Are you ready? Today we’re going to study some words, with the help of Blue Letter Bible. This post is going to look long because I’m explaining every step for those of you who are new to BLB. But the actual studying we will be doing is short. Be patient with yourself. If BLB is new to you, it will take a bit of time to make friends with it. Then I think you’ll be friends for life! (For those who are familiar with BLB, just skim the instructions to glean what you need from them.)
(Note: If you aren’t already following doorpostslady on Instagram, this would be a good time to take a look at the posts there. Today’s post shows you pictures of all the main steps that I will be describing here, working with the ESV rather than KJV, and using the Blue Letter Bible app on a smartphone.)
Assignment: Pray for patience as you learn new study skills (if Blue Letter Bible is new to you), and for a teachable spirit as we wait on God to teach us more about how we should respond to trials. Thank Him for His sovereign control over every detail in your life, including the difficulties you face each day.
- Then open Blue Letter Bible at www.blueletterbible.org or install (if you haven’t already) and open the Blue Letter Bible app. The main instructions I give as we proceed will be for using BLB’s website, followed by instructions for app users in italics. Don’t let the length of this lesson intimidate you. It’s not complicated. If you read each step carefully, you’ll have this down in no time.
- At the top of your screen (if you’re using the BLB website), to the right of “Blue Letter Bible,” type “James 1” in the white search box and select KJV in the box below it.
- Then click the green magnifying glass icon to search. This will open the text for James 1.
- (App users: 1. First click the Bibles icon in the upper left of your screen to open the “Version Selector,” and select KJV and another version of your choice. 2. Then click “Go” in the upper right corner of the screen. 3. Next click the magnifying glass icon in the upper left hand portion of your screen to open the search box. 4. Type “James 1” in the box, and then click the blue “Search” button in the lower right hand corner of the screen. You should now see two columns of text, one in KJV and the other in your selected version.)
- Go to verse 2 and hover over the blue “Tools” button to the left of the text. This will open a drop-down menu. (App users, tap the text of verse 2. This will open a list of options.)
- Click the blue “Interlinear” button. This will open the interlinear tool, a collection of information about all the Greek words used in the original version of verse 2. (App users, click “Interlinear/Concordance to open the interlinear for verse 2.)
What are we looking at on this interlinear page?
We find the verse written in the original Greek language at the top of the page.
Then we see every word from the King James version of the verse listed in the left hand column.
The next column to the right lists the Strong’s number for each word. These numbers are assigned to every Hebrew and Greek word in the Bible, and will lead us to additional information about the words.
The next column to the right shows the word in Greek along with its English transliteration, which is the Greek word written in the letters of the English alphabet.
The speaker icon to the right of that will pronounce the Greek word when clicked, and the blue “parse” button found for some words (verbs) in the right hand column, offers grammatical details about the word. (The parsing column is not present in the phone app.)
- Let’s take a closer look at the word temptations as it is appears in the King James version of verse 2. To do this, click on the Strong’s number, 3986, to the right of the word temptations at the bottom of the interlinear page. This will open the word’s lexicon, which is simply a dictionary for the Greek word.
- Read and take notes on the information given under the heading “Outline of Biblical Usage.” Then review your notes. What sort of things are these trials or temptations that we are to consider with joy? Are you experiencing any trials now?
- Click your browser’s back arrow until you can see the text of James 1 again (2-3 times). (App users, you can simply click the back arrow in the top left-hand corner of your screen.)
- Hover over the “Tools” button for verse 3 and select “Interlinear” again. Now we’ll see all the words in verse 3. (App users, tap verse 3, and then click “Interlinear/Concordance.”
- Click on the Strong’s number for the phrase, the trying.
- Read and take notes on the information under “Outline of Biblical Usage” again.
- Now meditate on what you have studied today. Both of these words have to do with proving or testing. What is being tested?
James’ choice of words here reminds me of a simple step that is common in the baking of bread — the proofing of the yeast. This practice can be used to simply hydrate the yeast when it is dissolved in warm water before adding it to the flour and other ingredients. It can also be a form of testing to make sure the yeast is viable. A bit of sugar is added to the warm water and yeast, and bubbles will form on the surface of the water, if the yeast is viable and ready to do its transforming work in the midst of a lump of dough.
The trials and troubles of life are a bit like dropping yeast into warm water and sugar. Does our faith prove viable and active when it is dropped into the middle of trials? And does it grow and change, like the yeast does in the proofing bowl?
There’s much more to think about in these verses, and another important word to study, but today we have a bit more to chew on as we think of the proving or testing of our faith, and we’ve gotten our start in Blue Letter Bible.
For your children:
- Review the verses you have memorized.
- Then read verses 2 and 3 aloud, and explain what you learned from your word study today.
- Use a simple object lesson with yeast, sugar, and water to picture the proving of faith in trials.
- Watch this video or this video (or search for another online) and follow its instructions to proof your own yeast. (Note: If you don’t have yeast in the house, the children can also simply watch the video to see what happens to the yeast, but it will be more fun and more memorable if they can actually watch the process happen on your kitchen counter.)
- Talk about trials being like the warm water and sugar that helps us see if the yeast is effective and alive. Trials help us see if faith is real or just something we talk about. Do we really trust God, or do we doubt Him when our lives become difficult?