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: 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 13, Psalm 15-16, Proverbs 27, and 2 Thessalonians 1

Leviticus 13 imageBy Patty Kirk

Chapter 13 of Leviticus is hard to read, not only for its unsavory subject matter (skin disease) and entirely too repellent graphic details (e.g., close up examination of hairs growing in open sores) but for the end verdict it offers, pronounced by the Lord himself, upon the poor person unfortunate enough to suffer a skin disease that the priest deems “unclean”:

“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13.45-46 NIV).

Pondering this chapter, I must first say I’m thankful that, of all the passages of Scripture I’ve been asked about by nonbelieving or struggling acquaintances, this has never been one of them.

What’s to be done, though, when Scripture offends—in this case, with a picture of our loving Creator so seemingly loveless as to punish a person for suffering an illness over which the person has no control?

What people typically do with me—yes, I’m the sort of struggling Bible reader who’d confront a more confident believer about this passage—is remind me of God’s sovereignty.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 5, Psalm 3-4, Proverbs 20, Colossians 3

Leviticus 5 imageBy Teri Vogeli

So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his error which he committed (although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven. It is a guilt offering; he was surely guilty before the Lord. (Leviticus 5:18-19)

Guilt. It’s why I’m not into Lent.

I grew up in churches that loved Lent. We sang goodbye to Alleluia the week before, as if there were nothing left to celebrate for the next month. We sang dirgey music about what poor, miserable sinners we were and about the agony Christ suffered at our cause. The pastor would read the Scriptures describing the torturous events of Jesus’ trial, while the congregation shouted in unison, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” like we really meant it. It was six weeks of guilt and depression.

Then, Easter. Alleluia is back in the song book. The end. On to the next holiday!

I understand not everyone feels this way about Lent. My husband thinks I’m nuts. He loves Lent. For him, it’s the story of Christ, who loves us so much that He took on hell itself and died, fighting for our freedom, kind of like watching Saving Private Ryan for a month.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 15, Luke 18, Job 33, and 2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 3By Patty Kirk

Every year, at the end of a course called Advanced Grammar, I give my students an assignment I call a “grammar devotional”: analyze the grammar of a short Biblical passage to tap its spiritual teaching.

At first they’re leery, but it invariably ends up being their favorite assignment—mine too—because it legitimizes a rather arcane and pointless-seeming topic of study, one that’s hardly necessary to effective communication, by putting it to use in service of unarguably valuable tasks like reading the Bible and learning more about God. They’re proud of what they come up with, and, of all the essay piles on my desk, I read theirs with the greatest enthusiasm.

Another reason I like this assignment is that it addresses an important requirement I’m evaluated over at my Christian university: the integration of faith and learning. Students—and believers—being as diverse as they are, I’ve found it hard to get good ratings in this area because people are rarely in agreement about what such integration entails. I may have written numerous books on faith and bring up Biblical examples all the time and even pray in class on occasion, but all some students will remember at the end of the course is when I said something they thought inappropriate or required them to read a book that was, in their view, unChristian.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 10, Luke 13, Job 28, and 1 Corinthians 14

By Stacy Sharpe

Job 28The morning of January 24, 1848 would forever change the landscape of California.

As carpenter, James Marshall, inspected the water-powered sawmill he was building for a guy named John Sutter, he happened to spot some shiny flecks of metal in the river below that “made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.”

Confirmation that there really was gold in them thar hills soon ushered a stampede of epic proportion to the Golden State.  The only prescription for the ensuing gold fever proved getting a piece of the action.  Throughout 1849, thousands of would-be miners across the nation borrowed money, mortgaged their property or spent their life savings to make the arduous journey to California and stake a claim.

In my home state, this lure of quick money which created an historical scramble for mineral wealth, is commonly referred to as The Gold Rush.

Momentarily forgetting his sorrows in chapter 28 (and sounding a lot like King Solomon), Job vividly recounts such earnest efforts to tap Creation for its priceless God-given resources:

“He (man) tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.

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 50, Luke 3, Job 16-17, and 1 Corinthians 4

Luke 3By Amy Kannel

I don’t normally think of John the Baptist as a “good news” kind of guy. To be honest, I might use the words “abrasive weirdo.” This, after all, is the guy who wandered the desert wearing camel’s hair and eating grasshoppers. In Luke 3, he begins with the winsome, sensitive strategy of calling his audience a “brood of vipers,” then threatens them with fiery judgment. Twice. His last line in this passage is a dire threat: “the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (v. 17)—and then Luke sums up John’s ministry with this unexpected description: “So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18). Wait a minute. Did I miss something?

If I had to distill John the Baptist’s ministry into a word or two, I’d go with “repent,” not “good news.” But Luke cuts sharply through the false dichotomy, reminding me that repentance is good news.

***

My older son, a kindergartner, had a snow day last Monday, and my mothering was especially awesome that day. Instead of enjoying some extra quiet time while my boys slept in, I lay in bed repeatedly hitting snooze and then messing around on my phone.… 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