Showing posts with label Christmas gift. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas gift. Show all posts

December 2, 2015

Psalms: Jesus’ prayer book makes a great Christmas gift!

My Bible study group at church has been studying the Psalms – the prayer book of God’s people from pre-Temple days through the early church. Not only do these prayer-poems connect us with Jewish and Christian worshipers throughout the ages and today, the Psalms also comprise the prayers and poetry read, memorized, recited, and prayed by Jesus and His disciples.

Think, for example, of Psalm 22, which Jesus spoke from the cross. Although He didn’t recite the whole psalm, the opening verses reminded His followers to consider each line as they wept. Most likely, this reminder of the full psalm brought hope. And, now, once we have heard the 22nd Psalm, the 23rd Psalm gains even more significance and offers even more comfort.

After reading the latter in our study group today, we had a fresh and insightful discussion as we compared various translations and talked about word choices, metaphors, and what we learned about God from the poem.

For example, the psalm begins with the reminder that, with God as our Shepherd, we have everything we need – physically, mentally, and spiritually. We have nothing to fear with God providing for us, protecting us, caring for us, and giving lavish gifts – a banquet where the Lord God treats us – you and me – as honored guests!

Wow! We should be honoring God with every part of our lives, but Psalm 23 reminds us that God honors us, welcomes us, and takes care of every need.

Many of these joys in fellowship with God had occurred to us at one time or another, but with our commitment to read, pray, and study the Psalms, we saw amazing details we’d never noticed. For instance, verse 6 tells us:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me
all the days of my life.”

In the previous verse, we’re in the presence of enemies – people who want to do us harm! And yet this psalm and others assure us that we’ve nothing to fear. Not only can we totally count on God’s presence to be with us, we can count on the Lord's goodness and mercy to follow us around!

Can you picture it? Goodness and mercy follow us. Goodness and mercy pursue us. Goodness and mercy stalk us!

Even if we’re surrounded by ill will, enemies, and evil, Goodness and Mercy WILL follow us all the days and nights of our lives.

Well, I hope this gives you an idea of why I wanted a separate book of Psalms to read, study, and use as my prayer book – maybe an edition with room in the margins to write “Claimed” and the day's date beside promises or space to make a note, such as writing “stalks” or “pursues” beside verse 6.

You might have heard by now that I also appreciate quality paper with pages sewn into a supple top-grain leather cover that feels great to the touch and should last for generations.

Searching the Internet, I found one such edition of Psalms that fits all of the above – and fits nicely into my hand! So I bought the Psalms in ESV (English Standard Version) published by Crossway for myself, but oh, what a great Christmas gift this would also make for other lovers of prayer and God’s Word. Praise God!

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the Church in all its parts.

Psalms, ESV, bound in top grain leather

December 5, 2013

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, NLT

What a Bible for Bible lovers! If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for your pastor, Bible teacher, biblical writer, or a Bible student who already has a study Bible or readers’ edition, the Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation (NLT) from Tyndale House Publishers makes an excellent choice. Having another Bible first matters only because the books in this edition have been arranged chronologically, rather than by traditional groupings, so if you want to look up a passage quickly, say, during a discussion in your study group, you’d need to know the book of Job most likely occurred before the time of Moses in order to find its placement. The easier way, though, is to look up the scripture you want in the “Canonical Table of Contents” in the opening pages, where you might find Haggai and Zechariah interacting with the book of Ezra and the Gospel stories intermingled.

Despite the confusion some have when flipping pages can't be done efficiently, the chronological arrangement clearly shows how books in the same time period relate to one another. For example, after fleeing from King Saul (I Samuel 22), David wrote Psalm 57, which places those passages together in this edition.

As portions of scripture weave together in time, the introductions and overviews of each book needed to be gathered in one section entitled “The Bible, Book-by-Book.” Also, in the back pages, you’ll find a “Master Index,” concordance, and maps, along with other features you might expect in any good study edition.

Throughout this edition, you’ll find the type of footnotes and “Personality Profiles” that made the Life Application Study Bible a popular choice, but the unique features of the Chronological Life Application Study Bible come as a clock or calendar.

For example, the article “A Chronological Study of the Bible” in the opening pages provides a brief but helpful overview of biblical history from creation to the first century church. However, the feature I especially love is the “Complete Biblical Timeline” that lets me know the Egyptians built the pyramids not very long after the flood, which makes me wonder if the design occurred as an attempt to get above water level!

Also, in Egypt, papyrus and ink were invented for writing and horses domesticated long before the birth of Abraham. About the time his grandsons, Jacob and Esau, were born, Stonehenge appeared in England, and within a couple years of the birth of Jacob’s son, Joseph, someone invented the wheel.

In Babylon, Hammurabi wrote his code of law around 300 years before the laws came through Moses. About 50 years after Moses’ death, King Tut entered his famous tomb, and, about ten years before a whale swallowed Jonah, Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Such interesting information continues for several pages, and then a brief timeline tops each page of scripture, keeping us connected to the world context in which the Bible lives on and on as the living Word of God.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, hardback

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, Kindle, e-book