July 8, 2021

100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety


Over two-dozen insightful people contributed to the new devotional book, 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety, which Bethany House kindly sent me to review.


With only a couple of pages per scriptural quotation, each exudes wisdom, comfort, and spiritual insight to calm fears and disperse worry. The carefully selected verses from both the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament) and New Testament begin each page with this helpful format:


  • Bible verse
  • Context
  • Meaning
  • Application
  • Additional Readings


For example, this familiar verse begins one of the devotionals:


The Lord is my shepherd,
I lack nothing,
” Psalm 23:1


The “Context” then reminds us that David wrote this psalm as a young shepherd before becoming King of Israel.


In the next section, “Meaning,” the last paragraph says:


There is nothing you need that God hasn’t provided. The same shepherd who would put himself in harm’s way to protect you will also make sure you have exactly what you need to thrive.”


Then, “Application” helps us to understand how “…we also need to consider what this psalm says to those worried about everyday things…. You lack nothing! God will provide and protect. If he promises to be with us even in death – and showed it through the sacrifice of his own Son – he will also be with us in this life, leading you to the pastures and water you need to sustain and nourish you."

“Additional Reading” suggests John 10:11-18 and Luke 15:3-7.


Although God is with us always, we can expect hardships to arise. Nevertheless, James 1:2 tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  This sounds impossible at first – almost ridiculous! But the “Application” for this verse reminds us:


Jesus never promised that we would live free from difficulty. Use your trials as opportunities to produce stronger, richer faith and character. Use your trials to draw closer than ever to your Savior. Share your experiences with someone walking through a similar situation to offer comfort or advice. Ask Jesus to help you view these hard times as periods of joy, and ask him to refine your faith in the process.


For many years, Romans 8:28 has helped me regain perspective and redirect focus from myself or my concerns to God. Apparently this was true for the Apostle Paul too. After acknowledging our suffering, he writes these faith-building words:


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”


This assurance lets us know that, no matter what, God will bring forth good! And so, even in the middle of the worse moments, we can choose to offer a sacrifice of praise. The “Application” for Romans 8:28 also encourages us to:


Spend time today worshiping the Lord for all he has given you! Life is difficult, yes. But finding moments to celebrate his glory is endlessly important. When you’re feeling like everything is not okay, and you can’t see his good plan, a little bit of worship can quickly remind you of his presence and his goodness. So cry out, ‘Hallelujah” Sing your favorite worship song and give him praise today.



©2021, Mary Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer, and author-compiler of Kneeling on the Promises of God




June 30, 2021

Which translation of the Bible do you like best?


When a service person came to our house this week, he saw the books in my little office and asked, “Do you think you have enough Bibles?” Probably not! But that started us talking about which translations we prefer and why.


As you might have guessed by now, I love them all! (Well, almost! I had to decline a review copy of an edition that omitted “negative” parts!) Although I use only the most respected translations to prepare for my Bible study discussion group, I like to see for myself what synonyms various translators choose, especially in difficult to understand passages. Sometimes a paraphrased version can help to clarify as can texts from the Aramaic or other languages used in biblical times. And, of course, researching specific verses and topics on Bible Gateway helps to provide a clearer understanding of scriptures too.


Having grown up reading the King James Version every night – and often being perplexed by its beautifully poetic but archaic language, I’ve found that, the more I read contemporary versions, the more I return to the KJV and, hallelujah, “get it!”


Since my criteria are accuracy, readability, and, yes, poetic musicality, I regularly turn to KJV but also to the New Living Translation (NLT), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and Christian Standard Bible (CSB.) The New Revised Standard (NRSV) gets opened often too, and for accuracy, so does the New American Standard (NASB.)


The English Standard Version (ESV) is highly noted for accuracy, but its lack of musicality keeps it from being my favorite. The New International Version (NIV) is known for accessibility, but it, too, lacks the poetic quality that, as a poet myself, I prefer.


But what about you? Which translation of the Bible do you like best and why?


Your comments about your preference(s) are very, very welcomed in the Comments section below, but not put-downs about other people’s choices.


If you discover your favorite has not been reviewed on this blog, please let me know! You can find out by typing the name of the edition in the Search box in the upper right side of the page.


Regardless of your translation of choice, may the Lord bless your reading of God’s Word.


©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, author, and compiler of the Book of Bible Prayers and Kneeling on the Promises of God



May 26, 2021

Amplified Holy Bible XL Edition


The Amplified Study Bible (large print) , which I reviewed a couple of years ago, sits on my desk for regular reference in preparing for a Bible talk or group discussion. But sometimes I just want a reader’s edition to read from my comfy chair.

The thing is, my eyes object to the smaller fonts in most of the reader-editions I’ve bought or been given over the years, so my quest of late has been to find my favorite translations using fonts between 11 and 14 points. That’s exactly what I found in the Amplified Holy Bible XL Edition, but more important, the AMP is one of my “go-to” Bibles for accuracy.

Another is the New American Standard Bible I mention because both NASB and AMP have been produced by the Lockman Foundation, whose website explains: “The Lockman Foundation is a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry dedicated to the translation, publication, and distribution of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Amplified Bible (AMP), La Biblia de las Américas (LBLA), Nueva Biblia de las Américas (NBLA), and other biblical resources.”

The Foreword of the AMP XL says: “The Amplified Bible has been produced with the conviction that the words of Scripture as originally penned in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were inspired by God. Since they are the eternal Word of God, the Holy Scriptures speak with fresh power to each generation, to give wisdom that leads to salvation, that people may serve Christ to the glory of God.”

To clarify the goal of the Lockman Foundation even more, “The Fourfold Aim” in the front matter of the AMP XL states:

1. These publications shall be true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

2. They shall be grammatically correct.

3. They shall be understandable to the people.

4. They shall give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place which the Word gives Him; therefore, no translation work will ever be personalized.

Besides preferring the capitalization of pronouns referring to God, I appreciate the synonyms and definitions that amplify, without changing, the meaning of the text. This particular edition, however, appeals to me because of its 12.5 font, quality leathersoft binding, and unique size that’s almost 8” square and opens flat on my lap as I sit in my comfy chair and read, read, read.

©2021,Mary Harwell Sayler


April 24, 2021

ESV Journaling Bible


Many of us who long to get closer to God are apt to jot down our thoughts, questions, prayers, poems, or insights as we read the Bible. Almost any wide-margin Bible gives us room to do that as our written words interact with the written Word of God.


If we want to read the Bible straight through, as we would any book or family saga, we might choose a conversational translation or a paraphrase, but for journaling, an excellent choice is a word-for-word translation as our words respond to what God has to say.


Consider, for example, a message from a friend. Would you prefer to receive word from the bearer of news or would you rather hear directly from your friends themselves before responding? The translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) aimed in that direction.


In the Preface of the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, the “Translation Philosophy” states:


The ESV is an ‘essentially literal’ translation that seeks as far as possible to reproduce the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on ‘word-for-word' correspondence, at the same time taking full account of differences in grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and exact force of the original.


When we hear directly from our friends, we can catch their voice inflections, listen to what they actually have to say, and respond appropriately.


Not only does the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible give you that opportunity, this edition comes in a variety of patterns. Inside those cloth-over-board covers, the cream-colored Smyth-sewn pages have lines awaiting a word from you.


©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler





April 7, 2021

ESV Panorama New Testament


The ESV Panorama New Testament, published by Crossway who kindly sent me a copy to review, presents the NT in a unique, panoramic view.

With extra-large pages (10.2 x 12.6") inside a hardback cover, this edition uses a well-spaced 8.5-point font, so each book of the New Testament requires as few pages as possible.

Shorter books take only one or two pages, which means a whole book often spreads before you, making it easy to see favorite verses you underline or key words you circle. 

To encourage that process, the edition has thick, cream-colored pages Smyth-sewn into a grey cloth-over-board cover that lays flat on a desk or table.

The idea is to engage readers fully with God’s Word. For instance, the layout of the Panorama New Testament enables Bible students, pastors, teachers, writers, and devotional readers to follow a particular theme or topic in each book or readily locate scriptures to memorize.

This reader edition contains no footnotes or other aids generally found in hefty study Bibles, but the large pages and wide margins provide plenty of space to make your own notes. And, unlike study Bibles that might be a few inches thick, this one is only 0.7-inch, which seems far less formidable for those of us who like to read an entire book of the Bible at one sitting.


©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, Bible reviewer



March 27, 2021

The Gift of Easter

On that first Easter Sunday, Jesus the Christ – Jesus our Savior – overcame death. He left the tomb, somewhat like a newborn chick opening a shell, newly clothed in light and life.

Those metaphors can help children catch a glimpse of the meaning of Christ’s resurrection, but soon the Easter eggs will be gone and new clothes outgrown, while The Word of God remains forever.

God gave His Word to us in Jesus, His Son, Who fulfilled every prophecy and promise in the Bible. May these and other Bibles or Bible storybooks bring God’s Word to young people this Easter.

Adventure Bible for Early Readers

Adventure Bible Storybook

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook

NIV Teen Study Bible

The Rhyme Bible Storybook

The Sweetest Story Bible


Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2021, the Book of Bible Prayers and Kneeling on the Promises of God 


February 14, 2021

The Bible Books of ME

Actually, all of the “Wisdom Books” in the Bible focus on attempts to understand cause-and-effect and/or seemingly random acts that make no sense to us. As we strive to be rational and find profitable ways to live, two “Me” books stand out in particular: Job and Ecclesiastes.

The “Wisdom Books” of the Bible include both of these books, and yet, as we read them, neither Job nor Solomon seems too wise. Why? Both apparently relate to the world as revolving around themselves.

Consider Job. After suffering tremendous losses of family and possessions, he initially had the right attitude:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked shall I return.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord,Job 1:21

The second blow, however, affected Job himself, covering him with horrifying sores from head to toe and leaving him so miserable, he couldn’t speak for days. Understandably, he sat in such intense shock, his friends gathered around him, then remained, day and night, for a whole week of silence. When Job finally began to speak, however, he cursed the day he was born!

King Solomon had too much going for him to rue his own birth, and yet he felt so dissatisfied, he began the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes, chapter one, verse two, by saying:

Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!”


“Futile! Futile! Everything is futile!”


“Useless! Useless! Everything is useless.”


“Pointless! Pointless! Everything is pointless!”

Well, you get the point. The wisest man on earth saw nothing people gained, no matter how good they were, how hard they worked, or how successful they became. Pretty depressing! Yet most of us have felt the same at some point in our wrestling match with pointlessness.

So, what’s the answer? How did Job and Solomon wise up? How can we? In all cases, the solution is the same:

Turn ME upside down to WE.

Eventually that’s what Job, Solomon, and other wise people concluded: 

Our lives will seem vain or wasted until we place ourselves in God’s hands. 

No longer will we focus our lives on ME, but WE - God and I, God and us.

As we accept and believe that the Lord is too vast and holy for us to fully understand, our part is to trust God, Who Is All Good, and turn to Him in faith, knowing He will ultimately works things out for our good.

Praise God!

And may our wisdom abide and abound in God, Who is All-Wise.


©2021, MarySayler with thanks to Bible Gateway for supplying us with the wonderful richness of God’s Word online