After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Brandi moved to Texas to earn a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is married to her most trusted friend, David, and has the great privilege of doing life with two lovely daughters by her side. She has a deep love for God, the Great Smoky Mountains, sweet tea, and the Tennessee Vols.
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How many of us would say that we study the Bible with a focused desire to readily communicate it with others? It often seems that many of us read Scripture solely for our own personal benefit.
Time spent studying the Bible is a good and necessary investment in growing our relationship with God. However, as people who live redeemed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our relationship with Scripture goes far beyond just a personal focus. Once we understand that the whole of Scripture is based on the redemptive mission of God, then we have another reason to be intentional about taking the time to study it. If Scripture communicates the heart of God and testifies to his mission for the world, then shouldn’t we come to it purposefully seeking these things as well?
From its beginning, the aim of Time With God has been to produce equipped, biblically-literate, Bible-valuing, God-loving believers in Christ. In order to do this, we set out to teach readers how to accurately handle Scripture through using sound Bible study methods. As Time With God’s writers studied each passage of Scripture and crafted a study, they intentionally used the methods of observation (O), interpretation (I), and application (A) in order to discover and convey the truths found in Scripture.
Some of you have been using this method of Bible study (OIA) for many years, while others of you may be thinking, “What does this even mean?” Today, we’re taking the opportunity to show you what our writers have been doing behind the scenes. And in doing so, we hope you’ll realize that you, too, have been honing your OIA skills as you read along with us.
- As you study the passage below, keep these questions in mind:
What does it say (observation)?
What does it mean (interpretation)?
How do I respond to this (application)?
As I type this, I have twelve different translations of Scripture shelved nearby. From Hebrew and Greek translations to the more conversational adaptation of The Message, I have the privilege of personally being able to encounter God’s Word in a number of easily accessible ways. (And this doesn’t even include the copies of the Bible I can peruse with a click on my computer!) I must admit, though, I am rarely spent with wonder that these volumes of sacred writings are at my disposal. The accumulated dust on many of my Bibles attests to the somber fact that some are rarely even examined.
I wonder how many of us often take for granted the value of what we’ve been given in the Bible? How many of us go through stretches of days without inviting God, through his Scripture, to search and penetrate our hearts?
If you were to walk around my house, you would find a trail of verses from the book of Proverbs: a prayer guide tucked into my Bible, a piece of paper with verse 11:22 taped to a preteen’s mirror, a devotional book on the coffee table, and a framed verse sitting on a child’s desk. We’re drawn to Proverbs because of its various truths about reality and because of its wise sayings which guide us to live well. From it, we can reap a generous education in the ways of wise and foolish living and find practical instruction on how to live in the fear of the Lord.
- Where do you seek wisdom? Do you see yourself as a wise person? Why or why not?
Admittedly, I am a questioner, doubter, and skeptic. In fact, my mother still likes to remind me that my incessant “why” questioning as a child nearly drove her mad. I know this to be true, as I can clearly remember my exasperated mother saying, “Child, if you were in heaven right now you’d even drive Jesus crazy!” Many inquisitive years past childhood, as a college student, my questions became more concerted, profuse, and directly addressed (as evidenced by three poster boards attached to my apartment wall with the no-nonsense title, “Questions For God”). Later on, as a young seminarian on the hunt for answers to lingering theological questions, I landed in a class studying a conversation that blew my question-asking gaskets. In response to his disciples’ sincere inquiry, Jesus’ straightforward words provided the answer to all my “why” questions. Now, whenever I am confounded by circumstances, struggling to comprehend suffering, or questioning God’s methodology, I often return to this passage of Scripture.
I have been belittled by peers, professors, coworkers, and even family members for my faith in Jesus. I’m guessing you have similar stories. Scripture tells us that being aligned with Jesus is a sure-fire way to be disparaged by the world. It also says that our faith will be tested in various ways and that we shouldn’t be at all surprised by it (1 Peter 4).
The apostle Peter certainly knew what it’s like to live out one’s faith and to suffer for it (even dying in an excruciating way for it). Perhaps that’s why his hope-filled words to persecuted Christians in today’s passage so deeply resonate.
- What gives you strength when you feel under fire?
There are times when we find ourselves completely ill-equipped to deal with certain situations. It can lead to insecurity, frustration, and wounded pride. But think about the opposite scenario. What’s it like when you feel not only able but fully equipped to maneuver through a situation? It brings a certain sense of confidence and a willingness to readily tackle what lies ahead of you.
Throughout Hebrews, the writer assured a group of new Christians that they had every confidence to endure in their faith in Jesus as the Messiah. And in today’s passage, he gave them one final exhortation to continue to do so.
- Do you feel equipped by God? Why or why not?
I was fresh in my faith journey when I joined her Bible study group. At the time, I wholeheartedly believed in Jesus as God’s son, but I didn’t fully comprehend what it meant to practically live out my faith in the daily outworking of life. During our weekly visits, she taught me how to contextually study Scripture in my search for wisdom and instruction and how to seek God’s perspective on my life through prayer. She pointed me to worship God and led me in praying for myself and others. And as she discipled me, I learned what it practically meant to be a professing follower of Jesus.
- What are some of the practices you associate with being a follower of Jesus? How did you learn about these things?
Recently, I found myself standing before a monument erected for those who were horrifically gunned down, some because of their confession of faith in Jesus. I was so moved and deeply convicted by the memorials of those who had believed in Jesus and died for saying so. While standing before that monument, I had to affirm a very difficult truth. Saying “yes” to faith in Jesus and to living in obedience to him also means consenting to endure—for persecution and suffering will come. Jesus himself warned of this when he said, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” But, thankfully, he also gave us a reason to endure: “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- How do you approach suffering? Does it rock your faith or give you cause to exercise it?
These days, it seems as though Jesus is a smorgasbord of things. He’s a symbol in that Coexist bumper sticker, “my homeboy” on a t-shirt, the angry exclamation out of a reckless mouth. And, as we enter into football season, some version of who he is or what he’s said is about to pop up on end-zone signs and in locker-room prayers near and far. However, there’s one representation of Jesus that I doubt any of us will ever see splayed across a car’s backside or waving in the end zone. It’s the one that the writer of Hebrews starts unpacking in today’s passage: Jesus, a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
- What do you think it means that Jesus is a priest forever? And can you, at this moment, not only pronounce Melchizedek, but know what it means for Jesus to be associated with him?