New situations are often a challenge. Starting a new job, first day of school or moving around the world, being plucked from what we know and understand can leave us feeling vulnerable and unsettled. Read from the Wayfinding Bible about how Daniel and his friends responded after being forcefully taken from their homes and thrust into the King’s Court.
In 605 bc Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire, raids Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. He captures noblemen’s sons and princes from the royal court, draining the country of its best and brightest individuals. After bringing them back to Babylon, he indoctrinates them in the ways of his nation. Four young men—Daniel and his three friends—are among this first group of captives.
Read the first chapter of Daniel:
During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Daniel remained in the royal service until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus.
Daniel and his friends were yanked out of their country and dragged off to enemy territory. They probably experienced a range of emotions—anger, fear, and grief—but their faith remained intact. Daniel obeyed God and rose to a significant position of power, authority, and influence in a hostile environment. He helped fulfill God’s purpose during seventy years of royal service. Like Daniel, we are called to remain faithful to God no matter where we live. God’s good will prevail in every nation and in every situation throughout time.
Look inside the Wayfinding Bible
I love anything that is “behind the scenes.” There used to be a show on the radio called The Rest of the Story hosted by a man named Paul Harvey. Even though I was little I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to know more. Whether building a bridge, creating Disneyland or inventing a zipper there is always a situation or personal story to go along with it. The same is often true when creating ideas for Bibles. Here at Tyndale we get the amazing opportunity to partner with people who have a passion to help others connect with God’s Word and want to break down walls that get in the way of people accessing the Bible. That’s exactly what Jeannette and Doris wanted to do with the Wayfinding Bible, eliminate the issues that often caused people to disengage with Bible reading. Here’s the “rest of their story”
The idea behind the design for The Wayfinding Bible began with a bike ride.
Jeannette knew, from talking with people over the years, that two of the main reasons Christians struggled with consistently reading the Bible had to do with its length and its confusing chronology. If only there were a study Bible that could help people navigate the narrative more effectively, then perhaps they would remain more engaged and invested. But how to do this? Jeannette and her colleague Doris wanted to create multiple levels of reading plans that would follow the storyline of scripture, but they were stuck on how to present these plans in an inviting and compelling way.
While out on her bike one day, puzzling about this Bible, a word popped into Jeannette’s head. Wayfinding. “I honestly knew right then and there that God had planted that word in my mind,” Jeannette says.
Back at her office, Jeannette researched the concept of wayfinding. One definition of “wayfinding” describes it as a system for helping people navigate a complex built environment such as a hospital, an airport, a college campus or a city. While the architect may have had a plan for the place, anyone unfamiliar with that plan can easily get frustrated and turned around. That’s where wayfinding signs come in. They help people discover the best way to navigate confusing spaces.
And what is the Bible, Jeannette thought, if not a complex built environment? There is a design and a plan behind Scripture, of course, but it’s not necessarily ordered in the most intuitive way from a reading standpoint. Wayfinding tools could help people find their way through God’s Word.
Building on this wayfinding theme, Doris and Jeannette developed three different ways to travel through the Biblical narrative. From “flyover” to “direct” to “scenic,” these routes would guide readers along their way and keep them on track.
From there, the ideas continued to flow. They created “Getting Your Bearing” articles for key turning points in scripture, “Historical Markers” to provide helpful cultural information, and “Scenic Overlooks” when a map or diagram or infographic would be useful.
“I tell people The Wayfinding Bible wasn’t my idea or Doris’ idea. It was God’s idea that He graciously gave us to help people read His Word and not get lost or frustrated.”
The foundational verses for The Wayfinding Bible perfectly outline this Bible’s purpose:
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Ps. 25: 4 & 5
Learn more about the Wayfinding Bible
The world goes by at a million miles an hour, and it seems to go faster and become more complicated at every turn. It’s not at all hard to get distracted, disgruntled, and even disillusioned. We chase so hard after the things that we think we are supposed to—success, respect, love, money, whatever. We adopt the causes that we are supposed to adopt, get outraged over the latest injustice that we are supposed to be outraged about. And next week it all changes.
Somewhere along the way, the routines and cares of the world have distracted us. We have forgotten the reality of our faith. In all the business of life our faith threatens to float away like dandelion seeds in the wind. We need a firm foundation.
We need to get back to basics.
The Christian Basics Bible reminds us what our faith is all about in the first place.
Becoming a Christian is not about deciding to live better, trying to be more holy, going to church, or following certain religious practices or behaviors. It is about beginning a personal relationship with God. Religious rules and duties will always end up tying us up, as Jesus often reminded the highly religious Pharisees of his day. Jesus came not to tie us up but to set us free (see, e.g., John 8:31-32; Galatians 5:1). He came with good news (the meaning of the word “gospel”); and this good news is that ordinary people—even people who feel unworthy or have failed or have done bad things—can know God personally and live in harmony with him. (pg. A11)
That’s a pretty “back to basics” truth right there. It’s also unbelievably freeing if we take the time to actually read it, digest it, and be changed by it. But the business of life, even the trappings of our faith, can rob us of this truth.
So how can we make a practice of getting back to basics, of being a “basic believer”? There are a lot of good answers to that question, but here’s a starting point, a first step if you will. In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul is writing to his young apprentice Timothy. Timothy is pastoring a church in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was rich, influential, and cosmopolitan. It was a center of religion and commerce and the most important city in the Roman province of Asia. It was the place to be. In fact, minus the technology, it probably had a lot of similarities to the crazy lives we lead today. But the church there had all kinds of problems. Here’s what Paul tells Timothy:
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
Here’s what the Christian Basics Bible says about this passage:
[A] lack of studying the Scripture has led the Ephesian church to be led astray by every new idea that came along. So Paul urges Timothy to keep studying Scripture so he can use it to correct error and explain the truth (4:2-5).
We need this book because it is not like any other book, secular or sacred. It is “inspired by God” (3:16). That is, God’s Spirit directed the thoughts of its writers so that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted written. The Bible is therefore God’s revelation to us—revealing his nature, heart, and purposes—and his invitation to join in his story. (pg. 1387)
You’re probably not a pastor like Timothy and may never be, but the advice still stands. The only way Timothy could teach others was to be captured by the truth himself, to really know it. Getting back to the basics of our faith and of our relationship with God starts with getting back into his Word.
I want to be a basic believer. How about you?
Find out more about the Christian Basics Bible.
-Kevin O’Brien is the brand manager for Study Bibles and Reference at Tyndale Bibles.
Labels:New Living Translation, NLT Resources, Study Bible, Christian Foundation, How to be a Christian, What are my beliefs?, What is Christianity
“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT
Purification rites were common in traditional African religions. Washing and cleansing rituals served as ways to be freed from curses and guilt for wrongdoing and for violating taboos. The physical act of washing represented moral and spiritual cleansing.
Old Testament Israel also had many purification rituals that were commanded by God (Numbers 8:5-8). Some rituals applied to the priests serving in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Other rituals prepared the people to be in God’s presence.
Paul told the Corinthians to cleanse themselves from “everything that can defile our body or spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1) this type of cleansing is done by confessing and turning away from the sins that pollute or soil us. Paul also challenged believers to “work toward complete holiness” because God is holy and just. Elaborate ceremonies are no longer necessary, but repentance from sin and seeking forgiveness are.
African Touch Points Note from the Africa Study Bible
Women in Prison Unlock Hope and Healing with The Life Recovery Bible
By Stephen Arterburn
Editor, The Life Recovery Bible
I was raised in Bryan, Texas, so I did not think it was unusual to be opening a letter from a woman who lived in Brazos County near Bryan. What follows was anything but usual. She wrote:
“I am filled with joy to inform you that your Life Recovery Bible has changed about twenty lives filled with different kinds of addiction in my community. I regret to inform you that the women (including me) are all locked up in The Brazos County Detention Center in Bryan, Texas.
Twenty-five years ago, I held the first Life Recovery Bible in my hands and quickly passed it on to a woman who was addicted to crack and headed for prison. She went home and, rather than allow her Life Recovery Bible to take on the role of most Bibles as Chief Dust Collector, she actually opened it up and started reading it. Through her drug addicted, half on and half off, cracked brain, she discovered that God could help her out of her addiction and that the path involved 12 steps based on and found within that Bible. The impact was so great and the transformation so radical that she was not incarcerated, and within six months she was helping other young women in their recovery.
Twenty years later I found myself in the midst of some very normal everyday housewives who just happened to be in the Polk County Florida prison after being arrested for making, selling, or being in possession of methamphetamines. These meth addicts, in a weak moment of desperation or a curious moment of living on the edge, decided to try using meth, just once, and never again. But that one time became a lifetime of using and finding ways to make stuff or sell stuff, including themselves, to be able to feed the addiction that seemed to develop instantly with that first hit.
I was invited to join these women, who looked and talked like anything but a hardened criminal, in their daily Life Recovery Bible study. This Bible was a reward for those entering the drug rehab program offered by a group of women who were once addicted and also had been incarcerated in the same prison. They loved this Bible because it was unlike anything they had ever experienced. Up until then, the Bible was just something that was old, difficult to understand, and even more difficult to apply to your life in any meaningful way. But this Bible is different, and there is a reason why.
When Dr. Dave Stoop and I developed this Bible we included many helpful features not found in other Bibles, including devotionals for each of the 12 Steps, The Serenity Prayer, and Recovery Principles. While those provide deep insights and spiritual inspiration, they are not the feature that make The Life Recovery Bible so amazing to anyone in recovery. The most valuable and unique feature is the study notes found at the bottom of each page. Why? Because they are written by recovering Bible scholars who teach at Universities and Seminaries all over the world. They not only have PhDs in Theology, but every one of them has had a problem that involved them in 12 Step Recovery. Rather than a study note having to do with some remote or abstract theological construct, the note speaks to the struggle for freedom within the heart of anyone imprisoned by the power of addiction, incarcerated or not.
The Life Recovery Bible does not bring the Bible into the recovery process. It brings the recovery process back to the Bible where it began. Bill W. and Dr. Bob worked together to develop the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous after they had found victory over an illness that rarely spared the life of anyone who contracted it. Both men had been members of the Oxford Group, which had purported 4 Absolute Truths: Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Un-selfishness, and Absolute Love, which were all based in Scripture. In the transcript from the last talk ever given by Dr. Bob, he tells where he and Bill found the 12 Steps. He said “We got them from the Good Book. Especially the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.” So The Life Recovery Bible brings the 12 Steps full circle and identifies the true higher power of the 12 Steps as the God of the Old and New Testaments.
Twenty-five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined the impact The Life Recovery Bible would have on those around me both in Brazos County and many thousands of miles away from where I grew up. God has blessed this Bible and the people who read it, teach it, and share it, and for that I am thankful. He alone is the true source of recovery and the author of transformation—always has been, always will be.
Learn more about the Life Recovery Bible
“‘Please, sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.'” John 4:15, NLT
The Samaritan woman was an outcast. Samaritans were despised by Jews, and women in that culture had a lower status than men. Because of her reputation, this Samaritan woman went to draw water alone. That’s where she met Jesus. Jesus knew everything about her, and he still wanted to talk to her! The Samaritan woman had been looking for love in all the wrong places; but Jesus showed her God’s love, and that was all she needed.
Sometimes we look to everyone but God for love and acceptance, but God’s love is all we need.
“Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!’ When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.’” John 4:39-42, NLT
-Taken from the Girls Life Application Study Bible
Take a look inside Girls Life Application Study Bible
“Moses continued, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’
Then the Lord said to me, ‘What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.’
But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.” Deuteronomy 18:15-22, NLT .
At times throughout Israel’s history, the people looked expectantly for the “prophet like Moses” who was prophesied in these verses. Such was the case during Jesus’ ministry when people wondered if he could be that prophet (John 1:21; 6:14, for example). And when God spoke from heaven to endorse his Son, he echoed the words of Deuteronomy 18:15: “Listen to him”
(Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). Like Moses, Jesus would deliver God’s people from captivity and institute a new covenant.
This expectation for a Messiah seems to be a universal need. We see it throughout history, in literature and film, across numerous cultures, and in our own lives. Ancient Israel looked ahead for “the one”; we look back to Jesus’ first coming and also ahead, knowing he is coming again. God has embedded expectation into us as an instinct designed to draw us toward him. Cultivate it and let it pull you into his promises. He doesn’t provoke expectations without fulfilling them.
Devotional Taken from the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible
Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle and nearly 5,000 congregants participated in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience.
Hear what he has to say about this experience, leading the church through the New Testament and their plans for continued reading in the future.
Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience: http://immersebible.com/
Learn more about the Institute for Bible Reading: https://instituteforbiblereading.org/
Jeremiah 30–33 stands out in its optimistic view of Israel’s future. The high point of this section (31:31‑34) is the announcement that the Lord God will form a new covenant with his people.
The key affirmation of the Sinai covenant was, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (31:33; see also Exod 6:7). The relationship between God and his people envisioned in the Sinai Covenant was surrounded by laws chiseled in stone and a priestly class in charge of all religious institutions and activities. The new covenant would differ from the old in one primary way: It would no longer be external to the worshipers, but would now be written on their hearts (Jer 31:33). The great defect of the old covenant was that it lacked the power to enable people to do what it commanded (Rom 8:3).
The new covenant, by contrast, would be internalized through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ezek 36:24‑27). Thus, it wouldbecome possible for people everywhere (not just a select few) to fulfill God’s covenant plan for life as summed up in the two “Great Commandments” (Matt 22:35‑40): “You must love the Lord your God” (Deut 6:5) and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). The new covenant would achieve the goal that the old one pointed to, but could not reach: creating new persons and a new community. The goal is a deep transformation of sinners, beginning with forgiveness of sins and culminating in a holiness exemplified by good works (Eph 1:4; 2:8‑10).
This passage points toward Jesus of Nazareth, whose death would seal this new covenant. Jesus applied the new covenant to himself when he instituted the communion ritual (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; see also 1 Cor 11:25; 1 Cor 3:6). Jesus’ death made him the mediator of the covenant for whoever believes in him (Heb 8:8‑12; ch 9). Christians commemorate that reality each time they take communion. According to the NT, all believers in Jesus Christ will know him directly by the activity of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling has been made possible through the sacrifice of Christ. They will know him personally and experience him powerfully, as only a few did in OT times.
Isa 11:1‑9; 54:13‑15
1 Cor 11:23‑26
2 Cor 3:6‑18
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. –Ephesians 2:10
Read: Ephesians 2:1-10
A masterpiece is an artist’s best work. It comes from years of study and practice until the artist finally creates the ultimate piece of artwork. It’s the best of the artist’s craft, the piece the artist is most proud of. You are God’s masterpiece. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior show the best of God’s skill and creativity. Think about that. God’s masterpiece isn’t the universe with its multitude of solar systems, stars, and the sun and moon. It isn’t the oceans or the mountains or anything else in nature. Those things are all very wonderful creations that show God’s amazing ideas and creativity, but his masterpiece—the ultimate of all he made—is you.
God gave you a new life in Jesus so that you can do the work he planned for you before you were even born. You are God’s masterpiece, and what you do for him can become your masterpiece for God. You will be blessed by doing his work because you are working for your Creator.
Dear God, I am humbled to be called your masterpiece. Thank you for giving me work to do. Help me to do whatever you ask to the best of my ability. In Jesus’ name, Amen
The devotional you just read was written by author Carolyn Larsen for the new Inspire Bible for Girls, which releases in August. It is the latest edition in the bestselling Inspire Bible line and is the first journaling Bible for girls with devotionals. Packed with over 500 line-art illustrations to color, over 300 devotionals, more than 160 journaling prompts, Bible journaling tips, and much more, the Inspire Bible for Girls is sure to quickly become a treasured Bible for all who use it. The content is designed for girls ages eight and up, but there is really no age limit when it comes to encountering God through his Word and being challenged to follow him more closely and live in fuller devotion to him. Now let’s go and live out God’s call on our lives and Shine Brightly for Jesus!