The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Three

The EssentialGuid toVerseMapping3

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse and Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of the Bible.

The EssentialGuide to VerseMapping3

Step Three: Cross-References

Now you’re ready for the third step in the Verse Mapping process–finding cross-references. A cross-reference is a verse that relates to your verse. It may use similar words or be on the same topic. The cross-references shed additional light on the topic as other authors teach on it.

Martin Luther wrote that “Scripture is its own expositor.” When we have questions about a verse, the best place to go for answers is the Bible. Other passages in the Bible can explain places that are difficult for us to understand. The more we read the clearer Scripture will become. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word and illumines our comprehension.

One way to find cross-references is to use a study Bible. Often a study Bible will list the cross-references in the middle of the page between the two columns. To find a cross-reference, look for your verse number. The letters indicate cross-references for different parts of the verse, different concepts.

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Using Bible Gateway for Cross-References

Or you can use online Bibles for finding cross-references. On Bible Gateway, once you have found your chosen verse, you click on the gear symbol for “Settings,” and then on “Cross-references.” You will have to make sure that the version you are looking at has cross-references. For instance, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Version, the New International Version have cross-references available. The New Living Translation and the Amplified Bible do not.

In the screenshot below, note the gear symbol (green arrow). Once you click the gear, the drop-down menu is visible. You can see that the cross-reference box is checked.


To find the cross-references, I look at my verse–John 15:5–and look for the letters in parenthesis. I can click on one of the letters and a little box with the cross-references will appear:


Or I can remember the letters in my verse–in this case, J and K–and then scroll down where all the cross-references are listed. You can click on the references and the verses will be displayed.


Some verses will have many cross-references. Others only a few. Write your chosen cross-references into your Verse Map Template.

Verse Mapping Step 3

From the cross-references for John 15:5, I notice that abiding in Christ is possible because we are united with Christ through His death and His resurrection. John 15:16 tells me that Jesus chose me so that I could bear fruit–lasting fruit. This is amazing to me! First of all, I’m astounded at being chosen and second, that part of my calling is to produce something lasting for God’s kingdom.

Through His Word, God continually teaches me more about being His child. Verse Mapping helps me see things that I might not otherwise notice.

Next Step: If you haven’t done so already, give Verse Mapping a try. Download a Verse Mapping template here. Look up cross-references for your chosen verse.


The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Two

The EssentialGuidetoVerseMapping2

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous post, we discussed choosing a verse to study, assembling supplies, and Step One of examining the context of the verse.

The EssentialGuide to VerseMapping2

Verse Mapping Step Two: Other Translations

Now you’re ready for step two–looking at your chosen verse in other translations or versions of the Bible. This simple step can shed new light on the verse because a different version may translate the original Hebrew or Greek words with different English words that allow you to look at the verse in a new way. You gain new insight, a fresh perspective.

You can do this step with additional Bibles you own. Bible nerd that I am, I own English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), Amplified Bible (AMP), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and The Living Bible (TLB).


You can also look up your verse in different translations with a parallel Bible which contains several versions side by side.

Image result for parallel bible

But the easiest way to do this is to use an online Bible site. My favorite site for this is Bible Here is a screenshot of John 15:5 in ESV, NIV, NLT, and AMP.

John 15-5 in parallel translations

My go-to version is English Standard Version because it is one that stays very close to the original languages. NIV is a little more readable. New Living Translation often makes verses easier to understand. And I love the Amplified Bible because it expands certain words, giving additional meaning derived from the original languages.

With my chosen verse of John 15:5, I started out with ESV. But from the other versions, I can see that abide can mean remain. Abiding in Christ is remaining connected to Him. Perhaps remaining is more passive than abiding, reminding me that Christ is holding me. My role is simply not to wriggle away. From NLT I can see that bearing fruit is the same as producing fruit. And the Amplified Bible gives a little more meaning to “apart from Me”–“cut off from vital union with Me.” All of this helps me understand the verse a little better.

Using Bible Gateway

To look up your verse in multiple versions, go to and enter your verse in the search bar.

