Read: Jeremiah 1:4-9 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 1–3; Luke 8:26-56 Before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5 Hope That Holds Monday May 29th, 2023 James Banks I know Daddy’s coming home because he sent me flowers.” Those were my seven-year-old sister’s words to our mother when Dad was missing in action during wartime. Before Dad left for his mission, he preordered flowers for my sister’s birthday, and they arrived while he was missing. But she was right: Dad did come home—after a harrowing combat situation. And decades later she still keeps the vase that held the flowers asRead More →

Read: Matthew 1:18-25 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 40–41; 2 Peter 3 You are to give him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:21 According to a New York Times article, children in many African countries are often named after a famous visitor, special event, or circumstance that was meaningful to the parents. When doctors told the parents of one child that they could not cure the infant’s illness and only God knew if he would live, the parents named their child Godknows. Another man said he was named Enough, because his mother had 13 children and he was the last one! There’s a reason forRead More →

Read: Genesis 29:14-30 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 22–23; 1 Peter 1 Hope in the Lord and keep his way. Psalm 37:34 Perhaps you’ve seen the video of the little boy who learns he’s getting another sister. In the middle of his meltdown he laments, “It’s always girls, girls, girls, girls!” The story gives an amusing glimpse into human expectations, but there’s nothing funny about disappointment. It saturates our world. One story from the Bible seems especially steeped in disappointment. Jacob agreed to work 7 years for the right to marry his boss’s daughter Rachel. But after fulfilling his contract, Jacob got a weddingRead More →

Read: Proverbs 10:19-21 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 20–21; James 5 The lips of the righteous nourish many. Proverbs 10:21 A fishing buddy of mine observed, “Shallow streams make the most noise,” a delightful turn on the old adage, “Still waters run deep.” He meant, of course, that people who make the most noise tend to have little of substance to say. The flip side of that problem is that we don’t listen well either. I’m reminded of the line in the old Simon and Garfunkel song “Sounds of Silence” about folks hearing without listening. Oh, they hear the words, but they fail toRead More →

Read: Ezra 3:1-6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11–13; James 1 [They] built the altar . . . to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written. —nkjv Ezra 3:2 When it comes to putting things together—electronics, furniture, and the like—my son and I have differing approaches. Steve is more mechanically inclined, so he tends to toss the instructions aside and just start in. Meanwhile, I’m poring over the “Read This Before Starting” warning while he has already put the thing halfway together. Sometimes we can get by without the instructions. But when it comes to putting together a life that reflects theRead More →

Read: Isaiah 66:5-13 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 5–7; Hebrews 12 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13 I sat next to my daughter’s bed in a recovery room after she had undergone surgery. When her eyes fluttered open, she realized she was uncomfortable and started to cry. I tried to reassure her by stroking her arm, but she only became more upset. With help from a nurse, I moved her from the bed and onto my lap. I brushed tears from her cheeks and reminded her that she would eventually feel better. Through Isaiah, God told theRead More →

Read: Galatians 6:1-10 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 3–4; Hebrews 11:20-40 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. —nlt Galatians 6:2 April 25, 2015, marked the 100th commemoration of Anzac Day. It is celebrated each year by both Australia and New Zealand to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought together during World War I. It marks a time when neither country had to face the dangers of war alone; soldiers from both countries engaged in the struggle together. Sharing life’s struggles is fundamental to the way followers of Christ are calledRead More →

Read: Genesis 3:6-13,22-24 | Bible in a Year: Lamentations 1–2; Hebrews 10:1-18 God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5 In August 2013, large crowds gathered at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to witness the blooming of the tropical plant known as the corpse flower. Since the flower is native to Indonesia, and may flower only once every several years, its blooming is a spectacle. Once open, the huge spiky, beautiful, red bloom smells like rotten meat. Because of its putrid fragrance, the flower attracts flies andRead More →

Read: Daniel 6:10-23 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 50; Hebrews 8 Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10 A friend was coming to town. He is a very busy man and his schedule was tight, but after a difficult day in important meetings, he managed to see my family for half an hour for a quick and late dinner. We enjoyed his visit, but I remember looking at my plate and thinking, “We only got the crumbs of his time.” Then I remembered how many timesRead More →

Read: 1 Peter 3:13-17 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 48–49; Hebrews 7 Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 Wang Xiaoying (pronounced Shao-ying) lives in a rural area of China’s Yunnan province. Due to health problems, her husband couldn’t find work in the fields, causing hardship for the family. Her mother-in-law attributed the trouble to Xiaoying’s faith in God. So she mistreated Xiaoying and urged her to go back to the traditional religion of her ancestors. But because Xiaoying’s husband had observed her transformed life, he said, “Mother, it isn’tRead More →