Today’s reading is on Nicodemus in John 3:1-21.

Do you remember when you first wanted to give your life to Christ? For some of you, it may have been when you were a very young child, introduced to the Gospel by family. For some, it may have been first going off into the world on your own and discovering meaning in life through God. For others, maybe later in life, after experiencing many things, the decision to follow Christ made more and more sense. Either way, chances are it was not spontaneous. You most likely didn’t go your whole life without knowing a thing about God, then one day waking up and thinking “hey, you know what, I feel like devoting my life to Christ today.” It doesn’t really work that way – the decision comes naturally after beginning a personal relationship with God and His moving in your heart.

Enter Nicodemus, a Pharisee seated on the Sanhedrin, high council in charge of the law of Jerusalem. While Jesus is in Jerusalem, Nicodemus comes at night to ask the Messiah he’s heard of about who He is. Jesus gets right to the point and confronts him about how to enter the Kingdom of God. To Jews of this time, the idea of being “born again” is entirely new – they were part of God’s people simply because of their ancestry, entering into Heaven on merit of their heritage. But Jesus flips this idea on its head – entry to the Kingdom is not decided by who you were born to, but by who you give your life to instead.

Scripture makes sure we know the importance of baptism. In Acts 2, Peter says “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Titus 3: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Through our spiritual death and rebirth, we declare ourselves dedicated to the Lord, renewed and saved through His grace. The most miraculous thing about it is anyone can choose to do so and give their life to Christ, Jewish or not. We can never predict how or when God moves in someone to make them want to decide this, but when he does, how could we do anything but fall to our knees and surrender to Him? The way Jesus explains why we would make this choice is surely one of the most known Scriptures for good reason. John 3:16-18 reads:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Nicodemus hears why we choose to cast off our old life and accept spiritual death and rebirth in God’s Kingdom – His love. God’s love is more sacrificial, enduring, and rewarding than any other. It is this love that sent Jesus to live among us, that sent Him to die on the cross, and now seats Him at the right hand of the Father. This same love will always be, from now until the end of time. This love is available to anyone – those who have not yet believed but are moved by the Spirit will always be welcome in God’s loving arms. Someone today needs the news of this loving God, who will always love and never forsake those who trust Him: share this good news today with me. The world needs love now more than ever, and only God can provide the love we need for all.

The Shepherds

Today’s reading is on the Shepherds in Luke 2:8-20.

Happy November! With October past and the Christmas season soon kicking into full gear, what more suitable verse to go to than the true meaning of Christmas from A Charlie Brown Christmas?

I apologize for reminding you all about this, but the next few months are going to be stressful and long, full of family & travel plans, entertainment preparation, buying gifts, the work year coming to busy end, and mitigating the effects of the worsening weather. It can be a frantic period, far too easy to lose your cool and become sick of the holidays. Personally, I never enjoy the consumerism involved in Christmas season – so much of media and society around us revolves around buying and receiving stuff that it can spoil the importance of this time of year. But in this stressful season, the straightforward faith of the shepherds in this Scripture are a needed example of how simple this whole season really is. Just like in the aforementioned special, when Charlie Brown grows weary of the season, Linus reminds us all of this:



Christ is here! A savior is born! Glory to God in the highest! These shepherds hear the good news and immediately celebrate, going to Jerusalem to see the Messiah and share the good news with all we see. In an instant nothing else matters – they are called to act, then they drop everything and celebrate the Lord. Whatever headaches these next few months, remember our true missive as Christians in this season: spreading the good news that Jesus Christ is born. Yes, every frantic shopping trip, every long car ride to family, every bill and expense added to the Christmas credit card; they all are useful for important things like family and generosity. They all, however, revolve around a single truth – the living Lord who has blessed us all with these things. In all these moments lie opportunities to follow the Shepherd’s examples here: tell all we see that the Savior is here. Pray today that the Lord would remain in our hearts and thoughts in this important upcoming time of year, and enable us all to share the joy Jesus brings us this Christmas season and always evermore.

The Sadducees

Today’s reading is on the Sadducees, specifically Jesus’s interaction with them in Matthew 22:23-46.

