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A Bible Reading Plan for the Rest of 2017

Get ready to be shocked – there are only 10 full weeks left in 2017! So, how have you done with your 2017 resolutions? Maybe you resolved to regularly read God’s Word this year, but life got in the way. It’s not too late to start over. To begin again. And I’ve got the perfect Bible reading plan for you.

This Bible Reading Plan is Rich and Doable

I’ve developed a 10-week Bible reading plan highlighting the life and writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry and letters dominate the New Testament. Much of our doctrine of faith came from God through Paul’s pen. The “Roman Road,” the lavishness of God’s grace in Ephesians, God’s strength for us in trials, and the role of the church.

This 10-week reading plan chronologically melds Paul’s life and ministry with his letters. The plan includes 5 days of reading per week, each roughly about 30-40 verses. The two “off” days give you plenty of time to catch up when needed, making this a worthwhile, but doable plan.

Bible reading plan

Let’s Read the Bible Together

I would love to help you make and keep a commitment to get into God’s Word. So… I will read along with you! I have created a closed group connect to my Facebook page so we can keep all our discussion in one defined place. If you begin the plan on Monday, October 23rd, you will finish the plan Friday, December 29th. It’s always a good time to make a commitment to get into God’s Word.

2017 Finish Strong

Don’t wait until January 2018 to recommit to spending time regularly in God’s Word. Start now and finish the year strong! You’ll have a spiritual running start on 2018! Download and print the Bible Reading Plan here.

Will you join me? Let me know in the comments. Then go to the Facebook event page and “join!”

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5 Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Saying

Just because we hear something – or say something – over and over again doesn’t mean it’s true. For instance, when my grandson Micah was 3-years-old, he referred to Hulu as “WeeHoo.” Whenever my daughter carefully pronounced it correctly for him, he would say “No, Mom. It’s ‘WeeHoo.'” Yes, the illiterate toddler thought he knew better than the grownup.

As silly as that sounds, we sometimes do that with God and His Word. We have allowed things out of line with Scripture to become so embedded in our brains, we now accept them as fact. Or we take a truth out of context and misapply it. And unfortunately, we repeat these things to others.

Although not an exhaustive list, the following examples are ones I hear over and over.

  1. “We are all God’s children” – All people are definitely God’s “creatures,” created by God and for God. But only those who have been spiritually born again through a saving relationship with Jesus are God’s “children” (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:4-7). (This post explores what the Bible says about this topic.) At its best, this phrase is incorrect. At its worst, it gives people without a saving relationship with Jesus, a false sense of eternal security.
  2. “Judge not” – We too often quote these words of Jesus as an excuse to ignore sin in others’ lives or as a reason for others to leave us to our own detrimental behavior. The passages we whip out are Matthew 7:1 and James 4:12. Unfortunately, we regularly fail to consider the context of the greater passage and the whole counsel of God’s Word. Yes, both Jesus and James condemned a harsh, critical “judging” of people’s motives. This kind of “judging” is motivated by a self-righteous, hypocritical attitude. But in the whole of Scripture – including words of Jesus and James – God clearly commands Christians to lovingly point out sin and exhort each other to holiness. It is not our place to determine their motives, but it is our responsibility as a member of the body of Christ to gently identify behavior that God has already judged to be “sin.” The goal is to reconcile that person with others and with God and to keep the sin from spreading to others (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 5:19-20). For more about “judging” read this post.
  3. “God will never give us more than we can handle” – There is just one problem with saying this: It’s simply not what the Bible teaches. Many well-meaning people quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 to back up this understandable desire. But the context of this passage is about temptation. Here’s the good news: God does promise that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear; He will always show us a way to stand firm. So what does God teach about the amount of trials and difficulties He will allow into our lives? In a nutshell: He will allow far more than we can handle. Paul wrote that he had suffered extreme hardship in Asia, “far beyond his ability to endure so that he despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).  God allowed this so Paul and his companions “might not rely on themselves but on God.” For more on this topic, read this post.
  4. “God is love” – First, yes I believe that God is love! Scripture says it over and over (1 John 4:8-10). God defines real love. He is loving by nature. He expresses this divine love in all that He does. But unfortunately, some Christians try to stand on this truth – “God is love” – to rationalize sin or to dismiss hell.
  • “A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.”
  • “God loves me, He would want me to be happy.”

