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The Bible – A Well of Faith That Never Runs Dry

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Are all of the spiritual disciplines the same? I used to view them all equally, but the more I read the Word, the more reading stood out.

If faith is the fuel of our Christian life, then Bible reading is the gas station. It’s where we go to fill up so that we can do the other spiritual disciplines to the glory of God.

Spiritual disciplines can feel similar to a diet and exercise plan. We get so bound to it that the discipline we had hoped for starts resembling legalism.

This was the condition I found myself in. In an effort to please God through my actions, I’d rigorously spend time praying, reading my Bible, and serving at church. As time went on, these disciplines grew less rewarding and more burdensome.

But the more I read the Bible, the clearer this topic became. Spiritual disciplines aren’t the kale on my plate that I force-feed myself because it’s good for me, enduring the consumption so that I can transition to something more fun like fellowship. Instead, the disciplines should bring us joy as we experience the nearness of Christ through them by faith.

Faith is the key. And there is no better place to go for faith than the Bible.

As Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

God used the discipline of Bible reading to correct my misunderstanding. No longer did I approach Bible reading, prayer, serving in church, and evangelism as ways to earn God’s favor. That was already mine because of Jesus. Instead, I approached them as ways to draw near to Christ and experience the joy of His presence by faith. When the scriptures calibrated my attitude about the disciplines, the joy returned.

So consider renewing a commitment to consistently be in God’s Word. Not to check off a box, but to drink from the well of faith, so we can rightly pursue Christ in every area of our life.

There Are No Shortcuts to Being a Disciple

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Some words change over time. One word I detested growing up, has now become beloved.

The word STUDY was an unpleasant word for much of my childhood. I was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and STUDY was the returning thief that kept robbing me year after year. The more it invaded my freewill the more my disdain for school grew. Why couldn’t I willfully choose what topics I wanted to learn and avoid the boring ones that didn’t interest me?

In Elementary School I learned that the teacher’s edition was different than my textbook because it had the answer keys. If only I could get my hands on a copy of their book, then I would ace every test! Oh the time it would save me!

In High School, the Cliffs Notes section at the local bookstore caught my eye. Why read a 400-page book you have no interest in when you can buy a short summary of it, complete with a thematic outline? Timesaver!

In my 20s, I was the rookie in a room full of Christian publishing professionals planning for an upcoming release of a new Study Bible. Why didn’t more people read the Bible? was the question we were all trying to tackle. Most everyone agreed to what a great timesaver this edition would be for busy Christians who couldn’t find time for devotional study. After much banter and brainstorming, the marketing message taking shape was somewhere close to, “Be a better disciple in ONLY 5 minutes a day!”

We thought we nailed it until a quiet veteran nearing retirement spoke up, “There are no shortcuts to being a disciple” he said somberly. It was like a needle introducing itself to a balloon; there was nothing more to say.

Studying God’s Word should not be a chore. It does take time, but it’s a joyful time. It never robs and only rewards. Here’s a short reflective list of why I find joy in reading the Bible:

  • God reveals Himself and His plan is scripture (John 1:1, 18). Why read a biography when there is an autobiography in print?
  • In reading the Bible I find I have new questions and then eventually as I keep reading, many of those will get answered too. The discovery of knowing God is endless (Philippians 3:10).
  • The Holy Spirit illuminates the text as our guide of all truth. So, scripture reading provides an opportunity to read with His companionship (John 16:13).
  • Scripture is eternal and therefore the joy is everlasting (Matthew 24:35). Plus, scripture tells me my name is written in another eternal book, the Book of Life!

There are no shortcuts. Discipleship takes a lifetime. Time spent in the Bible is time well spent.  

Read On!

Chris Scotti

VP and Publisher

Three Sixteen Publishing

How the Bestselling Book Became His Best Read Book – Our VP’s Story

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I was raised a reader.

