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365 Encouraging Verses of the Bible
A Hope-Filled Reading for Every Day of the Year
By Dave Christensen, Stephen Fierbaugh, Jean Fischer, Darlene Franklin, Steve Husting, Tina Krause, David McLaughlan, Paul M. Miller, Kathie Mitchell, Paul Muckley, Todd Aaron Smith, Ed Strauss, Lisa Toner, Martha Willey, Jean Wise
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 KJV
Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound. The Bible begins with a clear, direct statement of where our universe came from: God. What the Bible doesn't try to explain is where God Himself comes from. At the very start, scripture simply assumes His existence.
But read a few pages into the Bible, and you'll find God's explanation of His own being ... kind of. Though it's tough for the time-bound human mind to understand, God called Himself "I AM" in response to Moses' question, "What is [Your] name?" (Exodus 3:13–14 KJV). Those two little words clearly imply existence, and, interestingly, always in the present tense. There was never a time that God wasn't, and there will never be a time when He won't be. God simply is.
Scientists and philosophers have debated the origins of the universe and everything in it—including people—for about as long as people have existed in the universe. But the Bible states clearly and simply that everything originated with God.
It takes faith to accept that. But it takes a lot more faith to disbelieve!
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 NIV
This short verse packs quite an enormous amount of significance. God has always been there to guide us, even when we didn't know He was doing it. He continues to assist us in ways we may never realize, all because of His love for us. And as we know, He sent His only Son to this world to offer us salvation.
Many things about God are quite a mystery. We could never begin to understand the way in which He works and thinks. If there is anything at all that we can understand for sure, though, we can know He loves us. For that, we love Him. There is nothing we could ever do to make God stop loving us, because certainly we did nothing to make Him start.
God is concerned about everything we do. He celebrates our victories and cries with us during our difficult times. As we see in 1 John 4:9, God proved his love for us long before we were ever born! How could we not love such a God who first loved us so much?
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us ... Ephesians 3:20 KJV
This scripture concludes Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church for spiritual growth, inner strength, and knowledge of God's love (verses 14–19). The passage is a doxology giving praise to God and assurance to every believer of the omnipotence of our loving Lord.
The apostle declares that God is able to do "exceeding abundantly." The Greek word huperekperissou is a rare double compound meaning that God is not only able to accomplish all things, but does so "superabundantly above the greatest abundance"—or "beyond measure."
"Above all that we ask or think" is just that. Imagine every good thing that God has promised in His Word—or things you've only dreamed about. Think of wonderful things that exceed the limits of human comprehension or description, then imagine that God is able and willing to do even more!
The last part of this verse indicates that the Holy Spirit works within the Christian's life to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Our highest aspirations are within God's power—but like Paul, we must pray. When we do, God does far more for us than we could ever guess.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 RSV
The Samaritan woman asked Jesus where people ought to worship God—on Mount Gerizim (where a Samaritan temple once stood) or at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Jesus surprised her by saying that the time was soon coming when men would not worship God at either spot but "the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:19–24RSV). Indeed, as Stephen later said, "The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48 NKJV).
If God doesn't dwell in temples built by men, where does he dwell? Jesus promised his disciples that although, up to that time, the Holy Spirit dwelled with them, he would soon dwell in them (John 14:17).
Paul stated it clearly when he asked Christians, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16 RSV). He further stated, "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you," and emphasized that that was why we ought to live holy lives (1 Corinthians 6:19 RSV; 2 Corinthians 6:16–17).
What an awesome privilege—to be a temple of the Spirit of God!
"But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward." Jeremiah 7:24 NIV
Jews of Jeremiah's time excelled at following the external trappings of the law; as long as they offered the appropriate sacrifices in abundance, they thought they would please God.
In Jeremiah 7:22–23, the Lord told them otherwise. "I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings ... but ... this command: ... Walk in obedience to all I command you" (NIV, italics added). Instead, they did as they wanted, resulting in a backward religion.
The literal wording of the last sentence reads: "They were backward and not forward." They had their religion the wrong way around; they had focused on external actions and not internal obedience.
Earlier, the prophet Isaiah said that the people would fall backward, into captivity, because they had a "little" religion: "the word of the LORD to them will become: do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there—so that as they go they will fall backward, they will be injured and snared and captured" (28:13 NIV).
The goal for Christians today remains the same: "This is love for God: to keep his commands" (1 John 5:3 NIV). True devotion will express itself in every area of our lives.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:3 NKJV
The Romans had a particular format for beginning a letter. A typical opening line might read: "Hermas, to my dear brother Aristarchus, greetings."
Paul followed this format in his epistles. He began by identifying himself: "Paul," and often as "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ." He would then identify the recipient of his letter by saying, "to Timothy" or "to the saints who are in Ephesus."
Instead of simply saying, "greetings," however, Paul invariably invoked blessing upon his readers. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The wording is almost identical throughout his epistles. Before anything else, Paul wished believers to have God's grace and peace filling their lives.
In his last letters of Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy—as an aging man looking back over a lifetime of hardships and persecution—Paul added one more blessing. Now he wrote, "Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Timothy 1:2 NKJV, italics added).
God's grace and peace are gifts of His Holy Spirit, helping us make it through difficult times. But sometimes we do fall—and it's good to know God's mercy is there to lift us up.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19 NKJV
Do you worry when evil people seem to prosper and when life gets in your way? You are not alone. We don't know for sure who wrote Psalm 94, but we can be certain that the psalmist was annoyed and anxious when he wrote it. He cries out to God, asking Him to "pay back to the proud what they deserve" (v. 2 TNIV). Then, he goes on with a list of accusations about the evil ones. The psalmist's anxiety builds until finally, in verses 8–11, he warns his enemies to shape up and start following God. Verse 19 is the turning point—the place in the psalm where the writer is at a loss for words. Completely and utterly exasperated, he turns from his rant and starts praising God. "In the multitude of my anxieties within me," he says, "Your comforts delight my soul."
