Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 21, Psalm 26-27, Ecclesiastes 4, and 1 Timothy 6

Ecclesiastes 4 imageBy Stacy Sharpe, guest contributor

It’s lonely at the top … just ask Charles Foster Kane.

Perched atop his 49,000 acre estate known as “Xanadu,” Charles Foster Kane embodied the man who had everything money could buy. As a multi-millionaire newspaper magnate, Mr. Kane assumed power and accumulated wealth with an insatiable vengeance. Yet in his quest to “have it all,” love alluded him … and poor Charlie died alone, ensconced in what ultimately appeared more like a mausoleum than a mansion.

OK, so I confess I’m a film junkie … and I have to agree with the American Film Institute that Citizen Kane (loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst?) arguably remains the best American movie ever made.

I further propose that Charles Foster Kane would have been well served by the book of Ecclesiastes.

After all, the epically affluent King Solomon was also familiar with the potential futility of our human strivings. With his vast wealth and powerful position, Solomon was probably the envy of everyone in Israel … though contentment notably eluded him. In his penetrating search for purpose and meaning, Solomon wisely concludes that we spend most of our lives “chasing after the wind,” while true fulfillment is found in God alone.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 15, Psalm 18, Proverbs 29, and 2 Thessalonians 3

Leviticus 15 artBy Mollie Bozarth

Today’s art is a response to Leviticus 15. Mollie’s thoughts on the passage and her art follow here:

As I started reading through the four available passages for today, I thought, “Leviticus! I probably won’t paint anything from there.” Then I began reading the chapter, Leviticus 15, and thought, “Yes, I really don’t want to paint any of these images!” It’s all about bodily discharges and how they cause basically everything and everyone you touch to become unclean. A good, solid Leviticus passage on hygeine from a time in history when breaking the contaminated pottery killed 99.9% of germs. Within 33 verses, I counted 34 instances of the term “unclean.”

But of course God wasn’t writing an early Lysol commercial, and the issue goes much deeper than hygiene. By the time I finished reading the chapter, I knew this was the passage to paint. After all, we’re in the Lenten season. Christ came because we ARE unclean…more than that, washing our hands and avoiding contact with other people until evening would not cleanse the filth that lies within. Discharges (from the male or female mentioned in Leviticus 15) come from the private, hidden parts.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 10, Psalm 11-12, Proverbs 25, and 1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 imageBy Lisa Velthouse

1 Thessalonians 4 is part of a letter from Paul to the Christian church in Thessalonica. The chapter begins with the kinds of subjects that make people feel condemnation hot around their necks: sexual immorality, lust, and passion right out of the gate. These are the impurities (verse 7) Paul pits against a clear expectation of holiness, honor, and sanctification.

If the early church was anything like our churches today, they would’ve met these verses ripe with potential for missing the point.

Then as now, readers of 1 Thessalonians 4 would run the risk of splitting into two camps: those who assumed they fell on the favorable side of its prescription—holy, honorable, sanctified (verses 3-4)—and those who felt they failed it: (verses 3 and 5) immoral, wrongly passionate, ruled by lust. There would be judgment and self-righteousness on one side, defensiveness and guilt on the other. Accusations would probably be hurled.

Then as now, the point both sides would be missing would be the one that appears both before and after all the sex talk. It’s a principle that goes far beyond sex and bodies, and we see it in a little phrase that’s on repeat: more and more.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 6, Psalm 5-6, Proverbs 21, and Colossians 4

04032014_NBBy Nicole Bennett, guest contributor

Life in the trenches of motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The days are long and on some days the rewards are few.

I press onward though, knowing that the battle I’m fighting is for the very hearts I’m nurturing in my home. I fight by seeking out bits of beauty in the ordinary of life.

And of course the more I train those in my care, the more I realize that I myself am in training as well. As I push through the challenges, I’m refined, sharpened, honed— my own heart is shaped as I do the hard heart-shaping work of raising kids.

***

Psalm 5 is one of those passages that I can’t help but read to the tune of a familiar old song. One that takes me back to my college days (those days when I thought I was busy).

I can remember learning its easy melody in a living room Bible study, singing with the accompaniment of a worn guitar with decorative etchings, in a circle of worshiping friends.

The words of the song, are simply taken from the King James Version of one of today’s portions:

Give ear to my words, O Lord
Consider my meditation
Harken unto the voice of my cry
My king and my God
For unto Thee will I pray
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning

 

O Lord, in the morning
will I direct my prayer
Unto thee, and will look up.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 4, Psalm 1-2, Proverbs 19, and Colossians 2

Psalm 1 artBy Cindi Koceich

Today’s art is a response to Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
or sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)


Cindi’s thoughts on her art follow:

I believe this  Scripture holds the answer to living a life that is truly free in Christ – a life that is deeply nourished, bears much fruit, and is filled with light in a very dark world.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers…”

The word blessed in this passage literally translates, “Oh the happiness.” This world offers so many counterfeits to true happiness, selling us lies that power, wealth, comfort or status will fulfill us.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 39, John 18, Proverbs 15, and Philippians 2

philippians 2By Amanda Jenkins

My husband is a director, and is making a short film for our Good Friday service. Since the crucifixion of the Savior of the world is a challenging moment to believably recreate, Dallas hired seasoned actors from LA and flew them to Chicago where we currently live.

Chicago. As in, forty degrees below zero for much of the winter and snow on the ground in late March — that Chicago. Thankfully, we’ve had a few warmish days that did away with the six foot snow drifts, but the chill in the air remains and so do our winter coats. And all that to say, I’m not sure our LA actors even own winter coats, and if they did, they certainly couldn’t wear them while hanging on crosses in a rock quarry-turned-Golgotha.

I visited the set with my kids yesterday, who were too cold to stay outside so they huddled in tents with space heaters. But Jesus and the thieves were dressed in loin clothes, hoisted above the piles of dirt where the breeze moved unfettered. In between takes, they’d climb down ladders so the crew could wrap them in blankets.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 36, John 15, Proverbs 12, and Ephesians 5

Exodus 36By Kendra Roberts

Today’s art is a response to all four of the day’s passages. Kendra explains:

The embellishment and coupling of the tabernacle curtains in Exodus 36 inspired me to thread together all of today’s Scripture selections. Some references are symbolic, others are obvious. Can you make the connections?

From Exodus 36:

He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it. (verse 35)

From John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (verses 1-2)

From Proverbs 12:

No one is established by wickedness,
but the root of the righteous will never be moved. (verse 3)

 

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit. (verse 12)

 

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
but those who plan peace have joy. (verse 20)

From Ephesians 5:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 25, John 4, Proverbs 1, and 2 Corinthians 13

2 corinthians 13By Jane Graham

Darkness pressed in and the weight of tortured prayers hung low above my body, prone and still. I rolled over, burying my face in the pillow so salty tears would dissolve into cotton instead of streaking my skin.

The clock in our bathroom ticked like an ice pick on frozen water, sending echoes into the inky night. My eyes peeled open in vain, wishing for handwriting on the wall and solutions to the heartbreak of this world.

  • I resolved to fast.
  • To limit food choices on non-fasting days.
  • To read Scripture with fervor.
  • To wake up early for prayer.
  • To give up sleep in the morning, bartering comfort for answers.

 

Instead, I am left with quiet. I am left making promises. I am left testing myself.

Today’s Scripture selections included 2 Corinthians 13, the final chapter in Paul’s impassioned plea to the Christians in Corinth. He tells them, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!”

Each Lent I purpose to test myself by saturating the weeks leading to Calvary in the Biblical text.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 16, Luke 19, Job 34, and 2 Corinthians 4

By Cindi Koceich, guest contributor

2 corinthians 4

Today’s art is a response to 2 Corinthians 4:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)


Cindi’s thoughts on the passage follow here:

It is hard to fix our eyes on something we can’t see. The every day incessant noise is so very distracting and our nature is to react, to solve, to quiet the noise as best we can. I’m convinced that the only way to break free from the noise, from the worry, from our instinct to control and manage is to paint a vivid picture of our Savior. We paint with the brush strokes of His Word, of prayer, of community and worship. And we see Him. Not only do we see Him, we, by the power of His Spirit, are moving in His steps.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 2, Luke 5, Job 19, and 1 Corinthians 6

By Tricia Lott Williford

Job 19Sometimes I want to be rescued. And by ‘sometimes’ I mean pretty much at some point every day.

Rescued from the alarm clock. The carpool lane. The grocery list. The bills to pay. The children needing, needing, needing me. The dinner hour. A lousy blind date.

Rescued from loneliness. Fear. Worry. The everyday mess of all this. The questions I don’t know how to answer.

Oh, how I love Job. I mean, of all the heroes in the Bible, Job ranks in my top five favorites. I can’t wait to have coffee with him someday.

The way it plays out in my mind, the whole story starts with a meeting of attendance of the angels before God. Everybody here? Everyone accounted for? Ah, wait. There is darkness in the room, the sneaky oppression of deceptive beauty.

“Where have you come from?” I imagine God saying, “This is a closed meeting, Satan. You’re not invited to this Exective Board Room.”

And Satan says, “Oh, I’ve just come from roaming around the earth.” That right there is the stuff horror films are made of: Satan and his minions trolling the earth, looking for trouble to cause, hearts to break, and lives to destroy.

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