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This post is by John Barry. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
I say, “Help comes from God.” I tell people, “You’re not alone.”
Both are empty phrases if I don’t live like I believe them. The book of Numbers shows us that as the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, they, too, struggled to live out these words. After 40 years of wandering, they were likely wondering if God had fallen asleep on the job.
This post is by Aubry Smith. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
After worship one Sunday, I overheard a teenager recounting the latest scandal at her school. Another student reprimanded her, “Don’t gossip, you’re in church!” He certainly ended the conversation, but his words revealed an underlying view by which many Christians compartmentalize life—church is “holy,” everywhere else is “unholy.”
You do not have to read as far in the Old Testament to find Levitical rules about holiness and sacred space. The book is replete with them. God demands holiness from Israel, repeatedly commanding them to “be holy because I am holy” (Lev 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26). But how do cleansing rituals for birthing practices and skin sores relate to holiness?
This post is by Aubry Smith. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
At times in my life, I see evidence of God’s presence beyond any doubt. Passages of Scripture light up with meaning, and prayer flows easily. Worship brings me joy as I reflect on how palpably God keeps his hand over my circumstances. Walking with God seems tangible during these times, as if he is physically beside me, and my love overflows in easy obedience. But then there are times that it seems God has gone on vacation. The same passages of the Bible seem devoid of life; I trudge through prayer and push myself to worship. Why does God sometimes feel so distant?
This post is by Jeannie Seery. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
Perhaps it’s because of the immense joy and pain I’ve experienced being a parent that I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about how the actions of Adam and Eve, our first parents, influence our daily lives.
As I’ve read it and heard it preached, the curse itself seems to be pretty straightforward: Women will toil in childbirth while men toil in work. I find myself wondering, though, how is this ancient curse evidenced in our modern existence, as we seek to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?
1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most publicized passages in Scripture. If you’ve been to a wedding this year, chances are you’ve heard it recited recently. 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 is a powerful depiction of the significance of love, and the qualities love possesses.
Now, you can experience this passage in a whole new way. Encourage your friends with this visual representation of biblical love:
Warm videos, uplifting music, and beautiful art are great tools to help us process and reflect on Scripture. If you want to go even deeper, search a passage in the Faithlife Study Bible, and you’ll find three layers of notes to help you get more from each verse.
Let’s see what the FSB has to offer us about 1 Corinthians 13:1–8.
Without any context, we know that a clanging cymbal is just noise by itself—it’s only a piece of the song. The video and the passage itself allows us to take a moment to reflect on phrases like this, but when you add the FSB, you add a whole new dimension to your study. In this case, you learn that “People used cymbals to worship Dionysus, the god of wine. Paul mentions the “clashing cymbal” to suggest that spiritual gifts without love make the Corinthians’ worship no different from the pagans’.”
The FSB also helps us see the connections between each passage. When Paul says, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” in 1 Corinthians 13:3, the FSB reminds us that this verse echoes Jesus’ command to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 18:22. In Acts 2:45, we see early Christians selling their property to meet the physical needs of those around them. Paul often vocalized the importance of helping the poor (Galatians 2:10).
These things were important to Paul, but without love (which the FSB defines here as “a genuine and selfless concern for the well-being of others”) these pursuits are meaningless.
The Faithlife Study Bible has over a dozen more separate notes just on these eight verses. For more food for thought as you study Scripture, download the FSB for free, and start taking your Bible study deeper today.
What passage would you like to see a video of next? Tell us in the comments!
Today’s interview is with Mark Prim, the Southeast Michigan Coalition for Men’s Discipleship area director for Man in the Mirror ministries. Prim helps pastors and leaders establish an intentional strategy to reach and disciple men.
How does your family use Faithlife together?
My two older sons started reading the Bible when they were six and seven. They began by reading small portions of the New Testament at a time. Three years later, they’ve read through the New Testament twice and Psalms once.
