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511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Reconciled – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

This is why I kneel before the Father. Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14–21

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:Lance Bolay

Our Wednesday night prayer group has met to reflect on Ephesians 3:14–21 every week since September. This text records Paul’s prayer for the Christ-followers in Ephesus. Paul prefaces his prayer with, “For this reason…” What reason? In Christ, everything in heaven and on earth is being reconciled to God (Eph 1:10). There is cosmic renewal in Christ, and its effects are local and practical. There is a new humanity created by the Spirit of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jew and non-Jew are now one in Christ. All people, no matter their ethnicity, can be at peace with one another, and the church is the practical embodiment of this new creation.

This is why Paul’s prayer is so important. The only way the church can live out its calling and purpose is if believers are strengthened in their inner being through the power of the Spirit, if by the Spirit Christ dwells in their hearts through faith, and if they are filled with the fullness of God. All of creation comes from God—every family in heaven and on earth takes its name from the Father (v. 14)—and the goal, telos, of creation is to be filled with the fullness of God. We come from God. We are meant to be reconciled back to God. But the only way to reach that goal is through the Spirit. Paul understands that the church is nothing without the Spirit. The church is empty without the Spirit. Creation and all of humanity disintegrates into chaos and death without the Spirit. The Spirit reconciles. The Spirit resurrects and gives new life. The Spirit brings wholeness and cosmic flourishing.

Reflection

  • How do you present yourself to the Spirit in order to receive the Spirit’s power?
  • How do you practice, in concrete and intentional ways, openness to the Spirit?
  • Do you pray for the Spirit to strengthen and revive other believers, as Paul did?
  • What is the evidence that the Spirit is strengthening your inner being? That Christ is dwelling in your heart?
  • That you are being filled with the fullness of God?

Read this verse in context:Ephesians 3

This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles.

2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? 3 God showed me his secret plan[a] in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before (4 when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan[b] about Christ). 5 Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. 6 This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.

8 God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan[c] that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. 10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.[d] 13 So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians
14 This is why I kneel before the Father. 15 Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. 16 I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. 17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Life to the Full – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Celeste Smith

Live life. If you have visited our home you might notice we have these words prominently displayed in our kitchen. These two words serve as a reminder to think about the words Jesus spoke in John 10:10. It would be impossible for me to speak on all the ways John 10:10 has meaning to our family; so I will share just what is on my heart today. The contrast in this passage is blaring. The thief does one thing and God does something entirely different. We can always expect He will. As life increases, death decreases. Have you noticed this? Perhaps even more inspiring is that we have been called to live a life that decreases death around us. We have been given the power, through Christ, to offer redemption where it once seemed impossible. We do this through our mercy, compassion, patience, love, faithfulness, and understanding.

These words are so special to me because I can remember so many times where the thief has come in my own life. He has sought to kill, steal, and destroy so much. I have seen him leave cherished friends feeling ravaged and hopeless. I have watched the thief walk away with more than seems fair. Often I hear of a situation and I can’t even see past what has been stolen, killed and destroyed. I’m glad the story doesn’t end there. We, as Christians, are living proof that God can breathe new life into the deadest of places. Forgiveness can heal immeasurable hurt. Love can heal unfathomable hate. Understanding can heal insurmountable division. Faith can cure unconquerable doubt.
Live life. In doing this, we will take part in the redemption of this world.

Read this verse in context: John 10

1 I assure you that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw. 2 The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The guard at the gate opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 Whenever he has gathered all of his sheep, he goes before them and they follow him, because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger but will run away because they don’t know the stranger’s voice.” 6 Those who heard Jesus use this analogy didn’t understand what he was saying.

I am the gate
7 So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.

I am the good shepherd
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 When the hired hand sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away. That’s because he isn’t the shepherd; the sheep aren’t really his. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.

17 “This is why the Father loves me: I give up my life so that I can take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father.”

19 There was another division among the Jews because of Jesus’ words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon and has lost his mind. Why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These aren’t the words of someone who has a demon. Can a demon heal the eyes of people who are blind?”

