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. 

{As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases. Photos are obtained from Unsplash.com}

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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11 Best Tips: How Long it Takes to Publish a Book

One of the questions that I am asked on a regular basis is how long it takes to write and publish a book. Yes, there are many variables, but there are certainly some solid points to consider if you are a first-time author.

Here’s what we will cover regarding writing a book:

  1. The average time it takes to write a book
  2. Setting and working within a deadline
  3. Lining up your support system
  4. The truth about research
  5. How to prioritize your time
  6. Setting word count goals…and sticking to them
  7. Set small challenges to write consistently
  8. Invest in a professional editor
  9. Unique insights for Traditional Publishing
  10. Unique insights for Self-Publishing
  11. Prayer is the game changer

When you embrace the right mindset, set up a reliable system, and keep leaning into God for the motivation to write, you will be a published author before you know it. So, let’s dig into the best tips that I have learned after publishing twelve books to date (both traditional and self-published).

1.    The Average Time it Takes to Write a Book

Whether fiction or nonfiction, a new author, on average, can take anywhere from six months to two years to draft and edit their debut book. That may seem like so much time, but take heart!

Your first book takes longer simply because it is probably the first time you have undertaken a serious, long-term writing goal. You likely have not discovered your writing rhythm or how many words you can sensibly commit to writing each day. A typical timeline for the first draft of your next book is usually less – somewhere between four to eight months.

2.    Setting and Working Within a Deadline

The first thing you have to decide is what you are going to write. Fiction or nonfiction? Novella or novel? Devotion or Bible study? A magazine article or a full-blown manuscript?

A novella is a shorter work of fiction with a word count between 17,500 and 40,000 words. (Traditional publishers focus on word count, not page count.) Standard fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, romance, mystery, young adult) is between 75,000 and 120,000 words. A stand-alone devotion has a word count between 2,000 and 5,000, and a full-length Bible study is usually between 50,000 and 65,000 words.

If you land a publishing contract with a traditional publishing house, they will set your manuscript deadline anywhere between four to six months from the date of signing, along with the word count they expect.

Keeping your writing on track is crucial in order to meet their deadline and expectations. Since their contracts tend to be a bit complicated, you may consider securing a literary agent. I had one of the best for the first ten years of my writing career.

3.    Lining Up Your Support System

The next step is your support system, which can take various shapes and forms. First and foremost, it includes the people closest to you: family and close friends. This is where communication becomes crucial. Let them know what you need!

You may need to get away for a weekend or an entire week to make serious headway (or to finish) your manuscript. Ask family and friends to watch your children, home, pets, and anything else so that your mind releases worry about the home front and you can focus on your manuscript.

If your house contains a spouse and children, you may need undistracted time for writing during a specific portion of each day. Communicate that with your family so that they do not believe you are simply avoiding them. That may sound silly, but it happens.

The overarching blessing is that those closest to you feel as if they were a helpful part of the process rather than a hindrance.

4.    The Truth About Research

Please hear this clearly: you need to have all of your research done before you begin serious work on your manuscript. As a Bible study writer, I need to ensure that I have done all of the relevant Greek and Hebrew word searches, read all the commentaries, researched dissertations and historical papers, and diligently gathered applicable cultural research.

If you try to write while you are researching, inevitably you will run across a tidbit of information that may change the entire trajectory of what you are writing. Doing all of your research ahead of time and knowing the direction your manuscript needs to go saves hours and days of the editing process later.

If you are writing a novel, make sure you have researched your location settings, historical timelines, and cultural idiosyncrasies to ensure that your novel’s genre and characters fit into the proper era. It would be odd for a John Wayne reference to find its way into an eighteenth-century crime novel.

5.    How to Prioritize Your Time

When you are down to the wire on finishing your manuscript, become a social hermit. That includes outings, impromptu coffee meetings, and especially social media. Sign off of social media during the home stretch. Nothing sucks time out of your day faster than social media and YouTube.

I give my loved ones and social media outlets plenty of notice when I will be socially missing in action. This avoids hurt feelings or numerous questions about why you fell off the radar.

Also, and perhaps the most important (other than your focused time away), the advanced warning includes people in your writing process. By supporting your need for radio silence, they feel a sense of accomplishment right along with you when the manuscript is finished.

6.    Setting Word Count Goals

When you have a solid deadline and have decided how many words your project requires (see item 2, above), it is time to set concrete word count goals. For instance:

  • 30,000-50,000 words: 500 words a day = 60-100 days
  • 50,000-80,000 words: 500 words a day = 100-160 days
  • 80,000-100,000 words: 500 words a day = 160-200 days

Approximately 350 words fit on a standard double-spaced typed page. My process is very simple. I pull out my calendar, mark the deadline date, and start counting backward. I determine which days can be devoted to writing around my current commitments, and a projected number of words I can do each day based on time availability.

