Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 21, Psalm 60-61, Isaiah 10, and James 4

James 4 imageBy Laurie Short

You’ve probably heard the quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” It’s not a Bible verse, but I think I’ll vote for it when the next translation comes out. However it could be a contender for a loose paraphrase of James 4:13–15:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. [Don’t hold back, James. Tell us how you really feel.] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but James isn’t exactly a beat around the bush guy. In other places in this chapter, he calls his readers adulterous, double minded, greedy, slanderous, judgmental and hypocritical. So what if he happens to be right? He could at least try to say it nicely.

But there is something about v.13-15 that grips me.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 2, Psalm 36, Ecclesiastes 12, and Philemon

Philemon imageBy Tricia Lott Williford

Think of the greatest mentor in your life. The person about whom you might say, “She taught me everything I know,”  or “I am the person I am today because of his influence.”
When I think of the most powerful mentors in my life, I can speak from experience: pretty much for the rest of my days, if they ask anything of me, I’m going to feel compelled to respond. I would be pretty hard pressed to act against what someone asks of me, be that person a camp counselor from the best summers of my life, a teacher who taught me far more than what was on the syllabus, or the youth pastor who led me think bigger and better than what I had known before.
That’s who Paul was to most of the early Christians. He was not their biological father, but he was their spiritual parent. He taught them how to live and showed them who to become as Christ followers. When he was imprisoned for sharing the gospel, I imagine that they lived for his letters – they waited eagerly to hear what their mentor had to say, this man who had so deeply loved them and influenced their lives.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 38, John 17, Proverbs 14, and Philippians 1

proverbs 14By Christina Vinson

Envy. Comparison. Resentment. These words used to flash through my mind when I thought of a close friend (let’s call her Katie), and sometimes, unfortunately, they still do.

It started as an innocent friendship in fifth grade, when she and a few other girls asked me, the new kid, to play four square. But, as our lives sped toward where we are today, jealousy began creeping in, little by little.

In college, as a teenager and then young twenty-something, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. Pick a subject that I should spend my lifetime pursuing? I could barely pick out my outfit before an 8AM class. Katie, on the other hand, knew she wanted to be an elementary school teacher, and had her class schedule mapped out when we were still in high school. Settledness in her life goals was also steady, while mine varied from day to day.

She began being asked out on dates, while I was sitting by the phone, alone. In fact, a lot of guys took interest in her, and she always had a story about a new guy, new date, new breakup.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 19, 2 Corinthians 7, Ezekiel 5, and Psalm 42-43

2 corinthians 5By Laurie Short

“For Christ’s love compels us,” Paul writes.

To which I must confess reluctantly, “Not always.”

(However I don’t recommend that for your church’s next responsive reading.)

But if I’m honest, there are times when I am compelled by something very different than Christ’s love. Selfishness, for one. (That hurts just writing it.) Comfort, for another.  And then there’s pride, self justification and anger.

So maybe I am writing today’s devotional just for me.

However I am guessing that from time to time, you too are motivated by a few other things than Christ’s love. Which is why I am drawn to take us once more to this well known verse.

And this time, I’ll complete it.

For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Can I just say that I am so glad Paul doesn’t end there? Because there’s a whole lot of death in that sentence. However, put together with the next verse, the death he speaks about—His and ours—takes on new meaning.

And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and was raised again (verse 15, emphasis mine.)

The thing is, the resurrected life can’t happen without death.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 14, Luke 17, Job 32, and 2 Corinthians 2

By Lisa Velthouse

exodus 14One of the more illuminating moments in our marriage happened on the night when Nathan and I came to terms about The Leak. I don’t recall the particulars of our conversation anymore, but knowing me, I had likely cried and talked in circles for some time, trying to simultaneously figure out a point and make it. Knowing him, he had likely listened patiently and with a furrowed brow, putting forth a valiant mental effort to sift through what I was saying in order to hear what I actually meant.

