Cover to Cover

Resources of the Month: Haggai and Jacob Bible studies


Cover to Cover Haggai

Uncover how God motivates His people into action

Haggai, an often-overlooked prophet, aimed to motivate God’s people to action. His prophecy describes how God uses timing, perspective and more to encourage those lacking drive. These lessons apply to us today as much as they do to the people of the Old Testament. This study explores how motivation is vital in our walk with God.

Over seven sessions, explore in your small group the ways God motivates us today, how we can focus on following Him and that God’s ways are founded on His love and compassion for us.

 

 


Cover to Cover Jacob

Explore the life of Jacob – and learn how God never gives up on us

Best known for deceiving his twin brother Esau, there is so much more that we can learn from Jacob and his experiences as a son, brother, husband and father. Through his struggles, mistakes and challenges, he learnt many lessons and allowed God to set him back on the path towards home.

Over seven chronological sessions, discover more about the family tree Jesus was born into, the power of persisting in prayer, and how to take hold of God’s blessings and purposes for your life.

 

 

More in the series

Cover to Cover Bible study guides are ideal for group or individual study. Experience the reality of Bible events in a fresh way, and gain a new depth to your Bible knowledge and relationship with God. Icebreakers, Bible readings, eye openers, discussion starters, personal application and ‘seeing Jesus’ sections make these Bible study guides a great small group resource.

Resource of the Month: At the Cross Cover to Cover Lent Bible Study


Cover to Cover Lent: At the Cross

NEW for Lent 2017

Reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus in a new way – by considering the perspectives of those who witnessed it themselves.

Each of these six Bible study sessions includes a devised monologue of someone whom the Gospels tell us was present at the cross – from the criminal crucified beside Christ, to Mary and the Roman centurion.

You and your small group can discover a creative approach to exploring these momentous passages of the Bible and be encouraged by looking afresh at the world-changing impact of what was achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Author Abby Guinness writes in her introduction to this Bible study:

‘Together, in these sessions, we’ll spend some time thinking about six people who witnessed the crucifixion. They were real people with thoughts, experiences and responses like ours. My background is in theatre and I have a love of thinking about things dramatically. I naturally consider human nature and personal stories to help me understand and explore the Scriptures. I would love it if you would enter into that with me… and I pray they will help you find fresh perspective on your own interpretation of the biblical text.’

Meet the Author

Abby Guinness is an actor, writer and Event Director for Spring Harvest. She particularly enjoys finding creative ways to explore and communicate the Bible. She is the author of The Word of the Wives, the editor of Immeasurably Deeper, and has written several Bible study resources.

More in the series

Cover to Cover Bible study guides are ideal for group or individual study. Experience the reality of Bible events in a fresh way, and gain a new depth to your Bible knowledge and relationship with God. Icebreakers, Bible readings, eye openers, discussion starters and personal application make these Bible study guides a great small group resource.

You may also be interested in other resources ideal for Lent.

Resources of the Month: Joshua 1-10 and The Armour of God Bible studies


Cover to Cover Joshua 1-10

Discover more of the wonders of being in a relationship with our faithful, holy and awesome God.

Joshua’s life powerfully illustrates God’s call to each and every one of us to walk by His side and bear witness to His work. We may live in a very different culture from the one in which Joshua found himself, but God never changes and nor do the priorities He has set for us. Today, just as during Joshua’s time, no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Like Joshua, we will learn that God’s ways are best, even when they don’t make sense to us at the time.

Over seven sessions, be encouraged in your small group to live out your life for God, better understand God’s faithfulness, and discover more about what it means to be in a relationship with a faithful God.

 

 


Cover to Cover The Armour of God

An invitation to put on God’s strength, protection and power.

Ephesians 6 is a well-known passage about the armour of God, but how do we go further than just knowing about the armour – how do we fully apply it to our lives? The armour is of little value if it is not put on and worn intentionally. Let these words of Scripture become a reality to you and your daily life as you explore the different pieces of armour and consider how each part protects, strengthens and empowers us as we take hold of them.

This is an opportunity over seven sessions for your small group to be reminded that we are loved, valued and forgiven by God, and that salvation makes a huge difference to our lives. We can also wear the armour both personally and together as the Church.

 

 

More in the series

Cover to Cover Bible study guides are ideal for group or individual study. Experience the reality of Bible events in a fresh way, and gain a new depth to your Bible knowledge and relationship with God. Icebreakers, Bible readings, eye openers, discussion starters, personal application and ‘seeing Jesus’ sections make these Bible study guides a great small group resource.

Resource of the Month: Cover to Cover Advent study guide

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NEW Cover to Cover Advent Bible study guide: Heralding the Coming King

It’s a common saying in churches that ‘Christmas begins with Christ’, but for many people the festive season is becoming less about Jesus and more about shopping, television, presents, turkeys and Christmas trees. Even for those in the Church, it’s important to come back to the Bible and remember the ‘reason for the season’.

When we consider who Jesus is – and how and why He came to earth – we can be truly inspired to live a life that makes way for Him, the King of kings..

Join Anne Calver as she explores the biblical figures of the Christmas story: the very first people to experience the incredible presence of Jesus. Find out the true biblical account of the Christmas story: the very first people to experience the incredible presence of Jesus. See how each of their stories connects with Jesus and discover how you too can have a real relationship with the King who speaks and ministers to us today.

Meet the author
Anne Calver is a Baptist minister, author and speaker. Anne is passionate about God’s Word and Spirit, and seeing Jesus transform lives and release people’s potential. She is married to Gavin and has two children: Amelie and Daniel.

Bulk buy offers available until 24 November 2016. Click below to find out more.

 

Also available

previousadventcovers

Bulk buy offers available until 24 November 2016. Click below to find out more.

 

How to use these Advent study guides
These guides are designed to be read day by day, alongside the Bible. There are thirty-one days of studies to read throughout the month of December, over the Christmas period. If you are using these guides in a small group, it will work well if members have an individual copy to read throughout the week. Then, as you complete each section, you can use the Group Study Notes at the back of the book to discuss and consolidate what you have learnt.

Fresh ideas for… small groups facing a dry spell

This week we received an enquiry from a small group leader who was looking for some fresh, Bible-focused resources for their small group of twelve to make the most of. The leader was finding it challenging to discover fresh content that differs from the regular material made available by others.

So, here at Small Group Central, we put on our thinking caps to provide a whole selection of resources that the group might like to use going forward. We then thought that this could be a challenge that many other small groups might be facing, and so we thought we would share our thoughts:

1.  The Vital series

This series comprises four study guides of four weeks each, focusing on seventeen different spiritual disciplines across the series, including Bible study, witnessing, temptation, silence and giving thanks. As you work through these various areas of discipline, you will see how each, in its own way, works towards this goal of loving God. Each session also comes complete with a free video teaching, which can be found online.

To read more about this series, click here.

2. The Small Group Toolbox series

This series offers six study guides, each containing four sessions, on a variety of relevant topics for Christian small groups today, including titles such as Building Character Through Testing Times, Identity and Hearing God. Each of the six study guides is a workbook-style resource ideal for taking your small group to the next level.

To read more about this series, click here.

3. Every Day with Jesus Extra

You may have heard of the popular Bible reading notes Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes. However, did you know that CWR also create resources for small groups to use alongside these notes? Short icebreakers, key thoughts, discussion points, prayer points and scripture are collated to provide readers with stimulating and ever-changing small group study guides.

To buy your subscription to Every Day with Jesus, you can click here. To download this month’s free Every Day with Jesus Extra, you can click here.

 

Of course there are many, many more resources available for small groups who are looking to shake up their weekly meetings. We offer Bible reading programmes for the whole church, which also work within a small group setting, a number of DVD resources that are ideal to work through as a small group and a huge selection of Cover to Cover study guides, which give a fresh perspective on numerous books and people in the Bible.

So really the possibilities are endless – which one will you try next?

 

 

Resources of the Month: Elisha and The Beatitudes Cover to Cover Bible Studies


Cover to Cover Elisha: A lesson in faithfulness

Discover a life lived with faithfulness, deterred by nothing, walking closely with God.

Elisha was called by God to succeed Elijah and continue the fight against idolatry in the land of Israel. Although we may not have the same calling, we too are living in an age where our belief in God is being challenged. Elisha’s example teaches us that with the Holy Spirit we can achieve far more than we could by ourselves and by devotedly serving God, whatever the cost, we can experience His power, protection and provision.

Over seven sessions, be encouraged in your small group that God’s power is the same in every generation and explore how you can respond to God’s call in your own life.

 

 


Cover to Cover The Beatitudes: Immersed in the grace of Christ

Look afresh at the Beatitudes and explore Jesus’ unconditional grace.

The eight Beatitudes, or blessings, are not just an introduction to Jesus’ groundbreaking Sermon on the Mount. They are among His best known but perhaps least understood words. Jesus speaks to the needy, the sad, the powerless, the cheated, the carers, the purists, the blamed, and indeed to all of us. His words remain as relevant today as when they were first given.

This is an opportunity over seven sessions for your small group to gain a fresh perspective of the eight Beatitudes and discover afresh their relevance in today’s world.

 

 

More in the series

Cover to Cover Bible study guides are ideal for group or individual study. Experience the reality of Bible events in a fresh way and gain a new depth to your Bible knowledge. Icebreakers, Bible readings, eye openers, discussion starters, personal application and ‘seeing Jesus’ sections, make these Bible study guides a great small group resource.

Obedient worshippers and faithful friends: What we can learn from Ruth

By Philip Greenslade

The Story

The story of Ruth illustrates the gospel in a nutshell. It is also a remarkable story of unsurpassed loyalty and commitment, shining like a sparkling diamond against the darkness of betrayal and murder that often characterised relationships in the Old Testament.

In Hebrew the word Ruth means ‘friend’ or ‘associate’. It is derived from the word for a shepherd and his flock and carries with it the sense of close companionship and support on a common journey. Ruth was from Moab,  and therefore an ‘outsider’ to God’s promises to the chosen nation of Israel. When her Israelite husband died she could have remained in Moab with her sister Orpah. Instead she chose to accompany her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel.

It is intriguing to compare Ruth with Orpah who initially said she would go with Naomi and even kissed her. Eventually, however, she turned back to live amongst the familiar people and idolatry in the country of her birth. Ruth’s words to Naomi are some of the most beautiful in scripture: ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.’

Like Abraham before her, Ruth launched herself on a journey of faith to a distant land that she had never seen, but trusting in the God of whom she had heard and come to believe in. Orpah sincerely offered Naomi her best wishes on a difficult and dangerous journey. Ruth faithfully offered Naomi herself.

The story of Ruth develops with God providentially arranging her marriage to Boaz. Ruth is redeemed from poverty, isolation and widowhood and becomes accepted as a member of a wealthy and powerful family amongst God’s people. She is chosen by God to be an instrument of His purpose by which Jesus can be introduced into the world.

Obedient Worshippers and Faithful Friends

Like Ruth, we were once ‘strangers to God’s promises’ and ignorant of His love and mercy. Perhaps, through unfortunate circumstances or the witness of others, we have embarked on a journey of faith that means we have to leave behind our old lives of sin and selfish thinking.

We have been specially called by God to be a companion of Jesus to live a new life amongst others who also know Him. We have been adopted as sons and daughters into the royal family of heaven with God as our Father. The new kingdom we find ourselves in is at first strange and sometimes frightening: but as we faithfully follow His directions, God blesses us and we become an instrument through whom Jesus is introduced to the world!

Ruth is also a wonderful example of real friendship.  In an age where many relationships break down, her loyalty and total commitment to Naomi is a perfect illustration of true dedication whatever the cost. Ruth’s relationship with Naomi was not based on shallow convenience or expediency, but on unshakeable principles of covenant commitment. Jesus put it this way: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:12.)

This is the depth of love and faithfulness that Jesus calls us to emulate. ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (John 13:35.)

Let the story of Ruth challenge and inspire you to be an obedient worshipper of God and a faithful friend to others.

 

Want to learn more?

If you want to find out more about the story of Ruth you can pick up a copy of Cover to Cover Ruth: Loving kindness in action from the Small Group Central Shop.

 

About Philip Greenslade

Philip has worked with CWR since 1991 in the areas of biblical studies, pastoral care and leadership. With his passion for teaching God’s Word, he offers a refreshing and challenging perspective for all.

Is the Bible dangerous?

By Andy Peck

Maybe some of you have noticed that reading the Bible can be a dangerous business?

I don’t just mean this because if it is read correctly it can truly impact and challenge the way we live. It is also hazardous because we can easily fall into the trap of making incorrect assumptions about God and His ways in the world.

By not fully understanding the way that Scripture is written, Christians have justified slavery, discrimination, domestic abuse, apartheid and dictatorships (to name a few!). Poor reading and interpretation has left many Christians failing to know and enjoy the true grace of God, because they assume some of the accusing texts must apply to them. As a result, it is important that we notice the features of the Bible’s literary styles so we can truly hear what God is saying to us, without drawing harmful conclusions.

The Christian Church has never had so many excellent Bible-study aids, yet surveys suggest that levels of Bible reading and understanding have never been so low. So how can we make sure we don’t fall into error when we read the Scriptures? Here are the 4 Cs of Bible reading to bear in mind as you read.

Covenant

Our Bibles have two testaments for a purpose – they reflect the old and new covenants God made with His people. Much of the Bible (39 books no less) was written when there was a different covenant (agreement) between man and God. This is not to say that God was different, but the way he related to humanity was. It was a provisional arrangement, which God knew had a shelf life until Jesus came. The Old Covenant was based on the law and demonstrated our inability to do what God wanted and why we needed a rescuer of the calibre of God himself to enter our world and bring in the new arrangement through His death and resurrection. Failure to ‘spot the difference’, can lead to odd interpretations. We are wise to read the Old Testament the way the apostles did: in the light of the coming of Jesus.

Context

You would rightly feel annoyed if someone twisted a sentence that you had written by taking it out of the context in which you had written it. But Christians do this all the time when they wrench a verse out of the paragraph in which it occurs. Many have quoted Jer. 29:10 to encourage friends who are uncertain about the future: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ But look at the context and you see this is said to 6th century BC Jews in Exile in Babylon. It has nothing to do with you or me. Far better to encourage someone that God is with them in whatever the future brings. Eg. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16). So we read the Bible in context, of the book in which we are reading and also in the context of the overall story of the Bible.

Canon

If u get a msg that lks like this u know its a text! You wouldn’t necessarily complain that the writer didn’t spell it correctly. The canon of the Bible uses all manner of types of literature and we are wise to read it in the way it was written. We don’t believe we worship a saviour made of oak because we know that Jesus is using a metaphor when he says ‘I am the door’. We read proverbial sayings differently from commands and read commands under the law differently from the commands of Jesus under the New Covenant. When the prophets speak of the moon turning into blood, we know it’s not a strange warning from the met office but the way they spoke of events that had great significance. The Bible is a library of books and just as we wouldn’t usually decide on randomly reading a library book without spotting which section it came from, so we shouldn’t read the Bible without checking what kind of literature we are reading.

Community

If you think you have seen something in the Bible no one else has seen, you are probably wrong! The Bible is written at a different time and culture to our own, and we need to read it in community lest we unwittingly miss-interpret it. We have the benefit of church history’s reflection on scripture and scholarly work from the finest minds that give us insights into the cultural and literary background. You may not have access to such books yourself, but checking your interpretation with more experienced and better read Christians will help keep you on the straight and narrow when you read the Bible on your own.
Covenant, context, canon and community: 4 C’s helping you to be a ‘careful’ and ‘safe’ Bible reader!

 

Want to learn more?

Bible Genres is a Cover to Cover study guide for individuals and small groups, which aims to help readers interpret Scripture by looking at the 7 main styles of literature included it the Bible. Namely: law, narrative, psalms, prophecy, Gospel, Epistles and apocalyptic. It explains that we can get ourselves into a massive mess if we fail to spot the ways the author intends to express meaning, as well as how to overcome this. To find out more, click here.

 

About Andy Peck
Andy is a writer and Bible teacher who has served as a tutor with CWR since 2006. He is the author of Coached by Christ, A Life to Die For and co-author of Unlocking the Bible. He worked as an editor with Christianity magazine and hosts the Leadership File on Premier Christian Radio.

Header image credits: Danger : : Danger / TMAB2003 / BY-ND