Pursuing Freedom

Serenity Prayer Devotional from the Life Recovery Bible

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Amen

“The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’ ‘Sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.’ Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.’” Judges 6:12-16.

We may begin to believe that we are destined to bondage, poverty, and failure. When we persist in this view of our life, we give up the possibility of change. We settle for just trying to survive. We live in fear and shame, filling up with resentment as our life remains in the pit. We need to overcome these kinds of negative assumptions about ourselves.

Our first impression of Gideon is of a discouraged young man with little self-respect. His family was the poorest in a small tribe, and he was the least in his family. We first see him as he was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding the little grain he had from his Midianite oppressors. An angel appeared and called to him, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12). Gideon didn’t look or feel like a mighty hero, but God could see his potential. By the end of the story, Gideon had become the deliverer of his people (Judges 6–8). His first step toward success was to see himself as God saw him—a mighty warrior. Then he was able to hope in the possibility of freedom.

We, too, must begin by finding the courage to see ourselves in a new light and to summon up hope for a better life. Then as God gives us the strength, we can set about pursuing freedom from the bondage that surrounds us and our family.

Bondage Breaker

“I was so excited when I got my Bible. I’ve spent the whole day reading it along with some other girls and I already feel closer to Jesus.” – Crystal

Crystal’s words challenge me. I love the Bible, but when was the last time I spent the whole day reading it? Am I still excited when I go to open God’s Word, or has it become a mundane routine? Crystal’s words challenge me because we have very different lives. I wake up each morning and choose what to wear, what to have for breakfast, and when to open the door and walk outside. As a prisoner, Crystal doesn’t have those or many other choices. But the choice we both have is to follow Christ and grow in our relationship with him through his Word.

Through our partnership with Prison Fellowship we have been able to get The Life Recovery Bible into the hands of thousands of prisoners like Crystal who are in prison but hunger for the hope in God’s Word. At no charge to the prisoner they are able to receive a special edition Life Recovery Bible in English or Spanish through the Prison Fellowship ministry. Many of these men and women have been enslaved by addiction. Whether it’s an illegal substance, power, money, or something else, that desire is overwhelming and they’ve risked everything while in its deadly grip.

But God’s Word is a bondage breaker! Through his grace and saving blood we are no longer slaves. The Bible is filled with stories of people who needed second chances. We all have times when we have struggled and needed God to forgive us and allow us to start again.

“Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:13, NLT).

Here are some examples of people who have found new life while reading The Life Recovery Bible and are living out the transforming power of God’s Word.

Delivered from the Sting of Spiritual Death

Bound by sin, my life a mess.
Taken by trials, I failed the test.

A slave to drugs that kept me in chains.
Smoking and shooting was burning my brain.

That list hit of dope should have been the final blow.
But because of God’s love, mercy said “No!”

I ended up in prison. It should have been the end.
Then God sent me Jesus, my heart He will mend.

I found true love from my Creator and Lord.
So I walk with him, my Helmet, Breastplate, and Sword

This might sound strange but take it from me.
I had to come to prison so I could be free.

“I was in a long, deep prayer to God. It was a very difficult day, and I was praying for comfort, for strength, just crying out to my Abba Father. I asked him to fill me with his Holy Spirit. With my eyes still puffy and red from crying, my heart still bleeding and aching, I saw an officer come to my cell door and place a new Life Recovery Bible in my hands. God heard me. He came to me. He held me. He showered me with His great, powerful, sovereign love. God always knows what we need when we need it.” –Melody

“I put my Bible to good use every day. I spread the seeds of God’s Word and even started a small group of believers. We get together and love to read God’s Word daily. Thanks to the powerful notes and information in The Life Recovery Bible,we’re able to have a better understanding of the Bible.” –Tylor

Find out how you can get involved with Prison Fellowship

The Beginning of it All

Article from the New Believer’s Bible

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5, NLT

Eventually every child gets around to asking the question, “Where did God come from?” And there is no easy answer for that, except to say, God has always existed. He is self-existent. He already existed in the beginning. God has no beginning, nor does he have an end.

It is worth noting that the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It just says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). You can’t go back any further than that! Now, certain people would like to eliminate the major player here. They’d rather the verse read, “In the beginning, the heavens and the earth . . .” But if we eliminate God, then we have a big problem. In the beginning . . . what?