We were talking about being busy and about the toll it was taking on things. That detail I do remember. Nathan had been working especially long hours: weekdays and -nights away from home on training exercises, weekends spent at his desk trying to keep up with everything that had piled on while he was away. Times like these are par for the course every so often with military life, but accepting that fact doesn’t necessarily make them easier. As is typical in our relationship, the feverish pace was leaving both of us beyond tired—but where his exhaustion was physical, mine was emotional.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27, and 1 Corinthians 13

By Amanda Jenkins

1 corinthians 13We have dear missionary friends who would visit our adopted son, Max, when he was still in the orphanage in Thailand. They brought him books, candy, and pictures of our family, told him about Jesus, and assured him that his new mommy and daddy would come to get him soon. Dallas and I were grateful that Max was being loved on — we saw it as God’s provision and protection for our son while we couldn’t be with him. I’m forever indebted, not only because they cared for Max, but also for their help while we were in Bangkok. They showed us around, armed us with maps and sky-train passes when they couldn’t be our personal tour guides, translated for us, and were a source of support during a difficult, emotional time.

But by day five, four-and-a-half-year-old Max still preferred them and Dallas over me, and I was sad. From moment one, the entire experience was nothing I expected. Nothing felt natural or instinctive. Max wasn’t connecting to me — the woman he’d seen in pictures for the past year. And what was worse, I didn’t feel a connection to him.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 8, Luke 11, Job 25-26, and 1 Corinthians 12

By Kendra Roberts

1 corinthians 12
Today’s art is a response to 1 Corinthians 12:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

 

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 4, Luke 7, Job 21, and 1 Corinthians 8

1 corinthians 8

By Christie Purifoy

“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

1 Corinthians 8: 1-3

I became a mother ten years ago. Since that day, I have been humbled in approximately ten million different ways. It happened most recently when I realized that my daughter’s least attractive personality trait is an exact copy of my own. Actually, it may not even be my least attractive quality, as there are likely far worse things in me that my daughter was fortunate not to inherit. However, like the proverbial speck and log, I had to see it in someone else before I became aware of it in myself.

Sorry, dear daughter. You are blessed with your father’s long eyelashes and his extroverted ease on a stage, but from your mother you received this: an unwavering, never-faltering need to be right.

***

I talk a good talk. Asking the right questions is so much more important than knowing the right answers!Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 47, Luke 1:1-38, Job 13, and 1 Corinthians 1

By Megan Oldfield

luke 1 - 1I’ve got nothing insightful to say about today’s passages.

That’s what I think as the hours dwindle before my deadline.

It’s Thursday, the day before this piece is due, and I’m under my blankets watching Downton Abbey with a box of Good & Plenty in one hand and Swedish Fish in the other wondering WWAVW? (What would Ann Voskamp write?)

It’s a picture of grace under pressure, really.

When I sat down to work on my post last weekend, I thought I had it under control. I intended to write my little heart out. But a massage scheduled for nine o’clock Saturday morning only afforded me enough time to read the four daily chapters.

That’s okay, I figured, I’ll meditate on some verses while my therapist’s working out the knots, and boy do I have me some knots.  But then I fell asleep between the sheets of the warmed massage table and snored myself awake an hour and a half later. I blame Deuter and his dreamy new age music.

That afternoon, distracted by all the electronic devices dangling off my desk, I decided a quick trip to Lowe’s was in order.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 45, Mark 15, Job 11, and Romans 15

genesis 45By Jane Graham

Paczkis.

Fat Tuesday.

Plastic beads at Mardi Gras.

With Lent less than a month away, the marketplace has started its engines and the slow rev toward this ancient tradition has officially begun. Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with Polish treats and throngs will begin their descent upon New Orleans in mere days for a weeks-long celebration.

At times, it seems the modern day observance of Lent is more anticipated for the sanctioned overindulgence beforehand than for the season itself.

But today I am reminded that Lent, among other things, is a season of hardship resulting in forgiveness. Luckily, the Bible has much to say about both of these things.

Genesis 45

The story of Joseph emerges as one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness in all of Scripture. Having been left for dead in a pit, sold into slavery by his own brothers and   then wrongly accused and imprisoned—if anyone had reason to hold a grudge, become embittered or seek revenge, Joseph had plenty to go on.

But when his brothers traveled to Egypt seeking help during a time of famine, the love he exhibited stood in stark contrast to the hatred spewed his way thirteen years earlier.… Continue Reading