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What Does the Bible Say About Violence?

Mel Lawrenz, the author of Spiritual Leadership Today and Minister at Large of Elmbrook Church, shares several ways to biblically approach and respond to the reality of violence in the world around us. He’s made an audio version of this post available at The Brook Network.

Another horrific shooting at a school once again raises the question of why violence happens in the human race. This makes us groan—as it must. And it makes us wonder how human beings can be so violent—as it must. There are spiritual dimensions to violence that the Bible speaks to, including sources and solutions. This is not just about shootings in public places. Everyday occurrences of domestic violence, bullying in schools, gang violence in our cities, and so much more means that believers need to understand the evil impulses of violence, and what we can do in response.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Hope Despite The Tumult of Violence and Disaster]

What does the Bible says about violence? I believe that those who are Christians should have a deeper understanding of the roots of violence. The media coverage of the school shootings, for instance, is shockingly shallow. It centers on gun control—an important issue to be sure—but hardly one that gets at the root causes of violence.

It seems to me that most people have acquiesced to the inevitability of violence. They hope that law enforcement can do a better job, they keep their fingers crossed that the next crazed shooter won’t be in their school or movie theater, they hope that more thorough background checks will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals. But all that deals with violence at its tipping point, not at its source.

So what does the Bible say about violence?

One does not get far in the biblical narrative to find the first heinous act of violence. In the second generation of humanity one brother spills the blood of another. Cain murders Abel, for a reason that comes right from the heart—jealousy. The pattern is set. Something simple like jealousy left unchecked, left to grow and deepen and intensify, leads to acting out in violence. God had warned Cain: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” This is really an amazing statement. Jealously leads to anger, and that sin is predatory, crouching at the door, looking to possess Cain. Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage. What can be done about violence? God told Cain he had better “master” the pathology of his soul. He did not, and blood was spilled.

God’s responds to Cain: “your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” And so does the blood of many today.

Lesson number one: violence is the result of a pathology of the soul. Violence does not begin with standing armies, generational ethnic hatred, longstanding social inequities. Violence is as close to us as our own hearts.

A bit later in Genesis a profound principle is laid down regarding the moral wrongness of violence:

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” (Genesis 9:6).

This is early in the biblical account. It is foundational. Most importantly, it links to the fundamental reality that violence against human beings is wrong because human beings were made in the image and likeness of God. There is a worth, a value, a dignity, to every human life, in other words, that makes selfish or wanton violence a moral offense.

Now one question that immediately comes up is whether the Bible itself promotes violence. Isn’t the Old Testament a very bloody account of history, and doesn’t God himself condone violence? This is a large and important question. Paul Copan in his book, Is God a Moral Monster?, provides some good answers. But what can briefly be said is,

  1. not everything that happened in Old Testament times was condoned by God;
  2. some of the violence in the Old Testament was protection against hostile powers, and the judgement of God;
  3. the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was a theocracy, and all that changed by the time we get to the New Testament; and
  4. it is obvious from reading the New Testament that from that point on an entirely different set of ethics applies with the coming of the kingdom of God with Jesus.

So let’s consider what the New Testament has to say about violence, particularly in the teaching of Jesus.

First, Jesus models the power of non-violence

On the very night of his arrest, when violent men made their move on Jesus, he told Peter who was ready to fight: “Put your sword back in its place… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” This was a statement of principle, consistent with all of Jesus’ teaching. At his trial Jesus said to Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). Some Christians, like the Mennonites and others in the Anabaptist tradition see in Jesus’ teaching nothing less than pacifism, while others would say that Jesus’ teaching does not preclude violence in defense, or, as Romans 13 describes, an intentional, punitive use of force in human governing: “rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4).

In either case, however, it is clear that Jesus’ teaching elevates non-violence as the preferred response to violence, and the reason is the important part: Jesus introduced a different kind of kingdom, with it a different set of ethical standards. “Might makes right” is the way most of human history has unfolded, but Jesus introduced an entirely different way of viewing life.

Second, Jesus speaks about the source of violence

One of the most revolutionary of Jesus’ teachings is that human violence begins in a deeper place. The sin of violence has already begun before blood is spilled or words wound. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matt. 5:21-22).

We cannot talk about murder without talking about rage. We cannot talk about shootings in schools and movie theaters without talking about the infections of hatred, malice, and anger in our culture.

And then there is this important teaching, again from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them…. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person’ (Mk. 7:14-23).

Here is the bad news of the human condition: violence—like all sin—comes out of the human heart. Adultery is not caused externally by someone else’s good looks, greed is not caused externally by money, envy is not caused externally by Mercedes dealerships, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. External stimuli certainly affect people, and deep psychological wounding certainly conditions people, and a culture of violence gives permission to be violent, or to be desensitized, but the instinct and choice to act out in violence comes out of the heart.

I’m not saying that this statement of Jesus offers a complete psychology of violence. But there is a kernel of truth here that may serve us well as we look at the mystery of violence in our society. The Pharisees wanted to believe that sin was a matter of what people put in, like the food they ate. That’s a convenient way to look at life. Far more troubling, but true nonetheless, is that all people have within them the potential for violence.

Third, Jesus encourages us to live bravely in the face of violence

Jesus clearly taught that the world is a sinful and violent place. But he challenged his followers not to live in fear and trepidation: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). He also said: “I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (Jn. 16:33).

I think we must all ask ourselves: what is this bravery of which Jesus spoke? The kind of bravery that Christians working in dangerous parts of the world exercise every day. How can we take this to heart so that we do not live our lives cowering?

Fourth, Jesus mandates a response to violence

So where would we turn in the Scriptures for ways to deal with violence? What does Jesus want us to do about violence? What ought to leap to our minds is the beatitudes, which includes this real-life challenge: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” What can we do about violence? It must begin with a serious commitment to the principle: “blessed are the peacemakers.” But that won’t happen unless we go beyond wishful thinking. Peacemaking is active work, hard work, frustrating work. It is not the convenient thing. “Blessed are the blessed,” is what we’d like to believe, not “blessed are those who expend their lives in the interest of reconciliation and shalom.”