Jesus at the Festival of Dedication
22 The time came for the Festival of Dedication[a] in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple, walking in the covered porch named for Solomon. 24 The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you don’t believe because you don’t belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again the Jewish opposition picked up stones in order to stone him. 32 Jesus responded, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of those works do you stone me?”

33 The Jewish opposition answered, “We don’t stone you for a good work but for insulting God. You are human, yet you make yourself out to be God.”

34 Jesus replied, “Isn’t it written in your Law, I have said, you are gods?[b] 35 Scripture calls those to whom God’s word came gods, and scripture can’t be abolished. 36 So how can you say that the one whom the Father has made holy and sent into the world insults God because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. 38 But if I do them, and you don’t believe me, believe the works so that you can know and recognize that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again, they wanted to arrest him, but he escaped from them.

Jesus at the Jordan
40 Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had baptized at first, and he stayed there. 41 Many people came to him. “John didn’t do any miraculous signs,” they said, “but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 Many believed in Jesus there.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Struggled With God – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” – Genesis 32:26–28

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Steven Smith

I love the mountains. I love the big beautiful vistas and sweeping views. I love going places that are difficult to reach. The harder it is to get to a place the better. For me its one thing to drive up to a panoramic overlook, get out of the car and snap a few pictures. That will do in a pinch. But if you really want to see the true beauty of the mountains, you have to go to places that cars can’t reach. You have to walk. I have found the longer you walk, the better the views. There is something different about the view that comes at the end of a long day’s hike. When you sit down on a jagged rock and it feels like a lazy boy recliner. Take off your boots, rub your tired feet, and partake in nature the way God intended it. There is something about the struggle that makes a view that much more beautiful.

It reminds me of one of my favorite passages. In Genesis 32 we find Jacob in a very difficult situation. If you will recall, back at the beginning of their story, Jacob and Esau had their differences. Esau was a manly man who thought more about hunting and being outside than he did about God. Jacob was a Godly man, but didn’t always go about seeking God in very Christian ways. Jacob actually ends up stealing Esau’s birthright and lying to his father to receive a blessing intended for his brother. This doesn’t make Esau very happy. In fact, Esau feels a little murderous and Jacob ends up running from him for a good portion of his life.

It all comes to a head in Genesis 32 when Jacob gets word that Esau is coming for him with an army of 400 men. Jacob is worried and starts sending bribes trying to appease his brother’s anger. He ends up giving Esau just about everything he owns, sends his family away for their own protection, and then sits and waits alone.

That night, the Bible says, a man began wrestling with Jacob. They end up wrestling all night long, and soon discover neither of them can overpower the other. So the man disables Jacob’s hip causing him immense pain. But Jacob doesn’t give up, he just hangs on to the man refusing to let go until the man will bless him.

The Bible says:
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:26–28)

It’s such a strange story. Jacob wrestles with a man, who is actually God, and ends up with a different name. A name that literally means “struggles with God.”

Have you ever struggled with God? Have you ever struggled with your faith or with doubt? How did you feel about it? A lot of people feel guilty about their struggles. When things are hard they feel like they are doing something wrong, or that they have taken a wrong turn somewhere, or even turned away from God. Is that what struggling signifies?

It’s interesting to me, because when I hike, I expect to struggle. I know that I can’t get to the places I truly want to be without struggling. Usually the harder the struggle, the better the payoff.

I can’t help but think that life is the same way. I can’t help but think that struggling is a necessity of life. That there are parts of life—good, worthwhile, beautiful parts of life—that only come after an intense struggle. If this is true about life shouldn’t it also be true about faith? Could it be that there are aspects of faith—good, worthwhile, beautiful aspects of faith—that only come after an intense struggle?

Did you notice anything else about Jacob? He didn’t win his little wrestling match with God. At least not in the traditional sense. Yet God says “you have struggled with God and with man and have overcome.”

So how did Jacob overcome? He refused to let go. Through all his struggles with God—through painful injury and overwhelming exhaustion—Jacob never let go.

That is my prayer for you. No matter how you are struggling with God, my prayer is that you will hang on. That even when the struggling is the hardest, and you feel the exhaustion of life and faith crumbling around you, cling to God and you will overcome.

Read this verse in context: Genesis 32

Jacob went on his way, and God’s messengers approached him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp,” and he named that sacred place Mahanaim.[a] 3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau, toward the land of Seir, the open country of Edom. 4 He gave them these orders: “Say this to my master Esau. This is the message of your servant Jacob: ‘I’ve lived as an immigrant with Laban, where I’ve stayed till now. 5 I own cattle, donkeys, flocks, men servants, and women servants. I’m sending this message to my master now to ask that he[b] be kind.’”

6 The messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We went out to your brother Esau, and he’s coming to meet you with four hundred men.”

7 Jacob was terrified and felt trapped, so he divided the people with him, and the flocks, cattle, and camels, into two camps. 8 He thought, If Esau meets the first camp and attacks it, at least one camp will be left to escape.

9 Jacob said, “Lord, God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I’ll make sure things go well for you,’ 10 I don’t deserve how loyal and truthful you’ve been to your servant. I went away across the Jordan with just my staff, but now I’ve become two camps. 11 Save me from my brother Esau! I’m afraid he will come and kill me, the mothers, and their children. 12 You were the one who told me, ‘I will make sure things go well for you, and I will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, so many you won’t be able to count them.’”

13 Jacob spent that night there. From what he had acquired, he set aside a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty nursing camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He separated these herds and gave them to his servants. He said to them, “Go ahead of me and put some distance between each of the herds.” 17 He ordered the first group, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, ‘Who are you with? Where are you going? And whose herds are these in front of you?’ 18 say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s, a gift sent to my master Esau. And Jacob is actually right behind us.’” 19 He also ordered the second group, the third group, and everybody following the herds, “Say exactly the same thing to Esau when you find him. 20 Say also, ‘Your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, I may be able to pacify Esau with the gift I’m sending ahead. When I meet him, perhaps he will be kind to me. 21 So Jacob sent the gift ahead of him, but he spent that night in the camp.

Jacob wrestles with God
22 Jacob got up during the night, took his two wives, his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed the Jabbok River’s shallow water. 23 He took them and everything that belonged to him, and he helped them cross the river. 24 But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. 25 When the man saw that he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and tore a muscle in Jacob’s thigh as he wrestled with him. 26 The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”

But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”

27 He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel,[c] because you struggled with God and with men and won.”

29 Jacob also asked and said, “Tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why do you ask for my name?” and he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel,[d] “because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.” 31 The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh. 32 Therefore, Israelites don’t eat the tendon attached to the thigh muscle to this day, because he grabbed Jacob’s thigh muscle at the tendon.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

WORD 511 – Final Week

This Sunday, November 13, concludes our WORD 511 Campaign at Glenwood Church of Christ. For the last 50 days we have encouraged members and families to to develop daily scripture reading habits utilizing a number of resources and ideas. As part of our campaign we are giving away a $500 gift card to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas. This Wednesday, November 9, is the last day to enter the giveaway. Entry is simple. Participate in the WORD 511 challenge by:

  • 5—Five times a week, each family member studies God’s Word.
  • 1—Once a week, spouses connect to talk about what they are learning in God’s Word.
  • 1—Once a week, the family connects and everyone talks about what they are learning in God’s Word.

Then let us know you and your family are actively reading the Bible using the 511 model. That’s all there is too it. You can enter at the STAND@Home center or online here: https://glenwood.ccbchurch.com/form_response.php?id=157

Even though our campaign is ending, it is our hope that your family will continue to use the resources and ideas introduced in the WORD 511 campaign. While it may be too late to enter the giveaway, it’s not too late to start developing healthy scripture reading habits. The WORD 511 resources will continue to be available here at STANDatHome.com. Click here for more details.

Free Tools and Resources:

WORD511 Family Guide

Verse Of The Week Card

Children’s WORD Journal

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511 Scripture Reading Challenge

All The More – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. – Genesis 37:5

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:Celeste Smith

Have you ever just hated someone? I think if we were asked this question we would all get a little squeamish. I would probably start using words like “dislike” or “not a fan of” to make my hatred a little more palatable. But if I were honest about how I feel there is probably at least one person out there that I have felt hatred for. Maybe more. The Bible has some strong things to say about hate and anger. 1 John 2:9 says that we can’t hate our brother and live in the light, 1 John 3:15 tells us that is we hate our brother we are murderers, and 1 John 4:19-21 says we can’t love God without loving our brothers. Ouch.

What is interesting about this verse in Genesis 37:5 is that it sort of speaks to a Biblical truth that God is addressing in his warnings about our anger: What we think on tends to grow. Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph “all the more” after hearing his dream. Which means they hated him at least a little to start with and it just expanded from there. I have witnessed a hatred snowball grow in many churches. It starts with one thing someone did that might have hurt or offended and it just grows and grows and grows. After fifteen years of working in ministry I have sort of just accepted this as “the way it is.” How sad. Because there is another truth about God’s people. We have another option. We can also grow love. Philippians 1:9 tells us that God has gifted believers with an abounding love. In Genesis, Joseph’s brothers grew hatred to the point of murder. Maybe your hatred for a person isn’t quite that bad, but is it moving you toward God or away from him? When we abound in hatred we are left with corruption, fear, pride, curses, pain, sadness, and a damaged view of God. In contrast, when we abound in love we see an increase in grace, love, trust, confidence, our own humility, blessings, goodness, peace, joy, and God’s glory. It seems like a no-brainer. I would pick the second list any day! We get to choose; what will we grow?

Read this verse in context: Genesis 37

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line.

Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”

“Very well,” he replied.

14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites[c] sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Wisdom – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Grant Davis

In God’s dealings with the nation of Israel, he insisted on faithfulness. He demanded obedience and holiness. He called his people to be courageous (Joshua 1:6–9), but their courage was not to be based on their ability, strength, or knowledge, but rather on faith in God’s power and sufficiency to satisfy all their needs and deliver them from all their troubles. God would go before them in battle (Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5). He might choose to bestow various gifts to individuals, including intelligence, leadership ability, strength, physical beauty, and military prowess, but what he asked of them was faith and obedience.

The power by which God’s people were to be successful was God’s power. As Proverbs 21:31 says, “Men make plans for war, but victory rests with the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, the great triumphs were the result of God’s power, and he used faithful human beings as his instruments. Consider the stories of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, and Elijah. Each had his own set of foibles and glaring imperfections. Yet these men were able to do important work for God because they were faithful to God, by submitting to his will. Moses was called to lead a nation, yet he was not a great speaker. This demonstrates that it is God who assures the victory, and not the cleverness of men.

In contrast, consider the apostasy of the kings of Israel and Judah. They pursued the course that seemed wise to them, but their unfaithfulness led to defeat and exile. On a more basic level, consider what happened when Adam and Eve decided to re-think what God had plainly told him in the Garden of Eden concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were too eager to believe Satan’s lie that they would not die for eating the fruit, but that they would be like God, knowing good and evil. He appealed to their vanity and their pride, and their unfaithfulness led to catastrophic consequences that are still being felt today.

We are to be completely humble before God. We have certainly earned the right to be humble, for none of us can attain salvation by our own actions. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But God in his mercy saves us through the crucified Christ, an idea that to secular human mind reeks of foolishness, but for those of us who are being saved, represents the power and wisdom of God (paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 1:23–24).

If we are to be lifted up or exalted, we must humble ourselves, and God will lift us up (James 4:10). There is no place for arrogance or boasting among the people of God. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31; Jeremiah 9:23–24).

Read this verse in context: Proverbs 9

Wisdom built her house;
she has carved out her seven pillars.
2 She slaughtered her animals,
mixed her wine,
and set her table.
3 She sends out her female servants; she issues an invitation
from the top of the city heights:
4 “Whoever is naive turn aside here,”
she says to those who lack sense.
5 “Come, eat my food,
and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Abandon your simplistic ways and live;
walk in the way of understanding.”
Wise advice
7 Whoever instructs the cynic gets insulted;
whoever corrects the wicked gets hurt.
8 Don’t correct the impudent, or they will hate you;
correct the wise, and they will love you.
9 Teach the wise, and they will become wiser;
inform the righteous, and their learning will increase.
10 The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord;
the knowledge of the holy one is understanding.
11 Through me your days will be many;
years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, it is to your benefit;
if you are cynical, you will bear it all alone.
“Woman Folly’s” invitation
13 Woman Folly is noisy;
she’s stupid and doesn’t even know it.
14 She sits at the doorway of her house,
on a seat at the city heights.
15 She invites those who pass by on the path,
those going straight on their way.
16 “Whoever is naive, come in here,”
she says to those who lack sense.
17 “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But they don’t know that the dead are there;
her guests are in the depths of the grave.[a]

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Lean Not – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5–6

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Wayne Propst

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Father we live in a nation of excess and abundance. Our pantries are filled with food. If there is anything we lack, we can usually quickly obtain it from well-stocked grocery stores. We are not hungry.

Our closets are filled with clothes, many of which we seldom wear.

We live in homes that protect us from the weather. We control our environment with air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

We have few worries regarding the necessities of life. We have them in abundance. We spend our time in pursuit of pleasure. We have become complacent. We have failed to trust in you and lean on you, Lord.

David tells us in Psalm 24: ”The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”

Forgive us for our complacency.

Forgive us for our lack of trust in you—a trust that it is you Lord, who provides for us, a trust that acknowledges that it is you who feeds us, it is you who clothes us and gives us shelter.

May our hearts be open to the needs of our ministries in Rwanda, Uganda, Ukraine, Ghana and Honduras.

May our hearts be touched and softened by the unwanted and abused children, the homeless and the hungry of our city.

Father, we give you praise and thanksgiving for taking care of us. May we do likewise for others.

May we commit ourselves to the building of your church in Tyler.

Today we joyfully offer you our love, our hearts, our talents. We offer you our energy, our creativity, our faithfulness. We offer you our gratitude and our resources, for they are but yours.

Father, your church is the hope of a fallen world.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Read this verse in context: Proverbs 3

My son, don’t forget my instruction.
Let your heart guard my commands,
2 because they will help you live a long time
and provide you with well-being.
3 Don’t let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Bind them on your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will find favor and approval
in the eyes of God and humanity.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
6 Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.
7 Don’t consider yourself wise.
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 Then your body[a] will be healthy
and your bones strengthened.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the first of all your crops.
10 Then your barns will be filled
with plenty,
and your vats will burst with wine.
11 Don’t reject the instruction of the Lord, my son;
don’t despise his correction.
12 The Lord loves those he corrects,
just like a father who treats his son with favor.
Value of wisdom
13 Happy are those who find wisdom
and those who gain understanding.
14 Her profit is better than silver,
and her gain better than gold.
15 Her value exceeds pearls;
all you desire can’t compare with her.
16 In her right hand is a long life;
in her left are wealth and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant;
all her paths are peaceful.
18 She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
those who hold her tight are happy.
19 The Lord laid the foundations of the earth with wisdom,
establishing the heavens with understanding.
20 With his knowledge, the watery depths burst open,
and the skies drop dew.
Integrity of wisdom
21 My son, don’t let them slip from your eyes;
hold on to sound judgment and discretion.
22 They will be life for your whole being,
and an ornament for your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely on your path,
and your foot won’t stumble.
24 If you lie down, you won’t be terrified.
When you lie down, your sleep will be pleasant.
25 Don’t fear sudden terror
or the ruin that comes to the wicked.
26 The Lord will be your confidence;
he will guard your feet from being snared.
27 Don’t withhold good from someone who deserves it,
when it is in your power to do so.
28 Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go and come back;
I’ll give it to you tomorrow,” when you have it.
29 Don’t plan to harm your neighbor
who trusts and lives near you.
30 Don’t accuse anyone without reason,
when they haven’t harmed you.
31 Don’t envy violent people
or choose any of their ways.
32 Devious people are detestable to the Lord,
but the virtuous are his close friends.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks mockers,
but he shows favor to the humble.
35 The wise gain respect,
but fools receive shame.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Reached Out – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

A man with a skin disease approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and begged, “If you want, you can make me clean.” Incensed, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” Instantly, the skin disease left him, and he was clean. Sternly, Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifice for your cleansing that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.” Instead, he went out and started talking freely and spreading the news so that Jesus wasn’t able to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, but people came to him from everywhere. – Mark 1:40–45 CEB

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Wes Crawford

Have you ever wondered why Jesus reached out and touched this man? Didn’t Jesus realize the danger involved with this interaction? This encounter presented theological danger, because in touching this diseased man, Jesus became unclean. This encounter presented physical danger, because skin diseases are often contagious. In fact, in touching this skin-diseased man, Jesus also put His own companions at risk of catching whatever ailed this man. So why did Jesus touch this man?

