The Top 100 Verses In The Bible

You're reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

The following list of Bible verses features some of the most famous and best-loved verses in all of Scripture.  Each one is excellent for meditation, memorization, or just plain inspiration.

This list was compiled using the actual search results from a popular website called BibleGateway.com, which features a searchable Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.  The results were based on over 25 million searches made during March and April, 2009, where visitors searched for just one verse at a time.  (The earlier portion of this book was based on the search results where visitors looked up larger passages or entire chapters at a time, which resulted in the list of the top 20 passages in the Bible.)

All verses quoted here are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984), as they originally appeared in BibleGateway.com’s search results.

  1. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
  2. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  3. Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
  4. Philippians 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
  5. Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
  6. Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…
  7. Proverbs 3:6: …in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
  8. Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is―his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  9. Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  10. Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
  11. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith―and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…
  12. Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…
  13. Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God―this is your spiritual act of worship.
  14. John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
  15. Acts 18:10: For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
  16. Acts 18:9: One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.”
  17. Acts 18:11: So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
  18. Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  19. 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  20. Romans 3:23: …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
  21. John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  22. Matthew 28:20: “…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
  23. Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  24. Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable―if anything is excellent or praiseworthy―think about such things.
  25. Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  26. Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  27. Isaiah 40:31: …but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
  28. Ephesians 2:9: …not by works, so that no one can boast.
  29. Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  30. Galatians 5:23: …gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
  31. Isaiah 53:5: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
  32. 1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
  33. 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…
  34. Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
  35. Hebrews 12:2: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  36. 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
  37. Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  38. 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
  39. Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  40. Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
  41. 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  42. Hebrews 13:5: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  43. 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  44. Romans 10:9: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  45. Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  46. Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
  47. Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  48. John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  49. Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  50. 2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
  51. Isaiah 53:4: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
  52. 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  53. Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  54. John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies…”
  55. Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
  56. John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
  57. James 1:2: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
  58. Isaiah 53:6: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  59. Acts 2:38: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
  60. Ephesians 3:20: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…
  61. Matthew 11:30: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  62. Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
  63. Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  64. Hebrews 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
  65. James 5:16: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  66. Acts 17:11: Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
  67. Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
  68. John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  69. 1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
  70. 1 John 3:16: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
  71. Psalm 133:1: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
  72. John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  73. Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
  74. John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
  75. Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  76. Romans 10:17: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
  77. John 1:12: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
  78. James 1:12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
  79. James 1:3: because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
  80. Romans 8:38: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers…
  81. Romans 8:39: …neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  82. Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another―and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  83. 2 Peter 1:4: Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
  84. Philippians 1:6: …being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  85. Psalm 133:3: It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
  86. Hebrews 4:16: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  87. Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  88. John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
  89. Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
  90. Isaiah 26:3: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
  91. 1 Peter 2:24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
  92. Joshua 1:8: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  93. Matt 28:18: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ”
  94. Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…
  95. Matthew 22:37: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
  96. Psalm 133:2: It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
  97. Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
  98. Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
  99. Hebrews 4:15: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are―yet was without sin.
  100. John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Small Group Study Guide For The Top 20 Passages In The Bible

You're reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

I’m excited to offer this study guide for groups who want to study this material together!  While studying God’s Word on your own can be extremely rewarding, studying it with others can be even more so.  I’ve learned from my own experience that the words of Solomon are true:  “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

This study is divided into twenty lessons (not counting the Introduction and Conclusion), and the questions that follow can be used for personal reflection, group discussion, or a combination of both.

If your group wants to read and discuss each lesson together, they could meet once a week and complete this study in twenty weeks.  If your group wants to cover the material more quickly, group members could study several lessons on their own during the week, then discuss those lessons together with the group (covering, for example, five lessons per week for a period of four weeks).

However you choose to do it, I pray that God will speak to you through it!

Introduction – The Top 20 Passages In The Bible

The Bible is filled with passages that God can use to speak to you at any time, whether those passages are well-known or not.  But because the Bible is both “God-breathed,” and “living and active,” God can bring any passage to life right before your eyes, speaking directly to your heart and mind.

1.  Has the Bible ever spoken to you in a way that you felt that God Himself was speaking to you through the words on the pages?  What is one of your favorite Bible passages, and why?  

2.  What do you think makes the Bible the best-selling book of all time?  Even if the words on its pages weren’t attributed to God Himself, why might the Bible still be a best-seller?

