Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bible Studies on Listening to God

Listening to God consists of 10 studies for individuals or groups. Written by Carolyn Nystrom, this is an important part of IVP's Life Guide Bible Studies series. Nystrom has written many booklets on Bible studies for IVP and I recommend  whatever she writes in this regard. But seriously, have you tried listening to God lately? Or do you just hope he is listening to you? InterVarsity Press has been working for years to provide Bible studies for those who are interested, either for themselves or for a group of people who want to learn more about the Bible and its stories and teachings. And Nystrom is always careful to give suggestions for either individual or group studies, this time in the front of the booklet and Leader's Notes, in the back, pp. 47-64. These notes are very helpful, preparing the leader for each of the 10 studies, providing suggestions and questions that will encourage the discussions at each of the meetings.

If it's a group meeting, or individuals, each should have a copy of this booklet as they go through the 10 weeks of study. Because, there is a space for each person to write their answer to the  question before them, helping them to be ready for the discussion or just in order to think it through. Nystrom explains that they are doing an inductive Bible study, meaning that each one will discover for themselves "what the Scriptures are saying." She cautions that each member of a group study should "come to the study prepared, be willing to participate in the discussion, stick to the topic being discussed, and rarely refer to other portions of the Bible." Other advice includes "be sensitive to other members of the group, listen attentively, be affirming whenever you can, be careful not to dominate the discussion, expect God to teach you." If you are the group leader, there are more helpful hints in the Leader's Notes at the back.

The first chapter is called The God Who speaks, and the second is Listening to the God Who Hears.   Chapters with ideas for listening continue, including Listening to the God of Covenant, ....when All Is Lost.....Listening as Worship, Understand.....with Holy Self-Discipline.....and finally Listening as Ears of the Church.

 As an example: note that Study 8, Holy Help in Listening, John 14:5-31, "has a purpose," writes Nystrom, "to better understand God as Trinity and so to particularly value God the Holy Spirit." The questions are part of Jesus' final conversation with his disciples. They were probably walking
toward Gethsemane......

---Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks