The New Living Translation
Spotlight on Samaritan Woman

“‘Please, sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.'” John 4:15, NLT

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The Samaritan woman was an outcast. Samaritans were despised by Jews, and women in that culture had a lower status than men. Because of her reputation, this Samaritan woman went to draw water alone. That’s where she met Jesus. Jesus knew everything about her, and he still wanted to talk to her! The Samaritan woman had been looking for love in all the wrong places; but Jesus showed her God’s love, and that was all she needed.

Sometimes we look to everyone but God for love and acceptance, but God’s love is all we need.

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“Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!’ When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.’” John 4:39-42, NLT

-Taken from the Girls Life Application Study Bible

Take a look inside Girls Life Application Study Bible

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The People’s Perspective— Expectation

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“Moses continued, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’

Then the Lord said to me, ‘What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.’

But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.” Deuteronomy 18:15-22, NLT .

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At times throughout Israel’s history, the people looked expectantly for the “prophet like Moses” who was prophesied in these verses. Such was the case during Jesus’ ministry when people wondered if he could be that prophet (John 1:21; 6:14, for example). And when God spoke from heaven to endorse his Son, he echoed the words of Deuteronomy 18:15: “Listen to him”
(Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). Like Moses, Jesus would deliver God’s people from captivity and institute a new covenant.

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This expectation for a Messiah seems to be a universal need. We see it throughout history, in literature and film, across numerous cultures, and in our own lives. Ancient Israel looked ahead for “the one”; we look back to Jesus’ first coming and also ahead, knowing he is coming again. God has embedded expectation into us as an instinct designed to draw us toward him. Cultivate it and let it pull you into his promises. He doesn’t provoke expectations without fulfilling them.

Devotional Taken from the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible

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Jim Cymbala’s Reaction to Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle and nearly 5,000 congregants participated in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience.

Hear what he has to say about this experience, leading the church through the New Testament and their plans for continued reading in the future.

Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience: http://immersebible.com/

Learn more about the Institute for Bible Reading: https://instituteforbiblereading.org/

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The New Covenant

Jeremiah 30–33 stands out in its optimistic view of Israel’s future. The high point of this section (31:31‑34) is the announcement that the Lord God will form a new covenant with his people.

The key affirmation of the Sinai covenant was, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (31:33; see also Exod 6:7). The relationship between God and his people envisioned in the Sinai Covenant was surrounded by laws chiseled in stone and a priestly class in charge of all religious institutions and activities. The new covenant would differ from the old in one primary way: It would no longer be external to the worshipers, but would now be written on their hearts (Jer 31:33). The great defect of the old covenant was that it lacked the power to enable people to do what it commanded (Rom 8:3).

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The new covenant, by contrast, would be internalized through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ezek 36:24‑27). Thus, it wouldbecome possible for people everywhere (not just a select few) to fulfill God’s covenant plan for life as summed up in the two “Great Commandments” (Matt 22:35‑40): “You must love the Lord your God” (Deut 6:5) and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). The new covenant would achieve the goal that the old one pointed to, but could not reach: creating new persons and a new community. The goal is a deep transformation of sinners, beginning with forgiveness of sins and culminating in a holiness exemplified by good works (Eph 1:4; 2:8‑10).

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This passage points toward Jesus of Nazareth, whose death would seal this new covenant. Jesus applied the new covenant to himself when he instituted the communion ritual (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; see also 1 Cor 11:25; 1 Cor 3:6). Jesus’ death made him the mediator of the covenant for whoever believes in him (Heb 8:8‑12; ch 9). Christians commemorate that reality each time they take communion. According to the NT, all believers in Jesus Christ will know him directly by the activity of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling has been made possible through the sacrifice of Christ. They will know him personally and experience him powerfully, as only a few did in OT times.

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Read More:

Jer 31:31‑34
Isa 11:1‑9; 54:13‑15
Ezek 37:24‑28
Matt 26:27‑28
Luke 22:20
Rom 11:25‑36
1 Cor 11:23‑26
2 Cor 3:6‑18
Heb 8:8–9:28

Taken from the Illustrated Study Bible. Take a look inside.

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God’s Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. –Ephesians 2:10

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

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A masterpiece is an artist’s best work. It comes from years of study and practice until the artist finally creates the ultimate piece of artwork. It’s the best of the artist’s craft, the piece the artist is most proud of. You are God’s masterpiece. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior show the best of God’s skill and creativity. Think about that. God’s masterpiece isn’t the universe with its multitude of solar systems, stars, and the sun and moon. It isn’t the oceans or the mountains or anything else in nature. Those things are all very wonderful creations that show God’s amazing ideas and creativity, but his masterpiece—the ultimate of all he made—is you.

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God gave you a new life in Jesus so that you can do the work he planned for you before you were even born. You are God’s masterpiece, and what you do for him can become your masterpiece for God. You will be blessed by doing his work because you are working for your Creator.

