Does God Really Collect Our Tears in a Bottle?

The Philistines had captured David in Gath. And even though he was a prisoner of war during that difficult time, David penned these beautiful words: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).

David had every reason to cry and experience sorrow. He could have easily slung anger in God’s direction. Instead, he turned his face toward God to receive comfort.

But his words may raise a question. Did David mean that God used literal bottles as tear catchers, or was it simply a figure of speech?

It Takes a Lot of Tears to Fill a Bottle

Life happens, and as a result, so do tears. Whether we shed tears of joy or sadness or simply when God moves us in our soul, every tear holds meaning to Him. Pause to allow that truth to sink in for a moment. With seven billion plus people on the planet, God not only knows your name but notices each and every time you shed a tear.

In other words, our tears are not futile. They are not silly or a sign of weakness. Nor are they a waste of time as we impatiently desire to simply move on. Shedding tears reminds us of our humanity and vulnerability. We would be hard-pressed to recall every time we shed tears throughout our lifetime. But our heavenly Father remembers.

Tear Bottles in Antiquity

A quick history of the tear bottle in ancient Rome is in order. Around the time of Christ, Roman tear bottles were fairly common. Mourners in Roman times would capture their tears in small glass bottles and leave them in burial tombs as a symbol of respect.

Legend even says that during the Roman period sometimes women were paid to capture their tears in bottles as they accompanied the funeral procession of a deceased person. The more they cried and the more tears they captured, the more they were compensated, according to legend in biblical times.

Tear Bottles in the Victorian Era

Also known as lachrymatory bottles, tear bottles appeared once again during the 19th century in the Victorian era as a sign of mourning lost loved ones:

The Victorian era is also known for its fascination with death. Elaborate rituals surrounded the everyday occurrences of dying and grieving, and it was in this environment that tear bottles re-surfaced as a popular icon of grief and grieving.”

Tear Bottles During America’s Civil War

Since the U.S. Civil War happened during the Victorian era, the resurgence of a tear vial or tear jar goes hand-in-hand with that tragic time in our country’s history:

Stories of soldiers leaving their wives or new brides with a tear bottle can be found in the literature of the day. Some husbands are said to have hoped that the bottles with special stoppers would be full upon their return, as an indication of their wives’ devotion. Sadly, many of these men never made it back home.”

Is David’s Reference to God’s Tear Bottle Based on Fact?

As David endured that dark season in his life, he poured out the words of Psalm 56 to the Lord. Were David’s words simply wishful thinking, poetic language, or the fact that God actually bottles our tears?

Scholars generally agree that King David was using the metaphor of a small bottle to signify remembrance. By capturing the image of God catching our tears, we are reminded that God remembers and cares about our suffering.

In writing those words, David expresses a deep, abiding trust in God and His watch care over His children. Even when no one around us sees our tears, God sees each one. And David calls attention to that truth in the very next verse: “This I know, God is for me” (Psalm 56:9, ESV).

This I know. David knew that God was for him and never against him. As God’s beloved children, this we know, as well. Such knowing transcends the hurts and tears of this world to embrace the light and joy of eternity.

God is on Our Side

David initiated Psalm 56 with a guttural grasping for God amidst enemy attack: “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me” (Psalm 56:1, ESV). That may describe you this very day. It has certainly described many of my days where I have lost count of my tossings. He keeps account of my wanderings.

Then David turns his attention from his attackers onto God: “In God I trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11, ESV). Such comfort! Such truth!

The Apostle Paul reminds us of our ultimate enemy’s identity: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).

The only One who can fight and defeat our ultimate enemy is God. And David knew that. God’s people are engaged in a battle in the spiritual realm requiring spiritual armor. Stepping on the battlefield in our own strength is a recipe for decimation.

So David turned his face and surrendered his sorrow to God alone. We do not know if David was in solitary confinement, but David knew that he was never alone. The God of the heavenly armies stood with him.

