Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 16, Matthew 15, Nehemiah 5, and Acts 15

genesis 16By Megan Oldfield

The voices chant early, before the fog lifts, before the grass dries, and I listen to their lies.

Nobody loves you. Nothing will ever change. None of this is worth it.

Their poison shoots straight for my spine, paralyzing me in the place where I’ve come to pray. From where I sit, spirit and body stuck, I see what I’d written on the easel out in the kitchen just yesterday morning, like a banner snapping over my head now, inviting the voices, the mockery:

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).

Yeah, right, they scoff. Whatever.

Because in the last 24 hours, dinner burns, a husband distances, a daughter threatens to run away. A toddler screams, a friend ignores, another daughter bristles at every word.

This? This is a mess, not a success.

But after listening to more lies, I will myself to open the Book in my lap, to turn the pages despite my despair, and I end up with Hagar in the wilderness. Together we’re in a desolate place, feeling utterly alone and forsaken. Soon, I hear another Voice telling her to go back, to submit to her mistress.… Continue Reading

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

acts 10By Kelli Gotthardt

On a hot summer’s day in Phoenix, I hurried home from work. The steering wheel still emanated heat and sweat trickled down my back. I longed to be sitting in my air conditioned house with a cool glass of water. In the distance I noticed a spray of water and as I approached, I observed a group of tan young women in tiny swim suits parading around the sidewalk advertising their new business–a bikini car wash. My first thought was “someone needs to call the city council and get rid of this eyesore.” (The line of cars waiting to be, er…serviced indicated this might not be the view of all citizens.)

But more alarming than the various forms of undress, was my second thought– “I should get my car washed there.” Even as I heard myself think it, I chuckled audibly. It made no sense. But as I sped past the sunglassed men in the waiting cars, I found myself feeling compassion for these women, not disdain. That was new. And, it was my first indication that this message might be something more than a heat-induced delusional thought.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, and Acts 1

Genesis 1By Patty Kirk

Whenever I teach poetry, I tell about reading the Bible in German for the first time. A friend had given me Martin Luther’s 1534 translation in a practical paperback edition from a German publisher known for their reference works in yellow, unadorned covers. The text itself was equally unadorned, for a Bible: no verse numbers, cross-references, or explanations in the margins. This was the Bible as a work of literature.

I began, as always, at the beginning and soon encountered a short passage in italics, which I assumed meant the words were somehow in question. The modern English translation of Scripture I usually read often indicates in some equally noncommittal way—a little squiggle before the text, a note in tiny letters in an obscure corner of the page—that a passage isn’t as reliable as the rest of the text. The story of the adulterous woman about to be stoned in John’s gospel, for example—which isn’t in the oldest source texts and is thus of questionable authority—is in italics beginning with John 7:53, “Then they all went home,” and ending where Jesus tells the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (8:11 NIV).… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 30, Revelation 16, Zechariah 12:1-13:1, and John 15

zechariah 12By Stephanie Rische

It’s Christmas Day, the culmination of so much waiting. We’ve been counting down days, lighting candles, wrapping gifts, making plans, and now the day is finally here. Perhaps more than any other day of the year, Christmas serves as a reminder to us who are busy and frantic and enamored with instant gratification that the best things in life are worth waiting for.

I recently heard a Christian leader describe waiting as a form of punishment from God—something of a divine time-out. He said waiting is God’s way of turning his back on us when we do something wrong so we will eventually come to our senses after feeling the pain of his silence.

Now, I have no doubt there are times God uses seasons of waiting to teach us, and it’s true that he sometimes feels distant because of our sin. But as I look through Scripture, I believe there’s something not quite right about that image of waiting. In Scripture, waiting almost always precedes something holy and breathtaking and beyond human expectations.

As we look back on the course of history, before practically every miracle, God calls for a period of waiting.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 24, Revelation 11, Zechariah 7, and John 14

By Amylee Weeks

12132013_AWwatermark
Today’s post is a response to Zechariah 7:

And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (verses 8-10, ESV)

Today’s Question: Who in your life needs a fair judgment? Or kindness? Mercy? Whom have you set your heart against, that you can “do what is right and true” to them today? (Respond in the comments.)

AmyleeW_200Amylee’s life verse is, “by the grace of God, I am what I am.”  She believes whole-heartedly in God’s leading and his words speaking directly to her as she walks this life.  She is thrilled beyond words that his leading has led her to where she is now – a licensed artist, creating art for the believer’s heart. In addition to creating and managing the artwork that she licenses nationwide, she is the owner of a busy Etsy shop (AmyleeWeeks.Etsy.com) where she sells her handmade artwork.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 13, Revelation 3, Haggai 1, and John 2

By Kelli Campbell

Revelation 3
Today’s art is a response to Revelation 3:

‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead…”

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (verses 1-2, 6)

‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name….”

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (verses 7-8, 13)

‘And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 11-12, Revelation 2, Zephaniah 3, and John 1

John 1By Kelli Gotthardt

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ”

If you’re like me, you may have already tuned out. Seriously? Of all the passages to discuss, you picked the Christmas one? How obvious. How…uninspired.

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for a while, you may find it difficult to get excited about the birth of Jesus. It’s not that you don’t want to be filled with hope and anticipation, it’s just that…you’ve heard the story of Christmas so many times for so many years in so many ways. And this is the busiest season of all.

Jesus was born in a manager, yada, yada, yada. Blah, blah, blah. More tinsel, more parties…Enough already!!

You’re not alone. According to John 1, lots of people missed it.

” He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him”

Which makes sense. Bethlehem was abuzz. Wall to wall people. All doing what was required of them. Everyone’s routines had been disturbed by a new government census mandate requiring them to register in the home of their ancestors.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Chronicles 26-27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, and Luke 13

1 Chronicles 26 & 27By Hannah Anderson

The day after Thanksgiving.  For many of us, this means the pots and pans are once again clean, the fine china has been returned to the cupboard, and if we’re lucky, there are enough leftovers to save us from meal prep for the next couple of days. Some may have gotten up early in search of a deal; or others, like me, were content to do their shopping online sitting next to the warmth of a crackling fireplace. After the bustling activity of yesterday, it’s time to rest and recover.

Except no.

It. Is. Just. Getting. Started.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we will be caught in a whirlwind of decorating, baking, and gift wrapping as we prepare for Christmas. We will stay up late and get up early. We will forget the sugar cookies for the 2nd Grade Christmas party. So we’ll rush to the store, pay three times what it would have cost to make them ourselves and show up just in time to hand them over. And if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves in the exact same position Martha did in Luke 10: “distracted with much serving.”

As I read through today’s portion in 1 Chronicles 26 and 27, I couldn’t help but think about this danger.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Chronicles 22, 1 Peter 3, Micah 1, and Luke 10

By Mary Freeman

1 Peter 3
Today’s art is a response to 1 Peter 3. The artist’s thoughts on the passage are below.

I am feeling a little exposed here. God’s Word does that and really it’s a good thing, a scary and painful thing sometimes, but a good thing. You see, I am beginning to finally believe that God loves me and accepts me totally in my incompleteness, in my mess, and yes even in my sin. I am learning it is okay to come out of hiding. He longs for my freedom even more than I do, and I long for it a lot.

The Scripture portion I wanted to share with you today is 1 Peter 3. When I read the part that is written to wives, my feathers get ruffled. I’m okay with the part to husbands; oh don’t we love it when the spotlight is on the other. But then I begin to dig a little deeper and I see.

At the end of Chapter 2, Peter speaks about the kind of life Jesus lived, and the kind of life we are invited into.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Chronicles 17, James 4, Jonah 1, and Luke 6

Jonah 1By Christie Purifoy

We know the lesson of Jonah and the whale inside and out, don’t we? If we didn’t learn it from our Sunday school teachers or our illustrated children’s Bibles, we surely learned it later.

The lesson is there, so ripe for the plucking, how could we miss it? Of course I assumed the first chapter of the book of Jonah could reveal nothing I didn’t already know.

But this is a wild book, this Bible. It is solid like a rock, but there is a Spirit that blows across its pages. I swear, sometimes, I open it up and feel a wind. I wonder that the pages lie so still.

***

Today, old, old words come roaring back to life. A voice like rushing water speaks straight to my heart. It says:

“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god!” (Jonah 1:6)

And I suddenly see it.

How I have been Jonah. How my children are little Jonahs. That we live in a world of Jonahs.

This is a world of sleepers.

We rise from our beds. We eat our food.… Continue Reading