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Scripture Training

Today's Devotional

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

In the late 1800s, people in different places developed similar ministry resources at the same time. The first was in Montreal, Canada, in 1877. In 1898, another concept was launched in New York City. By 1922, some five thousand of these programs were active in North America each summer.

Thus began the early history of Vacation Bible School. The passion that fueled those VBS pioneers was a desire for young people to know the Bible.

Paul had a similar passion for his young protégé Timothy, writing that “Scripture is God-breathed” and equips us “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). But this wasn’t just the benign suggestion that “it’s good to read your Bible.” Paul’s admonition follows the dire warning that “there will be terrible times in the last days” (v. 1), with false teachers who are “never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 7). It’s essential we protect ourselves with Scripture, for it immerses us in the knowledge of our Savior, making us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 15).

Studying the Bible isn’t just for kids; it’s for adults too. And it isn’t just for summer; it’s for every day. Paul wrote to Timothy, “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (v. 15), but it’s never too late to begin. Whatever stage of life we’re in, the wisdom of the Bible connects us to Jesus. This is God’s VBS lesson to us all.

What are your favorite Scripture passages? How do they point to Christ?

Loving God, thank You for the gift of Scripture and how it helps me learn about Jesus.

Learn effective Bible study methods.


Timothy first appears on the pages of Scripture in Acts 16:1, where he joins Paul and Silas on their missionary journey. He’s described there as having a Greek father but a Jewish mother who was a believer in Jesus. This corresponds with Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:5, where he cites Timothy’s grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) as being positive spiritual influences in his development. It seems that this is the influence to which the apostle refers in 2 Timothy 3:15, where Paul says that Timothy had been taught the Scriptures “from infancy.”

By |2023-03-16T02:33:03-04:00March 16th, 2023|
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Still Before God

Today's Devotional

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

The first photograph of a living person was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838. The photo depicts a figure on an otherwise empty avenue in Paris in the middle of an afternoon. But there’s an apparent mystery about it; the street and sidewalks should have been bustling with the traffic of carriages and pedestrians at that time of day, yet none can be seen.

The man wasn’t alone. People and horses were there on the busy Boulevard du Temple, the popular area where the photo was taken. They just didn’t show up in the picture. The exposure time to process the photograph (known as a Daguerreotype) took seven minutes to capture an image, which had to be motionless during that time. It appears that the man on the sidewalk was the sole person photographed because he was the only one standing still—he was having his boots shined.

Sometimes stillness accomplishes what motion and effort can’t. God tells His people in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Even when nations are “in uproar” (v. 6) and “the earth” shakes (v. 2), those who quietly trust in Him will discover in Him “an ever-present help in trouble” (v. 1).

The Hebrew verb rendered “be still” can also be translated “cease striving.” When we rest in God instead of relying on our limited efforts, we discover Him to be our unassailable “refuge and strength” (v. 1).

How will you “show up” for God by being still before Him today? Where do you need to trust Him more?

Heavenly Father, please help me to trust in You and to rest in the quiet awareness of Your unfailing love.


According to John Gill’s commentary, the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” are not a call to cease activity and be silent and unconcerned. Instead, they’re words of great comfort. “Be still” is a call to God’s people to “not be fearful, nor fretful and impatient, or restless or tumultuous; but be quiet and easy, resigned to the will of God.” And “know” means to “own and acknowledge that he is God, a sovereign Being,” who is unchangeable, omnipotent (all-powerful and able to help and deliver), and omniscient (knows them and their troubles). He knows how and where “to hide them until the storm is over.” We can rest in the assurance that God “works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Charles Spurgeon called this psalm, “The Song of Holy Confidence.” God’s people are secure in Him.

By |2023-03-15T02:33:10-04:00March 15th, 2023|
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Game of Change

Today's Devotional

Love your enemies. Luke 6:27

The handshake spoke volumes. On a March night in 1963, two college basketball players—one Black, one White—defied the hate of segregationists and shook hands, marking the first time in Mississippi State’s history that its all-White men’s team played against an integrated team. To compete in the “game of change” against Loyola University Chicago in a national tournament, the Mississippi State squad avoided an injunction to stop them by using decoy players to leave their state. Loyola’s Black players, meantime, had endured racial slurs all season, getting pelted with popcorn and ice, and faced closed doors while traveling.

Yet the young men played. The Loyola Ramblers beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 61–51, and Loyola eventually went on to win the NCAA national championship. But what really won that night? A move from hate toward love. As Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

God’s instruction was a life-changing concept. To love our enemies as Christ taught, we must obey His revolutionary mandate to change. As Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But how does His new way in us defeat the old? With love. Then, in each other, we can finally see Him.

In your life, what leads you to see others as enemies? What changes can you make to confront hate with Jesus’ love?

Help me, loving God, to see others not as enemies, but as Your precious people to love like Jesus does.


The challenging commands that Jesus gives in Luke 6:27–31 are clear: we’re to love, bless, and do good to others. By reading further, however, we see the rationale for these exhortations: “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (vv. 35–36). When followers of Jesus “flip the script” on hate, abuse, and selfishness, they demonstrate their kinship to their heavenly Father whose care is shared without discrimination. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1–2 carry the same sentiment: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

By |2023-03-14T02:33:19-04:00March 14th, 2023|
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Running for What Matters

Today's Devotional

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

It was impossible not to tear up at my friend Ira’s status update. Posted in 2022 only days after she’d left her home in Kyiv, the besieged capital of Ukraine, she shared a past image of herself lifting her country’s flag after completing a running event. She wrote, “We are all running to the best of our abilities a marathon called life. Let’s run it these days even better than that. With something that never dies in our hearts.” In the following days, I saw the many ways my friend continued to run that race, as she kept us updated on how to pray for and support those suffering in her country.

Ira’s words brought new depth to the call in Hebrews 12 for believers to “run with perseverance” (v. 1). That call follows chapter 11’s moving account of the heroes of faith, the “great cloud of witnesses” (12:1) who’d lived with courageous, persistent faith—even at risk to their lives (11:33–38). Even though they “only saw . . . and welcomed [God’s promises] from a distance” (v. 13), they were living for something eternal, for something that never dies.

All believers in Jesus are called to live that same way because the shalom—the flourishing and peace—of God’s kingdom is worth giving our all for. Christ’s example and power is what sustains us (12:2–3).

What examples have you seen of courageous faith? How does Jesus’ example give you hope?

Dear God, words fail me when I see Your people’s faith and courage in heartbreaking circumstances. Give me the courage to follow You like that.


What’s the role of “the great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1? We might think they’re to serve as our examples of being faithful to run the race God has called us to. However, after telling their stories and connecting their presence to the race of the Jewish believers in Jesus (and by extension to us; see ch. 11), we’re told to “run . . . [while] fixing our eyes on Jesus” (12:1–2) and to “consider him” when we’re tired and taxed by the race before us (v. 3). Our encouragement doesn’t come from those who’ve gone before us and modeled faith; we don’t look to those awaiting perfection to find courage and strength. We find our strength in Christ alone. A witness is someone who’s seen or heard or experienced something. The witnesses have already seen God’s faithfulness and testify to the need to focus on Jesus. They point us to Him.

By |2023-03-13T02:33:18-04:00March 13th, 2023|
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Friends and Enemies

Today's Devotional

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Scholar Kenneth E. Bailey told of the leader of an African nation who’d learned to maintain an unusual posture in the international community. He’d established a good relationship with both Israel and the nations surrounding it. When someone asked him how his nation maintained this fragile balance, he responded, “We choose our friends. We do not encourage our friends to choose our enemies [for us].”   

That is wise—and genuinely practical. What that African country modeled on an international level is what Paul encouraged his readers to do on a personal level. In the midst of a lengthy description of the characteristics of a life changed by Christ, he wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). He goes on to reinforce the importance of our dealings with others by reminding us that even the way we treat our enemies (vv. 20–21) reflects our trust in and dependence upon God and His ultimate care.  

To live in peace with everyone may not always be possible (after all, Paul does say “if”). But our responsibility as believers in Jesus is to allow His wisdom to guide our living (James 3:17–18) so that we engage those around us as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). What better way could there be to honor the Prince of Peace?

Where do you struggle to live at peace? How could being an intentional peacemaker interject grace into that conflict?

Loving Father, I was Your enemy and You called me friend. Enable me to be a peacemaker so I can show that same grace to others.

For further study, read Knowing God Through Romans.


It may seem odd that Paul tells his readers to “do what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Romans 12:17), especially since “everyone” includes unbelievers (vv. 14, 20). Paul is drawing from the teachings of Jesus, challenging us to treat all people well regardless of how they treat us (Matthew 5:39, 44).

But that involves being “careful,” as Paul puts it (Romans 12:17)—considering our actions carefully so as not to jeopardize the integrity and beauty of the gospel. Throughout his letters, Paul asks believers in Jesus to live well before the unbelieving world so that, in doing so, the changed lives of His followers can bear witness to His worthiness (2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Timothy 3:7).

It may feel unnatural to repay evil with kindness, but in doing so we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Himself, who gave Himself in our place while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:8).

By |2023-03-12T01:33:03-05:00March 12th, 2023|
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Musical Medicine

Today's Devotional

David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul. 1 Samuel 16:23

When five-year-old Bella was hospitalized for cancer in North Dakota, she received music therapy as part of her treatment. Many people have experienced the powerful effect of music on mood without understanding exactly why, but researchers have recently documented a clinical benefit. Music is now being prescribed for cancer patients like Bella, and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and trauma.

