Category Archives: Encouragement

4 Exciting Facts about Heaven

Whether we are having the time of our life or we are going through hard times, you and I can find comfort in knowing Heaven awaits. Heaven will be an exciting place and Revelation 21 gives us a sneak peek.

“Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the old order of things has passed away.”

Here are 4 exciting facts about Heaven.

The Lord will dwell among us.

The place Jesus is currently preparing will be finished. The Lord will be physically with us.

Perfection will be restored.

The perfection enjoyed in the Garden of Eden will return. Everything will be perfect and peaceful.

There will be no more pain or sorrow.

Everything causing pain or sorrow will be gone. Hurtful words, diseases, genetic mutations, and loss of a loved one in death will all be gone.

We will be reunited with those who proceeded us in death.

This fact alone is enough to make most anyone anticipate Heaven.

Acting

What about Heaven do you find the most exciting? Share in the comments below. If you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it with him or her.

 

Hard times? Here is encouragement.

Going through a hard time? You are not alone. Life’s rough times are something we all share. 2 Corinthians offers us some encouragement during these times.

We read in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though are bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they produce a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

3 Points of Encouragement

We can find 3 points of encouragement in this passage.

Our Spirits are being Renewed

Paul says he may be wasting away physically, but spiritually, he is being renewed each day. Everything may be falling apart around us, but the Lord will still be with us. We are promised the Lord will not leave us or forsake us. As things crumble around us, we can find strength in the Lord. “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit” (Ephesians 3:16).

Its Temporary

As we are overwhelmed by a rough situation, it can be hard to remember this. We are weary of the current circumstance and just want it to end. You may be amid an extremely hard time. I do not want to minimize the difficulties you have endured. You’re tired, so I hope you find encouragement in these words.

This is only a temporary time. One season of life always gives way to another. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 reminds us the present may be overwhelming, but it will not overtake us.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

Gaze at the Future

We are encouraged to look intently and steadily on the future. Look toward eternity in the presence of the Lord. We are promised there will be no more tears, heartache, difficulty, or struggles. We are encouraged to stare at eternity, peering into its beauty, glory, and majesty.

The Best is Coming

Whether in good times or bad, we know there is a better time coming. Eternity will be the best time. As we go through hard times, we can find comfort and encouragement in this promise.

Here are 4 Exciting Facts about Heaven.

Acting

Gaze at eternity and share how it encourages you in the comments. If you know someone who would benefit from this post, please share it with them.

 

Worried? Here’sSuggestions

You and I are not the only ones who worry. We can safely say worry is common and has negative effects. Here is some encouragement to help cope with the problem of worry.

A Professional Worrier

Two friends were having lunch and discussing the state of their lives. One friend said he was having a rough time. “I just lost my job, my savings account is empty, the bank has repossessed my car, and the lender is threatening foreclosure on my home. I’m not worried though.”

“You are not worried,” the other friend exclaimed! “How can you not be worried?”

“I’ve hired a professional worrier,” the other friend explained. “He does my worrying for me, and he only charges me 50 K a year.”

Surprised, the friend asked, “How can you afford to pay him?” “I don’t know. That’s not my worry,” the man answered. “It is his.”

The Problem of Worry

Worry can cause many problems.

Physical Health Concerns

Worry has many implications on our health. It can cause heart issues, migraines, and cause our bodies to produce too much of a stress hormone.

Mental & Social Concerns

Worry can influence our mood causing problems in social situations. A worried person can be irritable, and worry can be a starting point for depression.

Takes Tomorrow’s Thrill Away

Worry causes us to think of the worst-case scenario and traps our focus there. The problem is these scenarios rarely occur, and when they do, worrying excessively does not help change them. Worry has the power to rob us of the thrill found in the future; paralyzing us so we can’t enjoy the adventure of tomorrow.

3 Encouraging Suggestions to Help Cope with Worry

Here are 3 encouraging suggestions to help us cope with worry.

Look at Nature’s Example

Matthew 6:26 encourages us to look at the birds. They do not plant, harvest, or store food in barns, yet they have food. Jesus says the Lord feeds them. Birds have what they need. If the Lord will take care of the birds, he will care for you and me as well.

Matthew 6:28 challenges us to look at flowers. They do not worry about their looks, yet they are stunningly beautiful. If the Lord puts this much time and attention into a flower which is here today and gone tomorrow, he will take care of you and I as well.

