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100 FAVORITE BIBLE VERSES
By Lisa Guest
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter One1 CORINTHIANS 13:4–7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
Maybe you've heard it suggested that you read these verses from 1 Corinthians 13 as a description of Christ. That certainly works. Each statement about love is an accurate description of our Lord, who—acting on His immeasurable love for us—died on the cross for our sins.
Maybe you've heard the suggestion that, as you read them, replace the word love with your own name. That can be a very convicting exercise as we realize how far short of God's standards we fall. God is love (1 John 4:8), but we struggle to love. And we often fail.
Here is another option. As you read these words today, think of them as a description of God's love for you, because they are that too. In these quiet moments, let God speak His love to you. Let His love heal you, encourage you, and guide you. Let Him use these words of love to reinforce the truth that nothing will ever separate you from His love (Romans 8:38–39) and that He will never leave you (Matthew 28:20).
After basking in God's love for a while, ask Him whom He would like for you to love today with His love. He may bring to mind someone you need to forgive (love "keeps no record of being wronged"), He may prompt you to pray about tonight's homework sessions with the kids ("love is patient"), or He may nudge you to take brownies to the new neighbors or a meal to a grieving family (love is "kind"). Listen for God's direction, do whatever He says, and enjoy the blessing that comes with obeying Him and loving others with His love.
Thank You, Lord God, that You will never give up on me and You will never lose faith in me. Thank You for the reassurance and hope I find in that truth. Thank You, too, for the privileged calling of being able to love others with Your love. Help me die to myself so that I will hear Your guiding voice—and then help me follow You with joy. God, You are love. Please use me to help others know that.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
John 3:16 may be the most widely known and most frequently memorized verse in the Bible. Sadly, our familiarity with these words can make it hard for us to really hear their vital message. Let's try to listen to the words as if for the first time.
"For God so loved the world," and He chose to demonstrate His love with an action that became the focal point of history. God "gave His only begotten Son" to the very people who had turned their backs on Him, who had rejected His ways and were instead satisfied to live as they saw fit. This giving required a sacrifice beyond measure on the part of both God the Father and God the Son. The Son would not only go to the cross, but He would also experience complete separation from His Father.
But after three days, God the Father raised Jesus the Son from the dead, demonstrating His power over sin and death. And "whosoever believeth in [the resurrected Christ] should not perish, but have everlasting life." That life of intimate communion and life-giving fellowship with the Father begins with our declaration of faith and lasts throughout eternity.
Is that verse still too familiar to truly hear? Consider Charles Spurgeon's comments: "My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done and in what he is now doing for me."
Let's hear an amen!
As the old hymn says, Father God, Your love is so amazing and so divine that it truly does demand my life, my all. May I journey through this day—this life—aware of Your constant presence with me. Keep my eyes focused on Jesus, my heart overflowing with love for You, and my lips ready to share the good news of the gospel.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Nothing in your life surprises God. Every event, every conversation, every joy, and every sorrow—He has either planned or allowed all these.
Nothing in this world surprises God. He designed the pristine creation that has been ravaged by sin for millennia. He knows the human heart better than we understand ourselves. He knows that life on this planet will mean trials, pain, heartache, and struggle.
God was, for instance, well aware of the challenges that faced Joshua when he obediently stepped up to lead the people of Israel after Moses' death. The Almighty knew that Joshua would have occasion to feel weak, overwhelmed, and discouraged. He also knew that Joshua had very legitimate reasons to fear and be dismayed. And God spoke to those needs—which are your needs as well: "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed."
But God didn't stop there for Joshua—and He doesn't stop there for you. He gives you an empowering reason why you needn't fear or be discouraged. That reason? "Because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
So whatever may make you feel anything but strong and courageous—perhaps the daily news, the state of the international economy, pressures and demands at work, the challenges of raising kids, and undoubtedly a few items you can add to the list—remind yourself that God is with you. And put one foot in front of the other one more time.
Thank You, Lord God, for being with me always, wherever I go. Keep me mindful that You, my Source of strength and encouragement, are at my side every minute of every day. In light of these truths, I have no reason to be afraid or dismayed. So, knowing that I am loved by You, may I live with confidence and joy.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
In his classic A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, writer Phillip Keller offers many insights into the words of David, the shepherd of days gone by. For instance, are you aware of how similar sheep and human beings are? It's not a pretty picture! "Our mass mind (or mob instincts), our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity, our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance," Keller has noted.
Although we might not choose that kind of company, Jesus graciously does, and "He is ever interceding for us; He is ever guiding us by His gracious Spirit; He is ever working on our behalf to ensure that we will benefit from His care.... the Good Shepherd spares no pains for the welfare of His sheep."
The cross is the supreme example of Jesus sparing "no pains" for His sheep who were lost in sin. Yet Jesus' shepherding didn't stop on Calvary. Read again the promises in Psalm 23. What provision are you most in need of today? What image offers you peace? What words offer you hope?
Thank your Good Shepherd for His thorough, 24/7 care for you. Ask forgiveness for the ways you fall into step with the world's flock rather than sticking with God's sheep. Then close with praise for the "goodness and mercy" that, by God's grace, will follow you all the days of your life and into eternity.
