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50 Motivational Bible Verses About Aging Gracefully

An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” Agatha Christie

At the age of 40, Agatha Christie married prominent British archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930. Afterward, she spent several months each year traveling with her husband to archaeological digs in the Middle East.

Leveraging her first-hand acquired knowledge of archaeology, she became one of the most well-known, best-loved, and best-selling detective novelists of all time. And she was no spring chicken!

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How can we age gracefully in the Lord when the world around us only sees our wrinkles?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Aging Gracefully in the Lord
  2. Old Testament Bible Verses
  3. New Testament Bible Verses

1. Aging Gracefully in the Lord

When it comes to aging gracefully, one of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

There’s no age limit on that verse. We count each day significant because through them God increases our spiritual wisdom. And the longer He keeps us here, the more opportunities we have to share that acquired wisdom.

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On countless occasions, I have said to my family, friends, and at conferences: “If you are still breathing, God still has a purpose for your life.”

Perhaps the Best Years are Still to Come

I am in my mid-50s, but I truly believe in the marrow of my bones that my best years are still to come. God controls the steering wheel and I am simply a passenger in the most glorious, thrilling adventure of all time.

The truth is that God faithfully watches over us. No matter how advanced in years we become, He’s still got us. He still has a purpose for our lives for our good and His eternal glory.

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Since before the foundation of the world or before He knit us together in our mother’s womb, God’s plan for our life was already mapped out in its entirety.

We Have a Choice

We have a choice. We can enter our “Golden years” kicking and screaming, or we can enter them with the greatest sense of expectation and wonder.

Our health may decline in our senior years. We will face difficult times. We will likely need glasses, hearing aids, false teeth, or joint replacements. We will likely need a little more time and a little more effort to get from point A to point B.

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Yet the good news is that aging is a truly beautiful gift from God. When we abide in Him, wisdom abounds.

Giving Thanks for “Spiritual Giants”

I am so thankful for the older “spiritual giants” in our lives. Only those dear friends can offer godly guidance to the deep spiritual questions we ask. And all because God has given them the gifts of faith, time, and wisdom.

And now, we have the privilege of being those older, spiritually wise people for the next generation.

We cannot turn back the clock on the aging process to wrinkle-free days. But we can embrace this season of life as wisdom-rich days.

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When Agatha Christie reached seventy-five years old, she said: “What can I say at seventy-five? Thank God for my good life, and for all the love that has been given to me.” Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

God’s Word provides infinite encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom on how to age gracefully. I pray that these Bible verses encourage, challenge, and inspire you. May God bless you in your Golden years!

2. Old Testament Bible Verses

*Note: All Bible verses are in the English Standard Version.

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  • “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age” (Ruth 4:15).
  • “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12).
  • “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
  • “I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand” (Job 32:7-8).
  • “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
  • “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).
  • “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedars of Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:12-15).
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  • “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
  • “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more” (Psalm 71:9, 14).
  • “With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation” (Psalm 91:16).
  • “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).
  • “[The Lord] redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:4-5).
  • “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Exodus 22:22).
  • “You shall walk in all the way that the Lord you God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33).
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  • “That this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever” (Psalm 48:14).
  • “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).
  • “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deuteronomy 34:7).
  • “These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:7-8).
  • “He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11).
  • “Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:12-13).
  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalm 46:1-3).
  • “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22).
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  • “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
  • “Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).
  • “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
  • “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).
  • “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).
  • “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like You?” (Psalm 71:18-19).
  • “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age” (Genesis 15:15).
  • “Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things” (Genesis 24:1).

3. New Testament Bible Verses

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  • “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
  • “Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is appealing in the sight of God” (1 Timothy 5:3-4).
  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
  • “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
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  • “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land’” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
  • “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).
  • “So that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:7-9).
  • “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Peter 1:12-15).
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  • “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
  • “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:14-15).
  • “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
  • “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
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  • “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
  • “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
  • “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves with too much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:2-5).
  • “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
  • “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).

DOWNLOAD PDF OF BIBLE VERSES

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7 Essential Elements of Prayer (plus free download)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Prayer is a vital, vibrant part of our Christian walk. Consequently, we need to answer the most obvious question first.

What is Prayer?

At its core, prayer is talking to God. Prayer is not meditation or still reflection. Prayer is direct communication with God.

Simply picture a girl or boy having a conversation with their father. They will ask their dad for all kinds of things they need. Later in life, they may also ask for direction or guidance. We can apply this scenario between the children of God and our heavenly Father.

Prayer is a two-way street. We pour out our burdens, struggles, and needs, then we also listen for His answers. Even though we do not hear God’s voice audibly as Moses did from the burning bush, He speaks to us through:

  • His Word
  • Other believers
  • His Creation

Being a bona fide music person, one might add music to that list, as well.

The Purpose of Prayer

Through daily prayer, we worship God, give Him thanks, and lay our requests at His feet. It is much more than a pre-recorded speech that we replay to God each time we hit our knees.

I confess that too often I have spent my prayer time reading off a list of what I wanted God to do for me and how I thought He should meet my needs.

Consequently, several years ago I assigned myself the task to learn the difference between merely saying a prayer and actually praying. I longed for meaningful fellowship with God and to discern God’s will for my life.

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You can approach God with any type of prayer: in time of need, a prayer of petition, a prayer of intercession, infinite wisdom, and asking for God’s strength, among many others. You do not have to use the right words or fancy words – simply use your own words.

