Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 12, 2 Corinthians 5, Ezekiel 19, and Psalm 64-65

09162013By Brenda Chance

It’s an old story. A man sees a beautiful woman. Man strategizes how to, ahem, get closer to said woman. But—uh-oh—man finds out she is already married. Enter a belly bump, murder, and a guilty king shooing away onlookers: Move along. Nothing interesting here. Keep moving.

My self-righteousness sighs in relief, “Phew! I’m so glad I could never do something like that.”

In 2 Samuel 11 we learn of David’s eager attempts to cover up his private indiscretions with a public wedding. David has momentarily forgotten God, but God has not forgotten him. Nor does God love him so little that He will leave David alone with his secrets. Through the prophet Nathan, God interrupts the honeymoon, confronting David with these words,

“I anointed you king of Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more” (2 Samuel 12:7b-8, emphasis added).

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Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 8-9, 2 Corinthians 2, Ezekiel 16, and Psalm 58-59

09132013_350_400A Marriage and Mercy Story

By Megan Oldfield

Our old dog, Murphy, is dying. He hasn’t eaten in days, he can barely walk, and the vet confirms that his heart and kidneys are failing. He’s lived a long, full life, I tell my husband, and I urge him to put the last of our three dogs down. But my husband’s not ready.

“You can try giving him an antacid,” the vet suggests as a last resort. “It might increase his appetite.”

So he carries our dog to the car, brings him home, and hand-feeds him Pepcid wrapped in bologna to help settle his stomach, in hopes that he might start eating his dog food again.

I watch him do this for several days, and after seeing no improvement in our dog’s eating habits, I shake my head and question my husband’s sanity strategy.

Until one day Murphy’s bowl is empty.

***

I meet my husband at a Bible study on his 21st birthday, and to be honest, I think he’s a bit of a nerd. He wears glasses that day and he doesn’t say much and his socks are pulled up way too high.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 7, 2 Corinthians 1, Ezekiel 15, and Psalm 56-57

By Julie Chen

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Psalm 57 (ESV)

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.

God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—

the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down.

They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;

I will sing praises to you among the nations.

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Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 6, 1 Corinthians 16, Ezekiel 14, and Psalm 55

By Stephanie Rische

2 Samuel 6If there was ever a time in our country’s recent memory that raised questions about the character of God, it would have to be this date in 2001.

On that infamous day and the days that followed, as people sifted through the rubble of crumpled cement, seared iron, and splintered faith, a few questions rose to the top of Americans’ consciousness. The questions weren’t new ones, but the rawness of the moment thrust them from somewhere beneath the surface into the harsh light of now.

Is God holy?

Is God good?

We aren’t the first ones who have found ourselves desperate for answers in the face of tragedy. King David, called a man after God’s own heart, asked the same questions some three thousand years ago. On the heels of a few significant victories—receiving news of his archrival’s death (2 Samuel 1), being crowned ruler of a newly united kingdom (2 Samuel 4–5), and defeating the Israelites’ bitter enemy (2 Samuel 5)—David set out to bring the ark of God back to its rightful home in Jerusalem.

This would have been a move of deep significance for David and the rest of the Israelites.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 4-5, 1 Corinthians 15, Ezekiel 13, and Psalm 52-54

09102013How Trusting God Leads to Obedience

By Kelli Gotthardt

There are summer days when the sound of missiles and gunfire fill my living room. These explosions are usually followed by exclamations like, “Dude!” or “Sweet!” as the eyes of all the boys in the room fixate on the television and their fingers furiously manipulate their game controllers.

While even simulated violence gives me a headache, teenage boys seem to love blowing things up–even when it’s pretend.

But the violence in 2 Samuel 4 and 5 is anything but pretend. In chapter 4 alone we read of the death of Abner, the crippling of Mephibosheth, the stabbing and beheading of Ish-bosheth, and the ceremonial presentation of his head to David—resulting in the death, hanging, and severing of the hands and feet of the stabbers. While this preaches well to junior-high boys, what possible lessons could there be for us in this text?

