Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 21, 1 Thessalonians 4, Daniel 3, Psalm 107

10182013_AK2By Amy Kannel

On the surface, the story of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21 seems straightforward: a profoundly wicked king and queen, the injustice they commit, the innocent man who dies at their hands, and the judgment they receive from a holy God.

But like all good stories, this one points to a greater Story. This story has another main character—one whose name is not mentioned, but whose presence looms large between every line, if we only have eyes to see Him.

Consider Naboth, who refused to sell his inheritance. Despite the fact that he could make a profit (the king, after all, was offering to give him a better vineyard), he held fast to his family’s land, knowing that this proof of God’s promises was priceless.

Naboth was falsely accused of offending God and the king. Powerful rulers plotted against him, producing false witnesses and charging him with blasphemy. Naboth was taken outside the city and killed for a crime he did not commit. Once he was dead, another could take possession of his inheritance. “Naboth is not alive, but dead,” Jezebel announced triumphantly to her husband (v.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 20, 1 Thessalonians 3, Daniel 2, and Psalm 106

By Samira Gast Daniel 2
Today’s art is a response to Daniel 2:

Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:

 

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;

he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness,

and the light dwells with him.

To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,

for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you,

for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

 

Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon.

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Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 19, 1 Thessalonians 2, Daniel 1, Psalm 105

10152013_BCBy Brenda Chance

Presumption is a dangerous thing in matters of faith. It’s easy to impose upon God fantastical expectations. History books are filled with examples of God’s failure to come through on man’s ideas of preferred outcomes.

Take Elijah. His life is defined by ten words, “And the word of the Lord came to him…” and “go…” Elijah is a prophet on the strings of God’s purposes.  Extraordinary things happen when Elijah obeys—drought as judgment against King Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 17:1), all-you-can-eat bread from a mini-ration of flour (1 Kings 17:8), raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:22), and showing up the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-41).

God speaks. Elijah obeys.  Signs and wonders fall from heaven. Apparently Elijah heard the same Sunday School lesson I did—the one about the magical formula of faith: God’s command + Man’s obedience=Blessings! Vegas style. Lights flashing. Sirens wailing. People cheering.

I’m right there with Elijah as he takes his victory lap to Jezreel (1 Kings. 18:46). He and I are callin’ out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat? The prophets of Baal are dead; the victory of God is swuh-eet.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 18, 1 Thessalonians 1, Ezekiel 48, and Psalm 104

By Kelli Campbell

Today’s art is a response to Psalm 104:

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!

You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment,

psalm 104 - with light as a garment

stretching out the heavens like a tent.

He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot;

he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.

He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.

You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.

The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.

You set a boundary that they may not pass,

a boundary line

so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;

they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 17, Colossians 4, Ezekiel 47, and Psalm 103

1 Kings 17By Megan Oldfield

We start our day too early and with too much to do, when granola bars pass as breakfast and pajamas make acceptable around-town attire. My kids and I drive to the doctor’s office for a nine o’clock appointment, and while I’m congratulating myself for actually remembering to schedule my daughter’s wellness check this year (unlike last), the secretary tells me after we arrive that our insurance won’t pay for the visit.

The trip’s not a total bust, though. At least we all get our flu shots. Band-Aids and tears for everyone!

From there, we head to horseback riding lessons, a twenty-minute drive across the river. My daughters tack their horses while my three-year-old son watches Alvin and the Chipmunks and nurses his vaccine wound with a Dum-Dum. This gives me enough time, I think, to plan the girls’ school assignments, but I keep getting interrupted by urgent text messages from my husband, alerting me that the Sears repairman, who’s supposed to fix our broken oven, will be arriving ANY MINUTE.

I wait in the driver’s seat, spinning my proverbial wheels, until the girls finally tumble out of the horse arena, dusty and dirty, an hour later — just in time for me to discover that my mini-van won’t start.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 15, Colossians 2, Ezekiel 45, and Psalm 99-101

Psalm 101By Christina Vinson, Guest Contributor

Home. It’s where we, as women, can let our hair down—literally and figuratively.