I am sharing these seven elements (among others) with you because I believe they will add meaning and a personal relationship with God to your prayer time.

Prayer Will Change Your Life

Praying is hard at first – at least it was for me. Having a conversation with someone I could not see was challenging. However, understanding that He is with us and in us through the power of the Holy Spirit in everyday life helps remove that self-imposed stumbling block.

Over time, as prayer becomes part of our daily routine, God will strengthen our faith. We will notice how He has answered prayer and moved in certain situations. Often, He will bless us in ways we never even knew to ask.

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I love to see how God has moved in my life and in the lives of those I pray for, so I keep a prayer journal. It is a powerful tool for increasing our faith!

Prayer can be uttered both as a short prayer and long-term. Those quick, “Lord, give me the words to say” prayers are just as important to our faith walk as those long-term, “Lord, what is Your purpose in my life?” prayers.

How Do I Pray?

Prayer is truly a sacred act. It’s a conversation with the Creator of the Universe who knitted you together in your mother’s womb. It is both sobering and an incredible privilege in equal measure.

A daily, dedicated prayer time includes a few tried and true necessities:

  • Empty your mind so that you are fully focused on God. (Mentally setting aside our to-do lists takes some practice.)
  • Pick a place that is soothing and free from distraction.
  • Turn off the television and radio and leave your smartphone out of reach.

And just be real. He already knows everything in our hearts and minds. He simply desires that conversation with us.

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The Power of Prayer

Keep in mind that we do not pray alone. With seven billion people on earth, there are likely millions of people praying at the same time on various topics.

As Christians, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of every believer.

Neither prayer nor church was part of my childhood. As an adult, the thought of approaching God in prayer was terrifying. I pictured Him sitting on a cloud, ready to strike me down with a lightning bolt.

Not so! He loves us more than we can possibly imagine. Through prayer, we worship God, give Him thanks, and lay our requests at His feet.

What Do I Say in Prayer?

Jesus’ disciples struggled with that very same question. Consequently, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Thanks to their brave question, we have a prayer format that became known as The Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

(Matthew 6:9-13)

From this model prayer, we can apply the acronym “F.A.C.T.S.” to our own prayers in order to include all of the key elements of prayer that Jesus outlined. Let’s take a closer look at these elements.

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Element #1: – Faith

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

Simply put, we need faith to pray. Faith given to us by God is the foundation of a believer’s life. Faith is known as the currency of heaven.

Only through faith in Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, can we approach God through prayer. He knows us by name and embraces us as His beloved children.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22).

Element #2: – Adoration

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

Worship and praise of God are certainly essential. Adoration focuses on the character of God and delineates the holy attributes that make Him worthy of all worship.

As we begin our prayer times, we focus on the ONE who hears our prayers rather than jumping straight to our list of needs.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

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Element #3: – Confession

And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

As we approach God in prayer, we do so with humility through confession. Over the years, I have realized that this confession element includes two specific kinds: (1) confess my sins, and (2) confess my dependence on God.

Confess my sins:

Jesus’ blood shed on the cross provided forgiveness for our sins. Scripture tells us that we are to continually confess our sins understanding that He has already extended forgiveness.  

Why is that important? If God only forgave sins we remembered to confess, we would be in a hot mess. He forgives the sins we confess and those we did not even realize we committed. He faithfully washes us white as snow.

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If we forget some of our sins, take heart! The Apostle Paul assures us: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

Confess my dependence on Him:

Prayer is our white flag of surrender that acknowledges we cannot succeed on our own. We desperately need God to direct and nurture our lives.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:1-3).

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Element #4: – Thanksgiving

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Living a life of thanksgiving and gratitude begins in prayer. All blessings come from God, whether we acknowledge them or not.

Thanksgiving carves out time to say a proper “thank you” to God. If you have children and you taught them to say “please” and “thank you,” that is the basic understanding of this element.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

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Element #5: – Supplication

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Like the “confession” prayer element, supplication includes two specific kinds: (1) our own needs, and (2) the needs of others (intercession).

Supplication:

This is the part of the prayer we lay before the Lord our own needs and struggles. This is not merely a “to-do” list for God; rather, an avenue to discern His will for our lives and to draw us closer to Him. He knows our desires and hurts, and He delights in hearing them from us.

Jesus demonstrated supplication in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before He was crucified: ” My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

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Intercession:

This is where we lay the needs of others before the Lord. This is a beautiful act of unselfish love for other people and the body of Christ.

God alone knows what each person needs and knows the best way to provide for them. Asking God to move and work on behalf of others is faith-filled love.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:2-3).

Beyond the F.A.C.T.S acronym, I have learned that there are two other important elements of a vibrant prayer life.

Element #6: – Submission

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Once you have finished praying, acknowledge God’s sovereignty in His answers. Declaring your surrender that His way is the best – even if He denies a heartfelt request – is a sure sign that you are trusting God and walking in obedience.

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Element #7: – Listening

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Remaining spiritually alert to how God answers your prayers is another essential element of a vibrant prayer life. He may not bring about the result you want in exactly the way you asked Him to.

However, it is a beautiful privilege to watch how He moves and orchestrates solutions. Such diligent observation increases our faith that He has everything under control.

Simple Prayers

If you are new to prayer, this may seem like a daunting list. Been there. Done that. God still knows your heart.

Here is a list of 25 Simple Prayers of Hope, Trust, and Peace that you can download and tuck into your Bible.

Remember that there is no distance in prayer. There is no language barrier that prayer cannot overcome.

Like striking a match to generate light and heat, things start to change when you pray. The key is to keep praying and keep those lines of communication open with God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

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13 Best Bible Study Methods

Whether you are a new or seasoned Christian, knowing how to study the Bible and where to start are daunting tasks. Been there. Done that.

Technology allows us to have the Bible at our fingertips 24/7. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops enable us to access God’s Word just about anywhere in the world.

We can attend church online, listen to sermons and podcasts as we drive, or experience worship through music videos without leaving our homes.

The entire Bible is more accessible than at any other point in history, yet “How to Study the Bible” is searched online over 8,500 times each month.

Access to the Word of God is not the issue. Yet our knowledge of its contents is decreasing.

Where Do I Start?

I will say it again: knowing how to study the Bible and where to start are daunting tasks. Our spiritual growth stagnates the longer we wait. Many Christians lack practical tools to study the Bible effectively.

It takes time to incorporate a new habit, discover the best way to study, and the best study bibles to utilize on this new journey.

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Why Is Knowing Scripture Important?

Studying Scripture changes our lives from the inside out. We learn how to love like God. Forgive like Jesus. And treat enemies with kindness. Counter-cultural to say the least.

Most importantly, the Bible reveals God’s beautiful truth that He sent His only Son to rescue us from sin, death, and the grave!

I first started studying Scripture after becoming a Christian at age 23. I did not know anything about the Bible. There’s an Old Testament and a New Testament? You get the gist.

I felt that my basic questions were off-putting to mature Christians. I lacked a good starting point, a good study bible, or a good direction on which steps to take first.

Over the past thirty years, God has cultivated in my daily life solid tools to study, memorize, and apply Scripture every day. I am passionate about biblical literacy.

Bible study methods

Participating in church or small group Bible studies along with Sunday sermons is important. However, taking a personal lead in developing effective self-study methods stokes that flame of faith.

Some of these methods may work better for you than others. Invest some time trying each one to discover which works best for your personality and schedule.

First Things First: Start with Prayer

Scripture is God’s breath exhaled onto the page. Focusing your mind and thoughts on Him comes first and foremost. Always begin your study time with prayer.

Perhaps, one similar to this one:

Dear Lord, as I open my Bible today, open my heart to hear your words of truth. I pray that your Word comes alive in me. Remove all distractions right now. Open my mind to gain understanding as your words heal, teach, inspire, convict, and restore my heart. Enable your words to take root, grow and blossom in my life. Bring your light of understanding and peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Method #1: Study One Book of the Bible

I suggest starting with a small book from the New Testament. The books of James, 1 Peter, and 1 John are all good choices for first-time studies.

Depending on your schedule, plan to spend 3-4 weeks studying the book you have chosen. Take time to read through the entire book more than once.

Look for themes that may be woven throughout the chapters. For example, the book of James contains an obvious theme of persevering through hard circumstances. Write down the verses around each theme.

Also, make a note of life application principles within the book. In James, a clear life application is that words need to result in action. Saying that we forgive is vastly different from moving toward forgiveness.

As you meditate on the themes and life application principles, allow God’s Word to speak to you personally. Where can those themes or applications apply to your life right now?

Method #2: Read Straight Through the Bible

Reading the Bible straight through (without taking notes) allows us to “hear” it like Israel’s nomadic tribes. Individuals did not have parchment, so the Bible stories were shared verbally.

Note that you do NOT have to start at the beginning of the Bible. The Bible contains 66 separate books compiled into one. You can start anywhere you like, just use a checklist to ensure you read through all 66.

Bible study methods

Also, choose a Bible version that is easy to read. Let’s face it, if you don’t understand it, you won’t get far.

There are dozens of translations and different versions of God’s Word, but the King James version is probably the most difficult. For clear reading, I suggest the English Standard Version (ESV), New Living Translation (NLT), or The Message versions.

As you settle down for uninterrupted reading, imagine story time around an evening campfire. Or story time in the afternoon with milk and cookies. (That’s a flashback to elementary school.)

This method allows us to see and hear the overarching story of God’s love and goodness to His children from Genesis to Revelation. His passionate, relentless pursuit of us toward salvation comes across with beautiful clarity.

I have many different Bible reading plans and checklists as free downloads here.

Method #3: Write Out Parts of the Bible

Our culture moves at lightning speed. Since we are technologically driven (for the most part), we desire things to move fast – such as food, lines, and traffic.

Absorbing Scripture into the marrow of our bones takes time. Breathing space. Quiet surroundings. That’s where grabbing a pen, your Bible and a journal plays a vital role.

The rhythm of physically writing slows us down to absorb the words. Words have a chance to stick with us past the moment – especially if you want to memorize particular verses.

As an author, I love the steady cadence of writing out God’s Word. That cadence resounds in my soul to retain those life-giving words. I recently started once again with the book of Matthew.

Make writing fun! I use my favorite Tul pens and a variety of colorful journals that are readily available and inexpensive.

Method #4: Character Study

One of the most frequently asked questions is, “Who’s who in the Bible?” The follow-up question is usually, “Why do they matter?”

I love reading current biographies of historical great men and women because they lend insight into the person. Doing character studies throughout Scripture accomplishes much the same with an added bonus: we glimpse the character of Christ.