Number 20 – The Christmas Story

Luke’s version of the birth of Christ contains many miracles―with angels everywhere, a tongue that is tied and then loosened again, and even a virgin birth.  Yet Luke’s account is one of the most detailed and well-researched of the four gospels, having been written by a medical doctor who personally travelled with the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys.

 1.  When you think of the Christmas story, what are some incidents that stand out in your mind as miraculous?  When you read Luke’s account of the events surrounding the birth of Christ, what details does he include that he might have gathered from eye-witnesses?

2.  Why might the angel Gabriel speak with such authority regarding the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises?  When Gabriel said to Elizabeth “For nothing is impossible with God,” what was he referring to specifically in her case?  How might that encourage you that there really is nothing else that is impossible with God either?

Number 19 – Making The Best Use Of The Time

Paul told the Ephesians to make the best use of their time, living as wise, not unwise people.  He spoke of specific things they should avoid doing, and specific things that they should begin doing, if they weren’t already.

1.  What are a few of the things Paul specifically urged the Ephesians not to do?  What are a few of the things he specifically urged them to do?

2.  What caused the change in Alfred Nobel’s life, even though he was near the end of it?  How can thinking through how you’ll be remembered in the future change the way you live your life now?  Are there specific changes you could make right now to keep from wasting time―and making the most of the time you still have left?

Number 18 – God’s Love For You

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he said that he got down on his knees to pray for them, that they would be able to know the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for them.  He knew how hard grasping God’s love and grace could be, yet he spends a great deal of time trying to help them grasp this life-giving truth.

1.  What are some things that happen to people that can make them question God’s love for them?  What are some things that have happened to you that have made you question His love?

2.  Other than prayer, how can you get a better picture of what God’s love for you looks like?  And through prayer, what specifically might you pray so that you could better grasp God’s love?

Number 17 – The Gospel In A Nutshell

The most famous quote in the Bible took place in a conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council who came to Jesus at night.  Jesus told him that for someone to enter the kingdom of God, they must be born again―that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.

1.  What other story did Jesus bring up in his conversation with Nicodemus to talk about God’s willingness to forgive and heal His people when they sinned?  How does this story relate to what Jesus was about to do on the cross?

2.  Why did Jesus describe entering the kingdom of God as being “born again”?  Do you feel like you’ve been “born again”?  And if not, do you want to be?

Number 16 – The Power Of God For Salvation

The Apostle Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it was the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  In describing this gospel, Paul first explains the “bad news” regarding our sinfulness, then leads into the “good news” regarding our future if we’re willing to put our faith in Christ.

1.  Why is it helpful to understand the “bad news” of the gospel in order to understand why it is such “good news”?  What does the “wrath of God” look like, according to this passage?

2.  What are ways that people turn against God’s plans for their lives, according to Romans 1?  In what ways might God’s wrath manifest itself in the lives of people who do these things, without God even having to intervene?

3.  In Romans 1:32, Paul says “they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”  Why might giving approval to some of these things add to the damage that is already being done?  And what can someone do to be delivered from God’s wrath?

Number 15 – Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Calling

Even though Paul was imprisoned for his faith, he was able to treat those around him with the love that God had shown to him.  He encouraged the Ephesians to renew their minds so they could walk in a manner worthy of the calling they had receive from God.

1.  How does Dennis the Menace’s comment to his friend about Mrs. Wilson’s goodness to them relate to God’s goodness to us?  How is Paul able to draw on this truth to extend love to those who mistreated him?

2.  What does Paul tell us to “put off” in this passage, and why?  And what does he tell us to “put on” instead, and why?  How does he suggest we do that, particularly in regards to our minds?

Number 14 – God Knows You

King David wrote many beautiful songs, called Psalms, that are recorded for us in the Bible.  One of the most beloved among them is Psalm 139, which describes in detail just how intimately God knows each one of us, reminding us that there is no place in the world that we can go where He is not there with us.

1.  What are some of the details that God knows about you, as mentioned in Psalm 139?  Do any surprise you, or give you special comfort?

2.  What things come to mind that make you think you were “fearfully and wonderfully made”?  Do you think God has a plan for your life, based on the words in this Psalm?

Number 13 – Like A Tree Planted By Water

Sometimes we want to go and do something for God, but He wants us to be like a tree planted by the water, drawing life from His Word.  In this way, we can refresh ourselves,  provide shade and rest for those who are drawn to us, and like a strong and healthy tree, yield fruit at the proper time.

1.  What are some of the things this Psalm says that we should do―and not do―in order to grow and prosper in our lives?  How can we do those things in a practical way?

2.  What are some of the benefits of doing―and not doing―these things in our lives?  How did Thomas Merton describe the renewal he experienced when reading God’s Word?

Number 12 – Don’t Be Anxious

Writing from a prison cell, the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in the city of Philippi not to be anxious about anything, but to give thanks to God, making their requests known to God.  He reminded them that the Lord was “at hand,” and urged them to dwell as much as possible on things that were good and godly.

1.  What did Paul mean when he said the Lord is “at hand”?  What difference can that knowledge make in your thoughts and attitudes towards what you’re facing?

2.  What are some of your favorite things, things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise?  How might dwelling on such thoughts keep your thoughts in perspective?

Number 11 – A Living Sacrifice

In Romans 12, Paul talks about being “a living sacrifice,” using your gifts to make an offering to God, at the same time blessing you and those around you.  Paul lists many of these gifts,  saying that each of us has been given different gifts by God and are to use them according to the grace God has given to us.

1.  How can identifying some of your passions in life help you to also identify the gifts God may have given you?  Based on the meaning of the word enthusiasm, how can our enthusiasm relate to our giftedness?

2.  What are some of the spiritual gifts, as listed in Romans 12, that you feel most passionate about?  If you could be the best at one particular skill, what would it be, and why?  How might your answers to these two questions be related.

Number 10 – The Reality Of Heaven

After telling the disciples He was going away, Jesus assured them that He would not leave them alone, sending the Holy Spirit to be with them while He was gone.  He also assured them that He was going to prepare a place for them and would return for them.

1.  Why did Jesus say to the disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled”?  What assurances did He give them so they wouldn’t have to worry about His going away, or their future?

2.  What did Jesus say they could do if they ever needed anything?  And what did He ask them to do if He ever needed them to do something?

3.  When Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life, why did He add that no one could come to the Father except through Him?  Are you sure you’re going to heaven, and if not, are you ready yet to put your faith in Christ to get that assurance?

Number 9 – Need Wisdom? Ask God!

God loves to pour out His wisdom to those who ask Him for it, for He has a vested interest in the decisions we make.  But James reminds us that when we ask for wisdom, we are to ask for it in faith, believing that God will answer us, and that He has our best interests at heart.

1.  Why does James say we must ask for wisdom “in faith”?  What does he say will happen to the person who doesn’t believe what God tells them in response to their prayers?

2.  How hard is it for you to say, “Yes, Lord!” to God even before He’s given you His answer?  How would it change your prayers if you were to tell God you would do whatever He said, even before you knew His answer?

Number 8 – Will God Really Reward You?

Some people believe that the only rewards you’ll get in life are the ones you get here and now here on earth.  But Jesus says that there are all kinds of rewards awaiting us in heaven when we put our faith in Him, trusting Him to reward us for acts done in secret with rewards that won’t rust or rot away but will last forever.

1.  How does Jesus say we can store up rewards for ourselves in heaven?  Why does He say we should work towards those rewards instead of just rewards that we can get here on earth?

2.  What specific things might you change in your life if you were to really focus on storing up rewards for yourself in heaven?  How might focusing on heaven―seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost―help you not to worry about things you need here on earth?

Number 7 – Where Should I Start?

Many people recommend to those who are new at reading the Bible to start in the book of John, for John gives a great overview of the life of Jesus, and focuses on Jesus’ great love for  each one of us.  John’s purpose of writing the book is recorded in chapter 20, saying that his hope is that those reading his words will put their faith in Jesus.

1.  In the opening words of John chapter 1, why does John describe Jesus as “the Word”? What does he mean when he says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”? 

2.  If you look through the book of John, what are a few of the many verses that talk about God’s love for us?  Are some of these particularly meaningful to you at this time in your life?  

3.  If you’ve never read through the book of John, would you be interested in reading it now, reading, for instance, a chapter a day for the next 21 days?

Number 6 – The Best Sermon Ever

Jesus preached His famous “Sermon on the Mount” on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee.  In the sermon, Jesus addressed dozens of practical issues that people face in their lives, and ends with an encouragement to be like a person who built their house on solid rock, by putting the words He had spoken into practice.