Some would say, “In the beginning, a mass of gases was floating in space.” But that’s not the beginning. Where did the mass of gases come from? Where did space come from? The Bible simply says, “In the beginning God.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us when the beginning was; it just says God was already there. And here, John tells us that the Word, Jesus Christ, already existed in the beginning with God ( John 1:2). He was with God, he was God, and God created everything through him ( John 1:1, 3).

Sometimes we speak of God by describing his attributes: omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, sovereignty, truth, righteousness, holiness, and love. While these descriptions can help, if you really want to know what God is like, then look at Jesus—God in human form. Jesus did not represent God as a glorified man; he was God himself among us, the Messiah in human flesh, God with skin on. God has a face. Jesus, who embodied all of God’s attributes, walked our planet as a man and breathed our air and felt our pain. He was so knowledgeable he could predict future events, so humble he could get on his knees and wash a friend’s dirty feet, so powerful he could calm the wind and waves with just a word, so approachable that children laughingly climbed into his arms. In Jesus, God spelled himself out in language that every one of us can understand.

Suffering in Christian Perspective

Article from the NLT Study Bible

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, ‘If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?’ So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:12-19, NLT

First Peter is focused almost exclusively on Christian suffering, especially unjust persecution at the hands of people hostile to the faith. The several themes about suffering that are woven throughout the letter find their climactic expression in 1 Peter 4:12-19. Peter makes the following points about suffering:

1.We should not be surprised when suffering comes (4:12). Christians who live a countercultural lifestyle in obedience to God should expect the culture to respond with hostility. We should expect mockery, discrimination, trumped-up charges, and even violence.

2. God has a purpose for us in suffering: It brings us into fellowship with Christ, who suffered before he was glorified (4:13; see also Rom 8:17).

3. By suffering in fellowship with Christ, we can be confident of enjoying the glory that he has already won (4:13; see Rom 8:17).

4. We need to commit ourselves to doing what is right when we face suffering (4:19). Our difficulties can always provide an excuse for sinning, but when difficulties come our way, we must live exemplary Christian lives, characterized by love for others.

5. Our loving response to enemies in the midst of trials can be a powerful opportunity to share our faith. By treating our persecutors with love and kindness, we can make our faith respectable and even attractive to them.

6. We need to remember in our trials that God is both sovereign and faithful (4:19). He controls all the circumstances of life, and we don’t need to fear that a trial will come our way apart from God’s oversight or will.

Beautiful Worship

by Amanda H., Bible Journaler

I love to Bible journal. I find myself these days spending any spare time I have, sitting at my table thirsting for time in his word. Ever since I discovered Bible journaling, I have a hunger for God’s word like I have never had before. I am so thankful for this community and for what it has taught me.  I have many journaling Bibles but the one I always reach for these days is my NLT Reflections Bible. I have the hardcover cloth, teal version. This is actually my second one that I’ve had. The first one, I sent off as a Traveling Bible to be journaled in by ladies all over the United States and eventually gifted to a family who lost their daughter to cancer. It was such a special gift!

Bible journaling is a way for me to connect with my Savior. It’s a form of worship for me. It allows me to meditate on his word and grow creatively while I study it. When I begin my journaling process, I pray over the verse I’m journaling and ask the Lord to speak to me. I always have my worship music keyed up as well. This is another way for me to connect with him. With the music going, prayers being said, meditating on the verses, it’s an amazing time to spend being creative!! Whether it’s using stamps, watercolors, printables, acrylic paints, or distress oxides (my absolute favorites), it’s time spent in his word.

I love how the Reflections Bible has white pages because all the colors and designs just seem to pop off the pages and when you highlight the verses, it seems to show up even more.  After I am finished with creating, I will usually write a small prayer, date my entry (I hope to pass my Bibles on to my family someday for them to enjoy, that’s why I date them, plus I like to look back on the entries and see where the Lord has brought me from on those days), and close with prayer. If I decide to share that particular page with social media, I’ll snap a picture sometime after. It’s time well spent, I’ve learned a new verse or revisited an old one. I’ve been able to use my creative skills and I’ve had alone time with my Savior all rolled up into one. My heart couldn’t be fuller!

