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

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Buy God’s Gift – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria. Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. (This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon perceived that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. He said, “Give me this authority too so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter responded, “May your money be condemned to hell along with you because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money! You can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. Therefore, change your heart and life! Turn from your wickedness! Plead with the Lord in the hope that your wicked intent can be forgiven, for I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.”

Simon replied, “All of you, please, plead to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said will happen to me!” After the apostles had testified and proclaimed the Lord’s word, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the good news to many Samaritan villages along the way. – Acts 8:14–25

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Wes Crawford

What is the most difficult task you ever had to complete? As I worked to complete my doctoral dissertation a few years ago, I regularly heard a certain radio commercial advertising quick and easy degrees. The commercial suggested that one could obtain a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a PhD by simply calling the advertised number and sending in a check. Believe me, I was tempted!

Upon further reflection, however, I remembered that the “easy way” is more often than not the wrong way. In this reading from Acts, Simon saw the power of God (and possibly the fame of God’s messengers), and instead of drawing closer to God for a better look, he attempted to maintain his distance and purchase the ability to perform miracles. In your journey with God, do you ever find yourself looking for shortcuts? Remember, the reward comes not only in the destination, but also in the journey.

Read this verse in context: Acts 8

1 Saul was in full agreement with Stephen’s murder.

The church scatters
At that time, the church in Jerusalem began to be subjected to vicious harassment. Everyone except the apostles was scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 Some pious men buried Stephen and deeply grieved over him. 3 Saul began to wreak havoc against the church. Entering one house after another, he would drag off both men and women and throw them into prison.

Philip in Samaria
4 Those who had been scattered moved on, preaching the good news along the way. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria[a] and began to preach Christ to them. 6 The crowds were united by what they heard Philip say and the signs they saw him perform, and they gave him their undivided attention. 7 With loud shrieks, unclean spirits came out of many people, and many who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. 8 There was great rejoicing in that city.

9 Before Philip’s arrival, a certain man named Simon had practiced sorcery in that city and baffled the people of Samaria. He claimed to be a great person. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, gave him their undivided attention and referred to him as “the power of God called Great.” 11 He had their attention because he had baffled them with sorcery for a long time. 12 After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Even Simon himself came to believe and was baptized. Afterward, he became one of Philip’s supporters. As he saw firsthand the signs and great miracles that were happening, he was astonished.

14 When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria. 15 Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. (16 This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon perceived that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. 19 He said, “Give me this authority too so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter responded, “May your money be condemned to hell along with you because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money! 21 You can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. 22 Therefore, change your heart and life! Turn from your wickedness! Plead with the Lord in the hope that your wicked intent can be forgiven, 23 for I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.”

24 Simon replied, “All of you, please, plead to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said will happen to me!” 25 After the apostles had testified and proclaimed the Lord’s word, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the good news to many Samaritan villages along the way.

Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch
26 An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take[b] the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) 28 He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.”

30 Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?”

31 The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him. 32 This was the passage of scripture he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent
so he didn’t open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was taken away from him.
Who can tell the story of his descendants
because his life was taken from the earth?[c]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” 35 Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 36 As they went down the road, they came to some water.

The eunuch said, “Look! Water! What would keep me from being baptized?”[d] 38 He ordered that the carriage halt. Both Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip found himself in Azotus. He traveled through that area, preaching the good news in all the cities until he reached Caesarea.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Temporary – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16–18

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Stefanie Albright

What a wonderful reminder for us all. This world is not my home and everything that I go through is helping mold me into the Christian that God designed me to be. My body will begin to fail, my looks will diminish and my possessions are temporary, but my spirit strengthens daily and is being prepared for eternity. Praise God for what is unseen! Praise God for what is eternal!

Read this verse in context: 2 Corinthians 4

This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. 2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.

5 We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Physical bodies and eternal glory
7 But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 8 We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. 9 We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.

10 We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies. 11 We who are alive are always being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies that are dying. 12 So death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 We have the same faithful spirit as what is written in scripture: I had faith, and so I spoke.[a] We also have faith, and so we also speak. 14 We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. 15 All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.

16 So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. 17 Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. 18 We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Salt – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses is saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. – Matthew 5:13

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by:Don McCarty

Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth. What does that mean exactly? Beyond simply adding flavor to the people and world around us, salt had many other uses and implications. For starters, salt was once a rare, valuable, and precious commodity. This is hard to imagine these days since salt is accessible and inexpensive. Just as salt was valuable and precious to the people of Jesus’ time, God’s children are valuable and precious to Him. No one else in the world has our DNA or fingerprints. God has breathed His life into us and in addition to being made in His image and likeness, we are filled with His Spirit and presence. Because of this, we are precious and extremely valuable. As salt was a preservative for food, we are a preservative on earth. Prior to refrigeration, meats were packed in salt to prolong and prevent the rotting process due to the growth of bacteria. Without salt, the meat would decay and become foul to both the sense of smell and taste. Likewise, this world without God and without Christians around them will start to decay and become more and more unpleasant. Without Christians in the world, the growth of spiritual and moral decay would be even more rampant than it is already. By being in the world and living in close proximity to people who do not know God, we are helping to preserve the atmosphere of love, unity, and healthy interpersonal relationships that God originally intended for humankind. Each of us needs to be encouraged that we are precious and valuable to God by being the preservative that God is using in the world today.