One explanation might surface from the last sentence of this pericope. The healed man’s report made it nearly impossible for Jesus to return to the city, so Jesus had to stay outside the city in the wilderness; nevertheless, his seclusion did not prevent the crowds from coming. Mark writes, “He remained outside in deserted places, but people came to Him from everywhere.” Jesus’ willingness to engage danger, to set aside His own safety, and to enter the messiness of the world made Him extremely attractive to people. Jesus knew something we often forget: the gospel was created to enter dangerous places. If we are preaching a gospel that is unwilling or unable to engage the dangerous issues of our own time—racism, sexual identity, immigration, transgender bathrooms, refugees, terrorism—we must ask ourselves a question of utmost importance: Is it the gospel we are preaching?

Read this verse in context: Mark 1

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2 happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
3 a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”[a]
John’s preaching
4 John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5 Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus is baptized and tempted
9 About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

Jesus’ message
14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Jesus calls disciples
16 As Jesus passed alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 18 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 19 After going a little farther, he saw James and John, Zebedee’s sons, in their boat repairing the fishing nets. 20 At that very moment he called them. They followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers.

Jesus throws a demon out
21 Jesus and his followers went into Capernaum. Immediately on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and started teaching. 22 The people were amazed by his teaching, for he was teaching them with authority, not like the legal experts. 23 Suddenly, there in the synagogue, a person with an evil spirit screamed, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”

25 “Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit shook him and screamed, then it came out.

27 Everyone was shaken and questioned among themselves, “What’s this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands unclean spirits and they obey him!” 28 Right away the news about him spread throughout the entire region of Galilee.

Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law
29 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.

Jesus’ ministry spreads
32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered near the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him.

35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 36 Simon and those with him tracked him down. 37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”

38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” 39 He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons.

A man with a skin disease
40 A man with a skin disease approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and begged, “If you want, you can make me clean.”

41 Incensed,[b] Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” 42 Instantly, the skin disease left him, and he was clean. 43 Sternly, Jesus sent him away, 44 saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifice for your cleansing that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.” 45 Instead, he went out and started talking freely and spreading the news so that Jesus wasn’t able to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, but people came to him from everywhere.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Choose Life – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life.” – Deuteronomy 30:19–20

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Wayne Propst

“Choose life.” The closing admonition of Moses in his farewell address to Israel has been very thought provoking and inspirational. Choosing life is more than my heart beating and my lungs breathing. Choosing life is to live in complete surrender to God and to live with complete dependence on him. It is a life of giving praise to God for His abundant love for me. To choose life means that I will give him glory and praise in times of sickness as well as in times of health, in times of need as well as in times of abundance, and in times of despair as well as times of joy. When I choose life, I acknowledge Him as ruler and king of the universe.

Jesus also admonishes us to choose life in Matthew 7: “Enter through the narrow gate . . . Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.”
To choose life is to trust God and to always give Him praise for his never ending love for us by sending His Son to earth to be our redeemer. Choosing life is not just between me and God, it is also about sharing it with others. In Acts 5 when the angel of the Lord released the apostles from prison, he said, “Go . . . and tell the people about this new life.”

My prayer for Glenwood today is Psalm 16. May we individually and as a church choose life. As the Psalmist concludes:

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:9–11

Read this verse in context: Deuteronomy 30

Now, once all these things happen to you, the blessing and the curse that I’m setting before you, you must call them to mind as you sit among the various nations where the Lord your God has driven you; 2 and you must return to the Lord your God, obeying his voice, in line with all that I’m commanding you right now—you and your children—with all your mind and with all your being. 3 Then the Lord your God will restore you as you were before and will have compassion on you, gathering you up from all the peoples where the Lord your God scattered you. 4 Even if he has driven you to the far end of heaven, the Lord your God will gather you up from there; he will take you back from there. 5 The Lord your God will bring you home to the land that your ancestors possessed; you will possess it again. And he will do good things for you and multiply you—making you more numerous even than your ancestors!