When We Suffer Because We Are His Disciples

If you have walked your faith journey for any length of time, you have experienced attack and sorrow simply because you follow Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus took time in the New Testament to warn and encourage His disciples about that very fact:

  • Everyone will hate you because of me” (Luke 21:17, ESV).
  • For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16, ESV).
  • Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9, ESV).

Such sorrow, loss, and suffering generate real tears. And as God’s image-bearers, Jesus feels our sorrow and is moved to tears: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, ESV). The tears of our Lord speak volumes about His dispensation of grace. His dear friend, Lazarus, died. Jesus wept in that mourning period.

God may not have an actual bottle where He keeps our tears or a book of remembrance where He records our sorrows. However, He remembers all the things that happen in our lives, including the suffering endured for His sake.

Tears Speak Their Own Language

Tears speak a language all their own. They reveal what moves our souls. Tears of compassion often precede reaching out to help one another. Tears of joy often precede hugging the stuffing out of the nearest human being. Tears of sorrow often precede us straining after the soul comfort that only comes from God.

According to scientists, shedding tears is physically healthy: “Tears contain natural antibiotics called lysozymes. Lysozymes help to keep the surface of the eye healthy by fighting off bacteria and viruses. Because the cornea has no blood vessels, the tears also provide a means of bringing nutrients to its cells.”

What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul. For dirt, there is soap. For despair, there are tears. God does not forget the flood of sacred tears that have streamed down our cheeks. God remembers and sends His comfort without fail.

Our Future Tears

Our tears hold significant meaning for God. In fact, He goes so far as to reassure us: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

God sees when we ugly cry. It is a direct result of living in this sinful world. But in the presence of our Savior, tears are replaced by eternal light and joy that never ends. Ever. In the New Heaven and the New Earth, crying, pain, and death will be replaced with happiness, joy, and love.

Jesus’ Ultimate Pain Offers Us Ultimate Freedom

When Jesus took our nails on the cross, He also took on all of our sins. Every sin we have committed, are currently committing and will commit for the rest of our lives.

For the glory of God, Jesus experienced great sacrifice to relieve us from the eternal burden of sorrow and separation from God. And on the third day, when God raised Jesus from the dead, He also offered the hope of forgiveness and restoration in Christ Jesus.

As long as God keeps us here on earth, we will experience the pain of this life. But we do not suffer without hope. And hope is the game-changer.

Take Heart

If you are experiencing hard times or if this season of dark times, take heart. God sees your pain. He feels the sorrow and depression you experience. Reach out to Him in prayer. Journal your thoughts and feelings.

And one day, He will faithfully remove all of it in the light of His glorious grace. Lifted by the wings of His love, there will be no more pain one day.

In the meantime, like David’s confidence in Psalm 56, we keep turning our faces to the Source of all comfort and hope in the midst of our suffering. My life verse speaks directly about this hope: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

When life crashes hard and the tears flow, O Lord, enable us to stand strong on the Rock of Ages. 

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The Shortest Chapter in the Bible Packs a Punch

The Bible is God’s breath exhaled on the page. Scripture is filled with wisdom and guidance for a Christ-follower’s faith walk, along with how we are to love, live, forgive, and interact with each other.

We can spend our whole lives studying the Bible’s contents, memorizing Bible verses, and participating in Bible study, never knowing it all. The Hebrew Bible does not contain verse divisions like our English translations, but those are certainly helpful for navigating through the books of the Bible.

So, let’s talk scope and facts first.

Facts About the Bible

Here is a quick content overview to demonstrate its complexity. The Bible contains:

  • 66 books total
  • 39 Old Testament books
  • 27 New Testament books
  • 783,137 words
  • 3,116,480 letters

Verses and Chapters:

  • The Bible has 1,189 chapters, which contain 31,102 verses
  • There are 929 chapters and 23,145 verses in the Old Testament
  • There are 260 chapters and 7,957 verses in the New Testament

Shortest and Longest:

  • The book of Psalms is the longest book with 150 chapters
  • Psalm 119 is the longest chapter with 176 verses (and longest psalm)
  • Esther 8:9 is the longest verse with 78 words
  • By word count, 3 John is the shortest book
  • By word count, Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter (and shortest psalm)
  • John 11:35 is the shortest verse with only 2 words: “Jesus wept.