This challenge is daunting—but it is Jesus’ clear call for his followers in all times. Our entertainment industry fills our minds with violent images and lyrics. The formidable technology of war today takes on a life of its own. Many people are living a hair-trigger life. And every time a school shooting occurs, and we have 24/7 media coverage, a thousand potential copy-cats—people living in the shadows of society, people who are disconnected or outcast—have their pulse quicken at the idea of having their names in the headlines.

Somehow the work of peacemakers needs to begin long, long before the bullets are loaded in the magazines.

In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: “The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When he called them they found their peace, for he is their peace…. they are told that they must not only have peace but make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult.”

John Stott, in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount says, “Now peacemaking is a divine work. For peace means reconciliation, and God is the author of peace and of reconciliation.”

What does peacemaking look like in practical terms? What can be done about violence? Another key New Testament passage that speaks about peacemaking is in the epistle of James:

“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness…. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

What can be done about violence?

There are many professionals whose work is peacemaking, and we need to pray for them and support them. Law enforcement, criminal justice, educators, mental health professionals, and many others. Safety and security in a community comes from a network of collaborators. We will never eliminate violence, but we can lessen it.

We don’t need vigilantes, we need vigilance. Followers of Jesus are called to do more than passively waiting for the next person to draw his gun. Our Lord and Savior commands us to close the gap with people rejected by others. To connect with the wounded before they lash out and wound others. To bring down the level of tension and stress around us by living in shalom.

It was said of Jesus: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out “(Matt. 12:20). The next person in our community who may act out in violence is right now, today, somewhere, a bruised reed. A smoldering wick. Will we notice that person? Will we help that person back away from the edge of the cliff? Law enforcement officers cannot and should not supervise everybody’s lives. Our laws define civil behavior, but they cannot tame human personalities. Shooting back is always worse than stopping the shooting before it ever begins.

Abel lay dead. Cain knew it—because he did it. “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9).

That’s the question for us. Are we our brother’s keeper? Will we watch out for potential victims? And will we have the courage to watch out for the potential aggressors?

Cain would not. Will we?

Follow Mel’s current Bible Gateway series, How to Live the Bible here.

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How to Practice Peace When You Need It Most: An Interview with Kristen Kill

Kristen KillYou know that something you’ve been looking for in the empty stress of your mad-dash days? The Psalms call it selah: a chance to stop, re-center and resync yourself with the story and song of God. It is hope for the dissonance you feel.

Bible Gateway interviewed Kristen Kill (@kristenkill) about her book, Finding Selah: The Simple Practice of Peace When You Need It Most (Zondervan, 2018).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Grieving as the World Rejoices by Kristen Kill]

Buy your copy of Finding Selah in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What is selah?

Kristen Kill: Well, literally, the word selah that we see in the Bible means pause or interlude. It appears 71 times in the Psalms as an instruction in the musical liturgy—calling the musicians and the readers to silence or rest, just like we might see in a written piece of music today.

When I was reading the Psalms during a difficult season of my own life, I found this word to be the natural place where I would take a deep breath; where I would ponder what I’d read, before diving into the next stanza. It became a springboard idea for me in my own life, realizing how very vital it was for me to rest and to pause in the midst of the laments and cries of my own heart that were very much like the ones we read in the Psalms. I think too, the more we examine the true rest of God, and his heart for his people in offering his presence to us, we see the reality of Christ cutting right into the midst of our own circumstances and seasons to be our breath and our pause—just like a selah.

Why did you turn to reading the Psalms when you were exhausted and depressed?

Kristen Kill: I was so skilled at posturing and posing that things were okay with others and even with God but on the inside I felt so hollow and so numb. I’ve always loved literature and reading poetry always stirred my heart, and when I considered that the Bible had its own poetry too, I began to dive in hoping to just feel something. What I found was that the writers of the Psalms were often in agony—often discouraged—but they weren’t hiding away like I was. They were unconcerned with appearing tidy before God and they poured out all those anxieties to him with such utter vulnerability. I was at awe at the depth of emotion they shared, the struggles as well as the joy. And as I prayed through the Psalms more and more, I found the curve of my own heart there, a form right in Scripture that God had given for everything we’re likely to encounter in the realm of human emotion. These verses guide us really, in understanding our own hearts and in giving us a pattern for how to bring them before the Lord.

How did praying the Psalms change your understanding of what rest means?

Kristen Kill: I think I’d always considered rest to be something that came at the end of a thing: a long work week, a job well done, a vacation or holiday at the appointed time. I’d never considered it to be my starting place, or that God would meet me with rest that nourished my heart and soul right in the middle of struggle or circumstance. My expectation was always that he would remove the object of difficulty. What I found was that my own struggles remained, but the change was in the orientation of my heart—in my focus on Christ with me. When we’re in Christ, his rest, his peace, and his presence are ours too, so rest and composure of our hearts—regardless of circumstance—becomes our new natural state of being through the Holy Spirit.

What do you describe as a false rest and how does it differ from a true rest?

Kristen Kill: I think there are a few different kinds of rest. There’s a point where our physical bodies are so very tired and we need to stop and heal, or sleep, or just take a nap (oh, how I love to nap when I can get one!). And there are other ways that we can take time to recreate or rest that are as varied as our personalities; be it through a quiet prayer, nature walk, or knitting, or gardening.

But our culture is offering up all kinds of false rest too; idle pursuits that leave us wanting. I think social media scrolling is probably one of the easiest to identify. You think it’ll be a way to zone out and relax but before you know it, 30 minutes have gone by and often that time leaves your body and mind more restless than you were to begin with.

