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511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Easier – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. – Luke 5:22–25

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Jerry Frazier

We all like things that are easier. Given the choice between something that is hard and time consuming, or something that is easier and more comfortable, most of us would choose comfort. Jesus had just told a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The people there began to criticize Jesus for saying this, since only God could forgive sins. So Jesus asks this question: “Which is easier?” Saying something is always easier than doing something, so Jesus decides to do something (e.g. heal the man) to demonstrate that He could also do what He said He could do (e.g. forgive sins).

Here’s the rub: While everyone was amazed at what Jesus did (e.g. healing the man), that is small compared to what Jesus said (e.g. forgiving sins). Jesus knew the moment He said it that forgiving sins is much harder than making a paralyzed man walk. Making a paralyzed man walk is a miracle. God created the universe: getting a paralyzed man to walk was easy. Forgiving sins requires sacrifice: Jesus’ sacrifice. That’s hard. So Jesus knew His life would be sacrificed for saying “Your sins are forgiven.” As you reflect on what Jesus has done for you, perhaps choosing the harder thing isn’t so bad sometimes.

Read this verse in context: Luke 5

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. 2 Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. 3 Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”

5 Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”

6 So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. 7 They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” 9 Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. 10 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” 11 As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

A man with a skin disease
12 Jesus was in one of the towns where there was also a man covered with a skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” Instantly, the skin disease left him. 14 Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone. “Instead,” Jesus said, “go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses instructed. This will be a testimony to them.” 15 News of him spread even more and huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed from their illnesses. 16 But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.

Jesus heals a paralyzed man
17 One day when Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and legal experts were sitting nearby. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. Now the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal. 18 Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. They wanted to carry him in and place him before Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

21 The legal experts and Pharisees began to mutter among themselves, “Who is this who insults God? Only God can forgive sins!”

22 Jesus recognized what they were discussing and responded, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 23 Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But so that you will know that the Human One[a] has authority on the earth to forgive sins” —Jesus now spoke to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, take your cot, and go home.” 25 Right away, the man stood before them, picked up his cot, and went home, praising God.

26 All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.”

Jesus calls a tax collector
27 Afterward, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”

28 Levi got up, left everything behind, and followed him. 29 Then Levi threw a great banquet for Jesus in his home. A large number of tax collectors and others sat down to eat with them. 30 The Pharisees and their legal experts grumbled against his disciples. They said, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 32 I didn’t come to call righteous people but sinners to change their hearts and lives.”

The old and the new
33 Some people said to Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and pray frequently. The disciples of the Pharisees do the same, but your disciples are always eating and drinking.”

34 Jesus replied, “You can’t make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you? 35 The days will come when the groom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.”

36 Then he told them a parable. “No one tears a patch from a new garment to patch an old garment. Otherwise, the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t match the old garment. 37 Nobody pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the new wine would burst the wineskins, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. 38 Instead, new wine must be put into new wineskins. 39 No one who drinks a well-aged wine wants new wine, but says, ‘The well-aged wine is better.’”

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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511 Scripture Reading Challenge

My Shepherd – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He guides 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 staff they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Don McCarty

When I am struggling I invariably turn to the Psalms, and Psalm 23 is one of the first ones I look for encouragement. Simply put, it is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It is unsurpassed in its beauty, brevity and benefits. It is like the Lord’s Prayer, both simple and complete. Psalm 23 is a declaration of trust in the Lord as our good shepherd. He is not just our good shepherd, but also my good shepherd. The language is personal throughout. I’m all for the corporate aspect of many of the commands and promises of God, but suffering tends to make us feel all alone. When we feel alone, we crave a more personal word from God and Psalm 23 delivers on that aspect. Here God is revealed as both magnificent and humble. The sovereign Lord tenderly cares for His people as a shepherd cares for his sheep. If the Lord weren’t great, His care wouldn’t amount to much and if He didn’t care about us, His greatness would only terrorize us. But in Psalm 23, we see the Lord as He is, both powerful and loving, sovereign and compassionate. Because of the divine Shepherd’s care, the psalmist (David) says He lacks nothing. God is David’s source for what he writes. He trusts that the good Shepherd will provide all he needs. There is no anxiety about the future, but only trust and rest and blessings. We can learn to be secure in our Heavenly Father’s love and care for us.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Large Crowds – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.” – Luke 14:25–33

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Lance Bolay

Like many of Jesus’ teachings, this is a difficult one to swallow. We tend to think bigger is better. Not Jesus. Large crowds followed Jesus, yet he doesn’t seem impressed. Jesus demanded more than a large audience. He expected discipleship. He told them that if a person is not willing to give up his or her family, their personal comforts, and their wealth, they are not fit to be his disciple.

Think about that for a moment. Does this sound fanatical to you? Irresponsible? Unrealistic?

Do you really want to learn from Jesus how to live life (which is the meaning of discipleship)? Are you willing to risk everything to follow Him?

There are many voices calling for our attention. They each proclaim a particular vision of human flourishing.

How much do we trust the way of Christ to be the way of true human flourishing? 

Read this verse in context: Luke 14

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to share a meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely. 2 A man suffering from an abnormal swelling of the body was there. 3 Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Does the Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they said nothing. Jesus took hold of the sick man, cured him, and then let him go. 5 He said to them, “Suppose your child or ox fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you immediately pull it out?” 6 But they had no response.

Lessons on humility and generosity
7 When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. 9 The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. 10 Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.”

15 When one of the dinner guests heard Jesus’ remarks, he said to Jesus, “Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom.”

16 Jesus replied, “A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. 17 When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, ‘Come! The dinner is now ready.’ 18 One by one, they all began to make excuses. The first one told him, ‘I bought a farm and must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I bought five teams of oxen, and I’m going to check on them. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 When he returned, the servant reported these excuses to his master. The master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.’ 22 The servant said, ‘Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.’ 23 The master said to the servant, ‘Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

Discipleship’s demands
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.

34 “Salt is good. But if salt loses its flavor, how will it become salty again? 35 It has no value, neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. People throw it away. Whoever has ears to hear should pay attention.”

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Wisdom – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Tim Grounds

I first remember reading this verse when I was about 18. I was making plans to leave home, go to college and embark upon a new and exciting era of life—adulthood. Although the road before me was wondrous and enchanting, it was also daunting. I saw before me a blank canvas. I had in my hand nothing more than a paint brush and head full of dreams and ideas that appeared and disappeared like fireflies in the night. What would I do, who would I marry, where would I live and most importantly; how would I serve God? I was very skeptical about my own decision making. After all, I had made many decisions in my life up to this point; many of those choices were anything but good. From here on, my choices would affect the rest of my life. I knew I needed help, but as a man I didn’t want to constantly run to mom and dad for advice. How could I know if I was making the right decision?

James 1:5 was for me a beautiful and precious jewel. I cherished that verse almost like a Gypsy cherishes her crystal ball. I made up my mind that from that point, I would make it my daily prayer to ask God for wisdom. All I had to do was ask and simply believe His promise because that’s exactly what this verse is: a promise! Shortly after I began praying this prayer, it dawned on me. If I want wisdom, I need to be reading the words of a wise man. Immediately I made it my daily habit to read Proverbs. After all, it was written by the wisest man who ever lived (besides Jesus). The reality then occurred to me. God’s first answer to my prayer for wisdom was to put it in my mind to read His word! COOL! For the next 37 years, James 1:5 has been one of my favorite verses. Not just because it opened my eyes to a great and wonderful truth, but because it made me aware of a tremendous promise that changed my life.

Read this verse in context: James 1

From James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To the twelve tribes who are scattered outside the land of Israel.

Greetings!

Stand firm
2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. 5 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask. 6 Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind. 7 People like that should never imagine that they will receive anything from the Lord. 8 They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways.

9 Brothers and sisters who are poor should find satisfaction in their high status. 10 Those who are wealthy should find satisfaction in their low status, because they will die off like wildflowers. 11 The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass so that its flowers fall and its beauty is lost. Just like that, in the midst of their daily lives, the wealthy will waste away. 12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.

Our cravings versus God’s gifts
13 No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14 Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. 15 Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.

Welcoming and doing the word
19 Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. 20 This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.

22 You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. 23 Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. 24 They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. 25 But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.

