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Where is God when I am suffering

Where is God when I am suffering

The following Pathfinder Discipleship Guide focuses on one of the most commonly asked questions that people bring to pastors: Where is God when I am suffering? Does He even care?  I pray that the points which follow will bless you and be of help and comfort.

 

  1. A possible explanation for suffering: Suffering can help us to identify sin in our lives and also avoid it. (Job 36:1-21)

  2. A prayer in time of anguis (Psalm 22)

  3. God’s Compassion: Via the Prophet Isaiah, God tells all of his people througout all time that He will have compassion on them and bring their suffering to a close. (Isaiah 49:8-1)

  4. Jesus promises us both suffering and peace, we will overcome the world because He did first (John 16:33)

  5. God promises us that we will share in future glory with Him (Romans 8:15-20)

  6. Help in our times of need: Since Jesus has come to Earth and lived among us, he understands our struggle and we can come to Him for help in our suffering (Hebrews 4:15-16)

  7. God is sovereign, cares for us, and will see us thtough (1 Peter 5:6-10)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you have given us your Holy Spirit to be with us until you come. When we suffer, will you have Him bring your Scritpture to our minds and let us feel His comforting presence. Most importantly, when we suffer, help us to use that suffering to bring glory to Your Name. Amen

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

The Abide Bible and Journals are a very interesting offering from Thomas Nelson. They are not a study Bible system and neither are they a devotional system. Rather, I would describe them as a personal worship system. The Abide Bible is offered in both New King James Version (NKJV) and New English Translation (NET) and the Abide Bible Journals are offered with the NET. In this article we will review the Abide Bible in the NET alongside the 1st and 2nd Peter journal. (Both Bible and journal were provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.)

 

 

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Abide Bible_Thomas Nelson Official Page

Abide Bible-Taylor University

From Thomas Nelson on the Abide Bible Journal

The Abide Bible Journals are designed to help you experience the presence of God and grow in your relationship with Him as you read and interact in Scripture. Each volume contains a book or section of Scripture in a clean, single-column format along with powerful passage-specific journaling prompts. And most important, right within the Word, lightly lined pages invite you to respond to what you’ve read and abide with God in active prayer and reflective response through the act of putting pen to paper.

The prompts within the text are based on four ways of engaging deeply with the Bible:

Praying Scripture: Pattern your prayers after biblical texts

Picture It: Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant

Journal: Focus and reflect on Scripture and its meaning for your life

Contemplate: Follow the simple 4-step practice of feasting in God’s Word

 

The Concept:

The concept for the Abide Bible comes from John 15:4,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

As I understand from Thomas Nelson, the Abide Bible is designed to take you beyond simple reading of the Bible and to move you into the arena of actually living the Bible; having a vital, active relationship with Holy Scripture and more importantly, its author.

 

The Translation

I am reviewing the New English Translation. I have commented on this translation before, if you will recall, I rather like it. NET is a meaning based (dynamic equivalent/thought-for-thought) translation completed by the students and faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary. They Full Notes Edition carries with it all 68,000 translators’ notes, a fact which makes in the most heavily annotated English Bible available.

 

Many of my colleagues will say that a meaning based translation is not suitable for study but in the case of the Full Notes Edition, I could not disagree more. It is designed for study.

 

In the case of the Abide Bible, the footnotes are not provided, not that such a deprivation would negatively impact your experience with the Bible. While I love the NKJV, I think that the NET is a better choice for the Abide Bible. Given its intended use, I want a translation that does not require me to reach for a lexicon but instead, I want a translation that feels like I am with friend, which you definitely will get from the NET. I am also quite glad that the journals are in the NET Translation for the same reason, I want something that is easy to use.

 

Cover and Binding

The journal is softcover with an adhesive binding. I would have preferred to see a hardcover option but I understand that it would be enormously impractical given the groupings of the books.

 

The Abbie Bible that I was sent is the brown leathersoft. Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with their imitation leathers. Having handled many leathers over the years, I could tell from the touch that it is not real leather but I am not sure most people would pick up on that-it is very convincing. The binding appears to be sewn. I am glad to see sewn bindings return to the Thomas Nelson Lineup. Sewn bindings wil, literally, last you a lifetime of use.

 

Paper Layout and Font in the Journal.

The paper is a crisp white but not so bright as to cause glare. It performs very well in most light settings, including the Arizona sun, which is quite unforgiving.

On the left page we have the text of Scripture in a single column. On the right page we have the Abide Journaling Prompts and a lined column for journaling. Following the last page of journaling prompts we have an additional 15 lined pages for additional thoughts.