Honestly, home is where I have my hair up most of the time—as in, ponytailed. Home is the place I don my rattiest sweatpants, where I let my guard down and have strange and extremely uncoordinated dance parties with my husband. It’s one of my favorite places to be.

Home is also one of the places I sin the most.

You see, along with my uneven complexion and ugliest lounging clothes, my sinful heart is laid bare at home. It’s where I let my guard down physically and spiritually, and because of that, sin flares up. It’s in the way I snap at my husband and worry incessantly about the perfect paint color for our bedroom. It’s when I look at my closet full of clothes; unable to find anything to wear, unsatisfied with what I have.

My home is unfortunately a place where sin has a stomping ground.

In Psalm 101, King David talks about his home—which was actually a palace—and expresses a commitment to shaping it into a godly place.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 14, Colossians 1, Ezekiel 44, and Psalm 97-98

noswim_KGBy Kelli Gotthardt

When I was a kid growing up in rural Iowa, we had very strict codes around ‘Sabbath’ observance. There was simply no work to be done on Sundays, save farming. That included no eating out (which was paying someone to work for you) or homework (no tests were scheduled for Mondays at the local Christian college or grade school I attended) or playing sports. To participate in these activities on Sunday was to essentially make yourself ‘unclean’. If my Aunt Jean was visiting from out of town the list of unclean activities expanded to include swimming and sun bathing. Acceptable activities included taking a Sunday drive after church (which we did each week) followed by an afternoon nap (the reason I hated Sunday as a child).

Things have changed in regard to Sunday rest. Going out to eat after church is now just considered good Christian fellowship and shopping, studying, and sporting activities are not only not taboo, they are encouraged. I’m grateful for the freedom from the legalism of my youth, but after reading the passages this week I am left wondering if I’m truly differentiating between the holy and the common.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 13, Philippians 4, Ezekiel 43, and Psalm 95-96

By Julie Chen

Psalm 95
Today’s post is an artful response to Psalm 95:

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

when your fathers put me to the test

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

For forty years I loathed that generation

and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

and they have not known my ways.”

Therefore I swore in my wrath,

“They shall not enter my rest.” (Psalm 95, ESV)

Today’s Question: The Lord is a great King, above all gods.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 12, Philippians 3, Ezekiel 42, and Psalm 94

1 Kings 12By Patty Kirk

The other evening, while grading papers at a restaurant near my university, I got to talking to the young man who was serving me. Turns out he was studying at my university, and, as often happens when someone discovers that I teach writing, he launched into an account of his own trials as a student of writing. How he’d struggled to write in the various styles required in different courses. How maybe I could proofread a paper for one such course someday soon? (“Not happening,” I said). How, at his previous university, a speech professor had come down hard on him about his writing.

She was unbelievably strict, he said. When she couldn’t open a document because he’d used a free word processing program and hadn’t saved it the right way, she didn’t allow him to fix it but simply gave him an F. And even though she held his speeches up as models for other students, she never gave him anything higher than a C or D on his written assignments and scribbled all over them. (I adjusted my forearm across my students’ papers to hide my scribbles in the margins.)

“It was a speech class,” he raged.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 11, Philippians 2, Ezekiel 41, and Psalm 92-93

By Sarah Carter

Philippians 2
Sarah writes:

This piece was created after spending time reflecting on Philippians 2. Verses 14-16 especially caught my heart—
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16, ESV)
—the idea that when we are practicing true humility, we actually shine bright as stars. Often, what we chase after when we refuse to put the needs of others first is usually the spotlight. We want to be noticed, to be the best, to be praised and seen above all. But this Scripture is telling us that we have it backwards. That in fact, when we can put others needs before ours, trusting that God already sees us and that we don’t need to be the loudest or most beautiful or special to earn his attention, that only then will we truly shine.… Continue Reading