Read this verse in context: Matthew 5

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up a mountain. He sat down and his disciples came to him. 2 He taught them, saying:

Happy people
3 “Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

4 “Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.

5 “Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.

6 “Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.

7 “Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.

8 “Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.

9 “Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.

10 “Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11 “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. 12 Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.

Salt and light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.

Jesus and the Law
17 “Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. 18 I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality. 19 Therefore, whoever ignores one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps these commands and teaches people to keep them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Law of murder
21 “You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder,[a] and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. 25 Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court. Otherwise, they will haul you before the judge, the judge will turn you over to the officer of the court, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 I say to you in all seriousness that you won’t get out of there until you’ve paid the very last penny.

Law of adultery
27 “You have heard that it was said, Don’t commit adultery.[b] 28 But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart. 29 And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body go into hell.

Law of divorce
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’[c] 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Law of solemn pledges
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord.[d] 34 But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. 35 You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. 36 And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Law of retaliation
38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.[e] 39 But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. 40 When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. 41 When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.

Law of love
43 “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor[f] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45 so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

Where are the Other Nine? – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you. – Luke 17:11–19

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Lance Bolay

Jesus healed ten people with skin diseases. Only one returned to give him thanks and praise God. And this person was a Samaritan—a foreigner, a social and religious outcast, and in some respects even an enemy of the Jews. This man did not simply shake Jesus’ hand and say, “Thank you.” He praised God in a loud voice and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. Not just his voice, but his entire body shouted, “Thank you!”

Gratitude is often scarce in our world. Just one out of ten people returned to express thankfulness to Jesus! Isn’t this a lot like our society today? Think about how often we hear and participate in negative and judgmental conversations. Consider how often you complain about people and situations throughout the day. Pay attention to all of the negative thoughts that cross your mind.

Here is a challenge for you. For the next thirty days, write down five things each day for which you are thankful. Be specific. Notice the good in people. Deepen your awareness of the Spirit at work in your life and in the world. And give thanks. This exercise will redirect your attention and even rewire your brain to begin looking at things from a more faith-full and hopeful way.

Read this verse in context: Luke 17

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause people to trip and fall into sin must happen, but how terrible it is for the person through whom they happen. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into a lake with a large stone hung around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to trip and fall into sin. 3 Watch yourselves! If your brother or sister sins, warn them to stop. If they change their hearts and lives, forgive them. 4 Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7 “Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Come! Sit down for dinner’? 8 Wouldn’t you say instead, ‘Fix my dinner. Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you can eat and drink’? 9 You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you? 10 In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, ‘We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.’”

Jesus heals a Samaritan
11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

The kingdom is coming
20 Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom was coming. He replied, “God’s kingdom isn’t coming with signs that are easily noticed. 21 Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ Don’t you see? God’s kingdom is already among you.”

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Human One,[a] and you won’t see it. 23 People will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Don’t leave or go chasing after them. 24 The Human One[b] will appear on his day in the same way that a flash of lightning lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 However, first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be during the days of the Human One.[c] 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 That’s the way it will be on the day the Human One[d] is revealed. 31 On that day, those on the roof, whose possessions are in the house, shouldn’t come down to grab them. Likewise, those in the field shouldn’t turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in the same bed: one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together: one will be taken and the other left.”[e]

37 The disciples asked, “Where, Lord?”

Jesus said, “The vultures gather wherever there’s a dead body.”

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Categories
511 Scripture Reading Challenge

True and Proper – Daily Scripture Reading

Daily Scripture

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1–2

Daily Devotional

Today’s Devotional was written by: Tim Grounds

Growing up in a very conservative church of Christ, I was taught that in order to please God, one must worship God exactly according to the instructions laid out in the New Testament. The sermons I heard on this subject all started with the famous quote by Jesus in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” The lessons that followed would then go on to describe worship as acts that were to be performed on Sunday morning somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00. This time of worship was—and still is—called a “worship service.” I was instructed that these acts of worship—and there were exactly five, by the way—were extremely important. So important were these acts of worship that other religious groups who didn’t worship the same way were not even considered true Christians.

Then one day while reading Romans 12:1–2, a light came on in my head. Could it be that the worship God really wants is not a ceremony observed on the first day of the week? Is it possible that what Jesus was talking about in John 4:24 was something more than five acts performed according to some divine pattern? Yes! This amazing scripture tells us that what God wants, desires, and considers true worship is the sacrifice of ourselves. It involves the sacrifice of our will, our pride and our desires. If we live the way we want, we will be conformed to this world, but this does not please God. He wants us to be different—like His Son Jesus was different.

In order to resist conformity to the world we must make sacrifices. We must sacrifice those things that are most dear and precious to us—our will, our pride, our wants and desires. Until these sacrifices are made, we will never be able to embark on our journey to be transformed into the image of God. This is what God wants and what pleases Him the most. This is our spiritual worship that Jesus was talking about in John 4. How can I be so sure? Consider this: If you were to read the four Gospels and paid close attention to the teachings of Jesus, what you would notice is that He NEVER taught on the importance of performing a ceremony as worship to God. What He DID teach, was a change in the way we live and treat other people. This is the truth revealed in Romans 12:1–2, which is why it is so special to me.

Read this verse in context: Psalm 103:1-22

So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Transformed relationships
3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. 4 We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. 5 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. 7 If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.

18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.[a] 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.[b] 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible