A few years ago, I picked up this study at a bookstore, intending to complete it on my own. For whatever reason, I started it but set it aside after a few days. Either it didn’t speak to me at that point in my life, or (more likely) I moved on to another group study. It’s sat on my shelf unnoticed for at least three years.
Group Bible study has been a consistent factor in my own growth as a believer. As a young mother, married for less than five years, I was still floundering in the “hit or miss” stage of maturing spiritually. I knew that time in God’s word was key, and since college, had experienced periods of time where I was faithfully reading my Bible, but it never seemed to last. I would get busy or discouraged, or (can I say this?) bored. I grew up in the church; I had been privileged to sit under many godly teachers and preachers and had a great intellectual understanding of biblical principles and had even memorized passages, but I did not have a sustaining passion for God’s word.
I’m so thankful for a petite, godly lady named Char who introduced me to what it really means to study God’s word. She invited me to join a small group of ladies in a Precept study of 1 Peter. I can’t tell you if it was just the stage of life I was in, or her excellent teaching, or my first real experience of group study with other believers, but God’s Spirit opened my eyes to the wonder and joy of Bible study. He lit a passion in my heart for His word that hasn’t dimmed, and it’s been almost 30 years. Since that time, I’ve tried to make studying with other believers a priority in my life, and God has not disappointed me. His word remains fresh and alive.
This summer, during a break between my neighborhood ladies’ study, I picked up this study by Max Lucado again. The tagline, Knowing His Heart, Feeling His Love, spoke to me. If you know me, I’m a pretty logical, even-tempered person. I rarely show my emotions; I don’t like sharing them, or even acknowledging them (if I’m being honest). I have great faith and confidence in God, but often in a matter-of-fact way, rather than in a “touch-my-heart” kind of way. Maybe it’s my personality; maybe it was my upbringing, but I’m not one for dramatic expressions. I feel deeply, but I’m not inclined to tell you how I feel!
But God is a passionate God. He is a God of love. He is full of mercy and compassion. And I want to worship Him and experience Him in all of who He is. So, this study drew me in, in hopes that I would connect with Jesus on a more personal, intimate level.
From the inside cover:
Unlike other studies about Jesus, this workbook is designed to help you spend time with Him, and in the process, to grow closer to Him each day. As the title suggests, it does not only aim to increase your knowledge about Him but to facilitate your intimate experience with Him. Each week’s study is an in-depth lesson about one quality of Jesus’ character, spread out into five daily studies. Experience Jesus at a deeper level – know His heart. Feel His love.
The study covered ten aspects of Jesus’ personality: His grace, love, forgiveness, freedom, courage, joy, prayer, peace, power, and hope. Max Lucado’s unique writing style makes scripture so personal. He gives examples from his own life, lessons he’s learned, along with people he’s met. And his descriptions and illustrations stick with you long after the day’s study is done. I believe a lot of the study comes from books Max has written, and those excerpts made me want to explore more of his writing.
Each day’s lesson was completely do-able. In fact, I often worked through two lessons because I was hungry for more. Max uses the NCV (New Century Version) of the Bible in much of the workbook, which I was not very familiar with. Even when he had scripture printed in the book, I would take the time to look it up in my own Bible (NASB), for a richer understanding. Too, because I do not use the NCV, there were times I struggled to understand exactly the point he was making, drawing from unfamiliar phrases, but that only caused me to think harder and explore more deeply.
This is not a hard study. There are simple multiple-choice and true/false sections with scriptures to read, and some simple questions asked after reading a portion of scripture. Most of it is Max’s teaching, but all of it is supported by plenty of scripture to read and think about. Max is a story-teller, and he tells the stories of Jesus in a way that speaks to your heart and stirs your imagination. He writes with a grace-filled pen, always inviting, always encouraging and always compassionate.
No Bible study teacher is infallible. To be fair, there were times when Max used a scripture to make a point and I felt it was not quite taken in context, although I found nothing unbiblical in his conclusions. (I would have just used a different scripture to illustrate the point). All that aside, I am so glad I took this summer to revisit this study. It’s made me stop and think about Jesus more intentionally and ponder His experiences as God-in-human-flesh. It’s reminded me of how much God truly loves us and feels deeply for us.
If you’re looking for a simple Bible study to help you gain a greater intimacy and appreciation for who Jesus is and what He has done for us, this is one to consider.
Are you going through a Bible study with a group right now, or are you studying on your own? Post a comment and share what you’re using, and how God is speaking to you.