The font in the journal is quite a bit larger for the Scripture portion than what is found in the Abide Bible. I would gauge it at 9-point font while the journaling prompts come in at 8-point. Both, though, are quite readable.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font in the Bible

I am told that the paper is 36 gsm. You can see that it is quite opaque so it should work rather well for marking, highlighting, or journaling. There is a little bit of a newspaper texture to the paper which makes it rather easy to turn the pages.

Unlike the NKJV edition, this is a black letter Bible. The text is laid out in single column paragraph format, which is ideal for the intended use of the Abide Bible.

The Abide Prompts are in the outer column. Many of the pages, I would guess about half, include ample space for journaling.

Helps and Prompts

Introductions

 Each Introduction includes the usual material  including historical and literary context. It also adds a section called Prepare which is designed to help you to engage with Scripture.

Journaling Through Scripture

This section is not for a personal journal or even prayer requests. Instead, guided prompts help you to interact with scripture and to record/catalogue insights that you gather. Journaling is a critical component of Inductive Study which is the essential method to understand and internalize the Scripture.

Engage Through Artwork

“Consider a classic piece of art—photograph, sculpture, painting—and let it deepen your meditations on scriptural truths.” The Bible, itself, is art; it is God’s masterpiece and has inspired countless artistic works over the years. The artwork provided does not simply help us to visualize what we see in scripture, it spurs us on to worship by bringing the text to life.

 

Praying the Scripture

“Pattern your prayers after biblical texts, personalizing the prayer and gaining language for the thoughts and emotions you want to express.” This is a similar concept to the Prayer Book used by some denominations. Many of us do not really know how to pray but the Abide Bible helps to guide us through the process.

Picture It

“Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant in important events.” The Bible IS literature, among other things, and the best literature invites us into the story. We identify with the characters and, on varying levels, the story speaks to us.

Contemplate

We are given a  4-step practice of reading, meditating on, praying, and contemplating a passage of Scripture.

Assorted Articles

There are some articles explaining how to engage with Scripture, studying vs engaging, and why we read the Bible. These are more of background material rather than what will take you through the process.

 

Final Thoughts

The Abide Bible and Journal  is an excellent resource when used as a complete system. Could you use each one separately? Yes but they are better together.

My preference is for the NKJV for study and teaching though the NET will do quite well for understanding and internalizing the Scripture.

It is important to remember that this will take time and discipline, but this is to be expected; nothing worth having comes easily. I think you, dear reader, will enjoy the Abide Bible and Journal and they will help you with your growth.

Doctrine of Scripture

Doctrine of Scripture

THE SCRIPTURES INSPIRED

The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 2 Peter 1:21

Matt Slick: “Verbal plenary inspiration means that every word found in the Bible is given to us by God(verbal), everything in the Bible is authoritative (plenary), and every word is also divinely directed (inspired). But, this does not mean that everything referenced in the Bible is also morally proper. For example, the Bible might record someone’s lie or a murder even though lying and murder are not approved of in Scripture. But the recording of the events is under the direction of God and is accurate.

The verbal plenary inspiration applies to the original manuscripts, also known as the autographs. It was the originals that were penned by the prophets and apostles that were given by God, authoritative, and  divinely directed. Presently we have copies of the original manuscripts but the copies are not perfect, though close to it. So, we have copies of inspired documents and for all intents and purposes the copies are inspired.

  • “The older phrase “plenary inspiration” meant that all the words of Scripture are God’s words (the word plenary means “full”), a fact that I affirm in this chapter without using the phrase.”
  • “Inspiration, plenary The “full” (plenary) inspiration of the Scriptures, in the sense that the whole Bible is inspired, not simply portions of it.
  • “inspiration, verbal theory of The view that God through the Holy Spirit directly guided the exact words recorded by the biblical writers as they wrote the Scriptures.”

Verbal plenary inspiration stands in opposition to partial inspiration which limits the inspired quality of the Bible in various ways whether it be restricting inspiration to doctrinal matters, or one author was inspired where another was not, or there are mistakes in historical events and geographical locations but the main thoughts are correct.”

 

THE SCRIPTURES INERRANT

If all Scripture is breathed out by God (theopneustos) then as a logical consequence, it must also be inerrant. Since God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), He would cease to be God if He breathed out errors and contradictions, even in the smallest part. So long as we give theopneustos its real meaning, we shall not find it hard to understand the full inerrancy of the Bible.