26 If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. 27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Invisible Qualities – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Jerry Frazier

When we were kids we played a game called “Hide and Seek.” I’m sure you have too. The idea is to be unseen, so you hide as best you can. Being seen is the last thing you want in this game. Hiding is a purposeful act: you do it for a reason. So many people today believe God is hiding from them because they can’t see Him. But Paul tells us that it’s not God’s fault we can’t see. It’s ours.

Have you ever wondered how something invisible can be seen? God is “invisible” in that we can’t openly see Him as a corporal being, but that doesn’t mean He can’t be seen. God has left us His majesty in the world. All we have to do is look and attribute what is clearly seen as what it really is; namely, the eternal power and divine nature of God. God isn’t hiding. He IS in plain sight. We just have to see. These weeks as you go throughout your daily life, think about all that is around you that you don’t or can’t understand: how the world even works, for instance. That is where God can be clearly seen.

Read this verse in context: Romans 1

From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. 2-3 God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. 4 He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. 6 You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.

7 To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Paul’s plans to visit
8 First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the news about your faithfulness is being spread throughout the whole world. 9 I serve God in my spirit by preaching the good news about God’s Son, and God is my witness that I continually mention you 10 in all my prayers. I’m always asking that somehow, by God’s will, I might succeed in visiting you at last. 11 I really want to see you to pass along some spiritual gift to you so that you can be strengthened. 12 What I mean is that we can mutually encourage each other while I am with you. We can be encouraged by the faithfulness we find in each other, both your faithfulness and mine.

13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I planned to visit you many times, although I have been prevented from coming until now. I want to harvest some fruit among you, just as I have done among the other Gentiles. 14 I have a responsibility both to Greeks and to those who don’t speak Greek, both to the wise and to the foolish.

God’s righteousness is revealed
15 That’s why I’m ready to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness[a] for faith,[b] as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith.[c]

Gentiles are without excuse
18 God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodly behavior and the injustice of human beings who silence the truth with injustice. 19 This is because what is known about God should be plain to them because God made it plain to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse. 21 Although they knew God, they didn’t honor God as God or thank him. Instead, their reasoning became pointless, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 While they were claiming to be wise, they made fools of themselves. 23 They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images that look like mortal humans: birds, animals, and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to their hearts’ desires, which led to the moral corruption of degrading their own bodies with each other. 25 They traded God’s truth for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations for unnatural sexual relations. 27 Also, in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males performed shameful actions with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies. 28 Since they didn’t think it was worthwhile to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to a defective mind to do inappropriate things. 29 So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deception, and malice. They are gossips, 30 they slander people, and they hate God. They are rude and proud, and they brag. They invent ways to be evil, and they are disobedient to their parents. 31 They are without understanding, disloyal, without affection, and without mercy. 32 Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practices deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

All Things – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:Kendra King

ALL THINGS.  I have come to rely upon this verse as one to claim, one to proclaim, and one to change my entire faith view.  Just as with Joseph:  God worked good out of ALL things with Joseph.  Not just the ideal things, but in ALL THINGS.  God can work in betrayals, in people’s failures and character flaws, in our arguments with our families, in our weaknesses as well as in our strengths.  God can work good in ALL THINGS.  God can work even good even when we refuse to work with him.  Samson refused to do things God’s way, yet God still fulfilled his purposes through Samson to deliver the people from the Philistines.  Jonah was as rebellious and obstinate as could be imagined, but God worked good through him despite his uncooperative spirit.  

In our very worst moments, even as we realize our failure to be who we need to be, claim this verse.  Claim the good the God has promised to bring.  Even if you have just sinned against the ones you love most, ask God to turn it for good, and to show you his hand at work:  in this very day, look for the good that God is doing.  Look for it in the joys of life, but look especially in the pain.  It will come in odd and unexpected ways:  it will come in the redemption of a sincere apology.  It will come in the sudden breakthrough of understanding.  It will come in the release of an old habit you’ve been trying to drop for years.  It will come in sudden insights, but healing and painful, that you might not otherwise have had.  It will come in a stranger observing your contrite and sincere heart, and being moved by the genuine display of grace in front of them.  Take it back, Lord, is my prayer in painful moments.  That which the enemy thinks he has won, take back for your own glory, and work it for good.  He works ALL THINGS for good.  He reclaims our failures:  He takes it all back for his own glory.  Watch for it, pray for it, thank God for it, and claim that victory in your every breath.  Nothing is to hard for God to take it back.  