So, that Sadducees: generally, not a well-liked bunch. It’s easy to see why in the Gospels, as they repeatedly pop up to attempt to trick Jesus into speaking blasphemy against their laws and silencing his radical preaching. But who is this group and why is this smackdown Jesus delivers particularly noteworthy?

The Sadducees were one of the main religious leading groups in Israel during Jesus’s life. They were an offshoot sect of sorts of the Pharisees, seated as a sort of oppositional ruling party to the Pharisees. But whereas the Pharisees believed in the oral passing of traditional teachings of God and fervently interpreted the books of Moses in their own terms, the Sadducees were more direct and literal in their interpretation of God’s word. They believed nothing but the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible as we know it, were the word of God, and while the rest may have been divinely inspired, they saw anything outside of that as unfit for following as the law. Since their writings didn’t have any mention of an after life either, the Sadducees, unlike their Pharisee counterparts, didn’t believe in any sort of an afterlife – that God ruled over this life absolutely, but after this life, nada. This is displayed in Matthew 22:23, as well as later in Mark 12:18 and Luke 20:27, where it is expressed the Sadducees “say there is no resurrection.” They had no belief in angels or demons either, essentially distilling the essence of God’s word to its most literal and applicable usage as they saw fit. Their faith was more of a political ruling practice – this was done out of love for power and ruling over Israel, not for love of God.

So when Jesus begins speaking in the Sermon on the Mount about the kingdom of heaven, and inheritance in a life beyond this, he was preaching a message proudly opposed to their laws and ways of life. This man, who the Jews would come to call the awaited Messiah, spread a message of God in direct opposition to their own. In their view of the law and of the word of God, no one who spoke of resurrection and life after death was speaking for God in any capacity.

This belief of no life after death is what sets up the Sadducees’ question to Jesus here in Matthew 22:23-46. They come here of course not with the intention of learning about marriage after the resurrection, but with the intent of trapping Jesus in a trick question. One of the laws of Israel that the Sadducees were familiar with was the teaching of “Levirate marriage” In Deuteronomy 25:5-6 – a law describing the successors in marriage of a widow. By stretching this law to its extremes, they were hoping Jesus would provide an answer not covered by Levirate marriage, offending Jewish teachings & breaking the law, a jail-worthy offense and a means of silencing their biggest dissenter of the time.

But here comes Jesus with the response in Matthew 22:29-32 – “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Not only does Jesus provide new divine insight of the resurrection and the disposal of our earthly bodies for blameless angelic beings after death, topics the Sadducees did not consider legitimate, but in the same breath renders their intent moot by giving them an answer from Exodus 3:6, when God first revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush, using their own God-given law to invalidate their line of question. Boom. This is like the WWE Smackdown of Israelite scriptural debate.

But we can do better than be merely entertained – we can learn from all Jesus has to say. Especially convicting to me is this particular line: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Here we had a group of people who knew the word of the Lord and applied it as the law of the land. But to them it was merely a tool, something purely logical and utilitarian, some way with which to wield power and authority of their own. We know however, that all Scripture is God-breathed and holy. As Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Every piece of Scripture in the Bible contains value and wisdom, not just the Pentateuch. The meaning for it, as Jesus demonstrates in explaining God’s power over death, extends beyond simply the law into educating, uplifting, correcting, and celebrating.

But Scripture is only half of what Jesus mentions – alongside the power of God. Jesus knows His Father’s power extends beyond the living – over all who were as well. He knows the Sadducees’s denial of an afterlife is wrong, for as he tells Martha in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” To deny that the Lord’s power extends over the dead is to miss out on the incredible power of God. But to believe in Jesus, that He is the resurrection and the defeater of death, is to be right and just. So arm yourself today with the knowledge of Scripture, and remind yourself of the power of the Lord. Pour over the word of the Lord and ponder it always. And hold fast to our awesome and mighty God. For we know with these two things, we can overcome any adversity that would deny the Lord’s power.

Take it Easy-kiel

Today’s reading is on Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1-3).

Think back to a time when you were forced to deliver bad news to someone. Bonus points if you were not the first person to deliver them bad news in a row. The difficulty of having to inform someone of something extremely unpleasant or devastating can be frightening, especially so if it’s directly a consequence of their own actions. This is especially true if you’re a non-confrontational person like me, a problem that tends to get exacerbated the closer you are with someone. Now imagine that scenario, directed to thousands of your fellow exiles after watching their homeland get ransacked and ravaged.

This offers a basic summary of the position of Ezekiel, one of many captives from the Babylonian’s siege on Judah way back in 2 Kings. Ezekiel had been training to join the priesthood at the time, but plans had changed slightly after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed his hometown. Now, stuck in the desert with about 10000 other exiles, God appears to Ezekiel with a very convicting command – to go and tell his fellow Israelites about how their downfall had been a direct consequence from God for their disobedience in Him and turning away from Him.

Talk about salt in the wound. These people had watched their home been destroyed and their leaders slaughtered before their eyes, and Ezekiel the priest comes along to inform them it is their fault this all happened. While we know it to be the truth and the obvious results of generations of sin, I can not imagine the Israelites would have accepted this so easily or quietly. In situations where warning non-believers about the consequences of sin and the result of separation from God arise, it can be easy to feel incompetent or unable to express the Lord’s word properly, or to invite their often harsh or derisive responses upon ourselves.

But from this passage, and Ezekiel’s tale of captivity in Babylon, we know the Lord equips us to handle whatever may happen when we spread His word. As the Lord says in chapter 2 verse 7-8, “…the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are.” The Lord equipped Ezekiel in his unique circumstance of preaching to those with hearts angry and deaf to God by giving him tough, unshakeable faith and an equally tough disposition.

In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul instructs this: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” To share the Word of the Lord is of utmost importance; to spread the Lord’s message and bring hope to those who need it through Him brings Him immeasurable joy. More so, the Lord has equipped us each with our own special way of reaching someone’s heart who needs it. Only the Lord knows how, when, and where exactly your talents may come in handy, but He has given each of us tools to share the Gospel effectively to someone responsive to your talents. He has given us each a mission, to go out and tell others about His good news, but not without planning and thought.

Ultimately, Ezekiel’s tale serves as a reminder of the necessity for sharing the Lord’s word with those who need to hear it. As believers, the Lord calls us as He did Ezekiel to help direct others away from sin and towards Him. It is as Peter says in Acts 10:42 of Jesus’s command to His disciples and to us: “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one who God appointed as judge of the living dead.” We are called as Christians to testify about our savior, and that even when difficulties arise from it, God has already given us everything we need to endure. Let’s all pray today for hearts and tongues of love and wisdom, and to be filled with His spirit, ready to share the good news with a world that desperately needs to hear about Him.


Today’s reading is on Job (Job 1-2).

Today, we come into one of the most personally convicting stories in the Bible, the tale of Job. Here is a man who has it all: A happy family, enough wealth to live in great comfort, fields of thousands of livestock, more than enough servants to take care of them all, and respect and prestige among his people. Above all, he was a man who prized his Lord above all. The Lord Himself even rejoices in Job’s faith, saying in verse 8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Then how much more painful all that happens to Job: his livestock slaughtered, his servants killed, his family crushed in a freak accident, and his very body consumed by horrible, agonizing sores across his entire body. In the blink of an eye, this man’s life hand in life has gone from plentiful to torturous. While we know this was the work of Satan from our perspective of the text, Job can see no fault in what he’s done. From what he’s experienced, the greatest torture he had to endure I can only imagine must have come from within his own mind, thoughts whispered from the Devil: What had he done to deserve this? How had the wronged the Lord to earn such overwhelming retribution?

But never once does Job harden his heart against the Lord: as he speaks over the course of this book, we see the heart of one who has truly given all he has to God. Although he may curse his own life and beg for death, never once does he speak out against or doubt the Lord or His plan. What a feat this must have been: for all the pain he had gone through, never once did Job lose faith.

