The New Living Translation
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


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.


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.


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


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!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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?


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:

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:

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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The Man God Picked

With Father’s Day approaching we think about the men who have played an important role in our lives. Not all of us were raised by our biological fathers, but most of us can think of a man who had a significant impact on who we are today. Even Jesus had a parental figure who was not his father. God chose Joseph, a humble carpenter, to be the earthly male influence for Jesus. Learn more about Joseph from the Every Man’s Bible. 


The Man God Picked

What sort of man would God pick to rear his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world? Would the man have to wield great influence? Amass tremendous political power? Accumulate fantastic riches?

No, no and no. God’s requirements came down to these two items:

  • He had to be a direct descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:16)
  • He had to follow directions.

Joseph, a Jewish carpenter, fit both requirements. He traced his lineage to his famous forebear, King David (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 1:27), and he made it a habit to obey God in all matters, large or small.

Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about Joseph. He comes on the scene abruptly at the beginning of the gospel story. We learn he is a “good” man (Matthew 1:19) and that he works as a carpenter (13:55). He plans to marry a young woman named Mary. But when he discovers that she is carrying someone else’s child, he decides to break the engagement quietly.

How did Joseph find out about the pregnancy? Did his fiancee tell him directly? Or did he hear the shocking news through friends or family? Did he wonder, Well, if God could send an angel to tell her, why couldn’t he other to send one to tell me?

Whatever the case, he made up his mind to distance himself from Mary. And then a second shock took place: God did let Joseph in on the divine secret. An angel appeared in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:20-21).


The angel offered no explanation. He gave no apology, no further instructions or communiques of any kind – and yet Joseph hurried to comply with God’s command. He immediately took Mary home to be his wife and name her son Jesus the moment he was born.

At least three other times Joseph got instructions from an angel in a dream, and all three times he immediately complied (2:13-15, 19-21, 22-23). Today’s readers might thing, Hey, if I got a message from an angel, I’d listen, too. Really? Not everyone in the Bible did. The might King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ignored the dream God sent him (Daniel 4) – and wound up breakfasting with the bovines. The Roman governor of Jesus’ day, Pontius Pilate, ignored the dream God sent his wife (Matthew 17:19) – and ended up condemning to death the man God had sent to bring life. Joseph, however, leapt to do God’s bidding in both the “small” stuff (Luke 2:39, 41) and the “big.”

That’s the kind of man God looked for to rock his Son’s cradle. And it’s still the kind of man he seeks to rock the world.


This month we will be using the Every Man’s Bible for our monthly Read With Us plan. Sign up here

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What GQ’s Bible Evaluation Gets Wrong

Read the response from our partners at the Institute for Bible Reading concerning what GQ got wrong in its Bible evaluation. Glenn Paauw is a leading expert on Bible reading and development. Here is what he has to say: 

by Glenn Paauw, Institute for Bible Reading

Add Prophets

The editors of GQ magazine recently assembled a list of 21 no-need-to-read so-called Great Books, along with a parallel list of recommended alternative choices. [Read the article here.] The point was to challenge the idea that there’s a mandatory list of books that anyone claiming to be well-read will know from firsthand experience. Don’t worry, say these guardians of the hipster style scene, because the whole idea of a canon is, well, already shot.

Many of the Great Books aren’t actually so great, so feel free to take a pass.

The list itself is pretty eclectic, taking aim not merely at older classics from authors like Henry James, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway, but also newer offerings like those of David Foster Wallace and Paulo Coelho. The original sin apparently afflicting all of the list? The snore factor.

No doubt some of the questioning, along with the suggested Plan B, are spot on. Instead of J. D. Salinger’s “not profound” Franny and Zooey, try Willa Cather’s “calm and contemplative and open” Death Comes for the Archbishopinstead. Sound advice there. But sometimes the list limps, as when Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels are relegated to “barely readable” status.

The Bible and the List

It’s probably not surprising that the Bible also made the cut list. These days there is a rather standard list of objections to the Bible, including but not limited to being sexist, violent, and generally approving of all manner of cultural regressions.

It is interesting and worth noting that not so long ago the standard story about the Bible was that it was The Good Book, albeit the one rarely read. Pollster George Gallup called it the best-selling, least-read book in America. Today the Bible remains largely unknown, but now it’s increasingly The Bad Book. And yes, boring too.

GQ’s list is not made up of review essays; it is as it claims to be, merely a list. But a few dismissive comments are included with each entry.

American novelist Jesse Ball’s cool brush-off of the Bible goes like this:

The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.

So there you have it.

First, the data point is correct: a long stream of research over the last few decades confirms what we all pretty much know anyway: the Bible is not being read very much. Most of those who still interact with it are not really reading it, but using some of its bits and pieces. So in many cases the pro-Bible people do not have a deep acquaintance with the actual content (which we’re actively working to address.)

Ball goes on to claim that once we do actually read it, we quickly discover the Bible’s manifold faults. But here the critique misses, I think, because of what I call the misframing of the Bible. Let me explain. For the Bible to be anything like what it’s intended to be, it is crucial to bring the right kind of assumptions and expectations to it.

Evaluating the Bible On Its Own Terms

Is the Bible trying to be like the other entries on this list? Is the Bible trying to be a captivating novel?

No, it isn’t, so characterizing it this way misleads us about its real purpose. And this can quickly enough lead to its easy dismissal.

Of course those who’ve already committed to the Christian story and its Author will have lots of reasons for wanting to read and reread the Bible. But what about would-be readers from outside the traditions that are honoring their own Scriptures? How does an honest outside evaluation of the Bible get on the right track?

For openers, the Bible must be acknowledged for what it is and what it’s trying to do. The Bible is a library of ancient literature, so the first thing is to set aside anachronistic contemporary assessments which want the Bible to act like a modern book. The Bible’s various literary entries are essentially telling us the story of a particular people from thousands of years ago and their claims to be interacting with the Creator of the world.

The Bible does this using ancient ways of writing and telling, so the only way to appreciate the Bible is to willingly enter into its own ancient world. If we’re going to pretend to sum up the value of the Bible, we at least owe it a fair reading, which means learning the basics of how ancient writings worked on their own terms. Poetry, prophetic visions, earthy wisdom, story-telling, and all the other communicative forms of the Bible are often strange to our modern ears. So the thing to do is learn a little about them and then at least begin by reading sympathetically.

Ultimately, the only decent way to read the Bible is to take it book by book, try to understand first what each one was saying to its own ancient audience, and then start putting the story together. Where does the narrative of the Bible go? We live where the story was going, not where it’s been. This is how the decisive question of the value in the Bible needs to be addressed. Rather than acting as a sourcebook for timeless truths, the Bible claims to be the beginning of a story that has continuing relevance for the world long past its own pages. It does this by making claims about the God of the Bible and what he’s up to.

[clickToTweet tweet=”We live where the story was going, not where it’s been. This is how the decisive question of the value in the Bible needs to be addressed.” quote=”We live where the story was going, not where it’s been. This is how the decisive question of the value in the Bible needs to be addressed.” theme=”style3″]

The Bible itself already has a long record of being a powerful force in the history of the world. It’s hard to think of anything more influential in the Western imaginative tradition of art and literature. This alone makes it worth reading. GQ’s assessment of the Bible was surpassed before it was even printed, and its dismissal tells us more about ourselves and our age than it does about the Bible.

It may be best to offer an invitation, rather than a defense. As the voice urged St. Augustine (no small cultural influence himself), “Take up and read!” Just be sure to read well.

Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

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From Busyness to Purpose


It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget the purpose of life. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that God isn’t “all work and no play.” He has given us wonderful gifts to enjoy and he loves seeing his people appreciating those gifts. But of all his gifts, his love is the greatest. As we go about our busy lives take a moment to reflect on God’s gifts, big and small, and thank Him for His amazing love.

Read this passage from Ecclesiastes and reflect on the note from the Every Man’s Bible.



Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

“I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.

Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy. So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”









Study Note from the Every Man’s Bible

“The alternative to over commitment to work is the enjoyment of life as God’s good gift. This includes enjoying our work while not allowing it to become the key to meaning in our lives. This is the first of the Teacher’s admonitions to take life less seriously and enjoy it more. Life is too short to waste it on the treadmill of ever- increasing professional accomplishments. We need to take the time to enjoy the gifts that God gives us.”

Take a look inside the Every Man’s Bible


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Scripture Union Africa Sees the Power of a Bible in Ghana

Since 1963, Tyndale House Foundation has been involved in supporting ministry on the continent of Africa.

Scripture Union Africa is one of the many ministries that Tyndale House Foundation supports.  The former President of Scripture Union Ghana, Jude Hama, came to Tyndale House Publishers recently and shared the ongoing need for Christian literature distribution in Ghana, West Africa.  There are many challenges in reaching the hearts and minds of young people in Ghana, but Scripture Union has seen tremendous success through literature distribution programs and group study—in fact, Scripture Union has a presence in 65%-85% of the high schools throughout Ghana.

Jude said, “We have only two aims in Scripture Union. Sharing God’s good news with children, and encouraging people of all ages to meet God daily through devotional Bible reading. I am very grateful that when our needs were made known, Tyndale House Foundation chipped in.  And did so faithfully each year.”

In addition to the support that Tyndale House Foundation gives Scripture Union, Tyndale House Publishers has been instrumental in distributing Bibles to students in Ghana through cause-driven campaigns in the United States and through support of donors like Naadu Mills, the former First Lady of Ghana. 350,000 copies of the New Living Translation were produced and distributed throughout the country, giving students direct access to God’s Word through a Bible of their very own.

Tyndale House Foundation is passionate about building a thriving publishing industry on the continent of Africa—supporting many other ministries and facilitating collaboration between organizations and individuals to meet the goal of publishing Christian books by Africans for Africans.  Furthermore, it is our hope that these important works from authors in Africa will also be shared with the entire world.

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