Read this verse in context: Romans 8

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. 4 He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. 5 People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. 6 The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. 7 So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. 8 People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.

9 But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. 10 If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.

Our suffering and our hope
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. 28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters. 30 Those who God decided in advance would be conformed to his Son, he also called. Those whom he called, he also made righteous. Those whom he made righteous, he also glorified.

31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?

33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. 34 Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us.

35 Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

We are being put to death all day long for your sake.
We are treated like sheep for slaughter.[a]
37 But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. 38 I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers 39 or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

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511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Mightier – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.
Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days. (Psalm 93 NIV)

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:John Hodges

I remember the first time I saw the ocean. There are hardly any words to describe it. So vast. Breathtaking. And pictures can never do it justice. It is always more than photographs suggest. There is an underlying sense of tremendous power in the ocean. The water is constantly moving, churning. The waves rise and fall, surge and recede. Today, humanity walks in cautious reverence of the power of the sea. We know the destruction that it can cause. Throughout history, men and women have challenged the sea, determined to master the mighty waters. But none have been successful—except one.

“He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.” (Mark 4:39 NRSV)

There is only one Master of the sea. There is only one who is mightier than the power of the ocean. Not only do the waters submit, they lift up their voice in praise. What else can we do but worship Him? Look at the world today knowing that God is bigger than your biggest ocean. Imagine the awesome power of our Lord! There are hardly any words to describe it.

Almighty God, we are humbled by your awesome power! Calm our troubled seas, and renew our courage to face the crashing waves of life. Together with the seas, O Lord, we lift up our voices in praise, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Night Light – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:Tim Hicks

In my house, we have some things that never seem to move (couch, table, etc.). In the middle of the night I can (while half asleep) make my way through the house with no difficulty. Well, that is, most of the time I can do so. What throws me off is that random shoe or computer bag. Those tend to trip me up if I try to traverse the house in the dark. God’s Word is that simple night light that allows us to see random things waiting to cause us to trip or fall. Having that light makes life so much better.

Read this verse in context: Psalm 119:105-112

Your word is a lamp before my feet
and a light for my journey.
106 I have sworn, and I fully mean it:
I will keep your righteous rules.
107 I have been suffering so much—
Lord, make me live again according to your promise.
108 Please, Lord, accept my spontaneous gifts of praise.
Teach me your rules!
109 Though my life is constantly in danger,
I won’t forget your Instruction.
110 Though the wicked have set a trap for me,
I won’t stray from your precepts.
111 Your laws are my possession forever
because they are my heart’s joy.
112 I have decided to keep your statutes forever, every last one.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Forgive Them – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Roger Beller

One of the last things Jesus said while hanging on the cross were words of forgiveness. If Christ could pray a prayer of forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death, can we pray a prayer of forgiveness for those in our lives who mistreat us?
Jesus’ dying words are powerful and convicting, and the perfect example of how we should treat those who mistreat us.
Let’s pick up our cross today…and live out the life of forgiveness Christ has given us.

Read this verse in context: Luke 23

The whole assembly got up and led Jesus to Pilate and 2 began to accuse him. They said, “We have found this man misleading our people, opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming that he is the Christ, a king.”

3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.”

4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no legal basis for action against this man.”

5 But they objected strenuously, saying, “He agitates the people with his teaching throughout Judea—starting from Galilee all the way here.”

Jesus before Herod
6 Hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was from Herod’s district, Pilate sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard about Jesus and had wanted to see him for quite some time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some sign. 9 Herod questioned Jesus at length, but Jesus didn’t respond to him. 10 The chief priests and the legal experts were there, fiercely accusing Jesus. 11 Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt. Herod mocked him by dressing Jesus in elegant clothes and sent him back to Pilate. 12 Pilate and Herod became friends with each other that day. Before this, they had been enemies.

Jesus and Barabbas
13 Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people. 14 He said to them, “You brought this man before me as one who was misleading the people. I have questioned him in your presence and found nothing in this man’s conduct that provides a legal basis for the charges you have brought against him. 15 Neither did Herod, because Herod returned him to us. He’s done nothing that deserves death. 16 Therefore, I’ll have him whipped, then let him go.”[a]

18 But with one voice they shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” (19 Barabbas had been thrown into prison because of a riot that had occurred in the city, and for murder.)