For instance, Scripture contains only two books named after women: Ruth and Esther. My quest to understand Esther using this method turned into a full-blown, published Bible study. Talk about an amazing woman of faith that God used mightily! We can learn invaluable life lessons from Esther.

https://cph.idevaffiliate.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=110&url=334

Studying characters matters because their examples teach us how to actually live a life of faith:

  • Moses steadfastly led the Israelites through the desert for forty years.
  • Joseph never complained about being thrown into prison after refusing Potiphar’s wife.
  • Mary did not doubt when God told her that she would be the virgin mother of our Savior.

Character studies allow us to see how God moved in their life. How He provided for their needs, disciplined them toward success, and loved them beyond measure. He still does that today with you and me.

Pick one person and get started! You will be amazed at how relevant their experiences still are today.

Method #5: Topical Bible Study

This method is similar to the Character Study method listed above. However, instead of a person, pick a topic. Temptation, peace, addiction, and forgiveness are a few that could be tackled.

I remember as a new Christian being confused by what it meant to be “quenched” or “hydrated” by the Lord. What does “living water” mean? Years later, I used this topical Bible study method and turned that personal quest into another full-blown Bible study.

https://www.artesianministries.org/book/quenched-christs-living-water-for-a-thirsty-soul/

What topic do you long to know more about how God instructs His children? Use the concordance in the back of your Bible to find where that topic appears in Scripture. Then grab a notepad.

Read and/or write down all of those passages. What does God teach about that topic? Are common misconceptions debunked? Most importantly, meditate on how God can apply those truths to your spiritual journey.

Method #6: Memorize Scripture

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is vital. When the enemy knocks us to the ground, God brings relevant verses to mind to comfort us and bring His peace. Scripture memorization is a crucial line of defense.

One of the first portions of Scripture I memorized was the Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. The evil in this world is evident – just turn on the evening news. As His children, we need to know God has protected us from head to toe.

If you are facing a particular battle right now start with verses that speak to that situation. If you are experiencing joyful circumstances, start with passages that praise God.

Yes, all of Scripture is worthy of memorizing. However, focusing on ones that directly apply to your current situation will be more meaningful. Memorization and real-time application will come easier.

Method #7: Bible Journaling (the SOAP Method)

A vital step in our faith journey is applying Scripture to our lives. A popular, helpful method appeared a few years ago called “S.O.A.P.” It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

Bible study methods

I used this method effectively when writing The God of All Comfort based on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul teaches how God comforts us in our affliction, which enables us to also offer His compassionate comfort to others.

The S.O.A.P. method is simple. Pick a section of Scripture each morning or evening during your devotion time. Using a notepad or SOAP journal:

  • Write down the Scripture passage.
  • Read through it again and record your Observations.
  • Jot down how you can Apply those truths in your life.
  • Close with Prayer asking God to make that verse personal to you.

When you come across your S.O.A.P. journals later in life and read through them, you will be amazed and encouraged by God’s faithfulness along your journey.

Method #8: Single Word Study

Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about fear? Love? Humility? Kindness? Such wondering offers a perfect opportunity to undertake a single-word study.

When I experienced divorce over a decade ago, I did not feel very loved (to say the least). One of my pastors challenged me to read through the Bible and write out every passage that talked about God’s love. WOW!

That undertaking left me without a trace of doubt about how much God loves me, even when people may not. Writing all of those love passages consumed an entire journal. If I am ever feeling unloved, I still pull out that journal. I don’t feel unloved for long.

If you desire to be more kind, I challenge you to search for every instance in Scripture where God talks about kindness. Write them out in a journal. Ask the Lord to enable you to be more kind.

God will blow you away as He works through this discipline.

Method #9: Coloring Scripture (Bible Marginalia)

Bible marginalia appeared on the scene a few years ago and has exploded in popularity. If you are an artistic person, this method is a great tool.

The premise is to meditate on a Bible verse as you highlight, color, and create art around it.

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/bible-journaling

Friends of mine have a hugely popular Visual Faith® Ministry. There are hundreds of free graphics and ideas (where I downloaded the one above) that include examples of how to highlight, color, and visually enhance your Bible reading experience.

The Bible is God’s inspired Word – a TEXT full of grace and love to you. Think of the margins as your invitation to text back your response of love, gratitude, praise, or devotion. Adding a date to your pages creates a story of your spiritual journey – and leaves behind a legacy of faith for your children and grandchildren.

Visual Faith® Ministry

The goal is to utilize your God-given artistic gifts to engage with and meditate on Scripture. Be sure to keep in mind the main purpose: meditate on that passage(s) as you use your artistic talents.

Method #10: Read Scripture Like a Novel

Right from Genesis 1, Scripture opens as an epic, cosmic tale about the heavens and the earth. We see God creating everything out of nothing. We see marital drama between Adam and Eve. Blessings and curses. Covenants. Promises. Murder. Adultery. Betrayal. War. Political subversion. Even cinematic-worthy battles.

If you are a writer or wannabe screenwriter, simply look at the account of David’s battle with Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. You can’t make that stuff up. It flat out reads like an award-winning novel.

https://cph.idevaffiliate.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=110&url=379

There are main characters, metanarrative, and deep plot development that become clearer when reading the Bible like a novel. The settings are both intimate and dramatic. The important difference? Scripture is non-fiction.

The overarching message of the Bible becomes crystal clear: God’s love towards us never fails.

If you love stories, read through the Bible like a novel. Mentally insert yourself into those stories. Visualize your surroundings. See how God challenges and rescues. Scripture comes alive!

Method #11: Pray Through the Psalms

As a new 20-something Christian struggling with how God could love someone like me, a godly mentor pointed me to the Psalms.

The Psalms put into words the hurricane of thoughts whirling in my head that I could not verbalize. She suggested that I use the Psalms as a prayer guideline.

It was a spiritual game-changer.

Every emotion that we experience can be found in the Psalms. Anger. Love. Bitterness. Praise. Confusion. Hurt. Thanksgiving. You name it, and it’s in the Psalms.

This method can be written out in a prayer journal, as well as spoken aloud. Since prayer is spoken aloud, start by reading the psalm aloud. You will hear the emotion of each psalmist.

Why do emotions matter?

God created us with emotion to move our hearts and soul beyond our comfort zones. What emotions are in the psalm? The key to relating to the Psalms is putting yourself in the place of the psalmist. Speak as if you were writing it from your own experience. Joy. Heartbreak. Victory. Loss.

King David penned almost half of the psalms. He poured his heart out to God in his writing. And as he wrote, God’s peace and comfort faithfully surrounded him. And his writing reflected it.

As you pray the Psalms aloud, God’s peace and comfort also surround your everyday life. We are verbally handing over our worries and concerns to the only One who has the power to change them.

The Psalms are also infused with worship. Worship was an integral part of the Israelite’s life. Consequently, the Psalms overflow with adoration and worship of God. If your circumstances leave you without words to worship, speak those worship Psalms aloud.

Praying and worshiping through the Psalms continues to be one of the most powerful spiritual tools that God has given us.

Method #12: Pull Out Your Biblical Maps

Understanding the geography around Biblical stories adds an important layer to studying Scripture. Years ago, a friend gave me an ESV Bible Atlas as a birthday gift and it is never far from reach.

For example, when Jacob sent his favorite son Joseph to check on his shepherding brothers, a map reveals that Joseph’s journey was between 50-60 miles. Not just up the road! Such insights lend a greater understanding of the hardships and blessings of Biblical characters.

When you realize that the Sea of Galilee is only eight miles wide by twelve miles long, we can visualize how the crowds tracked Jesus’ boat as they followed Him along the shore to experience the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21).

I regularly lead tours through the Holy Land. One comment repeatedly stated is that they had no idea the close proximity of some locations to others. For instance, Magdala, Tiberius, Capernaum, and the Mount of Beatitudes can be seen from an anchored boat on the Sea of Galilee.

Holy Land Tour

If you love maps, this is a very effective method of diving deeper into Scripture. Grab a Bible atlas, pick a story from Scripture, and track the character’s movements. This is particularly eye-opening in Exodus.

I have spent many hours lost in the pages of that Bible atlas seeing Scripture come to life through geography.

Method #13: Use Bible Flash Cards

Flashcards are not just for school students. As a bona fide lifelong learner, flashcards are an invaluable way to study Scripture.

When my Forgiveness Bible study was released, the publisher had the brilliant idea of offering Scripture memory cards as a companion study tool. I still keep those cards close as a reminder to keep a short account of hurts. Life is short. Forgiveness is commanded.

If you are new to the Bible in general, there are flashcards for learning the books of the Bible, significant characters, and even timelines.

This study method is a great resource if you do not have much daily time for in-depth study.

The Bottom Line

The Bible is our only true source of wisdom and knowledge. Regular studying of God’s Word provides a firm foundation to grow and strengthen your faith.

Remember to give yourself some grace as you study Scripture. You are learning the spiritual riches of a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. It takes a lifetime.

The Bible is a life manual for all Christians. God’s Word is life-giving and life-changing. There is a reason that it is the world’s best-selling book of all time.

Above all, diligent Bible study will remind you time and again of the assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. God bless your study time!

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What Does the Bible Say About Retirement?

Retirement is often perceived as a well-earned reward after a long career. The sudden influx of disposable time unlocks many opportunities to pursue life’s pleasures. Travel more. Golf each morning. Set off in an RV across America.

However, is that a cultural or biblical concept of retirement?

The word “retire” is mentioned only once in Scripture, appearing exclusively in the NIV translation:

The Lord said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites” Numbers 8:23-26 (NIV).

The Levites were responsible for all aspects of the worship of God, mainly service of the tent of meeting (Tabernacle) and later in the Temple. Only Levite males ages 25-50 were assigned this God-given responsibility.

After age 50, the older men transitioned to serving outside the Tabernacle and Temple. Their responsibilities changed but did not end. They were not exempt from their time of service in later years just because the younger generations stepped up.

Where Did Our Concept of Retirement Originate?

Historically, people worked as long as they were able due to economic necessity. It was common for several generations of a family to live under one roof so that they could pool resources and look after each other. Their life span was shorter. If people could no longer work, they usually died not long after.

Photo by Abbilyn Zavgorodniaia on Unsplash

Retirement originated mainly in the United States around the 1950s and is predominantly an American concept. As America gained wealth and developed better medical care, increased food supply, and more accessible transportation, the elderly lived longer. Hence, their kids eventually purchased their own homes.

As Americans entered retirement age, they initially had five to ten years to enjoy travel and various relaxing pursuits before health issues (whether theirs or family members) slowed them down.

What Does 21st Century Retirement Look Like?

Due to modern medical improvements, a person may actually live in retirement as long as they worked during their career. It is not uncommon to hear of a person being retired twenty to thirty years or more.