Lord, with You as my shepherd, I will never lack anything I need. I want to listen to You and follow Your leading to good pastures and clean water. I long for You to restore my soul when I stray. Help me to walk along Your paths of righteousness for my good and Your glory.
1 JOHN 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I knew, because of my own feelings, there was something wrong with me, and I knew it wasn't only me. I knew it was everybody. It was like a bacteria or a cancer or a trance. It wasn't on the skin; it was in the soul.... It was as if we were cracked, couldn't love right, couldn't feel good things for very long without screwing it all up." So wrote Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz about his becoming aware of his own sin, of the sin nature that is inherent in all of us.
King David would agree that sin works like bacteria. Speaking about personal experience, he testified that unconfessed sin affects a person's physical health. David knew there was no "health in my bones because of my sin" (Psalm 38:3), and he acknowledged that "my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away" (31:10).
The apostle John speaks to both Donald Miller and David with this life-giving truth: when we confess our sins, God forgives us—and His forgiveness is not some cold, businesslike transaction. After all, it was made possible by an act of immeasurable and costly love. Our God let His sinless Son die on the cross as payment for Donald Miller's sin, David's sin, and your sin. This payment for sin made possible a cleansing: God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and He washes us whiter than snow (51:7).
Yes, there's something wrong with us: we are sinners. But on the cross at Calvary, our Savior paid the price for us, and now our holy God graciously forgives us and cleanses us.
Jesus taught that the truth shall set us free, and the truth about my sin and about Your gracious forgiveness, Father God, has done just that—set me free! Thank You that I don't have to pretend my sin isn't there and that I don't have to suffer as David did. Thank You that I don't have to perform to earn Your forgiveness, but that Your Son paid the price for me. Thank You for this amazing truth about Your amazing grace.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
How do you make a peanut butter sandwich? Put the peanut butter on the bread. Oh, well, yes, of course you open the bag of bread and take out two pieces. Then you unscrew the lid from the peanut butter jar and, using a knife, spread some peanut butter on one of the slices of bread.
Showing, not merely telling, is a much more effective way of teaching. And God has shown us what is good. Think about David keeping his promise to Jonathan and caring for Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9): David did justly. Abraham prayed fervently, asking God to spare the city of Sodom if there were fifty righteous people and, finally, if there were only ten (Genesis 18:16–33). God loves mercy. And Esther acted boldly "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). She walked humbly with God.
God's most powerful illustration of what is good, however, is His own Son. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers who had made His Father's house a den of thieves. He paid taxes—with money he got from a fish's mouth. And He spoke out openly against the hypocrisy of Jewish church leaders who used their power for their own good. Jesus did justly.
Jesus healed the sick, made the blind see, and enabled the lame to walk. He freed people from demons and illness. He reached out to Samaritans, prostitutes, and tax collectors, to sinners like you and me. Jesus loved mercy.
Jesus submitted to God's will to the point of dying on a cross. After His agonizing prayers in Gethsemane, Jesus ultimately agreed to do the Father's will, not His own. Jesus walked humbly with His God. May we walk in our Savior's footprints.
I do learn better, Father, when someone shows me something rather than just tells me about it. So I thank You for showing me in many people of the Bible—and especially in Jesus Himself—what is good. By Your Spirit, may I learn to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with You. Today and always.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind" and "your neighbor as yourself."
When Jesus was asked what a person needs to do to inherit eternal life, His response was to love God with all you are and love your neighbor just as you love yourself. These commands are straightforward and simple enough to understand. Living them out, however, is an entirely different matter—and the second command is especially difficult if you don't find it easy to love yourself.
In Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself, Austin Gutwein comments on the fact that loving ourselves can be tough. Why? He suggests that we tend to look at externals, many of which are based in the world's ideas of loveable. But God is more concerned about the internals, not about how we look or what we do. In Austin's words, "God doesn't look at us the way we do.... When we can begin to see ourselves the way God sees us, we may find it easier to love ourselves."
So spend time reading God's Word. It's been called His love letter to humanity! Spend time listening for His whispered words of love to you and the firm impressions on your heart that happen in the quiet moments you spend with Him. Finally, keep your eyes open for evidence of His faithfulness to you. His actions on your behalf and in answer to your prayers do indeed speak volumes about His love for you.
So go ahead and believe this: "God is crazy about you. And he needs you to love yourself so you can go out and show his love to others."
You know my heart, Lord. You know the ways I struggle to love and even to accept myself. You also know how difficult it can be for me to love others, and we both know I totally fail at loving You with all I am. Yet I choose to believe what Your Word teaches: that You love me and that nothing can separate me from that love. May Your love transform me and free me to love myself, to love others better, and to love You with more of myself.
Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.
Loyalty. That word may sound like it needs to be dusted off. As a society, we seem to have relegated it to the Boy Scout laws. Behavior today too often suggests that loyalty is a dated concept, a fading virtue.
Excerpted from 100 FAVORITE BIBLE VERSES by Lisa Guest Copyright © 2011 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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