VotD 3/6/19

This whole passage is so appropriate for the season of Lent. I’m as guilty as anyone of being lukewarm – neither cold nor hot. After all, I wouldn’t want to offend someone! And that’s what Jesus is warning the church in Laodicea against. He tells them not to think that everything is just fine when in fact it’s not: don’t think you’ve got it made when you’re poor and wretched. Instead, make yourself rich and presentable using what Jesus offers you! But Jesus doesn’t say things like this out of anger, but out of love, because he wants something better…
[Read More]

VotD 3/5/19

The graphic on this verse is probably more challenging/inspiring to me than the verse itself! The combination of graffiti and what appears to be a microscopic/extraterrestrial/generally scientific image defies reason for me – I don’t see the connection, especially given the sciency-looking font. So what prompted this choice alongside this verse? Science and art are a spectrum in our culture: what I take from this is that from rigorous science to free-form street art, everything we do seems right in our own eyes (and, despite the translation, this verse does in fact apply to women as well as men!) but…
[Read More]

VotD 3/4/19

It seems innocuous, but this verse leaves me scratching my head a little bit. Reading its context, this is a verse of encouragement inserted in a discussion about how we ought to encourage our neighbors. Paul then quotes a verse from the Jewish scriptures and writes this verse, as an argument that the Jewish scriptures shouldn’t be thrown away, they should be held in high regard because they encourage us – in this instance by reminding us that Jesus was willing to take on any insult meant for others because of his love for others. What does Paul mean? Just…
[Read More]

VotD 2/25/19

Psalm 91 has been one of my favorite Psalms due to a song by Lincoln Brewster in the 90s – I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t heard it! His version is a very meditative, peaceful take on this Psalm, but the Psalm’s context is physical and military: God will protect you from all kinds of dangers, including physical ones, if you take your refuge in God’s shadow. Interestingly, this is the Psalm quoted by the devil when tempting Jesus to throw himself off of the roof of the temple: “he will command his angels concerning you to guard you…
[Read More]

VotD 2/22/19

I love this translation of Galatians 6:9 because it highlights something very real: caring for others, doing what is right, and trying to follow Jesus is tiring. It saps our will and our energy. It’s hard to turn the other cheek, and going the extra mile burns a lot of calories. It’s emotionally draining to not blow up at others in anger and treat them as you would want to be treated, at least for a lot of us. But it’s worth saying at the end of the day that it was worth it to do what it good. It’s…
[Read More]

VotD 2/21/19

Taking this verse out of context makes it seems negative, but it has a very positive message. The message is this: the world offers many seemingly good things, such as wealth, gratification of all kinds of desires, and beauty, but not everyone can grab hold of these things and no one can grab hold of them forever. We all eventually leave the world in death, and even those who work hardest to gain the most wealth, beauty, or objects of their desire don’t seem to be satisfied. In this context, John says, “Don’t love this world.” Not because we shouldn’t…
[Read More]

VotD 2/19/19

Absolutes like this always make me skeptical, even when they come from the Bible. Really, it’s impossible to please God without faith? Does that mean that a child who doesn’t know God can’t please God? Does it mean that no good thing done by someone who isn’t a Christian doesn’t please God? Clearly it can’t mean those things, because Jesus himself interacted with people who didn’t believe like he did and nevertheless saw the good in them. We need more context. This phrase is only half the verse, the second half gives the reasoning: It’s impossible to please God without…
[Read More]

VotD 2/15/19

It’s not always an easy thing to translate thoughts and feelings into actions. We can sit and read devotionals and listen to speeches and sermons and feel inspired, but how long do those feelings last? How much of an impact do those sources of inspiration actually make on us? The greatest sermon anyone will ever preach is the way they live their life. The best way to witness to God’s amazing love is by living it out. Faith isn’t something cerebral, it’s belief combined with action. You don’t evaluate faith with a written test, you experience it when someone acts…
[Read More]

VotD 2/4/19

Paul is being encouraging as always in this passage from Philippians – what God started, God will finish, and what God is doing in you is something good. This is a reminder to us that we are never finished. We never have all the answers, we are never masters of our domain. There is always, always, always more to learn. And also – we can never be perfectly good. We can try, we can keep doing better, but only someone who has given up doing things can say that they only do good things. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we all…
[Read More]

VotD 2/1/19

This one of those overquoted passages that makes me think, “Yes, but does anyone actually take this advice?” The way that I know to take this advice is to toss out everything and focus on love. If I love others, but I get my understanding of the trinity wrong, that’ll be ok. If I love others, but I’m not on the right side of a social issue, that’ll be ok. What Jesus will ask me when I get to heaven isn’t “Did you follow every instruction I gave correctly?” Instead, I think he’ll ask, “Did you do your best to…
[Read More]