Modern-day retirement usually focuses on hobbies or pleasures that people did not have the time or money to pursue during their working and family-raising years. The mindset shifts from contributor to consumer.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In June 2021, I accepted early retirement from the law firm where I had worked for thirty years. At 53 years old with a six-month retirement package in hand, I had two choices: (1) tuck that away into savings and find another 9-5 job, or (2) leverage everything to follow God’s clear calling to establish a full time 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry. God clearly led me to walk through door #2 and I have not looked back.

Embarking on this good work of “retirement” (I prefer to call it my encore career) meant that I needed to understand God’s perspective about retirement for Christians. My research process began. Hence this post.

A Biblical Perspective of Retirement

The Bible was written long before retirement existed. According to the Numbers passage above, retirement focuses on a shift of work responsibilities not an end to them.

The Bible never instructs us to stop working. However, it also does not mean that we make bricks for the rest of our days. Our workdays simply look different in our golden years.

Photo by Z on Unsplash

Today’s understanding of retirement as a permanent vacation is a cultural, not a biblical concept. As Christians, our goal is to serve the living God with gladness as long as we are able.

Our encore years are the time we can use our gifts, honed skills, and experiential wisdom to serve God differently than when we worked full time.

Now that does not mean that we shouldn’t play golf or travel. However, if pleasurable pursuits fill our agenda, we can miss out on so much joy that God still has for us.

Adjusting Our Focus

Christians never truly retire – we merely adjust our focus and adapt our duties as we age. After all, gray hair does not equal diminished capacity!

My days are now filled with researching, writing, and teaching new Bible studies, speaking at retreats and conferences, mentoring the next generation, and creating new biblical literacy materials in line with Artesian Ministries’ mission statement.

As an aside, I thoroughly enjoy not getting up at 5:00 a.m. on weekdays to catch the bus going downtown. It is a delicious blessing to finally embrace my night owl tendencies and wake up naturally without a blaring alarm clock.

I have always loved to travel, but now much of it has a primary focus: leading tours to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked, to Germany to trace Martin Luther’s footsteps, or to Greece and Turkey to see where God used the Apostle Paul.

How Do We Seek New Opportunities to Serve?

1. Pray Through and Set a Plan.

Being good stewards of our encore career is important in all areas: time, talent, and treasure. Many older people today face difficult times and need to remain in the workforce as long as possible.

If God has provided financial security so that you can fully retire or only work part-time, it is a privilege that historically was only available to the wealthy.

Photo by Dose Media on Unsplash

Prayerful planning provides the godly purpose and focus so that we can serve the Lord with excellence. Setting a plan reveals patterns of available time in your relaxed schedule to consider new ministry opportunities to serve in different ways. I created a personal weekly planner that you may find useful at the end of this post.

The retirement planning process encourages us to seek counsel and wisdom from Christians who have already walked that path. I have learned first-hand the infinite value of their wise decisions gleaned from years of experience.

2. Schedule Your Time.

Like younger children, God’s older children benefit from structure. Retirement means flexibility, but I learned very fast that no plan often results in many purposeless days.

In those initial retirement days, I needed that schedule-free rest. However, living a life of any value that honors God means utilizing the time He has given us to help others and point people to the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It is important to find activities that engage us spiritually, mentally, and physically. They keep our facilities sharp instead of suffering atrophy. For the first time in my life, I have embraced vegetable gardening. How satisfying!

This Fall I will be attending a daytime women’s Bible study at my church. Not to teach, just to participate, learn, and soak. Intentional soaking time in the Word is a crucial element for Christians in every stage of life.

3. Be Open to Serve in New Ways.

Perhaps that openness looks like care for others, such as transporting elderly neighbors or family members to medical appointments, mentoring a college student, or volunteering on a mission trip.

I have dear friends who now spend their days building homes for the needy. Other friends volunteer their time to train and deploy LCC’s K-9 Comfort Dogs to disaster relief areas. My church regularly goes on mission trips to Honduras and Kenya, where everyone is welcome to join.

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

Stepping out of the 9-5 rat race invites us to breathe deeply, slow our pace a bit, and open our eyes to see God’s blessings afresh. Investing time to seek God’s will and plan for our encore years is an invaluable endeavor.

The Shift from Consumer to Contributor

Resisting that cultural mindset shift from a contributor to a consumer can be challenging indeed. We can certainly choose to play the retirement card, languish in unending free time, and engage only in social functions.

However, our retirement years are both a gift and a responsibility.

There is still God’s great big mission field of good work to be done with no age limit before we receive our crown of glory.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Armed with these godly principles for retirement will enable us to understand on a deeper personal level what the Apostle Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 15:58:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

A quick closing thought: your retirement years may well be more spiritually significant than any other time in your life. Trust God to guide your steps and watch Him move!

{As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.}

What is Maundy Thursday?

The first time I was invited to attend a Maundy Thursday service over 25 years ago, I had no clue what it was. They tried valiantly to explain the significance.

But I had to experience it first-hand to understand the true meaning.

HOLY THURSDAY

Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, recalls the events that took place the night Jesus was betrayed in the upper room.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke reveal how Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper for the first time. That life-altering table of forgiveness laid out for us.

JOHN’S GOSPEL FOCUSES ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT

The gospel of John hones in on Jesus’ final teachings to His disciples — this band of men who had followed Him, served Him, and witnessed three years of His ministry.

John realized that those who know their remaining time is short choose words carefully to ensure only the essential gets conveyed.

The word maundy is derived from the Latin phrase mandatum novum, meaning “new commandment.” So, what were Jesus’ instructions that night? 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

SERVING JESUS REQUIRES LOVE

John doesn’t simply end his account with men enjoying a meal and hearing Jesus speak. He tells how Jesus dramatically punctuated His words with action.

In a shocking turn of events that almost sent Peter over the edge, Jesus — God in the flesh — stooped to wash the disciples’ feet. Including Judas. (A good point to keep in mind the next time we have trouble extending forgiveness.)

SERVING JESUS REQUIRES SERVING OTHERS

We can opt to serve others from a safe distance by sending money or supplies. However, serving to make a kingdom impact as His hands and feet requires us to get in close.

Get our hands dirty.

Get on our knees and pray.

Do the lowliest job.

That’s what foot washing represented in Biblical times. Only the lowest servant was relegated to the task of washing feet encased in sandals and thick desert dust. The job stunk. Literally.

That’s where Jesus meets us on Maundy Thursday — in the middle of our smelly lives.

He washes our feet in love and welcomes us to His table of forgiveness. And as we draw close, we hear Him remind us of His mandatum novum: “Love one another, just as I have loved you.”

The heart of Maundy Thursday reflects the heart of God: love.

Love instituted in a meal of forgiveness and redemption.

Love demonstrated by a foot washing, life-giving love.

If you have the opportunity to attend a Maundy Thursday service tonight, don’t miss out. It provides a beautiful glimpse into God’s everlasting love for us.

Be the Donkey

Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt (donkey) tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” tell him, “The Lord needs it.” (Luke 19:30-31).

That donkey did not do anything special. He was simply chosen. Then he obeyed a very simple instruction: follow where the master led.

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it” (Luke 19:35).

Scripture does not say anything else about that particular donkey. We do not see where the donkey felt that his time in the spotlight was long overdue. Or that he deserved the pomp and circumstance of that occasion. No donkey selfies.

The donkey realized that it was not about him.

It was about the Messiah that he carried: the Word who became flesh to dwell among us.

It was about the message that the Messiah came to tell: the Light of the world who came to shine hope into our darkness.

In a world obsessed with fame we need to be the donkey.

When we grab after our own glory or fifteen minutes of fame, it is helpful to remember that we are just message-carriers. The picture frame and spotlight belong only on the One who gave us the message to share: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall no perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

As we enter Holy Week today with Palm Sunday, it is vital to remember our place in the story: to hold the spotlight on Jesus. To shine the light on what He accomplished for us on the cross.

We need God-given willingness to let Him untie us from the mundane to carry His extraordinary message wherever He leads us.

The story of Easter is not about us.

We did not do anything special.

By God’s grace, we are simply chosen.

And He asks us to obey a very simple instruction: Follow Me.

We are conduits of the message – not seekers of the spotlight.

Only Jesus deserves the accolades.

Code Blue and Ash Wednesday

Once again, the darkened wee hours are startled awake as “Code Blue!” rings loud over the hospital’s ICU intercom. The staff rushes as one to battle the emergency.

I selfishly thank God that they are not rushing into mom’s room.

It’s 3am as I hear them working to save a life. As my prayers ascend each time Code Blue rings out, I know that God is already in each room.

God was in mom’s room before we were, as well. And He will be there after we are gone, whether the inhabitants acknowledge Him or not.

Prayer moves the heart of God, but faith reminds us that God is already moving.

The season of Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday. Isaiah 53:5 tells us, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Jesus was crushed for our sin. And the most amazing thing? He did it willingly. He deliberately put Himself in harm’s way to save our lives – literally.

God positioned Jesus in a certain place and time to be the Savior of the world. Before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we were in a spiritually life-threatening situation.

We weren’t going to make it out alive.

We were bleeding to death in our sin.

We were going to lose the fight for life.

But because our Savior stepped in to take God’s wrath on our behalf, we have been extended the extraordinary promise to have eternal life.

If you would like to ponder more deeply the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for you and me, you can download my 4-lesson Bible study on Isaiah 53:5.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Jesus loves us more than we can possibly imagine. God’s blessings as you travel toward Calvary during Lent.

Tidbit Thursday: The Sycamine Tree and Forgiveness

As Jesus was walking with His disciples in Luke 17, He paused by a sycamine tree to make a specific point about forgiveness. Why should we care about this tree and what does it have to do with forgiveness?

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6 KJV)

The sycamine tree had a robust root structure that plunged deep into the desert soil to tap into underground water sources. Because of its deep roots, drought or sheering it off at the base posed little threat. It was incredibly difficult to eradicate once established. It would inevitably resurface.

Scripture talks about not allowing any bitterness to take root in our heart because eradicating unforgiveness is incredibly difficult. It grows deep, watered by any offense that lies hidden in the soil of our heart. Left alone, unforgiveness will establish deep roots and produce bitter fruit that surfaces through angry thoughts, words, and deeds.

But there is more.

The spiritual parallels between unforgiveness and the properties of the sycamine tree are chilling.

Wood from the sycamine tree was the preferred material for building coffins and caskets. It grew quickly and was readily available in many places. In fact, Egyptian archaeologists have discovered small boxes made from sycamine wood at the base of mummified sarcophagi. These sycamine boxes remained uncorrupted for at least 3,000 years. Unforgiveness remains in us, corrupting our heart and mind until we allow God access to eradicate it.

Also, the sycamine tree was only pollinated by wasps. The wasp stuck its stinger into the heart of the fruit to initiate the pollination process. The tree had to be “stung” in order to reproduce. Think of how many times you have heard someone say, “I’ve been stung by that person once, but I’m not going to be stung like that again!” You can almost see the poison of unforgiveness pollinate every bitter word they utter. Can you hear the pounding of the casket maker’s hammers?

