God has created us with a need for happiness because this need will drive us to Him. If we try to find happiness outside of God, it is governed by circumstances. That, in turn, makes us to try to control everything about our lives so we can make sure we have that elusive happiness.In God's eyes, the pursuit of happiness is fulfilled in the pursuit of holiness. The word "happiness" is translated to "blessed" in the Bible. The author says, "Blessedness is the true form of happiness you are seeking. Blessedness is a solid, steady, immovable contentment that is rooted inside you rather than being a fleeting emotion that is based on events outside you."This book is divided into six weeks of study, each week containing five lessons. Each lesson can be completed in one day. It is written in workbook format, enabling you to write the answers to the questions, but there is still a lot of rich content to be read in the lessons. Jennifer says that she loves writing Bible studies, and she actually writes them for herself. Thankfully, she shares them with us so we can glean from her deep wisdom and insights into the Word.Set Apart delves into all of the "blesseds" which Jesus preached about in the Beatitudes. They are explained in depth, and examples are given from people of the Bible, and we are shown how to apply these principles to our lives today. Through it all, we are coming to know God better, and more fully understand His character, love, and provision. Reading and answering the questions in Set Apart is an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of the Beatitudes, and how they can change our lives. I would highly recommend this as a Bible study you can do alone, with a spouse, or even in a Sunday school or group session. I have read other books and articles by Jennifer Kennedy Dean, and I have always been challenged and uplifted by her deep understanding of God's Word and ability to share it with people.
Initially I found myself wondering whether I would agree, or even complete, this study due to a small semantic disagreement. Dean's introduction is entitled, "Be Happy," and while I find our culture's preoccupation with the idea of seeking happiness unbiblical, I could agree with Dean's understanding of happiness ultimately being rooted in seeking contentment in God.Week One was not very meaningful for me personally, yet it did lay some foundational work which would be beneficial for a group study. Once I progressed into this study, I discovered quite a few new insights into the meaning of the "blessedness" of those who are meek, for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, those who are pure in heart, those who are merciful and those who are peacemakers.Interestingly, I set this study aside for a few days many times only to pick it up again perhaps a week later to discover that it spoke directly to a situation I was addressing. This study drew me closer to the Lord, and it could as easily be used in a group setting as in an individual study. I would have liked to have seen the DVD Leader's Kit, yet this study could also easily be used independently.Dean's exposition of the Scriptures, her background study, her reflective questions and her easy-to-read writing style all helped me see insights I have not seen previously in my twenty-eight years of Christian walk. I was encouraged to seek holiness in my daily life through this study and I would not hesitate to lead a Bible study with this resource.I received a review copy of this Bible study from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications.
Set Apart is a 6-week interactive Bible study perfectly suited to either group or individual study. In this study, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean explores the Beatitudes. By bringing in the distinctively Jewish setting of Jesus inaugural sermon, Jennifer uncovers fresh nuances and overlooked undertones. Her distinctive communication style and approach to the Scripture is on full display in this challenging, encouraging , indispensable study.My review: Jennifer Kennedy Dean has a keen style of writing word pictures that displays deep spiritual meanings to help you understand and picture the truths she is presenting. Her teaching is very indepth, personal and thorough.She begins her study on the distinctive differences between Law and Grace, Old Testament and New Testament, which are the stepping stones to the balance of the teachings on the Beatitudes, which are thoroughly examined in the remainder of her book. Great for personal or group study!My only complaint would be that there are not enough study questions to make us dig out additional spiritual truths personally through cross-referencing, etc.I received a free copy of this study from Jonathan at New Hope Publishers for the express purpose of reviewing. I do this for the pleasure of encouraging others to read/study the books I review. My thanks to New Hope Publishers for this grand opportunity.
Too many people wander through life not knowing what they were designed to do. Jennifer Dean skillfully balances exposition and application in way that is easy to read. I would recommend this to anyone desiring to rekindle the passion and power of God in their hearts.Become a New Hope Book Review Blogger. Visit www.newhopepublishers.com for more information.