About two years ago, they both bought Kindles with money they saved from Christmas. The first app I installed was Faithlife. I created a family reading plan so we could all read the Bible at the same pace, and so my wife and I could help answer questions the boys have. With the reading plan, we can be sure we’re familiar with the passages they read so we’re ready to talk about them.
We have recently begun using Faithlife for family devotions, reading the book Experiencing God at Home Day by Day. The boys read a portion of their Bible using Faithlife, then we read the devotional, and they finish with some quiet time of reading and praying.
Why do Faithlife groups work so well for Bible studies and small groups? What features does your group use together?
Faithlife works well for small groups and Bible studies because all members are able to read the same passages and follow along the same reading plan. Not only this, but when members have questions while reading, they can post the question to the group or specifically to the leader, without waiting until the next meeting. The ability to load documents for the group to read is also a great tool when there are additional resources or information for further study. The reading plan and documents tab are the two tools we use the most.
Using Faithlife for a small group can be a little tricky at first. Since not everyone has a smartphone or tablet, it can become a divider when we try to use it as our main tool. The second challenge is that we must use the first session or two just to familiarize everyone with the functionality and power of this free study tool. Not everyone learns at the same pace, so this can become a point of stress, and it takes a little more work when someone new joins our group. However, we can overcome both of these challenges. In my experience, it’s worth it to use Faithlife for small group studies.
When individuals take the time to learn and use Faithlife, studying the Bible together truly becomes a community effort. When people have questions, thoughts, or concerns, there’s no need to wait until the next weekly or monthly meeting. If the people in your small group want to study God’s Word, and they are open to doing it from a digital source, Faithlife is a free resource that’s worth using.
What’s your favorite feature in Faithlife?
I like Faithlife as a whole. It’s a great tool for the kingdom of God! That being said, I think my favorite feature is the reading plan because it reaches across all platforms. If all the features were available across all platforms, I think Faithlife would be more widely accepted and used by churches and small groups.
Many parents are afraid to let their kids create social-media accounts. What makes Faithlife different, and why do you let your sons use it?
Faithlife doesn’t have all the foul language and advertisements. It also doesn’t have the “freedom” that other social media outlets have—the parameters of use are much more controllable. I set up and maintain my kids’ accounts.
One reason I let my sons use Faithlife is because they can study the Bible together. And we are a closed group, so no one else can join unless my wife and I approve them. Another reason is because it makes a great tool for discipleship. I can create specific reading plans based on subjects we need to discuss, and then they read not just for devotional time, but also to gain knowledge and understanding. As they get older, I will teach them more and more about how to use Faithlife.
What does Faithlife do for you that other communication tools don’t?
Faithlife provides a way for us to interact with God’s Word together. Other communication tools allow you to post different verses back and forth, but with Faithlife we can highlight verses and make community notes that our whole family can see.
Why do you think churches should use Faithlife together?
Like I said before, it makes a great tool for discipleship. With our fast-paced world and our ever-increasing reliance on technology and all things digital, this is a perfect tool to study God’s Word together. If used the right way, Faithlife can also help someone quickly catch up if they miss a small group session.
To learn more about Prim’s ministry, you can head to ManintheMirror.org.
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Logos helps you dig deeper into the Bible. But to take advantage of Logos’ powerful datasets and study tools, you’ll need a Logos 5 base package. And right now, you can get a custom upgrade discount during the Logos 5 upgrade sale—get yours now!
Observe Lent this year with 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers—a devotional prepared by the Lexham Press editorial team.
Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, reflection, and preparation for Easter. Traditionally, it runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter (excluding Sundays). And though it’s often associated with church traditions like Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism, Christians from a variety of backgrounds observe Lent with a mixture of fasting, reflection, and repentance.
It was with personal knowledge of the power in the Lent season that the Lexham Press editorial team set out to compile a 40-day devotional to guide you through it. The team that brought you Connect the Testaments, the Lexham Bible Guides, the Studies in Faithlife Living Collection, and the Faithlife Study Bible drew upon the works of great theologians like Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, and many others.
Each day contains a passage of Scripture to facilitate confession, a reading from the Gospels cataloging Christ’s journey to the cross, and a reflection from one of church history’s greatest scholars.
