Tag Archives: psalms

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

From the Creators of the Jesus Storybook Bible

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

From the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, with over two million products sold, comes Found based on Psalm 23. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, little ones will fall in love with this padded cover board book that reminds them of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.

Our Thoughts:

My son says: “I love the illustrations from Jago! I love how bright he makes the sun, all the colors he uses, and the pictures he drew. They fit the words well.”

My daughter says: “I love the illustrations and the words. I can understand the meaning of the psalm a little better with how Sally wrote it. I especially love the illustration where the shepherd is helping the little lamb up from a rock. It makes me think about how God helps us.”

My thoughts: This board book is a lovely representation of Psalm 23. Though it’s closer to picture book size, the pages are board-book thick, sturdy enough for young ones. The Jesus Storybook Bible is still one of our very favorite bibles, so we were thrilled to see Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago working together again on this project.

Jago’s illustrations are lovely, vibrant, and enticing. To help kids grasp the analogy of shepherd to God and sheep to us, readers follow a shepherd and his flock–especially focusing on a particular young lamb–throughout this Psalm 23 retelling. Focusing on that relationship allows for kids to begin to grasp the personal relationship God has with His children (while still showing there are more sheep the shepherd cares for). Sally Lloyd-Jones’s words carefully work to match the original intent, with Sally’s trademark lyrical touch and slight simplifying to help youngest readers consider the analogy and learn about God’s love. (We also loved the single inclusion of Jesus Storybook Bible‘s repeated refrain of “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”)

My only suggestion would have been to include the ‘regular’ Psalm 23 text in the very back of the book for kids and parents to read together and discuss. But, parents can read Psalm 23 in their choice of translation with their kids and highlight the differences. This board book is a lovely addition to family libraries and would be a great gift idea.

What are some of your family’s favorite Bible retellings?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

What are the Good Things?

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

Sometimes I get frustrated or disappointed when a desire of mine doesn’t come to fruition.

Perhaps I lost touch with a friend I had hoped to maintain or a hopefully low-key weekend at home turned into a too busy one. Or I ached for affirmation that wasn’t received.

Can you relate? Perhaps you wanted that particular house, but the sellers accepted someone else’s offer. Or maybe you longed to take this dream vacation, but budget restraints halted your dream.

God repeatedly reminds me that His constant blessings are not just what we want, but instead what God knows is good.

Psalm 103:2-5 says:

            “Praise the LORD, O my soul,
            and forget not all his benefits-

  who forgives all your sins
               and heals all your diseases,

 who redeems your life from the pit
                and crowns you with love and compassion,

 who satisfies your desires with good things
                so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Let’s read verse 5 again. Carefully look at the beginning: “…who satisfies your desires with good things” This verse does not say “with what you say you need,” “with what you ask for,” or even “with what you really, super seriously want so very bad.”  David explains here in his song of praise that God gives us good things.

What are the good things?

The psalm explains in the previous verses. God gives us forgiveness of our sins, redemption of our lives, love, compassion, righteousness and justice for the oppressed. Just having a living God of such love and goodness is reason enough to praise. The New Interpreter’s Bible explains that God “does all good things for all persons in need…”  We all have needs of some fashion (and in fact, we often have more necessities than we realize), and our wonderful God fills those needs with good things.

These good things, though sometimes not the answers we thought we wanted, definitely satisfy our desires. Perhaps we don’t realize or feel our desires are satisfied until further down the road, when we can look back with better hindsight, and maybe say “Ah, I can see now what God was doing there.” Or we might realize without delay that what God gives us is the best thing for us. Or, possibly, in the midst of an unsettling time, we may need to intentionally remind ourselves that whatever God gives us, it is good and He is giving it to us to love us. God’s loving intentions are found in 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.”

One reality we can rely on is that God provides for us, and as His children whom He loves more than we can imagine, He provides us many, many good things.  As the New Interpreter’s Bible concludes: “Such love demands our soul, our life, our all.”

Question for you: How does God remind you what “the good things” are?

Heavenly Fellowship

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1

What do images or thoughts arise when you consider the word “fellowship?”

Is fellowship a meeting place? A group of people? An event?

Our home fellowship calls our meeting times “fellowship.” We also refer to us as a “fellowship” group.

But the heart of fellowship is just that… in the hearts of the believers involved, focused on a love that comes from Christ.

The New Bible Commentary calls fellowship of God’s children “heaven-sent” (pg. 575). I fully agree. God’s gift of fellowship provides love, discipline, encouragement, support, and acceptance. Fellowship can bring vastly different people together in one purpose – to worship, praise, and grow in God.

This verse above emphasizes that unity. The New Bible Commentary points out that the verse includes both the words “together” and “unity.” Together typically denotes cooperation, with mutual action, or in some sort of agreement. Unity is an even stronger word. This word conjures up the ideas of bonding, cohesion, melding into a unified body.

Overall, fellowship is to be a positive experience. Not to say that people within a fellowship might not have disagreements or difference; we definitely do. But, this verse shows us that God made us for community and connection with each other.