The Timeline and Locations of the Bible

Inspired by God, the Bible was written by forty different authors from many different walks of life, covering forty generations experiencing different times. Spanning 1,500 years (from 1400 BC to AD 100), it covers three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), and is recorded in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic).

The Old Testament

The 39 books of the Old Testament contain:

The New Testament

The 27 books of the New Testament contain:

There is a reason that the Bible is the most printed, most read, best-selling book in history!

What is the Shortest Chapter in the Bible?

Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. And even though it is the shortest chapter, it conveys the core message of Scripture: God’s never-ending love for us. The first half of verse 2 encapsulates this beautifully: “For great is His love toward us” (Psalm 117:2a, NIV).

God’s love for us and His creation spans the entirety of both the Old and New Testaments, yet simple enough to rest in the shortest chapter. He loves us. Period.

There are no conditions attached to His love toward us. There is no action that we can perform to earn it. God’s love is His free, extraordinary gift to us. The greatest gift, in fact, that we have ever or will ever receive – bar none.

Interesting Facts About Psalm 117

The two verses of Psalm 117 contain 17 Hebrew words. It is the shortest chapter in the Bible in both the number of verses and the number of words. Psalm 117 is also the precise center of the Bible. As the 595th chapter, there are 594 chapters preceding it and 594 chapters following it.

God’s Enduring Faithfulness

And if God’s never-ending love was not enough, the second half of verse 2 affirms: “and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2b, NIV).

God’s boundless love and tender care for us never cease. You and I can spend a lifetime looking for meaningful, lasting human love. Yet the shortest chapter provides the quickest assurance that we are loved beyond measure by the One who knit us together in our mother’s wombs.

Psalm 117 is Also About Praise

Psalm 117 begins with “Praise the Lord” and ends the same way. The shortest chapter in Scripture found the space to remind us twice of the importance of praising God.

Psalm 117 is both a personal and worldwide reminder to praise God. Here we are over two thousand years after Jesus’ glorious resurrection still worshipping Him regardless of color, creed, or credit. Because of His great love for us, we are able to love and serve one another (1 John 4:19).

Whether we read a short chapter in the Bible or absorb the longest one, every verse and chapter conveys God’s unwavering truth along with lessons we can learn and apply to our lives.

Even though Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, it is long on God’s love and faithfulness toward us. Knowing those truths enables us to live courageously to share the hope of Christ in our turbulent times when people are desperate to hear it.

Praise the Lord!

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Warriors in the Bible: 13 Essential Life Lessons To Learn

In some way, shape, or form, the pandemic infected and affected all of us. Our daily life. Our loved ones. Our communities. And the globe at large. Consequently, many of us can relate more intimately to being warriors. We have battle scars. Yet we have also experienced battle blessings.

If you keep a journal like me, you likely ran out of space a long time ago with all that has happened over the past two and a half years. This topic deserves a full-blown Bible study – perhaps especially for our military community. But for now, we will settle for diving in here.

The Lord as a Warrior

The Old Testament and the New Testament are full of metaphors and allegories associated with battles, military, and warfare symbolism. Moses even refers to the Lord as a “warrior” (Exodus 15:1-3), and Jeremiah calls him a “mighty warrior” (Jeremiah 20:11).

Isaiah certainly implies similar symbolism: “The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies” (Isaiah 42:13).

The Armor God Provides

The Word of God tells us clearly that every believer endures spiritual warfare. Period. Yet God does not leave us alone or unarmed. The Apostle Paul tells us how the Lord has given us good things in preparation for this warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Paul begins with the most important instruction: be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. If we attempt to tackle spiritual warfare in our own strength, we will not make it past the first sixty seconds.

Paul also provides a clear description of our enemy: unseen dark forces in the heavenly realms. Facing off against such a powerful, unseen enemy with human armor basically guarantees our defeat. Ego is usually the first casualty when we do not armor up. The Lord’s armor of light makes all the difference.

Who or What Are We Fighting For?

You and I are called to battle for our loved ones, the forgotten, the culturally marginalized, the weak, the little children, and the helpless. We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

We fight for truth and the fact that every single person is made in the image of God. Every life is precious. Every person has a purpose under God – none of us is “less than” in the economy of heaven.

When you and I step on the battlefield, we know that His love leads the charge because He desires for all to come to know Him. The power of God’s love will outlast us all.

How Are We to Fight?

If we are to finish well as God’s warriors, Paul himself says that he “fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7), and encourages us to do likewise.

We do not fight to simply wield a sword indiscriminately but to engage in the battle to make a difference in the lives of our family members, friends, acquaintances, and those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

There is no doubt that we are living in the last days. The clock started ticking a very long time ago. This present darkness is full of confused noise and false prophets. However, the timeless truths of God through our Bible stories teach powerful lessons about the battle of the warrior.

Fighting the Good Fight

Several times in Scripture, we see how we are to “fight the good fight.” What does that mean? Simply this: we need to prepare for the skirmishes we will undoubtedly encounter, put on the full armor of God and stand firm, and be clothed in the Lord’s integrity and honor on the battlefield of life.

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith” (1 Timothy 1:18-20).

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Spiritual Warfare Differs From Earthly Battles

On the spiritual battlefield, our weapons and the purpose of each look vastly different than any battle we face in this world.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

13 Life Lessons About God’s Warriors

God called King David a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). This son of Jesse of Bethlehem was an extraordinary leader and a great warrior. Also, he was arguably the greatest example of a prayer warrior in God’s Word. With that in mind, what does it look like to be a warrior after God’s heart? We will let Scripture do the talking.

1.    God’s warrior is redeemed to tell God’s story.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:2).

2.    God’s warrior is trained and loyal to the Lord.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

3.    God’s warrior has his citizenship flag planted in heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

4.    God’s warrior follows our heavenly Commander’s will.

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22).

5.    God’s warrior faithfully prepares for battle.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

6.    God’s warrior diligently guards his heart.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

7.    God’s warrior practices unquestionable integrity.

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15:1-5).

8.    God’s warrior keeps his eye on the prize.

Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:26‐27).

9.    God’s warrior has been set aside for the Lord’s holy purposes.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

10. God’s warrior does good works.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

11. God’s warrior stands prepared and ready.

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

12. God’s warrior stands firm in the Lord.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

13. God’s warrior finishes well.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 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 4:6-8).

Other Helpful Scripture to Know for the Battle

There is no shortage of bible verses that teach us what is expected of us as God’s warriors. As we close, here are others to inform and bless your journey:

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:6-8).

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:3-5).

2 TIMOTHY 2:3-5

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Best 90 Day Chronological Bible Reading Plan [Free Downloads]

A great way to read through the Bible is to follow a Bible reading plan. In order to obtain the big picture of Scripture, try using a chronological Bible reading plan for 90 days.

A chronological plan leads us to a better understanding of the stories of Scripture in the order they happened. The chronological order is different than how the books of the Bible are laid out (especially in the Old Testament), so be prepared to skip around in Scripture during your daily readings.

Why a Chronological Reading Plan?

A straight read of Scripture allows us to notice the larger picture of how God developed His plan of redemption from the very beginning. We notice major people, the history of the Israel nation, key stories of the Bible, events of the Bible, and the power of God throughout.

When you finish, you will have read every single chapter in the entire Bible and have grasped a greater understanding of His Word. How God’s perfect timing is precisely that. How His love wins all the way to the end.

From the book of Genesis through Revelation, God shows us a whole new way of how to live counter-culturally within the culture that surrounds us.

Time Commitment

A 90-day plan requires approximately thirty minutes per day. You might find that such a time commitment may be tackled better during more structured seasons of life – such as when school starts back after the summer or winter holidays.