Concentrate on Today

Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow. For tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” In other words, don’t bring the worries of the future into the present. We are encouraged to plan, not be paralyzed by worrying about the future. Concentrate on today. What good things have happened to you today? How have you been blessed today?

Replace Worry with Prayer

Do not worry about anything, Philippians 4:6 encourages, but in everything present your requests to God in prayer. Replace the time we spend worrying with time in prayer. Praying through worries will bring us peace.

You can find some more tips to stay positive here.

Our Professional Worrier

Like the man in the story above, we have a professional worrier. The Lord is our professional worrier.

  • “Come to me all you who are weary, and burden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
  • “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Acting

Try these suggestions this week to reduce the time you spend worrying. Share how it goes in the comments below. If you know someone who could be encouraged by this post, please share it with him or her.

 

 

3 Responses to Procrastination

I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate sometimes, particularly when I need to do something I am dreading. It seems our natural response to dreaded life change is procrastinating if possible.

 

This may be especially true when we believe the Lord is calling us to a life change, we do not understand or a project for which we feel ill-equipped. The good news is we are not alone. Moses shared in this experience.

 

“The good news is we are not alone. Moses shared in this experience.”

 

Moses was tending sheep one day when a nearby bush was ablaze but not consumed by the flames. Moses’ curiosity got the best of him, so he walked over to see what was happening. Moses walked over to see a burning bush but had an encounter with the Lord. The Lord revealed his plan, and Moses made every attempt to tell the Lord why it would not work.

 

When I arrive at my “burning bush,” I often procrastinate by telling the Lord I am not the right person. What about you?

 

Moses tried to convince the Lord he was not the right person, but for every reason Moses offered, God provided a response. It seems we offer the same reasons, and God offers the same responses. Here are 3.

 

No one’s listening.

 

Moses said no one would listen to him. They would just accuse him of being in the sun too long. God dismisses this reason by obvious work in Moses’ life.

 

Do you ever feel like you are talking, and no one is listening, so you just stop talking? Maybe you ask yourself, “Why do I even say anything? It is like talking to a brick wall.” Like Moses, the Lord’s work in our lives is obvious. And, while it may seem no one is listening, it turns out they are paying attention.

 

Reimaging Faith Formation for the 21st Century cites studies showing our family members are listening. For those of you who are grandparents, you are the second most influential person in your grandkids’ life. You follow only their parents, and in some cases, you are in the number one slot. You sit in a position to speak a lot of wisdom into their lives as they witness the Lord’s obvious work in your life. Just when you think no one is listening, it turns out they pay much attention.

 

The work the Lord is doing in our lives is obvious. It stands as a testimony to the words we say.

 

I can’t.

 

Moses tells the Lord he is not a good speaker, so how can he stand before Pharaoh and say anything. God responds by saying, “I gave you the abilities you have, so go, and I will help you.”

 

We may feel we are inadequate for God’s calling. We know we should do something, but we try to convince ourselves and the Lord we are not capable. We identify a barrier that could cause us to fail, and instead of jumping it, we hide behind it.

 

Moses identified a barrier of speech. What is your barrier? It could be any number of things. No matter the barrier, the Lord’s response is the same. “I gave your abilities and I will help you, so go.”

 

Not me, please.

 

After other reasoning failed, Moses simply asks the Lord to send somebody else. The Lord tells Moses to stop procrastinating. He has already put provisions for him in place. Moses is the one God called for this purpose, and the Lord will help Moses accomplish it. He began a good work in Moses, and he will bring it to completion.

 

Can you relate to Moses? “Lord, I just don’t want to,” you say. Perhaps we can all relate to Moses. The Lord’s response is always the same; he has called us each to a unique spot in his plan. Therefore, he will help us accomplish the purpose. He, who began a good work in our lives, is bringing it to completion.

 

Moses was in a special place in time to perform a special task for the Lord. His biography records Moses leading God’s people out of Egyptian bondage and guiding them to the border of the Promised Land. He may have felt inadequate, but God used him in a mighty way. God completed a good work in Moses’ life.

 

Acting

 

We are in a special place in time to perform a special task for the Lord. Each of our biographies will record how we served in the Kingdom. What is the Lord calling you to do? You may feel inadequate, but the action step you can take is growing in the Lord. Paul tells the Philippians to grow.

