Something great happened on Sunday morning. Someone came up to me after the service and asked, "Who is Priscilla? I see that you're speaking on her next week but I've never heard of her. Can you send me the scriptures you're using in your message so that I can find out who she was?" YES! I can and will always do that for anyone who asks. Why did that make me so excited? When scripture captivates hearts and imaginations, creates questions and makes people wonder... I'm excited. One of the best things about maturing in your faith is how the Bible continues to humble and surprise, unnerve and challenge you. It never gets old or boring or stuffy; God keeps making is come alive day after day.
While I am always more than happy to help to point you toward scriptures and answer any questions that I can, I thought it would be good to give you a couple of tools that you can use. Anytime you read something in the Bible that makes you stop and wonder, anytime you wish you understood what was going on when the text was written, anytime you would like to see other scriptures that speak to the same theme... or anything else... here are some great places to start.
1. A Study Bible
My study Bible has been with me for a long time. It has extensive notes at the bottom of every page and includes an index of subjects and an abbreviated concordance at the back. Plus, it has maps! I love the colour maps, I won't pretend that I don't. This is the one that I have had for years but there are lots of great ones out there.
2. A Concordance
A concordance is simply an alphabetical list of words that you might want to search for in the bible. A "complete" or "exhaustive" concordance will have a list of every time the word is used in the Bible, not just the most frequently searched ones (that's what you'll find in an abbreviated concordance). How many times is the word "lance" used in scripture (you might never ask)? Twice. That was easy since I looked in my concordance that happens to match my study Bible. They don't have to match but I think my parents got me the set when I went to Bible college!
3. A Reading Plan
I love when God drops a scripture in my heart and speaks specifically to my situation. But, most of the time, Bible reading is a long game of strategically going through books, chapters and verses and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you through them. I use my YouVersion app to find Bible reading plans to follow along with. I really enjoyed doing a chronological reading of the Bible last year. This year I'm doing a plan that has me in both the Old and New Testament every day. Lots of their plans have devotional readings that go along with them. But this is just once source of plans - there are lots of plans out there... the back of your Bible might even have some! I simply suggest that plans help to keep you on track and consistent in your scripture reading.
If you want to go more in depth with a book of the Bible, commentaries are a great resource and not just for the Bible college graduate! Some of them, like these, are really easy to read and are strategically applicable to modern times. I have a few that are condensed that work really well (this is the OT volume) if you want a more brief overview of what you're reading or wondering about.
Perhaps this summer you will have some time at a beach or in a lawn chair somewhere that gives you a chance to do some reading. I hope these resources are a helpful start for those who are wondering how to go deeper. The Bible is so life-giving and life-changing... don't hesitate to dig in and learn as much as you can. You might be surprised how God is waiting and able to speak to you in new ways.
We're going to the New Testament to hear the brief testimony of Priscilla and Aquila in our series Testify: Ancient Stories for Modern Times.
You can read in Acts 18 who this couple was and where they came from. It's interesting that Luke, the author of Acts, thinks it's important to include this story in his narrative. On Sunday we'll pause and grab out some of the lessons we can learn from Priscilla and Aquila's meeting with Apollos.
You can also follow along with the message on YouVersion.