Strangely, I believe this narrative has a very relevant message for women. (Testosterone-fueled bloodshed aside.) In many ways this is the story of what happens when we take matters into our own hands. And while we may not go so far as to actually murder someone to get our way, we are often masters at “helping God along.” Let me illustrate from my own life.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 3, 1 Corinthians 14, Ezekiel 12, and Psalm 51

create in me a clean heartBy Patty Kirk

One day in our discussion group after church back when I was yet new to faith, one of the church elders objected to a song, “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” that we had sung during the service.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12, ESV

“We shouldn’t be singing ‘Cast me not away from thy presence, oh Lord. Take not Thy holy spirit from me,’” he said. “Once we accept Jesus, we can be assured that God would never do that.”

“But it’s straight from Psalm 51,” another elder said.

“Yeah,” the first elder said. “I know. But it’s Old Testament thinking. Old Testament praying.”

Uncharacteristically, although I had found the song particularly moving and would have liked to say so, I kept my peace. I wanted to think about those arguments so intriguingly put before me. That God would never abandon me as I felt he had during the decades of the atheism I had fallen into in my teens.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Samuel 31, 1 Corinthians 11, Ezekiel 9, and Psalm 48

god's sanctuaryBy Jane Graham

The layers of my heart began peeling away last spring when she told me the news.

They would be making some changes—stepping away from the life we had known together as friends. I felt my breathing grow shallow and ordered that fickle saltwater to stay hidden behind the curtain of my eyes. I knew what this meant. Despite reassurances and hugs and love and honesty, we both knew. This would change everything.

Of course I cheered her on and affirmed her graciously, recognizing the long hours of prayer that had led to this moment. This was no knee-jerk response to a bad day. This was no impulsive declaration to the world or to me.

This was God leading her. Only it felt as though his leading was changing the very fabric of what we had spent nearly ten years weaving together. His leading of her, and then of several more in my community, had begun to unravel something in me, too. Because until then, I wouldn’t have believed that a single pulled thread could reveal something so ugly in my own heart: I had made my community my idol.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Samuel 28-29, 1 Corinthians 10, Ezekiel 8, and Psalm 46-47

By Sarah Carter

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Psalm 47 (ESV)

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.

He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham.

For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

From Sarah: “The concept of shouts of joy and praise rising up from the earth at God’s faithfulness and power were the catalyst for the image of the leaf and colorful stones.”

Closer looks:

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Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Samuel 28, 1 Corinthians 9, Ezekiel 7, and Psalm 45

psalm 45By Christie Purifoy

My daughter, my firstborn, slips through the kitchen door. I don’t know if I should blame the summer humidity or another night of troubled sleep, but her long hair looks like a creature from a nightmare world.

“I had another bad dream last night. A dream about me and baby Elsa,” she says.

“What happened?” her younger brother asks.

Half listening, I run the rubber spatula through the eggs. Lily says something about witches and a chase.

“That’s when I woke up so I imagined a happy ending to make myself feel better.”

“Oh?” I say. “What happy ending?”

“Elsa and I found a beautiful castle and a prince. We ran into the castle and turned into princesses, and we were safe. It was the only thing I could think of.”

These last words are spoken on a downward mumble.  When I turn around she doesn’t meet my eye, as if she knows what I am thinking: You are almost ten. Haven’t you outgrown these sentimental royal kingdom fantasies?

***

A few weeks after we moved to this Victorian red-brick farmhouse, my husband built a small tree house in the shape of a castle.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Samuel 27, 1 Corinthians 8, Ezekiel 6, and Psalm 44

blueprintby Laurie Short

What do you do when the bottom falls through? When the circumstances of your life don’t seem to reflect the fruit of your faith?

I don’t know about you, but I have been there. In my mid forties, I was single again, because my “miracle” engagement had just broken up. My fiancé reconciled with his ex wife, which is, in fact, a great story if you’re not the ex-fiancée.

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old…not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. (Psalm 44:1-3, ESV)

During this time, I was in full time ministry, speaking all over the country about God’s faithfulness. This put a new twist in my talks. When people looked at my life, they couldn’t really see God’s faithfulness. But things aren’t always as they seem.

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