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Talk

Each of the characters in this skit had a unique take on how the Bible fit into their lives. How about you? What is your experience or perspective with the Bible?

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Read

I grew up going to church, so Bible stories told through skits, puppets, and cartoons like VeggieTales were familiar. The Bible itself, however, was an archaic book full of cryptic language. It couldn’t possibly relate to my twentieth-century life, so I approached it with the same expectations I did a dry textbook.

I hit a season of extremely dark depression my junior year. My friends and faith community tried to cheer me up, encouraging me to “hang on to God’s promises” in the Bible. But I could barely get out of bed each day, and loathed the verses people sent to encourage me. Was a verse like “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” supposed to make sense when I felt like my heart could hardly beat?

Talk

Has the Bible helped you through any tough times yet? If so, how? If not, have you ever found a particular story, poem, or song lyric that really encouraged or inspired you? What was it about those words that helped you?

Context

Psalm 23 is one of the best-known Psalms. It was written by King David, who had been a shepherd boy. He was likely writing this Psalm in the midst of a crisis or dark period of his later years.

Read

Take turns reading verses from Psalm 23:1-6.

Observe

  1. On your sheet of paper, take a few minutes to draw these four scenes: verses 1-3, verse 4, verse 5, and verse 6.
  2. List the main need or life challenge addressed in each scene, and what meets that need or challenge.
  3. Who is the main character in each scene and what do you notice about this person?
  4. Imagine yourself in those scenes. Write down what you’d observe with your five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch), and how you’d feel if you were in those settings.
  5. Write down what you notice about God (referred to as “You”) in these scenes, especially what God’s relationship with the main character seems to be.

Interpret

  1. Why do you think these particular challenges or needs stood out to the writer?
  2. In some ways, God was the source of both the trials mentioned (shadow of death, rod, and staff) and the pleasant things in the passage (quiet waters, anointing oil, goodness, and love). How does the psalmist make sense of these tensions and complexities in his relationship with God?

Apply

  1. Draw yourself in one particular scene you fit into as of today. Why did you choose that one?
  2. Look at the list of God’s characteristics you wrote for that particular scene. Are there ways you can see God doing those things for you today?
  3. How do you make sense of God being able to both give you good things, but also seem to lead you through hard places?
  4. (Optional) Write a short letter to God asking him to meet you in the scene you find yourself in today.

Watch

Read alternate story

Read

I was at a week-long Christian camp for college students, away from my everyday life, when the Bible first came alive for me. One particular story from the book of Mark gripped my attention and I saw how Scripture applied to me—now, exactly when and how my aching heart needed it.

My Bible study group was reading the story of Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and closest friends. Sometime between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m., Peter and the other disciples were on a boat in the dark in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when a sudden storm threatened to capsize them. In the midst of the wind and waves, they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. Not quite believing what he was seeing, Peter yelled out, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the sea.” And Jesus said back, “Come.”

Our study leader stopped to ask, “Can you relate to Peter? Where is your storm?” I burst into tears as I realized my deep depression was my storm, with its own waves nearly drowning me. I felt as challenged as Peter was. I saw that I had to walk out on my own stormy sea, and that Jesus was there and would not leave my side.

Since that moment, I’ve experienced the Bible as more than a book full of moral lessons. It’s an adventure I am meant to enter into, embrace wholeheartedly, and find myself in each character on each page.

Watch

What words stood out most to you in the Bible word cloud?

Lectio Divina

"Lectio Divina" is Latin for "sacred reading." It's a method that's been practiced for centuries to meditate and reflect on the Bible.

Read Psalm 23:1-6 aloud three times.

  1. During the first reading, notice what jumps out at you from the text. It could be a word, phrase, or image.
  2. The second time, focus on that word, phrase, or image. Notice what the Bible seems to be saying about it.
  3. The third time, reflect on what God might be trying to communicate to you through that word, phrase, or image.