But our loving, holy God does not sweep sin under the rug. Instead His love moved Him to provide a way of salvation for all people by sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:11). And Christ’s love compels us to repent of our sins, accept His sacrificial death, and be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). God’s love provides a way of salvation, not a license to sin.

  1. “All sin is the same” – Most assuredly, any and all sin separates us from God and brings eternal spiritual death (Romans 6:23). In that way, all sin is the same. But Scripture does show that some kinds of sins cause far greater harm to ourselves and other people or bring far greater consequences than other sins. (For more on this see this article at BillyGraham.org.) Here are a few examples:
  • Sexual Immorality – Due to the intimate nature of sex, sexual immorality has unique consequences, such as tearing apart families and even directly impacting our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  • Pride – Scripture condemns the sin of pride over and over. In fact, the Bible says that God “opposes the proud” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Pride is an underlying attitude that manifests itself in a host of other “sinful” ways.
  • Hypocrisy – Jesus sternly warned the Pharisees about their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-36). This kind of self-righteousness blinds us to our own sin and our need for God. “Woe!”
  • Leading others into sin – Jesus’ language was harsh for those who would dare lead a “little one” into sin. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea. Sounds serious! (See Matthew 18:1-9.)

You may not agree with me on all these, and that’s okay. What I hope we will all do is go to God’s Word to find His truth. But, let’s not ever settle for a “truth” we’ve grown accustomed to.

Have you ever said any of these 5 things? How do you feel about it now? What are some other things you hear often from Christians that don’t line up with God’s Word? Be sure to share what God’s Word says about it!

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Are You “Blessed?”

Today’s devotional thought was written by Kimberly Texidor, minister, Bible teacher, and leader of the Facebook group “Soul Tired: A Walk 90-Day Walk through the Psalms for the Weary Traveler.”   (It’s not too late to join in!) This devotional is based on Psalm 1:1-3.

We just met “Harvey.” My family and I live and minister in the Houston area where we hurricane Harvey recently left devastating flooding in its wake. As the community mobilized to help with the cleanup process, there was an urgent need for what they call “mudding out” homes. It is as gross, smelly, and difficult as it sounds, but the work is vital to the survival of the property. 

As I scrolled through social media one afternoon, I came across a photo of a family’s soggy, ruined possessions tossed onto the street along with sheetrock, carpet, insulation, and a lifetime of memories. On the top of the pile lay a cutout sign that probably once adorned their mantle. It simply read #Blessed. 

I have to admit, I’m often perplexed by this “blessed” movement. So often the hash tag comes alongside photos of smiling families, cute children, new cars, or luxury vacations. What does it really mean to have a “blessed” life? What am I actually telling someone at the grocery store or coffee shop when I tell him to have a “blessed” day?

What does it mean to be “blessed?”

For the Psalmist, this “blessed” life was more than a collection of stuff or a season when everything goes according to plan. In the original language, this word is literally translated “happy”. This kind of blessed life is a deep-running happiness that endures outside of circumstances, seasons, floods, or feelings. 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3, NIV

What can we learn from Psalm 1 about this “happy” life? First, the text says this abiding happiness comes from a disassociation with the wicked and an attachment to God and His Word. (vv1-3). This happy person recognizes the sneaky nature of evil that would cause a follower of God to first walk, then stand, then take up a seat and sit with influences that bring harm to our souls. 

