Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Advent Starter Kit DIY

The Big Idea: How to personally start celebrating Advent at home the four weeks before Christmas.

Holidays seem to get introduced earlier and earlier each year.  My car radio played an all Christmas radio station mid-October!  This year Advent begins on November 28th. Advent occasionally kicks off in November (four Sundays before Christmas).

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. Advent wreath are used in some churches. If you want to try it for yourself, here are some practical suggestions. It’s a great benefit to find practical ways to reflect on God’s Word and what really matters.


Why Advent Helps You Get Closer to God

Any tool that can help us focus on God’s great love for us through His living Word is gold! Advent is a Latin word meaning come/coming. It focuses on:

  • The coming of Jesus into the world. 
  • His second coming.

Though this tradition began in early church history it has helped many in our modern time find Peace in the holiday frenzy. It’s designed to lead our focus toward the spiritual wonder and joy of Christ.


What you need for your starter kit.

Five candles. 

  • Traditional- 3 are purple, one pink Some add a center white candle.
  • Optional- 4 red or green candles with a center white one.

Design from a wreath or circle. Advent holders are sold (optional). DIY guideline.You could take a Christmas wreath of almost any kind and place 4 candle holders on the inside or outside of the circle (or pillar candles). 

Find a simple devotional on Advent. Some follow a devotional thought through the first 24 days of December. Some light candles at Sunday dinner with the family and reflect on the theme of the week (see below). There are ways to incorporate Advent into activities with children!


Excellent Free 25 Day Devotionals

From John Piper. download the electronic one for free. Good News of Great Joy

From Stuart and Jill Briscoe. Meet Him at the Manger

CRU –sign up to receive. Making Jesus Your Solid Foundation

Billy Graham –sign up to receive. Arrival: Perparing to Celebrate Christ's Birth


Sunday themes:

1. First Sunday - The Prophecy Candle symbolizes hope. Throughout the Old Testament prophesies brought hope for the Messiah to bring something better.

2. Second Sunday – The Bethlehem Candle represents faith. The minor prophet Micah foretold Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. King David was also born there. It leads us to look to the king of Kings in faith.

3. Third Sunday – The Shepherd’s Candle stands for joy. The shepherds were told of this great joy for all peoples. This is the pink candle of joy.

4. Fourth Sunday – The Angel’s Candle is the candle of peace. They announced “Peace on earth, goodwill to all.”  Jesus brings people to God and brings people together. Reconciliation is peace.

5. Christmas Day – (Optional) The Christ Candle for light and purity lit on Christmas.  It is usually white.

“Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20


Up Next: What is Prophecy?
Previous post: Unravelling Figures of Speech in the Bible

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Pratical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. Why do you need a focus of Jesus’ coming this year in December?

2. How might this be a teaching aid for you and your children?

3. What might you get out of this even if you miss a few days or a Sunday due to travel? (Hint- do what you can!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

IBS-23 Unraveling Figures of Speech: when not to take the Bible literally

The Big Idea: We believe the Bible is to be the literal word of God but what about figures of speech?

When not to take the Bible literally

I studied French for a year conversing, listening to television, reading the paper, etc. I heard a phrase about a moon of honey on the news. I was stupefied till I realized the story was about newlyweds. That idiom is also used in English!

As serious students of Scripture, we take the Bible at its word. It is not a fairy tale. Interpret it literally most of the time believing it is God’s Word to you. The Holy Spirit inspired writers (2 Peter 1:21) who wrote beautiful ancient literature, but no language is sterile. Figures of speech give it beauty and emphasis. Realize figures of speech paint a picture. Sometimes figurative words of another culture sound odd to us. Bible translators apply modern phrases to express the idea for us which explains the difference in comparing translations. Remember that the cohesiveness of the Bible remains in sync with the rest of it. No strange doctrine emerges from a sentence or verse that is counter to the rest of the Holy Word of God.

Figures of Speech

Figures of speech are words and phrases that express meaning that is not meant to be literal but rather descriptive. It is not intended to be misleading but rather to illustrate like a word picture. Examine this chart to see the more common figures of speech found in the Bible followed by an explanation and an example.

Figures of Speech in the Bible

Understanding these language variables help us interpret the Word of God better. It is not intended to be mysterious and hard to understand. The Bible is intended for us to learn how to live abundant life in Christ (John 10:10, Ephesians 3:20).


This is the twenty third in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents

Up next in the series: What Does Timeless Truth Mean?
Previous post: Strange Bible Verses



1. Do you enjoy idioms in your language? Does one make you laugh when you hear it? Do you have a story of a funny misunderstanding talking with someone who was foreign to your language?

2. What is a phrase in the Bible that sounds odd? What do you think it is really trying to say?

3. Does this blog on figurative speech give you comfort of more confusion to trust what the Bible says? Why or why not?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

IBS-22 Strange Bible Verses: writing styles in the Bible

The Big Idea:  Knowing the style of literature you are reading is useful to interpreting what the Bible says.

Writing Styles in the Bible

Thanks Cuyler Black!
Playing the popular game, Jeopardy, one chooses a category for a question. Players typically know some categories better than others.

You may favor a genre of books of Bible. Many spend more time in the New Testament reflecting on Jesus. I love the comfort of Poetry books (i.e. Psalms, Proverbs). Our son gravitates to Apocalyptic books (i.e. Daniel, Revelation). I asked him recently if that is because he enjoys Sci-fi. He says “I like to remember God wins in the end.”

Types of Biblical Literature

The Bible has sixty six books altogether, written between 1400-2000 years of time. Some are easier to read than others. It helps to understand what genre of literature you are reading. Reading a cookbook is different from reading a murder mystery novel or a textbook on history.

How are the books of the Bible categorized? They are categorized by their main writing style, though one book can have multiple styles in it.

History – Often written in a descriptive narrative style telling a story of what happened and what God did. Example: Acts of the Apostles.

Law – This writing sounds like a legal document, about worship procedures or a covenant relationship between God and man. Genealogies are in this category. Example: Leviticus.

Poetry and Wisdom – Descriptive creative writing. Ancient Middle Eastern poetry and wisdom literature doesn’t rhyme but it shows emotion and action more than a description. It gives advice comfort and/or warning. Example: Psalms.

Prophecy – Prophetic writing is a persuasive style. Prophets are the mouthpiece of God saying what God wants people to know. They remind or warn us of God’s guidelines. Sometimes comforting. Sometimes frightening. Example: Isaiah.

Gospel – The word Gospel means “good news.” The Gospels contain historical narrative to introduce and show Jesus’ life and ministry as good news to man. Example: Matthew

Letters – The New Testament letters written from spiritual leaders of the early church write to encourage those following Jesus. Their writings are expository. They are referred to as Epistles. Example: Philippians.

Apocalyptic – Similar to prophecy as it is a message from God to man with a future urgency regarding the last days on earth. It is marked by a lot of symbolism much like poetry. Example: Revelation.

Why Genre Matters

  • · Knowing the communication style of a confusing passage can bring clarity and peace. We don’t have to understand everything, but we can work with it.
  • · It helps us understand the original Biblical world and culture in which it was written as we seek its core timeless truths.
  • · We understand how two books different from each other may have similar themes.
  • · We appreciate the creativity and brilliance of God communicating through so many different authors and styles.
  • · We look at poetry and figurative apocalyptic literature to see beyond the imagery to the message.

I posted a blog last year on literary styles of the Old Testament. Check it out!
You might also find this video from The BibleProject helpful.


This is the twenty second in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents



1. Can you think of a saying or section of the Bible that seems odd to you? What is it? Does it help to know it might be poetic or an ancient storytelling style?

2. How might you seek to find out of which style a book of the Bible is written?

3. Have you considered praying to ask God for wisdom to find clarity to a confusing passage? Could you also talk it over with someone else who studies the Bible a lot? It is useful for us to talk together about His Word.

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. Luke 24:14-15 NLT

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

IBS-21 Age to Age: Twelve Biblical Eras

 The Big Idea: Understanding the period of time and world situation helps us interpret the Bible

Know the Biblical Eras

There are seasons in life. College days. Newly married. Death of someone in a household. Senior living. There are seasons of a nation as well. A Hebrew word talks about time. עֵת It is often translated “time” or “times” but sometimes translated “seasons” and other words for time periods.

“My times are in Your hand.” Psalm 31:15a

History is often studied by periods of events/world leaders. The era of a Biblical book is effected by the period of time in history, which is important to Bible interpretation. For instance, the knowledge of Roman world domination is revealing to understanding the Gospels.


Twelve Biblical Eras

The Bible can be summarized by twelve general periods. Note geographic focus, world events/powers and Biblical focus during each period. Click and save this chart to photos or right click and download to save to examine and use later in your studies.

Right click and download to use this for your studies.
Copyright @ScriptureSpy

The Apostle Paul, in Athens, Greece addressed a group of Athenians (~55-60 A.D.) referencing an alter to an unknown God.

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

"God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:22-31 NLT

God is at work

God is at work through the entire time frame. Sometimes astonishing is how our Sovereign God uses world powers and world events to work to accomplish His ultimate plan for His people. Enduring world powers, influences and difficulties through the ages of the Bible, God clearly works among His people for His purpose. In our world today take heart. God is not surprised at what is happening, nor is He wondering what to do. He is Lord!


This is the twenty-first in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents

Up next: Strange Bible Verses
Previous post: Maps, Timelines and Charts


1. Think about a distinct season of your life. Was it a difficult one? Tedious? One of great happiness? How long did it last?

2. In the passage from Acts 7:24-21 what do you learn about God? Make a list. How do you see God works in the world with a plan?

3. Reread Acts 7:30-31. What about your life? Have you turned to Him?