6 Then the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants so that you love the Lord your God with all your mind and with all your being in order that you may live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you and chase you. 8 But you will change and obey the Lord’s voice and do all his commandments that I’m commanding you right now. 9 The Lord your God will help you succeed in everything you do—in your own fertility, your livestock’s offspring, and your land’s produce—everything will be great! Because the Lord will once again enjoy doing good things for you just as he enjoyed doing them for your ancestors, 10 and because you will be obeying the Lord your God’s voice, keeping his commandments and his regulations that are written in this Instruction scroll, and because you will have returned to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your being.

11 This commandment that I’m giving you right now is definitely not too difficult for you. It isn’t unreachable. 12 It isn’t up in heaven somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will go up for us to heaven and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 13 Nor is it across the ocean somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the ocean for us and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 14 Not at all! The word is very close to you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart, waiting for you to do it.

Life and death
15 Look here! Today I’ve set before you life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. 16 If you obey the Lord your God’s commandments that[a] I’m commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, his regulations, and his case laws, then you will live and thrive, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and so are misled, worshipping other gods and serving them, 18 I’m telling you right now that you will definitely die. You will not prolong your life on the fertile land that you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

The Love You Have – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” – Colossians 1:3–8

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: John Hodges

People were talking about the Christians in Colosse. They had a reputation, and it was being spread among the churches. They were known for their love. But not just love in general. The Colossians were known for something more specific: their love “for all the saints.” Look at Colossians 1:3–4. Paul says he thanks God for them because he heard about their love for all Christians. What a great example! How would you like to be among those who were known as “The Believers Who Love All the Saints”? Not a bad thing to be known for!

Wonder how they got that reputation? Keep reading; Paul gives us a glimpse in Colossians 3:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12–14

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness. Love. Let’s clothe ourselves in these things. May we love each other, and may the world see in us the powerful unifying love of Christ.

Our Father, you are the ultimate example of love. Thank you for sending your Son to teach us how to love! Through the power of Your Spirit, help us to love each other as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Read this verse in context: Colossians 1

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother.

2 To the holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Thanksgiving and prayer for the Colossians
3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. 5 You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, 6 which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, who is the fellow slave we love and Christ’s faithful minister for your sake. 8 He informed us of your love in the Spirit.

9 Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. 10 We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God; 11 by being strengthened through his glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience; 12 and by giving thanks with joy to the Father. He made it so you could take part in the inheritance, in light granted to God’s holy people. 13 He rescued us from the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 He set us free through the Son and forgave our sins.

Hymn about Christ’s work
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the one who is first over all creation,[a]
16 Because all things were created by him:
both in the heavens and on the earth,
the things that are visible and the things that are invisible.
Whether they are thrones or powers,
or rulers or authorities,
all things were created through him and for him.
17 He existed before all things,
and all things are held together in him.
18 He is the head of the body, the church,
who is the beginning,
the one who is firstborn from among the dead[b]
so that he might occupy the first place in everything.
19 Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,
20 and he reconciled all things to himself through him—
whether things on earth or in the heavens.
He brought peace through the blood of his cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies with him in your minds, which was shown by your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death, to present you before God as a people who are holy, faultless, and without blame. 23 But you need to remain well established and rooted in faith and not shift away from the hope given in the good news that you heard. This message has been preached throughout all creation under heaven. And I, Paul, became a servant of this good news.

Paul’s service for the church
24 Now I’m happy to be suffering for you. I’m completing what is missing from Christ’s sufferings with my own body. I’m doing this for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I became a servant of the church by God’s commission, which was given to me for you, in order to complete God’s word. 26 I’m completing it with a secret plan[c] that has been hidden for ages and generations but which has now been revealed to his holy people. 27 God wanted to make the glorious riches of this secret plan[d] known among the Gentiles, which is Christ living in you, the hope of glory. 28 This is what we preach as we warn and teach every person with all wisdom so that we might present each one mature in Christ. 29 I work hard and struggle for this goal with his energy, which works in me powerfully.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible