The Word Became Human

Tyndale House Publishers

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14, NLT

Article from the Swindoll Study Bible

The Son of God, as “very God” (to quote the Nicene Creed), arrived on this earth as a man. He came to the mountains He created. He faced the rivers with their rushing currents. He crossed the valleys. He gazed upon the sea. He walked beneath the skies and the stars and the moon and the sun. But the tragedy of all tragedies is this: “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him” (John 1:10). The world didn’t recognize the One who had created it. In other words, “He came to his own people, and even they rejected him” (John 1:11).

In our world, people look at the beauty of creation but refuse to acknowledge the Creator. Imagine Walt Disney coming to Disneyland on its opening day in 1955—but nobody even acknowledging him or acknowledging the fact that everything in the park had come from his imagination and creativity. Imagine them all saying, “Oh, it just happened.” Such an illustration can’t really do justice to this magnificent passage of Scripture, but you get the picture.

We all know the Christmas story: The Creator came to our planet as a baby, but there was no room at the inn for the One who had created the rocks from which that inn was made. There was no welcome mat for Christ. Isn’t it remarkable that the One who is coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with the Father and the Spirit—the One who divinely decreed the events that would run their course on this earth in perfect timing with His profound plan—could come to the earth and be beaten and spit upon, have spikes driven through His hands and feet, be hung on a cross, and be cursed until He died? Even after being raised from the dead, He is still denied, rejected, and refused some twenty centuries later. There is still no room for the Savior.

What about you? Do you know what it means that God, who made everything, reduced Himself to take on skin, subject Himself to the very gravity that He put into effect, and limit Himself to a tiny space of property—for you?

From the vanishing point of the past to the vanishing point of the future, Jesus Christ remains in His nature and His attributes very God. But Christ, in order that human beings might be able to see what God is like in tangible form, became a human for all eternity future. This introduction to the Gospel of John concludes, “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18).

Do you wonder what the Father is like? Make a study of Christ. Do you wonder how God could be a God of grace, at the same time both gentle and full of justice and purity? Look at Christ. He shares the Father’s divine nature, and He explains it and models it in perfect terms so that we can grasp the person of the Father.

The world didn’t recognize the One who created it. Do we?

Learn more about the Swindoll Study Bible

The Spirit’s Power

Tyndale House Publishers

“But Peter and John replied, ‘Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.’ The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.” Acts 4:19-22, NLT

Article from the Swindoll Study Bible

Peter and John had been preaching in the streets and had attracted enough attention that they were called to face the religious officials, who wanted to intimidate them into silence. But when they looked those officials in the eyes, the officials “were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures” (Acts 4:13). Why was this? It was because the Holy Spirit had come and empowered them. The officials began to recognize that these were men who had been with Jesus. There was a different dynamic with them—and it was entirely due to the work of the Spirit.

Just as Jesus had promised, Peter and John had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and they were filled with the Spirit, giving them power (Acts 1:5, 8). That power has always existed. The Spirit was there at Creation and when the Red Sea was opened. His power had been evidenced in the lives of the Old Testament prophets and had brought Jesus back from the dead. It is the same power that is active in believers today and that gives them the ability to be open and effective witnesses for the cause of Jesus Christ.

That is the secret to how these apostles, who earlier had been shrouded in fear and hiding behind closed doors, began to preach Christ openly. They had seen the resurrected Jesus, and the Spirit of God had come. After those events, these men had pushed the doors open and walked out into the streets with the audacity to face persecution and even martyrdom for their testimony about Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit would move them the rest of their lives, in and out of persecution, with and without earthly comforts, and under all sorts of adversities. We see Peter and John facing the same religious officials again in Acts 5:26-42, and there they stand, firm as ever in their obedience to God rather than people (Acts 5:29)— even up against those who would just as soon kill them (Acts 5:33).

The Holy Spirit’s power is for all believers, not just for the twelve apostles. We see in Acts 6:3 that the apostles looked among the believers and found seven men who were “full of the Spirit.” This means they were consistently tapping into the Spirit’s power, which is available 24/7 to every believer. One of those chosen was Stephen, a man who was not an apostle but was every bit a witness by the power of the Holy Spirit. He later preached such a powerful message that the religious officials became angry and stoned Stephen, making him the first martyr.