Since I travel regularly for events in my ministry, I have learned that travel days are not conducive to quality writing. Even though downtime while waiting for flight connections may seem ideal, I do not concentrate well in such a distracting environment. Consequently, I need to add more words to other days to make up time. Finding what works best for you is key.

Pacemaker has a great online word count planner that I have found incredibly helpful. I have also used physical journals and word count tools equally well.

7.    Set Small Challenges to Write Consistently

The average person just starting to write usually has a full-time job, is a student, may have a family, serve as a caregiver, or has various other active commitments. Realistically, you may not have daily time to devote to your manuscript’s word count.

In that case, the solution is to set small challenges in order to write consistently. Let’s break it down practically by writing goal, available time, and how long it would take to complete your manuscript:

  • 30,000-50,000 words: 500 words, 3 days a week = 4-7 months
  • 50,000-80,000 words: 500 words, 3 days a week = 7-11 months
  • 80,000-100,000 words: 500 words, 3 days a week = 11 months-1 year +

You may want to move at a faster pace, but remember your quality of life is important. Also, the quality of writing is important. If it takes longer, God’s timing is perfect.

8.    Invest in a Professional Editor

Without exception, every contracted manuscript that I turn in to my publisher has been expertly reviewed by a professional editor. Some writer friends do not follow this practice, which is absolutely their prerogative.

Publishing is a very competitive business. There are many people who desire to become published authors. Consequently, it is incumbent on you to ensure that your manuscripts are the cleanest, best versions that they can possibly be. The less time and manpower the publisher needs to expend to edit and clean up a manuscript, the more readily they will turn to that author for future work.

Depending on how in-depth you ask the professional editor to tackle your manuscript, the average cost ranges from $2-$5 per page. My Bible study manuscripts are usually between two hundred and two hundred and twenty five pages. Yes, it is an investment, but one that will increase your chances of future publishing contracts with that publisher.

9.    Unique Insights for Traditional Publishing

When it comes to the actual publishing process, traditional publishers are the experts. Once you turn over the final manuscript, it is disseminated in-house in many directions: doctrinal review (if nonfiction/Bible study), editors, interior graphics designers, a cover designer, marketing, arranging printers, and holding a book launch.

I usually have one, if not more, online meetings with the marketing and/or graphics teams to discuss my inspiration for the book, design ideas, endorsement possibilities, and companion merchandise, such as t-shirts, notepads, and bookmarks. That is the fun part!

The traditional publishing route is definitely longer, but the quality is superb. From book proposal, signing the book deal, and finally release date, it usually takes anywhere from one year to eighteen months for the print book to hit the shelves.

10.   Unique Insights for Self-Publishing

Self-published authors have much more control over every aspect of self-publishing a book. However, that also means the burden falls on you to do all of the jobs of a traditional publisher – and do them well. This also includes securing beta readers, cover designers, choosing a book cover, the book description, book sales, learning Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), securing rights with the U.S. Copyright Office, and the list goes on.

You may choose (and I would highly recommend) to hire out various aspects of the publishing process. Invest in a professional editor as we talked about above, a graphic artist to lay out the book for both print and digital formats, connect with marketers to endorse and promote your book, and the list goes on.

Quality often suffers and stress levels escalate with a self-published book, although many avenues for self-publishing have improved over the past few years.

11.   Prayer is the Game Changer

A pastor that I admire once said, “Prayer is not the pre-game; it is the game.” For Christian authors, our inspiration, strength, and everything in between come from God. Inviting Him into the process from the very beginning is the best way to make all the difference.

Praying as you walk through the research, writing, and editing stages ensures that He provides you with everything you need to produce your best work.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Now that you know the tasks, prioritizing them at each stage of writing is the key to actually finishing your book. Consider these specific items:

  • List out all of the details for your book and turn them into tasks. For instance, setting a research timeline, drafting the outline, setting word count goals, etc.
  • Then prioritize that list by putting at the top those tasks that carry the biggest value to completing your book.
  • Be realistic about the length of time it will take to complete each task.
  • Be flexible in your writing schedule because, well, life happens.

Include Rewards at Each Stage

Once you set realistic deadlines based on honest expectations and have your task list set, be sure to reward yourself for achieving each stage of the process. Yes, writing can be tedious, but rewards inspire and keep us going on those days when the words struggle to form.

