color.

Every passage is different in who the players are. It is good to note that. Matthew 1 is a little odd in that there are so many names in verses 1-16. I circled all those names (verses 1-16) in orange. Many occurred twice, first as the son born, then as the father. I circled the four women in the chapter in pink marker on top of the orange. They are Tamar (v. 3), Rahab and Ruth (v. 4), and wife of Uriah (v. 6). I also decided to do something special for David, because the house of David is important to this story. I made the symbol for Judaism. That is two triangles in blue, one upside down. It looks like the star of David. From verse 16 and then 18-25, I decided I would circle Joseph in purple and Mary in pink. 

7. Look for words that reoccur, as well as relationships such as contrast, synonym, etc. Sometimes I mark repeat words in a similar manner or draw a line from one to the next for cause and effect, synonym or a slash through a line for a contrast. None of those correlations are all that relevant in Matthew 1. Or at least they did not stick out to me this time. Every time you try this method on the same passage it will be fresh as if through new eyes.  

In Matthew 1, I noticed the repetition of the term genealogy/generations. Also there are similar words about marriage and family. Conception, birth, betrothed, divorce, etc. We learn this entire chapter is about the birth of Jesus and how He was conceived.

8. Underline or star lines that touch you spiritually. There will be spiritual lessons that will jump out at you, an ah-ha moment sometimes. In Matthew 1 I underlined "He will save his people from their sins," (v. 21) and "which means God with us" (v, 23). These two phrases jumped out to me today as a blessing. I don't want to miss it!

9. Ask yourself the 5 interrogative Ws and H. If you are an investigator or detective, these questions are important. Someone else may answer these questions with a different nuance but the gist of the passage will be there. Here is what I did for Matthew 1

Who : Ancestors, David, Mary, Joseph, Jesus

What : Generations, engaged, divorce, marriage, conceived, birth. It is all about the unusual conception and birth of Jesus.

When : After 42 generations of the Old Testament.

Where : Israel. This one is not written in the text specifically but we know from further passages it will be revealed this is where we are. The point of inductive study is to stay as much in the text and not read commentaries and Bible Helps, especially at the beginning.

Why : To save people from their sins as God (God with us).

How : Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit to a virgin woman.

10. List theme and learning points on spare paper. I simply wrote down a few thoughts here. One could go into a lot more detail. One could take the genealogies and look up in the Old Testament the stories of the women in the genealogy. One could study the quote in verse 23 from the Old Testament. One could map out Joseph's movements and list the things he did. One could make a list of what you learn about Jesus in this passage.

For Matthew 1 today I listed these learning points

  • God works through the years, centuries even.
  • God directs us, as He did with leading Joseph.
  • God's promises come to pass (v 23).
  • God has a plan to save us from our sins. It has been a plan in place for a long time.
  • God is with us.

11. Apply to your own life, today. God is at work in the world today and at work in my life. Sometimes I see things as moving slowly. Right now we see the COVID-19 as going on and on, and on. But the situation is not hidden from God and it is a small blip in time compared to the centuries we see God at work to bring about His promise of the Messiah. God sees me. God is with me. God guides me. I can have this dynamic ongoing relationship with Him. And by the way God, thank you for Jesus and what he came to this world to do for me!

You will have a different list of application for yourself. In a couple years if I did this again, my thoughts would be a bit different. That is the richness of God's Word.

Here is my final product. Messy but I had a wonderful time in the Word with it. For me it took almost an hour to complete. You can break it up into several days of study too. The first two chapters of Luke are so long they should probably be studied by section.

Here is the before picture


So there is an example of taking a chapter of scripture and digging into it, investigating it to find what it says to us. No commentary. No Study Bible notes. Just me and God and the Bible. Oh the depths and riches of His Word! 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

Up Next: Pondering… Mary and Joseph Style

Previous Post: Make the most of Advent



1. Do you like to write stuff in your Bible or take notes? If not, how do you remember valuable lessons you have learned from sermons and Bible study? We all have different ways we learn. 

2. Have you tried this method of Bible study before? Are you able to approach it by yourself or do you feel the need to use a prepared lesson? 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Make the Most of Advent

The Big Idea: Seven different approaches to studying Christmas passages during Advent. 

Enrich Advent with these  7 Study Tips.