I think that true rest leaves a mark upon us. It fills up our souls in some way because, in it, we encounter and enjoy the presence of God. If what you’re doing to rest overflows to bless those around you, if you want to share it, or if you’re changed by it to such a degree that your heart is bolstered as a bearer of light to others, then I think you’re off to a pretty good start!

What is a selah interlude?

Kristen Kill: To take on a musical idea again, an interlude is an instrumental diversion that happens between the chorus or harmony before the notes return to their main parts; or in my analogy, before the regular rhythms of our lives carry on.

I think of selah interludes as those feasting moments of our lives (those pauses where we’re not merely silent and hushed) like in a rest, but where we experience beauty or art or a delicious meal. Those things may at first appear to be very hedonistic, but I believe they’re the goodness of God and the fingerprints of Heaven that woo us to his heart.

When we recognize that the longing and ache that we have for beauty—that we see shadows of in a starry night or swirling snow or ivy crawling among grey buildings—is a longing that can only be met in the beauty of Christ, I think our imagination for God expands and we begin to be transformed by his delight in very practical ways throughout our days.

How should a person make room for the small things in life that give selah?

Kristen Kill: In my own life, when I first determined to pause throughout my day and take a deep breath or go for a walk or pour a cup of black tea into my porcelain cup, I had to set a timer! I literally did not know how to stop all I was doing without an alarm going off to tell me when.

I think that defining a few 15-minute chunks of your day is a great place to start. You don’t have to have an hour or two a day to change, but just ten or 15 minutes to actively engage your heart with the heart of God: to invest yourself in Scripture, commit to prayer, or just to intentionally enjoy the beauty and rest that he offers; the delight he’s pouring out and makes abundantly available to you right now.

What happens when selah and sorrow meet?

Kristen Kill: You know, one thing I realized as I began to study the idea of rest in the Bible is that rest and provision are indelibly linked. We can rest because we know that God is sovereign. We can rest because he holds all things together. We can rest because he loves us and provides for us—with his very self.

I know that when I was experiencing grief, my stance was one of grasping: for control, for comfort, and for everything I thought would fill me up, and everything I was so afraid to lose. I think that when we embrace Jesus as our rest, and therefore—for this analogy—as our selah, it changes how we meet sorrow and pain. We can become people who hold so tightly to Christ that we can finally be full; we can trust and live without fear that goodness is going to run out; and we can release all we cling to into his hands.

Name a Psalm that particularly met your need in your desperation and explain how it helped to heal you.

Kristen Kill: Psalm 91 was powerful for me to read and take in, because it describes the way that God responds to us; the way he cares for us. “We will abide in his shelter, he will cover us with feathers, under his wings we will find refuge.” In these verses I realized that my whole heart, my whole life, would be covered and protected by God. Not just the tidy parts, but all of me. He saw me as vulnerable and desired to protect me. What a grace and a hope!

What action do you want to inspire readers of this book to take?

Kristen Kill: I think most of us can relate with the idea that we need rest and pause in our lives. But I hope that if readers pick up this book because they want more of that, they’ll come away realizing that their longing for rest is truly a longing for more of Jesus. It can take a fair bit of introspection to get at the root of what’s truly happening beneath the surface of what we think we need and want. But I hope readers are inspired to do that work. I think its worth it. And I think God is absolutely delighted to meet us in that pursuit.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Kristen Kill: Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

I couldn’t believe it when I read for the first time that God was singing over me. Like I sang over my babies, God is singing a song of love over us. It’s the melody of heaven, and the song of our lives. These pauses—these selahs—are how we learn to listen and tune our ear to him. I don’t want to miss that glorious music. I don’t want to miss his delight.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Kristen Kill: I love using Bible Gateway on my computer and my phone as a way to meditate on God’s word. It’s a great place to begin a quiet time! Read the daily verse, and write it in your journal. I like to have just one verse to share with my children at breakfast or at dinner, and when we use the app as a family, they’ve often already read it on their own, and come ready with questions or ideas. Its wonderful to all be reading the same thing each day!


Bio: Kristen Kill is a woman transformed by the delight of God. A contributing editor at The Better Mom, and co-host of At Home, a popular podcast with Sally Clarkson, Kristen is passionate about encouraging women who feel stretched thin with the truth that, even in the tension, God is singing over them with love. After spending the last seven years in the hustle of New York City, Kristen and her husband, Josh, are learning to go slow as they raise their five kids in the Pacific Northwest. Her days are filled with homeschooling, walking her slightly anxious hound dog, and putting off the cleaning for one more day. Find Kristen writing at kristenkill.com and follow her on Instagram @kristenkill.

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Honoring Black History Month: Great Books for the Whole Family to Read

If you’re looking for something to read in honor of Black History Month, look no further than some of the newest releases by Christian African-American authors published by Zondervan. From Olympians, to doctors, to inspirational figures, pastors, journalists, and performers, everyone in the family is sure to find something to inspire, educate, and encourage.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Black History: Africa in the Bible]

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

Courage to Soar by Simone BilesSimone Biles’ entrance into the world of gymnastics may have started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but her God-given talent, passion, and perseverance have made her one of the top gymnasts in the world, as well as a four-time winner of Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.

In Courage to Soar, a #1 New York Times bestseller, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion gymnast Simone Biles gives readers an inspiring and never-before-seen look at her life. It was written with New York Times bestselling author Michelle Burford, and features a foreword by Mary Lou Retton.

Chasing Grace by Sanya Richards-Ross

Chasing Grace by Sanya Richards-Ross“For as long as I can remember, life has been measured in seconds. The fewer, the better.” ~Sanya Richards-Ross

Most people equate success with having more, but Sanya’s quest was always for less. She started running track as a little girl in Jamaica and began competing when she was only seven. At 31 she’s had a career’s worth of conditioning to run a 400-meter race in 50 seconds, hopefully 49, or even better, 48.

Now in Chasing Grace, five-time Olympic medalist Sanya Richards-Ross shares triumphant and heartbreaking stories as she tells of her journey to becoming a world-class runner. Sanya helps you learn how to run your best race and live your best life.