Bottom Line

The pandemic caused many of us to reassess how we spend our time. Regarding dreams and career paths, perhaps you asked, “What am I waiting for?”

If becoming a published author has been your dream, there has never been a better time than now to make it a reality. Technology and social media have made it more realistic than at any other point in history.

By following these simple, yet important, steps and guidelines, you will be a published author in no time.

Happy writing!

{As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases. Photos are obtained from Unsplash.com}

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 Ways to Live Out Gentleness in the Bible

How much has gentleness taken a hit during our last few difficult years? We want to break down walls, but end up building fences with our words. We certainly cannot manufacture a gentle spirit. However, we can surrender our attitude to God and trust His Spirit to empower us toward gentleness.

Perhaps you can think of someone in your life who consistently lives with gentleness at the forefront. Gentle people are key to diverting relational disasters because they refuse to fall to pieces under pressure or harsh words. They are unfailingly gentle and kind.

And God gives great worth to such people: “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4, NIV).

Gentleness: We Already Have It

All believers already possess gentleness as a gift of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).

I do not know many people who would characterize me as gentle. I can have a soft tongue in a moment, but consistent gentleness proves challenging. And the Lord has convicted me about that fact. Hence this post.

Such consistent gentle composure is rare, yet it is precisely what the Apostle Paul refers to when he says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:5-6, NIV).

Since we already have gentleness, what exactly does that look like?

What is Gentleness?

The Greek word for “gentleness” in that Philippians 4:5 verse references a mature and seasoned temperament. I love the word “seasoned” because, as any cook knows, it takes a long while to properly achieve good seasoning. It means that no matter what comes, the gentle person remains levelheaded and even-tempered.

Sometimes gentleness is used interchangeably with “meekness” in the Bible. While many view meekness as a weakness, it is actually strength under control.

  • Jesus had it: “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29, ESV).
  • Moses had it: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3, ESV).

They not only had gentleness, but they also lived it. Jesus was the epitome of strength under control. And Moses never let people walk all over him, either. Yet in submitting to God, their gentleness carried immense strength and power.

What if I’m Not Naturally Gentle?

As Christ’s hands and feet, we are not called to place band-aids on bullet wounds. We are called to step into those hard places with Christ-like gentleness and compassionate hearts to create space for His good work of healing to take place.

Max Lucado put it this way: “The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, ‘God is in control’.” You and I are to embrace and live in such gentleness. Yet, perhaps like me, you rarely allow it to surface past the “get ‘er done” mentality of the daily rat race.

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Diligent Bible study regarding true gentleness has helped me tremendously. There are many examples of gentleness and good behavior in both the Old Testament and New Testament, whether seen through Christ Jesus, a gentle lamb, little children, or a servant of the Lord.

Have you ever noticed the effect that the gentleness of Christ has on others? It disarms anger. Diffuses a tense situation. Opens doors for meaningful conversation. Creates a bond of peace. Sifts past agendas to the heart of compassion.

How Do I Live Out Gentleness With Others?

Gentleness never pushes its way to center stage. Gentleness is the gentleman in the room. It is considerate of people’s feelings for the glory of God. It anticipates others’ needs because it is godly.

The litmus test comes when people disappoint us, are caught in a sin, or differ in their opinions. It seems counterintuitive to combat sin and fallenness using gentleness, but that is exactly what God calls us to do.

I often picture gentleness as a lush rose bush with no thorns. Its imperishable beauty and sweet fragrance invite people to inhale deeply of its aroma with no threat of harm.

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You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12, GNT).

How Do I Live Out Gentleness With Myself?

Even when our bodies are still, our minds are often racing. Do we pay attention to what that race is speaking into our souls? When each thought represents worry, anxiety, and self-deprecating thoughts, our days quickly crash and burn.

But what if we applied gentleness to ourselves? Waking up with Scripture in our minds makes all the difference. For instance: “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great” (Psalm 18:35, ESV). His gentleness. Not our manufactured version.

As soon as I wake up each morning, I lay there and listen closely to my thoughts. Have you ever intentionally done that? What are they saying? Oftentimes, a negative reel starts playing. That’s when I change the tape and ask God to bring Scripture to mind about my value and worth in Christ alone. It is a much better way to start the day.

13 Best Ways to Live Out Gentleness

1.    Gentleness Allows Us to Experience Jesus

When you and I surrender every part of ourselves to God, the Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to walk like Jesus. When we see how Jesus was gentle with the hurting, compassion pricks our souls to be like Him.

Let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of human nature” (Galatians 5:16, GNT).