Advent was not a household word used when I grew up. My impression was that liturgical church services are based on God's Word, but it becomes so rote it does not mean anything to people. My freshman year in college I attended a conservative Baptist church that (gasp) used an Advent wreath! I embarked on a wonderful lifelong journey 4 weeks before Christmas every year to study God's Word and prepare my heart regarding the real meaning of Christmas.

The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means coming or arrival. It is used in many churches as a time of introspective spiritual preparation for Christmas. The traditions vary in churches around the world, but usually 4 candles are used to light each week (5 if you count an additional center candle for Christmas). The first week, one candle is lit. The second, two are lit, and so on. The colors vary but the traditional color is purple for Christ's royalty, with the candle of the third week pink, a color of joy as Christmas is over halfway here!

Don't get hung up on whether you have an Advent wreath with the right colors of candles, or no wreath at all. Some people prepare for Advent opening one chocolate a day on a candy Advent calendar! This is not about the physical, it is about the spiritual, about preparing your heart toward Christmas.

Your Scripture Spy loves to study the Bible and encourage others to get into God's Word and prayer. I'd like to give you several hot tips how to use the season of Advent for this.  For focused study I would recommend a different focus or theme each year to keep it fresh.

1. Devotional guide ready to use. You can use it for just the four Sundays or some for every day of the week.  Christianity Today has an excellent one online this year.  It is in eight different languages.

2. Advent wreath on your family table. Light a candle and share a devotional with the family every Sunday dinner (or any one day of the week when everyone gathers around the table). This Raising Arrows blogs has a number of sources for children's devotionals on Advent. Some free, some to buy.

3. Theme based study. Focus on a theme for either the 4 Sundays of Advent or for a focus the entire month. You would look into these on your own.

·         Research Prophesies in the Old Testament on Christ's arrival to the world.

·         Research what the Bible says about Christ's second coming.

4. Word study. Again focus either on 4 Sundays or through the week.

·         Research light throughout  the Bible ("I am the Light of the World"  John 8:12)

·         Research the love of God throughout the Bible

·         Study angels in the Christmas Passages and in the Bible exalting Jesus

·         Study giving, generosity, kindness

·         Study names of Jesus in the Christmas story: Emmanuel, Messiah, Jesus, Savior

5. In depth study of the Christmas passages.

·         Inductive study on the Christmas passages Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2 (four chapters)

·         Character studies on people in the Christmas story (Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, Elizabeth) as well as lesser characters like Herod, Wise Men, Innkeeper, Simon, Anna, etc)

·         Background study of the Christmas passages with the help of a Bible handbook or Bible encyclopedia (or use Bible Hub online) Look at locations, times, geography, customs pertaining to the Christmas story like childbirth, shepherd life, etc.

·         Search and study what the rest of the New Testament authors say about Jesus coming in to the World, and also the Gospel of John chapter 1.

6. Write it or speak it. Write out the four Christmas chapters (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2) by hand. Read it aloud. Read it over the course of advent in numerous translations. Write down fresh insights.

7. Memorize Christmas verses. Use this exercise for meditation on those verses. Here are some passages or verses that might be beneficial.

·         Isaiah 9:6-7

·         Isaiah 7:14

·         Matthew 1:18-23

·         Luke 1:39-45

·         Luke 1:46-55

·         Luke 2:10-14

·         John 1:9-14

·         Galatians 4:4

·         Philippians 2:5-11

·         Colossians 1:15-20

·         Hebrews 1:1-4


When I lived in West Africa, my electricity shut off every evening at 10 pm. One particularly busy Sunday I had no time to study the Bible. That night I lit the Advent candles and sat there with my Bible open. I meditated and prayed for the peace and joy that I needed for that day. I started to relish snatching quiet moments like this with the Lord every year during the Christmas season. The Advent season is not something in the Bible we are commanded to celebrate or honor. However I find it to be a very useful tool for deepening my understanding of the Word, my walk with Christ and a way to keep Christ in Christmas.

Up Next: Spying on Christmas

Previous Post: The power to bless


For reflection: 

1. Do you have an Advent practice? Is it meaningful spiritually to you or not? 

2. Is there an idea in this blog that is appealing to you to try? How do you think it might steer your inner spirit and thoughts towards the real meaning of Christmas?