Second, this blessed person is consciously and consistently spending time in and meditating on God’s Word. In a changing, uncertain, storm-ravaged life, the blessed person chooses to focus on God’s eternal promises rather than temporary circumstances. As Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

How Can I have a Blessed Life?

The truth is, if I base my happiness on the people, influences, or stuff in my life, where will I be if it all blows away? If I build a life on unhealthy relationships and decisions, will I feel happy when I see my own face in the mirror? To use the illustration of Jesus, if I’m building an entire life on a castle made of sand, who will I be when it falls? (Matt. 7:24-27)

But we can build a different life, a blessed life, even a happy life. We can build a life based on God’s Word and on living connected to Him. This person, according to Psalm 1, will be a stable, steady, well-fed, blessed person, through all the storms and seasons of life.

Apply these Blessed Truths:

  • Would I describe my life today as “blessed”? Do I base my feelings of blessedness on people, things, circumstances, or something else?
  • Are there unhealthy people or influences in my life that are causing me to walk, stand, or pull up a seat and sit in places where a child of God doesn’t belong? 
  • What commitment do I need to make in regards to meditating on God’s Word?

It’s not too late to join the “Soul Tired” community! There you will find the 90-day reading plan for the Psalms, daily devotionals and lots of discussion in a loving community!

 

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The What, Why, and How of Devotional Bible Reading

devotional bible reading

What is devotional Bible reading? Should we do it and if so, how do we do it?

Devotional Bible reading focuses on your personal relationship with God. The primary goal is not to gain biblical knowledge – though that will happen too. It’s not for the purpose of preparing to teach others – although you will become more prepared. The main purpose of devotional Bible reading is your “spiritual edification.” This time of devotion is for you to hear from God with the help of His Holy Spirit.

Why should I read the Bible devotionally?

“Spiritual edification” is a really churchy phrase, but it carries a lot of meaning. Here’s a quick rundown of the goals and benefits of reading our Bible to be “built up” spiritually:

  • To express our sincere devotion to God
  • To give God an opportunity to reveal His presence
  • To heighten our affection for God and build deeper intimacy
  • To find guidance, encouragement, wisdom, peace, and renewal
  • To align our thoughts, our will, our actions with God’s
  • To encourage continued spiritual growth

Ah! We want to encounter the living God through His living Word. And through that encounter, to allow God to continue to conform us to the image of Christ.

How do I read the Bible devotionally?

Since in-depth Bible study is very active, you may think devotional reading is more passive. But it is in fact, quite active. The devotional style combines reading, prayer, listening, and response. While the only must-have is your Bible, there are a few other tools that will benefit your devotional time:

  • Pen, highlighters, and or colored pencils
  • Wide-margin Bible, journaling Bible, notebook, or journal
  • Bible reading plan
  1. Read with intent – First, don’t read haphazardly. Don’t just open the Bible and drop your finger on a verse. Have a plan. For instance, use a Bible reading plan or work through a Bible book from beginning to end. Second, don’t just read the words. Pray before, during, and after. Expect to hear from God and actively listen for Him to speak to you through the Scripture and through the quiet prompting of His Spirit.
  2. Meditate on the passage – Meditation is not emptying your mind. It is deep thinking on spiritual truths. As you read, linger over verses that impact you. Allow God to apply these truths to your life. Use your journal to record insights and impressions. Or use colored pencils to creatively illustrate truths in the margins of your Bible or in a journal.
  3. Ask God questions and “listen” for His answers – Below are examples of questions you can use to interact with the Scriptures you read:
    • Does this passage present some truth that should change what you believe or the way you think about God?
    • Does this passage prompt you to praise God, thank God for something specific, or trust God in a situation?
    • Is there something in this passage you should pray for yourself or for someone else?
    • Does this passage bring to mind a sin you need to confess?
    • Is God using this passage to move you to a particular act of obedience or to make a decision?
  4. Respond to God’s leading – The Word of God has the power to search our minds and penetrate our hearts. God will use it as both a balm to our souls and a scalpel to our hearts (Hebrews 4:12-13). He knows exactly what we need. We need to respond. We may need to repent from a specific sin. We may need to step out to heal a relationship. We may need to change the way we think about a particular issue. Or we may need to simply sit in the comforting, healing presence of our Savior. However God leads, let us respond.