She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst

She's Still There by Chrystal Evans HurstWhat’s a woman to do if her life is not taking shape the way that she thought that it would? What happens when she looks at herself in the mirror, lingering just a little longer than usual and realizes that she no longer recognizes the person staring back at her? What does she do when she sees that, somehow, her life has drifted away from all her original hopes, dreams, or plans?

In She’s Still There, Chrystal Evans Hurst shares poignant personal stories as she offers an outstretched hand and the assurance that you can still be the woman God gifted you to be. Chrystal co-authored the best-selling book, Kingdom Woman, with her father Dr. Tony Evans. She reaches a wide audience speaking at conferences, sharing on her blog, Chrystal’s Chronicles, writing for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and by teaching and leading women in her home church.

Truth Doesn’t Have a Side by Dr. Bennet Omalu

Truth Doesn't Have a Side by Dr. Bennet OmaluTruth Doesn’t Have a Side follows the journey of neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovered the truth about brain damage in American football players, and his battle against those who would silence him. An incredible story that could change the course of sports culture. Foreword by Will Smith, star of the major motion picture Concussion.

Dr. Omalu is a Nigerian-American neuropathologist who discovered and named chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players, other athletes, and military veterans. He is the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California, and a clinical professor at the University of California, Davis. His story is told in the major motion picture Concussion, starring Will Smith.

Day Dreams & Movie Screens by Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts

Day Dreams and Movie Screens by Alena PittsEleven-year-old Lena Daniels’ summer of Hollywood starlets and movie filming alongside her favorite singer, Mallory Winston, is over. But just as she begins to wonder if her summer was all just a dream, her world is turned upside down . . . again! Her movie Above the Waters premiers, the previews seem to be splattered on every television and radio channel, and everyone knows her name. Her classmates, strangers, and even her friends are starting to treat her differently, and everywhere she turns she’s being asked for an autograph, a picture, or a hug. As you read Day Dreams & Movie Screens, you’ll see how she learns to navigate this sudden popularity and say yes to God.

Author, actress, and model Alena Pitts, best known for her role in the hit movie War Room, has released her second title in the popular Lena in the Spotlight FaithGirlz Series, titled Day Dreams & Movie Screens. Co-written with her mother, Wynter Pitts, founder of For Girls Like You Magazine, the novel transforms the concepts of faith, family, and following your dreams into important life lessons.

Madison Park: A Place of Hope by Eric Motley

Madison Park by Eric L. MotleyWelcome to Madison Park, a place of self-determination, hope, and the American dream. And meet Eric Motley, raised in this remarkable Alabama community founded by freed slaves; a place that taught him everything he needed to know on his journey to becoming Special Assistant to President George W. Bush at the Oval Office.

Eric grew up among people whose belief was to “give” and never turn away from your neighbor’s need. As you read Madison Park, you’ll meet some of those people who had a significant impact on Eric’s life and faith. Life in Madison Park wasn’t always easy or fair, and Motley reveals personal and heartbreaking stories of racial injustice and segregation. But Eric shows how the community taught him everything he needed to know about love and faith. Foreword by Walter Isaacson.

How to Fix a Broken Record by Amena Brown

How to Fix a Broken Record by Amena BrownYour soul holds a massive record collection: melodies, rhythms, and bass lines. Memories that ask you to dance and memories that haunt you in a minor key. Lies that become soundtracks to your days while truths play too softly to be heard.

No matter how many scratches, breaks, or sorry repeats are in your past, you can find healing. In the soulful style of her acclaimed spoken word poetry, Amena Brown offers humor, story, and a good dose of heart in How to Fix a Broken Record. Amena performs and speaks at events from coffeehouses to arenas. Enjoy a taste of her God-honoring spoken word poetry here.

Reflections by Rosa Parks with Gregory J. Reed

Reflections by Rosa ParksOn December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was not trying to start a movement. She was simply tired of the social injustice. Yet, her simple act of courage started a chain of events that forever shaped the landscape of American race relations.

Including historic and beautiful pictures, Reflections by Rosa Parks, co-authored by prominent attorney and bestselling author Gregory J. Reed, is a collection of Mrs. Parks’s own words on topics like dealing with fear, facing injustice, developing character and determination, faith in God, and her hope for the future.

Wholeness by Touré Roberts

Wholeness by Touré RobertsWe can’t always choose the experiences that keep us from being whole, but we can take control of our lives today and bring healing to any broken area.

In Wholeness, pastor and international speaker Touré Roberts gives encouragement to anyone wanting more in life. Through insight gained from personal experience and years of pastoring, he teaches you how to be transformed wholly on the inside to live abundantly on the outside. Foreword by T. D. Jakes.

Raised by a single mom, narrowly escaping the trappings of inner city life, and finding success in corporate America, Touré Roberts is founding pastor of The Potter’s House at One LA, one of the fastest growing churches in Los Angeles, and senior pastor of The Potter’s House of Denver.

The World is Awake by Linsey Davis

The World Is Awake by Linsey DavisThis is the day the Lord has made.
A butterfly floats through the sun and the shade,
while dragonflies flit past the flowers and trees
and grasshoppers hop in the soft morning breeze.

Emmy award-winning journalist and ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis has teamed up with Zonderkidz to create an inspiring new picture book that encourages children to celebrate and be thankful for the everyday blessings of life.

Coming Soon: Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down by Ida Keeling

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down by Ida KeelingIn Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down, which will be available before the end of the month, you’ll meet Ida Keeling, a 101-year-old, world-record-holding runner (who is still running, by the way), who now shares her story to inspire you to keep going, keep running, and keep holding tight to God.

Ida Potter Keeling is a mother, activist, and runner. Miss Ida, as she is known in her Bronx community, grew up the child of immigrants during the Depression. She began working to help provide for her family at age 12. After her husband passed, she raised her four children alone in a single bedroom apartment while serving as an active member in the Civil Rights movement. She started running at age 67 as a way to deal with her grief following the murders of her two sons.

Coming Soon: Right on Track by Sanya Richards-Ross

Right on Track by Sanya Richards-RossIn her third book published by Zondervan, Olympic gold-medalist Sanya Richards-Ross empowers teens to take charge in shaping their personal futures. In Right on Track: Run, Race, Believe, Richards-Ross shares her advice and experiences with teens on what it takes to achieve impossible dreams, stay grounded in the face of success, and take wins and losses in stride.

Off the track, Sanya is an entrepreneur, TV personality, public speaker, and humanitarian. She designs and executes sports clinics across the United States to educate, empower, and teach youth with tools and strategies to excel both on and off the track.

Black History Month gives us an opportunity to remember how African-Americans have shaped and continue to shape this nation for good. Take some time this month to start reading one or more of these books or others written by influential Christians of color.

You Shall Have No Other #gods Before Me

Craig GroeschelBy Craig Groeschel

A friend of mine who visited a remote, impoverished village in India told me a story. He saw a woman sacrificing a chicken as an act of worship to her god. My friend was shocked to see such blatant, modern-day idolatry. After striking up a conversation with the woman, he was impressed with her. She was well-spoken, kind, and educated.

When he learned that she had visited New York City three years earlier, he asked what she thought of America. She explained that she hated it. She had never seen more idolatry anywhere in her entire life. When my friend pressed her, she described three areas of idolatry that she saw.

First, she said, not so gently, that Americans worship their stomachs. Her eyes wide as she talked, this woman from a simple village described the massive stores overstocked with food to sell to people who already had too much to eat. Evidently this woman was offended by people who are overweight when so many people in her village go hungry.

Second, she described how Americans worship television. From her perspective, they design their homes around the television. It takes the most prominent place in the most important room, and the furniture is arranged not for talking to people but for watching television. It was almost too much for her to comprehend that some people even allow a television in their bedroom—of all places!

Finally, she said the worst form of idolatry was in the relationship people have with their phones. She was deeply offended that people use them while driving. Even worse was that no one (at least in her experience) could have a full conversation without reading something on their phone.

Kind of gives a new meaning to American Idol, doesn’t it? My friend didn’t try to disagree with the Indian woman. He knew he couldn’t. Everything she said was true. And she hadn’t even scratched the surface.

Without getting into our obsessions with food and media, I’m simply raising the question about what we worship when we click. You are probably not putting a statue of a turtle ahead of God, and you probably aren’t a star worshiper, but is your obsession with your phone getting out of hand?

Some of us can honestly answer no. We are already using technology with good boundaries. We control it. It doesn’t control us. We might have a healthy view of social media and how we interact with it. If so, I’m thankful, and you should be too!

Yet I know many well-intentioned followers of Jesus who are being seduced, sucked into, and consumed by the virtual world. They think, “I just want to help my business.” Or, “This will give more exposure to my ministry.” Or, “I just love staying in touch with so many friends and family members.”

My teenage daughters showed me the Instagram accounts of their friends and explained how some of them set up fake Likes. One teenage girl had only 112 followers. Her pics usually got thirty to forty Likes. But suddenly she would have four hundred or more Likes—with only 112 followers! Evidently she had an app that helped her obtain fake Likes. This makes absolutely no sense to me, but then, I’m not a sixth-grade girl. She certainly feels pressure that I don’t know anything about. But I also know respected leaders who didn’t have the number of Twitter followers they wanted, so they bought fake followers to give the illusion of success. Seriously.

And I’m not above all of it. About an hour before writing this, I Tweeted. It had been awhile since I had said anything on Twitter, so I thought I should say something—you know, something short, memorable, catchy—of course connected to this book. So I typed, “At the end of your life, it won’t matter how many LIKES you got but how much LOVE you showed.” I added a hashtag to it, just to make it complete.

Nearly an hour went by before curiosity got the best of me. I wondered how my less than 280 characters of spiritual brilliance had transformed the Twittersphere. So I checked to see how my tweet had performed in that first hour. Did people Like it? Favorite it? Comment about it? Retweet it? Drumroll, please . . .

The results: 134 likes and 167 Retweets.

If you have only 80 Twitter followers, you’d say that’s out of the park. If you’ve got tens of thousands of followers, you might think that’s about what you would expect. Not bad. Not great. If you are @mileycyrus, you’d think that was a slow minute. Something must be wrong with Twitter if that’s all the action a Tweet of hers got in a 60-second period.

What if I had never sent a single Tweet? What if Twitter didn’t exist? Just a few years ago, it didn’t. Humanity did fine for centuries without Twitter. When I look at it from that perspective, it really isn’t that important.

Yet I felt compelled to check on my Tweet. Curious. Had to know.

I’m still not quite sure why. I’d like to tell you that I don’t really care about what my Tweet did or didn’t do. Part of me really thinks I don’t care. But I still checked. I must #CareAtSomeLevel.

The last thing I want to do is make light of anyone’s struggles with social media. Peer pressure is crazy tough to deal with. But let’s take an objective step back and ask ourselves, Are we being seduced? Are we placing too much value on something that’s not that important? Are we bowing down and worshiping something besides God? Have we fallen into a new dimension of sin? Are our souls being seduced?

Jesus asked the question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). We can adjust the question to today’s culture: what good is it to get more followers, more Likes, more comments, more Pinterest pins, and yet forfeit our soul?

Is anything worth more than having a growing passion for our loving God? I don’t think so.

And neither does God, who clearly doesn’t pull any punches. With ultimate directness, he says, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3–5).

That’s pretty straightforward.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

God wants to be first in our lives. Second place is not acceptable. It’s not sinful for God to be jealous in this way because for him, this is a holy jealousy, a righteous longing for our whole heart.

Why is it wrong to put other people or things before God? First, we need to realize that God is holy, eternal, omnipotent, and sovereign. He’s . . . well . . . God, and we most definitely are not. Because he is God, he must be first. We need to understand that we are not a body with a soul. We are a soul with a body. Our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever. Our souls were created by God to be in intimate relationship with him. Our souls are created to know God, love him, worship him, and do life with him. That’s why we must guard the affections of our soul and put him first.

Our souls can be seduced. We can be distracted. The pollution of this world can poison the purity of God’s presence, making it harder to find him and be in relationship with him. That’s why so many have to search so hard and why we try to meet our need for God with other things. But money, or things, or friends, or Likes, or followers, or whatever we think will make us happy never does make us happy. Our news feeds can be full, but our hearts and souls empty. Anytime we allow our souls to be consumed with anything other than God, we will never be satisfied.

Never.

________

Liking Jesus by Craig GroeschelAdapted from Liking Jesus: Intimacy and Contentment in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel. Click here to learn more about this title, previously published as #Struggles.

In Liking Jesus, a timely and life-changing book, New York Times bestselling author and pastor of Life.Church Craig Groeschel helps put Christ first again in today’s maxed out, selfie-centered world.

The more you compare, the less satisfied you are. The more we interact online, the more we crave intimacy. The more filtered our lives become, the harder it is to be real.

It’s time to refresh and rediscover what it means to be “like Jesus” and find true authenticity, a healthy self-image, and compassion for others in an age when we relate to each other so differently than ever before. Groeschel taps into some of the most leading-edge studies on the effects of social media on our emotions and friendships. He offers real-life examples of how we struggle with screens and likes, how these things mask our struggles with who we really are, and how we can reclaim a Christ-centered life.

Packed with helpful topics like the “10 Commandments of Using Social Media to Strengthen Your Faith” and “Creating Safeguards for Your Digital Devices,” you will find Liking Jesus to be just the guide to bring balance and real-world engagement to everyday life.

Craig Groeschel is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative and pacesetting church meeting in multiple locations around the United States and globally online. Life.Church created the popular and free YouVersion Bible app. He is the author of several books, including Daily Power, Divine Direction, Fight, The Christian Atheist, and It. Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Learn more at www.CraigGroeschelBooks.com.

10 Bible Verses to Contemplate on Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday cross

Today is Ash Wednesday—the first day of the season of Lent in the Western church—and millions of Christians around the world are observing the beginning of the 40-day journey to Easter Sunday. During the Lenten season, followers of Christ focus on the repentance of our sins in anticipation of the astounding forgiveness that Easter represents.

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In the spirit of repentance and meditation, here are 10 Bible verses that will help you remember God’s everlasting covenant with his people. Take a few minutes to still your heart in the midst of the world’s noise and demands, and focus on God’s Word. If you’d like to take more than a few minutes and go deeper into the Word, each verse reference is linked to the full chapter from which that verse was taken.

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If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. —2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. —Acts 3:19 (NLT)

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. —1 John 2:2 (KJV)

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NKJV)

Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation.Romans 10:10 (CEB)

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:21 (ESV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13 (KJV)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV)

How to Live The Bible — Growing in Wisdom

howtostudythebible

This is the fifteenth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


If you had a really difficult decision to make today that was complicated and would affect the rest of your life, what kind of person would you go to for advice? You’d be smart if you sought out one or more people whom you know to have a lot of wisdom—and you, yourself, would be wise for doing so.

Most people are longing for wisdom, whether they use the word or not. When they get advice that has a ring of truth to it, and it leads them to goodnesss and wholeness and peace, they are deeply satisfied. Most people wish their leaders were wiser. There are just too many ways in which a lack of wisdom, or outright foolishness, can hurt ourselves and others.

What is wisdom? Both a special gift from God and a personal skill that is developed over time, wisdom is deep insight into the true nature of things, including their moral value, and the integrity to act on that insight. Wisdom is not different from knowledge, but is more than knowledge—like the difference between knowing about your spouse and knowing your spouse.

The Bible is a book full of wisdom, and it teaches that God wants every person to grow in wisdom. This is the highest form of “living the Bible”—to grow deeper and deeper in wisdom, to gain “the wisdom from above” (James 3:17), and “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Then our life choices small and large are good and right because they have been regulated by the moral quality that is at the heart of God’s wisdom.

The alternative is unthinkable. The book of Proverbs speaks about “the fool,” but there are several different levels of foolishness, marked by the Hebrew words that are used.

The most primitive form of foolishness is simplemindedness. This is simple ignorance. Not knowing any better. Making mistakes. Being naïve. Simplemindedness can cause great harm, but more serious still is the kind of foolishness that is carelessness. This is when we choose not to listen to good advice, when we rush a decision, or say or do things without regard for their effects on other people, when we are foolish through negligence. That can cause a lot of harm. The strongest form of foolishness in the book of Proverbs is cynicism and hypocrisy. This is the “scoffer,” someone who mocks what is good. When people just give up on integrity, or act civilly in public but turn into monsters behind closed doors, that is the strongest form of foolishness.

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God” (1 Cor. 2:1). He said: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Jesus is the message. He is better than “the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Cor. 2:6).

And so, Paul says, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Cor. 2:13).

So how does this work? How can we live out the wisdom of Scripture?

First, we must read all of Scripture with open and teachable minds. Every page has wisdom, and we will catch different points over the years.

Then we can pay special attention to the so-called “wisdom literature” of the Bible. Anybody would do well to read the remarkable book of Proverbs once a year. Its opening words speak of its purpose:

Proverbs… for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. (Prov. 1:1-5)

The book of Proverbs gives us general statements of what is generally true. This is different from God’s promises. The book of Proverbs makes us wiser in how we view life. It shapes our expectations so they are not too low or high. It also gives us bold warnings about life decisions that are dangerous.

The book of James in the New Testament focuses a lot on wisdom. It, too, offers practical advice about life. In contrast with “earthly wisdom” which is so misguided that it leads to “envy and selfish ambition,” “disorder,” “and every evil practice,” James says “the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Each quality in that list describes both attitude and action. Live a life of deeper wisdom, and people will seek you out. You will have the blessing of helping people avoid cliffs, and move on to good places in their lives.

(to be continued)
________________
Coming Soon… A Book of Prayers for Kids

[If you believe this series will be helpful, this is the perfect time to forward this to a friend, a group, or a congregation, and tell them they too may sign up for the weekly emails here]


Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

The Swindoll Study Bible: An Interview with Chuck Swindoll

Charles R. SwindollA new Study Bible combines the wit, charm, pastoral insight, and wise biblical counsel of well-known pastor, teacher, and award-winning author Chuck Swindoll‘s (@chuckswindoll) more than 50 years of ministry with the complete text of the Bible to help readers better understand the meaning of the scriptures.

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In this Q&A, Chuck talks about The Swindoll Study Bible (Tyndale House Publishers, 2017).

Buy your copy of The NLT Swindoll Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

You’ve written a lot of books over the years. Why did you decide to do a study Bible?

Chuck Swindoll: That’s a great question.

The Bible is central to everyone’s faith. It’s sort of home base. It’s God’s very Word, and we must never forget that. So, in order for us to really put our faith together, we have to have a pretty good grasp of the Word of God. But, of course, the Bible is more than information. It’s written to change our lives, not simply to satisfy our curiosity.
The desire on God’s part is that we would learn his Word so that we might walk closer with Jesus. That’s what the Bible is all about, isn’t it? After all, that’s why God has communicated his Word to us—so that we may become like his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the central figure of this Book.

I wanted to share my love for the Bible, and what I’ve learned along the way. My primary focus in ministry has been teaching biblical insight for living . . . for genuine life change.

For more than 50 years, I’ve ministered to people, and I’m still as involved as ever. There are so many things through the years that I’ve included in my study but have not put into books. They’ve found their way into this study Bible. This Bible is the product of all of those years of study, research, teaching, and preaching.

Devotions for New Christians

There are lots of study Bibles available today. What makes your study Bible different?

Chuck Swindoll: My Bible is realistic, and its practical. God’s Word is relevant. I don’t attempt to make the Bible relevant. I’ve said that for decades. I help people realize how relevant it is. That’s always been my goal.

There are a lot of study Bibles out there. Many of them are good, truly reliable, and thorough, but what’s often lacking is the practicality. So my goal in putting together this study Bible was to help people see how practical God’s Word is. Not just relevant, but practical. That’s the way I think, so that’s the way I teach, and it’s the way I’ve written this Bible—for everyone to get something out of it.

I live in the same world you do, and I have the same struggles and face the same issues that you do. The Bible addresses life as it really is. It’s not theoretical. It deals with issues that we face. People are often amazed at that. I believe that my study Bible will help people to realize that the issues of the Bible are today’s issues and to face them head on.

There are book introductions to help you discover who wrote each book and when. What does it mean? Where did these events occur, and why does it matter? Most importantly, how can I apply this to my everyday life?

Some passages and ideas in Scripture just seem to bubble to the surface. I’ve included hundreds of full-page Application Articles to clarify and apply these to the real-world needs we have.

There are also thousands of Living Insights notes taken straight from my sermons. They’re all practical. My desire is to help people see the point of the author. He’s making a point and we want to understand what it meant in his day and what it means for us today.

Places are important too. There’s nothing quite like going to the Holy Land to see where the events of the Bible took place, imagining walking where Jesus walked. So I’ve included a Holy Land Tour. Each stop includes a photo, a map and, of course, a specific application regarding that particular place.

One of my favorite elements is the Prayer Moments. Sometimes prayer comes hard. The prayers I’ve included are intended to guide you in your own communion with God, each one based on the particular message in a particular passage.

Here’s what I’ve tried to do: I want to make the complicated simple—but not simplistic—so that anyone can grasp scriptural truth and deepen his or her walk with Jesus. That’s my goal, and that’s what you’ll find when you read The Swindoll Study Bible.

[See the Bible Gateway Blog, Searching the Scriptures: An Interview with Chuck Swindoll]

You are known for your storytelling. How does that come through in your study Bible?

Chuck Swindoll: Well, I do love stories. I think anyone who communicates needs to be a good storyteller, because stories relate to where we live. They always have a plot, there’s always some sense of mystery about them, and they lead into something where we can relate to them. The Bible is full of stories, and it is, of course, the story of God.

I’ve included numerous People Profiles throughout this Bible. I take a personal interest in the people of the Bible. I’ve learned that by looking at what God is doing in the lives of people in the Scriptures, we can see connections to our own everyday lives. The People Profiles give helpful, basic information, but more importantly, through them we see how God works with and through people.

Beyond the Profiles, my study Bible uses stories to connect the real world of the Bible to the real world of today. I’ve added lessons from my own life that tie in to stories from the Bible.

[Browse the books written by Chuck Swindoll in the Bible Gateway Store]

Who is The Swindoll Study Bible for?

Chuck Swindoll: This is a study Bible that anyone can use and understand. I think and teach practically, so my Bible does the same. It’s not elementary, but you don’t have to go to a Bible college or a seminary to understand it. All of it relates to life as we see it, as we live it. A teenager can get something out of it just as easily as someone in his mid-30s or her 50s or 60s. All the way through, you’ll nod your head in agreement: “I get it. I understand that.”

New believers who don’t quite grasp the flow of the scriptures will have no trouble when they get into this study Bible. Those who are growing and learning. People who are hurting and broken. Churched people who’ve gone through a toxic experience, who have been burned out or disappointed or sidelined by legalism and are not aware of the grace of God. I emphasize the value of grace all the way through this Bible. There’s information in here for all of us.

Why did you choose the NLT for your study Bible?

Chuck Swindoll: Let me say, first of all, that we live in a day in which people look for a reason not to read the Bible. I know that’s a strange way to put it. Every Bible should be read, but for that to happen it needs to be readable. The New Living Translation is a very readable translation; however, let me add that it’s also trustworthy. The scholarship is thorough. It’s in today’s language. You don’t have to spend a lot of time fussing around with the text: “Well, this really doesn’t mean this. The word really means that.” Or “Maybe you don’t understand what this word means.” There’s none of that in the New Living Translation. People understand what it’s saying, and therefore they’ll have an easier time understanding what it means.

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Bio: Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and his grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as senior pastor to congregations in Texas, Massachusetts, and California. Since 1998, he’s served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church (@Stonebriar) in Frisco, Texas, but Chuck’s listening audience extends far beyond a local church body. As a leading program in Christian broadcasting since 1979, Insight for Living (@IFL_USA) airs in major Christian radio markets around the world, reaching people groups in languages they can understand.

Winner of the Christian Book Award Lifetime Achievement Award, Chuck Swindoll is the bestselling author of more than 70 books, 12 of which have won Christian Book Awards. His titles include Searching the Scriptures: Find the Nourishment Your Soul Needs, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal, Faith for the Journey: Daily Meditations on Courageous Trust in God, The Owner’s Manual for Christians: The Essential Guide for a God-Honoring Life, The Grace Awakening: Believing in Grace Is One Thing, Living It Is Another.

Chuck’s extensive writing ministry has also served the body of Christ worldwide and his leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary (@DallasSeminary) has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Browse the editions of Swindoll's Great Lives from God's Word series in the Bible Gateway Store   Browse the editions of Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary in the Bible Gateway Store   Buy your copy of Abraham: One Nomad's Amazing Journey of Faith in the Bible Gateway Store   Buy your copy of Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind in the Bible Gateway Store   Buy your copy of Strengthening Your Grip: How to be Grounded in Chaotic World in the Bible Gateway Store

How to Conduct a Word Study with Bible Gateway Plus

Buy your copy of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

If you desire to dig deep beneath the surface of Scripture, Bible Gateway Plus offers you a unique way to do this. With Bible dictionaries, such as Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, you can gain greater insight into the meaning of biblical words to enhance your Bible study—even if you have little to no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew!

Having a good understanding of the roots of a particular word in the Bible and how it’s used throughout can light your way to understanding deeper concepts in Scripture. You can perform word studies in English on its own, but this won’t give you a complete picture of certain words because the same Greek (or Hebrew) word can be translated to multiple different English words; and the same English word may translate to different Greek or Hebrew words. What you want to do is observe a text with a trusted resource that sheds light on its original language.

For our example, let’s use the Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary notes in the Bible Gateway Plus sidebar to walk through the uses of the word love in the New Testament. Here’s a basic introduction to the way this resource is set up in Bible Gateway Plus:

First, look up a passage. For our purposes, let’s navigate to 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Next, open the Bible Gateway Plus sidebar resource. You’ll find Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary under the Dictionaries section of the Study This sidebar. Clicking the title reveals four word study choices when you’ve searched Bible Gateway for the verse, 1 Corinthians 13:13. If you have your Bible Gateway Plus account open (you can sign up for a free 30-day trial here and walk through this now), click or tap on the link that reads “Love” as the image below depicts.

You’ll find Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary under the Dictionaries section of the Study This sidebar

Opening this link in Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary brings you to a lengthy article organized into two main sections. At the top is the Old Testament section, but, for the purposes of this particular study, let’s scroll down to where you see the New Testament section.

Below that, the explanation of the word being defined is gathered into groups of word types—in this case, Verb and Noun sub-headers.

Take some time to walk through the way the concept of “love” is explained in its cultural and original language roots. You might be surprised to discover, for instance, how the secular Greeks employed the word. Meditate on how the authors of the Bible have changed your understanding of the word “love” by its definition as the foremost character of God.

As you study the word “love” in the Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary study notes, open and read each of the verse references, and see how “love” is woven into the fabric of the Bible. This particular word study serves as a sort of guide to the Gospel message, culminating in the following note:

The very foundation of salvation is grounded in the realization that God’s unmerited love toward us is greater than any other power—including death (Rom 8:37–391 Cor. 15:55–57).

Toward the end of Mounce’s New Testament tour of the word “love,” you’ll come finally to its specific use in our starting verse: 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Further examination of 1 Cor. 13 reveals an inseparable relationship between faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13), yet the apostle affirms the supremacy of love.

You can read the full word study essay and couple it with other references in Bible Gateway Plus by signing up here.

Remember, the main purpose and value of Bible study is to help deepen our relationship with the Lord and to be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). God utilizes the Scriptures to lead us to salvation, train us for righteousness, and equip us to do good works (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

Bible News Roundup – Week of February 11, 2018

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What Does the Bible Say About Violence?
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Bibles in Iowa schools Sparks Controversy, But This Iowa City Class Takes Bible Learning in Stride
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Searcy, Arkansas High School Removes Bible Quotes from Choir Room After Complaint
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What to Give Up for Lent 2018? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas
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Hidden in Plain Sight: @museumofBible Ride Offers Bird’s-Eye View of Bible Verses in USA’s Capital
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Sports Quiz: Do You Know These Sports References and Amazing Feats From the Bible?

In the spirit of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, here’s a brief quiz to test your knowledge of sports metaphors in the Bible! The Bible contains many references to athletics—and many stories of people accomplishing truly amazing physical feats. Take the quiz below to find out how well you know the athletic references and stories in the Bible!

[See books related to the Olympic Games and sports in general in the Bible Gateway Store]

sports: Buy your copy of Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Run with Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Right on Track: Run, Race, Believe in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Redemption: With God All Things Are Possible in the Bible Gateway Store
sports: Buy your copy of Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story in the Bible Gateway Store sports: Buy your copy of Winning Balance: What I've Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams in the Bible Gateway Store

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