Personally, I’ve been celebrating Lent since 2011, when my home church made a point to observe all the major points on the church calendar. As a faith community, we celebrated together. In the weeks leading up to Lent, our pastor explained the traditional observance practices, unpacked their meanings, and challenged each man and woman to single out something from which we would abstain. He also challenged us to find something with which we’d like to fill the resulting void in our schedule. To punctuate our commitments, a member of the church who also happened to be a skilled carpenter crafted a pair of giant less-than and greater-than signs for the stage. At the close of the second service, each congregant was invited to leave their seat and write a single-word summary of our commitments on each sign. They remained on the stage throughout the Lenten season as a reminder. On Easter Sunday, dozens of resurrection lilies replaced them. Our season of preparation was over. Our celebration had begun.
It was a beautiful season that I will never forget. Our small commitments focused our attention on the work of Christ, and prepared my heart for one of the most meaningful and joyous Easter Sundays I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve had the privilege to preview this resource so that I could share it with you. I sense the same spirit in it that motivated me to rise from my seat and write a commitment on a wooden less-than sign. I was reminded how much more meaningful Easter has been since I started observing a season of preparation. It excites me to imagine that others will enjoy a similar experience thanks to this devotional.
We’ve discounted this new product by 25% until March 9 because we want more people to experience the power of Lenten preparation, prayer, and meditation. Get it now, and enjoy it each day until Easter.
Get 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers today at a 25% discount!
In Matthew 7:13, Jesus describes the Christian life—the path to spiritual freedom—as being a narrow road that’s difficult to find and follow. He said that most people take a different road—a road that is wide and flat, a road that is easy to find and follow. Though it is difficult, the narrow road is the only way to a fulfilling life of freedom. But unfortunately, many people settle for less than what God intends for them because they mistake it for bondage.
The biggest trophy on Satan’s wall is from the day he made freedom look like slavery. (Click to tweet)
Think about it like this:
Am I free to practice medicine? No. I am very much not.
Why? I don’t have a license, and I don’t have the knowledge required to get one.
If I decided I wanted to become a doctor, how would I go about that?
I’d go to medical school, where I would experience serious restrictions on how I could spend my time and money. I would submit myself to deadlines, fees, and a dress code—a series of restrictions (a narrow road) that would result in a degree of freedom unavailable to me otherwise.
That’s why James 1:25 refers to the Scripture as “the law of liberty.” The Word of God, though full of prohibitions and commands, directs us to the life of freedom and fulfillment God intended for us.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can look back on seasons in my life and clearly see how my commitment to or abandonment of Scripture’s truth influenced my decision making and my temperament. Seasons when I regularly made time to look to the Scriptures are seasons I lived as a person free from selfishness and full of gentleness and wisdom, because I was close to the heart of God. And I can look back on seasons when I ignored the Word of God and see how pride crept into my life. I can see how I became distant from the heart of God, how temptation became harder to resist, and how I became cold. All my regrets are from seasons when I confused freedom and slavery, neglecting the truth I knew.
One of the best ways to remind yourself of truth is to spend a few minutes each day reading God’s Word. With a modern English translation, rich study notes, and a huge variety of reading plans, the Faithlife Study Bible makes it easier than ever. Download it today from your app store of choice.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” —1 Corinthians 13:4–7
Love is one of those things that seems a little cliché, but in reality it’s a foundation that God has called us to construct our lives upon. Not only are we called to love our Lord Jesus Christ, but we’re also called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Trust me, I know what some of you are thinking: “But you haven’t met my neighbors. They’re crazy!”
And although this might be hard to do sometimes, we need to remember that it wasn’t a request—it was a command.
“We love because he first loved us.” —1 John 4:19
Let’s focus on God’s love today
- Are you loving the way Jesus loved?
- Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?
- Are you reflecting an image of love in your everyday actions?
- On a scale of one to 10, where do you rank on the showing-love meter?
Be an example of love. Show those around you how much you care.