Bible Studies

Choose either the Observation, Interpretation, Application (OIA) or Lectio Divina study method you learned in the session to study each of the passages below this week.

Download the OIA and Lectio Divina handout if you need it.

Record your notes and insights in a Bible study journal.

Day 1: Mark 1:1-8
Day 2: Mark 1:9-20
Day 3: Mark 1:21-28
Day 4: Mark 1:29-34
Day 5: Mark 1:35-39
Day 6: Mark 1:40-45

Video

This video is part 1 of 3 in the Discovery Series. Inspired by the story of Agassiz and the Fish, this animation features a student named Gordon who learns to look deeper through observation. Followed by an informational screen featuring important things to Observe.

See video

Manuscript, a communal method in studying the Bible, was developed 40 years ago by an InterVarsity staff worker. It consists of observing, interpreting, and applying what God may be showing you.

See video

The Bible is not a book that gives good advice or tells you how to live your life. The Bible is the Word of God, and the whole Bible is about Jesus. This clip is taken from the sermon "The Bible Is about Jesus," preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. Watch the full sermon.

This video is part 2 of 3 in the Discovery Series. Significant questions are a key component to interpreting the passage. Join Detective Sherwin and Detective Stella as they unfold their mystery case. Followed by an informational screen featuring significant questions to ask.

This is part 3 of 3 in the Discovery Series. Watch what happens when Scripture comes alive. Gordon learns from a friend the importance of applying what you know. Followed by an informational screen featuring questions on application.

Sites

Following a reading plan is a great way to make the Bible part of your daily life. YouVersion has 150+ different plans, with options for customization and support to help you stay on track. See what God reveals to you when you spend time in Scripture each day. Also available in the free YouVersion app.

BibleStudyTools.com has the Web's largest library of online Bible study resources to help you grow deeper in God's Word: commentaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and 30+ translations.

Books

The primary task of Bible study is to determine what the Scriptures meant at the time they were written and how that meaning applies to us today. This vital guide gives historical contexts and explains differences between the Old Testament narratives, the Epistles, Gospels, Parables, and Psalms.

In 15 easy–to–understand chapters, Kay Arthur presents a systematic approach to help you interact with God’s Word and absorb more of its message. Give God greater access to engrave his truth on your heart and mind.

Starting from scratch, this book presents the general rules for reading the Bible's ordinary language and moves on to specific principles that apply to special types of language such as parables, figures of speech, Hebrew poetry and symbols.

With a minimum of technical jargon, Sproul tackles some of the knotty questions of interpreting the Bible, including word meanings, Hebrew poetry, proverbs, parables, prophecy, and cultures. He also lists available Bible software and other aids.

Travel between the lines of the Scriptures to listen in on the conversations of people wrestling with the Story of God for the first time. Whether sitting around a campfire in Babylon, reclining at table in Asia Minor or huddled together by candlelight in Rome, you'll encounter a tale that is both familiar and surprising.

Grahmann unfolds a long-appreciated method of inductive Bible study which has been updated to meet the needs of today's generation. With exercises to put the method into practice, this is a book that will benefit you individually as well as in your next group Bible study.

Audio

It's critical for you--a disciple of Jesus--to know how to read, understand and apply the truths of the Bible to your life. In this teaching series, Gordon Dabbs reveals basic principles for reading and interpreting Scripture that will help you 1) understand and interpret the Bible and 2) be transformed by eternal truths contained in the Word of God.

Articles

“How can I read the Bible and make sense of it?” Find the answer to this question as you go through the inductive method of Bible study: observation, interpretation, and application, to understand what God has to say to us through his Word.

This article helps the very new Christian begin reading the Bible for the first time. It encourages new readers to start with the book of Mark and perhaps Psalms. It also gives some very helpful tips about which version of the Bible to purchase or obtain, studying in community with other people, and a reminder that God is anxious to meet us in his Word.

What can a fictional detective teach you about how to study the Bible? A lot, actually.