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Study guide

Favorites: From the Bible T

here’s a reason that figures and stories from the Bible endure over generations and centuries: They give us insight into who we are as children of God who live

in a world that so desperately needs God’s love, care and mercy. In the end, the stories and figures we encounter in the Bible are about how God equips and accompanies men and women like us to engage the world.

Exercise 1: Your favorite Share with your study group the story of your favorite

Bible figure and explain why that character is important to you. In preparing your answer, go back and review that per- son’s story. Reading over the passages, do you notice any- thing new? How did faith in God come into play? How did God guide, empower, protect or affect the character? Share what intrigues you, piques your interest and draws you to this Bible figure. Explain the qualities you admire, how their actions or words affect you. Talk about the parallels between this figure and your life.

Exercise 2: Figures of character The wide range of figures in the Bible are known for dif-

ferent distinctions of character. For each of the qualities listed below, think of as many Bible figures as you can who demon- strated that characteristic. Share that person’s story (look up the Bible passages if you need to refresh your memory). The qualities are: courage, strength, sacrifice, dedication,

loyalty, cunning, love, intelligence, perseverance, tenacity, creativity, insight and kindness (and you can think of oth- ers). How did that characteristic assist the figure in accom- plishing God’s purposes?

Exercise 3: Role models By filling different roles as children of God, Bible figures

also may provide insight into the roles expected for today’s faithful. Think of as many Bible figures as you can who served in the following roles (look up the Bible passages if you need to refresh your memory): protector, servant, par- ent, liberator, comforter, warrior, prophet, agitator, slave, healer, martyr, friend, builder, follower, teacher, innovator, conqueror, spy, writer, sage, poet and king (and you can think of others).

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By Robert C. Blezard

What did they do well? What could they have done bet-

ter? How was God a central part of their story? How did their faith figure in? How did they accomplish God’s purposes?

Exercise 4: Bible heroes Looking for a Bible figure to emulate or appreciate?

Check out the stories of some Bible figures, both well known and obscure. From the Hebrew Scriptures: Shifrah and Puah, Jethro,

Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Jacob, Hannah, Joseph, Tamar, Sam- uel, Eli, David, Isaiah, Elijah, Qohelet, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Ruth, Esther and Job. From the New Testament: John (the Baptizer), Mary,

Zechariah, Elizabeth, Peter, Paul, Thomas, Mary of Mag- dala, Martha, Lazarus, the woman with the hemorrhage, the woman at the well, the Syrophoenician woman, Barnabas, Paul, Silas, Appolos, Timothy, Philip, the Ethiopian eunuch. Then discuss:

• What made them notable? • What characteristics did they show? • How was God part of their story? • How did God use them to accomplish good things? • What can we learn from them?

Exercise 5: Enter the story It’s easy to fall into the habit of looking at a Bible story

superficially—dwelling long enough only to glean the most obvious meaning. In writing about their most inspiring Bible figures, contributors to this article had to enter deeply into the stories and explore the complex dynamics. Practice entering a Bible story by closely examining Scripture involving a favor- ite figure (such as Zechariah’s comeuppance in Luke 1:5-20, 57-80, or the journey of the magi of Matthew 2:1-12). • What happens on the surface? • Who are all the players, major and minor? • What is their stake in the story?

• What energizes the drama?

• What’s happening behind the scenes?

• How is it resolved? • What purpose of God is accom- plished? 

Author bio: Blezard is an assistant to the bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod. He has a master of divinity degree from Boston University and did

subsequent study at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.) and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

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