His Mercies Are New Every Morning

If you were to read the first part of Lamentations you would hear the writer crying out about how hard his life has been, about how everything that could go wrong did, and then it got worse. Poor guy. Talk about being raked over the coals. We might think we’ve got it bad, but this guy probably had it worse. In fact the whole book tells about a terrible time in the history of the nation of Israel. A lament is a sad song or poem and the whole book tells the sad story. But right at the end of chapter 3, he says – “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:21-24 NRSV)

There’s a hymn based on this passage:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Wow. Every morning. Can you imagine? Yes, we endure hard things and sometimes it feels like the sun will never shine again. But this tells us that every morning brings new mercy because of His steadfast love. And this gives us hope. Don’t lose hope. It might seem dark right now, but the sun will come up in the morning, and with it – new mercies. I don’t know about you, but that brings me great comfort. I have been through hard times, and you have, too. But just like the writer of Lamentations 3, we must choose to find hope in the knowledge that His love, His mercy, and His faithfulness will outlast our troubles. Keep reading Lamentations 3 and you find, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.” (vs 25) Are you seeking Him and His mercy? I hope so. That’s where hope is found.

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The Game Changer

There have been many events that changed history, some for the better, some for the worse. But none have changed history the way that Resurrection Day did. For three years, Jesus taught His followers, performed many miracles, and He challenged the beliefs of His people and their understanding of their God. He was already one of those people who was changing history. And then He was put through a trial for doing these things and His people turned against Him and had Him killed. He lived during the time of the Roman Empire and the form of capital punishment of the time was crucifixion – hanging from a cross until you died. He was first beaten and then forced to carry the heavy cross up a mountain to the place of death. As He hung from the cross it seemed this great man’s story was over. It had been a great story and people would never forget Him. Many believed He was a prophet, they knew He was a healer, and His teachings would go down in history with other great philosophers.

But there was a point in the story where everything changed. Everything. History changed. The future changed. Religion changed. The whole world was changed. Today, we call the event that changed everything Easter. Resurrection Day. The Day of the Empty Tomb. After Jesus died, His body should have been prepared for burial by His loved ones. But it was the day before the Sabbath, their Holy Day, and His family couldn’t touch a dead body. So, they lay Him in a tomb which was cut out of a hillside like a cave, and planned to come back after the Sabbath to complete the burial process. They knew this great Man from history had a lot of people who followed Him and they were concerned someone might try to take His body, so they sealed His tomb/cave by rolling a large stone in front of the opening to keep out anyone who might try to get IN. It probably didn’t occur to them that Someone might need to get OUT, but that is exactly what happened.

Jesus had been trying to tell His followers that after His death, He would see them again. He even told them He’d meet them in Galilee three days after His death. They didn’t get it, but He was serious. On the third day of His ‘death,’ He left the tomb. Alive. Some of the women who were His followers, friends, and caretakers, went to the tomb to begin the burial process. Only they found an empty tomb. An Angel even asked the question, “Why do you look for the living among dead? He is not here. He is risen.” Game Changer. He is not dead. He is risen. And just like He said He would, He met His disciples in Galilee where He spent another 40 days with them. Alive. Not dead. He had conquered death itself. Game changer.

So what does this mean to you and me? It means He proved that death wasn’t the end. It means that we are followers of a Risen Savior. He killed death so that we might have life. It means that we don’t die a ‘forever’ death, but we, too, have a life after death – a life in His Kingdom. He calls us to join Him there to spend eternity with Him. He told His disciples once, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, and I am going there to prepare a place for you.” So, where do you want to spend your eternity? Jesus has asked you to come and live with Him in His Father’s House, Heaven. Will you make the choice to follow Him? Will you choose to have NEW LIFE IN CHRIST?

To learn more, read:

  • Matthew 27:57-28:20
  • Mark 15:42-16:18
  • Luke 24:1-49
  • John 20:1-31

“But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have LIFE in His Name.” John 20:31

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What is the Bible?

suz bible

For Christians, the Bible is a very important book! It is our handbook, our instruction manual, our guide to understanding our Creator, our Savior, and even ourselves. It is a family scrapbook with stories of our ancestors. In it we learn the history of the nation of Israel and how we are connected to it even if we aren’t Jewish. We read about Jesus Christ, His life and teachings, His sacrifice, and His gift of eternal salvation from an everlasting death. The Bible is our source of information, comfort, example, guidance, and faith.

The Bible tells us the story of God and how He has related to mankind throughout history. When we read God’s Word, we allow Him to speak His truth to us, filling us with a gradual understanding of who He is and the knowledge of His Heavenly Kingdom. It has been said that when we pray, we talk to God; but when we read His Word, we listen to God speaking to us.