King Saul reached for a musical prescription when he was feeling tormented. His attendants saw his lack of peace and suggested they find someone to play the lyre for him in the hope it would make him “feel better” (1 Samuel 16:16). They sent for Jesse’s son David, and Saul was pleased with him and asked that he “remain in [his] service” (v. 22). David played for Saul in his moments of unrest, bringing him relief from his anguish.

We may only just be discovering scientifically what God has known all along about how music can affect us. As the author and creator of both our bodies and music itself, He provided a prescription for our health that’s readily accessible to all, regardless of the era in which we live or how easy it is to visit a doctor. Even when there’s no way to listen, we can sing to God in the midst of our joys and struggles, making music of our own (Psalm 59:16; Acts 16:25).

How has God used music to soothe you? How can you bring music to someone as David did to Saul?

Father, thank You for creating music and using it to soothe my heart and mind during times of struggle.


In the ancient Near East, it was common for court musicians to be hired for reasons such as entertainment or religious ceremonies. In the case of Saul in 1 Samuel 16, his attendants believed his mental torment would be eased by lyre music (v. 16). Since David was a skilled lyre player as well as a warrior (v. 18), he became both a musician and armor-bearer (the carrier of shield and weapons) for King Saul (vv. 21–23). David’s father, Jesse, sent gifts of food and wine with David (vv. 19–20), perhaps showing gratitude for the honor of having his son chosen to serve the king.

By |2023-03-11T01:33:19-05:00March 11th, 2023|
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Waters of Encouragement

Today's Devotional

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I call it the “lean to green” miracle. It’s happened every spring for more than fifteen years. Coming out of the winter months, the grass in our yard is dusty and brown, so much so, a casual passerby might believe it’s dead. Colorado has snow in the mountains, but the climate on the plains—“the Front Range”—is dry, with most warmer months full of drought warnings. But every year around the end of May, I turn on the sprinklers—not huge amounts of water but simply small, consistent waterings. And in about two weeks, what was dry and brown builds up into something lush and green.

That green grass reminds me how vital encouragement is. Without it, our lives and our faith can resemble something almost lifeless. But it’s amazing what consistent encouragement can do to our hearts, minds, and souls. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians emphasizes this truth. The people were struggling with anxiety and fear. Paul saw he needed to bolster their faith. He urged them to keep up the good work of encouraging one another and building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He knew that without such refreshment, their faith could wither. Paul experienced this firsthand, for those very same Thessalonian believers had been an encouragement to him, building him up. You and I have the same opportunity to encourage—to help one another bloom and grow.

What’s the most recent encouragement you’ve received? Whose heart could you water today or this week?

Father, thank You for the encouragement I’ve received, and help me to encourage others.


In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul answered questions about Jesus’ second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 5:1–11). He’d preached in the Jewish synagogue in the capital city of Macedonia over a period of three Sabbaths. As a result, many Jews and God-fearing gentiles believed (Acts 17:4). But the apostle’s time with the new converts was cut short when Jewish opponents dragged his host Jason and other Christians before city authorities and charged them with sedition against Caesar (vv. 5–9). Concerned, Paul sent Timothy a few months later (1 Thessalonians 3:1–2, 5). Timothy then met Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5) and updated him (1 Thessalonians 3:6). The church was doing well but was discouraged because of the persecution they were suffering (vv. 3–4). Moreover, some of the new believers had since died and other church members were confused about Christ’s return (4:13).

By |2023-03-10T01:33:10-05:00March 10th, 2023|
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Comfort on Doorframes

Today's Devotional

Write [these commandments] on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:9

As I scanned my social media feed in the aftermath of the 2016 flood in southern Louisiana, I came across a friend’s post. After realizing her home would have to be gutted and rebuilt, my friend’s mom encouraged her to look for God even in the heart-wrenching work of cleaning up. My friend later posted pictures of Bible verses she uncovered on the exposed door frames of the home, apparently written at the time the home had been built. Reading the Scriptures on the wooden planks gave her comfort.

The tradition of writing Bible verses on doorframes may stem from God’s command to Israel. God instructed the Israelites to post His commands on doorframes as a way of remembering who He is. By writing the commandments on their hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6), teaching them to their children (v. 7), using symbols and other means to recall what God commands (v. 8), and placing the words on doorframes and entry ways (v. 9), the Israelites had constant reminders of God’s words. They were encouraged to never forget what He had said or their covenant with Him.

Displaying God’s words in our homes as well as planting their meaning in our hearts can help us to build a foundation that relies on His faithfulness as revealed in Scripture. And He can use those words to bring us comfort even in the midst of tragedy or heart-wrenching loss.

When has Scripture comforted you the most? How are the truths of Scripture the foundation for your life?

Heavenly Father, thank You for Scripture that guides my path. Remind me to build my foundation on it.

Grow in your knowledge of the Scriptures.


The Jewish tradition of the mezuzah is a literal response to the instruction of Deuteronomy 6:9, which reads: “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” The word mezuzah literally means “doorpost.” A mezuzah is a parchment scroll inscribed with verses from the Torah, rolled up, and inserted into an ornamental case or tube that’s attached to the doorpost of a Jewish home. The verses contained in that holder would include Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and 11:13–21—texts that remind the Jewish people of their spiritual responsibilities toward God while declaring to the world that the residents are committed to living out the beliefs and practices of Judaism. Some mezuzahs are attached to the right-hand doorframe at a slant, a compromise between two ancient Jewish schools of thought regarding how the mezuzah was to be presented—an acknowledgement of the value of multiple perspectives in life.

By |2023-03-09T01:33:10-05:00March 9th, 2023|
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God’s Powerful Presence

Today's Devotional

The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng. Psalm 68:11

In 2020, celebrations marked the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Old photographs show marchers with banners emblazoned with the words of Psalm 68:11: “The Lord giveth the word. The women that publish the tidings are a great host” (asv).

In Psalm 68, David describes God as the One who leads the oppressed from their captivity (v. 6), refreshing and renewing His weary people from His bountiful riches (vv. 9–10). In this psalm’s thirty-five verses, David references God forty-two times, revealing how He’s constantly been with them, at work to rescue them from injustice and suffering. And a mighty throng of women proclaim this truth (v. 11).

Whether the women who marched for voting rights fully understood all that Psalm 68 was declaring, their banners proclaimed a timeless truth. God, the “father to the fatherless” and “a defender of widows” (v. 5), goes out before His people leading them to places of blessing, refreshment, and joy.

Be encouraged today, remembering that God’s presence has always been with His people, and in a special way with the vulnerable and suffering. As in the past through His Spirit, God is still powerfully present with us today.

How have you experienced God’s care during a difficult struggle? What encouragement does that bring you?

Father, thank You for Your constant presence in my life, guiding me and fighting for me when I face suffering and injustice.


Psalm 68 is one of David’s psalms that doesn’t provide a historical context. As a result, scholars speculate as to what prompted him to pen its words. Some say it’s a song commemorating his conquering of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5)—the Jebusite city he would make his and Israel’s capital. Others see the language more symbolically, referring to when David brought the ark of the covenant—representing the presence of God, Israel’s true and great king—into Jerusalem (ch. 6). Clearly, the song’s lyrics speak of God’s repeated rescues of His people in the past and celebrates those deliverances (Psalm 68:20). Still other scholars see in these references a call to spiritual renewal and a return to walking with the God of their rescue. In the very least, the king is calling on the people to celebrate Israel’s God as their true king.

By |2023-03-08T01:33:12-05:00March 8th, 2023|
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Never Too Far

Today's Devotional

When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:32

Raj had trusted Jesus as Savior in his youth, but soon afterward, he drifted from the faith and led a life apart from God. Then one day, he made the decision to renew his relationship with Jesus and go back to church—only to be scolded by a woman who berated him for being absent for all these years. The scolding added to Raj’s sense of shame and guilt for his years of drifting. Am I beyond hope? he wondered. Then he recalled how Christ had restored Simon Peter (John 21:15–17) even though he’d denied Him (Luke 22:34, 60–61).

Whatever scolding Peter might have expected, all he received was forgiveness and restoration. Jesus didn’t even mention Peter’s denial but instead gave him a chance to reaffirm his love for Christ and take care of His followers (John 21:15–17). Jesus’ words before Peter disowned Him were being fulfilled: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). 

Raj asked God for that same forgiveness and restoration, and today he’s not only walking closely with Jesus but serving in a church and supporting other believers as well. No matter how far we’ve strayed from God, He’s always ready not only to forgive us and welcome us back but also to restore us so we can love, serve, and glorify Him. We’re never too far from God: His loving arms are wide open.

What fears might you have about turning back to God? How can knowing His heart of forgiveness help you to return to Him?

Father, thank You for Your endless mercy and patience with me. Thank You that I can trust in Your everlasting love.

For further study, read Walking Free: Overcoming What Keeps Us from Jesus.


Jesus warned Peter that Satan had asked permission to test him and that he would falter in his faith (Luke 22:31–34). When Christ was arrested, all the disciples fled. But Peter and John had a change of heart and followed Jesus to the high priest’s house and were allowed to enter because John was “known to the high priest” (John 18:15–16). In the courtyard, Peter mingled with the high priest’s servants. There he crumbled under pressure and denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54–61). Years later, Peter warned us: “Be alert . . . . Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

By |2023-03-07T01:33:13-05:00March 7th, 2023|
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