Giving God Our Best


It’s amazing how challenges and struggles that the men and women in the Bible faced are often similar to the ones we face today. Though the setting and context can be different, the heart issue is often very much the same. Read  from the Christian Basics Bible about Haggai’s struggle to get the returning exiles to get their priorities straight.





Haggai’s central challenge was that the returning exiles simply weren’t giving God their best. Of course they needed to build homes and plant fields, but this had become the sole object of their attention. They weren’t content with simple homes but wanted luxurious houses (Haggai 1:4). These personal projects had consumed their resources, leaving little to give to God’s work, meaning that his house (the Temple) remained a ruin (1:4). So God challenged them to bring timber and rebuild his house; then he would “take pleasure in it and be honored” (1:8). Only then could he lift the curse they had brought upon themselves (1:10-11; Deuteronomy 28: 38-40).




It is always easy to rationalize not giving God our best. Here the people were saying that the time wasn’t right (Haggai 1:2). But this was just an excuse. God is realistic – he knows we need a home, clothes, and food (Matthew 6:25-32) – but Jesus said our priority is to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,” promising that “he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). When we get our priorities right, God’s provision is always released to us.





Why is the 23rd Psalm So Beloved?


Psalm 23 is the best-known psalm and the favorite biblical passage of many. Why? Because it does more than tell us that God protects, guides, and blesses. It shows us a poetic image of a powerless sheep being tended by an unfailingly careful shepherd. In a world of dangerous ditches and ravenous wolves, we need more than abstract explanations. We need pictures to hang on to. This is one of the best.

God took David from tending his father’s sheep and made him a shepherd of Israel because David was able to care for this flock with a tender heart and great skill. That tells us volumes about not only the kind of shepherd God chooses but the kind of shepherd he is. God is a zealous protector of his sheep, training us to hear his voice, leading us into pleasant pastures, and even walking with us through the darkest valleys. And he is extravagant in his goodness. He doesn’t just feed us; he prepares a feast in the presence of our enemies. He doesn’t just bless us; he fills our cup to overflowing. He doesn’t just offer his goodness and love; he pursues us with them. We aren’t simply his assignment; we are his passion—forever.


Read it again:
Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Taken from the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible.

Take a look inside this Bible.

In the King’s Court

New situations are often a challenge. Starting a new job, first day of school or moving around the world, being plucked from what we know and understand can leave us feeling vulnerable and unsettled. Read from the Wayfinding Bible about how Daniel and his friends responded after being forcefully taken from their homes and thrust into the King’s Court.


In 605 bc Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire, raids Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. He captures noblemen’s sons and princes from the royal court, draining the country of its best and brightest individuals. After bringing them back to Babylon, he indoctrinates them in the ways of his nation. Four young men—Daniel and his three friends—are among this first group of captives.

Read the first chapter of Daniel:

During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah,  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah was called Shadrach.

Mishael was called Meshach.

Azariah was called Abednego.

But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”

Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.

A glass of water macro shot

At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.

God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.

When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

Daniel remained in the royal service until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus.

Daniel and his friends were yanked out of their country and dragged off to enemy territory. They probably experienced a range of emotions—anger, fear, and grief—but their faith remained intact. Daniel obeyed God and rose to a significant position of power, authority, and influence in a hostile environment. He helped fulfill God’s purpose during seventy years of royal service. Like Daniel, we are called to remain faithful to God no matter where we live. God’s good will prevail in every nation and in every situation throughout time.


Look inside the Wayfinding Bible

Wayfinding Bible – The Backstory

I love anything that is “behind the scenes.” There used to be a show on the radio called The Rest of the Story hosted by a man named Paul Harvey. Even though I was little I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to know more. Whether building a bridge, creating Disneyland or inventing a zipper there is always a situation or personal story to go along with it. The same is often true when creating ideas for Bibles. Here at Tyndale we get the amazing opportunity to partner with people who have a passion to help others connect with God’s Word and want to break down walls that get in the way of people accessing the Bible. That’s exactly what Jeannette and Doris wanted to do with the Wayfinding Bible, eliminate the issues that often caused people to disengage with Bible reading. Here’s the “rest of their story”


The idea behind the design for The Wayfinding Bible began with a bike ride.

Jeannette knew, from talking with people over the years, that two of the main reasons Christians struggled with consistently reading the Bible had to do with its length and its confusing chronology. If only there were a study Bible that could help people navigate the narrative more effectively, then perhaps they would remain more engaged and invested. But how to do this? Jeannette and her colleague Doris wanted to create multiple levels of reading plans that would follow the storyline of scripture, but they were stuck on how to present these plans in an inviting and compelling way.


While out on her bike one day, puzzling about this Bible, a word popped into Jeannette’s head. Wayfinding. “I honestly knew right then and there that God had planted that word in my mind,” Jeannette says.

Back at her office, Jeannette researched the concept of wayfinding. One definition of “wayfinding” describes it as a system for helping people navigate a complex built environment such as a hospital, an airport, a college campus or a city. While the architect may have had a plan for the place, anyone unfamiliar with that plan can easily get frustrated and turned around. That’s where wayfinding signs come in. They help people discover the best way to navigate confusing spaces.


And what is the Bible, Jeannette thought, if not a complex built environment? There is a design and a plan behind Scripture, of course, but it’s not necessarily ordered in the most intuitive way from a reading standpoint. Wayfinding tools could help people find their way through God’s Word.

Building on this wayfinding theme, Doris and Jeannette developed three different ways to travel through the Biblical narrative. From “flyover” to “direct” to “scenic,” these routes would guide readers along their way and keep them on track.

Young man planning travel on vacation trip with map. Top view.

From there, the ideas continued to flow. They created “Getting Your Bearing” articles for key turning points in scripture, “Historical Markers” to provide helpful cultural information, and “Scenic Overlooks” when a map or diagram or infographic would be useful.

“I tell people The Wayfinding Bible wasn’t my idea or Doris’ idea. It was God’s idea that He graciously gave us to help people read His Word and not get lost or frustrated.”

The foundational verses for The Wayfinding Bible perfectly outline this Bible’s purpose:

Show me the right path, O Lord;

    point out the road for me to follow.

Lead me by your truth and teach me,

    for you are the God who saves me.

    All day long I put my hope in you.

                                           Ps. 25: 4 & 5


Learn more about the Wayfinding Bible

You can follow the Wayfinding Bible on Instagram and Facebook too.

Are You a Basic Believer?

The world goes by at a million miles an hour, and it seems to go faster and become more complicated at every turn. It’s not at all hard to get distracted, disgruntled, and even disillusioned. We chase so hard after the things that we think we are supposed to—success, respect, love, money, whatever. We adopt the causes that we are supposed to adopt, get outraged over the latest injustice that we are supposed to be outraged about. And next week it all changes.

Somewhere along the way, the routines and cares of the world have distracted us. We have forgotten the reality of our faith. In all the business of life our faith threatens to float away like dandelion seeds in the wind. We need a firm foundation.


We need to get back to basics.

The Christian Basics Bible reminds us what our faith is all about in the first place.

Becoming a Christian is not about deciding to live better, trying to be more holy, going to church, or following certain religious practices or behaviors. It is about beginning a personal relationship with God. Religious rules and duties will always end up tying us up, as Jesus often reminded the highly religious Pharisees of his day. Jesus came not to tie us up but to set us free (see, e.g., John 8:31-32; Galatians 5:1). He came with good news (the meaning of the word “gospel”); and this good news is that ordinary people—even people who feel unworthy or have failed or have done bad things—can know God personally and live in harmony with him. (pg. A11)

That’s a pretty “back to basics” truth right there. It’s also unbelievably freeing if we take the time to actually read it, digest it, and be changed by it. But the business of life, even the trappings of our faith, can rob us of this truth.


So how can we make a practice of getting back to basics, of being a “basic believer”? There are a lot of good answers to that question, but here’s a starting point, a first step if you will. In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul is writing to his young apprentice Timothy. Timothy is pastoring a church in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was rich, influential, and cosmopolitan. It was a center of religion and commerce and the most important city in the Roman province of Asia. It was the place to be. In fact, minus the technology, it probably had a lot of similarities to the crazy lives we lead today. But the church there had all kinds of problems. Here’s what Paul tells Timothy:

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

Here’s what the Christian Basics Bible says about this passage:

[A] lack of studying the Scripture has led the Ephesian church to be led astray by every new idea that came along. So Paul urges Timothy to keep studying Scripture so he can use it to correct error and explain the truth (4:2-5).

We need this book because it is not like any other book, secular or sacred. It is “inspired by God” (3:16). That is, God’s Spirit directed the thoughts of its writers so that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted written. The Bible is therefore God’s revelation to us—revealing his nature, heart, and purposes—and his invitation to join in his story. (pg. 1387)

all bibles

You’re probably not a pastor like Timothy and may never be, but the advice still stands. The only way Timothy could teach others was to be captured by the truth himself, to really know it. Getting back to the basics of our faith and of our relationship with God starts with getting back into his Word.

I want to be a basic believer. How about you?

Find out more about the Christian Basics Bible.

-Kevin O’Brien is the brand manager for Study Bibles and Reference at Tyndale Bibles.