Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 45, Mark 15, Job 11, and Romans 15

genesis 45By Jane Graham

Paczkis.

Fat Tuesday.

Plastic beads at Mardi Gras.

With Lent less than a month away, the marketplace has started its engines and the slow rev toward this ancient tradition has officially begun. Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with Polish treats and throngs will begin their descent upon New Orleans in mere days for a weeks-long celebration.

At times, it seems the modern day observance of Lent is more anticipated for the sanctioned overindulgence beforehand than for the season itself.

But today I am reminded that Lent, among other things, is a season of hardship resulting in forgiveness. Luckily, the Bible has much to say about both of these things.

Genesis 45

The story of Joseph emerges as one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness in all of Scripture. Having been left for dead in a pit, sold into slavery by his own brothers and   then wrongly accused and imprisoned—if anyone had reason to hold a grudge, become embittered or seek revenge, Joseph had plenty to go on.

But when his brothers traveled to Egypt seeking help during a time of famine, the love he exhibited stood in stark contrast to the hatred spewed his way thirteen years earlier.… 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 39, Mark 9, Job 5, Romans 9

Mark 9By Julie Chen

Today’s art is a response to Mark 9:

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:33-37, ESV)

Today’s Question: What’s a connection you see between receiving Jesus and receiving a child? What does that suggest about what it means to receive Jesus?

JulieC_200Julie Chen dreamed of being an artist and missionary since the age of six. Though she has not been around the world as a missionary (in the physical sense), her work has shown the gospel to others across the globe.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 31, Mark 2, Esther 7, and Romans 2

romans 2By Samira Gast

Today’s art is a response to Romans 2:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (verses 1-5, ESV)

Today’s Question: Have you been letting yourself get away with judging someone else? How can God’s kindness change your heart today?

SamiraG_200Samira Gast is a bargain hunter, lip gloss lover and coffee enthusiast. Since she was a little girl, coloring was one of her favorite activities. Now as an adult, she still gets to play with colors as an artist.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 8, Matthew 8, Ezra 8, and Acts 8

matthew 8By Brenda Chance

“You can’t push a string,” a favorite expression of my husband’s late boss, found its way out of my husband’s sales office and became a well-played line and prevailing philosophy in our home. It was our parental rallying cry against the psychological torment of two very strong-willed children.

I grew up in a different era of family life. My four sisters and I had standard-issue sass and sneak but when push came to shove the convicted resolve in our father’s eyes sobered us quickly to the path of least resistance. “Because I said so” were magic-filled words children dare not challenge.

If there is such a thing, my two boys entered the world without the authority-deferent gene. From the time they could talk, ‘no’ was attached to every phrase they said. It seemed they learned to walk only to run away from us. They were put to bed only to keep us awake. Like a surprised hiker meeting up with a bear I often postured myself to appear bigger than I am in order to hold my ground against the rebellion forces. Prior to children Dennis the Menace was a favorite classic of mine.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12, Zechariah 8, and John 11

2 chronicles 25By Stacy Sharpe, Guest Contributor

There once was a king in a distant land

Who occasionally followed God’s commands.

Sometimes he heeded Godly advice,

But too often by his own flesh was enticed.

Though God was clearly on his side,

This king was brought down by false worship and pride.

(My Mother Goose rendition of 2 Chronicles 25)

It’s so easy to point a finger at King Amaziah. Just thinkin’ he shoulda learned a lesson from the lethal consequences of his dad’s spiritual compromises. Instead this ninth king of Judah did what so many of us are tempted to do: he offered God a limp handshake and a lukewarm cup o’ coffee.

Amaziah didn’t pose as an enemy of God…though as a believer, we might be tempted to call him a “poser.” As newly appointed king of Judah, one of the first things on his hit list included swift execution of his father’s assassins…but he obeyed God’s command to mercifully spare their children (Deut. 24:16). In his quest to conquer the Edomites, he rashly purchased extra troops from wayward, idolatrous Israel…but he listened to wise counsel about recruiting an ungodly army, and reluctantly returned the Israelite soldiers…even though it really stung to lose the four tons of silver he had paid to acquire them.… Continue Reading

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

By Amylee Weeks

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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 Kings 4, 1 Timothy 1, Daniel 8, and Psalm 116

2 Kings 4By Lisa Velthouse

Colorado Springs, 1999. My first real job as a writer.

I was 17, and I had been chosen by the editors of a teen magazine to write a column every other month for a year. “Lisa’s Line,” they called it. They had flown me to Colorado by myself for a weekend photo shoot, to get the next January’s cover image and a few more pictures for accompanying my columns. The editor in charge of choosing me that year, Andrea, had flown in for the weekend as well. She and I were staying in the same hotel, and I was positively awed by her.

Andrea asked if I would meet her for breakfast at the hotel restaurant on the day of the shoot. So I found her at a table that morning, sat across from her, and tried to mirror her beautiful posture without being obvious about it. (Was it the way she held her shoulders? Were they forward or back? Or up?) I tried to say intelligent things and to not hold my fork awkwardly. I was embarrassed that my hair was still a little damp.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 15, Colossians 2, Ezekiel 45, and Psalm 99-101

Psalm 101By Christina Vinson, Guest Contributor

Home. It’s where we, as women, can let our hair down—literally and figuratively.

Honestly, home is where I have my hair up most of the time—as in, ponytailed. Home is the place I don my rattiest sweatpants, where I let my guard down and have strange and extremely uncoordinated dance parties with my husband. It’s one of my favorite places to be.

Home is also one of the places I sin the most.

You see, along with my uneven complexion and ugliest lounging clothes, my sinful heart is laid bare at home. It’s where I let my guard down physically and spiritually, and because of that, sin flares up. It’s in the way I snap at my husband and worry incessantly about the perfect paint color for our bedroom. It’s when I look at my closet full of clothes; unable to find anything to wear, unsatisfied with what I have.

My home is unfortunately a place where sin has a stomping ground.

In Psalm 101, King David talks about his home—which was actually a palace—and expresses a commitment to shaping it into a godly place.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 11, Philippians 2, Ezekiel 41, and Psalm 92-93

By Sarah Carter

Philippians 2
Sarah writes:

This piece was created after spending time reflecting on Philippians 2. Verses 14-16 especially caught my heart—
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16, ESV)
—the idea that when we are practicing true humility, we actually shine bright as stars. Often, what we chase after when we refuse to put the needs of others first is usually the spotlight. We want to be noticed, to be the best, to be praised and seen above all. But this Scripture is telling us that we have it backwards. That in fact, when we can put others needs before ours, trusting that God already sees us and that we don’t need to be the loudest or most beautiful or special to earn his attention, that only then will we truly shine.… Continue Reading