1.  As you look through the “Sermon on the Mount,” what are some of the phrases that strike you as particularly famous?  What are some of the phrases that stand out as important to what you’re dealing with today?

2.  What does Jesus say a person will be like if they hear His words and put them into practice?  And what will a person be like who hears His words and doesn’t put them into practice?  How can you put Jesus’ words into practice in your life this week?

Number 5 – God’s Protection

In Psalm 92, Moses says that God’s protective hand will shelter those who put their faith in Him.  Moses knew this truth first-hand, having believed God when God called him to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians, following God’s commands and staying safe and secure under His protective wings.

1.  What are some of the benefits of staying close to God, as described in Psalm 91?   Which of these benefits are particularly appealing to you in your life right now?

2.  What’s the difference, in your own words, between just believing in God and believing God?  What could you do this week to demonstrate that you do both?  And what benefits could there be if you do?

Number 4 – God Works For Your Good

In Romans chapter 8, Paul reminds us that God works all things for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  He also reminds us that the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living inside us, and can give life to our mortal bodies as well.

1.  How can the karate concept of “borrowed force” be applied to our lives today, in light of what Paul says in Romans 8:28?  Have you ever seen God work things out for good which looked, at first, to be disastrous?

2.  Why does Paul say there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?  What are some of the things Paul lists at the end of Romans 8 that can’t separate us from the love of God?

Number 3 – From Cover To Cover

The Bible begins with Genesis chapter 1, which describes the creation of the world, and it’s a great place to start reading the Bible, and keep reading all the way through it all the way to the end.  Reading it like this from cover to cover, over and over again, is one of the best ways to grow in your faith, and in your ability to share that faith with others.

1.  What benefits might there be from reading the Bible all the way through, from cover to cover?  What benefits might there be from reading it from cover to cover, several times, especially at different stages of your life?

2.  Have you ever read through the entire Bible, from cover to cover?   If not, would you consider doing it?  If so, are you ready to do it again?

Number 2 – Savoring Every Word

Psalm 23 is the second most popular passage in the Bible, describing God as a shepherd who leads us beside His still waters.  Each word of this Psalm is precious, just as each word in the Bible is precious, and there are times when God wants us to savor every word.

1.  What are some of the benefits of having the Lord as your shepherd, as described in Psalm 23?  Have you ever felt like God was leading you to a place of rest, and what purpose did He seem to have for doing this?

2.  What are some of the benefits of reading big chunks of the Bible at one time?  And what are some of the benefits of taking your time and savoring just a few words or phrases at a time?

Number 1 – The Love Test

Paul’s famous passage on love is a reminder that God wants love to pervade everything you do, for without it, even if you had faith to move mountains or to give away everything you owned to the poor, you would gain nothing.  In the end, life is not about all that you do, but doing all that you do in love.

1.  How do Paul’s words about love, and the motivations behind what we do, put our good deeds into perspective?  Can a person do good deeds without love?  Can a person love without good deeds?

2.  How can Paul’s words about love―pure love―be used as a checklist to see how well we’re doing in our own relationships?  What does Paul mean when he says at the end of this passage, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”?

Conclusion – The Ultimate Love Affair

There’s a danger when reading the Bible that we can be so focused on the words on the pages that we forget to focus on the One who is described by those words.  God wants us to do both, to learn more about Him from the stories and writings about Him in the Bible, and then to use those Scriptures to deepen our understanding of and relationship with Him.

 1.  Why did Jesus rebuke the religious leaders of His day in John 5:39-40, when they were obviously searching the Scriptures diligently, which would seem like a good thing?  What warning is there for us in these words today?

2.  What might you do differently as a result of reading this warning?  What added dimension might this bring to the way you read your Bible from now on?

Conclusion: The Ultimate Love Affair

You're reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading:  John 5:39-40

Some people wonder why Christians have such a love affair with the Bible.  The truth is that we’re not just in love with the words on the pages.  We’re in love with the One who is portrayed by those words.

It’s like carrying around a picture of your beloved in your purse or wallet.  When you take out that picture, looking fondly at the image, and maybe even brushing the picture up against your cheek, or giving it a kiss with your lips, it’s not that you’re in love with the picture on the paper.  You’re in love with the one whose image is displayed on the paper.

In the same way, those who love their Bibles aren’t just in love with the Bible.  They’re in love with the One who is displayed on its pages.

Yet as wonderful as this kind of love affair with the Bible can be, there’s a surprising danger in it.  There are times when you might fall so much in love with the words on the pages that you miss having a relationship with the Word Himself, Jesus Christ, who is described on those pages.  Even Jesus warned of this danger when He said to some of the religious leaders of His day:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). 

The Message translation of the Bible paraphrases these same words of Jesus like this:

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there…These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you” (John 5:39-40, MSG). 

Imagine holding a picture of your beloved in your hands, treasuring it, pulling it close to your heart, and even gazing at it longingly, all the while not even realizing or acknowledging that your beloved is standing right there next to you the whole time!

As much as I love the Bible―and it is my favorite book in the world―I have to remind myself from time to time that the Trinity is not made up of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scripture.”  But rather, the Trinity is made up of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” three aspects of the same singular God who loves you and wants to be involved actively in your life today!

Keep reading your Bible, but don’t forget:  Jesus is STILL alive!  When His Holy Spirit prompts you to give, then give!  When you ask Him a question in prayer, then wait and listen for His answer!  When you’re feeling stressed  and start meditating on God’s Word, remember that God’s Word―Jesus Christ―is standing right there with you, too!

The words of the Bible are like love letters to you from your beloved, scented with the perfume of heaven, and sealed with a kiss from the Creator of the universe.  He loves you more than you could know, and He demonstrated that love by sending His Son Jesus to live and die and rise again from the dead, so you can live and die and rise again from the dead with Him one day, too.  If you’re going to have a love affair, make sure you have it not just with the words on the pages of the Bible, but have it with the One who is described by those words:  Jesus Christ!

Prayer

Father thank You for showing us who you are on the pages of the Bible.  Help us to read Your Word as love letters from You, and help us to remind ourselves that our relationship is with You―a real and living Person.  We invite you to speak into our lives again today, and continue to speak to us throughout our lives and on into heaven, when we will be with You forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Memory Verse

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Number 1: The Love Test

You're reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

There’s a philosophy in ethics called “enlightened self-interest.”  It’s the intriguing idea that many of the “good deeds” we do are not motivated entirely for the benefit of others, but somehow serve our own self-interests as well.

Giving to charity, for instance, is a noble endeavor.  But if our giving is solely dependent on whether or not we get a tax-deduction for our gift, then our giving really falls in the category of enlightened self-interest.  We’re glad to give―as long as our giving benefits us back in some way.

Not that there’s anything wrong with enlightened self-interest in and of itself, as the idea of giving, and getting something in return, is the basis of economies all over the world.  It only becomes a problem when we mistake enlightened self-interest for selfless love, thinking that what we’re doing is truly loving, when in reality it could be simply selfishness masquerading as love.

Today we’re looking at a passage in the Bible that deals almost entirely with love.  Pure love.  A love that is selfless and unadulterated.  A love that gives without expecting anything in return.  It’s found in chapter 13 of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the believers who were living in the city of Corinth.  Paul wrote the letter as a reminder to the Corinthians that no matter how important all of their gifts and abilities might be, they were meaningless without love.  Paul wrote:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). 

Paul knew that God wants love to be at the core of everything we do.  In the end, as Oliver Thomas said, “Authentic religion is not a theology test.  It’s a love test.”  As important as theology is―and moving mountains and giving sacrificially and every other good thing in which we engage―love must pervade them all, or else we’ve failed the test.

Paul continues his letter by writing one of the most beautiful definitions of love found in all of literature.  Because of this, 1 Corinthians 13 is frequently read at wedding ceremonies throughout the world.  Paul says:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). 

Paul’s words serve as a checklist of sorts to help us determine how truly loving we are towards those around us.  While many times we might think we’re acting in love, if we compare our love to the love described in this passage, we’ll get to the heart of what truly motivates us.  Is it pure love?  Or just some form of “enlightened self-interest,” giving to others with the hope that we might get some kind of benefit in return?

There are times when we buy cards or gifts, or do favors for people, which seem selfless on the surface.  But when we don’t get the desired response in return for our efforts, our selfishness is exposed.  Perhaps we weren’t being truly as loving or generous as we thought.  When thinking about some of the relationships in your own life, you can ask yourself these questions, based on 1 Corinthians 13:

Is my love for this person patient and kind?
Is it envious or boastful?
Is it arrogant or rude?
Does it insist on its own way?
Is it irritable or resentful?
Does it rejoice at wrongdoing?  Or does it rejoice with the truth?
Does it bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things?
Does my love for them never end? 

If you’re like me, just reading through this list can be convicting.  But Paul didn’t write these words to dash us to pieces.  He wrote them to lift us up, to encourage us to do what’s right, and to begin loving others for all the right reasons again.

Let love motivate everything you do―not selfishness, and not selfishness masquerading as love.  As you put these words into practice, you’ll see why Paul closes this famous chapter on love by saying that of all the incredible gifts, that God has given you,

“ … the greatest of these is love.” 

(1 Corinthians 13:13b)

Prayer

Father, thank You for loving us with a selfless love.  We pray that You would help us show that same kind of love to those around us.  Help us to be patient and kind, not envious or boastful.  Keep us from arrogance or rudeness, or insisting on our own way, or being irritable or resentful.  Help us to never rejoice at wrongdoing, but to always rejoice with the truth.  Thank You for Your never ending love for us, and help us to love others in the exact same way.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Memory Verse

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV).

Number 2: Savoring Every Word

You're reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading THE TOP 20 PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE, by Eric Elder, featuring 20 inspiring devotionals based on the 20 most popular passages in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 23

Last time I talked about the value of reading the entire Bible from cover to cover. This time I’d like to focus on another approach to reading the Bible: savoring every word. For the goal of reading the Bible is not just to get all the way through it,  but to let it get all through you!

One way to do that is to go slowly and meditate on the words you’re reading―to think deeply about them and the implications they may have on your life.

For instance, let’s take a close look at just a few verses from Psalm 23, the second most popular passage in the Bible. Because Psalm 23 is such a popular passage, you might be tempted to read it so quickly that you miss the flavor and nutrients offered by each of its words. But by slowing down and meditating on every word, you can better digest what you’re reading.

Here’s what happened to me as I spent time meditating on the first few verses of Psalm 23 this week, which starts like this:

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-2a). 

As I started with the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” I thought about how God isn’t just “a” god or “one god out of many,” but that He is “THE God, THE Lord, THE One and Only Creator of the universe, THE Author and Sustainer of my life, with all of my life’s intricate complexities.

As I thought about the little word “is” in “The Lord is my shepherd,” I thought about the fact that the Lord IS my shepherd―not that He was my shepherd, or that He will be my shepherd, but that He IS my shepherd, taking care of me, protecting me, and nourishing me, right here and right now.

As I looked at the word “my,” in “The Lord is my shepherd,” I realized that the Lord is not just our shepherd, or the shepherd of the whole world, but that He’s also MY shepherd. He knows me by name (see John 10:3 and 11), and if I ever strayed away, I know He would leave the rest of the flock behind in safety in order to find me and rescue me from danger (see Matthew 18, 12-14).

With the Lord as my shepherd, it’s no wonder the verse continues with the words: “I shall not want.”

But it was when I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” that God began to speak personally and specifically to me about a situation in my life that happened about a year ago, when we were considering launching out into a whole new aspect of our ministry.  At the last minute, God redirected our steps and moved us out to where we’re living now at Clover Ranch. As I read about the green pastures this week, I was watching my son mow the green grass in our front yard for the first time this year.

Although a year ago it seemed like God was pulling the rug out from under our feet in some ways, the truth was that He was “making us lie down in green pastures.” He was leading us beside His still waters. He was restoring our souls. I was reminded of the quote from Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, who said,

“God will often deliver us in a manner that seems initially to destroy us.”

Oh, how thankful I was―and am―to have the Lord as my shepherd!

I didn’t make it through the rest of Psalm 23 that day, but what a sweet time I had with God by just meditating on a few of His words.

As much as I love encouraging people to read through their whole Bibles many times, I love it, too, when they can savor every word. I’d encourage you to read through the rest of Psalm 23 for yourself today, stopping and meditating on those words or phrases that seem to stand out to you. Let them sink deep into your heart and mind, and let God restore your soul.

Prayer

Father, thank You for the richness of Your Word, and for using it to speak into our hearts and lives. Help us to read it thoroughly, to think about it deeply, and to let it impact the way we live our lives here on earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Memory Verse

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, ESV).