The Reflections Bible has another favorite of mine, it’s in the NLT translation. When I’m reading or listening on audio to the Bible, it’s one of my favorite translations to use. It’s so easy to understand and still holds true to the original text. If you look on Tyndale.com, you can read in detail how they have translated the Bible, what process what used, ancient texts, and much more information is given. I love to read the history and know in detail about the translations I read. This is why NLT is one of my favorites. 

For more inspiration from Amanda follow her on Instagram @journalingandgrace

Learn more about the NLT Reflections Bible

14 Reasons We Heart Bible Journaling

We could go on forever about how much we love creative Bible journaling. It’s so much more than coloring or drawing or expressing our faith—it’s worship! It’s our personal response on the page to what God is doing in our hearts. As you may know, Bible journaling has become a deeply treasured devotional practice for many. It is drawing people into Scripture like never before. Journaling Bibles are not sitting on shelves collecting dust. Scripture is being read, meditated on, studied, prayed over, colored, embellished, and responded to!

God speaks to us through the Bible, and faith is strengthened, wisdom is gained, truth is proclaimed, wounds are healed, minds are transformed, relationships are mended, hurts are forgiven, hearts are surrendered, courage and strength grow, and so much more! God’s Love is flooding into hearts as people meditate on his Word, and God’s Truth is spilling off the page and out into the world!

We invite you to indulge in the 14 reasons why we LOVE Bible journaling! We also invite you to try it for yourself. You might discover you’re a lot more creative than you think, or it might open up a whole new way for you to read and engage with Scripture that radically transforms your time with God! One thing is for sure: God’s Word never returns void.

1. The Bible was written for you and me to read and study and learn from. Bible journaling is a fun way to respond to what we’ve read. God’s Word is alive and powerful!

2. God speaks to us through the Bible, and no matter how many times we’ve read our Bibles, there is always a fresh word or perspective or learning. No two journaling Bibles are ever alike.

3. Bible journaling is an act of worship and can even be done in community!

4. Being creative in our Bibles draws us deeper into God’s Word and helps us remember the truths that we learn so we can apply them to our lives.

5. It’s 100% meaningful; time spent in God’s Word never returns void.

6. It’s a creative process that calls out the creativity God gave you. You were made in his image. He is creative, and so are you!

7. It’s a unique way to study God’s Word. We can express ourselves to God and discover God’s truth in a new and exciting way.

8. It’s a great way to share your legacy of faith with your children or grandchildren and can even become a family tradition.

9. It encourages time in God’s Word.

10. It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be meaningful.

11. It’s a way to reflect our hearts to our Creator and to respond to what God is doing in our hearts through his Word.

12. Bible journaling is colorful! Our colorful Bibles are beautiful reflections of our time spent in God’s Word! We can go back to them time and again and revisit the pages we’ve journaled for encouragement and as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

13. We are inspired by God’s Word!

14. It’s fun!

Click on the images below to download some pages from our journaling Bibles and try creating Bible journaling for yourself.

NLT Reflections:

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Inspire PRAISE:

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One Year Expressions:

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One Year Reflections:

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The Accidental Bible

How the Christian Basics Bible came about

By Mike Beaumont, editor of the Christian Basics Bible

Penicillin, saccharine, Coca-Cola, the microwave oven and the pacemaker…all have one thing in common: they all came about by accident, discovered when someone found something that they weren’t originally looking for. And that’s how the Christian Basics Bible came about.

It all started with my being deported from India….

After more than 25 years of working with churches, leaders and seminaries in India, I landed at Chennai to find that I had been ‘red flagged’ and was promptly put back on the very plane from which I had just disembarked. Over those 25 years, I had made hundreds of friends – one of them, a seminary student from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) with whom I had become particularly close when his father suddenly died and, as acting principal of his seminary at that time, was able to help him get back home to his family in that time of need. That moment forged a link between us that lasts to this day. When he graduated, he returned to Myanmar where he became a lecturer at a seminary in Yangon. After much pestering, he persuaded me to go there as a visiting professor – and so began my love for Myanmar and its many different peoples.

As it happens, my long-standing friend and co-author of Christian Basics Bible (CBB), Martin Manser, also has a link with Myanmar since he married a Burmese woman. And it was this love of Myanmar on both our parts that would lead to the production of CBB.

It was while Martin was in Yangon visiting his wife’s family on one occasion that he met the Director of Christian Literature Crusade Myanmar. Knowing  Martin was an author and editor of many years’ experience, he shared with him his longing for some kind of Study Bible in the Burmese language, since there wasn’t a single one at that time, and wondered whether Martin might be able to help. Martin promised to give it some thought. And as he did, two things came to mind. First, he remembered that he had written some short introductions to the books of the Bible some years earlier, but nothing had come of the material. Second, he reflected on how he and I had collaborated on writing projects for over 20 years. Suddenly, the light went on. What if he put those two things together?

When he got back home, he contacted me, asking whether I would be interested in partnering with him in producing the first ever Study Bible in the Burmese language. As we prayed about it and discussed the idea further, we began to get really excited and felt this was something that God wanted us to do. For us in the West, where there is a plethora of Bible translations and editions, it’s hard to grasp what it is like for many Christians in the world where they often only have one basic translation, often without any notes or helps of any kind in it. This was certainly the case in Myanmar, where there was only one Bible text  – the Judson Bible, produced in 1834 and without a single footnote or comment in it. Even worse, there had been no revisions of that 1834 text; so many of the words in it were now simply quite meaningless in modern Burmese. So CLC got to work slightly updating the Bible text, while Martin and I got to work at our end – Martin using his skills as an editor to plan and shape the material, me using my skills as a writer to start producing the content – introductions to each Bible book and notes on key themes every 6 or 7 chapters or so. The publisher had requested we keep the material simple and compact, yet comprehensive – quite a challenge! And, of course, it had to be culturally relevant for Myanmar where some issues arise that just aren’t tissues in the West. After lots of hard work, we are glad to say that the Myanmar Study Bible was finally in the hands of Christians there – the first Study Bible in the Burmese language.

But what, I hear you thinking, does all this have to do with Christian Basics Bible?

Because this is where the penicillin and saccharin and Coca-Cola come in. For it was while we were working on this project for Myanmar that the idea of CBB was born. One day, during a phone conversation about the project, Martin suddenly said to me, “You know, this material is really good. I’m sure there is potential for it being used much more widely.” And immediately, I knew that he was right. For there we were, trying to express what are often complex and profound spiritual truths in simple ways for Myanmar Christians, when many in the West were in need of exactly the same thing. In fact, I had been greatly exercised for a number of years as a pastor by the fact that more and more people in the West were becoming more and more ignorant of even the most basic Bible stories (let alone doctrines). And so when they became Christians, they brought very little, if any, of the Bible background that people of a generation ago would have brought, making the Bible so much harder to understand.

And so we began to dream. What if we were to produce an edition of the Bible that was especially written for people who came to faith with little or no Bible background? What if we were to write things in really simple way, avoiding ‘Christianese’ and technical language that those of us who have been Christians for many years so often take for granted and use without thinking? …

And so we began to draft an outline of what would become known as Christian Basics Bible. It would have some introductory essays on things like how to become a Christian and how to read the Bible; each Bible book would begin with a simple summary of what it was all about and what the reader should look for as they read it; there would be notes, but not too many so we didn’t overwhelm the reader, focusing on key ideas, people and events; it would have sections at the back, with a glossary to explain words whose meaning we often take for granted, and a section outlining some of the basic truths of the Bible,  to help people know where to look when they were thinking about various issues. We then produced some sample material to show the kind of thing we were thinking of, and sent it off to Tyndale.

We can’t tell you how happy we were when we got an immediate positive response from them!  (Any author will tell you they often expect at least ten rejections before any publisher even starts to show an interest.)  Tyndale was excited by our concept and asked if we could meet senior staff members who were due to pass through London England soon. And so, over lunch in a London hotel, CBB was born. Like Coca-Cola, by accident.

Over the next couple of years, Martin and I devoted much of our time to the project, writing and re-writing until we got the tone that we wanted – pastorally warm; simple yet Biblically accurate; written in language for people who hadn’t been exposed to the Bible before; seeking to be as neutral as possible over issues over which equally-lovely Bible-believing Christians have genuine disagreements so that it could be used by the widest possible base; and, of course, based on the easy-to-read New Living Translation. Yes, I know some Christians don’t like this edition because they think it isn’t close enough to the original text. Well, it is close – it just uses a different translation principle: what is known as ‘dynamic equivalence’ rather than ‘word for word’. And since it is designed for people who have little or no Bible background, it is so much easier for them to read and understand in comparison to versions like KJV or NASB or even NIV.

As the final edited text started drawing to a conclusion, Tyndale’s design department got busy, producing some amazing info-graphics for the back of the Bible. Then they asked for our input on its cover. I said I didn’t really mind how it looked – providing it didn’t say ‘Holy Bible’ and have a cross on the front! If that shocks you, then please remember the purpose of CBB: to be an edition for new believers from little or no Christian background, not primarily for those who had been Christians for a long time for whom such things have become the norm. (And anyway, the original Bible texts didn’t say ‘Holy Bible’ and have a cross on them!). And so we came up with the idea of a cover with three building blocks, reflecting what had become something of a sub-title for CBB: Foundations of the faith for followers of Christ.

What a joy it was to hold my very first copy in my hands, some three years after that Coca-Cola moment!

Since its launch Christian Basics Bible has been well-received. Those who have recently become Christians and who come from little or no Christian background, have found it easy to read and understand. But also those who have been Christians for many years have find its approach and simplicity refreshing, commenting on how they have now understood things in the Bible that have passed them by for years.

So there it is: the Bible that came about ‘by accident’. But many of the things that come about ‘by accident’ prove to have enduring popularity. Our prayer is that this might be true of Christian Basics Bible.

Watch this video to learn more about the Christian Basics Bible

Take a look inside the Christian Basics Bible

1 Samuel: A Catalog of Lives to Learn From

Book Introduction from the Life Recovery Bible

The book of 1 Samuel begins with the birth of the prophet Samuel and ends with the death of King Saul. It contains a catalog of lives for us to learn from—some exemplary, others not. Samuel was born in the time of the judges, when “people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). The people were far from God. Eli was high priest, but the flaws in his leadership can be seen in the dysfunctions of his own family. Since Israel lacked strong spiritual leadership, God chose Samuel and prepared him to lead the Israelites back to God.

Near the end of Samuel’s ministry, the people demanded a king; they wanted to be like the surrounding nations. God was not pleased with Israel’s demand, but he chose Saul to lead them anyway. Saul, though a man of great potential, was self-centered and disobedient; he never achieved what God had intended for him.

While Saul was still king, Samuel anointed David to be the next king. David became a national hero by killing Goliath, and he won numerous other great battles with God’s help. But when Saul realized that David was in line for the throne, he was consumed by bitterness and tried to kill him.

Finally, faced with defeat in battle, Saul took his own life. This book portrays some who moved toward God and toward wholeness and others who moved away from God and toward disaster. Jealousy, bitterness, and disobedience destroyed the life of King Saul. But forgiveness, trust, and obedience brought David great success. This book clearly shows that the only way to wholeness is by trusting and obeying God and following his program.


PURPOSE: To track Israel’s transition from the period of the judges to the era of kingly rule. AUTHOR: Unknown, but probably most of it was written by Samuel. Nathan and Gad were also contributors. AUDIENCE: The people of Israel. DATE WRITTEN: The book was probably started during Samuel’s lifetime and finished around 930 b.c. SETTING: In Israel, between 1120 and 971 b.c. KEY VERSE: “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice” (15:22). KEY PLACES: Shiloh, Gilgal, Ramah, Bethlehem, Gath, Adullam, Hebron, the wilderness of Judah, Ziklag, Endor, Beth-shan. KEY PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS: Samuel and Eli, Samuel and Saul, and Samuel and David.

The authors of the Life Recovery Bible have recently released four workbooks that meet the needs of people dealing with compulsive behaviors that go beyond alcohol and substance abuse. These workbooks complemenThe Life Recovery Bible and focus on developing a biblical foundation for both understanding and successfully overcoming specific areas of struggle. Learn more