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 →

Read: Psalm 86:1-13 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 34–36; Hebrews 2 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Proverbs 29:11 The neighbors probably didn’t know what to think as they looked out their windows at me one wintry day. I was standing in the driveway with a garden shovel clutched in my hands, whacking wildly and angrily at a clump of ice that had formed beneath a corner gutter. With each smack, I was uttering prayers that were variations on one theme: “I can’t do this.” “You can’t expect me to do this.” “I don’t haveRead More →

Read: 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 32–33; Hebrews 1 The Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14 In 2014 a University of California researcher used a stuffed dog to show that animals are capable of jealousy. Professor Christine Harris asked dog owners to show affection for a stuffed animal in the presence of their pet. She found that three-fourths of the dogs responded with apparent envy. Some tried to get attention with touch or a gentle nudge. Others tried to push between their owner and the toy. A few went so far as to snap at theirRead More →

The Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13 There is rarely a problem-free season in our lives, but sometimes the onslaught is terrifying. Rose saw her entire family, except for her two little daughters, slaughtered in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Now she is a widow among many widows with little money. But she refuses to be defeated. She has adopted two orphans and simply trusts God to provide for the food and school fees for her family of five. She translates Christian literature into the local language and organizes an annual conference for other widows. Rose weptRead More →

Read: Exodus 3:1-6,10-14 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41–42; 1 Thessalonians 1 “I am who I am” Exodus 3:14 An old Native American story tells of a young boy who was sent into the woods alone on an autumn night to prove his courage. Soon the sky darkened and the sounds of night filled the air. Trees creaked and groaned, an owl screeched, and a coyote howled. Even though he was frightened, the boy remained in the woods all night, as the test of courage required. Finally morning came, and he saw a solitary figure nearby. It was his grandfather, who had been watchingRead More →

Read: Isaiah 40:25-31 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 39–40; Colossians 4 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. Psalm 55:22 A man worried constantly about everything. Then one day his friends heard him whistling happily and looking noticeably relaxed. “What happened?” they asked him in astonishment. He said, “I’m paying a man to do my worrying for me.” “How much do you pay him?” they asked. “Two thousand dollars a week,” he replied. “Wow! How can you afford that?” “I can’t,” he said, “but that’s his worry.” While this humorous way to handle stress doesn’t work in real life, asRead More →

Read: Joshua 24:2,8-14 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 14–16; Ephesians 5:1-16 I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build. Joshua 24:13 The young mother sighed as she scraped together lunch for her 3-year-old daughter. Spying the empty fruit basket on the table in their tiny kitchen, she sighed and said aloud, “If we just had a basket of fruit, I would feel rich!” Her little girl overheard her. Weeks passed. God sustained the small family. Still, the struggling mom worried. Then one day her little girl bounded into the kitchen. “Look, Mommy, we’re rich!” sheRead More →

Read: Jonah 2:1-10 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 9–10; Ephesians 3 I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you. Jonah 2:7 The Puritan prayer “The Valley of Vision” speaks of the distance between a sinful man and his holy God. The man says to God, “Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision . . . ; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.” Aware of his wrongs, the man still has hope. He continues, “Stars can be seen from the deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine.” Finally, the poem ends with a request: “Let meRead More →

Read: Isaiah 60:19-22 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7–8; Ephesians 2 The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Isaiah 60:19 I caught my first glimpse of them as a college student. On a frosty, fall night, far from the lights of the city, I was riding on a hay wagon loaded with noisy friends when the sky lit up and colors flashed across the horizon. I was mesmerized. Ever since that night I have been fascinated with the phenomenon called aurora borealis, also known as northern lights. Mostly they are seen far north of where I live,Read More →

Read: Philippians 2:19-30 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5–6; Ephesians 1 I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, . . . whom you sent to take care of my needs. Philippians 2:25 Many charities that help people with various needs depend on donations of unwanted clothing and household items from those who have more than enough. And it’s good to give away unused things so they can benefit others. But we are often more reluctant to part with things of value that we use every day. When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he needed continuing encouragement and the companionship ofRead More →