Wednesday, February 5, 2020

16. The Bible in 52 Weeks

The Bible in 52 Weeks: A Yearlong Bible Study for Women. Dr. Kimberly D. Moore. 2020. [February] 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Bible Study; Devotional; Christian nonfiction; junk]

First sentence: I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN MINISTRY for as long as I can remember. I was born and raised in the church.

The Bible in 52 Weeks is a bible study for women intended for individual use, small groups, and large groups.

Essentially this is a year-long reading plan--there are many of these that are free and available for download--with a built-in devotional study.

The study will choose a reading from one of the days that week to "focus" on. Each week concludes with points to ponder--questions to be answered, an activity or prayer. (Sometimes in place of an activity or prayer there is a key verse shared.)

The reading plan does not go from Genesis to Revelation straight through. It switches back and forth between Old Testament readings and New Testament readings.

The text accompanying the reading plan its best fluff with about as much nutritional value as cool whip. There were a handful of weeks that weren't all bad. The questions were worth asking and the activities seemed genuinely connected to applying the text. If only all 52 weeks met such a standard.

At its worst the text is just bad theology: bad theology, really bad theology, super-bad theology. Of course those descriptions are subjective. To those that lean towards prosperity, health-and-wealth, name-it-and-claim-it, word-of-faith, TBN-esque theology, live-your-best-life-now... then two thumbs up. This level of Bible "study" may just be your cup of tea. To those that actually want to read the Bible with spiritual eyes and handle the word of God correctly, then this is a disappointment.

One of the recurring questions throughout the Bible study is WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE. I wish she'd not had that as an actual question--leaving it up to readers to write their own ideas as answers. This isn't exactly a question with a mysterious answer in scripture.

I hope everyone who honestly and earnestly wants to read the Bible for themselves--perhaps for the first time will be encouraged to do so. But YOU DO NOT NEED THIS BOOK TO HELP YOU DO SO. There are dozens and dozens of FREE READING PLANS. Many Bibles have a reading plan or two in the back. (Though not all Bibles.) Search for bible reading plans online, and you will find plenty to choose from. There are many places to find a reading plan--all for free.

I do recommend with all my heart that EVERYONE reads the Bible for themselves. I recommend the Bible for men, for women, for children, for teens, for any AGE, any background. The Bible is the Word of God--the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God. God's Very Own Revelation of Himself to His People. It is ALL ABOUT HIM. But it speaks truth into our lives as well. It may not be about us, but it is for us.

My thoughts:

"As you read this book alongside the Word of the Lord, I hope you’ll be encouraged to be your best self and find some of the answers you’ve been seeking."

BECAUSE BEING YOUR BEST YOU is what bible study is all about.

"Along with the daily readings is a commentary based on one of the week’s scripture selections that will help you apply the lessons from the Bible to your everyday life. Following the commentary, you’ll find questions to inspire you to think about your own journey, as well as a prayer, a highlighted verse, or action steps for exercising your faith or overcoming an issue you’re facing."

To call the readings in this book commentary is ridiculous, a complete joke.

1. Decide in your heart to think and speak positively, replacing negative words with positive ones.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to intentionally respond to your doubts with declarations of faith. 3. At the end of the week, note how speaking positively into your life has begun to have a good impact on your outlook and ability to trust God.

At least the book revealed itself early. These points to ponder are from chapter one. I believe the "commentary" is for Genesis 16-18? 

1.What goals did you give up on that just seemed too far-fetched?
2.What visions or dreams do you have that you need to pick up and dust off?
Actions for the Week:
1. Take a few minutes three times this week to pray for direction to get your goals back on track.
2. Commit to watching a video or listening to a podcast that will help jump-start your creative juices in your particular area of interest.
3. Put a timeline in place to accomplish some of your goals, one at a time.
4. Share your goals and timeline with someone so they can help keep you accountable.

The first two questions go with the "commentary" for Genesis 37! (The subsequent four questions are actions for the week.)

Have you noticed the trend that whatever the text, let's make it all about you as quick as possible. 

"I BELIEVE GOD’S purpose for us is to be all we can be, do all we’re destined to do, and have all we’re destined to have. I believe it’s God’s desire for us to do more than merely survive. God wants us to prosper. But what does it mean to prosper? It can mean to have economic success, to thrive, or to become strong and healthy. And I believe with all my heart, mind, and soul that this is God’s will for our lives."

No Scripture proofs for any of this--I wonder why?!?! Oh, yes, that's because there are none.

1. Have you positioned yourself to be blessed? Are you listening and doing? Has that been difficult to do? Why?
2. Have you ever felt like you were more cursed than blessed? How did you reverse the curse?
1. Make a list of your blessings, and make it a point to thank God for each one of them every day this week.
2. Make a list of the commands that you have failed to fulfill, whether it be helping, forgiving, or giving to someone. Begin to cross them off your list one by one this week.
I'm a bit stumped. Reversing curses that were read over the Israelites if the Israelites choose to serve idols instead of the one true God?!?! These blessings aren't ours to name and claim, nor are the curses ours to try to break or lift. Right?!

