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5 Books to Enhance Your Bible Study

I’m a firm believer in studying the Bible every day.  To be honest, I don’t do it every day but it’s my desire and I attempt to make the effort.  The reason we read and study our Bibles every day is that they bring us the very words of God.  As Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 32:47 about the Word of God, “These are no idle words for you, but your very life.”  I could go on and spend pages writing about the benefits of Bible study.  Instead I want to give you 5 books that I believe will enrich and strengthen your personal study of the Scriptures.  There are, of course, many other books.  These are just my top 5.

I will say up front that these books are not cheap.  They are reference books and they tend to get expensive, although the link I have provided should get you to the best prices. Just click on the highlighted text.

There is no substitute for sitting down with just your Bible and a journal.  You don’t need any of these books to study the Bible.  All you really need is the Holy Spirit to guide you into it’s truths.  However, these can enrich and enhance your study, making it even more fruitful.  So here goes…

  1. The ESV Study Bible.  The notes in this study Bible are excellent. They provide valuable insight, background and understanding to the Scriptures.  From the publisher, “The ESV Study Bible was created to help you encounter the truth of God's Word as a powerful, life-changing reality. To accomplish this, it combines the best evangelical scholarship with the text, which, as an "essentially literal" translation, is especially suited for Bible study.” You can get it in a variety of covers like leather, hardcover, etc.
  2. The Gospel Transformation Bible.  I love this Bible.  It helps the reader understand the Christ-centeredness of all of the Scriptures. From the publisher, “The apostle Paul summed up his whole ministry as existing “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). That single-minded goal is the heartbeat of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all of Scripture, and grace for all of life.”
  3. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.  Have you ever read the Bible and wondered what certain imagery it was trying to convey? What do the cedars of Lebanon mean? This huge compendium is extremely helpful in understanding the images of the Bible that we may not naturally get due to the fact that it was written in a different culture and times.  From the publisher, “The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery is the first contemporary reference work dedicated to exploring the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors and literary patterns found in the Bible. More than that, it examines the Bible's universal archetypes or master images--including the plot motifs and character types that recur throughout life, literature and the Bible.”
  4. Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem.  Doctrine is important. Theology can be confusing. This is a solid reformed systematic theology that will help you make sense out of the doctrine of Scriptures.  From the publisher, “The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features: - A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching - Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum - A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today - A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect - Frequent application to life - Resources for worship with each chapter - Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.
  5. The Westminster Confession of Faith with Larger and Shorter Catechisms.  A concise theology of the reformed faith.  This confession guides our understanding of the core doctrines of the Bible.  Catechesis is the art of learning through memorizing questions and answers. Many children as well as pastors have used this to grasp the basic doctrines. The particular edition I am recommending references the Scriptures that each doctrine is based on.

I hope this helps!


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The Centrality of the Gospel of Grace

The gospel of grace is central to all of life. Everything we do, say and think about will be impacted by the gospel. The gospel is simply the good news that God sent his son Jesus to save us from our sins. We were created to live in relationship with God but we chose to turn our backs on God and live life the way we wanted to live. This rebellion broke our relationship with God and left us to face the wages and consequences of our own sin, which is death. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, did not leave us to ourselves. God sent Jesus to come and die, paying the penalty for our sins, past, present and future. Through faith in Jesus we can have a restored relationship with the God of the universe. This renewed relationship will last forever and cannot be broken.

The Bible says that we are “new creations” and that we who live might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us. God’s Spirit comes and makes his home in our hearts. The Holy Spirit will work in and through us to glorify God in all we do. Every day should be one in which we live in the gospel of grace. This grace infects us and causes all our interactions with others and with ourselves to glorify God. You will have people that irritate you, dislike you, disobey you, make fun of you and you will love them with the grace that God has given you. You will have financial stress, your computer will stop working, you will miss an appointment and you will work through these issues with the grace that God has given you. You will enjoy a date with your wife, you will accomplish something great at work, you will find joy in smelling the fresh spring air and you will thank God for his abundant grace in your life. The gospel of grace is central to all of life. It permeates our thoughts, our actions and our words. As we walk through today and the day after that and the day after that, let us never forget to bathe ourselves in God’s grace. May you be completely overwhelmed just by meditating on this infinite grace.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through GRACE, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (II Thess.2:16-17)

All for Jesus,


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Evidence of Grace

God is constantly gracious. He never stops thinking about you, he is constantly with us all the time, everywhere. I love the Zephaniah 3:17 passage;
"The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

I want to encourage you to examine your life for "evidence of grace". Because God's grace is always flooding our hearts then we should be able to see evidence of it in our lives. While God's grace through Jesus is infinite let me highlight three areas you can look for in your own life.

New Desires: As we grow in our relationship with Christ, he gives us new desires that well up inside of us. These desires were not a part of us before we became a Christian, but now they are undeniable. Do you have the desire to know God more intimately through reading His Word? The fact that you value God's Word and love to read, study and hear it is evidence of grace. Do you desire to commune with God deeper through prayer? You have seen God give you peace in excruciating circumstances, answer your prayers, and move you to take risks because you prayed. Prayer is evidence of God's grace. You also have a new desire to worship. Worship happens all day, every day and hopefully as you walk through your day you have a new desire to praise God for who he is and what he's doing. Maybe your music library has changed over the last few years to have more worship music to keep your mind focused on Christ. Maybe it's a lot easier to get up on Sunday mornings and head to church, looking forward to worshiping Him with your heart, soul, strength and mind. Again, a desire to worship is evidence of grace.

New Perspective: As you have experienced the deep forgiveness of God through the work of Jesus on the cross you want to pass it on to others. I really feel that God has changed my perspective on life and specifically relationships. We all have wonderful relationships and difficult ones. God has given us so much grace that we are filled to the brim and overflowing. The overflow should pour into those around us...family, friends, co-workers, even the waiter serving us lunch. God's grace gives us a new perspective on how we treat others, how we react to others, and how we love others unconditionally. A new perspective is evidence of grace.

Old Temptations: As we constantly grown in grace then we will also constantly be hounded by Satan. We all know that "he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour". Grace gives us a tremendous weapon to fight temptation, however we constantly have to be on our guard to fight and defend ourselves. God also roams around,
"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."
Fight temptation by believing that the promises of God are far better than the promises of the world.

Bathe in God's grace today, let it wash over your heart, your mind and your soul, and then shower someone else with it as well.

All for Jesus,
Brian Fletcher


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