I previously wrote that Christians aim to live a life that is centered on God, but you can also avoid one. I want to discuss this by looking at the life of Jonah so that you won’t avoid a God-centered life but cultivate one. You can avoid it for a...
The end of December is a great time to reflect back on all the ways God has blessed us over the last year. Here at Unlocking the Bible, we’ve been blessed with great contributors who love the Lord, love God’s word, and have a special ability to share with others. I wanted to take a moment to look back on some of these articles, highlighting the 12 most popular articles for each of the 12 months. If you have not read these, please do so!
January – 10 Bible Reading Habits I’ve Learned from My Pastor (Rachel Lehner)
When seeking to understand the meaning of a word or verse, I’ve seen how important it is to interpret Scripture in light of itself. For example, I understood the word “blasphemy” to mean insulting or showing contempt for God. But my pastor used Mark 2:7 to explain Matthew 26:65, which defines “blasphemy” as claiming to be God. This makes the charge against Jesus before the priests all the more meaningful since Jesus was put to death for claiming to be God, the one crime for which Jesus could be rightfully convicted.
February – The 3-5 Method: Studying God’s Word When You’re Tired and Busy (Abbey Wedgeworth)
Whoever and wherever you are, be encouraged, my weary friend, that the Word of God has something for you in this season and your unique circumstances and limited abilities don’t disqualify you from accessing it. Regardless of the amount of time and energy you have or the amount of guilt or shame you feel, you can consistently engage with and be nourished by the Bible.
March – Pain Will Not Have the Final Word (Sarah Walton)
No one lives this life untouched. We all experience the brokenness and frailty of this world in one way or another. Whether we face daily disappointments, an aging body, a life-altering illness, abuse, broken relationships, or loss, the pain we experience becomes woven into the fabric of our lives. It changes us, sometimes leaving us with scars or a limp.
April – The Power of Our Criticism (Meredith Hodge)
Jesus tells us that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). When we fail to acknowledge the sin rooted in our hearts before we speak, our reckless words have the power to destroy, no matter how seemingly small.
May – What Happens When You Pray (Colin Smith)
Jesus lives to make our weak, stumbling prayers effective. He stands between us and the Father. Our weak prayers are sanctified and made fragrant through the blood of Jesus, so that the stammering prayers of people like us should carry weight with Almighty God!
June – Five Ways the Armor of God Protects Us Against the Enemy (Kevin Halloran)
Satan wants us to compromise the truth by giving into unrighteous living. We are to be unshakable and uncompromising in our moral lives: “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). When Christians live out their identity as the holy people of God, they become even more Christ-like, thus avoiding the trap of the enemy.
July – The Single Greatest Challenge of Your Christian Life (Colin Smith)
When you find something of supreme value, you go after it—regardless of the cost. If you have grasped the glory of Jesus Christ, you will wade into deeper water, giving sacrificially like never before. Costly obedience shows how you value Jesus Christ.
August – The Best Place to Flourish (Colin Smith)
Focus your best effort on what God has given you to do right now. It’s easy to waste your life, always looking at the next thing, but the best place to flourish is where God has set you down. Whatever God has given you to do, do it with all your heart! My pastor used to say, “Colin, there are no perfect places. The best place to flourish is where God has set you now.”
September – Good News for Stressed People (Kristen Wetherell)
What’s the result of trusting Christ’s lordship and enduring in his strength? Peace. And not only for us, but for those around us. When we are convinced that Jesus reigns as Lord on the throne of the universe and our lives, that nothing escapes or surprises him, and that he’ll guide and strengthen our way, the fruit of such trust is his peace.
October – Women, Wage War on a Lustful Heart (Brittany Allen)
We must put off thoughts of our old self and think on things of our new life in Christ. Meditate on the gospel—remember who you were before Jesus called you to himself and praise him for making you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). When temptation enters your mind, choose to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).
November – Five Words of Encouragement for Youth Pastors (Jon Nielson)
Your job is to communicate God’s Word to the young men and women you serve; you can trust Scripture to do the “heavy lifting” in ministry. More than being a guru, event coordinator, or entertainer, you must see yourself as a herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is revealed to us in the Word of God.
December – Christmas Lights Shine on Humanity’s Wounds (Chad Bird)
There is no dark pit of sadness so deep that his arm cannot reach to grab you and pull you back into the light of life again. There is no regret so final that his love cannot reverse and transform it into a hope again. No person who feels useless or utterly forgotten that is not precious to him. For he was willing to be born for you, to enter your pain, to absorb your scars, and to bring you out of the grave with him on his and your Easter day.