Those Who Seek God

Tyndale House Publishers

Think and Pray Feature from the Streetlights New Testament

“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

I Just Can’t Stop Reading

Tyndale House Publishers

by Molly Jo Nyman

Life is complicated. What if reading the Bible wasn’t?

Imagine a gathering of people with only God’s Word in their hands. No DVD curricula, no workbooks; simply a story, if you will, with no chapter and verse numbers, section headings, or footnotes. And after reading this Bible, imagine a discussion with no big agenda or intimidating questions. Instead, there’s simply conversation around questions you can’t get wrong.

This is the unique atmosphere created by Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience, and Nancy Tang was excited to share the impact it’s had within the church in Minnesota where she coordinates small groups.

“We’ve been loving the Immerse Bible series and have several groups reading. My group is on the fourth of six books, and we thoroughly enjoy spending time together simply reading the Word of God,” she said.

With the goal of providing the best reading experience, Immerse has a one-column layout that’s free of distractions. At a glance, it looks like an ordinary novel rather than God’s anointed revelation. For Tang and others, this new approach is subtle, even imperceptible, but delivers innumerable benefits and profound impact.

Whether readers are well-studied Christians or those opening the Bible for the first time, Immerse facilitates an unhindered awareness of God’s Word. And without the added verses numbers, chapter breaks, and other markers that were not in the original text, it encourages reading longer portions of the Bible.

Tang said, “There is something interesting that happens to my brain when I read without the headings. Someone in my group said, ‘I’ve read the Bible before, so I don’t know why this time is so different, but I just love it!’

“I invited a group of eight women to my home (pre-COVID) each Sunday afternoon to read through the Immerse: Messiah book. Each person in the group knew me but had no connection to each other prior to our meeting. Our 16 weeks together turned out to be a huge blessing. The women got to know each other, and it was great to see how our own experiences lent to the discussions. We had a mix of women who were new to reading the Bible and those who had read parts of it over many years. In either case, I often heard the comment ‘I didn’t know that was in the Bible,’ or ‘I didn’t know that was the meaning.’ It was rewarding to be with these women and watch the Word come alive.”

Joanne Schroeder is also involved at Tang’s church and noted the impact she’s experienced and observed.

“We’ve been using the Immerse Bible books in our women’s small group and have had a very positive response. The women have remarked that they’ve never been able to read through the Bible in this way before. Someone said, ‘I start reading the daily portion and find that I just keep reading well beyond that.’”

In addition to reading like a story, there’s also the support of reading it with others. Schroeder continued, “Several women are reading portions of the Scriptures that they either just missed or skipped before because they were difficult, but in this study with others, they are getting more understanding from what they are reading. The four questions help us to focus on listening to God’s Spirit as we read and discuss His Word together.

“I especially like that it is given to us in the New Living Translation, which is very readable and gives a new perspective on the familiar passages as well as the more obscure passages.”

Another church member, Wendy Seelhoff, added what might be the most impressive response to Immerse. Just a few women responded to her invitation to read every Tuesday evening, but they enjoyed it so much that the group grew, and they have consistently read together for almost two years.

Seelhoff said, “After we finished reading all six books, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to start all over again!”

Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

*Photos are not of group participants

Helping After Helping of God’s Word

Tyndale House Publishers

by Molly Jo Nyman

Whether it’s a man who reluctantly walks into church on a Wednesday afternoon, a church member facing an unexpected crisis, or a new believer trying to figure out how to follow Christ, Daniel Thrower is ready to engage and encourage. And as a Connections Pastor at Hope Church in upstate South Carolina, he’s very clear about his role on the front lines of spiritual battles.

“My goal is not to have people connect with me or my church; my ultimate goal is to connect people to God Himself.”

Knowing there’s no better way to do that than through the Word of God, Daniel gives out a lot of Bibles—and the New Living Translation is his Bible of choice.

“There’s no translation quite like it for making the Word of God accessible and palatable,” Daniel said. While Bible scholars may enjoy the debate on translation methods and accuracy, there is no question that the NLT is both faithful to the ancient texts and extremely readable.

“I think of it like this: Raw veggies may be slightly healthier, but if people can’t or won’t eat them, what good are they? The NLT adds a little salt and butter. Now I can eat helping after helping because it tastes so good!” Daniel explained.

In addition to his conclusion that spiritual nourishment from the NLT is “easy to absorb,” he’s observed another important feature. The NLT helps people grasp the heart of God as they read the Word of God.”

“As I listened to sermons where various translations are read out loud, the NLT stood out to me every time I heard it. It felt warm and had a natural flow. Because I want people to love Scripture, this is a great way for them to read it,” Daniel said. “If the Bible feels like a foreign language, distant and hard to understand, people can project that on to God.”

As Daniel meets with people at critical times, he’s not offering a quick fix, but rather an eternal perspective.

“I grow oak trees not okra. So I’m laboring knowing there will be slow development. I’ve found the NLT to be the easiest way to let people ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8) so they are able to cultivate a real love for God’s Word.”

Video Story: Immersed in God’s Word in Community

When Elizabeth first heard about her church’s initiative to read the whole Bible together in community, she was hesitant. But she discovered in the process how amazing the love of Jesus truly is for the outcast, and it changed everything for her. Watch Elizabeth’s story here.

All across America, Bible book clubs are forming to read and discuss the Bible together. They’re using Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience as the tool to facilitate reading at length. Each book in the Immerse collection is designed to be read in community over either an 8- or 16-week time frame. Immerse: Messiah covers the entire New Testament and is a great place to start.

Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

God Uses Unexpected People Reading Plan Day 3

“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 6:14-16, NLT

Gideon: Note from the Africa Study Bible

The Israelites needed help. Because they had done evil, God handed them over to their enemy, the Midianites. The Midianites were so numerous and so relentless that they robbed Israel of its food and ruined their crops. The Israelite army that had previously been victorious over its enemies was now hiding in mountains and caves.

Then the Israelites cried out to God. His response to the distress of his people was to use the least significant person in the smallest clan of Manasseh to deliver them—Gideon. Gideon thought he was the lowliest of a lowly people, but God called him a “mighty hero.” God did not tell Gideon to seek help from Israel’s generals and strong men. Instead, God told him to use the strength he had (Judges 6:14). And God promised to be with him.

Do you need help? Do you think you are too weak to fight the battles you are facing? When we are weak and crushed by the enemy like the Israelites were, we must cry out to God for help. We should trust and depend on God just like Gideon did. God’s help is what we need. His power works best when we admit we are weak. When we recognize our weakness, we can find strength in God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Look inside the Africa Study Bible

The Holy Spirit’s Work

Note from the New Believer’s Bible

“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.'” Acts 2:38-39, NLT

The Holy Spirit has been given to all believers to deepen our spiritual walk and to enable us to impact our world for Jesus Christ. This passage illustrates three aspects of the Holy Spirit’s unique work in the lives of believers:

The Holy Spirit Fills All Believers.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given to a select few individuals and only when they needed to perform specific tasks. This chapter indicates a change in that pattern. The Holy Spirit was poured out on all the believers in the house that day (Acts 2:4), and he was present in each of their lives from that day forward.This outpouring of the Holy Spirit was used by God to establish the church—and to spread the message of the gospel to everyone everywhere (see Acts 2:39).

The Holy Spirit Draws Attention to the Savior. Notice that Peter did not focus on the unique happening that had just taken place but turned the crowd’s attention to the message of Jesus Christ and their need to repent and receive forgiveness. When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, he will increase our ability to share the gospel with others.

The Holy Spirit Inspired Peter’s Message.
Peter’s sermon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, led many in the crowd to a point of decision: “What should we do?” (Acts 2:37). The people were attracted not to Peter but to his message. The Holy Spirit worked powerfully that day, and three thousand people responded to the message. This shows us the Holy Spirit is the one who leads people to Christ. We must be open to the ways in which he wants to work through us.

