For the Love — an Online Bible Study

JohnStudy1When a biblical character hits me, stays with me for months, and fills me with questions that draw me, daily, deeper into Scripture, I’ve learned to take notice. And to hit my knees, because often, God is about to do something.

This happened six or seven years ago, when I became fascinated with Joseph (from Genesis), and I had a quiet yet steady niggling–hold tight. You’re about to be trained.

I soon realized how true that was as, for the next few years, God hit me with challenge after challenge. Not exactly fun times but oh, so necessary.

Fast forward a few–or seven–years, and a character flaw became more and more apparent–a selfishness, or perhaps self-obsession, had begun to rise. So I prayed for God to help me close my ears to accolades and expectations, turn my heart from sales numbers and worldly success, and to daily offer myself on the alter (Romans 12:1-2) so that Christ might shine, unhindered, through me.

Around this time, I visited a friend’s church–just once, mind you, rather coincidentally, or so one might think. As I sat there, rather distracted by my tumbling thoughts, one word caught my attention: deflect.

Deflect, spoken in reference to John the Baptist, a man whose life exemplified his famous quote, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30 NIV).

A statement that is easy to make but oh so hard to live. Yet so very necessary, because Christ is worthy, amen? And His mission–the mission He’s assigned each of us–is worth cross-423157_1920it. So much is at stake. Everything we do or say creates an eternal impact. We’re either drawing others to Christ or pushing them further away. We’re either exemplifying what it means to love as He did or we’re consumed with self.

We’re either revealing God’s amazing grace or we’re distorting it.

You and I, we were created with purpose for a purpose; a glorious, eternal purpose. And yet, we’re still being created as God removes everything within us that gets in His way and sharpens and hones those things that further His kingdom.

That, my sweet brothers and sisters, is where this study comes in. Join me and some of my most cherished blogging friends for the next two and a half months as we take an indepth look at the life of John the Baptist. Not only will we be digging deep into Scripture and discussing how it applies to our lives today, but we’ll also be sharing some Bible study methods to enable you to glean God’s truth from your own reading.

You can join discussions here, and we also invite you to interact with one another on Facebook in our John Study Group.

You can begin this study by reading Luke 1:1-10 each day for the next week, jotting down every question and observation that comes to mind. Consider reading the passage in numerous Bible translations. Then bring your notes back here, next Thursday when we’ll discuss ways we, like John’s parents Elizabeth and Zechariah, can be faithful in the mundane. (Luke 1:1-7)

Then, on September 12th, join me on Christians Read where I’ll discuss making prayer a priority. (Luke 1:8-10)

Then, on the 13th, I’ll be on Faith, Friends, Chocolate expanding on the importance of prayer further and sharing how we can make our prayer time rich and meaning. (Luke 1:8-10)

On September 15th, the amazing and insightful Chaka Heinze will visit us here to talk about those times when we’re crying out to God but it feels as if He’s not listening. (Luke 1:5-7)

On the 19th, my dear friend Maria Morgan will discuss ways we can choose faith over doubt. (She’ll also be sharing some information about a wonderful Bible study she’s launching.)

On the 22nd, Susan Aken will talk about a painful time in her life when it felt as if she’d be waiting forever, and what happened when that waiting ended.

Finally (for the month of September), on the 29th, my guest Candee Fick will talk about how as parents and grandparents can raise children who deflect (live lives that point others to Christ).

That’s it for September.

I hope you’ll join us, because as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), we can all learn from and teach one another.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this. Can you relate to my steady tug? When has a biblical story or character fascinated you and resulted in an extended study? Did you find God used that person or story to teach or show you something? How about John that Baptist–have you spent much time studying his life? What intrigues or inspires you most about him? Share your thoughts here with us in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a chuckle (at my expense), pop on over to Modern Day Mishaps to read how I almost became Trapped in Atlanta, and how God preemptively saved me from my scatterbrained mess.