What has been your experience with devotional Bible reading? Any helps or tips?

A few other article you may find helpful:

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The 4 “R” Bible Study Method

Bible study methodThere is not just one right Bible study method. Depending on your goal, you can dive into God’s Word in lots of different ways. For instance, you can do a word, character, or topical study. You can dissect and ingest a small passage, a chapter, or an entire book.

However, there are some general guidelines for all and any Bible study. For instance, we must keep the genre of the book and the context of the passage in mind. We must seek to discover the original meaning of the passage. There are infinite ways to apply a passage, but only one meaning. And, to keep the proper perspective, we must always keep in mind that God’s Word is first and foremost about God.

This Bible study method below is a basic way to dig a little deeper into any biblical passage. You don’t need extra tools or resources. All you need is your Bible, a pen, a notebook or journal, and a humble, teachable attitude. The “R” repetition makes it easy to remember! You can literally take it anywhere! (Click here to get a printable PDF of the following study method.)

The 4 R Bible Study Method

  1. Read – Read the entire passage. For instance, if you plan to study the book of Philippians, read all 4 chapters in one sitting. If you plan to study John 15, read the entire chapter. If you can, it’s helpful to read the passage from several different translations. If you want to go the extra mile – or if your passage is relatively short – rewrite the passage in your own words.
  2. Record – Read the passage again with the attitude of an investigative journalist. If you plan to study a larger passage or book, break it up into chunks to make it manageable. Observe the text, ask the journalistic questions – who, what why, where, and when – and record what you discover. Here are a few other things to look for and record:

Facts

Keywords, repeated words and phrases

People

Places

Timing

Who is writing to who and why

  1. Recognize – Read the passage again and look back over your written observations. Ask God to show you what eternal truths and principles this passage teaches. For instance, what do you learn about God, His character, and His ways? What do you learn about Jesus and what it means to follow Him? What do you learn about the church, salvation, a life of faith, godly relationships?
  2. Respond – This is where the rubber meets the road! How does God want you to apply His truth to your life today? Is there some sin to confess and turn away from? Is there a relationship that needs to be healed? Is there a command to be obeyed or an act of service to perform? Are there beliefs and ways of thinking that need to be conformed to God’s truth?

This Bible study method is so flexible! You can work through it in one sitting with a small passage or weeks with a larger passage or book. Check below for a list of a few helpful resources that will give a good foundation to a lifetime of purposeful Bible study.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Bible study method! Please share!

Bible study resources

A few resources you may find helpful: 

 

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3 Attitudes I Need to Approach God’s Word

God's WordI do a lot of reading. In addition to God’s Word, I read novels, cookbooks, blogs, articles, non-fiction books and more. Some of this reading is for fun. Other reading is for instruction or information. Some I approach casually. Other with skepticism. Some things I read might instruct my behavior. Other things I dismiss as irrelevant or even wrong.

But the Bible is different from anything else we might read. Unlike everything else, it was not written by man, but directly inspired by God Himself. God’s words, God’s heart, given to us. How should we approach the Bible? What attitudes are vital to not only read God’s Word, but to really hear it, to be shaped by it?

I need an attitude adjustment

  1. Humility – Far too often I approach God’s Word with some level pride. Pride in thinking I already know this passage. Pride that I don’t need what He has to say. Oh, but pride is a great deceiver, keeping me from everything God has for me in His Word. Do I really want God to teach me? To use me for His purposes? Then I must humbly allow Him to correct, rebuke, and train me through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (Psalm 25:9).
  2. Submission – Some days I take God’s Word far too casually. I read it and hear His gentle whisper to “tell” or “do” or “go” or “stop.” And I consider obedience. The Bible is God’s authority for my life. It is living, actively penetrating the deepest parts of my heart, mind, and soul to judge my attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and intentions. To make me more like Jesus. How dare I ever tell Him “no.”
  3. Anticipation – God’s Word is light and life and hope. It guides, delivers, and comforts. God’s laws are right and true and trustworthy. The Word of God gives wisdom and joy. I should run to read His Word each day, greatly anticipating the treasure I will find there. Sometimes I do, but not always.