One of the biggest questions people have always had for Christians is “why do such awful things happen to good people?” There is no true answer we can give: not one of us in this life will understand the nature of God. But in Job’s story, we see one reason: Satan attempting to undermine our faith and the refuge we can find in the Lord. From Job’s perspective though, he does not know what transpired to affect his life in this way. He will have to endure the rest of his time on earth not knowing why the Lord had not prevented this from happening. But never does his steadfast faith fade.

When tragedy befalls you, how do you handle it? Do you look outward for answers from others and the world around you, look inward to your own actions and behaviors and wrestle with guilt and anger towards the self? Do you look to the Lord for answers and demands, or do you surrender yourself to Him and follow His plans for your life in even your darkest seasons, knowing He has plans for you and will bring provide no matter what? In times of intense grief and unbearable pain, we can look to Job for answers: how will God provide? How can we go on? We may never know, but we know the Lord is powerful and sovereign, loves us deeply, and will never leave us.

Scripture reminds us of this: Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  When we find faith difficult to muster over our desperation and questions for God, Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” And of course Psalm 23:4 reminds us that God looks out for us even amidst our darkest times: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”

Job experiences it firsthand here, and we learn as well: God is always with us, especially when we are crushed by heartbreak and surrounded by death and despair. Even though we can’t provide answers for the trials we face, we know the Lord enables our capability to withstand any storm. All we must do is trust wholly in Him and his unshakeable shelter and protection. For just as God surely knew during Job’s ordeal that his faith would keep him going, God knows any suffering we could ever go through, He has already ensured we He will see us through. Preparation to turn our hearts to God in times of ease and plenty can often be overlooked – if you’re in that period of life today, pray for your heart to be strengthened in the Lord now. And pray for those of us who may be winding our way through the valley of death as it were – be ready to offer a helping hand and the encouraging word of the Lord to those who may need it more than ever.

From Geha-A to Gehazi

Today’s reading is on Elisha’s servant Gehazi in 2 Kings 5.

You know when you take a bite of something delicious, immediately followed by a rotten, disgusting one? Or when some pleasing scent passes by your notice, only to be replaced in the next moment by the smell of old garbage or sewage? That foul sensation, made all the more unpleasant from the contrast provided by the enjoyable one beforehand, reminds me a little bit of Gehazi in this passage. Elisha, having been passed the Lord’s blessings that resided in his master Elijah, was in his own right showing the miraculous power of the Lord. 2 Kings 5 tells of the meeting of Elisha and Naaman, a powerful army commander stricken with leprosy, asking for help. After obeying Elisha’s guidance and declaring how he has seen the Lord’s power for himself, Naaman offers payment to the prophet as reward. Elisha refuses, Naaman offers allegiance to God and goes on his way.

Enter Gehazi. Not able to hold his own tongue when the opportunity presents itself, he follows after Naaman, asking for two talents of silver in his master’s name. Two talents of silver – the wage of a few dozen people for about two months – is a huge amount for one person to ask for, much less for something they themselves didn’t do. After profiting off of God’s work enacted through his master, Elisha instead decides to pay Gehazi’s inequity with the leprosy Naaman had removed. Through receiving judgement for his actions this way, we see a few sobering reminders of how easy it can be to misstep in our faith.

  • At this point, Gehazi has witnessed a number of miracles in service of Elisha, including raising the dead. He is personally witnessing incredible displays of God’s command over all things, yet still fails to recognize the levity and weight of what he’s seen. I admit to being guilty of this – there are miracles the Lord performs every day that I might see and jump to assume “oh, that’s just how the world is” or “how lucky that happened to that person.” We must train our minds at all times to look for and rejoice in the miracles the Lord provides, so that in a moment of weakness, we too won’t find ourselves affronting God’s instructions and desires.
  • Elisha states in verse 16, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” To put something as temporary and fleeting as monetary gain above the Lord is foolish – how much more to put it above sharing the word of the Lord with those who need it. As Christians, we know salvation comes through faith alone, not buying our way into Heaven. Likewise, we should not look to gain anything from others for sharing our faith as Gehazi attempted, but should find joy in our Lord and sharing His gospel.
  • Most of all, the Bible is very clear about our relationship with money, and Gehazi’s behavior is a demonstration of how not to behave with it. Matthew 6:24 puts it best: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Putting money in the forefront of our thoughts is easier than ever to do these days. Not that it’s bad to be mindful of your finances either – love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself. But in all manners, including financial, put God first.

All these reminders together help us realize, even if Gehazi was pretty boneheaded in this moment, he was generally righteous in action. He was a prophet’s servant, giving his life to helping advance the Lord’s work in Israel and spreading His message. But ultimately his heart was not devoted to the Lord, and in one opportune moment, Satan slipped into his heart and sin prevailed. Gehazi was not some storybook villain – just an ordinary guy who’s heart was not 100% trained on God. So take this as a reminder today: above all else, we must keep our hearts trained on God at all times. If not, sin is sure to take hold in those moments of weakness. But luckily we serve a forgiving God, and when we do slip up, He will be willing to forgive us when we ask Him with all our hearts. The important part then is to learn from our mistakes so we may better serve the Lord when next these moments arise. I pray that in time in Scripture and prayer today, you may learn a little more how to train your heart on God always, so that you may hold fast on God’s teachings against temptation.


Today’s reading is about Eli (1 Samuel 2:12-4).

Coming back to the books of Samuel, it was difficult for me to remember much of Eli’s tale beforehand. He himself acts as sort of a footnote in the origin story of the wise prophet Samson, last in the line of Judges who ruled over Israel in their more tribal days, high priest and target of Samuel’s servitude. This line of judicial rulers reflected as a darker period in Israel’s history, where their reflection of God’s will towards His people and the strength of leadership were at historical lows.

At a glance, Eli’s work as spiritual leader is just as one would expect the high priest to be. He is a reverent family man who performs his duties well and fathers a new generation to engage in spiritual leadership for Israel. His main downfall though, and the driving force of this passage, is his handling of his “wicked sons”. His sons, priests and direct servants of God in their own rights, steal undue portions from offerings from the Israelites before offering them up to God, threaten and bully the Israelites into compliance, and sleeping with the women serving at the tents of worship. Not great examples for God’s people. When hearing about this himself, Eli confronts them and asks them to stop, but pursuing the issue no further after trying once.

This passage contains valuable insights into the love displayed by the Lord’s gentle rebuking of our wrongdoings. Ultimately though, as someone young enough to not have children of my own, yet old enough to realize how wise my own father(earthly and heavenly) was and how difficult we could make it for him to properly discipline us, I realize I lack expertise and knowledge in this form discipline. Yet this passage offered valuable insight into where and how I equate my relationship with God to the world around me.

When Eli’s sons Phineas and Hophni carry off the Ark of the Covenant into battle, the very presence of the Ark incites the Israelites’ joy and the Philistines’ fear. However, God had considered the men wicked and it was His will that they would be put to death for their wickedness. Eli (before his untimely death, at least) and the other Israelites likewise mourn the loss of the Ark after battle, claiming the Lord has left them, when He’d told them it was their own wicked ways that would cause disdain for Eli and his lineage. Throughout this passage, the notion becomes more and more plausible that the Israelites have more respect and concern for the Ark itself than the God who it should have reminded them of. With no regard to their own relationship with the Lord, these people celebrated the presence of the Lord’s symbol and mourned the loss of it, not concerned with what the Lord Himself had said.

In this train of thought, I have found much self-reflection. How easy is it for me to put what reminds me of the Lord in front of the Lord? Out of reverence and tradition it can be easy to store our Bible neatly on the shelf when not in use, when it should be close by instead, turning to Him and His word whenever a moment of weakness strikes. How easy it can be to get caught up in a beautiful song, or a touching story, or someone’s testimony, rather than consider the Lord it glorifies. I’m not saying it’s wrong to enjoy these things; celebrating and glorifying the Lord in the way you can best is good. But it can be easy to forget that beyond and above the rituals, symbols, and feel-good moments, the God we worship holds a very personal relationship with each of us. There is nothing we can or should put above the Lord; even good things that point to God can become idols if we forget Who they symbolize. As Eli and all the Israelites fixated on the symbolism of the Ark instead of God, it is possible for us to fixate on our religion instead of our relationship. God wants you to know Him for who He is – as He knows and loves you for who you are – not the temporary things we use to represent an Eternal Lord. I pray that God alone can reside in your heart today, that you could think along with me about why and for whom your thoughts and actions are for.