 The rest of Psalm 133 (a very brief song) says:

“It is like precious oil poured on the head, 
   running down on the beard, 
running down on Aaron’s beard, 
   down on the collar of his robe. 
It is as if the dew of Hermon 
   were falling on Mount Zion. 
For there the LORD bestows his blessing, 
   even life forevermore.”

These verses illustrate two images of connection and union. The anointing oil pouring down signifies God’s consecration of His people. As the New Bible Commentary explains, the “dew of Hermon…falling on Mount Zion” shows the elimination of division. It joins together of the northern mountain of Israel and the southern mountain of Judah (pg. 576). So, fellowship eradicates what might tear us apart from each other in the world. Fellowship unifies.

Worshipping with other fellow believers usually reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. This unified fellowship does not mean we are all alike. Contrarily, God created us all to be unique and have individual paths and callings within His Grand Plan. We all have a part in building each other up and in spreading God’s love to the world.

Fellowship is truly a blessing. Matthew 18:20 shows Christ’s presence in this sanction of fellowship: For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Really, this truth that we are made to connect with others, be with others, and learn with others is such an amazing gift. We can do so much for each other, beyond just what the world considers to be “friendship” – encourage, rebuke in love, teach, edify, bear each other’s burdens. Fellowship provides all this because of God’s love living at the center of all of our lives.

I pray for us to fully welcome this gift and opportunity to grow with other people for Christ in unity.

Questions for you: How have you recognized the blessings of fellowship with other believers? What image (like in verses 2 and 3 of the above psalm) does fellowship conjure in your heart?

Ten Verses to Memorize

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

Words can hold a powerful effect on our hearts and minds. Verses even more so. Bible verses are God-breathed truth. Reading, studying, and knowing God’s Word helps us refocus and grow. Memorizing God’s Word prepares us even more for life’s various situations. If we have verses in our hearts, we can all upon them in times of need and to encourage or witness to others.

Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” By memorizing God’s Word, we can strive to do the same.

I’ve written a little more about surrounding ourselves with God’s Word (with a bit on memorizing) in my recent post at Today’s Housewife.

Below are ten of my favorite verses to memorize or ones that I’m currently trying to memorize. I find these verses to be generally applicable and extremely encouraging, convicting, or helpful.

1. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7 (Does this verse look familiar?)

2. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV, 1984) (One of the first I memorized. It never ceases to capture my attention.)

3. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 (Amazing. Beautiful. Grace-filled.)

4. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 (Convicting and humility-producing.)

5. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:25-26 (Good for every woman.)

6. “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16-17 (John 3:16 is widely known. Verse 17 is less quoted, but look at its power and truth!)

7. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34 (Need I say more?)

8. “Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’” – Luke 8:48 (One of the most powerful examples of trust to me.)

9. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  – Proverbs 4:23 (Powerful.)

10. “I will put my trust in him.” – Hebrews 2:13a, which is referencing Isaiah 8:17.

This list is not exhaustive. The Bible is filled with verses that can and should be memorized. At another season in my life, other verses will pull at my heartstrings even more. But these ten hold great truth and training for me and my family right now.

Questions for you: What are some of your regular go-to verses? What verses are you currently trying to memorize or would like to memorize?

Can I Help You When I’m Weak or Broken?

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

Last Thursday, we talked about God’s issuance of forgiveness to us when we fail to serve Him, as we so often do. But what about helping others when we ourselves are broken? Can I help you when I’m such a mess myself? Who am I to guide any of you here on this blog?

Yes, we’re all imperfect, and sometimes that reality helps us relate and grow together.

God regularly uses imperfect people for His perfect purposes.

We discussed Peter last week, and his denial of Christ as Messiah. Peter, whose name means “rock,” would still become a foundation of the church, even with his imperfect past.

Paul, of course, presents a memorable example with his destructive past as Saul. He purposefully tortured and tormented Christ’s believers. But God uses Paul to witness and lead others in His way on a grand and beautiful scale.

Moses, a prime example of faith and obedience in God’s commands, regularly did “everything just as the LORD commanded him” (this phrase occurs many times throughout Moses’ story). But even Moses made mistakes, yet God still called him as a part of His good plan.

But, it’s by faith that all of these people accomplished what God set for them to do. By faith… by reliance on God and through His power.

Most likely, my mistakes and your mistakes aren’t quite the same as those of Paul’s and Moses’. But, we fail, miss the mark, suffer weakness, and are broken, too. Just as He did with His believers thousands of years ago, God can heal us, change us, and mold us to fit His good purposes – including using us to witness to others and encourage each 

other. My mistakes might help you learn. Or perhaps you and I have encountered similar troubles in different seasons, and now one can encourage the other.

We do need to be aware of our own weaknesses. I think of Jesus’ parable of taking care of the plank in our own eye before we fuss about the speck in our brother’s eye. If we fall without admitting we are failing to walk, we cannot seek guidance and growth. We need to stay teachable, welcoming discipline and direction. But even in that brokenness (as we are all imperfect in this life), we can (and need to) still submit and serve God and each other.

On our own, we are broken, lost, and hurt. But in Christ, we (together!) are healed, made anew, and given strength to accomplish more good than we could imagine from the Source of all goodness.

“Anyone who does what is good is from God.” – 3 John 1:11

Question for you: How has God turned your weakness into something for His good?