Isaiah Bible Study: A Glimpse of God's Faithfulness
Isaiah Bible Study by Donna Partow
If you (or your group) are looking for an incredible blessing, consider an Isaiah Bible Study. This is one of the most beautiful books in the bible. Much like the Psalms, it's a place to turn for comfort and hope. Here's the first chapter of Extracting the Precious from Isaiah, an inductive bible study that unlocks the heart message of this vital Old Testament book:
I used to think I was “getting away with something” when I neglected the spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, Scripture memory, and participating in a small group study. But I was only deceiving myself. The plain and simple fact is this: We all reap what we sow. Nothing more, nothing less. God won’t force you to study your Bible. He won’t come down from heaven and clobber you over the head if you skip some of the questions in this book. He won’t even be mad at you if you put this down right now and never pick it up again. In fact, God will love you the exact same amount. His unfailing love for you is completely unconditional.
This Bible study series began the day it finally dawned on me that there were two ways to learn the life lessons God has in store for us: the easy way and the hard way. Personally, I’ve always specialized in learning my lessons the hard way, through painful life experiences. Sure, I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve got the battle scars to prove it too. The easy way to learn is sitting at the feet of Jesus, meditating upon His Word. The longer I walk with God, the more determined I become to learn directly from Him—sitting quietly in the privacy of my prayer room rather than learning as I get jostled around out there in the cold, cruel world. Which way would you rather learn?
But God’s love doesn’t wipe out the logical consequences of our choices. Here’s how Deuteronomy 30:19–20 puts it:
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to him.
Reading God’s Word is the ultimate choice for life, not only for us but to those who will come after us. Every moment we choose to spend searching, meditating, memorizing is a choice for life. Every moment we neglect His Word, we are choosing death—the death of our spiritual and personal potential; the death of an opportunity to become all God desires us to be. God’s love is unconditional, but His blessings are not. Here’s how the psalmist put it:
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers. —Psalm 1:1–3
God says we will be blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) if we spend more time in His Word and less time with clueless people (my paraphrase). Does that mean we’ll never have to learn anything the hard way? Not quite! Let’s face it: certain classes require a “hands-on” component. I couldn’t graduate from chemistry class
without stepping into the lab, putting on my scientist-wanna-be (or in my case, scientist-never-gonna-be) coat, and conducting some of those experiments for myself. At the same time, I found that my ability to conduct those experiments successfully was directly linked to the amount of time I spent studying the textbook in advance. You can’t learn what it is to be a parent without having children underfoot. Neither can you fully comprehend God’s faithfulness without finding yourself trapped in the middle of a real-world situation where nothing else can see you through. Nevertheless, there is much we can learn in solitude and study of God’s Word so when we encounter various tests in life, we’ll be well-prepared to experience a successful outcome.
Jeremiah 15:19 is a passage that has always been especially meaningful to me:
Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.”
The first time I heard those words, my heart leapt within me and I said, “Yes, Lord, I want to extract the precious from every worthless circumstance I must endure!” I was instantly overtaken with a holy determination to learn all I could from every class I landed in at the School of Hard Knocks.
Those of you who are familiar with my ministry know I’ve built my writing and speaking ministry on story illustrations and life lessons gleaned from my various follies and foibles. My friends all tease me whenever they see me embroiled in yet another mess, “Don’t worry, Donna. You’ll get through this … and turn it into a great illustration.” And they’re right! I always do. But with this new series, I wanted to do something entirely different. I wanted my readers to know that just as we can extract the precious from the worthless, we can extract the precious from the precious too! Rather than telling you my stories, I wanted you to read His story. You can learn to glean story illustrations and life lessons while sitting peacefully at His feet rather than getting bloodied out in the
street. Isn’t that a beautiful thought?
The other thing I wanted to share with you is this: I love learning from other people, but I’d much rather learn from God. As much as I enjoy reading Christian books, completing various Bible studies, listening to teaching tapes, and attending conferences, nothing on earth compares to those moments when I realize God has cut out the middle man. When it’s just Him, His Word, and me. He is serving as my personal tutor. That’s when His Word truly comes alive for me. And that’s what I want you to experience for yourself with the Extracting the Precious studies. I want to get out of the way as much as possible and let God teach you directly from His Word. You’ll notice that I’ve saved my pithy little comments for the end of each chapter, so you aren’t biased by my perspective on what’s important. You can decide that for yourself.
USING THIS STUDY GUIDE
Every book in this series will feature twelve chapters, each of which is divided into three sections:
Search the Word features a series of inductive Bible study questions designed to help you interact with the Bible text. Use a Bible version that is easy to understand. I recommend the New International Version, but if you prefer a different version (e.g., New King James, New American Standard, New Living Translation), that’s fine. You may enjoy reading from several translations, and if you’re a true scholar, the Amplified Bible is ideal for studying a passage in depth. You may want to complete each study in two or three sittings rather than answering all the questions at once. Then, instead of simply copying the Bible text, answer the questions in your own words.
Consider the Message provides a narrative section that illustrates the truth of the chapter, showing how it can be lived out in today’s world.
Apply the Truth contains questions to help you apply the biblical teaching to your daily life, along with a verse or short passage to memorize. Depend on the Holy Spirit to guide and help you with these questions so He can pinpoint areas of your life where God wants you to practice His truth.
Although I suspect many of you will be using these books for your personal quiet time, I have included a brief Leader’s Guide at the end of each book. It includes some background information on the Bible text, along with cross-references and suggestions for using this study guide in a group setting.
I want you to know how excited I am for you as you begin this journey with God and His Word. You will soon discover (if you don’t know this already) that the truths you glean on your own will ultimately have far greater impact on your life than anything you’ve ever learned secondhand. People died to give us the right to study God’s Word for ourselves. It’s a great privilege. Make the most of it. As you do, here’s my prayer for you:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. —Ephesians 3:14–21