  1. John the Baptist shows the extent to which God goes in using different kinds of people to get across His message to the world. That alone makes John the Baptist fascinating to me. I look forward to learning more 🙂

  2. I had to go grab my notes. One day I was reading Genesis 37:18-33

    19 They said to each other, “Look, here comes that master dreamer! 20 Let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and say that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what happens to his dreams.”

    Joseph had dreams that showed others bowing down to him, which made his brothers jealous. They didn’t like the fact that the dreams showed Joseph greater than they were. Aren’t we the same way? We don’t want to feel someone is above us. But isn’t that what submission is all about? The brothers didn’t want to be in submission to Joseph. They were older, wiser, knew more.
    Joseph’s brothers are tending sheep away from home. His father sends Joseph to check on his brothers. His brothers see him coming, so they plot among themselves to kill him. His brother, Rueben, doesn’t want to go along with them. He plans to rescue Joseph without his brothers knowing. Unknown to him, the other brothers sell Joseph into slavery before he can rescue him. Joseph is gone.

    The brothers dip Joseph’s robe in animal blood to fool their father into thinking Joseph is dead. Have you ever tried to cover up something you did that was wrong? How did that work out? Here, not so well.

    A few years go by and Egypt is in a drought. There is no food, but because of Joseph’s dreams, he convinced Pharaoh to store food and prepare. Joseph is in bondage, but God is still near. He still has dreams. Isn’t it good to know when things aren’t going as we think they should, that God is still near? We can still call on Him and He will answer.

    Joseph recognizes his brothers when they come to Egypt for food. Joseph gives orders to bring his youngest brother to Egypt. Instead of telling them right off who he is, he sets them up, demands they bring his youngest brother. He has the Pharaoh’s ear at this time. He could have retaliated against them for what they had done to him. But he didn’t.

    They enjoyed a feast together where Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. But you know what his brothers didn’t realize? God used them to make Joseph’s dreams come true. If he hadn’t had the dreams that made them jealous to begin with, if they hadn’t seen him coming, if they hadn’t plotted to kill him, if they hadn’t sold him into slavery, Egypt wouldn’t have been prepared for the famine, and Joseph wouldn’t have had the position he held. Isn’t it great the way God works?

    Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God-those whom he has called according to his plan.

    Even when it seems everything is against you, God is still on your side. He uses situations and circumstances for your good. Even when others do things against you, talk about you, they can’t stop the good God has planned for your life. Just like Joseph.

  3. Great thoughts and insights, Sally! You are so right!

    Another thing I love about the whole Joseph story–God used Joseph to care for his brothers as well. So it was for their good also. Isn’t that just like God? If only we would trust His nature more than our circumstances and faulty perceptions!

    I also loved what you said about the brothers not wanting to listen to Joseph because they felt they were older and wiser. There is so much we can learn from the younger generation! My daughter is 19, so technically an adult. She can be quite insightful, spiritually. Though I’ll always be her mother, there’s much I can learn from her as well. 🙂

  4. I needed this right now. Thanks Jennifer. John the Baptist is a fascinating choice. I’d complained to my counselor about not being sure what to do next. He asked, “Are you sure you want a definitive answer?” Doesn’t everyone? “What happened to John the Baptist?” He was beheaded. “He had a definitive answer. Are you sure you want a definitive answer?” I promptly decided fuzzy was good. I could live with fuzzy. 🙂

    1. Oh, wow! What a conversation! I agree! Fuzzy is good! Last weekend I went to the ACFW conference where Ted Dekker spoke. He talked about being okay with not having all the answers. That was powerful–and so peace-giving!

      1. It was such a great conference! I love meeting with other writers and learning about the craft, but the worship and keynotes are by far my favorite parts. It’s very much a spiritual retreat! And it was so powerful to be in a room full of worshipers who are giving their lives to serving Christ. It was so beautiful, and God’s presence was tangible among us. Let me know if you do end up going; maybe we could connect!

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