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In this time of lockdowns and isolation, we are all searching for something strong to cling to, something to hope in and find peace. I've missed seeing friends and family in person, but I've come to appreciate meeting weekly on Zoom with my Bible study group.

Well-written Bible studies remind us of God’s help in the past, encourage us to trust Him with our present challenges, and prod us to step out in faith into new frontiers.

I joined a woman’s Bible study in Fall 2003 because I was attracted to the group because Joan Stark, the pastor’s wise wife was the leader and the members included international graduate students. The members were committed to spiritual growth through Bible study, prayer and caring (including confronting) fellowship.

Origins of the Strength for Your Soul Bible Study Guide

Several years ago, Joan gave me a binder of studies that she had written for women’s ministry. I found the studies so encouraging that I suggested that we try to get them published. We edited the studies together, creating forty studies from both the Old and New Testament and adding two new aspects. To encourage people to “drink deeply,” we suggested using colored pencils to mark up the short scripture passages. We also encouraged them to make scripture memory cards so they could be reminded of the passage during the week.

We first gave the forty studies to eleven men and women of different ages and asked them to give us their feedback.

Bev H.: “I am really enjoying the study and am ready to buy a book for ____ and several others to do. I enjoyed the time to focus on a small bit of encouraging scripture. I like personalizing the cards with color pencils. I wrote several times: “Rest for the weary, Peace for the soul, Freedom from pain, Joy and Delight in life

Dan R.: “The cards are a unique idea.”

Denae A.: “It’s an awesome opportunity to really just delve into and dissect God’s words, not just going off another human’s take.”

After receiving favorable responses, we asked the women in our weekly Bible study to take turns leading them. I took notes during the discussion each week and asked for feedback so we could edit them again.

Elaine P.: “After considering the passages individually, the members share their thoughts, comparing and enhancing the truths. It is particularly refreshing not to answer a list of questions with obvious answers. The questions require thoughtful analysis, not rote repetition of the passage. Short passages with in-depth study are more easily remembered than longer passages with multiple topics. The truths of the Scripture can become seeds for spiritual growth.”

These short studies, suitable for a lunch hour with a mixed group, can facilitate deep and meaningful sharing among people who are not necessarily close friends. The studies are similar to Lectio divina (Divine Reading), looking closely at a passage and letting it soak in and transform your thoughts and actions.

We hope to find a publisher in 2021 so that many people will find their strength, joy and peace in the Lord.

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