By the time I reached high school there were several years I had read over 100 books annually. In elementary school, I read bestsellers like the Little House series, Roots and The Hobbit. But, whenever someone asked me if I had read the bestselling book of all time, my answer repeated something I had heard from an adult, “the Bible was not meant for me, it’s a holy book, written for priests.”

Giving that same answer one day, a challenge came back from an adult, “What if I told you the Bible is God’s manual for life and He wants you to read it?” The next day at age 15 I opened a KJV Bible to the Gospel of John and by the end of that week I received Christ as Savior, not by the Word preached, but by the Word read.

At age 20 I began working at a Christian bookstore and got plenty of free books. Ten years later when I went to work for a publisher that produced 120+ new titles a year, I got even more. At one time before marriage in my mid-twenties, I tracked my reading and averaged over 2000 pages a week for a year. Fast forward nearly 30 years and my reading of books has dwindled to less than 50 pages a week most weeks (not including reading to my 18-month-old granddaughter).

Since I first encountered the Bible,  I’ve maintained reading at least a chapter of scripture each day. Early on there were times it was done dutifully, legalistically and with wrong motives. Though there were also many days and seasons I read joyfully, anticipating learning more of the story.

After reading every day for 30+ years, the Bible stories are no longer new. Yet, I have a greater joy that draws me into the text. My Bible reading ceased being performance based as an attempt to win God’s favor. Instead, I look forward to my time in God’s Word each morning because of the joy and faith it produces and the way God’s grace is on display.

I may not have grown up in a Christian home, but my mom gave me a love for reading; the avenue through which I came to know Christ. So though my granddaughter is only 18 months, I am thrilled that she loves books! Because training up a reader is one of the greatest challenges that can cultivate a lifetime of reward.

I’m not sure I would be a daily Bible reader without the love for reading my Mom modeled for me at a very young age. Reading is a great gift and reading Scripture provides a great reward. The Bible is in a category all by itself. It is the only Holy Book, written by the only true and living God and He wants you to read it.

Redeem the time and make the Bible the best-read book of your life.

Chris Scotti

VP and Publisher

Three Sixteen Publishing

The Bible: More Important Than Coffee

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Hudson Taylor once said, “Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

At the beginning of each day, which are we more intentional about? Setting aside time for Bible reading or for a cup of coffee? In the busyness of life, it’s easy for Bible reading to get pushed towards the edges, or crowded out completely.

A 2018 American Bible Society survey claims that 69% of Bible engaged Americans say they “need the Bible more than coffee” (https://www.americanbible.org/state-of-the-bible). That’s the right Sunday School answer, but in the rhythm of life we sometimes falter.

Just like our plan for coffee, our Bible reading needs to be cultivated into a habit. The discipline of a morning Scripture reading will set a consistent tone for each day. The Psalmist says, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14 NASB)

Everything from the strength to resist temptation to the joy that accompanies our obedience, comes from faith. And faith is a gift meant to be received and exercised through time in the Word with Christ (Eph 2:8). As Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

The reason Hudson Taylor’s quote rings true, is because the Word of God is how we are put in tune with Jesus. It’s easy to push Bible reading aside on our busy days. But let the opposite be true. Just like the coffee run to start off the big day with a kick, begin your day by spending time with Jesus through His Word. And let your life be an instrument of worship in the concert of God’s glory.

Summertime = Bibletime

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Summertime = Bibletime

The rhythm of life changes during the summer. Vacations. Weekend excursions. Kids around the house more. Summer nights outdoors. The change in pace is a welcome one.

For many of us, Summertime provides extra opportunities to spend time with family and friends. What if you make it a goal this season of life to spend that time spent together in the Bible?

Some suggestions for the Summer season:

  • Start each day of your vacation reading the Bible together around the breakfast table.
  • On your road trip, listen to an audio Bible (try the book of Acts).
  • Before starting a hike, or around the campfire read a portion of scripture about God’s creation (Psalm 8, 19, Genesis 1).
  • Pack a Bible in your beach bag or backpack and enjoy reading outdoors in a new setting. Take turns reading a chapter out loud.
  • Get a Bible trivia game, form teams and play once a week to encourage one another.
  • Have each family or group member on the same Bible reading plan and make it the topic of conversation over a shared meal.