The first thing we need in order to read and understand the Bible is a relationship with Jesus Christ, otherwise we are just reading an interesting book. Reading the Bible can be confusing at times, but we can receive guidance through the Holy Spirit when we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Have you done this? If not, read the post called “Accepting Christ” located on the left-hand side bar.

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Why Should I Read the Bible?

The Bible has been called the “least-read best-seller.” We live in a world that is blessed to have the Bible in writing in a language we can understand. There have been thousands of generations before us that did not have this opportunity. And yet, people in our day and age know less about the Bible than any other Christians in history.

But let’s face it, reading the Bible may not seem like a project you want to take on. It’s a big book. Most of us are busy from the time we wake up until we finally hit the sack at the end of the day. We have to-do lists that aren’t getting done. Our lives are so over-scheduled that we don’t have time for doing anything “extra.” So reading a book that can be over a thousand pages long just seems out of the question, right? How can we possibly make that kind of commitment?

I’d like to challenge you to start reading the Bible today. You can do it any way that works for you, just start reading. I believe that God will lead you, guide you, help you, and bless you.

Still asking, “But WHY?” Well, here’s what the Bible says about reading the Bible:

  • “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.” John 20:31
  • “Every Word of the Lord is flawless, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5
  • “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a Light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

You can find a Bible at a bookstore, in libraries, in used book stores or thrift shops, online, etc. Or you can read an online version of the Bible for free. Check out www.Biblegateway.com or www.bible.com or any number of places. Not sure how to find the Bible you want to read? See the post titled “Which Bible Should I Read?”

 

 

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Which Bible Should I Read?

There are many different translations of the Bible available today. Just go in the bookstore and look at the shelves in the Religion section. It can seem overwhelming. Here are some general guidelines to the differences between some of the most popular ones.

The King James Version is filled with what I call “fancy language.” It was written during the same time as Mr. Shakespeare’s famous – and hard to read – works. Newer versions of the Bible have since been written to make it a little easier to understand. The New American Standard is one step closer to our own way of talking, but it still has a bit of the beautiful English flavor. The NIV, or the New International Version, uses a more current style and vocabulary for today and is very popular. The Good News Bible, or the Message Bible, uses an even easier vocabulary. These newer versions all tell the same thing in the same order. The chapter and verse divisions are the same from one Bible to the next. They just use different vocabulary words.

The important thing to remember is that you need to find one that works for you. There are times I use all of them for different reasons. I know people who really love the Shakespearean English of the King James Version and others who say the Message Bible is the only one they can understand. I like a middle-of-the-road approach. I like the NIV for daily reading. I do have other versions, though, that I often turn to for different reasons. If we go back to the original languages the Bible was written in, we’d have a much better understanding. But, I don’t speak Hebrew, Latin, or Greek, so I have to decide which translation makes the most sense to me.  Here are a few of the more common English Bibles available today:

  • The Authorized, or King James Version (AV or KJV)
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • New International Version (NIV)
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • New King James Version (NKJV)
  • New Century Version (NCV)
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
  • Today’s English Version (TEV)
  • The Good News Bible (GNB)
  • The Living Bible (TLB)
  • The Message Bible (TMB)

There are several websites where you can read the Bible in different English translations or even in other languages. One that I use all the time is www.biblegateway.com. It’s neat to look up a familiar verse or story and read it in several different translations. Even though they all say the same thing, the way they say it can be VERY different!

Some other features you might see when you look for a Bible:

*Study Bibles – The top of every page is Scripture, the bottom of the page has notes meant to give you a little more information

*Red Letter Version – The words of Jesus are printed in red

*Concordance – There is a topical index in the back to help you find certain words or topics

*Paraphrased – Not a word-for-word translation, but an idea-by-idea translation

*Chronological Bible – Follows the events of the Bible chronologically, the Books are not it traditional order.

 

 

 

 

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How Do I Look Up Verses in the Bible?

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You will see references to Bible passages written like this: John 3:16, Romans 8:28, or Psalm 23. It’s written to indicate where to look to read a specific part of the Bible, for a specific purpose. The Bible is divided into Books. The Books are divided into Chapters, and the Chapters are divided into Verses.

The pattern goes like this – Book name Chapter number : Verse or Verses

  • Book – the first part refers to the name of the Book within the Bible. You will find a Table of Contents at the front of the Bible that will tell you the page that book starts on. So, find the beginning of the right Book first. Be careful, sometimes there will be several books with the same name like 1-2 Corinthians. That means there are two books called Corinthians, the first one is 1 Corinthians and the second one is 2 Corinthians. When there is more than one Book of the same name, there will be a number in front of the name of the Book to tell you which one to use. For examples, 2 Peter 3:8-9 is the second book of Peter, or 2 Peter.
  • Chapter – each book is broken down into chapters. These are indicated by numbers that are in a larger print on the page. When you are reading most other kinds of books, each new chapter starts on a new page, but not in the Bible. The chapter numbers often fall in the middle of a page. Chapters usually cover a few paragraphs. If a reference is written like Psalm 100, it is referring to the whole chapter. There are three shorter books with no chapter numbers: 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.
  • Verse – the last number or numbers show the specific verse within the chapter. These are indicated by the smaller numbers on the page in the Bible. Verses are usually one or two sentences. If there is only one number, like John 3:16 it is referring to only one verse, in this case verse 16. If there are several numbers, like Ephesians 3:17-19, it is referring to verses 17 through 19; or 17, 18, and 19.

So, when you see a Bible verse written like John 15:13, You find the book of John, chapter 15, verse 13, which says, “Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.”

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Where Does the Bible Come From?

The Bible is made up of a bunch of old books, historical documents, diaries, letters, and poetry written by many different people. The authors had no idea their writings would be preserved in a master collection known as the Bible. Job 19:23 says, “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll.” Well, Job, they were.

The stories started out as oral tradition passed from generation to generation. They were told over and over until memorization was inevitable. The stories were their heritage. Eventually, people learned how to write the stories down. Moses is generally credited to have written the first five books of the Bible. He must have heard the stories of his ancestors thousands of times. So, he had the words written out to tell the familiar stories. These written words soon became very important to the Hebrew people.

I’m sure there were other people who learned how to write down their collection of family stories, too. But the words written by Moses had special meaning. Moses’ stories were a first-hand account of the events that shaped Hebrew history. The scrolls of Moses’ stories came to be regarded as sacred. But, there were others, too, who wrote history down and recorded the events that shaped the Israelite nation.

The stories of King David, Isaiah, Ruth, and many others were written and collected by the Hebrew people to try to preserve their heritage. At first, a combination of pictures and words was chipped into flat stones. Later, the text was written on strips of rawhide, and later still, thin pieces of bark from a papyrus tree.  These strips were then rolled up into scrolls. Very few people could read or write back then, so just getting the stories written down was quite a task. The author may have written it himself, or he may have dictated it to professional writers called scribes. The original scrolls were then copied by hand and checked and rechecked for mistakes. This was a long process, but it was the only way to reproduce the original.

The people of the Old Testament generally wrote in Hebrew. This was the common language of the Jewish people at the time. As Greece grew to be the dominant world power, the Scriptures had to be translated from Hebrew into Greek. A group of seventy translators set about the task. They were based in Egypt and spent many years compiling the ancient texts and writing them out in Greek. This early version of the Scriptures became known as the Septuagint.

A few centuries later, about the time of Christ’s birth, Rome became the dominant world power and the language of the people changed from Greek to Latin. Translators once again set out to bring the Scriptures up to date.

There were many different versions of the Latin translations arising. The early Christian Church determined that a universal translation was needed. In the late 4th century, Pope Damasus commissioned a scholar named Jerome to write out the ancient scriptures, or the Old Testament, as well as the newer collection of writings we now know as the New Testament and combine them into one book in Latin. This first edition of the complete Bible is what we now call the Vulgate. This is the Bible that circulated throughout the next thousand years.

In 14th century England, a man named John Wyclif began the task of translating the Bible into English for the first time. Unfortunately, it was actually against the law to own, or even read a Bible in English. A few years later, Johann Gutenberg found a way to reproduce the written word quickly and in mass. There had been a similar method used in China for thousands of years, but Gutenberg perfected the printing press for use in modern Europe. His first project was to reproduce the entire Bible, in Latin of course. Finally, in 1611, the King James Version of the Bible was released in English.

Newer versions have since been written to make it a little easier to understand since few us of still speak like they did in the sixteen-hundreds. These Bibles all tell the same thing in the same order. The book, chapter and verse divisions are the same from one Bible to the next. they just use different, more modern vocabulary words.

Many people helped to make the Bible into a book we can read in our own language. Many people gave their very lives to see to it that we could read it for ourselves. Today, the Bible has been translated into hundreds of different languages for people all over the world.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

In the 1940’s, a shepherd boy in Iraq was throwing rocks into caves when he heard an unusual sound. Upon further investigation, something amazing was found. Hidden in the back of the cave were clay barrels filled with ancient scrolls dating back as far as 250 B.C. These scrolls had not been touched in nearly two thousand years until a stone shattered one of the clay pots! Isn’t it neat that God uses little boys with rocks? When these scrolls were carefully unrolled and read, they contained copies of the Scriptures that were almost word for word exactly what we have in our Bibles today. Time and translation had not diluted or warped God’s Word. Amazing!

 

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