3 Things Inerrancy does not mean (from Answers in Genesis)

  • Inerrancy doesn’t mean everything in the Bible is true. We have the record of men lying (e.g., Joshua 9) and even the words of the devil himself. But we can be sure these are accurate records of what took place.
  • Inerrancy doesn’t mean apparent contradictions are not in the text, but these can be resolved. At times different words may be used in recounting what appears to be the same incident. For example, Matthew 3:11refers to John the Baptist carrying the sandals of the Messiah, whereas John 1:27 refers to him untying John preached over a period of time, and he would repeat himself; like any preacher he would use different ways of expressing the same thing.
  • Inerrancy doesn’t mean every extant copy is inerrant. It is important to understand that the doctrine of inerrancy only applies to the original manuscripts.

 

 

SOLA SCRIPTURA

The Bible and only the Bible is our all sufficient rule of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture.

 

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” —Westminster Confession of Faith

 

 

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for allowing their traditions to have equal weight to the TaNaKh

 

Mark 7:6-9 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Jesus told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites in Scripture: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is pointless, because their teachings are rules made by humans. “You abandon the commandments of God to follow human traditions.” He added, “You have no trouble rejecting the commandments of God in order to keep your own traditions!

 

Paul commends the Bereans for testing all teachings against the Scriptures

 

Acts 17:10-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

 

Paul directs the church in Corinth not to go beyond what is written

 

1 Corinthians 4:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

 

 

TOTA SCRIPTURA

 

Tota Scriptura emphasizes that the Bible is to be taken as a whole. The complete canonis God’s Word, and we cannot pick and choose what parts of it to accept and what parts to reject. In Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian believers, he said, “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26–27, ESV). Note that Paul had discharged his duty before God by preaching the “whole counsel of God”; in other words, Paul preached tota Scriptura.

 

Some false teachers suggest that only the “red-letter words” (those spoken directly by Jesus Himself) are truly inspired. Others reject Paul’s epistles or throw out the book of Revelation or ignore the Old Testament. Still others divide the passages that deal with matters of faith from those that deal with matters of history or science—the Bible is accurate, they say, when it speaks of faith, but in matters of history or science it cannot be trusted. The problem with all of these views, besides the fact that they contradict the principle of tota Scriptura, is they set up man as the judge of God’s Word. Who exactly gets to decide what parts of the Bible are right or wrong? If we move away from tota Scriptura, we can all take scissors to the Bible and come up with our own text, relying on our own wisdom (or feelings or intuition or whatever).

 

Circling back to Inerrancy for a moment…

 

Inerrancy Governs Our Confidence in the Truth of the Gospel

If the Scripture is unreliable, can we offer the world a reliable gospel? How can we be sure of truth on any issue if we are suspicious of errors anywhere in the Bible? A pilot will ground his aircraft even on suspicion of the most minor fault, because he is aware that one fault destroys confidence in the complete machine. If the history contained in the Bible is wrong, how can we be sure the doctrine or moral teaching is correct?

The heart of the Christian message is history. The Incarnation (God becoming a man) was demonstrated by the Virgin Birth of Christ. Redemption (the price paid for our rebellion) was obtained by the death of Christ on the Cross. Reconciliation (the privilege of the sinner becoming a friend of God) was gained through the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. If these recorded events are not true, how do we know the theology behind them is true?

Inerrancy Governs Our Faith in the Value of Christ

We cannot have a reliable Savior without a reliable Scripture. If, as many suggest, the stories in the Gospels are not historically true and the recorded words of Christ are only occasionally His, how do we know what we can trust about Christ? Must we rely upon the conflicting interpretations of a host of critical scholars before we know what Christ was like or what He taught? If the Gospel stories are merely the result of the wishful thinking of the church in the second or third centuries, or even the personal views of the Gospel writers, then our faith no longer rests upon Jesus but upon the opinions of men. Who would trust an unreliable Savior for their eternal salvation?

Inerrancy Governs Our Response to the Conclusions of Science

If we believe the Bible contains errors, then we will be quick to accept scientific theories that appear to prove the Bible wrong. In other words, we will allow the conclusions of science to dictate the accuracy of the Word of God. When we doubt the Bible’s inerrancy, we have to invent new principles for interpreting Scripture that for convenience turn history into poetry and facts into myths. This means people must ask how reliable a given passage is when they turn to it. Only then will they be able to decide what to make of it. On the other hand, if we believe in inerrancy, we will test by Scripture the hasty theories that often come to us in the name of science.