Bible reading isn’t about getting brownie points or being puffed up with Bible knowledge. It’s crucial for every Christian because there is a direct correlation between it and spiritual maturity.

For the more ambitious, Summer can be a great time to grow in Bible reading consistency. Set a personal goal to read a minimum of 20 minutes everyday. Be fastidious and protective of your goal and use a Bible reading plan if necessary. Set daily reminders, make sure you have easy access through Bible apps and printed editions. You might consider starting with one of the four Gospels, one of the 66 books your church is studying, or one of the Old Testament prophets you have never read. The point is, just start and stay on track. Studies show it takes 60 days on average to develop a new habit. Use this Summer to grow in this crucial spiritual discipline.

The challenge in writing any blog about Bible Literacy is that you are writing and therefore interacting with a group of readers. However, if the Church has hope in reversing the current trends, it will take individuals like yourself modeling the habits of Bible reading and encouraging others to get engaged with the scriptures everyday. Community and accountability can both be beneficial toward solidifying a daily habit of Bible reading.

So while publishers may focus on fiction as a summer escape, we suggest you consider engaging with the history, poetry, suspense, adventure, love stories, dramatic endings and more found in the Book above all books. Read the Bible everyday and as Peter said, …grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18a, NASB).

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 5

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C.H. Spurgeon once said, “The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.”

When engaging in a spiritual discussion, how quick are you to go to God’s Word? Jesus gives us a striking example when he was posed a question by some Jewish leaders who wanted to hear his opinion on a complex religious issue. They were using it as bait for a trap.

Being God though, Jesus was not intimidated by them or their question. He simply replied in Mark 12:24, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” He then continues on in verse 25 asking them, “….have you not read….?” (look up the entire chapter of Mark’s Gospel for more context)

Jesus corrects the questioners by implying that if they had been reading the scriptures, they would’ve known the answer.

In Luke 4:17-21 we also read of Jesus reading scripture to other listeners.

17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,

BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.

HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,

AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,

TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

There will likely come a time in all of our lives (our kids included) when people ask questions to try to trap us in our religious beliefs. At those times, may the investments of reading the scriptures and having them read to us equip us for the moment. It’s not about sharing our own opinion, but in the same way Jesus responded, let’s use the Word of God.

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 4

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Proverbs 3:1-7 depicts a beautiful picture of a relationship of learning between a parent and a child.

Prov. 3:1     My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;

2 For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

We often read this and (rightly) focus on the child, commanding them not to forget their father’s instruction. But think of it from the other angle. As parents, are we regularly and intentionally turning our kids’ attention toward Biblical wisdom?

If we are following the model of Proverbs, we are regularly investing ourselves in our children, and thus we are training them up with a love for God’s Word. By introducing them to the wisdom of the Bible, we are pointing them to the banquet table and wellspring where they can feast and drink of the goodness of God.

Biblical illiteracy is spiritual famine. But unlike how we feed and fuel our bodies, the sustenance does not enter through the mouth, but rather through the ears and eyes of the heart.

With children, this happens through repetition. When it comes to the Bible, the more we read to our kids, the more they read to themselves, the more opportunities they have to grow spiritually. The Bible is the lamp to keep them on track through their journey of life.

While it can be easy to give the role of Biblical instruction to Sunday school teachers, we need to be saturating our kids with intentional Biblical instruction ourselves.

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 3

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It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to find out that recent surveys on general Bible knowledge have shown a decline in Biblical literacy. Sadly, these statistics are true for the church as well.

One of the best ways to stem the tide on these statistics is to train kids with the knowledge of the Bible. Kids are sponges. Take language learning for example. Kids can learn a complex language as a toddler in a matter of months. It takes adults years of study to master a new language.

But the Bible calls us to do more than just teach our kids the Bible. As parents, we’re called to teach our kids to love the God of the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). This doesn’t mean we abandon Bible literacy among children. Actually the opposite is true. We should teach our kids to love God by teaching them the Bible.

The key to this is training kids to love the Bible. In an article by Biblica, Paul Caminiti says this regarding the issue, “A Bible lover will become a Bible learner, but a Bible learner will not necessarily become a Bible lover.”

Psalm 19:10 describes the Bible as “more desirable than gold” and “sweeter than honey”. As parents, we need to find ways to place this sweet honey in front of them so they can taste it for themselves (Psalm 34:8).

The Power Bible provides a gateway for kids to enter and discover the world of the Bible in a fun and engaging way. Never sacrificing accuracy, the Power Bible is based on the New American Standard (NASB) text. In the visual age we live in, the fast-action pace of the comic format Power Bible grabs kids’ attention and keeps it.

Find out more about the Power Bible here. 

Why We Created The Preacher’s Bible

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After fifty years of studying and expositing the Word of God verse by verse, using a variety of Bibles—none of which had all the features I prefer—I was asked, “If you could create the perfect Bible for pastors and Bible teachers, what would it include?” This edition, The Preacher’s Bible, is the result.

Of course, the most important feature of any Bible is the biblical text itself. The ideal Bible for preachers should include the most precise translation of Scripture available. For decades I have taught from the New American Standard Bible. Based on the best original manuscripts and following the principle that God’s Word should be translated literally, the New American Standard is, I believe, the best English-language version of the Bible. Using it in The Preacher’s Bible was an easy choice.

Preachers also need a Bible that is easy to read from the pulpit. I like single-column pages with large type. Displaying the verses line by line instead of in paragraph form, and with the verse numbers clearly off set, is also ideal. Those features have been incorporated into The Preacher’s Bible.

A Bible taken to the pulpit should also be supremely functional at the study desk. The Preacher’s Bible includes wide, blank margins for jotting cross-references, notes, and outlines that are crucial for interpreting the text. The paper in this edition, thicker than in typical Bibles, is designed to prevent handwritten notes from bleeding through the page. The reinforced binding and fine leather cover ensure a lifetime of use. Over time, the preacher will accumulate a study Bible of his own making as he has been taught by the Spirit. The Preacher’s Bible will become a written legacy of the biblical interpretation and emphasis that has marked both the private study and public ministry of the preacher.

My prayer is that as you use The Preacher’s Bible, it will become a lasting, precious record of the illumination of the Holy Spirit in your life and ministry.

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 2

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Most surveys in the last 10 years about Biblical Literacy in the US have been trending downward. You may have seen some of the stats:

  • Fewer than half of adults can name all 4 Gospels.
  • 60% of Americans can’t name 5 of the 10 Commandments.
  • 12% of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

The best way to stem the tide of Biblical illiteracy is to train kids to read and love the Bible.

However, just knowing this isn’t enough because it needs to be put into practice. And that can be the most challenging part.

Here is some good advice from Jon Nielson, author of Reading the Bible with Your Kids. We believe if you put this into practice, you’ll strengthen the bond of faith and family by making the Word of God central in your household.

  1. Pick a regular time and place for Bible reading.
  2. Read short chunks.
  3. Stop to explain and gauge comprehension.
  4. Think of age-appropriate questions for discussion.
  5. Connect each passage to Jesus.
  6. Let Bible reading lead to prayer.

The best way to foster a love for God’s Word in your child is to show them what a love for God’s Word looks like. This can be done by reading the Bible with your kids. Based on the NASB, the Power Bible is a tool that can help you do just that, engage your child with an age appropriate presentation of the Bible in a beautifully illustrated and solidly Biblical way.

Not familiar with the Power Bible? Find out why professors from Biola and Westminster endorse this full-color comic format of the Bible.

Learn more here: https://316publishing.com/green-egg-media/

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