You may need to give yourself some grace days on your reading project, and that is perfectly fine. Sometimes our daily schedules vary greatly. There are also many smartphone apps that offer a great resource to listen to audio bibles with reading plans.

If you are not in a life season that allows you to set aside a long time for reading the Bible, you may want to choose a one-year plan, or even a two-year plan instead. I offer many simple Bible reading plans that you can choose from here.

Every minute you spend in Scripture will reap blessings, so do not hesitate to take it at a slower pace.

Which Bible Translation Should You Use?

The Bible has been translated, interpreted, and read in many different ways while maintaining its original substance. The simple answer is this: read whichever version you can easily understand. Personally, I like the English Standard Version (ESV) because it is the closest translation to the original languages using our modern-day vernacular.

If you were raised on the King James Version (KJV) and you love the way it reads, then by all means use that version. I also like the New Living Translation (NLT). The bottom line is to choose whichever translation you can best understand. Understanding God’s story is the goal, so pick a version that makes the most sense to you.

Why Commit to Reading Through the Whole Bible?

The Bible is God’s breath on the page. It is the inspired Word of God given to mankind so that we can know our Creator. Why He chose us. Why He pursues us. Why He loves us so very much.

It is by far the most important book you will ever read because, through it, God changes us to be more like Jesus from the inside out.

The Bible is a Christian’s ultimate source for guidance through life, comfort in difficult times, and how to forgive and love others as God has done for us.

God has drawn me deep into His Word for over thirty years now and I would not trade one moment of that journey. He has convicted me on how to live and extend grace and how to apply His life lessons to everyday living.

How Did the Bible Come About?

The Bible is a collection of ancient texts that were written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a period of about 1600 years. They lived in different cultures, eras, and circumstances, yet God’s overarching message of redemption and love remained constant.

Scripture is also a cultural and historical treasure trove of information. It provides unique insights (which archaeological finds continue to verify) into what life was like during those various time periods. The Bible contains real stories of people who actually lived. It is not a fantasy fiction novel.

The Bible’s stories encompass people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The God-inspired guidance and timeless wisdom provide indispensable tools for living a life that honors God and the sacrifice He gave to us in Jesus Christ.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, translated into more languages than any other, with over 6.5 billion copies printed to date. Over the millennia, it has had an immense influence and impact on literature, music, science, art, and politics.

How Can the Bible Change Our Lives?

First and foremost, the Bible reveals that we have a Savior in Jesus Christ. Oftentimes, we look at the state of the world and wonder how we’re going to survive. Only through Christ will we survive and thrive in this life because Jesus conquered our sin on the cross.

He has redeemed us to live richer, more meaningful lives by teaching us how to love each other, reach out to our enemies, and stand strong on the spiritual battlefields. We can rewrite today’s headlines when we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against hate and selfish motives.

Balancing Life and Bible Reading Plans

God desires us to live loved and loving others, which starts with family. Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Our families come first right under our devotion to the Lord.

Loving our families well means caring for their mental, physical, and emotional needs. If cutting your daily Bible reading by ten minutes in order to remain at the dinner table as your children tell stories about their day, linger and listen to them.

What Will I Get Out of Regular Bible Reading?

Carving out regular time to read the Bible fuels Christ-centered love and compassion in our actions and conversations. It convicts us of our own behaviors that do not honor God and invites us to repent. It inspires us to serve others sacrificially. Committed Bible reading time is paramount for any believer.

Our lives are to reflect holy faithfulness as His children who realize how much we are loved by the One who knit us together in our mother’s wombs. Opening God’s Word is us lingering at the table with Him each day as He pours into us.

Reading Scripture daily can sometimes feel like hard work that turns into a checklist. Ask God to guard your heart against such baseline thinking. When schedules crowd our time and thoughts, stillness can be elusive. But it is invaluable and so very important. He is the power we need to fuel our days.

Different Bible Reading Plans

Choosing a Bible reading plan helps us methodically read the Bible by dividing it into easily-readable segments to digest and understand. It systematically guides us at our own pace to draw us closer to God.