The daily question we each face is not whether we will be martyrs nor whether we will face opposition bravely. The question we face is whether we are tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit or stifling Him (see 1 Thes. 5:19). When He empowers us, it is not a matter of whether we have guts or creativity. When the Holy Spirit is in us, there is a special dynamic at work transforming us and making our lives and our words a witness. Sometimes that witness may offend others—and it will always bring conviction—but it also powerfully displays the love and humility of the Lord Jesus in its proclamation of the truth.

Learn more about the Swindoll Study Bible

Giving Counsel

Tyndale House Publishers

Article from the Swindoll Study Bible

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21, NLT.

I want to turn your attention to the power of that muscle that lies within your mouth. I’m referring, of course, to your tongue. Let’s consider the words that we use in giving counsel to one another.

If you and I really believed that “the tongue can bring death or life,” I’m convinced that it would make a profound difference on the rest of our lives. Our words can destroy or they can build up. The tongue has the power to discourage or to encourage.

An example comes from Proverbs 14:25, which envisions a person on a witness stand giving a testimony. A witness who lies creates treachery and can ruin or end someone’s life. More often, the life and death that words bring is figurative. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” There have been times in my life when my troubles have been great, my heart has been heavy, and my spirit has been almost broken. But along comes someone with words that are “sweet to my soul,” and this brings healing deep within my bones and deep within my soul.

If you are a professional counselor, a trained lay leader at your church, or just a sincere friend reaching out to fellow believers, you are engaged to some degree in giving counsel. This is a very significant and serious work—you have the power to shape people’s thinking, bring them through the minefield of their experiences, help them process a multitude of feelings, and assist in bringing them to a better place in life.

Do not take your words casually—the people you are counseling won’t. Do not just toss out a thought on a lark to see if it will make sense. Gauge your counsel wisely. As it says in Proverbs 17:27, “A truly wise person uses few words.” Ration your words.

If you are receiving counsel, listen with discernment. Not all advice given is advice that should be followed. One who seeks the will of God will often seek the counsel of other people. “Get all the advice and instruction you can” (Prov. 19:20); God honors that. But invariably you will hear opinions that differ from person to person. Obviously, all of them cannot be right, so you must listen with discernment. Remember well that “truthful words stand the test of time” (Prov. 12:19). There are many voices of so-called authority, but valuable is the person who tells us the truth. This is a person committed to words that square with Scripture, come at the right time and in the right way, and are said in the right spirit.

This kind of wise correction brings life. As I look back and remember time spent with those I would call my mentors, I have found that the things that have stuck with me have been their reproofs and valid criticisms of me. These remain in my mind like “golden apples in a silver basket” (Prov. 25:11-12).

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Bibles We Love (and love to share!)

Tyndale House Publishers

Valentine’s Day is a great time to share what you love. And we LOVE Bibles!!! There are so many wonderful Bibles out there, but we have a few that make our hearts so happy. We love them so much that we just can’t help but share them! Here are a few of ours. What are yours?

Maissie Currently I love the Immerse Reading Bible. It is easy to read and understand. There is something special about reading the Bible like a novel without the distraction of verse numbers, chapters, and notes. Reading Immerse reminds me that God is the Author both of the Word and of my life.

Ready to experience Immerse like Maissie?

Callie I’m so excited to own the Art of life Bible! While I wouldn’t say I am a Bible journaler per say or even artistic, I love jotting down my reflections in the margins of my Bible. This Bible gives me extra room to do this alongside new content that I can’t wait to dive into. Who’s ever wondered what the trees and plants look like in the Bible that God talks so vividly about? Or wondered why God goes into such detail on specific animals? I know I have, and it’s always fascinating when someone connects the dots on what the Bible is describing and why it’s important. It’s going to be a great way for me to explore the Bible in a fresh way.