Finally, the sycamine tree was planted where two paths met. Its large trunk and stout branches offered shade to travelers as they paused to decide which path to take. When you and I get hurt – emotionally, mentally, or spiritually – we stand at a crossroads.

We have the choice between the dark, burdensome path of unforgiveness or the Son-drenched, freeing path of forgiveness. The choice really is ours.

As children of the living God, we must believe that the process of eradicating bitter roots is never a hopeless endeavor. Jesus told His disciples in Luke 17:6 that uprooting unforgiveness is possible if a person has the faith of a grain of mustard seed.

In Him is our only hope of freedom from destructive bitterness. Since that gift of hope comes from God (Ephesians 2:8), we have access to an abundant, unlimited supply of the poison’s antidote.

Regardless of how deep the hurt or how long we have let it reside, it is never too late to surrender our unforgiveness to God for permanent eradication.

In God’s hands, the casket maker’s career is short lived.

Bible study on Forgiveness.

Tidbit Thursday: Epiphany Around the World

People around the world are celebrating Epiphany today, January 6th. Meaning “manifestation” in Greek, Epiphany has been celebrated since around 361 A.D.

To Western Christianity, it marks the arrival of the Magi (or Three Kings) to the toddler Jesus in Bethlehem. In Eastern Orthodoxy, Epiphany commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.

Since Epiphany arrives twelve days after Christmas, it is also known as Twelfth Night. People across the globe celebrate it in many interesting ways:

  • In the United States and the United Kingdom, Epiphany marks the day to take down Christmas decorations since many believe that it is bad luck to do so before January 6th.
  • In some Eastern Orthodox countries, Greece, and Bulgaria, priests bless crosses and throw them into frigid waters. Young men dive in after them believing that the first to find the cross will be blessed with good luck for the new year.
  • In Spain, the Philippines, and some Latin American countries, Epiphany is known as “Dia de los Reyes Magos” where Three Kings bring gifts to good boys and girls who leave out their straw-filled shoes the night before. It is traditional to bake a Rosa de Reyes cake and hide a small doll inside that represents the baby Jesus.
  • In Italy, children eagerly await the arrival of a kind, wise witch named “La Befana”, who leaves gifts for them.
  • In Belgium and the Netherlands, Epiphany is called “Drie Koningen.” Children dress as the Three Kings then visit neighbors’ homes to sing songs and receive treats and coins.
  • In Ethiopia, Epiphany is called “Timkat“, where tradition holds that Three Kings brought the Ark of the Covenant to their country. A miniature Ark is placed on the church altar, and they re-enact Jesus’ baptism. Since Ethiopians do not follow the Gregorian calendar, they celebrate two weeks after January 6th.

For Christians, Epiphany – also called the “Thirteenth Day” of Christmas – centers on the visit of the Magi from the East. Epiphany emphasizes the manifestation of God in the flesh of Jesus Christ. Jesus has entered our darkness and shines His true Light (Isaiah 60:1–2).

There is beautiful symbolism in the Magi’s three gifts to Jesus: With gold they confess His royalty; with incense, His deity; and with myrrh, His priestly sacrifice (Matthew 2:11).

As the Magi were guided by the star find and worship the newborn King (Matthew 2:5–11), so God calls us to look to Him to find and worship the Lord (Isaiah 60:3–6).

I pray that we diligently seek Him in 2022, full of His hope, His love, and His light.

Tidbit Thursday: Beekeeping at Notre-Dame

Visiting cathedrals around the world is a passion. I love their centuries-old architecture, Bible stories captured in stained glass, and their stunning beauty. As I work on a special 2022 ministry project involving cathedrals, my favorite one came to mind: Notre-Dame in Paris, France.

The first time I visited Notre-Dame was in October 2008. While my friend headed to the Louvre, I spent an entire day absorbing every inch of that magnificent cathedral, inside and out. I could have easily spent a week.

When Notre-Dame was engulfed in a devastating fire on April 15, 2019, I watched the television coverage with tears streaming down my face. The original stone had been laid on December 12, 1163. The world was witnessing almost 900 years of history going up in smoke.

But like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, so is Notre-Dame. Over $1 billion in worldwide contributions sparked one of the most famous and expensive restorations in history.

During my research process about Notre-Dame, I discovered a delightful tidbit. Since 2013, 35,000-40,000 honeybees have called Notre-Dame Cathedral home. The bees are of the Brother Adam Buckfast variety, and they live in three hives on the sacristy roof. The bees miraculously escaped the fire and are thriving.

The beautiful connection between God and honey appears throughout Scripture.

  • The Promised Land was described to the Israelites as a land flowing with milk and honey – a sign of abundance, ease, and prosperity (Exodus 3:6-8).
  • Honey was often given as a special gift between friends (Genesis 43:11).
  • Two places describe God’s Word as sweeter than honey (Ezekiel 3:3 and Revelation 10:9-10).

Notre-Dame is a stunning house of worship. God’s praises have been sung there for nearly nine centuries. That is what makes any cathedral truly beautiful: God’s people lifting their voices in prayer and praise to our triune God.

If you enjoy Advent calendars, Notre-Dame Cathedral is offering a free Advent calendar online that reveals interesting facts about the cathedral each day through December 25th. You can find it here.

This Christmas, as we enter our beautiful houses of worship to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I pray that God’s light shines bright in your soul as you hear His sweetest words:

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).