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Dear God, I am humbled to be called your masterpiece. Thank you for giving me work to do. Help me to do whatever you ask to the best of my ability. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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The devotional you just read was written by author Carolyn Larsen for the new Inspire Bible for Girls, which releases in August. It is the latest edition in the bestselling Inspire Bible line and is the first journaling Bible for girls with devotionals. Packed with over 500 line-art illustrations to color, over 300 devotionals, more than 160 journaling prompts, Bible journaling tips, and much more, the Inspire Bible for Girls is sure to quickly become a treasured Bible for all who use it. The content is designed for girls ages eight and up, but there is really no age limit when it comes to encountering God through his Word and being challenged to follow him more closely and live in fuller devotion to him. Now let’s go and live out God’s call on our lives and Shine Brightly for Jesus!

Pre-Order

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Click here to see the full Inspire Bible line

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We Were Made for This

by Joni Eareckson Tada

“I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’” Isaiah 43: 6-7, NLT.

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Ever wonder exactly why God created you? Or why he placed children in your specific family? God couldn’t have spelled it out any plainer than in Isaiah 43:6-7. He created you and me for one purpose: to showcase his glory; to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those we encounter.

What does it mean to put his glory on display? It means highlighting his attributes and characteristics. It means making hard choices to do the right thing. It means biting your tongue from gossiping, going out of your way for a neighbor in need, telling the truth even when it’s hard, not snapping back when someone hurts you, and speaking openly about your Father in heaven. In short, it’s living like Jesus lived when he walked the earth.

God is invisible. Whenever he displayed his character in the Old Testament, he used something visible like a burning bush or pillars of cloud and fire. In the New Testament, God displayed his glory through his Son, Jesus. But Jesus no longer physically walks on earth, and bushes that burn can only be seen in prairie fires or piles of raked leaves. So how does an invisible God display his glory in this age? Through you and your children. What a privilege!

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Father God, what an honor we’ve been given! You no longer choose to speak through inanimate objects; you choose people like us. Point out ways we can showcase your character and glorious qualities to others today. In so doing, we’ll be glorifying you and living the life we were created to live. Amen

Taken from the Beyond Suffering Bible

Look inside the Beyond Suffering Bible

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Immerse Goes to High School

“What if we gave our students enough credit to think they could read the Bible if we were to able to offer them the very words of the Bible in the simplest format?” Matt Laidlaw, dean of student life, Calvin Christian High School.

See what happens when high school student get engaged while reading Scripture in community using Immerse: Messiah.

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Learn more about Immerse. 

Learn more about the Institute for Bible Reading

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Lazarus’s Urgent Need

When facing difficult circumstances it can be hard to understand “why.” Chris Tiegreen in the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible uses the story of Lazarus to give us insight into how and why we can trust even when it seems hopeless.

Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible

“But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.'” John 11:4, NLT

Lazarus was a “dear friend” of Jesus, as were his sisters, Mary and Martha. So when the sisters sent a message to Jesus that their brother was near death, it would have seemed natural for Jesus, the healer, to hurry to Bethany to see him. Yet Jesus remained where he was, across the Jordan, at least a day’s walk from Lazarus. And he assured his followers that Lazarus’s sickness would not end in death.

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Jesus’ delay seemed inexplicable when he arrived after Lazarus had died. He had spoken with assurance about the situation yet showed up too late.
As implied by Martha’s piercing statement—“If only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21)— the sisters must have wondered if he really cared. And the disciples must have wondered if he had tragically miscalculated the situation. Apparently, Lazarus’s sickness really did end in death.

But Jesus never said Lazarus wouldn’t die. He simply said this was not how the story would end. His sense of urgency was far different than theirs, just as God’s deliberate work in our prayers and problems violates our sense of urgency. God sees the end of the crisis even while we’re stressed about it.

And he often has a solution we would never dare to imagine.

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Jesus deliberately demonstrated a truth that answers many of the “whys” we utter in our crises: that problems and pain become a platform for his glory. We would never know many of God’s most beautiful attributes otherwise. We’d never know him as healer without a sickness, as deliverer without a captivity, as forgiver without some sin as the backdrop. That doesn’t mean he creates these evils, but he certainly utilizes them. When our “why did this happen?” turns into “how do you want to show yourself in it?” he reveals himself in greater glory.

Learn more about the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible. 

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Where Do You Turn?

People throughout the Bible faced difficult, even dire circumstances. No matter what we are facing God is there, waiting for us to call out to Him. Read the prayers of anguish from Jeremiah and David. As you read the note from the Beyond Suffering Bible reflect on how God has walked with you through the valleys and how you will respond in the future.

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“I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news—you have a son!” Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the Lord overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts, because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave! Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.” Jeremiah 20:15-18, NLT.

“I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, ‘What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.’ You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30: 8-12, NLT.