"In the multitude of my anxieties within me." Does that phrase describe you? When anxiety overwhelms us, we find relief in the words of Psalm 94:19. When we turn our anxious thoughts over to God, He brings contentment to our souls.
They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit ... grace and power. Acts 6:5, 8 NIV
From reading Acts 6, one has a suspicion that committees were the brainchild of the early church. The good news is that the group described here was assembled to bring help to the hurting—Greek widows who were not receiving their fair share. The committee included Stephen, a young man full of faith, grace, power, and God's Holy Spirit.
What makes this passage so important is its emphasis on spiritual armor's role in performing good deeds. For Stephen, that armor included "faith," a conviction that his life was totally directed by God; "grace," a lifestyle that spoke of Christ, even when he was silent; and "power," the result of allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way.
Ultimately, Stephen's uncompromising life so antagonized his enemies that after a no- holds-barred discourse, he was dragged outside and stoned to death—making him Christianity's first martyr.
Standing by that day was one Saul, a slayer of Christians. Undoubtedly, the influence of a young man filled with faith, grace, and power followed Saul until the day he encountered God on a road to Damascus. That's when Saul became the apostle Paul.
"The city and everything in it are to be destroyed as an offering to the LORD." Joshua 6:17 NCV
Fortified with massive walls, Jericho appeared undefeatable. But God miraculously gave the Israelites victory over the city by collapsing that barrier.
In those days, conquering armies would confiscate everything of value from their victims. God, however, instructed Joshua not to take anything from Jericho except articles of gold, silver, bronze, and iron.
The banned spoils included the city's supply of harvested grain, an extremely valuable trading commodity. No doubt some Israelites wondered why God wanted the grain destroyed—especially since their daily manna had ceased only a short time before. Nevertheless, soldiers burned the grain along with everything else in the city.
In recent years, archeologists have excavated the ancient ruins of Jericho. Their findings match the biblical account right down to clay jars filled with charred grain. Though some consider this battle a myth, the burnt jars sit as silent witnesses to the accuracy of the Bible.
Millennia ago, a command to burn grain may have seemed wasteful to some. But God had His purposes. Today, when God assigns us jobs that appear odd or unimportant, believe that He still has His reasons.
But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5–8 NET
James, the half-brother of Jesus, was not an early believer. It must have been difficult growing up in a household with perfection personified. But after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, James became a strong leader of the church. The book of James reads like a practical-Christian-living Frequently Asked Questions list.
At the beginning of this passage, James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it—and He'll grant that request. The three prior verses (James 1:2–4) tell that God gives us wisdom by trials and testing, which produce endurance and finally maturity.
So if you ask, be ready for the storm. When it comes, believe—don't doubt. If we weather that storm, we'll become wise.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua 1:8 NLT
It is so easy for sin to creep into our lives, particularly in this age of technology in which we live. With a single click of the mouse, we can view anything we wish. We can study any subject and instantly have a library of resources on hand.
Unfortunately, this technology has a dark side as well. A phrase that has been used often throughout the recent years is "garbage in, garbage out." With another click of the mouse, we can allow images and ideas to enter our minds that we know better than to allow.
Joshua 1:8 speaks clearly to the solution to any temptation we may encounter. Just as the Bible is as relevant today as it was when it was written, we can use its instruction to be successful in our Christian walk. When we fill our minds with God's Word, there will be neither room nor desire to fill our minds with the garbage of this world. As Joshua 1:8 points out, only then will we prosper and succeed in everything we do! Let us thank the Lord for His holy Word!
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. John 3:16 KJV
Every once in a while we find a succinct statement that sums up a series of themes in a neat sentence. No, we're not talking about "Lather, rinse, repeat." John 3:16 is fascinating because in one verse we find the fullness of God's message in a nutshell.
We learn that God so loved. God's love was not a pitying love of pure emotion, but a practical love. God saw our sinfulness, and He loved. He expressed His love by the greatness of the gift of His Son. When sin would drag us down to perish in the awful pit, Christ died and went there as our substitute.
Sin separated us from God. Jesus' resurrection connects us again to a life-giving God, to an eternal life where we know that God is love. By faith we enter into this relationship. In our sin, deserving of death, we could do no good works to dig ourselves out of our hole. By God's grace, He extends salvation as a gift, obtained by believing in His Son. What a message! What a gift!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV
Have you ever had to make a decision, but didn't know what to do? As Christians, we have a reliable resource for counsel. When decision-making poses a threat to our serenity and peace, Proverbs 3:5–6 provides sound advice.
First, trust in the Lord. Trusting God is fundamental to our relationship with God. And not just trusting, but doing so with everything within us.
The second bit of advice tells us to avoid the temptation to handle problems or decisions apart from God. Our thoughts and opinions are loaded with misleading personal biases. So King Solomon, author of this proverb, points us to full dependence on the wisdom of God's Word rather than human reasoning. Finally, God provides the solution to decision-making with a promise—namely, if we take all our concerns to God, He will direct our paths.
When we're tempted to act on our own wisdom, the Lord tells us to stop, reflect, and prayerfully consider each matter. He gives us uncomplicated advice for our major and not-so-major decisions. The question is, will we listen? That's the most important decision of all.
Excerpted from 365 Encouraging Verses of the Bible by Dave Christensen, Stephen Fierbaugh, Jean Fischer, Darlene Franklin, Steve Husting, Tina Krause, David McLaughlan, Paul M. Miller, Kathie Mitchell, Paul Muckley, Todd Aaron Smith, Ed Strauss, Lisa Toner, Martha Willey, Jean Wise. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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