The Holy Spirit is promised to all who repent and receive Jesus Christ into their lives. Many people fail to understand who the Holy Spirit is and what dimension of power is available to them through him. It may help to examine what took place after the disciples received the filling of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised (see Acts 1:8).

Look inside the New Believer’s Bible

 

Where is God in Suffering? Day 7

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” 1 Peter 5:6-10, NLT

Notes from the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

We often worry about position and status, hoping to get proper recognition for what we do. But Peter advises us to remember that God’s recognition counts more than human praise. God is able and willing to bless us according to his timing. Humbly obey God regardless of your present circumstances, and in his good time—either in this life or in the next—he will honor you.

Carrying our worries, stresses, and daily struggles by ourselves shows that we have not trusted God fully with our lives. Humility is needed, however, to recognize that God cares, to admit our needs, and to let others in God’s family help us. Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God’s concern. But when we turn to God in repentance, he will bear the weight even of those struggles. Letting God carry our anxieties calls for action, not passivity. Don’t submit to circumstances; submit to the Lord, who controls circumstances.

Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert. Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or being persecuted. When you are feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, or when you are so focused on your troubles that you forget to watch for danger, you are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. During times of suffering, seek other Christians for support. Keep your eyes on Christ, and resist the devil. Then, says James, “he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

When we are suffering, we often feel as though our pain will never end. Peter gave these faithful Christians a broader perspective. In comparison with eternity, their suffering would last only “a little while.” Some of Peter’s readers would be strengthened and delivered in their own lifetimes. Others would be released from their suffering through death. All of God’s faithful followers are assured of an eternal life with Christ, where there will be no suffering (Revelation 21:4).

Look inside the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Now, available in Large Print and Personal Size.

Share Your Story

In front of King Agrippa Paul shares his story of transformation after meeting Christ. Read this passage from Acts and the note from the New Believer’s Bible. Then reflect on why should we always be willing to share our story?

“‘One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’

‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.

‘And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

‘And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.'” Acts 26:12-13, NLT.

Note from the New Believer’s Bible

A useful tool in our evangelistic toolbox is the story—also called our testimony—of how we came to personally know Jesus Christ. Paul often used this method effectively, such as in this account of his appearing before King Agrippa. After explaining how Paul had personally come into a relationship with Christ, he segued into the proclamation of the gospel message (Acts 26:19-23).

Every believer has a testimony. Some may be more dramatic than others. Such was the case with Paul, formerly the notorious Saul of Tarsus, who had been an aggressive persecutor of the church. Whether your testimony is incredible or ordinary, your personal salvation story will help you find common ground with nonbelievers.

You can tell them about your life and attitude before coming to Christ, then explain the changes that came afterward. When nonbelievers see that you can relate to their own lives, they may be more open to what you have to say. The objective in evangelism is to build a bridge, not burn one. Your testimony is a great way to do that.

Why don’t you take a moment to think about the changes that have taken place in your life since you became a Christian? You may even want to write down your testimony so that you will be ready to share it at the next opportunity.

Take a look inside the New Believer’s Bible

Greg Laurie Share His Excitement about the Updated New Believer’s Bible

Where is God In Suffering: Day 4

“’In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.’

Some of the disciples asked each other, ‘What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.’

Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

‘I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”

Then his disciples said, ‘At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.’

Jesus asked, ‘Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:16-33, NLT

Note from the Every Man’s Bible

In this world, we will encounter “many trials and sorrows.” Some of these difficulties are inevitable and beyond our control. These can be endured with God’s help. On the other hand, some of our suffering is self- inflicted and can be avoided.

In such situations, God still offers us peace as we muster the courage to make needed changes in our lives. God’s forgiveness and loving acceptance can give us peace as we face our trials and sorrows, even when the pain we face is ultimately our own fault. He has the power to lead us down the path of life; he has already overcome all the obstacles that stand in our way.

Look inside the Every Man’s Bible