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Connection Note from the Beyond Suffering Bible:

Jeremiah’s complaints spiraled down into a deep depression, leaving him wishing he’d never been born. He called out to God in the midst of his “trouble, sorrow, and shame.” Not everyone responds to despair in the same way; King David knew dark days as well, but he was able to say that God had turned his “mourning into joyful dancing” (Ps 30:11). David and Jeremiah were both faithful in the way they responded, however, because they both took their burdens to God. Where do you turn in moments of despair and hopelessness? How would you help others who share their personal struggles with depression?

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Reading the Lord’s Prayer in Context

It is one of the most recited portions of Scripture, the Lord’s Prayer, but by taking it out of context do we lose an integral part of its meaning? Read what Glenn Paauw, from our partners at the Institute for Bible Reading, has to say.

Reading the Lord’s Prayer in Context – Institute For Bible Reading

by Glenn Paauw

We all know it. We’ve all heard it, we’ve most likely prayed it, and perhaps we’ve even sung it.

The Lord’s Prayer. The one Jesus himself taught us to pray. It’s straight from the Master. How can we not do what he says? Since this is a Jesus prayer, we might be reluctant to admit we’re not especially thrilled with it.

But let’s admit it. At this point it can seem so . . . what? Mundane? Common? Safe?

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Maybe there’s more to our lethargy with this prayer than simple overexposure. Maybe we’re verging on boredom with it because we haven’t captured the heart of it. And maybe this is because we haven’t focused on the context in which we first received it.

What context?

It’s easy to forget that this was prayer was introduced to the church by being embedded in two of our Gospels—Matthew’s and Luke’s. We don’t have space to explore both settings (or even one in any detail), but we’ll look more closely at Luke’s version in light of his Gospel’s bigger project.

The purpose here is to briefly set forth the kind of difference reading the Bible in context can make. In this case, we’ll see that there’s a whole lot more going on with the Lord’s Prayer than we’ve known.

Fitting Jesus’ Prayer into his Mission

Luke gives us the shorter, compact version of Jesus’ prayer, generally rendered along these lines in modern translations:

Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.

Crucially, Luke tells the story of Jesus in light of Israel’s bigger history with God. Jesus is fully embedded in Israel’s first-century context, announcing the arrival of God’s long-standing purposes for his people. In a fascinating passage that occurs just a little before Jesus teaches his disciples this prayer, we read that Jesus himself went up on a mountain to pray. Then this happens:

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his exodus, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

His exodus? Yes, this is one way Luke signals that the entire mission of Jesus was conceived in terms of a fresh Exodus experience for God’s people. This is precisely what the prophets had foretold. God would again come down and act decisively for his people’s liberation. God’s great new act of redemption would follow the pattern of the previous one. Biblical scholar Brant Pitre has written: “Each line of the prayer is rooted in the language and imagery of the Scriptures of Israel and in the prophetic hope for a new Exodus.”1 When we take a closer look at the Lord’s Prayer in the larger context of the Bible’s whole story, we find that it moves from being somewhat abstract and tame to bold and even risky.

When we take a closer look at the Lord’s Prayer in the larger context of the Bible’s whole story, we find that it moves from being somewhat abstract and tame to bold and even risky. Jesus is telling his disciples to urgently plead with God to bring this promised, future New Exodus. And to do it right now. In short, pray in the future. Tell God to free his people, bring them home, and establish his kingdom fully right here on earth.

Reading the prayer of Jesus in context recognizes all this:

• The Exodus was the first time God called Israel his son, and became Israel’s Father.
• The Exodus is when Pharaoh asked, “Who is Yahweh that I should obey him and let Israel go?” So God showed up and made his name holy, known among the nations.
• . . . when God brought his power and reign to earth to rescue his people.
• . . . when God brought his people daily bread in the wilderness.
• . . . when God forgave his people and revealed the Jubilee when all debts would be forgiven.
• . . . and when the time of great trial or testing came right before the great redemption.

Israel had been praying for centuries for all this to happen again. But Jesus told his closest followers and mission partners to pray for God to do it all right now, through the work of the Messiah. And then Jesus went out and did the work. He fought the great battle and brought us the New Exodus, freeing us from God’s biggest, baddest enemies—sin and death.

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When read in this light, the prayer and its urgent Greek imperatives go more like this:

Father,
Make your name holy.
Bring your kingdom.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone indebted to us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial.

The early church brilliantly connected the Lord’s Prayer directly to its observance of the Lord’s Supper. A New Exodus prayer right before a New Exodus Passover meal. Those early followers of Jesus also routinely introduced the prayer with the words, “We make bold to pray.”

Who are we to tell God what to do? It may be that we shouldn’t even have the nerve to pray this way, to demand that God act decisively right now to finish his work of the world’s redemption in and through Jesus. Except that Jesus himself told us to have the nerve.

So go ahead and pray that bold prayer in all its glorious biblical context. The way Jesus taught us.

1See his article The Lord’s Prayer and the New Exodus for a detailed exploration of all the connections

Find out more about the Institute for Bible Reading

Find out more about our joint project, Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

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