 

  • “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
  • “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

 

Continue to walk with the Lord and fulfilling your purpose. Again, what is the Lord calling you to do? How have you responded to your “burning bush?” Share in the comments below, and remember, he, who has begun a good work in you, will bring it through to completion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations but took completely different approaches.

 

Attitude determines how we approach life. Our attitude determines the approach we take to life. Paul, the writer of Philippians, gives three suggestions to help us take the right approach.

 

1. Don’t Worry (Philippians 4:6)

 

Do not worry about anything. A scholar did a word study on “anything,” and discovered it really means, “anything.” Don’t worry, that sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”

We see this idea lived out in nature all the time. Jesus uses birds for an example; they do not go out and sow seed in the spring, and water the seed all summer so they can reap a harvest in the fall. They don’t do that, yet they still have food to eat. God provides for them, and if he will provide for birds, why wouldn’t he also provide for us?

 

Check out these tips to combat worry.

 

When we worry, we are putting God into a box and slamming a lid on it. This problem is too big for me to handle, so it must be too big for God. We can’t go there; we can’t raise that much money. In all honesty, that is what we – me included – think sometimes. Yet, Ephesians 3:20 says God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

Think about that for just a moment. Immeasurably more than we can imagine; you can’t measure something that is immeasurable – it is impossible, and we can imagine some pretty big things. That means God can do immeasurably more than we can comprehend. When things come up that are too big for us, we should be asking, “How big is God?” The answer is, he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Jesus says if we seek after the Kingdom first, all our other needs will be met.

 

Stop and think. There is not anyone who has added time to their life by worrying about it. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own.

 

2. Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6)

 

Instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow, Scripture suggests that time would be more wisely spent praying about it. Paul says the result of carrying everything to God in prayer is that his peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. A peace that we know no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to get through it with the help of Jesus. We may not understand it or comprehend how this is possible, but we know that it is true. We should not worry about anything but carry everything to God in prayer through Christ.

 

3. Be Positive (Philippians 4:8)

 

We should have a positive outlook. We are encouraged to dwell in the following territory: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

 

Every adjective in this list points to something good, something positive. The opposite of things that are good and positive are bad and negative. The question is, which one are we going to concentrate on – the negative or the positive?

 

Two men attended the same church service on the same Sunday morning. The first man noticed the organist missed a note during the prelude, the music was too loud, and the preacher had a slip of the tongue six times. The second man enjoyed the prelude because it was one of his favorite hymns, was deeply moved by the music, and listened intently to the sermon because it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. The difference between these two men is what they concentrated on. The first man took a negative outlook, while the second man took a positive outlook. Which outlook in life are you taking?

 

There will always be things wrong in life. Illness and economic hardship are just two examples. And, I’m not saying if we get up in the morning and think it is going to be a beautiful day, that it will automatically become a beautiful day. We will experience trouble from time to time. We will face trials of many kinds, but how we respond to these trials is up to us. We can either sit around dwelling on the negative, or we can concentrate on the positive.

 

We all have something to thank God for. Here are some stats.

 

  • If you were able to get up this morning in good health, you are better off than 2 million people around the world.
  • If you are not persecuted, you are better off than 3 billion others in the world.

 

Acting

 

Attitude determines a lot in life. Put yourself in the story of the twins. Which boy are you? Are you the one sitting in the corner absorbed by the smell and watching the clock? If so, consider putting one or two of these suggestions into practice for the next week. Share how it helps you in the comments below.

 

 

A Once In History Life

We’ve all seen coffee cup phrases.  The encouraging words that are just right to place on a coffee cup and present to someone as an encouraging gift.  Most gift shops stock these cups and they make great gifts for a person who just needs a little encouragement.  The phrases usually originate from Scripture as the Bible is full of them.

 

You do not have to read very far into Philippians before finding a coffee cup phrase; maybe even one of the most encouraging phrases in Scripture.  It is in the sixth verse of the first chapter; he, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.

 

There is no denying this is an encouraging statement.  The Lord is at work in our lives, and he promises he will complete what he has started.  God is completing a good work in our lives despite what we may do to try to stop him.  The Bible’s biography of Moses helps us understand how this truth works.  Despite Moses at times, God completed a good work in his life.

 

What do we have in common with Moses?

 

This may seem like an odd question.  You may be thinking, “We can’t possibly have anything in common with Moses.”  True, Moses had a once in history childhood, grew up to be a shepherd in the desert, and spent his senior years leading the Israelites through the desert.  Unique is an understatement when describing his life, yet we share common ground with Moses.

 

A Once in History Life

 

I said above Moses is the only one who lived his life story.  God placed Moses in a unique time and called him to a unique purpose.  Moses was the individual God needed in that moment to fulfill that part of his plan.

 

Glimpse through Moses’ biography, and you can see how each phase of his life prepared him for the next.  Growing up in Pharaoh’s palace would have enabled Moses to become familiar with Egyptian customs.  Shepherding sheep in the desert prepared Moses to be the shepherd of God’s people in the desert.  God began a good work in Moses and carried it through to completion.

 

The same can be said for us.  God has placed us in a unique position.  Every person has a spot in God’s plan and a purpose to fulfill.  Scripture speaks of each person’s uniqueness.

 

  • The Psalmist says to the Lord, “For you created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Esther was told, “You are here for such a time as this.”

 

Acting

 

Glimpse through your own biography.  See how the previous phases of your life have prepared you for the current phase.  He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.

 

Moses had a once in history life, and so do we.  Share how the past has prepared you for the present in the comments below.

 

Why Do We Struggle With Contentment?

Devotions from the Front Porch asks, “Are you ever tempted to look at the neighbors and compare yourself to them? Perhaps from your perch on the porch, their lives look great. You see them open their car doors, and trash doesn’t even fall out. Meanwhile, you could feed a small country with the discarded French fries and cereal remnants in the floor of your van. The last time you used the restroom at their house, it felt like a trip to the spa. It’s a good day if yours has some toilet paper left on the roll.”

“I wish I drove a car like his. I wish my house was as fancy as hers. I wish my kids were as well behaved as their children. I wish ____.” Fill in the blank. Have you ever had these thoughts? I’m guessing everyone says yes. These thoughts creep into everybody’s mind from time to time. Perhaps we have these thoughts because we struggle with contentment.

 

It is a struggle we all share. I am not writing this to claim I have it all figured out. I don’t. I am writing this to claim Paul had it all figured out and tells us how to overcome this struggle.

 

Paul, in Philippians 4, has some advice as to where we find our true contentment. He says he knows what it is to have plenty. The big house, great job, and large sums of money in savings and investments can bring contentment. It is easy to be content in these life seasons. Contentment comes easy during these times, but what about the rougher seasons in life?

 

He also says he knows what it is to be in need. Paul experienced seasons in life when he basically lost everything. On one occasion, Paul found himself prisoner on a ship caught in a severe storm. The ship sank, leaving its passengers in the middle of the sea clinging to debris. Paul finally drifted ashore. He was wet, cold, and had nothing, yet he remained content. How? Why?

 

“He was wet, cold, and had nothing, yet he remained content. How? Why?”

 

The Secret

 

The secret, Paul says, is where or better said, in whom, he finds his contentment. “I have learned the secret to contentment in any and every situation; whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

 

True contentment is found in Christ. Looking for contentment in other places will eventually leave us empty. The big house and large sums of money are nice, but do not provide true contentment. Scripture states it is only found in Christ. As for the neighbors who appear to have a better life, chances are they look at you with the same thought.

 

Why do we struggle with contentment when Paul says it is easy to find in Christ? I know you are reading this and saying, “That is easy to say but much harder to live out.” Agreed, but here are a couple illustrations of what it looks like to live it out.

 

Modern-Day Illustrations

 

The stories of the Smiths and Ms. Johnson give us modern-day illustrations of this contentment. Both stories come as a result of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Smith believed they lived far enough inland there was no need to evacuate; however, as the storm progressed, they realized they might be in trouble. They decided it was safer to stay in their home and ride out the storm rather than leave. With water rising outside of their home, Mr. Smith decided to push their living room furniture together in the middle of the room and tie it together with his neck ties. It turns out that was a wise decision.

 

Water entered their home and the furniture began to float, creating a life preserver for Mr. Smith and his wife. The couple was able to ride on the furniture until the storm stopped. They were then able to crawl out a sky light to the safety of their roof to await rescue. It was quite an adventure, they recalled. As a mission team stood beside their home, it was obvious they had lost much of their material possessions, but they were grateful they still had one another.

 

Ms. Johnson chose to evacuate, and she returned home to find disaster. Her once picturesque home was now caked in mud and standing water. All her possessions were muddy, smelly, and ruined. She had lost everything. As a work crew arrived to help remove debris, Ms. Johnson told them her story. She commented, “I basically have lost everything.” Pausing for a moment, she continued, “Well, that is not exactly true. I’ve lost everything except my Jesus. I still have Jesus.”

 

Acting

 

Finding contentment can be a challenge. Consider asking the Lord to help you be content in some situations this week. Share how it goes in the comments below.

 

 

Leaving My Example

“Do what I say, not what I do.” Does setting an example work this way?

 

A father and his young son were driving down the road one day when the car they were following suddenly stopped. The dad slammed on the brakes causing everything the boy was holding to fly back in his face. Amid the French fries in his lap and drink running down his face and shirt, the young boy said a word no one his age should ever say. Dad asked, “Where did you hear that?” “I’ve been watching you,” the boy replied. The lyrics continue, “I’ve been watching you, dad. Isn’t that cool?”

 

 Whether we like to admit it or not, we are being watched. Our attitude is a pattern for others. Saying, “do what I say, not what I do,” will not work. We are being watched, so it is essential we model the right example in our actions and speech.

 

Actions

 

Look closely at what is said in Philippians 4:9. Basically, “use my example as an illustration for how to live life.” For most anyone, a statement like this would be a mouth full. Paul, however, can get away with it. His actions show us the type of attitude he desires for us to possess.

 

Scan the scenes of his life, and you will discover Paul experienced some adversity. Scenes include imprisonment, stoning, surviving a shipwreck, and living in a dungeon. His actions in each scene testify loudly of his faith. Guards and men on the ship became believers because of his actions. Take just a moment and evaluate your actions. What do they say?

 

Speech

 

We are also impacting others by what we say. I recently watched a video from Life without Limbs ministries.   Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs. When people looked at Nick, they said, “He’ll never be able to do this.” Or, “He’ll never be able to do that.” Some people even avoided Nick because he was different than they were. People were sending Nick a negative message.

 

Nick was receiving so much negative feedback that he became overwhelmed. He said he began to wonder if anyone even loved him. He later discovered Jesus had a few words to say about this like “I love you. I love you enough that I died for you.”

 

During his earthly ministry, Jesus talked to all kinds of lost people. He talked to beggars, lepers, prostitutes, and the list goes on, but he always had the same approach. He always did it in a compassionate, sensitive, positive way. Take a moment and evaluate your speech. What are your words saying?

People are impacted by what we do and what we say.

 

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In other words, do everything in a way that brings glory and honor to God so others can learn from you.

 

An Illustration

 

A good example of someone who has a peaceful, positive attitude is Job. Let me tell you Job’s story. Scripture tells us Job was a man of enormous wealth; he had a large amount of livestock and several servants. Job was also a man who was holy and respected God. There was a time in Job’s life, though, when it looked very bad. He was subjected to two tests of his faith.

 

The first test was a day in which Job was visited by a series of messengers. The first messenger told Job a great deal of his livestock had been stolen, and several his servants had been killed. While he was still speaking, a second messenger came in and said the rest of Job’s livestock had been stolen, and the rest of his servants had been killed. While this man was still speaking, yet a third messenger came and informed Job his sons and daughters were killed in a mighty wind. Job responded to this test by saying the Lord gives and takes away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

 

During his second test, Job was infected with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. This would be like having cold sores all over your body. During all his trouble, Job took a positive outlook. He said, “I know my redeemer lives, and someday I will see him.”

 

That is a powerful statement from Job, because he knew that things on earth may not get any better for him. They might even get worse, but Job knew at the end, he would be victorious because his redeemer lives. Guess what! Our redeemer lives too. If you have been obedient to Jesus Christ, and have accepted the grace that he offers, you are going to be victorious just like Job. As Christians, we share in the victory that Christ achieved through his death and resurrection. The song title puts it well when it says there is victory in Jesus.

 

Acting

 

Do your actions or speech need to change? Act by saying something positive to someone this week. Share how it goes in the comments below.

 

 

5 Tips for Understanding the Bible

Just beginning to read the Bible can feel overwhelming for some people. They desire to know what it says, but they find it difficult to understand. Comprehending the 66 books, for them, is like trying to scale Mount Everest. Difficult for a few people, and impossible for most people.

Does this describe you? If so, please know you do not have to feel overwhelmed. God desires for you to know what He says in the Bible. Understanding the Bible takes time, and can be an exciting journey. Here are five tips to help you understand the Bible.

1. GET AN UNDERSTANDABLE TRANSLATION

Walk into a book store and ask for a Bible, and you are soon overwhelmed with choices. The clerk takes you to a section filled with rows of Bibles. How do you know which one to get? Which translation is right for you?

Selecting a Translation

There are numerous translations of the Bible available. Each has its own positives and negatives. Selecting a translation should begin by asking yourself if the translation is understandable. Knowing what is said is the first step in understanding its meaning.

A couple good translations to consider are the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT). Both are written in modern English, so they use words which are familiar. Both translations are easy to read.

Adding a Paraphrase

There are also a number of paraphrases of the Bible available. A paraphrase of the Bible does just what you would think; it paraphrases what is said in Scripture. Many have found these books easier to read and understand. They don’t replace an actual verse by verse copy of the Bible, but make a great addition. A couple paraphrases to consider are The Message and The Story.

2. UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE’S ORGANIZATION

The next key is to become familiar with how the Bible is organized. Begin by understanding the Bible is divided into two sections: the Old and New Testament. The dividing line is the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament contains the books of Genesis through Malachi. It can be divided into sections such as books of the law, books of history, books of wisdom, and books of prophecy. Your Bible’s table of contents can provide a more specific breakdown. The Old Testament begins with the creation account and spans a length of time to about 400 years prior to Jesus’ birth.

The New Testament

The New Testament begins with Matthew and goes through Revelation. It too can be divided into sections. Matthew Mark, Luke and John are the Gospels. Acts tells the story of the church’s beginning. Except Revelation, the remaining books are letters which were circulated to believers to help them grow in Christ. Revelation is a prophecy about Christ’s Second Coming. The New Testament starts with the events surrounding Christ’s birth and spans the length of time to Jesus’ Second Coming. This is the era in which we are currently living.

Organized like a Dictionary

It is also helpful to realize the Bible is organized like a dictionary. The first verse on the page will be listed in the upper left corner, and the last verse on the page will be listed in the upper right corner.

3. GET A GOOD STUDY BIBLE

A third key is getting a good study Bible. Study Bibles provide commentary and other resources to help you grasp the meaning and context of the text. They also help apply the text to life in today’s world. A couple to consider is the NIV Study Bible and NIV Life Application Bible.

4. SPEND TIME IN THE BIBLE DAILY

It is important to spend time in the Bible each day. Remember, you are growing in a relationship with the Lord and this is how He speaks to you. There are as many ways to develop a daily devotional time as there are people. Each person has to pick what works for him or her. Here are some suggestions to help you develop this practice.

Find a Daily Time

The time of day does not matter. It can be any time during the day. What matters is that you strive to make it a part of your daily routine.

Find a Reading Plan

There are a number of reading plans to help guide you. Bible Gateway is a good place to find plans. One plan starts at the beginning and takes you to the end. Another plan puts the events of the Bible in chronological order. No one plan is better than another. Each plan guides your reading by highlighting a portion of Scripture to be read each day. Bible Gateway offers daily email reminders for the plan you choose.

Download a Bible App

Bible Gateway is a good app to consider. It offers the audio Bible in a number of translations. The app makes it easy to listen while you drive. You can select a daily reading plan and view other resources in the app.

Consider a Devotional Book

There are many aavailable. Devotionals highlight a passage of Scripture accompanied by a thought for the day.

5. ASK QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE

This may be the most important key to understanding the Bible. Asking questions can bring answers and insight not found any where else. The desire of Christians is for others to grow in Christ. Jesus commands us to make disciples. This involves answering questions. Spending time answering questions is not a burden but a privilege. It is exciting to see other Christians growing, and answering questions fosters growth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. A wise man said, “The only dumb question is a question that is not asked.”

Understanding the Bible takes time. It should be an exciting journey filled with anticipation of what you will discover next. It should not feel overwhelming. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help through prayer. The Lord is willing to help us understand Scripture. You can also ask for help from the church. We are all on the same journey and desire for you to join us. Hopefully, these suggestions have helped you get started understanding the Bible, and keep us posted. Tell us what new and exciting discoveries you are making as you grow in your understanding.