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!

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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 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 23, John 2, Job 41, and 2 Corinthians 11

John 2By Kelli Gotthardt

My wedding day was a bit disappointing. Not the getting married part. That was fantastic. But the celebration part fell short of my expectations. Nothing dramatic really. Just a series of little mishaps and miscommunications that led to a stressful day which ended too quickly and not soon enough at the same time. Most of it stemmed from the toxic combination of my poor planning skills and a frightfully low budget.

I do wish Jesus would have performed a miracle at my wedding. Wine would have been wonderful. Although, it would have gotten us kicked out of our reception facility on the church property.

And this brings us to Jesus and weddings and wine. This very first miracle of Jesus has plenty of theological significance and is pregnant with meaning. But this week I simply sat next to Jesus at the wedding and enjoyed him. In my imagination, that is.

Years ago I was leading a group of women I worked with in an exploration of Christian spirituality. We met weekly to read the Bible and talk about Jesus. Few identified themselves as Christians and those who did had limited knowledge of the Bible.… 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 11, Luke 14, Job 29, and 1 Corinthians 15

By Hannah Anderson

Job 29 image“Why do bad things happen to good people?” If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, let me assure you that you are not the first. Human beings have been wrestling with the question of suffering and personal choice since the Fall, and most of the time, coming up miserably short.

For example, in the face of Job’s suffering, his three friends assumed, like many today, that it was the result of personal sin. When Job tries to assure them that he has no known sin in his life, Bildad responds in typical fashion, “Yes, but who can really be righteous?” (chapter 25) In today’s language, “Okay, but we’re all sinners and so anything bad that happens to us is deserved anyway.” The bottom line? Your suffering is always your fault. And by extension, when other people suffer, in some way, it is their own fault too.

I think a lot of us see the weakness in this answer. We’re experienced enough to know that life is complicated, that some of us are born with certain privileges, that not all suffering is the result of bad choices.… 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 7, Luke 10, Job 24, and 1 Corinthians 11

luke 10By Stephanie Rische

Take a moment to picture this scenario: you’ve had a long day, juggling work responsibilities, caring for your family, making dinner, and cleaning up the kitchen. After everyone is in bed, you finally sit down to drink a cup of tea and read a few pages of your book before going to bed so you can do it all again tomorrow.

Just as your eyes are getting heavy, you hear a knock at the door. Who could that be at this time of night? you wonder. When you open the door, you’re surprised to see a friend who’s on a road trip with twelve of his buddies. They were just passing through and figured they’d stop by.

“We haven’t had a real meal in days,” one of the friends says, eyeing your refrigerator longingly.

Your mind instantly goes into inventory mode, sizing up what’s in your pantry. Will you be able to scrounge something together for a dozen hungry men? It’s too late to order a pizza or get Chinese takeout, and you can hardly send your guests to the drive-through. And so, since you love your friend, you roll up your sleeves and get to work on dinner.… 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