Listening and Going

Today’s reading is on Moses (Exodus 5:1-6:13, 14:5-31).

“Imposter syndrome” is something I hear about in my office or on LinkedIn every once in a while these days. It is the internalized fear, often completely misguided, that someone hasn’t really deserved any of their accomplishments, that they have gotten by solely on luck, and could be exposed as a “fraud” at any point, made out to appear foolish. Even among people who do great at their jobs, some of us just can’t see our own true strengths and abilities. We can doubt ourselves, compare ourselves to those around us who appear so collected and composed, and consider ourselves lesser options for our position.

In Exodus, a young Moses experiences something similar when confronted by God. Often, when we too are suddenly confronted with an arduous task by God, we immediately launch into cycles of doubt and fear. Over and over again, as God reveals Himself to Moses and commands him to go to Egypt and demand the Israelites be freed for a feast of worship. This is, by logical accounts, an impossible request. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt would require going up to Pharaoh, a direct link with the gods in the eyes of the Egyptians, a man of immeasurable wealth on Earth, and ask him to let his nation’s slaves go for three days to worship their God. It would look to be an impossible task to anyone, but as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “we live by faith, not by sight.”

Yet instead of acting in faith when confronted by Creator of the Universe and Lord over all, Moses asks “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And again, when given direct instructions from Go of what to say to the Israelites there, he asks “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, The Lord did not appear to you?” Yet again, when told how to perform miracles as a sign of God’s power, Moses complains “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.” Even as God gives him the most explicit of directions, Moses considers himself unskilled, untalented, and unable to do God’s work.

Even though Moses’s eventual journey to Egypt and plea to Pharaoh does not go easily, and Pharaoh instead makes life even more miserable for the Israelites, God’s plan fails to cease. When Moses cries out in doubt, the Lord answers in chapter 6. The Lord ensures He will lead His people out of Egypt safely. What His answer begins and ends with is simply yet truthfully “I am the Lord.” And over the next few chapters, as God unleashes a host of vile plagues as retribution against Pharaoh and ultimately leads His people out safely, Moses continues following His word and acting upon it.

Moses may not have believed himself to be capable or the most qualified for God’s plan, but in the end he follows what the Lord has to say. When we focus on our shortcomings and how we can fail to do anything in the situation provided for us, we should instead listen to what God has to say here. We may be weak, and unbecoming, and not very eloquent, but God is Lord. We may fall short in our own subjective measures, but God is Lord. We are only human, but God is Lord! Rather than succumbing to imposter syndrome in our own callings, it is important to remember that God has chosen us to fulfill the role He has placed us in, and that is what matters here. Just look at Moses here: yes, he may have been afraid, and had trouble standing up against Pharaoh on his own. God provided him his brother Aaron and a loving family to encourage and help him, and through his tribulations Moses finds courage and strength. Rather than looking inward to what you need in the moment to accomplish something, look around and take stock in what the Lord has given you to help you learn and grow. Rather than simply making us perfect for our position from the get-go, it brings Him glory and praise when we look to Him for guidance and wisdom along our journeys.

You might hear God calling you to go out and live for Him in some way today. That calling may be intimidating, and it may seem impossible. It can be easy to count ourselves out, to look at our negative qualities and how they will only hamper our progress moving forward. But God is not calling us to do these things in a vacuum: he has surrounded us with ways to find strength and grow in faith to live for Him. Remember today that He is Lord, and as He lifted his hand against Pharaoh and guided the Israelites out of captivity into their promised rewards, He will guide you out of your own troubles. More so, He will accept you just as you are, and you will succeed in any endeavor you are called to, so long as your faith and trust in Him guide you.


Looking back to the beginning of the Bible now as we study the people of the Bible, we look at Eve. Helper to Adam, mother of all humanity, and archetype of the biblical woman, she can offer a view into God’s infallible knowledge of our hearts. But through her temptation and introduction of sin into humanity, we can also get our first glimpse of God’s great grace.


In Genesis 2:18, the Lord, in the midst of his creative phase, sees fit to provide a helper for Adam. But in all the creatures of the world that he creates, he sees nothing fit to satisfy the deep, personal connection man needs. So in Adam’s sleep, he pulls out a rib and crafts in into Eve, whom he presents to Adam to great appreciation.


Adam’s declaration of thanks in Genesis 2:23 paints a good picture of what this means to Adam. He says, “This at last is the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Not just an ordinary “thank you” or “woah, cool!” Adam here immediately understands what Eve is; thoughtfully and personally designed by God to provide assistance beyond simple help, but Godly love. He exclaims “At last!”, recognizing that God has provided a spiritual partner, a deeper support and love, more fulfilling and gratifying than possible with any other creature on Earth. Of course, this points to the magnificence of the Lord that marriage mirrors, but even beyond that for those who may not be married, Eve is a symbol of God’s deeply intimate knowledge of us. He knows exactly what help we need, and exactly how we can be provided to best suit us individually and most effectively.


But as chapter 3 begins, we see not even God’s symbol of covenant love is exempt from human error. As Eve is tempted by Satan and shares in her temptation with Adam, they become aware of their human nature and become ashamed with the sin they have newfound knowledge of. Instead of coming to God and confronting their sin, they instead try to hide and obscure their shame from the Lord.


I always have the imagery here of a toddler playing hide-and-seek, standing behind a curtain with their legs visible, or with just a pillow held in front of their face as an attempt at hiding. And as we walk around, humoring them by asking wherever they might have gone to, we can see them clear as day. I imagine that is similar to how the Lord sees Adam and Eve hiding here: very poorly hiding their shame, yet very clearly visible to Him. How could they imagine that hiding behind some bushes, fig leaves crudely sewn together to make a makeshift covering, would fool the Lord of all creation, powerful enough to have just crafted everything from nothing?


We ourselves often try to hide our shame and sin from the Lord. We receive instructions for every walk of life, every difficulty we come across, all in the form of Scripture. Yet when we find ourselves living errantly against what God wants for us, do we find ourselves obeying Scripture and surrendering our sins to Him, or do we convince ourselves that we can hide it away, keeping it from the Lord, not having to confront our own sinful nature? The Lord is just and fair in disciplining us when we fall and refuse to confront him, but when Adam and Eve come forward, we see Him clothing and sending them on their way. In Eve’s actions, we see here the first example of God’s grace and forgiveness: that no matter what, when we come to Him to ask for forgiveness, even if we may be rebuked for our sins, He will always pick us up, clean us off, and help us back on the path towards Him. For he loves us beyond the bounds of sin and death.


From Eve, we can see the beginning of a beautiful, God-ordained relationship between man and woman, one of the most beautiful gifts of this life, pointing towards His love and glory. But we also see a fallible human, vulnerable to sin and temptation as the rest of us. Ultimately, Eve acts as a reminder to all of us of the beauty of grace, that the Lord’s love and care for us endures no matter our actions. So pray today for discernment in understanding when we have sinned and the wisdom and strength to confront our sin and come to the Lord immediately, without hiding and without shame, as we learn from Eve.


-Ross B.


Today’s reading is Hebrews 11.

Growing up, I always considered my father a true hero, and still do. As a member of the Illinois National Guard, I watched him live selflessly and sacrificially for the sake of his country and fellow Americans, and always admired the pride with which he served. However, living the life of a soldier left its mark on our whole family as well: we often went weekends, weeks, or on longer deployments, entire years with the man of the household away. Many important events and times together may have been missed, but the honor and rewards of his service were worth all the sacrifices we made.

One of the powerful tenets by which we express our beliefs as Christians is faith: the trust we have that in our sovereign God and His promise, sealed through the blood of His son Jesus Christ, that we will be greatly rewarded in Heaven for the lives we lead for Him here on Earth. Faith is something we exercise in our lives as Christians. As Paul aptly put in Galatians 2, “the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” But in applying this faith to our daily lives, we can sometimes use guidance. Even the Jewish Christian to whom this book of the Bible was originally written needed encouragement and help in doing so. Mocked and persecuted by the Roman ruling armies, they often found their faith leading to difficult lives, something that has not changed these days either.

Like me with my father, there is a certain gift in having heroes to follow the good examples and actions of. In Romans 11, the author understands this value well. And like many of us, they point to many figures across the Old Testament as exemplary heroes who acted bravely and virtuously, all thanks to one common trait: their faith in God. Many familiar tales are recounted: Noah’s faith led him from the world gone astray and towards salvation. Abraham was led to new lands, fathered children when he never should have been able to, and trusted God even up to obeying commands to sacrifice his son. Moses endured the difficulties of his fellow Israelites and led them to freedom and glory. The walls of Jericho crumbled before those who believed! In the same way we look to these believers as examples of living faith, the early Christians here did as well. And as their faith is bolstered in reminders of the benefits of faith, we too are strengthened by the lessons we see here as to what true faith is.

First off, what true faith is not. It is not easily quantified, as we see in verse 1; faith is trusting in the unseen, what can not be measured or understood. Often we see that God is beyond understanding, not that we should not try to explain Him through reason, but that He is bigger and more profound than our feeble reasoning can grasp. We can never see or understand or reason with what will come to be, but through faith and trust in the Lord we know we will be rewarded for the trials and tests that come our way.

True faith is also not about immediate results, not trusting in a quick reward. We see that the trials these Old Testament figures were not short ones, but often lifelong battles and tests of endurance. As verse 13 says, “all these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” Although when we follow God we may not be immediately rewarded, we have heard many great promises from Him. We know living our lives in service to Him stores up unfathomable treasures in Heaven and glorifies Him above all else. Our faith lets us see that even we do not yet see the benefits of our actions, or often face adversity from the world because of them, God is pleased with us and is preparing great rewards for our faith beyond this life.

Of course, faith is also not easy. While the miracles faith has performed are listed in verse 32, the pains and heartaches inflicted upon believers are told as well. Living our faith may mean clashing directly with the ways of a broken world. We may see this most often as being teased, jeered, or called a number of despicable things for our belief, but many may experience exile, torture, and murder for being faithful. Despite the world’s crushing opposition, we know our God is unbreakable by any such trifle. Even when met with such trouble, these Old Testament figures live bravely and refuse to back down thanks to their faith. With trust in God, we can face these extremes as well knowing we too will be rewarded.

Now, these heroic tales also cast many uplifting reminders of what faith can do, which frankly is a much longer list than what can’t be done. We see here that faith is certain, as verse 1 says: “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Even though what we believe in can not be seen or measured conventionally, our faith in the Bible as God’s word for us provides all reason one could ever need. We know through our faith that the examples we see in this passage are factual, actual depictions of God’s tangible work in our world. Our faith tells us we can be certain our God can accomplish all this and infinitely more.

Faith is clearly a testament of glory as well. In living out our faith, we act as living signs, pointing others towards the glorious God we serve. The God we know, as we are reminded here, is more powerful and radiant than comprehensible. The mighty acts we see here are all gifts from Him, as are the gifts of our own. Sure, in our daily lives we may not endure flaming furnaces and escape the mouths of lions as these Old Testament heroes, but in the small trials and tough choices we face, we act as living testaments to a living God when we abide in Him. In faithfully following Him in times that matter, we fully display His wisdom and glory for all to see.

Of course, above all else we hold dear, faith is worthwhile. When we keep our steady faith in the Lord our God, we can endure anything. As the end of this passage tells us, “God had planned something better for us.” All trials and temptations we may face, be it torture, or imprisonment, or death, could not compare to the eternal future God has planned for us after this life. In our faith, we know that this is true: that eternally dwelling with Him is worth any sacrifice. I pray that you may think about what problems you may face today, and think about how the Lord will be there to help you through. Through your faith, may you know that the Lord has promised you a bright and shining future with Him despite what may come. One day, we too can join these Old Testament heroes in God’s presence, and share the same gifts they have received beyond this life. So in times of need, run to Him for guidance, and in times of praise, thank Him for a promise you can faithfully abide in.