What the Lord Sees

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT

Note from the Life Application Study Bible

Saul was tall and handsome—an impressive-looking man. Samuel may have been trying to find someone who looked like Saul to be Israel’s next king, but God warned him against judging by appearance. When people judge by outward appearance, they may overlook quality individuals who lack the particular physical qualities society currently admires. But appearance doesn’t reveal what people are really like or what their true value is.

Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not appearance. And because only God can see what’s on the inside, only he can accurately judge people. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner character. While everyone can see your face, only you and God know what your heart really looks like. What steps are you taking to improve the attractiveness of your heart in God’s eyes?

Learn more about the Life Application Study Bible

Finding and Living a New Life

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

Raised in a home of drug addicts, Tim Nickels saw getting high as just part of the daily routine. He remembers the first time he realized his homelife was different from that of other families.

“When I was in first grade, my dad got high with my teacher. When I told my friends, my teacher was fired. My dad told me that I couldn’t talk about it and that our lifestyle was a secret. Even at that young age, I started to realize that something was wrong.”

But Tim didn’t heed that warning in his heart. He followed in his dad’s footsteps and started living in addiction. But although he was chained to drugs and alcohol, he had the desire to break free, and he tried numerous times on his own to get clean and start over.

During one fitful night, he had a dream about hell that shook him to his core. He woke up sweating and crying. A new craving started to overtake him—a craving for a relationship with Christ. He desperately wanted to know about him, so he turned to a King James Version Bible that was sitting on a shelf in his house.

“I got so frustrated that I couldn’t understand it,” remembers Tim. “But then a woman gave me a Life Application Study Bible, and it blew me away. It was like a whole new world had been opened up to me. A Bible translation I could understand, and then notes, books introductions, commentary—I just devoured it! I couldn’t get enough.”

After pouring over the Bible, he knew that he needed to get involved in a church. He found a local congregation and attended a service where an evangelist was preaching.

Tim’s son was dedicated by the pastor who helped him find new life in Christ

“I surrendered right there to Jesus, and he took away my desire for drugs and alcohol. I had tried over and over again on my own, but it was only in Jesus that I found true freedom. Twenty-five years later, I’m still free.”

Tim continued to read his Life Application Study Bible and was drawn to 1 Samuel 16:7: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

“This spoke to me,” Tim recalls. “God can use anyone if they are willing.”

God was about to make his plan very clear to Tim.

“My pastor told me that he thought God was calling me to be a pastor. Me? I was so scared. I thought, I can’t do this! But I followed his will for my life, and I am so thankful!” Now Tim has been a pastor for over twenty years, and he currently leads a church in Kentucky.

Tim’s love of the Bible has continued to grow. He even has a YouTube channel where he reviews Bibles. Though he reads lots of translations, he has a special place in his heart for the New Living Translation.

“It is definitely one of my top recommendations for anyone who is struggling to understand the Bible,” says Tim. “And yes, I recommend the Life Application Study Bible to many who are trying to understand how to live out what the Bible says. I am an example of how God can use any of us if we submit to him and keep our eyes focused on him.”

Learn more about the Life Application Study Bible

Remaining in Christ

Article from the NLT Study Bible

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4, NLT

One of Jesus’ favorite words was meno¯, often translated “remain,” “stay,” or “abide.” It describes a profound, intimate, and enduring relationship. For example, Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to [meno¯ en, ‘stay in’] my teachings” (8:31).

The idea is that a disciple’s life is fully formed by Jesus’ word. Jesus described how the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (14:10- 11). Likewise, when we remain in Christ, the Son is in us and we are in the Father and the Son (17:21). Both the Father and the Son come and make their home within his disciples. This mutual indwelling is precisely what it means that the disciple remains in Christ. We cannot gain the permanence of our relationship by our own effort; this relationship is only made permanent by the gracious initiative of God indwelling our lives through his Spirit.

This means commitment on the part of both God and the disciple. The mutual indwelling between God and the believer is not a fleeting or temporary commitment, but an enduring, permanent, and eternal relationship.

Take a look inside the NLT Study Bible

Why Is the Word Bribe Used in Proverbs 17:8?

We love hearing how people are digging into God’s Word which often leads to questions about a translations choice. We recently received a question about Proverbs 17:8 and wanted to share the response from our translation team.

Q: Proverbs 17:8 says “A bribe is like a lucky charm, whoever gives one will prosper.” Should it not say “A Gift is like a lucky charm, whoever gives one will prosper?”

A: This is a good question, and there isn’t an easy answer for it.

The rendering our reader suggests (replacing “bribe” with “gift”) is a possible one, and this would certainly make Proverbs 17:8 easier for modern readers to swallow. In the ancient context, some bribes were essentially an expected gift and the means of getting transactions done. This is clearly stated in Proverbs 18:16, where the common term for “gift” (matan) appears, and we translate the term there as “gift.” It’s possible that 17:8 could be understood in this way, as it’s certainly true both in the ancient context and ours, and “gift” is in the semantic domain of the term here (shokhad). However, since the terminology is different in 17:8 from what appears in 18:16, the translation team believes it points us a different direction that could allow interpretation in a more negative direction.

As translated in the NLT and many other translations, 17:8 isn’t necessarily giving good advice, since bribes are sometimes clearly shown in a negative light when they lead to injustice (see 17:23, just a few verses later, where shokhad appears again). So in this potentially negative light, 17:8 could very well be simply describing the way bribes worked in the ancient context (not necessarily advice to be followed). This is true of many of the proverbs. In 17:8, the offering of a bribe could be a good thing or a clearly bad thing, depending on the motives of the one who gives the bribe. It could reflect either the situation in 17:23 or the situation in 18:16. So this verse is likely simply observing a truth—bribes are effective, for good or for ill.

This highlights an interpretive principle for approaching the proverbs. Many proverbs clearly offer godly advice (and in such cases, righteousness and godliness are clearly associated), but some proverbs clearly just state the way things work in society. For this reason, all the proverbs should be carefully interpreted in the broader scriptural context, allowing the rest of Scripture to lend perspective on interpretation

What If Bibles Could Talk?

Who Wrote the Psalms?

The Psalms are some of the most beloved Scriptures. They were they hymnal of the Israelites and continue to be an important part of worship today. But who wrote the Psalms? Let’s find out from the Life Application Study Bible.

David wrote many of the psalms, but not all of them. We know of at least six other musicians who wrote the psalms in this book because their names are provided at the top of each psalm they wrote. Other psalm writers received no lasting credit for their efforts. Perhaps receiving lasting credit for the Kingdom contributions we make is not important either. God knows and will remember.

Learn more about the Life Application Study Bible.

Inspire Prayer Bible Ambassador Spotlight: Lynn

Over the course of the next several months we are going to shine the spotlight on some of our Inspire Prayer Bible Ambassadors as a way to encourage all of us to keep living boldly for Jesus and to shine his light brightly wherever God has us!

Meet Lynn. She is one of our Inspire Prayer Bible Ambassadors. We asked her to tell us a little bit about herself in the interview below. She and so many other Bible journalers are using their gifts and passions as ambassadors for Christ. God has called all of us to draw others into greater awareness of his abounding love and grace and truth.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Lynn: I am a wife, mother and a follower of Christ. I live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Alberta Canada in a little farmhouse along the river. I have two amazing grown children, and three furbabies who keep me company in my studio. I love to Bible journal and participate in Bible studies with my family and friends.

What are some of your favorite hobbies? (Besides Bible journaling in your Inspire Bible, of course!)

Lynn: I love to read, bake, cook, take hikes in the mountains, spend time with my family and walks with the pups along the river.

Tell us when you first encountered God and how your choice to follow him has impacted your life.

Lynn: Since I was small, my family attended church and I went to a Christian school. When I got married, we continued our faith by raising our family in the church. God has always been part of my life. In following Christ, my life and faith have been enriched in so many ways. Prayer being a big part of my daily life. My motto is “Let Go and Let God”. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I turn to Him for guidance, comfort and strength. I know that I am never alone as He walks along side of me each and every day.

Who (or what) has had the biggest influence on helping you grow in your faith?

Lynn: Where I live there are only eight houses in the valley, and all of our neighbors are Christians. We started a weekly Bible study together which really helps me stay focused on His word and His message as we gather together to read and study. We have even nicknamed ourselves The River Sisters. We encourage, support and pray for each other, taking time to talk, walk and have coffee dates. We are truly a community of faith right here in this little river valley.

How has Bible journaling impacted your faith?

Lynn: I grew up reading the Bible, but I will honestly say my faith took a gigantic leap when I started Bible Journaling. I find that as I journal or create in my Bible, I reflect on the Scripture. It’s not just reading; it’s immersing myself in His word for longer periods of time and bringing His word to life through art.

When did you first start Bible journaling?

Lynn: My sister got me started Bible Journaling. I had been scrapbooking for years, and when I saw her Bible, I immediately went home, ordered a journaling Bible and sharpened up my pencil crayons. After about six months, I started creating elements for journaling which lead me to create a Facebook group and a little Etsy shop. The community of women that I have met has been such a blessing in my life and I love spending my days learning and growing with the community through studies and art.

Do you have any tips to share about how to stay close to God each day?

Lynn: Before I open my eyes, I say a morning prayer and then I feel ready to take on the day. Whether it’s reading, studying or creating, it’s the first thing I try to do each day. It keeps me focused on Him. Even if it’s five minutes, it warms my soul. In the evening before bed, I pray a prayer of thanks for my blessings and lessons I’ve learned that day. In creative worship, always remember it’s not what you do, or how you do it, just do it for Him. He loves you and created you to be unique.

Who is your favorite person in the Bible and why?

Lynn: I love many people in the Bible, but Jeremiah is one of my favorites. He was a prophet that had such an important message from God. He was such a faithful servant whose life was not an easy one, and he has such depth and dimension in his messages. He was not always well received when spreading Gods message, but he was determined and His faith was unwavering.  To me he was such a shining light in a dark time.

What Bible verse would you like to encourage others with today?

Lynn: This Bible verse from Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse. It has brought me such comfort throughout my journey of faith.

“‘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.'”

Would you like to say a prayer for the person reading this right now?

Lynn: Dear Lord, shine your light on your faithful servant today. Bring them comfort in trying times, strength to endure and hope for the future. Guide them in their journey of faith, walk alongside them today so they can feel your presence. Gather them into your loving arms. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Connect with us and Lynn on Instagram:

Be inspired! @theinspirebible

Lynn: @lynn.shoko

Want to meet another Inspire Prayer ambassador? Check out our interview with Riley.

My Story: Filament Bible

“When I saw the Filament Bible and the lady at the Carpenter Shop Christian Bookstore, in Sanford, NC. explained it to me I got so excited because I knew it would help me study the Bible. My husband is a new Christian and if I can’t answer a question for him I can find the answer in this new Bible. I really enjoy reading it and have told all my friends about it.” Judy D., North Carolina

Hosea 11: Hands-On Bible Activity

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.” Hosea 11:1-4, NLT

Activity from the Hands-On Bible

The people of Israel were God’s children, but they had turned away from him. Did God turn away from them?

No! Read all of HOSEA 11 to see how God describes himself as a parent. Cool, huh?

Here’s a doll to make that will remind you that God wants you to be his child!

Take a 3×5-inch cardboard, and wrap yarn around it lengthwise 50 times. Thread a piece of yarn through the top of your wrapped yarn and tie it off. Slide the yarn off the cardboard.

Then wrap yarn around the cardboard widthwise 25 times. Tie it off, and slide your yarn off the cardboard.

To make a doll, take your first bundle of yarn, and tie off a head about 1 1⁄2 inches from the top. Take the second bundle, and thread it through the middle of the first bundle to make arms. Tie off your doll at the waist.

Separate the loops into two legs, and tie off the foot on each leg.

Read Hosea 11 again. Your “child of God” doll can help you remember that God loves you.

Learn more about the Hands-On Bible

Spotlight: Inspire Prayer Bible

Challenging circumstances often drive us deeper into Scripture and into more fervent prayer as we turn to God for wisdom, hope, peace, and strength.

We are God’s ambassadors in a world that can greatly benefit from knowing him, and his light shines brightest in the darkness!

Staying grounded in truth and enduring in prayer equips us to bring glory to God no matter what challenges we face.

Draw near to God through his Word and through prayer with the all-new Inspire Prayer Bible!

James 5:16 tells us, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Special features of the all-new Inspire Prayer Bible include:

  • Even more space in the extra-wide three-inch margins for note-taking, journaling, or original art
  • 400 all-new full- and partial- page Scripture line-art illustrations to color
  • 142 prayer prompts tied to margin line-art illustrations
  • 32 colorful, beautifully designed prayer vellum pages
  • Thicker Bible paper that is great for journaling
  • Two ribbon markers
  • Two beautiful cover design options

Create a beautiful spiritual legacy and record your prayers in this special edition of Inspire!

TYNDALE, Tyndale’s quill logo, New Living Translation, NLT, the New Living Translation logo, Inspire, and LeatherLike are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Ministries. Extrabiblical artwork, cover design, and product design of Inspire copyright © 2017 by Three Streams Publishers, Ltd.