See why Callie loves the Art of Life Bible

Kim One of my favorite Valentine’s Days was when a married friend surprised me with a care package in the mail that included the sweetest note and some personalized items, including a CD with hand-picked worship songs. It touched my heart so very deeply. I would love to do the same for my close single friends and surprise each of them with a Valentine’s care package including a greeting card with a heartfelt prayer-note and either the THRIVE Creative Journaling Bible (for those who would like the blue interior and wide margins for note-taking or creating original art) or the THRIVE Devotional Bible for Women (for those who would prefer a traditional setting without wide margins—and a pink interior). Both Bibles are the same other than those two unique features—the interior second color and the margin width. I think my friends would love this Bible because it is filled with daily readings that encourage us to keep our eyes on Christ and thrive in him. As Sheri Rose Shepherd, the author of the devotionals, says: “God paid much too high a price on the cross for us to live powerless lives.” I pray this Bible would be a daily, tangible reminder to each of them that they are so very loved by God and that they can trust him with their hearts! ❤

Learn more about the THRIVE Bible and see why Kim can’t wait to share it with those she loves!

Dave It has been a joy for me to read through the Bible over many years and I LOVE our New Living Translation One Year Chronological Bible .  For me, this has been the best way for me to understand the big story of God laid out in order. As the Bible Acquisition Director for Tyndale I’m also really excited about a project we’re working on right now to create a One Year Chronological Study Bible……stay tuned for more details in the months ahead about this amazing new resource.

Want to read through the Bible in one year like Dave? See all our One Year Bible options.

Blaine My favorite for 2021 is the Mosaic Bible I love the finish on the leatherlike edition with the classic celtic cross design. In the front of the Bible there is a 340 page section of beautiful ivory paper. This section features 52 meditations, each with full-color artwork, thought-provoking writings from historical as well as contemporary scholars, prayers, poetry and space to write my reflections as I meditate and pray. Each week’s theme compliments the Church calendar which helps me stay in rhythm with my fellow believers.  The Bible text is only interrupted by the center column references which are there when I need them but easy to ignore as I read scripture.  A very nicely done Bible in my opinion.

Want to read the Mosaic Bible with Blaine in 2021? See more

Jim There is so much to love about the Life Application Study Bible that it’s hard to know even where to begin. This Bible has had a special place in my heart for over 20 years. I learn something new every time I pick it up! And it is always relevant to what I am facing today.

See why so many people, like Jim, love the Life Application Study Bible.

The Other Jim I once had a Sunday School teacher who, when I – or another student – forgot to bring a Bible to class, would say: “that’s great; you must have it memorized.” I didn’t, but I’ve used his line since then.  And it leads me to my recommendation of a Bible I love. I love the HelpFinder Bible because of its extraordinary 352-page Index-on-steroids.  The index is an amazing guide when you’re looking for biblical counsel on more than 200 topics from Abilities to Worth, including Faith, Humility, Rejection, Sexuality, Success and Vulnerability, and so much more.  Each topic in the Index has questions and answers and biblical references. And alongside the Bible text there are short teachings on many of the topics. It’s a terrific, helpful, must-have Bible for everyone from new believers to Bible veterans.  Unless you have the Bible memorized!

Think you could love the HelpFinder Bible? Learn more

Evie I have been loving the Swindoll Study Bible. My parents were huge Swindoll fans so I have memories growing up listening to him on car rides or hearing my parents discuss Swindoll’s thoughts on different Scripture passages. I feel like he’s my spiritual grandpa. But it wasn’t until I started reading the study Bible on my own that I understood his significant impact on my parent’s walk with Christ. It’s truly like sitting by a beloved mentor as he helps to bring God’s truth and the amazing intricacies of Scripture into a way I can understand and grapple with. One of my favorite features is the Holy Land Tour. It’s like being on a trip to the Holy Land with Chuck Swindoll (#lifegoals)!

Want to go deeper into God’s Word with Chuck Swindoll too?

The Tabernacle

“…he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the Lord. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain.” Leviticus 16:12, NLT

Holy Land Tour article from the Swindoll Study Bible

The Tabernacle had barriers that stood between a sinful people and a holy God. Inside the courtyard, a brazen altar stood where the majority of sacrifices occurred on a daily basis. Just past the altar for burnt offerings was the bronze washbasin where the priests would scrub up in preparation for making offerings. Entering the Holy Place was something only priests could do. Inside on the right, the table for the Bread of the Presence, with its twelve loaves, represented Israel’s twelve tribes. The menorah on the left offered lighting to the space, and the incense altar stood in the back before the small room called the Most Holy Place, where only the high priest would enter once a year.

Leviticus 16 describes the events that occurred annually on the Day of Atonement. The high priest would offer a bull on the altar for burnt offerings for the sins of the priests. Then he would take a fire pan of coals from the altar and enter the Holy Place with incense and the blood of a goat. As the high priest entered behind the veil into the Most Holy Place—something only he could do once per year—he would sprinkle the blood of the bull and one of the goats on and in front of the atonement cover—the top of the Ark of the Covenant. These rituals made the impossible possible. By one man cleansing the sanctuary, the holy God continued to dwell among an unholy people.

The New Testament reveals what these rituals ultimately represented. There is one Mediator between God and humanity who offers the blood of a substitute who died on behalf of everyone. When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil that separated God from humanity was removed by Jesus’ death. Because of His sacrifice, anyone may enter God’s presence by faith in Jesus (Heb. 10:19-23).

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What is the Cove of the Sower?

Holy Land Tour Feature from the Swindoll Study Bible

Scripture, Science, and geography converge at the Cove of the Sower, also called the Bay of Parables. As its name suggests, this small cove beside the Sea of Galilee is possibly the location where Jesus told the parables in Matthew 13. B. Cobbey Crisler’s study of the natural acoustics at the site estimated that between five thousand and seven thousand people could have clearly heard a lone speaker on the shoreline as they gathered on a slope that forms a natural theater above the cove.

When Jesus performed miracles of healing in Capernaum, amazingly, the people did not respond with repentance (Matt. 11:20-23), and the religious leaders attributed His miracles to Satan (Matt. 12:22-29). On that same day, Jesus anticipated that the nation of Israel would reject Him, so He began to teach the crowds in parables because the stories would conceal the truth from those who were unable to hear it but would reveal it to those ready to accept His Kingdom (Matt. 13:1-3, 34-35).

When Jesus’ disciples were alone with Him, they asked Him to explain the meaning of His parables (Matt. 13:36). He did, and then He declared, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Matt. 13:43). He told them that His parable of the sower who scattered seed on various soils represented the various responses to God’s Word—that
of the hard heart that ignores the truth, the soft heart that hears and applies it, and others in between.

Jesus’ story also calls all of us to examine our own responses to the Bible. Do we hear God’s Word in order for God to change us? Do our hearts long to bear much fruit for the Lord? Or, like the crowd around the Cove of the Sower that day, do we just gather with others to hear stories from a gifted teacher? This Sunday, you’ll likely hear another sermon to add to the thousands you’ve heard already. How will you listen?

Learn more about the Swindoll Study Bible

In the Merry Old Land of Uz?

For many of us the first things we think about when we hear “the Land of Uz” is a yellow brick road and magic shoes. But that is the Land of Oz. The Land of Uz was a real place, filled with real people, who lived real lives (and they didn’t need to click their heals to get there). When the Bible lists a location it’s for a reason, for context. If there is a place we don’t know about it’s a great opportunity to do some additional study to understand why that location is important to the story.

Read from the Swindoll Study Bible to learn about Uz, the land Job called home.

Job lived in “the land of Uz” (Job 1:1). The location sounds as strange to our modern ears as the Land of Oz.

Determining the location of the land of Uz is no easy task. The presence and ancestry of various people named Uz in Scripture could suggest an Aramean location for the land of Uz (Gen. 10:23; 22:21; 1 Chr. 1:17). Jeremiah makes a connection between Uz and Edom, the land of Esau (Lam. 4:21). But at the same time, the prophet maintains a distinction from it (Jer. 25:20-21). The geographical and etymological references seem to place the land of Uz somewhere in northern Arabia, in close proximity to the wilderness as well as to land that could sustain livestock and agriculture (Job 1:3, 14, 19; 42:12).

Our unfamiliarity with Uz—as with many other geographical sites referenced in Scripture—might make this part of the text easy to dismiss. But mentions of these places are not throwaway statements. References to “the land of Uz,” as well as to other places mentioned in the Bible, do more than merely locate biblical events, as valuable as that can be. Naming specific places upholds the truth that biblical accounts are not mere fables or myths. They are history. The places where the people in the Bible lived and met God tie their lives and experiences to a particular context that is important for properly understanding their encounters with God. The place name of the land of Uz gives credence to the life of Job.

Understanding the historical details of Scripture helps us grasp the actual truth of the Bible and see its principles as grounded in real life. Even in cases like Uz, where the specific location is difficult to pin on a map, the reality of knowing that biblical stories happened to real people in real, named places in the world helps us to recognize the tangible truth that God is alive and active in the places we live today.

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Loving One Another

Note from the Swindoll Study Bible

“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.” 1 Peter 1:22, NLT

A central command of the Bible is to love one another. As Peter turns to this command, he reminds his readers of some important factors that go into the deep love we should have for each other.

He knows that we need to develop unity and community in the midst of trials. What makes this possible? First, Peter speaks of purity of soul: “You were cleansed from your sins.” Second, me mentions obedience to the truth. Third, he calls us to a lack of hypocrisy: “Show sincere love to each other.” These things make it possible to pull together.

We are to obey the truth, not our inner urges or the counsel of others who would like to turn us against each other. We are to do away with ulterior motives and deal in integrity.

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The Spirit’s Power

Article from the Swindoll Study Bible

“After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31, NLT.

Peter and John had been preaching in the streets and had attracted enough attention that they were called to face the religious officials, who wanted to intimidate them into silence. But when they looked those officials in the eyes, the officials “were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures” (Acts 4:13). Why was this? It was because the Holy Spirit had come and empowered them. The officials began to recognize that these were men who had been with Jesus. There was a different dynamic with them—and it was entirely due to the work of the Spirit.

Just as Jesus had promised, Peter and John had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and they were filled with the Spirit, giving them power (Acts 1:5, 8). That power has always existed. The Spirit was there at Creation and when the Red Sea was opened. His power had been evidenced in the lives of the Old Testament prophets and had brought Jesus back from the dead. It is the same power that is active in believers today and that gives them the ability to be open and effective witnesses for the cause of Jesus Christ.

That is the secret to how these apostles, who earlier had been shrouded in fear and hiding behind closed doors, began to preach Christ openly. They had seen the resurrected Jesus, and the Spirit of God had come. After those events, these men had pushed the doors open and walked out into the streets with the audacity to face persecution and even martyrdom for their testimony about Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit would move them the rest of their lives, in and out of persecution, with and without earthly comforts, and under all sorts of adversities. We see Peter and John facing the same religious officials again in Acts 5:26-42, and there they stand, firm as ever in their obedience to God rather than people (Acts 5:29)— even up against those who would just as soon kill them (Acts 5:33).

The Holy Spirit’s power is for all believers, not just for the twelve apostles. We see in Acts 6:3 that the apostles looked among the believers and found seven men who were “full of the Spirit.” This means they were consistently tapping into the Spirit’s power, which is available 24/7 to every believer. One of those chosen was Stephen, a man who was not an apostle but was every bit a witness by the power of the Holy Spirit. He later preached such a powerful message that the religious officials became angry and stoned Stephen, making him the first martyr.

The daily question we each face is not whether we will be martyrs nor whether we will face opposition bravely. The question we face is whether we are tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit or stifling Him (see 1 Thes. 5:19). When He empowers us, it is not a matter of whether we have guts or creativity. When the Holy Spirit is in us, there is a special dynamic at work transforming us and making our lives and our words a witness. Sometimes that witness may offend others—and it will always bring conviction—but it also powerfully displays the love and humility of the Lord Jesus in its proclamation of the truth

Look inside the Swindoll Study Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan: Day 4

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. ” John 3:16-17, NLT

Note from the Swindoll Study Bible

I think I love people deeply— until I read about the way God loves people. Chances are good I wouldn’t sacrifice my son or daughter for anyone. But God did— and He did it for all of us. He so loved you and me that He gave His Son to die for us.

Why did He do it? “So that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” You don’t have to clean up your life. You couldn’t if you tried. You just have to believe in Jesus Christ. That’s the Good News. He died for you on a cross. And if you believe in Him, you will have eternal life with God and a whole new beginning that starts from the inside out. Goodness knows we need help from the inside out.

Look inside the Swindoll Study Bible