God has reminded me today I need a little attitude adjustment. What about you? Do you approach God’s Word with humility, submission, and anticipation?

Lord God, adjust my attitude today. Forgive me of pride and foster a humble spirit within me. Help me submit to the authority of Your Word, so that I will live a life a full obedience to You. And grant me the joy of anticipation, always delighting in the discovery of Your Word. Amen.

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3 Tips for Understanding Proverbs

understanding proverbsWant to live wisely? Then read the book of Proverbs. They are chock-full of biblical wisdom and insight. Proverbs are easy to remember and often fun to say. For instance, men love to quote Proverbs 21:9: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Ladies, unfortunately this is sad, but true!)

However, believers today often misunderstand or misuse this ancient form of wisdom writing. In today’s post, we will briefly define a proverb and then consider 3 interpretive tips that will help us understand this practical advice for living.

What is a proverb?

A proverb is an observation of life stated in a memorable way. It is a “persuasive saying proven true by experience” (“Encountering the Old Testament” by Arnold and Beyer, page 314). Proverbs are not unique to the Bible. Many ancient cultures made us of this literary device.

However, for the ancient Israelite, the purpose of a proverb was to “apply the principles of Israel’s covenant faith to everyday attitudes, activities, and relationships”  (“Old Testament Survey” by Lasor, Hubbard, and Bush, page 460). Biblical proverbs are also an observation of life, but they also acknowledge that true wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 1:7).

How can we understand the Proverbs?

Like the rest of Scripture, the Proverbs must be understood in light of their purpose, literary genre, context, and original meaning (See also “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context“). Since proverbs are a unique literary style, we cannot interpret them in the same way we do a historical book or an epistle.

Although the tips below are just a tip of the hermeneutical iceberg, they will get us off to a great start in understanding the Proverbs and applying their wisdom to our lives.

3 Tips to understanding Proverbs:

  1. A Proverb is a Principle, Not a Promise

A biblical proverb seeks to apply God’s wisdom to the situations of life. They are guidelines for living, general principles, not promises from God. While generally accurate, they do not take into account every possible scenario or individual circumstance. Therefore, they are not guarantees of a certain outcome, but rather point hearers to the best chance for success.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Many of us have known Christian parents who claimed Proverbs 22:6 as a promise and then were disillusioned when a child turned away from God and never returned. This demonstrates how important it is to understand the nature of a proverb.

  1. A Proverb is Pithy Poetry

A proverb is a saying that encapsulates a broad observation about life. Its primary goal is to state an important, simple truth about life in easy-to-remember terms.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

Brief and memorable, this proverb is about something much deeper than flesh wounds and kisses. True friends tell us the truth for our good, even when it hurts. “Enemies” simply tell us what we want to hear or butter us up to get something they want.

Let’s look beyond the surface and past the simple, catchy words of a proverb to find the deeper truth. Then let’s apply that godly wisdom to our lives.

  1. A Proverb has a Proper Perspective

Ancient standards guide these ancient proverbs. They usually speak of simple desires and basic needs. Yet, often we subconsciously impose our modern, Western mindset and values.

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).

Just imagine how the influence of our affluent culture can affect our understanding of “prospers” and “blessed.” The typical ancient Israelite considered himself blessed if he had shelter and enough food.

We could talk a lot more about proverbs. However, if we remember these 3 tips, we will be well on our way to wise living!

Did any of these 3 surprise you? In light of these 3 tips, have been misunderstanding a particular proverb?