2.    Gentleness Stirs Hearts

An argumentative person constantly pointing out others’ faults simply shoves people away. Gentleness stirs our hearts to open our ears and drop our defenses.

We will disagree with one another because we all come from different walks and different thoughts. But in Christ, we stand together under the banner of God’s grace in the unity of the Spirit.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

When one is slow to anger, a ruler may be won over. A gentle tongue will break a bone” (Proverbs 15:15, NLV). 

3.    Gentleness Fosters Restoration

Uncertain times can cause fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to detour down a life path that does not honor God. Berating and shaming them is not conducive to restoration. Speaking and acting with gentleness opens the door once again for them to repent and see Christ.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, ESV).

4.    Gentleness Embraces Grace-Filled Speech

Because we live in a fallen world, we encounter people experiencing fear and unrest. Harsh words and hard-lined actions deflect fellowship. With a heart for the Lord, let gentleness reach out in love with the hope of Jesus.

Your heart should be holy and set apart for the Lord God. Always be ready to tell everyone who asks you why you believe as you do. Be gentle as you speak and show respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NLV).

He must be gentle in correcting those who oppose the Good News. Maybe God will allow them to change the way they think and act and lead them to know the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25, GW).

5.    Gentleness Displays the Lord’s Wisdom

If someone is already hostile to the Gospel, pray for God to give you gentle words to share. Disarming hostility opens hearts to hear wisdom from the Lord.

Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his good deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom(James 3:13, AMP).

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, KJ21).

6.    Gentleness Empathizes Like Jesus

Whether or not we agree with another person’s point of view, gentleness acknowledges it in order to understand how they feel. We all have faults in our thoughts, actions, and motives, yet gentleness sees beyond them.

We are called to extend grace and make allowances: “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of Your love” (Ephesians 4:2, NLT).

7.    Gentleness Lives Out the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is simply this: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12, NASB). The life of Jesus centered on loving people and showing compassion. We desire the same from people around us.

When you and I mess up, we long for forgiveness and grace from God and others. Gentleness acknowledges that longing and points them to their Redeemer.

8.    Gentleness Characterizes a Godly Leader

In high school, my band director would literally throw music stands at anyone who made mistakes while playing. Yet now and again I would hear him mention how much he loved his church. It was incongruous, to say the very least. His actions did not fit his allegiance. I can no more picture Jesus throwing music stands than having a pet snake.

Godly leadership encourages the gifts and talents of those entrusted to him. Throwing temper tantrums, music stands, or anything else slams shut the door of approachability. Gentleness is a powerful key to reopening communication.

May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb” (Deuteronomy 32:2, ESV).

9.    Gentleness Shows Respect to Others

There is much truth to the fact that we need to be kind to others since we do not know what is going on in their life. That store cashier who may have just been really rude could have just lost a loved one. No, it does not excuse her behavior, but it need not affect the tone of our response.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4, ESV).

10.      Gentleness Seeks Peace

Fighting can easily destroy relationships. And ugly words can take much time to repair. You can’t unsay ugly. They can dangle and fester. Yet when we respond with gentleness, it disarms anger and seeks common ground on which to agree. Gentleness diffuses tense situations and opens our ears toward understanding.

After my speech, they didn’t respond. My words fell gently on them” (Job 29:22, CEB).

11.      Gentleness Offers a Calm Atmosphere

Most people will turn and go the opposite direction if they sense drama coming down the hall. Drama and unkind words can shut down the open exchange of fellowship in a heartbeat. A raised voice with fists pounding on a table to hold people’s attention oftentimes brings the opposite effect.

However, the gentleness of a soft answer offers a safe space to encourage honest conversation. It invites people to sit down, exhale, and join in fellowship.

What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21, ESV)

12.      Gentleness Listens More Than It Speaks

Jesus himself was the best model in this regard. He made it a practice to ask probing questions and then simply listen.

Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily” (James 1:19, GW).

13.      Gentleness Acts Humbly

Truly humble people are rare gifts – especially in a culture that shouts opinions over self-erected walls. Being humble to the point of claiming to be “crucified with Christ” takes a lifetime and happens only by God’s relentless grace. It requires repeated surrender of our individual agendas to God’s plan.

Jesus himself was the best model of humility and humbleness in the New Testament. The One who created all ordered Himself under His heavenly Father’s authority to save all from death.

And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8, ESV).

The Bottom Line

As followers of Christ, others see the Spirit’s work in our lives when we let gentleness lead the charge. And the resulting peace is something our souls desperately need in our current day and age.

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Free Downloadable Resources: Bible Reading Checklists, Free Bible Studies, and More.

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).

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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 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.