Inerrancy Governs Our Attitude to the Preaching of Scripture

A denial of biblical inerrancy always leads to a loss of confidence in Scripture both in the pulpit and in the pew. It was not the growth of education and science that emptied churches, nor was it the result of two world wars. Instead, it was the cold deadness of theological liberalism. If the Bible’s history is doubtful and its words are open to dispute, then people understandably lose confidence in it. People want authority. They want to know what God has said.

Inerrancy Governs Our Belief in the Trustworthy Character of God

Almost all theologians agree Scripture is in some measure God’s revelation to the human race. But to allow that it contains error implies God has mishandled inspiration and has allowed His people to be deceived for centuries until modern scholars disentangled the confusion. In short, the Maker muddled the instructions.

 

Scriptures for the Suffering

Scriptures for the Suffering

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing. — Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. — Psalm 62:8

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? — Psalm 56:8

Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light. — Matthew 11:28-30

NLT Study Bible Review

NLT Study Bible Review

NLT Study Bible Review

 

Why review the NLT Study Bible? This is a phenomenal resource, as you will see below, which is full of valuable tools to aid you in your study. I don’t about it as often as other study Bibles so I am reviewing to call your attention to this outstanding resource.

First, some information from Tyndale House Publishers (Note: the NLT Study Bible was acquired at my own expense and Tyndale House was not involved in the decision to review.)

“Explore the Scriptures with almost 50 of today’s top evangelical scholars, including Daniel Block, Barry Beitzel, Tremper Longman, John N. Oswalt, Grant R. Osborne, Norman Ericson, and many more. Every feature in the NLT Study Bible has been created to do more than just impart information. Ask questions, and the NLT Study Bible gives you both the words and the world of the Bible. Seek deeper understanding, and find the meaning and significance of Scripture, not just facts. Knock on the door of God’s Word, and see what doors are opened to you.”

Now the review…

 

Translation: As its name suggests, the translation is the New Living Translation, one of the two best selling English translations; it is in a statistical dead heat with the NIV. NLT is a thought-for-thought or meaning based translation. Meaning based translations try, as best as possible, to capture the thought behind the original words and to convey that thought into the English language.

 

Translated into the English a 6th grade student would use, the NLT is far and away the easiest to understand of the major English translations. Faithfully accurate: Because the NLT uses a thought for thought style of translation, the original intent is easily captured. passages make more sense in the NLT, an “I get it now” experience is common.

 

Helps (Tyndale’s information will come first followed by my comments):

 

50,000 cross-referencesconnect related verses, not just words, so they are always applicable. Additionally, parallel lines (//) show passages describing the same events or saying something similar. An asterisk (*) indicates Old Testament quotes in the New Testament.

This is one of the most heavily cross-referenced Bibles you can find. The huge number of cross references is very important because Scripture interprets Scripture. The ideal scenario for using the cross references is in preparing a systematic verse by verse exposition of the Bible.

25,000 study and textual notesprovide background and deeper explanations of words, phrases, verses, and sections. Historical and literary notes open the world of the Bible and the context in which it was originally read and heard. All notes in the NLT Study Bible were developed with the “So what?” test in mind—the goal is study notes that focus on the meaning and message of Scripture, not just facts. The study notes also include the NLT textual footnote apparatus, which identifies variations in the Hebrew and Greek text as well as providing alternate translation possibilities.

This is my favorite feature of the NLT Study Bible. In terms of total annotations, it has only two rivals: the ESV Study Bible with around 27,000 notes and the Reformation Study Bible with nearly 30,000 study notes. Among the notes that are offered, the Textual Footnote Apparatus is, in my estimation, the most important feature. Despite the ease of understanding the translation, the apparatus makes this, at the least, a college grade text. The identification of textual variants and alternate readings will enable the pastor to provide a more well-rounded view of the Scripture to the congregation.

300 Theme Articlesidentify the major topics and ideas of the Bible. Placed alongside particularly relevant passages, they also point to other passages and theme notes. These articles provide the first steps in developing a biblical theology without attempting to formulate a specific doctrinal system.

Tyndale really does a good job of staying within the mainstream of evangelical christianity. It does not lean toward either Calvinism or Arminianism. It does tend to lean away from Dispensationalism but I do not fault it for that. The idea is to present a conservative text from which to study.

220 Charts, Illustrations, Maps, and Timelinesorganize and illuminate important information in the text that can otherwise be difficult to understand or interpret the significance of. Examples include a chart of Israel’s Annual Calendar, regional and event related maps, the Temple at various stages, an overview of the entire Bible, and more detailed, specific timelines such as the time of the kings of Israel.

There is not much that needs said here. The visual aids are primarily geared as a memory aid/tool and they excel at that.

90 Profilespaint portraits of major figures in the Bible—good and bad. The story of Scripture unfolds through the lives of the people in it. Their lives instruct us with examples and counter-examples, helping us to better understand the Bible, its world, and its message. Their relationship with God, or lack of it, helps us to understand how we can have a relationship with God and what it should look like.

Again, there is not much that needs to be said. These notes help to make the major players of the Bible more real and relatable.

200 Greek and Hebrew word studiestrace the use of important words throughout the Bible. Because the NLT is a dynamic translation, a particular word in Greek or Hebrew is not always translated the same way but is translated in a manner that is appropriate for the context. This makes word studies richer and more productive, because the range of meaning for a particular Greek or Hebrew word becomes very clear, and it is easier to avoid common misunderstandings about what the word means. There are word studies for 100 Hebrew words and 100 Greek words. Several instances of each word are included in a chain to illustrate the range of meaning. Each occurrence is indicated with a superscript letter (a, b, c, etc.) and a corresponding superscript in the cross-reference column. Each entry includes the Hebrew or Greek word, a reference number for the glossary at the back, and study tools such as Strong’s Concordance and a chain-reference link to the next highlighted occurrence of the word.

When your motto is, “the truth made clear,” word studies are absolutely essential. I have heard pastors preach an entire sermon on a particular word (John MacArthur) and walked away feeling like blinders had been lifted from my eyes or that I had just come out of a fog. I would be hard pressed to say which feature I find more important, the word studies or the cross references; both are quite essential.

85 introductory articlesset the stage for each Bible section, book and time period. The articles give background information in three layers. First, Old and New Testament articles give a broad overview of each testament. Second, section and chronology articles help orient you to the kind of literature and timeframe of the writings included, giving information on setting, genre, and more. Third, book introductions give more detailed setting and message information as well as an outline, timelines, maps, author information, and a focus on the overall meaning and message of that book. Additional articles include a harmony of the Gospels, the inter-testamental period, and the time after the apostles.

The information about the articles, provided by Tyndale, is sufficiently self explanatory.

 

General Thoughts

This is a true study Bible in that there is something that you can benefit from irrespective of your experience with the Bible. As an example, I am a seasoned teacher and currently a senior pastor and both the apparatus and the word studies inform my sermons and provide a platform for launching more in-depth studies. In discipling others, I find the profiles to be quite helpful in helping my students to relate to the Scriptures.

 

The NLT Study Bible pairs perfectly with the Cornerstone Commentary Series from Tyndale (review coming soon). In fact, I would say that it is a gateway to using the Cornerstone Series for in depth study.

 

Tyndale has had some challenges with the opacity of its paper in some editions of the NLT but you will not find that here. The paper’s opacity lends itself to using by a desk lamp despite still being thin enough that you need not worry about the book being overly heavy.

 

The New Testament is a “Red-letter” edition. I have mixed feelings about this type of Bible. On the one hand it is very nice to have the words spoken by our Lord to be set apart for easy reading and I love that. On the other hand, when I write notes in a Bible, I usually do so in red. Even though the two shades of red are never the same, it can get a little distracting. I recommend using blue for your markings in the NT.

 

Who should use/buy the NLT Study Bible? While everyone can benefit from the NLT Study Bible, I recommend it for an intermediate level student. You will find it to be simple enough that you will not get bogged down and filled with enough resources that you will have years of solid study.

 

Is anything missing? At the risk of nitpicking, a good study Bible should have more than just a couple blank pages for notes and it would great to see a couple pages for each book, either at the end of the introductory materials or at the end of the text for each book of the Bible. I definitely recommend pairing the NLT with a good notebook; I do not think it would be possible to use this Bible to its full potential without taking notes.

 

Final Thoughts:

I have a couple colleagues that do not like study Bibles, they think it promotes intellectual laziness. I do not find that to be the case with the NLT Study Bible; in fact, it is quite the opposite for me. I find myself launching into deeper study with additional resources because the NLT Study Bible leaves me wanting more. I hope, beloved reader, that you will get one and enjoy it.

 

I do want to add; I disagree with the historicist/idealist interpretation of Revelation that you find in the notes. My area of expertise is Old Testament and I do not find that either a historicist or idealist view in Revelation fits the Old Testament’s eschatology. That being said, it is not a sufficient reason to detract from recommending this study Bible so I do. I think you should get one and use it daily for your study.