With that said, tackling a 90-day chronological Bible reading plan may be a large chunk to chew if these are your first steps toward regular Bible reading. So you may want to consider another unique plan. There are several comprehensive plans here as free downloads to choose from to find your best option.

How Can I Stay on Track?

Undertaking regular Bible reading requires commitment, like any other worthy endeavor. Sometimes it may be challenging to remain motivated to read each day. Here are some helps for this Bible project that may keep you on track.

1)    Journal As You Read

I have countless journals that I have kept over the years that are filled with notes as I read through the Bible. Questions, observations, ah-ha moments, and more. I started each entry with the date and what chapters/books I read that day. Those journals are spiritual treasures to me today.

2)    Share What You are Learning

Even though God desires us to know Him more and more, sharing what we are learning can also be an encouragement to other Christians – especially new believers. Share what you are learning with your small group. They also may be able to expound upon what we are learning through their own experiences or reading time. This practice has helped me find fellow Bible nerds wherever I go.

3)    Read Aloud, if Possible

This has been by far one of the most powerful Bible reading tools in my life. Reading aloud allows us to hear the stories as believers would have originally heard them. Usually, only rabbis in synagogues had the scrolls containing God’s Word, and the people faithfully gathered to hear them read aloud. It also slows us down so that our eyes do not mindlessly skim the text.

4)    Highlight and Underline in Your Bible

If a specific verse or saying contains special meaning to you, be sure to highlight or underline it in your Bible. Write a note in the margin regarding what you found interesting or meaningful. I love going back through my older Bibles and simply reading my decades-old notes in the margins.

5)    Set Daily Reading Goals

Whether you choose a 90-Day Bible Reading Plan, a one-year plan, or simply read a chapter per day, write out your goals and stick with them. This helps us keep on track and finish each day’s reading without second-guessing if you already covered it.

6)    Mark Your Goals on a Calendar

If you choose a one-year plan, mark your goals on a calendar. perhaps start on January 1 and finish by December 31. You could start July 1 and finish by June 30. You get the idea. You will be surprised at the end of your reading plan how much God has taught you.

7)    Start and End Your Reading Time with Prayer

We are not reading through any ordinary book. The Bible is the inspired Word of God that demands a response to how we live, think and operate in this world. Ask God to give you guidance and understanding as you read. Ask Him how you can apply what you have learned. Then thank Him for faithfully leading you through each day.

Reading through the Bible is one of the best things you can ever do in your life. And there is no better time to start than right now. God’s blessings as you dive into the most epic adventure of your lifetime!

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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.

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

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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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.

Holy Land Pilgrimage: It’s Finally Here

My view of Jerusalem in 2010 as I walked across the Kidron Valley toward the East Gate.

After eighteen months of planning and preparation, my group and I leave for Israel on Wednesday!

Pastor Wayne Graumann and I will be teaching at various locations as our group of 35 pilgrims make our way through the Holy Land. Here are the dates and locations during our journey:

Wednesday, Nov. 13 – Depart the USA, arriving in Tel Aviv on Nov. 14th
Thursday, Nov. 14 – Jaffa, Caesarea
Friday, Nov. 15 – Megiddo, Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, Cana, Mount of Precipice
Saturday, Nov. 16 – Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Bethsaida, Jordan River, Tabgha, Church of Primacy of St. Peter
Sunday, Nov. 17 – Caesarea Philippi, Tel Dan, Gideon Springs, Beit Shean, Jerusalem
Monday, Nov. 18 – Western Wall, Temple Mount, Via Dolorosa, Southern Steps, Bethlehem
Tuesday, Nov. 19 – Qumran, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea (swim/float), Jericho
Wednesday, Nov. 20 – City of David, Shrine of the Book, Model City, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, St. Peter Gallicantu, Garden Tomb
Thursday, Nov. 21 – Mount of Olives, Palm Sunday Road, Elah Valley and the Garden of Gethsemane
Friday, Nov. 22 – Depart the Holy Land to return home forever changed

Wayne and I will both be blogging (with photos) each day along our journey and we would love for you to follow along. My posts will appear here and Wayne & Kathy’s posts will be here: https://gofarther.me/

We would covet your prayers as our group of 35 walks the very places where Jesus walked. The spiritual growth that each of us will experience simply cannot be overstated. We carry you in our hearts with us!

Next stop: ISRAEL

Bible Study Winners and An Exciting Announcement

This past weekend I attended the LWML Texas District Convention where this brand new study was officially launched. Your incredibly supportive response has been overwhelming!

So many of you sent emails and messages of encouragement. Your comments on the giveaway blog post brought tears to my eyes as you wrote about the women and places where you wanted to share this study.

Thank you so much. 

The two winners of a DVD/workbook set each are:
1) Arla Mae Luther
2) Meridee (Canada)

Congratulations!! I will be reaching out to you by email later today.

NOW FOR THE EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT

After much prayer and planning, I will be leading a tour of the Holy Land, along with Rev. Wayne & Kathy Graumann, in November 2019! WOOHOOOO!!!

As many of you know, my initial visit to Israel in 2010 truly changed my spiritual journey. Receiving communion while looking at the empty tomb is forever etched in my soul.

Won’t you join us on this 10-day Biblical tour of Israel? Pastor Graumann and I will tag-team teach at various sites as we visit them throughout the Holy Land.

Registration is open RIGHT NOW (on my website’s “Events” page or with links below) to give you 16 months to plan, save, invite friends, and ask the Lord prepare your hearts.

Detailed Information and Itinerary
Registration Form

You will hear more information about this tour as time goes on. I pray that you will consider joining us for a life-changing adventure through the places from Scripture.

Dear friends, it is grace upon grace to be able to serve the Lord and you.

Appointed to Go

Ten months after I began working at my first law firm as a file clerk, the firm acquired a small New York firm to expand its practice in the northeast. All of the acquired firm’s client files then needed to be integrated into our firm’s conflicts, filing, and docketing systems.

The task was gargantuan, so my boss appointed me to accompany her to New York to get the job done. We spent two weeks in those dusty New York file rooms inputting information into our computer system, generating new labels, and organizing all of the files according to our firm’s standards.

But there was a great perk: the hotel where we stayed sat in the heart of Manhattan and we had a weekend between the two work weeks to explore. Talk about fun!

I was twenty-three and had never been to New York. It was October, so she and I enjoyed crisp fall weather, ate at great restaurants, and spent our free weekend visiting the Empire State Building, taking in a Broadway show, and visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Even though the work was tedious, being appointed to go to New York was one of the best experiences of my working career. Why tell you this?

Because you and I have been appointed by God.

He chose us as branches for His vineyard and appointed us to bear fruit that lasts. Our work in His vineyard may be tedious at times, but it is rooted toward His mission from the very start. Our effectiveness as His missionary fruit-bearer rests in Jesus, the true Vine, working in and through us.

Jesus willingly set aside the privileges of heaven for over thirty years to invest Himself in disciples who would continue His message following His death and resurrection. As soon as Jesus began calling disciples to become fishers of men, their appointed work was not classroom study but active practice.

During three-years of earthly ministry, Jesus taught us that workers of all vocations were to be laborers in the vineyard (John 4:36).

Jesus made it clear that the disciples would play a real, active part in the Great Commission beyond His time here on earth (Luke 24:45-53). Over and over in the New Testament, we see Jesus appointing His disciples to go bear fruit. We see this first and foremost in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Jesus sent the disciples into the world with the specific mission to witness what God had done in Jesus, not to be preservers of man-made traditions which can divide.

Our effectiveness as His disciples (branches of the true Vine) rests in Jesus’ working through us. And even though Jesus’ hands-on discipleship training was confined to His earthly ministry, He appoints us without reservation to a worldwide ministry.

