One Question, Four Answers

What passage of Scripture reveals new truths to you each time you read it?

 

Whenever we read Scripture, it also reads us, and one passage that continues to reread me is Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal son. This story of two brothers—one obedient, one rebellious—is really about the two ways we reject God. As Tim Keller once put it, one son resists God’s law, and the other son resists His grace, but the result is very much the same: Both sons distance themselves from their father’s house (vv. 13, 28).

Depending on my season of life, I relate to one son or the other. Right now, I find myself relating to the dutiful one. Like him, I'm an achiever, a rule follower, and a people-pleaser. When I look at the obedient son, I see my own legalistic heart. Thankfully, I also see a father welcoming both his children home, in spite of themselves.

—Sharon Hodde Miller, speaker and author of the upcoming book Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not About You

 

I don’t know of any passage more densely packed with practical truth than James 1. For starters, James 1:22 is the first Bible verse I ever memorized simply because I wanted to, and I still find it convicting every time I say it out loud: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Ouch.

Beyond that, the chapter covers an unbelievable range of crucial themes. There’s advice on enduring trials, finding wisdom, avoiding doubt, and resisting temptation. There’s the invaluable charge to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry—not to mention the principle that true religion is about caring for widows and orphans and keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world. The whole chapter is a gift that keeps on giving.

—Sam O’Neal, Editor of Bible Studies for Life curriculum and primary contributor for Bible.about.com

 

A person can read John 14-18 and always learn new things about God, creation, and himself. In John 14, Jesus tells us that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. In John 15, we learn that the sustaining relationship Jesus has with the Father is one that He offers to us. Like fruit on the vine, we can be close to Him and have access to all of the resources needed to flourish. Other chapters explain the sustaining relationship we have with Jesus and His desire for us to love one another. 

This is the Christian life. In a world of trouble and sin, Jesus made a way to bring us into the security of God’s kingdom. There, drawing on the resources He provides through the Holy Spirit, we can love one another with a love displayed so gloriously by Christ. Meditating on these chapters, I learn new ways to rely on God for the challenges before me. Oh, let this life be ours. Oh, let this life be mine. Amen. 

—Michael Wear, Founder of Public Square Strategies LLC and author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America

 

In Ephesians 3:16-20, Paul prays for us to understand that God’s love is wide and deep and long and high. Whatever the circumstances, His love is the strength we need; from His unlimited resources, He will give the strength we need for today. We’ve heard all about love in the movies and pop radio; we’ve whispered our hopes for it in quiet moments and have been perpetually disappointed. All the smaller, not-enough loves are feebly trying to point the way to this true, eternal love. His love was broken for us and raised up again, so the love He imparts to us cannot be broken. It’s not somewhere out there for you to acquire. It pulses in your veins; it’s written on your heart. It continually does the work, wrapping itself around you, right where you are, just as you are.

—Sandra McCracken, singer/songwriter and modern-day hymn writer. Her most recent album is God’s Highway.

 

Illustration by John Hendrix

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What happens to my notes

11 And He said, A man had two sons.

12 The younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them.

13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.

14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.

15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

17 But when he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'

20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

21 And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22 But the father said to his slaves, `Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;

24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.

25 Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.

26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.

27 And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.'

28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.

29 But he answered and said to his father, `Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;

30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'

31 And he said to him, `Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'"

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

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