Then click on the “Add parallel” icon (note green arrow below):


You can look at up to five versions at a time. To change the version, click on the little gray arrow next to one of the versions and a menu of over 100 versions will pop up (note yellow arrow in picture below.) Click on the version you want to look at.

BibleGatewayVersions (2)

Now write your favorite versions into your verse map. I chose the Amplified Version and also The Message because they both added new insights. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible, not a direct translation. Sometimes I think it is way off from the true meaning of the verse, but for John 15:5 I thought it did a good job of catching the meaning and expressing it in a new way.

Verse Mapping Step 2

These versions remind me that apart from Christ, I can do nothing. But joined with Him, I can have an abundant fruit. Even in this process of Verse Mapping, rely on the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you. We cannot do it on our own. But, God loves to reveal Himself in His Word.

Next step: Look up your chosen verse in different translations or versions of the Bible. Choose your favorites and write them in your Verse Map. You can download my Verse Map template here.



The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step One

The Essential Guideto VerseMapping

You love Scripture. You read it. You listen to it. You meditate on it.

Through it the voice of God speaks to your heart.

But sometimes you wish you could get more out of it.

Enter Verse Mapping.

What exactly is Verse Mapping?

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In Verse Mapping, you look at the individual parts of a Bible verse and then put it back together with the new understanding you have gained. It incorporates all the things I usually do to dig into God’s Word in a systematic way. Through this method, you will grasp the meaning of the verse in a new way that will help you apply it to your life.

Getting Started

To start the Verse Mapping process, you will need to:

A. Grab your supplies for your Bible journey.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all these tools. With each step, I will show you how to use online Bible tools.


The EssentialGuide toVerse Mapping

B. Select a verse to diagram

  • Begin with prayer: ask God to lead you to the verse you need right now.
  • Consider a verse from your daily Bible reading plan.
  • Or pick a favorite verse that you have questions about or want to understand better.
  • Copy your verse from your favorite translation of the Bible to the top of your verse map.

To illustrate the process, I will be mapping John 15:5 on my Verse Mapping template:

VerseMapStep 1Verse Mapping Step 1: Context

Now you’re ready for Step 1 of Verse Mapping–discovering the context of the verse. Look in your Bible and find out what was happening before and after the verse. If the verse is part of a story or narrative give a summary. Note who said or wrote the words in your chosen verse.

Context is very important to understanding the big picture. It will help you avoid making applications of the verse that were never meant by the original author.

Verse Mapping Step 1a

Now grab your supplies and start your own verse map. Whenever we open God’s Word, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and teaches us the mind of Christ. Verse Mapping can help us pay attention to His voice.

Download a copy of the Verse Mapping template here.

Next week we will explore Step 2.

Next step: Ask God to help you choose the verse that He wants you to study–the verse you need for spiritual growth. Ask Him to guide you through this in-depth study process.

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Word of the Year

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Word of the Year

I love new beginnings. They motivate me to start new habits and learn new things. That’s why at the beginning of a new year I pick a word to guide the next twelve months. One word to inspire the next 52 weeks. One word to direct the next 365 days.

I used to make a long list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve. Lose 10 pounds. Exercise 5 times a week. Organize all closets. But most of the time, the resolutions I made on January 1 were all but forgotten by January 31.

Choosing one word has been more successful. Instead of ten or twenty resolutions to remember, it’s only one word. Plus I find it helpful to have a single focus for the year. There are dozens of things I want to accomplish, hundreds of things I want to learn, a myriad of ways I hope to grow in my Christian faith, but I find I can’t do it all at the same time. Choosing one word gives me one area to focus on during the year. By the end of those twelve months, I hope that one thing will seep into my soul and that God will work that characteristic into my heart.

However, sometimes my word of the year has met the same fate as my old resolutions–forgotten. I have picked a word in January and promptly forgotten it by February.

To prevent that from happening again in 2017, I decided to do things differently. I chose the word abide, but besides simply choosing that word, I purposely set out to know what abide meant. I meditated on the word and asked God to teach me and change me. I searched through Scripture and delved into Greek and English meanings.

7 Ways to Make the Most of Yourof the YearPIN

If you would like to get more out of your one word this year, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make your word visible. I made a mini-poster of the word abide using a photo I found online. I used the photo-editing site Canva to add the word to the photo. I then printed the mini-poster and hung it near my computer where I would see it often. Here is my mini-poster.Copy of abide
  2. Find Scriptures. I did a word search on Bible Gateway (an incredibly helpful online Bible) and found Scriptures that contained the word abide. I picked one verse as a “theme verse” for the year: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
  3. Memorize verses with your chosen word. I also decided to memorize a few verses with the word or concept of abide. Regularly reviewing these verses imprinted them on my soul. Meditating on them opened up my heart to listen to what the Holy Spirit had to teach me about abiding. Even if you don’t like memorizing, you can obtain the same effect by posting verses with your one word on your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator. Every time you see the Scriptures, read them and remember.
  4. Discover the meaning of your word. To really understand the word abide, I looked up the meaning of the word on I also got more insights into the word by looking up the Greek word translated as abide in the New Testament on the site Blue Letter Bible. You can find out what I learned about abide here and here.
  5. Read books on the topic of your one word. During my year of abide, I read the classic Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray and A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes which talks about living in Christ. These books gave me deeper insights into abiding in Christ.

To receive two more ways to get more out of your one word this year, simply enter your email in the form below and hit “subscribe.” You will not only gain access to those two more suggestions but a helpful ten-page workbook that outlines all seven methods. It gives you space to study your word and room to record your insights. Plus, by signing up, you will receive more ideas to get the most of your one word throughout the year.

Next step: Start with this prayer: Lord Jesus, work in my heart. Open my mind to what You want to work in my soul this year. Help me to choose a word that will guide me on the path You want me to walk. Teach me and transform me in the coming months. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Get the Most Out of Your One Word

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Advent Waiting: Waiting With Gladness

Advent WaitingwithGladness

Advent is a waiting season. A time of waiting for Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, the nation of Israel was waiting for the fulfillment of the promises for a Savior. They had been waiting for thousands of years. But there was one man who probably was waiting more expectantly than anyone else:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:25-26)

We assume Simeon was old because death was on his mind. But God had made a very specific promise to him–he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. Perhaps every day, he woke up thinking, “Is today the day?”

Then one day the Holy Spirit moved him to go to the temple courts. It “happened” to be the day that Mary and Joseph were bringing the baby Jesus to the temple to be circumcised.

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When Simeon saw this humble couple, he (like the prophetess Anna) recognized their young son as the Messiah. He went up to them, took the baby Jesus in his arms and said,

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.

(Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon’s wait was over. he had seen the Savior.

When we are waiting–waiting for a husband, a child, a job–let’s remember that our most excruciating wait is over. God has sent the Savior! We no longer have to feel the burden of sin. We no longer have to drown in guilt and shame. Jesus came to the world, died in our place, and rose in victory.

When we are waiting, let's remember that our most excruciating wait is over. God has sent the Savior! Click To Tweet

Yes, I might still complain when I’m waiting for healing, waiting to see my grandchildren, waiting for my coffee order at Starbucks. But even while I’m waiting, I can rejoice that the worst wait is over.

The Light of the world has come. He has entered the world and my heart. And no matter what else happens in this crazy world, I know that I, like Simeon, can depart in peace. And because of that I can rejoice.

Next step: If you do not know for sure that you are going to heaven, I assure you that Christ died and rose for you too. If you would like to experience God’s love and forgiveness, simply pray this prayer:

Father in heaven, I realize that I am a sinner and fall short of what You want for my life. I know that I cannot save myself or earn eternal life. Thank You for sending Jesus to die for me. Because of His death and resurrection, You have made me alive for eternity. Help me to turn from my sins and follow You. Thank You for the gift of faith in Your Son, Jesus, my Savior and for the assurance of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


Cover of 7 WordsIf you would like to learn more about waiting well, check out my new eBook: 7 Words Your Soul Needs in a Waiting Season. 

In it, you will discover seven words that can mean wait. Seven words that can give hope and purpose in the middle of delay. Seven words your soul needs in a waiting season.

It’s FREE! Just sign up for my encouraging monthly newsletter and you will receive this devotional eBook with seven lessons on waiting, plus beautiful graphics of my favorite waiting Scriptures that you can print and frame.

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Advent Waiting: Waiting in God’s Grace

Advent WaitinginGod'sGrace

Advent is a season of waiting. We remember the world’s long wait for a Savior and we anticipate Jesus’ second return.

Often we focus more on the remembering part. Advent means setting up manger scenes, sending out Christmas cards with pictures of Baby Jesus, and singing carols about Christ’s birth. But let’s not forget to prepare for Jesus’ second coming.

The Story of the Ten Bridesmaids

Jesus told a story to encourage His disciples to be prepared and ready for His return.

The characters in the story are ten bridesmaids who are waiting for the bridegroom to take them to the wedding feast. It’s evening and they all have brought lamps to light their procession through the dark city streets. The bridegroom is delayed. All ten of the bridesmaids get drowsy and fall asleep. In the middle of the night, the bridegroom finally comes. His delay was so long that all of their lamps have gone out.

Five of the bridesmaids are prepared for this problem. They have brought extra oil. In a moment, their lamps are relit. The other bridesmaids are forced to go to the oil sellers and cannot go with the bridegroom. Later, when they arrive at the feast, they are not allowed in. (Matthew 25:1-13)

Through the story, Jesus reminds us all that we need to rely on the oil of His grace as we wait for His return.

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Waiting is Not a Waste of Time

When I put myself in the story, I think my reaction as one of the bridesmaids would have been, “What is taking this guy so long? Doesn’t he realize my time is important? I could be doing something significant. Instead, I’m just sitting here!”

But maybe, a wiser bridesmaid would have gently reminded me, “But waiting here is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Waiting for the bridegroom is our role. It is an honor to be chosen as a member of the bridal party. When we get to the amazing feast the Bridegroom is preparing, we won’t even remember the agony of the wait. The love of the Bridegroom is worth waiting for.”

If you are in a waiting season–waiting for healing, waiting for a solution to a problem, waiting for an answer to prayer–remember that even when waiting seems like a waste of time, waiting is often our role as God’s chosen people. During that delay, the Holy Spirit teaches us patience, hope, and trust. 

When waiting seems like a waste of time, remember that during the delay, the Holy Spirit teaches us patience,… Click To Tweet

So while you are waiting–waiting for help, healing, and Christ’s return–wait in the strength of God’s grace. Don’t let your lamp go out. Find a fresh supply of the oil that fuels your faith in the means of grace: God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper.

Next step: Find encouragement in the words of Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Post those words somewhere you’ll notice them often today and when you read them, remember that waiting is the privilege of the chosen bridesmaid! 

If you would like to learn more about waiting well, check out my new book: Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust.

Waiting Cover002 - Copy (2)The book studies the lives of:

  • Sarah
  • Hannah
  • The Widow of Zarapheth
  • Esther
  • Anna
  • The Woman with a 12-year Hemorrhage
  • Martha
  • Ten Virgins

Through their examples, we find hope for the delays in our lives. We learn how to wait well.

Find the book on Amazon or

Advent Waiting: Waiting Without Preconceptions

Advent WaitingwithoutPreconceptions

Advent is a season of waiting. A time of anticipation. A period of preparation.

For many in our culture, the preparation for Christmas is limited to planning get-togethers and buying gifts. Children anticipate opening those gifts. Everyone is waiting for holiday programs, plays, and parties.

But for believers in Christ, Advent also means waiting for His coming. It is a season of remembering the long wait of the world for the coming of a Savior and a time of anticipating His second return.

In Scripture, we read many stories of waiting. Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel were among the women who experienced long periods of delay before they were blessed with babies. Joseph waited years in a lonely prison. The Children of Israel waiting 400 years to be released from Egyptian slavery.

Anna’s Waiting Story

In the New Testament, we read another story of waiting. Anna was waiting for the Savior:

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38)

This dedicated woman of God only gets three verses in the Bible, but her story gives us so much wisdom for our seasons of waiting.

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Even though Anna was “advanced in years” she was one of only two people who recognized that the infant son of two Galilean peasants was the Messiah. During Anna’s lifetime, most of the nation of Israel was waiting for a savior, but they were expecting one that would save them from the tyranny of Rome. A powerful political leader. Not a helpless baby.

Perhaps Anna recognized the infant as the Son of God because she didn’t have preconceived expectations. Instead, she was open to God’s ideas. She didn’t insist on her own vision or plan. She knew God often works in mysterious ways.

Waiting Without Expectations

God invites me to be like Anna when I’m in a waiting season. To let go of my own expectations. To stop insisting on my own way. 

When I let go of my preconceived, self-made plans that I am more able to recognize God design for my life. It’s then I’m able to wait with a bit more patience because I realize that the delay might be part of the plan.

Anna was waiting for the Savior. You, also, may be waiting for rescue. Rescue from a desperate financial situation or from an impossible-looking health crisis.

One thing you can do in this waiting period is to let go of your expectations and preconceived ideas about how God should answer your prayers. Reaffirm your trust in a loving Father who always knows best.

Let go of your preconceived ideas about how God should answer your prayers. Reaffirm trust in His plans. Click To Tweet

Next step: Write a prayer, giving God all of your self-made plans and preconceived ideas about what is best. Tell Him you trust His wisdom and His goodness. 

If you would like to learn more about waiting well, check out my new book: Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust.

Waiting Cover002 - Copy (2)The book studies the lives of:

  • Sarah
  • Hannah
  • The Widow of Zarapheth
  • Esther
  • Anna
  • The Woman with a 12-year Hemorrhage
  • Martha
  • Ten Virgins

Through their examples, we find hope for the delays in our lives. We learn how to wait well.

Find the book on Amazon or

3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Remaining

Copy of abide

When my husband graduated from seminary, his first call as a pastor was to a church in Missoula, Montana. He had asked for placement in the northeastern part of the United States. So naturally, the powers that be thought Montana would be perfect.

When we first arrived in the city, we immediately wanted to leave. We knew no one. Our family was all in the Midwest or the Northeast. We were lonely and disillusioned. But God asked us to stay–to remain.

This word–remain–helps me understand the concept of abiding in Christ. Lately, I’ve been studying the word abide: What does it mean to abide? What does abiding look like in real life? How can abiding change me?

One of the English meanings of the word abide is “to dwell or reside” as in “I abide in a quaint but remote mountain village.” When you abide somewhere you live there. You stay there. You remain there.

To abide is to remain.

South African pastor Andrew Murray wrote:

It is faith in what Christ is, more than anything else, that will keep you abiding in Him…there is nothing wanting but just my consent to be what He has made me, to remain where He has placed me. I am in Christ.

To remain is to accept who I am in Christ–to not try to be something I’m not.

To remain is to be content where I am–to not fight the place or position God has placed me in.

To remain is to trust God’s goodness, His timing, and His plans for my life.

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeRemaining

Remaining sounds easy. And it is–if you like where you are.

But when the place God has placed you is filled with difficulty–you simply want to move on.

When we first moved to Missoula, Montana we wanted to leave. We did not want to stay. The heartache of loneliness made us want to move on.

But eventually, we grew to love Missoula. Its setting in the Rocky Mountains is stunning. The people of our church were welcoming. The ministry was rewarding.

Remaining was not easy, but in the end, it was worth it.

As I continue to study what it means to abide in Christ, I am learning that it means to remain where He has placed me. To accept His plan for my life. 

This changes my life. If I make the decision to abide, I don’t spend my energy trying to move ahead of God’s will. I don’t constantly struggle against my place or position in life. Instead, I focus on what God wants me to do where I am right now. I remain in His love, drawing on His strength to produce fruit where He has placed me.

To abide is to remain.

Next step: Is remaining easy or difficult for you right now? Ask the Father to give you the strength to remain and produce fruit where you are–whatever your place or station in life.

Learning To Give Thanks When It’s Easy And When It’s Not


Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

Sometimes it’s easy to say those words. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful. Life is good. Everyone is healthy. There is enough money in the bank account to pay the bills

But sometimes it isn’t so easy to be grateful.

For us, the year 2015 was one of those times when my husband, John, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Although the doctors kept trying to reassure us with phrases like, “If you have to have cancer, lymphoma is the best kind to get,” we weren’t too sure. Life seemed very fragile and uncertain.

Life with cancer was hard enough to deal with, but it was made even more difficult by the fact that our children do not live close enough to lend support on that tough road. My daughter and her family live in China. My son and his wife live in the next state. It wasn’t like either of them could drop by for dinner and a hug. They couldn’t sit with my husband at his chemotherapy appointment.

Some days it was difficult to live with a grateful attitude.

How could I thank God for cancer? How could I be grateful that my family wasn’t near enough to physically support us?

That’s when I have to remember the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I highlighted that little word in because that is the key to giving thanks when it is not easy.

learning to give thanks

But we can still be thankful in the midst of painful circumstances. While my husband battled lymphoma, I was grateful for God’s Word that continued to comfort me. I thanked God for friends who supported us and for the medical personnel who were doing everything they could to make my husband well again.

When you’re in a season where it isn’t easy to be grateful, thank God for the eternal things that will never change: His love and His Word. Find little things to be thankful for: the smile of a friend, the beauty of the fall leaves.

Thankfully ten months after my husband’s diagnosis and three months after chemotherapy, his cancer went into remission and he is doing much better.

Once more it’s easy to be thankful.


I’m thankful for friends, for a comfortable home, and for work I love.

I’m thankful for the little things like radiant sunrises, warm sweaters, and Carrot Cake Coffee.

Most of all, I’m thankful for God’s goodness. I’m grateful for His steadfast love. Because even if I didn’t have any of the other things I listed above, I know I would always have those. The psalmist reminds me, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

I pray that God will cultivate gratitude in my heart–gratitude that is not dependent on my circumstances. That I will be able to thank Him for His eternal blessings no matter how life on earth is shaping up.

Next step: Make a list of the earthly blessings you are thankful for this year. Then make another list–a list of the spiritual blessings you have that cannot be taken away. I’ll get you started: God’s love, Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. If you like, write some of your blessings in the comments below!


3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change You: Keeping

Copy of abide

I have three grandsons. They are all born to the same parents and they all live in the same household. Yet they each have a distinct personality.

One of the ways they differ is in their “cuddle factor.” One grandson prefers to be loved from afar. You need to grab a hug and then let him go. Even as a toddler, he would often try to wriggle from my grasp. Another grandson loves to be held. He is generous with hugs and loves to snuggle during storybook time. The third grandson is somewhere in the middle. He will tolerate hugs, but not too many.

In my own spiritual life, I sometimes act like each of these grandsons. Let me explain.

During my study of the word “abide” I began with John 15:5:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I learned that the Greek word translated abide in that verse is the word meno. I was surprised that one of the meanings of meno is “to be held, kept, continually.”

In my previous blog post on abiding, I talked about how my focus has often been on producing fruit instead of abiding. I have concentrated on doing “important” things for God, instead of staying connected to Christ.

But the meaning of the Greek word for abide informs me that not only can I not produce fruit on my own, I cannot even abide in my own strength. To abide is not to hang on tight, but “to be held.”  To abide is not continually keep my grip on Christ, but “to be kept.”

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeKeeping

What’s the difference?

I am not the one doing the holding or the keeping. Jesus is.

South African pastor Andrew Murray puts it this way in his book Abiding in Christ:

The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken and that His faithfulness will perform the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom.


Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of Everlasting Love.

I have to admit that I am often not very good at this abiding thing. I am often much more like the grandson who resists being held. It seems too passive–too static. Give me a four-point plan and I’m ready to take action. But to sit still and listen to the Lord? To admit I can’t do it by myself? That’s hard to embrace. (Pun intended.)

I’m asking God to help me be more like the grandson that loves to be held. To teach me to rest in His love. To give me the strength to give myself up to “be ruled and taught and led.”

Abiding is keeping. But it is not my keeping. It is God’s keeping, protecting, and holding my soul. My job is to not wriggle away from His grasp. To not resist His hold on my life.

Next step: Write a prayer thanking God for His strong and loving hold on your life. Ask Him to teach you to abide in that love and to not wriggle away from His grasp.