20 Pilate addressed them again because he wanted to release Jesus.

21 They kept shouting out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 For the third time, Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I’ve found no legal basis for the death penalty in his case. Therefore, I will have him whipped, then let him go.”

23 But they were adamant, shouting their demand that Jesus be crucified. Their voices won out. 24 Pilate issued his decision to grant their request. 25 He released the one they asked for, who had been thrown into prison because of a riot and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.

On the way to the cross
26 As they led Jesus away, they grabbed Simon, a man from Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside. They put the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A huge crowd of people followed Jesus, including women, who were mourning and wailing for him. 28 Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Rather, cry for yourselves and your children. 29 The time will come when they will say, ‘Happy are those who are unable to become pregnant, the wombs that never gave birth, and the breasts that never nursed a child.’ 30 Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’[b] 31 If they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus on the cross
32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus’ death
44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.”[c] After he said this, he breathed for the last time.

47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” 48 All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. 49 And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things.

Jesus’ burial
50 Now there was a man named Joseph who was a member of the council. He was a good and righteous man. 51 He hadn’t agreed with the plan and actions of the council. He was from the Jewish city of Arimathea and eagerly anticipated God’s kingdom. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Taking it down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid it in a tomb carved out of the rock, in which no one had ever been buried. 54 It was the Preparation Day for the Sabbath, and the Sabbath was quickly approaching. 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph. They saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was laid in it, 56 then they went away and prepared fragrant spices and perfumed oils. They rested on the Sabbath, in keeping with the commandment.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Two Years Later – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

But the chief wine steward didn’t remember Joseph; he forgot all about him. Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing near the Nile. Genesis 40:23-41:1

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Kendra King

Genesis chapters 37-48 is my favorite Bible story:  the story of Joseph.  In particular, I love the following two verses—and I recommend you open your Bible to see them in print, for they represent chapter breaks:

Genesis 40:23  “The chief cup bearer however, did NOT remember Joseph; he forgot him.”
And then the next chapter begins…..”When TWO FULL YEARS had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…..”

These two short verses represent two years of Joseph’s life.  AFTER he had been betrayed and sold into slavery by his own brothers, and sent off into a frightening uncertain future far from his father’s house and any safety…..AFTER he has served as a slave in Potiphar’s household, then was again betrayed and sent to prison….AFTER he interpreted the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer….it says the cup bearer did not remember him; he forgot all about Joseph.  End of paragraph, end of chapter, and to Joseph: end of story, and end of life.  It’s easy to read quickly along and hear the full story of how God redeemed an impossible situation and brought Joseph into great favor and used him to save his people….and miss those two long years.  But to someone suffering through a long season in life, those two years can represent hope.  

One of the thing I have come to understand is that suffering is a season.  And, seasons are rarely short.  Seasons like these often are counted in years, not days. Two full years, it says.  But also, seasons finally come to an end, and then God’s hand turns a page…and something divine happens to bring us out:  “Pharaoh had a dream.”  Finally, when we can do nothing for ourselves, God does something for us.  We get to see Him at work, for us.  What happened to Joseph during those two years, when surely he had no idea of ever being released?  I cannot imagine an Egyptian prison was a kind place for an exiled slave.  But I also imagine that during that time, much of what needed to change within Joseph, did.  He was before an arrogant, probably spoiled young man.  That would be forever gone, and replaced with wisdom, gratitude, and discernment.  Why does God allow such seasons?  I know he does allow them, and I know that greatness is forged within them.  And, when Pharaoh finally does have his dream, we are ready to step forward into something that goes beyond all we ask or imagined.  

Abraham and Sarah waited decades for Isaac.  Moses served forty years in the wilderness before ever seeing the burning bush.  Likewise, David was a renegade soldier at war for years between the time Samuel annointed him, and his coronation.  Paul spent three years after his conversion before becoming the great missionary to the gentiles (Gal 1:18).  The woman who touched Jesus’s cloak had suffered for 12 years.  Seasons….years….  This I know to be true:  the greatest stories I’ve ever heard come after such seasons.  In fact, the only stories worth telling and re-telling, come out of the season of suffering.  While you are in them:  know God will one day turn a page.  And the rest of your story, which will be rich in glory and full of miracles, will be one no one can put down.  It will be like Manasseh and Ephraim:  “It is because God has made me forget all my troubles…He has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”  (Genesis 41:51-52).  So be encouraged:  keep reading till the end.  Miracles await:  YOUR story will be one for the ages; Pharaoh will one day have his dream, and God will bring you out.