 

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Why Do You Read the Bible?

Why do you read the Bible? If you and I had coffee together and I asked you that question, how would you answer?

Why Do Americans Read the Bible?

A 2016 study by the Barna Group shows that about 1/3 of Americans read the Bible at least once a week. The same study also cites why people read the Bible. Here’s a quick rundown of the top answers:

  • Brings me closer to God (55%)
  • To receive comfort (16%)
  • To find direction or an answer to a problem (16%)
  • Because I am supposed to (6%)

Why do I Read the Bible?

As I write this blog, I’m thinking about how I would answer this question. I mean, honestly answer this question. And you know what? I think my answer would depend on the day. Absolutely I want to be closer to God. But, some days I do read it because I know I should. Other days I need some godly direction or an answer for a specific problem. And on tough days, I just need some comfort.

And you know what? I think all those reasons are legitimate. God’s Word does give comfort, offer direction, and have answers for life today. And yes, sometimes we really should read our Bibles when we don’t necessarily want to, because Christian life requires discipline and purpose. We must “train ourselves for godliness”(1 Timothy 4:7-8).

While all those reasons and more are wrapped up in why I read the Bible, there is another reason. One I desire to be my primary reason.

I want God’s Word to shape me. To refine me. To make me more like Jesus.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And as it does, all those other things will happen too. My intimacy with God will deepen and grow. His constant presence will comfort and guide me.

So, now it’s your turn. Why do you read the Bible? Maybe your current reason isn’t what you’d like it to be. Or maybe you don’t read the Bible regularly now. The best way to create a hunger for God’s Word to simply to begin to read it. Once you get a taste… (Psalm 34:8).

Why do you read the Bible?

If you’d like to begin to read the Bible but you aren’t sure how to get started, check out my free resources page. It is full of helps, including quiet time tips and Bible reading plans! 

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3 Ways to Encourage Others

encourageEarlier this week I got to teach at my church’s ladies’ summer Bible study. It was a bit bittersweet because it was the last time before we move next week. And ironically, the summer Bible study topic is friendship. I admit, a few times I had to hold back tears.

I taught on the friendship of Barnabas and Paul, specifically the way Barnabas encouraged Paul. What I learned from studying their relationship was enlightening and I thought you might get something from it too!

“Barnabas,” which means “son of encouragement,” was a nickname given to Joseph the Levite by the apostles (Acts 4:36-37). You can guess how Barnabas earned this endearing moniker. He was well-known for encouraging others.

Barnabas and Paul’s relationship began with Saul the Persecutor returned to Jerusalem for the first time after his saving encounter with Jesus. He tried to join the believers, but they fearfully rejected him. “But Barnabas…” (Acts 9:27).

3 Ways Barnabas Encouraged Paul

  1. Barnabas Extended Friendship (Acts 9:26-30) – Barnabas did not act foolishly. He listened to Paul’s story and then with spiritual wisdom and discernment he became an advocate for Paul with the Jerusalem church. Barnabas opened the door for Paul into the fellowship of believers.
  2. Barnabas Fostered Paul’s Gifts (Acts 11:22-26) – When the new, thriving church in Antioch needed leadership, Barnabas brought Paul to work alongside him. Barnabas knew the church needed Paul’s gifts and that Paul needed to grow and develop his leadership skills. Barnabas acted as “matchmaker!”
  3. Barnabas helped Paul reach his spiritual potential (Acts 13:1-13) – In the middle of their first missionary journey together, Barnabas recognized God’s call on Paul’s life. Without any signs of jealousy, he humbly stepped back and let Paul take the lead.

3 Ways We can Encourage Others Like Barnabas

After studying Paul and Barnabas’ friendship, I cast a wider net to see what the rest of the New Testament teaches us about encouraging one another. Both the noun and verb forms of the basic Greek word mean “to call to one’s side; to comfort, exhort, encourage, and console.” After reading numerous examples, I condensed them to these 3 specific ways we can encourage other believers.

  1. Comfort the suffering and hurting (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) – When tragedy hits, when troubles rage, our friends need more than our prayers. They also need our presence. They need us to come to their side. To cry with them. To serve and help in practical ways. And they need to share about times God has helped us in similar circumstances.
  2. Strengthen the weary (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3) – Sometimes believers just get tired. There isn’t necessarily any one specific trial, we are just bone tired. Or discouraged by life in general. We need some refreshment. We can encourage each other by helping with the load. By sharing a laugh. By bringing ice cream!
  3. Exhort the spiritually lazy or those tangled in sin (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12) – This is the form of encouragement we lack the most today. We don’t want to “meddle” in others’ lives. We don’t want to “judge.” But all that is merely an excuse to ignore our biblical responsibility to each other. Scripture commands us to call other believers out of sin. To push them toward holiness. And in doing so, we may save them much heartache.

Who needs your encouragement today? Is there someone you know right now that needs an advocate? How can you build a bridge for them into your local fellowship? Is their a weary friend who needs refreshment? What tangible thing can you do today to encourage them? Is there a friend caught in a harmful cycle of sin? How can you bravely intervene? 

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9 Recommended Bible Study Resources

Bible Study ResourcesDo you plan to participate in a Bible study group this fall? Or maybe you are already digging in on your own? However and whenever you study, the following list of Bible study resources will help you get the most of your time in God’s Word. Remember that resources are secondary to discovering what God has for us in His Word. There is no substitute for the Holy Spirit’s teaching!

The list below includes trusted Bible study resources from 9 different categories. Even one or two from each category will be a great start to your Bible study library. Of course some resources, like Bible translations, can be accessed online. (Watch for Thursday’s post about online resources!) Here is the list in a printable PDF for your convenience!

9 Recommended Bible Study Resources

1.Several recent translations of the Bible – Read your passage of study in more than one translation and compare them for greater understanding. Some good ones to try:

  • New International Version
  • New American Standard Bible
  • Amplified Bible
  • English Standard Version
  • New Living Translation

2. Exhaustive Concordance – If you don’t have any other tool, you need to have this index of every word in the Bible. Get one that corresponds to your primary translation. Recommended:

  • The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance

3. Bible Dictionary – Explains many of the words, topics, customs and traditions in the Bible. It also includes historical, geographical, cultural, and archeological information. A few to try:

  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
  • Illustrated Bible Dictionary
  • Tyndale Bible Dictionary
  • Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
  • New International Bible Dictionary

4. Holman Bible Atlas by Thomas Brisco

5. Topical Bible – Similar to a concordance but organizes by topic rather than words:

  • Nave’s Topical Bible
  • Zondervan NIV Nave’s Topical Bible

6. Bible Handbook – Combination of an encyclopedia and commentary in a concise form. It is arranged by Bible book and includes background notes, brief commentary, maps, charts, and more. Look for one of these:

  • Halley’s Bible Handbook
  • Holman Bible Handbook
  • The New Unger’s Bible Handbook

7. Word Studies – Look up the original words and their meanings without knowing Greek or Hebrew. Here are a few resources to try:

  • Mounce’s Compete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words
  • The Complete Word Study New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers
  • The Complete Word Study Old Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers

8.  How To Read Your Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart

9. Commentaries – biblical scholars interpret and explain a particular text of the Bible based on their study of the background, language, etc. Keep in mind these are written by humans and are not infallible. But here are some good ones to try:

  • Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale. Provides biblical scholarship and commentary on every passage of the Bible in a user-friendly format (One volume)
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Craig S. Keener, Intervarsity Press
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Walton, Matthews & Chavalas, Intervarsity Press
  • The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Set of 12 volumes covers the whole Bible

Do you have a favorite resource you use to supplement your Bible study? I would love for you to share it with us in the comments!

 

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