A closed hand cannot receive a gift, no matter how great it is, how much the giver paid for it, or how powerfully the person receiving it might benefit. Therefore, closed hands and hearts can never receive God’s gift of eternal life and the eternal debt of sin paid.
So how will you respond to Romans 6:23?
If you sense you have a debt of sin that has never been paid and are convicted that your life needs an answer for the wrong you are a slave to, then come to Christ. Receive His gift of eternal life. He is merciful and generous, and He will not turn away anyone who humbly opens his or her heart to accept His life paid on behalf of their debt. He will free you from sin, death, and eternal condemnation. That is an incredible gift!
If you have received this gift, don’t forget what Christ has done. The gift still applies to us today, especially through the sin struggles we all face this side of heaven. God’s grace is sufficient for your past, present, and future. His gospel is the gift that keeps giving generously. You are no longer a slave to sin if you are in Christ!
Listen to Romans 6 from the Streetlights Bible
The Streetlights New Testament was created to cut through all the misconceptions about the Bible. To encourage you to listen to, read, and study it yourself with fresh ears and hearts. With a scan of a QR code readers can access the Streetlights audio New Testament and additional engaging content designed for youth. Learn more about Streetlights.
her.Bible John 1:1-14
Tyndale House Publishers
Glad Klassen, one of the women who voice the her.Bible app, reads John 1:1-14, NLT. Listen and reflect on God’s beautiful words to us.
When working on the New Living Translation there were many priorities including creating a translation that was accurate, true to Biblical scholarship, engaging to read, understandable so truth could be applied and lived out in daily life, and a translation that was crafted to be ideally suited for public reading. What a joy to see that vision come to life through ministries like her.Bible. We are so thankful Jenny Steinbach, associate producer of this amazing audio Bible, shared her story with us.We think you will love it too.
“How could God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?” Sarah asked as we sat in the crowded student union at University of Western Ontario. I could relate from my own struggles with painful emotions that clouded the message of Jesus, even though I sat in church for many years. I pulled my maroon Living Bible out of my backpack to try to answer her questions about God and clearly communicate his Word. As a Cru staff member, my passion has always been to help people connect with God in meaningful and understandable ways. I discovered that people without Bible knowledge could not understand the scriptures until they heard it in modern English.
Fast forward to my years as a mom at home to four active little boys, my “quiet time” was very limited but my worn One Year Bible New Living Translation was a sanity saver as I read and reread it. Having a plan for each day was very helpful. Eventually my mother-in-law came to the Lord in her seventies and I bought her the same Bible. We had fun talking on the phone and discussing our daily readings. She was first generation Italian and not a confident reader. Seeing her grow because she could understand made me so happy.
A few years ago, I was working with the Cru City ministry in Orlando and enjoyed discipling women who were struggling with long term unemployment and poor self images.
I loved getting out the door and settling into the car with a cup of coffee to drive to work—until I got into rush hour traffic again. One morning, a red Toyota suddenly stopped in front of me and cut into the exit lane ahead of a long line of traffic. Anxiety kicked in as I checked my review mirror hoping I wouldn’t get rear ended at 60 miles per hour. I needed recovery time once I got to the office to be ready to face my teammates and coach our students. After work that evening, there was a heavy rainfall in Orlando and it took 90 minutes to get home.
Audiobooks became a great solution to distract me from the challenging drive to and from the office. I wanted to be Spirit-filled by the time I arrived at work to coach people who needed to trust God with their employment struggles. And listening to audiobooks on the way home was a way to unwind. I heard great men’s and women’s voices read some wonderful books for those two hours spent on the road every day. Sometimes, I listened to the Bible too, but the longer I listened, the more it felt as if something was missing.
I explored more Bible apps but soon learned that they used the same audio files of the exact same male readers. I was looking for something different. I was simply looking for a pleasant woman’s voice to read Scripture with compassion and kindness, yet with the authority God’s Word deserves. This was a silent space in the audio book world.
One Sunday, my pastor gave a sermon about a woman from Ethiopia who had started an orphanage and was trusting God to provide for 100 orphans. The tears flowed because I felt distant from God’s work and powerless to change that. Then my pastor asked, “How has God gifted you?” and “What is the world waiting for you to do?”
The Lord spoke deep in my heart and told me that I had the background to produce a women’s audio Bible. I was shocked and afraid to tell anyone, but I woke up every morning feeling a burden to find a way to make this happen. Eventually I told my husband and my team and then had to find another job placement. This project was out of the box for Cru, but the Lord led me to the radio team, which had the expertise and the studio to help make this happen. Since Cru is such a large organization, where we fit into the mission, this is the first individual project I have ever owned.
Sometimes women’s jaws drop when they hear the idea of a women’s audio Bible because they grasp the need, but have not ever thought of it before. From my years helping to distribute the Magdalena film, in which Mary Magdalene narrates the story of Jesus, I knew that women who had experienced abuse or had emotional barriers to listening to God’s Word in a man’s voice, would experience a deeper connection with God. Globally, I knew there was a hunger for God’s Word in the “heart languages” of women too.
I wondered, if a modern Bible translation could be recorded in English, be available for free and utilize voices from different ethnicities, could it connect with younger listeners and those who learn orally? To me, only the New Living Translation would meet this need. Could this audio Bible serve as a model to women leaders in other language groups and be replicated in a way they could use to reach the women of their countries?
Thus began the adventure of producing her.BIBLE in women’s voices. It began with a simple, personal longing to give women a “voice” as they hear God’s Word. We have our first partner, who is passionate to produce an audio Bible in women’s UK voices and we eagerly look forward to the Lord raising up women to produce their languages in their available Bibles.
“Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers* who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues* and praising God. Then Peter asked, ‘Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?’ So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.” Acts 10:44-48, NLT.
Even if we know much more about Jesus Christ, God’s Word, Christ’s church, and God’s eternal plan than Cornelius did, we can still tend to grow apathetic and not hunger for God. But one lesson we should take away from this story is that those who seek God will be rewarded! Cornelius knew very little about God, but he sought Him in prayer and by giving to the poor. For Cornelius, the message of the gospel being extended to people beyond the Jews came as an unexpected and great gift.
Are you thankful, like Cornelius was? Do you approach God consistently out of awe and gratitude for what He has done? How did God bring you the Good News of Christ’s forgiveness for your sins? When have you been challenged to share the knowledge of His grace with other people who have backgrounds different from your own?
The Streelights New Testament combines print and audio to create a compelling experience for all readers, but aimed at teens and young adults. Learn more about the Streetlights New Testament
Making Courageous Changes
Social media posts reek of fake paradise. When asked, “how are you?” we respond, “fine” or “good.” We mask our hurts, hide our pain, and try to bury our fears and discomfort because we think being real exposes our weaknesses. We often feel we don’t live up to what others expect, that our walk with Jesus is something less than desired, or we aren’t filled with the joy of the Lord because our reality isn’t perfectly sunny.
“As a child I learned to turn a blind eye and pretend everything in life was perfect, even when it was far from it. I grew up learning not to rock the boat, and I carried that dysfunctional coping mechanism into all of my adult relationships, particularly into my marriage. Finding courage to change these bad habits took me a long time,” said Ann.
For 20 years she would take her Bible to church and bring it back, rarely opening it. Her idea of being a Christian was going to church and trying to be good. The word discipleship was just about Jesus’ first followers and had no meaning for her. But when she hit rock bottom and the fake contentment was shattered, God opened her eyes to how broken she was. In desperation she cried out, not for a soother but a Savior. (for more on Ann’s personal story you can read her bookCourage for Life.
“We try to fix everything ourselves, but I knew I couldn’t fix this. I needed total guidance from God. His Word brought me to a point where I could truly be strong and courageous—the end of my old self and beginning of my new self in him. I could finally say, ‘I’m messed up and that’s okay,’” said Ann.
She started getting into God’s Word every day. She was starving and thirsting for it. Her own strength was barely holding life together, but the foundation of God’s Word kept her from falling into despair. With God’s help and wisdom her husband came alongside, and together they faced the realities that were hiding behind their painted-on smiles and the façade they had created.
“When God saves your life, and your 26-year marriage, you want tell everyone about it. The Lord told me to birth a ministry, to reach out to women so they, too, could find their grounding and courage in God’s Word,” said Ann.
Ann obeyed God’s call, birthed CFL and started creating resources for women. She initially thought they would be taught in churches, but as she continued to follow God’s leading, the ministry grew. Around the world, CFL resources are helping women find their identity in Christ. From church groups to brothels and prisons, women are moving from fear to faith and through Christ are able to make courageous choices that bring change into their own lives and the lives of those around them.
“God is working miracles. Kathy Urbanick, our ministry director for CFL, was working with women in a local prison. She said to me, ‘I am blown away. These girls are leaning into the Lord, they are inspired to make courageous changes.’ So, we decided to make an 8-week study guide with women’s prison ministry in mind. It helps women find a life full of confidence, hope, and opportunity through studying God’s Word. And there is no better translation to study that speaks right to the heart than the New Living Translation (NLT),” said Ann.
“When we first thought about providing an audio Bible, we knew it would need to be in a woman’s voice. Since abuse and trauma are common occurrences in at-risk women’s lives, a man’s voice can cause them to relive horrific memories from their past by reminding them of their abusers. We knew we needed an audio Bible that would be like a mother, grandmother, or sister reading to you. We didn’t want anything to distract from the comfort and peace God’s Word brings,” said Ann.
In searching for this resource, they discovered that very few exist. Ann again heard God calling her out of her comfort zone to start a new project. Twelve women from different ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds came together to voice the first-ever all-women-narrated Bible app.
“As we were finishing this project we started talking to the prisons about it, and God confirmed that ‘for such a time as this’ the app was needed. Many of our state’s prisons have started giving women tablets filled with positive content. What better positive message is there than the Word of God?” said Ann.
But it wasn’t for the women alone. The prisons asked if they could upload it to the men’s tablets as well. With many children raised by a single mom, grandma, or aunt, men who have had negative experiences with their fathers and other men also respond better to women’s voices. It’s a vital reminder of someone in their lives who spoke encouragement and love. Two states are currently in the process of uploading the women’s NLT audio Bible—to 53,000 tablets in one state and over 30,000 in another. And the numbers continue to grow.
“When God called me, I never thought I would be working in jails or creating an audio Bible, but God’s passion is for everyone to be drawn to him, and this my passion too. My greatest prayer is that everyone will get into God’s Word. According to extensive research by Back to the Bible, if we are reading God’s Word four or more times a week, it changes our patterns, our behavior, our attitudes; it will change a culture,” said Ann.
Many at-risk women relive their mistakes over and over, judging themselves and drifting into despair. Even while in the dark night of the soul, Kathy has seen miraculous transformation when women read the NLT. The negative self-talk is replaced with God’s words of love and hope.
“Many of these women have been told and are treated as though they are less than nothing. They feel they are worthless and that there is no hope. The beautiful thing about the NLT is that it is uses gender-inclusive language. Women can see themselves right in the text, learn to believe God loves them in a very personal way,” said Kathy. “As they read it they can see women in Christ’s lineage, that Christ and Paul had encouraging and positive relationships with women. If they read it and hear it in a way they can understand, they can replace the lies the world has told them with the truth of Scripture.”