"The Word of God is the greatest tool needed in order to pass our tests of life. If it worked for Jesus, it can work for us."
1. What tests have you encountered lately?
2. Did you pass or fail your test? How did you do it?
3. What advice would you give someone going through a test? 

I wouldn't exactly describe the Bible in these terms nor the Christian life. But to each their own?
"We must pray, humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. This passage in 2 Chronicles shows us that after we do our part, He’ll heal what has been torn apart. When we do our part, we then have to trust Him to keep His Word concerning our lives. Without a doubt, it’s praying time."
1. Knowing that we play a part in our answered prayers, what part do you find most difficult?
2. We’re told to pray, humble ourselves, and turn from our wicked ways. Is there any one of these that you have knowingly failed to do?
3. Going forward, which area within these mandates will you intentionally make the effort to grow in?
I'm cringing a little. 
Don’t get caught in Satan’s trap of constantly speaking words of fear and doubt. Regardless of how impossible your circumstances may seem, keep speaking God’s Word in faith. Base what you say less on how you feel and more on what God has said. As of today, start speaking life, not death.
1. What are some negative words or phrases that we use daily?
2. What are some helpful words or phrases that we need to incorporate into our daily conversations?
3. In what area of life will you intentionally shift your words in an attempt to shift the course of the situation?
1. Search your heart and determine what you have been created to do.
2. Come up with a plan and begin to implement a portion of that plan.
3. If your purpose works in conjunction with others, schedule a call or meeting this week to discuss the potential process.
4. Plan how you will begin to fulfill your purpose over the course of the next 30 days.
Search your heart and determine what you have been created to do. You mean search this heart?! "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

ACTION FOR THE WEEK Take a moment and really think about your love relationship with the Lord. Then take some time and write your love story. How did you meet? What were the circumstances surrounding your first encounter? When did you finally decide to come into a covenant relationship with Him? How do you intend to prove your continued love to Him?

My cringe muscles are hurting. Especially: When did you finally decide to come into a covenant relationship with Him? How do you intend to PROVE your continued love to Him?

1. What is your personal definition of mercy?
2. If you had to name three things you’re thankful for that didn’t have to do with money, what would those things be?
3. Have you ever found yourself in a space where you can admit that you were ungrateful or failed to be thankful? Explain.

This isn't the only time she asks readers to define biblical, theological terms for themselves. How do YOU define mercy. How do YOU define grace. Because it doesn't much matter what the Bible actually says...but what you feel and how you understand it.

ACTIONS FOR THE WEEK 1. Write a list of at least three goals or dreams and begin to develop a vision for them. 2. Begin to work on a strategy to bring those dreams and goals to fruition. 3. Write a list of hindrances that you will denounce daily (e.g., fear, doubt, slothfulness) until those things are no longer a significant part of your life.
These actions go with readings from Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. I'm not sure which chapters these activities are supposed to have stemmed from. But regardless, I can't think of a place they belong. 

1. What’s your love language?
2. How difficult or easy is it for you to show love to others who don’t show love to you?
3. How have you proven your love to God lately?

Because anytime I read 1 John the first thing that comes to mind is my need to my desire to prove to myself, to others, and even God himself how much I LOVE HIM. 

1. Have you ever bemoaned a door that seemed closed to you? Could you see God in it in any way?
2. If you had a choice to obtain the keys to walk through any door you desired, which door would you want access to (e.g., healing, financial freedom, career)?
3. If you could permanently close a door, which would you choose (e.g., job, relationship, the past), and why?

These are some WEIRD questions, right?! They are "connected" to reading some chapters in Revelation. Though your guess is as good as mine as to where they came from?! 

1. Go around the room and allow each person to share their favorite chapter and/or verse from the week’s readings.
2. How do you interpret this particular text? What do you hear the author saying?
3. Are there any companion scriptures that you know will complement this text?
4. As you read the text, do you see more of God’s love, His mercy, or His anger? Explain.
5. How can this text be applied to your life?
6. Can you identify with any particular character within the text? Can you see yourself in this text in any way?
7. After reading the weekly commentary, what will you do differently as you go forward?
8. How have this week’s readings encouraged you to do better and be better?
9. After reading the scripture and commentary, what principles have you acquired that you might teach others? 10. After reading the text, take a moment to encourage the person sitting next to you based upon something you have read in the text.

They should include this on the back cover and the introduction so that readers can be warned. Notice the theme of Me, Me, Me, the Bible is all about ME, Me, Me. The Bible is all about Me, Me, Me. Let's sing it, let's shout it: Me, Me, Me, the Bible is all about ME. The underline portions are for emphasis. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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