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 16, Psalm 52-54, Isaiah 6, and Hebrews 13

Isaiah 6 art

By Danielle Ayers Jones

Today’s art is a response to Isaiah 6:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am!

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 25, Psalm 32, Ecclesiastes 8, and 2 Timothy 4

Psalm 32 imageBy Megan Oldfield

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.*

I have what some might call a lead foot. In other words, I like to drive fast. Really fast. Cruising around town in a minivan with three kids buckled up in the backseat has curbed my insatiable appetite for speed quite a bit. But more often than I care to admit, that speedometer needle pushes waaay past the legal limit.

Obviously this means I’ve been pulled over a few times in my life. I drive illegally not invincibly. And though I’m not proud of it, I’ve sometimes lied to try to get out of a ticket.

I didn’t know the speed limit in this neighborhood.

My cruise control must be broken.

Wait, what? I thought Montana didn’t have a speed limit.

I think I’m in labor.

None of these excuses has ever worked, especially the last one since I wasn’t even pregnant at the time.

Most recently, though, I took a slightly different approach.

“Do you know how fast you were going back there, ma’am?” the officer asked after pulling me over.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 19, Psalm 23-24, Ecclesiastes 2, and 1 Timothy 4

psalm 23 artBy Erin Leigh

Today’s art is a response to Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (ESV)


Erin’s thoughts on her art follow:

I love Psalm 23.
All of it.
The Lord is my Shepherd
(The lover of my soul.)
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
(I go kicking and screaming.)
He leads me beside quiet waters.
(After I throw a little tantrum.)
He restores my soul.
(When I take the time to sit and listen and submit and let go.)
He provides for our every need,
thankfully not for our every want.… 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: Exodus 37, John 16, Proverbs 13, and Ephesians 6

Exodus 37By Stephanie Rische

A friend of mine has a gift for seeing beauty and then capturing it with the lens of her camera. She can catch a particular scene, in a certain light, with just the right color pattern, and she somehow manages to tell a whole story through the images. She can capture the joy of a couple on their wedding day, the pink-toed wonder of a newborn baby, the golden glow of a field of daffodils.

When she and I chatted the other day, she was reflecting on her career choice. “I feel passionate about what I do,” she said. “But sometimes I wonder if it really makes a difference. I mean, some people help the underprivileged or teach God’s Word or serve on the mission field. And here I’m just making things pretty.”

But as I read today’s passage from Exodus 37, I’m struck by God’s affirmation of beauty—and those who create it. Just a few chapters earlier, we read the description of the craftsman who was commissioned to create the items for the Tabernacle:

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

After the Lord gave his commandments to Moses and the people and sealed his covenant relationship with them, he knew they would need a place to worship, a place to remember their vows to him.… 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: Genesis 40, Mark 10, Job 6, and Romans 10

mark 10By Brenda Chance

If you met up with me in an airport, commanding your attention would be my luggage; it is large and in charge. I’m the little girl with the big bag.

Friends snicker. The family rolls their eyes. The rental car agent is indignant when I need a car with a more spacious trunk. I endure the ridicule of my bigger-than-me baggage because when others find they’ve left behind toothpaste, socks, or a matching purse, I will have them. In travel and in life, I like to be prepared for anything…and everything.

Or at least that’s my positive spin. Truthfully, I’m a control freak.

Like most control freaks, I have fancy ways of dressing up my controlling ways: I’m efficient. I’m conscientious. I’m a pursuer of excellence.

However, like the quickly fleeting green flash at sunset, I sometimes glimpse a truer picture of who I am: I am a self-proclaimed ruler doing everything I can to keep my little kingdom going. Having everything in its place, lacking nothing, and leaving no space for surprises are the intangibles of my rule. Never panic. Never beg. Keep calm and carry on.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 32, Mark 3, Esther 8, and Mark 3

genesis 32By Lisa Velthouse

We have settled on a name for the wildly moving mass of unborn boy that is taking over my torso. It is still a few months ahead of our son’s arrival, and we’ve known his gender for only a handful of weeks—still, it feels like this process of deciding took forever.

Any name my husband liked, I couldn’t stand, and vice versa. (We knew it would be this way. The disagreements were foreshadowed early in our marriage, when Nathan told me he loved the Puritan practice of naming children after virtues: Patience, Chastity, etc. I twisted up my whole face at him in response.) This time around was the same as with the naming of our daughter: one of us would toss out an idea, and the other would immediately make a face or say, determinedly and disgustedly, NO.

But we hashed it out, because names are important. This boy will wear his forever: infancy, childhood, awkward teenage years, early adulthood, old age—as long as he is privileged to live. The sounds made by his name will reverberate on people’s ears when he first introduces himself.… Continue Reading

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