It has been a long time since I have dug deep verse by verse into a book of the Bible. The past few years my studies have been more looking at the big picture of the Bible or going through a book a chapter at a time. This fall I went through an online study of Ephesians with Stacey Thacker at Girlfriend's Guide to the Bible and enjoyed the in-depth look. The study followed her book When Grace Walks In.
Our first week Stacey encouraged us to read through Ephesians daily. I don't know if I made the daily part, but I did manage to read through Ephesians in a few different versions that I have. Have you ever just sat and read a book of the Bible out loud to yourself? It is a powerful thing hearing the word of God spoken even if it is your own voice. As I read, the themes of Ephesians became more clear, and I began to see it more as a letter from Paul to dear friends than as just a bunch of really great verses.
Each we covered a chapter of Ephesians along with a chapter out of Stacey's book. Stacey would do a facebook live giving highlights, bible study suggestions, and what she was learning. I loved the accountability and being able to interact with others about what I was learning.
During the study, I ended up going through these four books with one more on my to-read list. Here are my reviews.
1. Ephesians by Paul
Since there are so many good Bible study books out there, I think it is so easy when we go to study the Bible to forget that our focus is God's word. Sometimes what we really need to do is just immerse ourselves in God's word.
I loved Paul's writing as he tells the Ephesians of how he is praying for them, how much God loves them, and most of all, how all we are and do is wrapped up in who Christ is. The great thing about this book is that you can read it in one sitting in under 30 minutes.
2. When Grace Walks in: Passionately, Pursued, Incredibly Love by Stacey Thacker
In her book, Stacey walks through the book of Ephesians using scripture and personal stories to help the reader better understand what Paul is saying. As you can tell from the title, grace is a major theme that she highlights. I think this quote from When Grace Walks In, chapter one gives a glimpse of what the book is about.
"Knowing what God says about us will make a world of difference in how we view ourselves, as well as how we live out our stories the way he planned from the beginning of time. But first we must shift our focus. This is no small thing. The answer to the question "Who am I?" isn't bound up in you at all; it's a treasure buried within the heart of your father."This book can be read alone but would also be really great to read through as part of a ladies' bible study.
3. Rooted: Going Deep into God's Transforming Love by Lara Williams
I found out about this book through this youtube video. The video is a discussion between Stacey Thacker, author of my second review, and Lara Williams, the author of Rooted. Stacey's book focuses on Grace whereas Lara's book focuses on love. I loved listening to the discussion of their books about the same book, Ephesians.
In her book, Lara takes the reader through Ephesians one chapter a week by looking at a few verses each day. I like how each day she has the reader read the assigned scripture first and then to ask what does this tell me about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and humankind before her commentary on the verses. Then she ends the day's reading with a few questions that relate to those verses and her comments. Each day's reading takes maybe 15 to 20 minutes. This book is great for personal study but would also be good to use in a weekly study to discuss each chapter of Ephesians.
Here is a quote that stood out from chapter 6 of her book
"The diagnosis comes. That person betrays. Our child rebels. Life takes our breath away. And we forget. We forget where Jesus sits. We forget He holds all power. We forget that He's in a real, live realm holding everything together, including our lives."
4. Union With Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
As I read through Ephesians, I kept noticing the phrase "in Christ." What does that mean? Then I remembered a book on my kindle called Union with Christ. Even though it wasn't specifically on Ephesians, it was a great resource of what it means to be in union with Christ. The author describes what union with Christ means and why we need it as well as how we can apply it to our daily lives. Union with Christ is a topic that we don't hear a lot about but is vital to living out our faith. The book was well researched and easy to read.
Up next... Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer.
This book was recommended by Stacey Thacker in her chapter on prayer. Because of the content and reading style, I know this book will take some time and concentration, but I am sure it will be worth it.
What have you been studying or reading? I would love to hear about it in the comments. For other book reviews, check out Modern Ms. Darcy's Quick Lit. TJ