“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” John 10:14-16, NLT.
Being called sheep doesn’t carry much prestige. Sheep can be pretty clueless and helpless. We’d probably much rather choose to be known as something noble—like a lion, a cheetah, or an eagle.
But we’re called sheep because we tend to wander, we get lost, and we need constant protection and provision. The real blessing in all this is that we get to have a Great Shepherd.
He’s not just an okay shepherd; he’s not doing it for a hidden reason. He loves to look after his silly sheep, and we definitely benefit from his care.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5, NLT
Sickness, war, accidents, natural disasters, tragedies—they come indiscriminately to the just and the unjust,
the Christian and the non-Christian, the moral and the immoral. If God is so good and all-powerful, why doesn’t he just wipe out evil things in this world? This question often arises after a tragedy, especially when it affects people we think should be protected from such things. God originally created the world perfect. But he also gave human beings the freedom to choose to obey him or to disobey him. When Adam sinned, death and suffering became an inevitable part of life (see Romans 5:12).
God will allow many events to come into our lives—good things, bad things; things that make sense, things that make no sense at all. Every one of these incidents serves as a part of his plan for us. Tragedy in itself is never good. But in his grace, God can take tragedy and hardship and use them for his glory. As God’s children, we know that God loves us and protects us. And when we experience more than we can handle, we can rely on God’s strength to get us through it. For this reason, we can rejoice even “when we run into problems and trials” (Romans 5:
3). We have the assurance that God is working in our lives to strengthen and develop our characters.
When something unexpected comes into the picture, we may wonder if God is paying attention. That’s when we need to realize that God is painting on a large canvas. He is looking at the big picture. We see only what is in front of us at the given moment.
When we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, we entered into the master plan that God has for us. He has promised to make everything work together for the good of those who love him (see Romans 8:28). Not just the good things—everything.
When we think of the Bible, we often relate it to our own personal quiet time with God or maybe to a special gift that could encourage a loved one into a deeper conversation with God. But have you thought about the Bible as a way to connect with your community? Looking to come together as a church in God’s Word or want to make an impact in your broader community, here are a few ideas:
Streetlights New Testament brings audio and print together in an exciting new format. Working with our friends at Streetlights Bible, we have been able to create a Bible portion that resonates with the urban generation. With the scan of a QR code, readers link to remarkably creative study content and audio resources that explain Christian truth and serve as a basic discipleship tool. Its unique tone and approach to the gospel have a strong appeal to many who are searching for an unconventional way to connect with God’s Word.
Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience was created for reading in community. The entire Bible is split into six volumes complete with reading plans, videos, and other resources to help your church, book club, Bible study, or neighborhood group engage in God’s Word together. Immerse removes many of the barriers which make Bible reading difficult, paving the way for deep connection with God and others through the Scriptures.
Filament Bible Journal Collection will be releasing at the end of the year and is perfect for Bible studies, sermon series, and outreach. Each journal is a book or series of books from the New Testament. They have a single-column format and every other page is blank, which is perfect for note-taking. Scan a page with a phone or tablet and you’ll have access to the Filament Bible app’s content for the book or books you are studying.
The One Year Pray for the Persecuted Church is a dynamic way to connect with people around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. Created with The Voice of the Martyrs, this Bible uses The One Year Bible reading plan, and each day’s reading includes a prayer prompt focusing on requests from our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. As a church, why not spend a month focusing on praying for people being persecuted for their faith and then give the people in your church community the opportunity to continue to pray all year using The One Year Pray for the Persecuted Bible? One in eight Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith, and their first request is for us to pray. Let’s do it!
Inspire Portions allow your community to get creative while studying God’s Word. These coloring-book-style Bible portions provide a way to reach out to people looking to engage with God’s Word in a more tactile way. They feature high-quality art paper that works well with all art supplies so you can start a Bible journaling study or group. Coloring and creative art-journaling options appear throughout the portions, and the Bible text is displayed beautifully in a single-column, wide-margin, spacious layout.
New Believer’s New Testament is a great Bible to start answering some of the most common questions people have about the Bible. This softcover New Testament is perfect for an outreach ministry, for those who are just starting their faith journey, or for helping equip people who want to reach out to those in their lives who have questions about what it means to have a relationship with God.
Outreach Bibles are economy-priced, full-text Bibles available only in bulk order. Designed for outreach efforts, these Bibles include resources like how to become a Christian and basics on how to use a Bible. They are available in softcover full size, large print, children’s edition, and New Testament portion.