When Jesus ascended to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit ─ just like He promised ─ so that we could carry out the Great Commission. Being chosen by God means that you and I are part of Team Jesus. Now, as part of His team, we have been appointed.

For instance, I was chosen to be an employee of the law firm. However, once an employee, I was then appointed to go to New York to help set up the new office. Being appointed is specifically task-based.

You and I are chosen to be branches in His vineyard, but each of us is appointed to complete varying tasks within. His vineyard.

When He created each of us, God gifted us with certain abilities and skills. When He appoints us to specific tasks He provides the opportunity to grow and to develop those skills. All disciples are grown and matured to bear fruit for the glory of God, and the sweetest fruit comes from our areas of God-given giftedness.

What abilities and skills has God given you? How are you leveraging them to bear fruit for His glory?

For example, I have served as a vocalist in my church’s music ministry. However, don’t ever ask me to run anything technical. That is definitely not my gift. I am pretty sure that I would short circuit the whole church and plunge us into darkness.

Yet when God brings all technical and vocal arts to work together, each appointed in their areas of giftedness, He creates beautiful music to draw people to glorify Him.

Being appointed is not something to fear but a privilege to embrace as we go about doing His work.

Going involves movement and momentum.

I pray that God uses both to strengthen and to grow your gifts as you bear fruit for His glory.

 

Brand new DVD Bible study releasing on July 5, 2018:

Friends, Not Servants

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

In the first century Roman culture that surrounded Jesus, the term “slave” did not necessarily mean mistreatment or indentured servitude associated with the oppression of any particular race.

Slaves under Roman rule often held positions of authority and power. Oftentimes, they had been enslaved as foreign prisoners-of-war or enslaved due to non-Roman families who had sold them into slavery to repay a debt. It was a common practice in those days.

While serving his master, a slave could earn wages, enter into contracts, and even buy and sell property. Some slaves even owned slaves themselves.

In Jesus’ day, slaves could serve in many different capacities, including a hairdresser, midwife, or even a cook. They also served in chain gangs, as well (which is how we understand slavery from our American history courses).

It was typical for Roman slaves to strive for release from servitude by the time they reached thirty-years-old, as was the usual practice. Once freed, they could live out their lives as ordinary, free citizens, carrying with them the wealth and/or possessions acquired during slavery.

Believers in the Old Testament were called servants of God: Moses (Psalm 105:26), Joshua (Joshua 24:29), and David (2 Samuel 7:5), among others. The apostle Paul even used the term slave or servant to describe his work as a messenger and agent of God (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 4:1).  

A servant in the first century culture was simply an agent doing whatever his master commanded, even if he did not understand the purpose.

That scenario makes me think of a bank teller today. If the bank manager asks a teller to transfer money from one account to another, the manager does not owe the teller an explanation or a reason for the request. The teller is merely an employee who follows instructions without question.

So how can we be assured that we are friends of Jesus, not slaves? Look back at John 15:15 above. Being a friend of Jesus means that He reveals to us what the Father revealed to Him (John 3:11, 3:32).  

Jesus testifies about what He has seen and heard, and His message is truth (John 8:40). Jesus did not hold back anything from us that the Father made known to Him in order that you and I would be fully equipped. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He enables us to obey all He commands us: love one another as He loves us.

Even though there are still hidden things of God that we do not know, Jesus relates all that He does know.

The intimate relationship that Jesus enjoys with the Father, He expands to include His friends.

We can share our joys, our struggles, and our doubts.

When you and I abide in the true Vine we are granted access to a relationship with and knowledge from the vineyard Owner – God Himself. Servants or slaves would never be given such unfettered access in their master’s house; friends alone receive such privilege.

As branches abiding in Christ our true Vine, we are not simply granted access into the Master’s vineyard. We are welcomed into His family as adopted sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

Usually when something is bought at a price it becomes a possession. Yet Jesus did not sacrifice His life to gain us as trophies.

He sacrificed His life and calls us friends.

What an incredible blessing it is to be a friend of Jesus!

 

Brand new DVD Bible study releasing on July 5, 2018: