Matthew 3:17

And there came a voice from heaven: this is my beloved son. I take delight in him.

Insight: As a child, the message about God that I heard and believed most in church was that he was just, and hated sin. This was probably not intentional on anyone's part, but I was left afraid of God, terrified of making a mistake and his love felt like a P.S. at the end of letter about how much he was disappointed in me. Have you ever felt like this? Today, take a moment to slowly read again the narrative of the baptism of Jesus, and consider the extravagant love of a God who came to be with us, so that we could be with him. He is a God who delights in his son, and he delights in me and he delights in you. You are infinitely loved by perfect Love.

Prayer: Jesus, when I am distracted by the busyness around me today, and caught in earning affection from you and others, remind me that I am already completely loved as I am. Have mercy on my heart which resists believing that your love to me unearned, help me to rest in you today. Amen.

Shannon J

1 Samuel 17:41-43

The Philistine came closer and closer to David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David he despised him because he was just a youth, healthy and handsome. He said to David “Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?” Then he cursed David by his gods.

Insight In the story of David and Goliath I never find it hard to identify with David. I am quick to see my story relating to the quintessential underdog David. After all, there is always someone I can find who seems to have more power, more followers, and more money than I think necessary.  But here is a question, what if I did not assume that I am always ‘the David’? Today, I am asking asking God to reveal how I might be the Goliath in someone else’s life. Where have I allowed my greed and my inability to surrender to Christ to become a source of oppression in my neighbors life? Self examination is rarely comfortable, but it brings me to a place where I experience the extravagance of God’s love in a deep way, for then I see it’s the kind of love that has always loved and keeps loving me, even when I am the Goliath in the story.

Prayer Loving Christ, It is easy for me to see how I am wronged, but I am uncomfortable naming how I have been the source of oppression for others. Give me the courage to surrender what you invite me to surrender, and let me taste and see how real is your love and grace for me. Amen.

Shannon J

Matthew 1:17

So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.

Insight The first half of chapter 1 of Matthew gives us a historical record Jesus ancestry. Often this list has felt like a long prelude I must get through before I can read the real story, but today I was considering all the hundreds of year that these 17 verses represent, all of these people listed were real people who lived real lives, they celebrated and grieved and ate breakfast and slept and nursed their babies and worked and sneezed and had preferences and worries and experienced all manner of human emotion and behavior. Did they know that one day they would be listed in this genealogy? Did they know that in their act of living life they were participating in God's beautiful story of redemption? Today, as I live my own ordinary day, I want to remember that God’s redemptive story is still being told through people, and that I do not need to see the big picture to participate in it.

Prayer Christ, when I am tempted to disdain the the ordinary task in front of me, help me to see how you are present in each moment of each day. Thank you for allowing me to participate in your story. Give me strength to be faithful to the work in front of me, give me courage to stay present to what is now. Amen.

Shannon J

1 Samuel 14:7

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Insight: Two men with two swords and two hearts full of faith decided to be brave. We read in verse 23 that there was a great victory in Israel that day because of the spark that was struck by Johnathan and his armor-bearer. Who was this armor-bearer? We do not know his name. We do not know his family or where he came from. We do not know how old he was. We only know his blind faith and the devotion he had to his friend. What sort of victories might God have in store for us if we choose to be brave? Could we be a part of a movement when we choose to devote ourselves to people of faith?

Prayer: Praise you God that you give us courage and strength to face the day. Thank you for the friends and family who devote themselves to us. Help us to be people of faith.

Kirstie

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Insight: Pages and pages have been written on what exactly this ‘thorn’ in the flesh was that Paul had been given and which the Lord never appeared to have taken away from him. It can be helpful that we do not know exactly what Paul’s thorn was because then we can insert whatever thorn we have been given into this text and receive this comforting word. Do you struggle with chronic pain that God has not healed? Do you have a family member who is not saved? Do you have an addiction that God has not freed you from? We all have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that for some reason, God has not yet responded to. Although God longs for us to continue interceding for these issues, let us also not forget the encouraging word he give us here, “My grace is sufficient for you.” His grace covers us and as we continue to struggle with whatever thorn we have been given, look to His grace!

Prayer: Thank you Lord that your grace IS sufficient, that your power is made perfect in our weaknesses. We continue to lift up these thorns in our sides, these unanswered prayers. We believe you are a God who answers prayer; however, in a world of mystery and brokenness, we acknowledge that your grace is enough.

Kirstie

2 Corinthians 11:30

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Insight: One of the Mom’s of our youth students told me that her daughter thinks I am “just the coolest.” The moment she said this, I could feel dread growing in the pit of my stomach… How long before her daughter realizes how ‘not-cool’ I am? Do you live in fear of ‘being found out?’ How many of us dread the day that we cannot keep our mask on any longer and the world knows our weaknesses? Christ challenges us to a different sort of life. Instead of living in fear, instead of hiding our weaknesses in a place we hope no one ever finds; Christ invites us to boast about our weaknesses so that He may be glorified. It is not by our own strength that we are where we are today. It is not because our gifts and talents are so great that we should boast. Rather, Christ challenges us to be transparent with our community so that they might see how God has overcome.

Prayer: King Jesus, this really scares me. I do not want people to know my weaknesses, it is easier to live with a mask and hope people never know my faults. But I want to glorify you and I want to be real with people. Give me the strength to be transparent and help people to be forgiving when they see the areas I need growth.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 10:15-16

Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

Insight: How could Saul keep his being anointed to kingship a secret? Would he not want the whole world to know about this amazing experience he just had with Samuel the prophet? How often do we do the same in our casual conversations? Just this last week, someone asked, “how was your weekend.” I replied, “good, relaxing.” What I should have said was, “I had an amazing encounter with the Lord through worship on Sunday, He spoke words of comfort and love to me so that I was overwhelmed with rest and felt empowered to be a peaceful presence to my friends, family, and coworkers this week.” Saul missed an opportunity to tell His uncle the way God had blessed him on his journey searching for donkeys. Let’s not do the same!

Prayer: God, I want to be better at sharing the abundant blessings you have made apparent in my life. Help me to be glorifying you in every conversation. Help me to see even casual questions as an opportunity to share your faithfulness.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 7:8

They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”

Insight: Picture the Israelites in this scene. They came to Mizpah because they have decided to change their ways, they want to follow the Lord again. While they are seeking the Lord and attempting to make themselves right before Him, the Philistines surround the town and are going to attack them. Have you ever been there? Have you gotten to a breaking point and said ‘okay God, I’m coming back to you.’ Then it feels like the moment you try to return to Him, the world starts falling apart? I know I have. Being at their breaking point though, the Israelites do not even try to go out and defend themselves against the Philistines, they do not ask other people for help; they have returned to the Lord so they do the only thing they can do in that circumstance, they pray more! “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us,” they cry and they have faith that God will rescue them by His strength, not theirs.

Prayer: Help us Lord when we are at our breaking point to cry out for your power, to cry out for YOU to rescue us. We are so easily distracted by the competing powers of this world, help us to rely on your strength rather than our own.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 3:1

In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

Insight: Are we living in days of the word of the Lord being rare? Sometimes I wonder if there are prophets like Samuel who hear the Lord calling their name in the night as if someone were speaking to them from another room. As I pondered this, I felt the Spirit so kindly remind me that the word of the Lord is abundantly fruitful and always will be for those who have received the Holy Spirit. When Christ ascended into Heaven, He gave us the gift of the Spirit which speaks truth and is our daily guide. The Spirit is our constant friend, our comforter. The Spirit enables the word of the Lord to never be rare!

Prayer: Father God, help us to never forget the intimacy and knowledge we have through the power of the Spirit. Thank you God, that we do not need to rely on prophets and judges to bring us words from God because we are able to hear directly from you through the Holy Spirit. Give us more visions and more words that we might be ever aware of your presence.

Kirstie

1 Samuel 2:3

Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.

Insight: In Hannah’s prayer, she repeats a reality she has witnessed in her own life, “the Lord is a God who knows.” How often do I pray as if to a God that does not know? God knows the depths of our souls. When I feel alone, ashamed, confused, angry… I do not come to a God who does not understand. He is a God who knows.

Prayer: To the Lord God who knows, help us to pray with confidence. Do not let us grow weary, believing we are on this journey alone. You are abundantly aware of our sorrow and our triumphant. Thank you for your personal decision to be God with us and to be a God who knows.

Kirstie

Judges 2:10

After Joshua’s generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.

Insight: We are all liable to drift. All across the book of Judges, and throughout the history of Israel, we see this pattern repeating itself…

1) A generation sees God and worships Him.
2) Without intentionality, they drift away God..
3) A new generation comes that has no knowledge of God.
4) God acts, often painfully, to get their attention.

And the cycle repeats itself. Nurturing faith in yourself, and especially in the next generation, requires intentionality. We must do things that continually develop our faith, and invite younger people to join with us in the process.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am so prone to drifting. Help me and all of us to hold fast to You as we fight off the drift. As we pursue You, Jesus, would You help us to intentionally invite other generations to join us as we remember what You done for us, as we worship, and as we chase after You. Thank You for being so good to us, Lord. Amen.

Adam

Joshua 21:43-45

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Insight: God keeps his promises, but He does according to His timeline. The Lord gave the land and the rest He had promised to their ancestors. These promises were issued generations prior, but only now were they being fulfilled. It’s easy to try to rush the process. We pray, we hear from the Lord, and we try to trust the promise, but so often we expect to see the fulfillment immediately. And when the answer doesn’t come right away, we can be quick to assume that God has abandoned us. We must trust the process! God is at work, even when we don’t see Him. He is working out His promises, even when we are wandering in the desert. Although His timing doesn’t always reflect our preferences, at the end of the day, God ALWAYS keeps his promises.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to have enduring trust in You and Your promises. Help me to live with patience and trust knowing that You are working, that You are faithful, and that You always keep Your promises, even when I don’t know Your timing. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Adam

1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly…

Insight: Races are never won by accident. Spiritual growth is no different. It never just happens. Cultivating physical health, spiritual growth, healthy relationships, healthy finances, etc… all require hard, sweaty, and sometimes, messy work to see progress. Honest conversations, living generously, choosing faith over fear, etc… all lead to growth and progress, but that progress is sometimes painfully slow. The good news is that although growth is never easy, it’s worth it. Like Paul says, athletes train to get a crown that will fade, but as followers of Jesus, we do it to get a crown that will last for eternity.

Prayer: Jesus, help me not to just “run aimlessly” through life. Teach me to live life intentionally, focused on becoming the person you want me and engaging in the rhythms and habit that will foster that development. I’m so grateful that You strengthen me and give me what I need as I follow You Jesus. In Your Name, Amen!

Adam

1 Cor 8:9

Verse: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Insight: As Americans, we are a free people, allowed to do whatever we want, whenever we want. As followers of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin, but to Christ himself. We are cautioned to be responsible with our knowledge of our fellow believers’ challenges. If we don’t consider their battle and go about life our own way, our behavior exploiting the struggle they face, we could cause them to stumble into sin. It’s not pious self-denial at play here; it’s sacrificial love for our fellow man.

Prayer: Lord Jesus: savior, healer, comforter, and friend. Guide us with wisdom in our choices, that they reflect your love. Strengthen us to encourage and support one another, especially in the places we struggle to gain freedom. Humble our hearts to set aside our wants, open our eyes to see the ways we can lift up, and the ways we may trip up, our fellow man, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Danielle

1 Cor 7:16

Verse: “Don’t you wives realize your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize your wives might be saved because of you?”

Insight: I love that God has given us instruction on unequally yoked marriages. Make no mistake, only Jesus saves, but as his follower, you carry his light into your relationship. Jesus came to save the lost; he uses people in that process. Conflict is hard. Conflict can be hurtful. Remember, God didn’t say we wouldn’t suffer, he said we would join in the suffering of his son, for his glory. Trusting him, his perfect plan, and impeccable timing may not only save your marriage, but be a gateway to your spouse’s salvation.

**NOTE: If your safety and security is compromised in your marriage, this is not telling you stay. God has provided resources for you, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE.**

Prayer: Father God, you are the God who saves, the God who comforts, the God who heals. Our hearts cry out in anguish at the world’s solution to marital conflict. Humble us, Lord, that we may be a window for our lost spouses to see you, not a door that blocks their view. Give us strength to withstand the temptation of selfishness. Jesus, lift those suffering in harmful ways into your loving arms of protection and provision. Thank you for hope, the confident expectation of what’s to come; thank you for saving us, in Jesus’ name, amen!

Danielle

1 Cor 6:7

Verse: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

Insight: Paul is encouraging the believers in Corinth to depart from the world’s way and follow Jesus. Instead of taking your brother or sister in Christ to a court of law, Paul is saying to try and settle your “case” against each other with grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We don’t have to justify ourselves before man; to do so is living in the defeat of man’s fall. Jesus justifies us, taking on our sin and guilt before God, allowing us to live in his victory, claiming it as our own.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for coming and showing us a better way. Because of your sacrifice, we are holy and blameless before God. We humbly acknowledge your intercession and provision of our place in Heaven. Give us the peace of mind and heart to settle conflicts with the power of the cross, taking on your nature in your victory, that the world see a different way; the only way, the truth and the light of life in Jesus’ name, amen.

Danielle

Ps 69:20, 33

Verses: “Scorn has broken my heart and left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.”; “The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.”

Insight: When the hurt of someone else’s brokenness affects our lives, it’s tempting to seek solace from others. Our hearts cry out for justice, wanting the pity and consolation of people to prove the hurt is real and realistic. God gave us community as support in these hard times, but our hearts need to be cautioned about where we look for justice. God’s ears are tuned to the pleas of his people, and his eyes see clearly that which has us bound.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for being present in a world marred by injustice. It is a comfort to know you see and hear everything. Holy Spirit turn our hearts to Jesus when we feel the need for justification, reminding us that our cries of desperation are heard, our hurt is real, and your rescue is at hand, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Danielle

1 Cor 4:4-5

Verse: “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted, It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”

Insight: There is so much I cannot see. While it’s important to check our own hearts, asking God to search them for those areas where sin has crept in, I often make assumptions about other people’s thoughts and motives. Assumptions are judgement dressed up to absolve us of the reality of how limited a view we truly have. When I humbly approach the situations in my life, acknowledging my humanity in light of God’s deity, the need to control and know slip away, leaving space for his love to grow.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for guarding and protecting us as you provide wisdom and discernment to help us navigate this world. May we have the understanding that sometimes what we don’t know is what’s best for us. Thank you for grace when we try to be you. Help us trust you, that we can live in love, knowing you see so much more, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Danielle

1 Cor 3:7-8

Verse: “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded or their own hard work.”

Insight: God’s unique design of each one of us leaves no room for competition or comparison. He has given each of us a specific job to further his kingdom. The world knowing the love of our Heavenly Father through his son, Jesus, is our common purpose. Your story may be the first time someone hears of Jesus, or you may be the one others look to with their questions about him; whether you’re in front or behind the scenes, you are a vital part of tending God’s fields of grace.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for creating us so individually equal. Give us your wisdom in how you’ve made us to impact this world with your love. Help us to remain focused on you, knowing the accolades of this world are nothing compared to the glorious reward that awaits us, in Jesus name, AMEN!

Danielle

Deut 32:10-11

Verse: He found them in a desert land, in an empty howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes. Like an eagle who rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spreads his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions. Deut 32:10-11


Insight: We can find ourselves in utter desolation, our hearts empty, howling for hope. God protects his people, taking us from the wasteland of our poor decisions into his salvation. He doesn't grab us by the hand, forcefully dragging us along. When we call on him in distress, our Heavenly Father swoops in and lifts us up, carrying us on his back, providing a view of things we wouldn't otherwise see. Picture a loving father giving his troubled child a piggy-back ride; bouncing around, playfully jostling, he brings us to a place of safety in his defense.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for wanting more for us. Your provision of peace is a comfort and refuge. Your protection is a place of rest. Help us to trust you enough to leave the places of our past and rise to new heights with you, in Jesus name, Amen!

Danielle