Want to learn more about Background Characters in the Old Testament? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Put yourself in the place of God. Imagine that you
just created humans, and that you wanted to give them some sort of
operator’s manual. What would you write? What would be your main
goal in writing? Would you give them a list of rules? Would you
tell them stories about living? Would you tell them stories about
you? This quarter our study is the background figures in the Old
Testament. They are part of the story that God is telling us about
how we should live. This week we consider the general goal of God’s
storytelling. Let’s dive into our study and find out more!

The Jewish people left Egypt and slavery and began a
journey for freedom and property ownership in Canaan, the wonderful
land God promised to them. The trip to Canaan took only about 15
months. Put yourself in their place. What would be your attitude if
you were God’s people? What questions would you have about the land?
What expectations would you have? Would you be grateful for this
opportunity? Let’s jump into our study and find out what happens to
Caleb and his fellow travelers!

Talking with my classmates at one of my high school
reunions gave me a profound insight. I realized that everyone in my
high school class, even the most popular, had feelings of
inferiority when they were in high school. It just came with being a
teenager. Do people ever get over that feeling? I doubt that anyone
completely gets over feeling that others are better. Indeed, unless
you are the most talented person in the world, others are better.
The Bible tells us to think of ourselves with “sober judgment”
(Romans 12:3) and encourages us to be “humble” (Ephesians 4:2).
But, what happens when your sense of self-worth becomes so low that
you have trouble living? How should we react when those closest to
us have well-intentioned, but unhelpful solutions? Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and learn from the story of Hannah, a
woman who suffered severe problems with her self-worth.

How many times do we look at sickness and death and
say, “That is not fair?” Our sense of justice is offended when the
virtuous die and the worthless live. When the injustice involves you
and your life goals, it is that much harder to accept. How should we
react when we faithfully serve God, but get passed over for
promotion? How should we react when our life goals are swallowed up
in illness or problems that are not of our making? Let’s dive into
our Bible study and see what we can learn from the life of Jonathan!

Think about the people who seem to get along with
everyone. What allows them to get along? Is that something you
could possess? What they have is called “emotional intelligence,”
and you can learn to have it. Our lesson this week is about a smart,
beautiful, practical and emotionally intelligent woman named
Abigail. Her story introduces us to the Bible-based rules of
emotional intelligence. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible to
learn more!

Can you point to something in your past and
say, “I made a really big mistake?” I’ll bet that others
helped you make it. This week we look at a grand collision
of mistakes that, at a minimum, cost one man his life, and
created a never-ending problem for another man. Needless to
say, these are the kinds of decisions that we want to
avoid. Let’s jump right into our study of the Bible and see
what we can learn about avoiding life-altering mistakes!

What do you do when you have a problem? How do you
decide what to do when you lack good information? What if the matter
is complicated by the people around you acting unreasonably or
dishonestly? Life is not always fair. God’s servants face these
kinds of problems. This week our study looks at the actions of
several of God’s people who are faced with an unfair situation.
Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn to
help us deal with the problems of life!

Do you have power or authority over others? If so, God
cares about how you use your power over others. Most power over
others arises in the family, political or the employment context.
Our government, our parents or our employer can do a great deal to
benefit or harm our life. In Ephesians 6:9 God reminds those in
power about the use of their authority. He tells them to respect
those under their authority and refrain from threatening them. Why?
Because God is Lord over everyone, and He is just. Our lesson this
week looks at a military leader/ politician who has a great deal of
power over others. Lets jump into our study and find out what
lessons the Bible teaches us about the use of power and authority!

Did you know that your life has an influence on
others? I recall clearly the point in my life when I realized this
and considered the nature of my influence. My influence was not what
I wanted, so I started to make changes. Sometimes seemingly small
things influence others. Many years ago an employee called me for
help in obtaining a religious accommodation. When I asked why the
employee held these beliefs, she said “I fear God.” That made a big
impression on me. Although I’ve forgotten the details of that
lady’s case, I have not forgotten her arresting words or the
positive impression they made upon me. Let’s jump into our Bible and
study how a lady, with very little authority in this life, exerted a
large influence!

One of the goals of my life is to improve my
“hearing” when God speaks to me. I’ll bet that you know
what I’m talking about: you have a sense that you should do
something or not do something. You think it comes from God,
but you are not sure. Is God impressing you through His
Holy Spirit? Is it your conscience speaking – which comes
from the training your parents gave you? Is it one of
Satan’s fallen angels trying to embarrass you? Is it
indigestion? The older I get and the longer I walk with God
the better I get at paying attention – but I’m still not
very good. From time to time readers write and tell me I’m
terrible at listening to God’s will! How much should we
trust advisors? On who or what can we trust? Let’s dive
right into our study of the Bible and learn more about the
right foundation for knowing God’s will!

This week my righteous wife told me that she did not
want me to buy her anything for Christmas. Instead, she wanted me to
give the money for her gift to a charity. My immediate thought was
“I need to do that, too.” Then I began to struggle with the
decision. How about you? Do you struggle with selfishness? I’ll
bet right now you are asking, is it selfishness to accept gifts at
Christmas? Good question! Perhaps the answer has to do with whether
your needs are already met. What about helping others when your
needs are not met? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see
what we can learn about real selflessness!

If I asked you what your goal was for your life, what
would you answer? Would your goal be about doing good? Advancing
you? Advancing the Kingdom of God? Advancing both you and God? In
our Bible study this week we look at those who did good without
looking for reward, and those who merely looked for a reward. Let’s
dive into our study!

What if I told you that you would end your life owning
only the clothes you were wearing? What if I also told you that you
would be a faithful warrior for God your entire life? Would you
feel that God had let you down? Would the Bible’s promises of
blessings for those who are faithful seem false and bitter? This
week we study a man who had great personal ambition, stood strong
for God against great opposition, yet escaped with only his life.
Let’s plunge into the Bible and see if we can make any sense of