Read this verse in context: Psalm Genesis 40-41

Some time later, both the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief wine steward and the chief baker, 3 and he put them under arrest with the commander of the royal guard in the same jail where Joseph was imprisoned. 4 The commander of the royal guard assigned Joseph to assist them. After they had been under arrest for some time, 5 both of them—the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king who were imprisoned in the jail—had dreams one night, and each man’s dream had its own meaning. 6 When Joseph met them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. 7 He asked the officers of Pharaoh who were under arrest with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so distressed today?”

8 They answered, “We’ve both had dreams, but there’s no one to interpret them.”

Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Describe your dreams to me.”

9 The chief wine steward described his dream to Joseph: “In my dream there was a vine right in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. When it budded, its blossoms appeared, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

12 Joseph said to him, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three branches are three days. 13 After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and return you to your position. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just the way things were before when you were his wine steward. 14 But please, remember me when you are doing well and be loyal to me. Put in a good word for me to Pharaoh, so he sets me free from this prison. 15 I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and here too I’ve done nothing to be thrown into this dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “It was the same for me. In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread[a] on my head. 17 In the basket on top there were baked goods for Pharaoh’s food, but birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 Joseph responded, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three baskets are three days. 19 After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and will hang you from a tree where birds will peck your flesh from you.”

20 The third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a party for all of his servants. Before all of his servants, he gave an audience to the chief wine steward and the chief baker. 21 He returned the chief wine steward to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had said would happen when he interpreted their dreams for them. 23 But the chief wine steward didn’t remember Joseph; he forgot all about him.

Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing near the Nile. 2 In front of him, seven healthy-looking, fattened cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. 3 Just then, seven other cows, terrible-looking and scrawny, climbed up out of the Nile after them and stood beside them on the bank of the Nile. 4 The terrible-looking, scrawny cows devoured the seven healthy-looking, fattened cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He went back to sleep and had a second dream, in which seven ears of grain, full and healthy, grew on a single stalk. 6 Just then, seven ears of grain, scrawny and scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, 7 and the scrawny ears swallowed up the full and well-formed ears. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream. 8 In the morning, he was disturbed and summoned all of Egypt’s religious experts[a] and all of its advisors. Pharaoh described his dreams[b] to them, but they couldn’t interpret them for Pharaoh.

9 Then the chief wine steward spoke to Pharaoh: “Today I’ve just remembered my mistake. 10 Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker under arrest with the commander of the royal guard. 11 We both dreamed one night, he and I, and each of our dreams had its own interpretation. 12 A young Hebrew man, a servant of the commander of the royal guard, was with us. We described our dreams to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us, giving us an interpretation for each dream. 13 His interpretations came true exactly: Pharaoh restored me to my position but hanged him.”

14 So Pharaoh summoned Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon. He shaved, changed clothes, and appeared before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, but no one could interpret it. Then I heard that when you hear a dream, you can interpret it.”

16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It’s not me. God will give Pharaoh a favorable response.”

17 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18 In front of me, seven fattened, stout cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. 19 Just then, seven other cows, weak and frail and thin, climbed up after them. I’ve never seen such awful cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 Then the thin, frail cows devoured the first seven, fattened cows. 21 But after they swallowed them whole, no one would have known it. They looked just as bad as they had before. Then I woke up. 22 I went to sleep again[c] and saw in my dream seven full and healthy ears of grain growing on one stalk. 23 Just then, seven hard and thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the healthy ears. I told the religious experts,[d] but they couldn’t explain it to me.”

25 Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh has actually had one dream. God has announced to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years. It’s actually one dream. 27 The seven thin and frail cows, climbing up after them, are seven years. The seven thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, are seven years of famine. 28 It’s just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the entire land of Egypt. 30 After them, seven years of famine will appear, and all of the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. 31 No one will remember the abundance in the land because the famine that follows will be so very severe. 32 The dream occurred to Pharaoh twice because God has determined to do it, and God will make it happen soon.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible