Rewind 2,700 years and come with me to the ancient Near East, where good and bad kings rule—as they’ve done for half a millennium—over Israel and Judah. The people blindly and foolishly follow their kings instead of obeying God’s Law. So, God sends Gentile armies to adjust their priorities.


After decades in frightening exile, God’s people finally return to their peaceful land. But once they return, they tragically neglect godly rest and reflection; tolerate religious corruption; turn a blind eye to injustice; pursue greed, and marry those who worship false gods.

“Malachi” means “my messenger.” And indeed, God sends the people a message through a prophet with a three-step legal argument: The plaintiff (God) raises the charge. The defendant (Israel) pleads ignorance. The plaintiff (God) provides evidence of offenses.

The name of God found throughout the book of Malachi—“Lord Sabaoth”—means “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Repeated multiple times, the name emphasizes the very greatness they are missing in their everyday lives. But in a touch of sad irony, the Almighty says he sees a day when the “nations” will succeed, where his chosen people now lack in following him.

“But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world, they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Mal 1:11)

God’s people then, as today, were called to offer their love to him and be a light to the world—resulting in all the nations knowing, loving, and serving the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

God promised them, “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Mal. 4:2)

Four hundred years later, Jesus Christ laid down his life as the perfect sacrifice. And many have sacrificed to tell us his story.

Thank the God of the nations that you are loved and pursued by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And go and tell of his love!

I recently helped my parents pack up my childhood home. Full of emotions, we looked through old memorabilia, including my mom’s beautiful china. I’ve secretly hoped to inherit this beautiful set someday, so I bravely asked my mom. To my surprise, she said yes!

We then had to box it up for its trek across the country. We used so much bubble wrap to pack every delicate dish. Then, to assure it all arrived intact, my parents flew with the box in a suitcase surrounded by padded foam. It was a huge ordeal

We put so much work into this china. However, do you want to know how I packed their coffee mugs? I stacked them, threw a towel on top, and taped the box shut. And don’t even get me started on all the disposable cups my mom had. We just threw those on top of the heap of boxes!

What was the difference between all these cups? Their value.

Disposable cups are just that, disposable. If a coffee mug breaks, there are several others to take its place. But handcrafted china from 40 years ago? That is irreplaceable and valuable.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 shares this very sentiment.

“In a wealthy home some utensils are made of silver and gold, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”

We’re challenged to keep ourselves pure and ready for the Master’s good work.

People may label you as disposable or replaceable, or you may even place that value on yourself. However, you are so valuable. Why? God chose no other person to be you, but you! He personally created and crafted you to share His love with those around you.

So today, I ask you to think of the most precious item you have and know that God thinks of you as so much more valuable than it. You are His unique gift to the world. We are so blessed to have you!

When I mention Eve’s name, what automatically comes to your mind? Her deception and fall? Her foolish conversation with the serpent, or her confession, “The serpent deceived me, and that’s why I ate it” (Genesis 3:13)? In some quarters, that is all we ever hear about Eve.

But, thankfully, it’s not the end of her story. The Lord’s response to her confession of sin wasn’t judgment or even condemning silence. It was a promise of new life, a life that would bring victory and turn Eve’s confession of her sin into an opportunity to demonstrate mercy. Eventually, Jesus, the perfect Son, will mend everything broken.

Amid all Eve’s sorrow over her sin, Eve believed God. How do we know? When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” (Genesis 4:1). Look at that.

Here is our flawed mother, proclaiming her faith in God. She had had a son “with the Lord’s help.” She believed that she was still beloved and God had granted her new life. And, that’s not all we hear from her. We don’t know how much time passed between Cain’s exile, Abel’s murder, and Seth’s birth (Genesis 4), but here Eve is again, confessing both the devastating realities of her world and her ongoing trust in her Father. “God has granted me another son in place of Abel, whom Cain killed” (Genesis 4:25). Twice she confesses her trust in God. Twice she proclaims profound theology: God is sovereign, and people are responsible for their actions. Twice she tells us that we, too, can persevere.

When you think of Eve, do you recognize her as a wise theologian, full of great faith, persevering through the crucible of intense fire? Eve’s story is good news as she encourages us to see all of our life under the watchful eye of a loving Father. Eve gives us the courage to confess his faithfulness, as the God who gives good gifts and who helps us in our grief.

And Eve speaks to me: I can believe that God is good enough to use all my weakness and sin to glorify himself, and I can speak it to others—even to my own doubting heart. Take courage.

Recently, while my fingers danced on my keyboard, I was about to finish an important document, and suddenly, my computer froze. Nothing worked. My muscles tightened. I feared all my work was lost.

“Cindi, I don’t know what’s wrong,” I wrote to my wise friend.

“Sometimes,” she answered, “this can happen when you have too many windows open.”

Ugh! In life, we do that. We open too many windows.

If our kids go in the wrong direction, we open the window of worry. As our bank account dwindles, we open the window of anxiety. After the doctor’s office leaves a message, “Both of your parents tested positive for Covid,” we open the window of anguish.

And rushing through those windows of negative emotions, the tornado of fear invades our lives. Fear that we’re losing control. Fear that God is distant and aloof. Fear that we’re on our own to face the mess.

Decades ago, I visited that messy place. At age 31, a retinal disease robbed my sight aggressively, completely, and with no expectation of regaining it again.

That’s when I opened, not just a window, but a colossal patio door of self-pity. “Why Me?” I asked over and over again. “What will I do blind? How could I care for my 3, 5, and 7-year-old sons?”

Jesus was gentle to come to my rescue amid those fearful questions. He knew my pain and saw the tears on my pillow. In the silence of the night, He heard my sobs.

That’s when he reached down with his hand of compassion and whispered, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105).

His Word was my Light. And he continues to be. With the eyes of my heart, I see a new life. I see fresh, colorful horizons as joy dances in my soul.

Join me in that dance because, in your darkness, He promises you the same. You may not be facing physical blindness. However, whatever window of adversity is opened in your life, God longs to guide you through, help you see, and end your sobs when you’re ready.

When you choose to let him close the window of negative emotions and embrace his relief, fear has no place. His peace comes back and joy begins.

As we near the summer, because of your prayers and your generous gifts, we have already recorded four of the remaining 21 books of the Old Testament!

God is powerfully using her.BIBLE in the lives of college women. Here are some of their encouraging responses:

Faith excitedly shared:

I absolutely love her.BIBLE because of how simple and easy it is to use. Being able to open it up and within seconds be listening to the Word of God read by strong, amazing women brings me so much joy.

The quality is fantastic, and I especially love how each female narrator has a different, unique voice that shows the diversity which God has created us with! her.BIBLE is such a wonderful way to dive into Scripture daily!

Taylor reflected: Most women resonate with other women better, having that heart to heart connection, so I think having a woman tell you to “Be strong and don’t be afraid” or “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” may make them more likely to actually believe it.”

After a painful relationship with a man in authority, Kate exclaimed: This is such a good idea! I feel like it would definitely be helpful for women who are less likely to listen to a male voice because of their bad experiences.

Because of you, her.BIBLE is bringing the Word of God to life with an engaging multi-ethnic women’s narration of the New Living Translation. We are encouraged to see young women like Faith, Taylor and Kate dive into God’s Word and connect with the Lord through comforting women’s voices.

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us by sponsoring a chapter?

There are only 17 books left to complete! By giving $270, you will empower us to produce the next chapter. You can give online here at  www.give.cru.org/0967201.

Thank you for your consideration. Keep watching for more Old Testament books on our website!

Grandmama,” she says,

Unearthing a photo of me when I was sixteen,

Her blue eyes sparkling,

Blonde hair floating about her shoulders,

Sunkist cheeks flushing pink,

“You used to be beautiful then!” “Then?” I think. “Then?”

But say instead, “you think so?”

“I know so!” she says in that definitive little way of hers

As if she has the world figured out–Daring it to deviate from her determined point of view. “Then?” I think, but do not say. “Then I was beautiful?”

“What do you know of beauty?”

Me at sixteen,

An unlined, unblemished face In an artificially arranged

Studio with soft lighting? I tell you, my girl,

I am more beautiful now than I ever was,

With my soul worn down, smooth and resilient,

Like the soft blue jeans you always wear,

Like supple leather pounded with rubber mallets

From worries I could not stop

And storms I couldn’t control

Soothed only with the peace

Of God’s presence

And friendship

And empathy. I am more beautiful now than I ever was.

If I were a rose I would be a Queen Elizabeth

Full of scent and elegance.

If I were a tree I would be a towering redwood

With roots that go deep.

If I were a voice,

I would be a whispered caress.

If I were a stone, I’d be the solid foundation of a home.

I am more beautiful now than I ever was.

I am enduring, I am weathered,

Rounded as river stones from a swift current,

Hammered, hammered flat as silver

By my mistakes and

Erroneous judgments,

Tempered by tragedy,

Softened by storm,

Kneaded by need

To the Potter’s pliable clay. If I thought you’d listen,

I’d tell you the way to become beautiful

Would be to let the storms rage,

To fix your hope on the lighthouse,

Shining in the worst of weather,

And to let life’s arrows pass through Your quivering body

Knowing He will heal you,

Even when you think it is impossible.

Though you would hear

You would not listen,

For these are the lessons

You must teach yourself. Have you ever smelled a scarlet rose the very day

Before the petals fall?

Eaten a peach at its ripest,

Juice dripping down your chin?

Tasted a wine

Mellowed to perfection?

This is the fullness of time, my dear.

I am there

And I am beautiful.

A scandalous scene was unfolding at Simon the Pharisee’s dinner party. A prostitute had crept in and was crouched, weeping at the feet of Jesus. As her tears mingled with her emptied-out perfume, making trickles in his dirty feet, she wiped them with her hair and kissed them clean.

“If this man were a prophet,” Simon thought to himself, “he would know what kind of woman is touching him.” (Luke 7:39). Since Jesus was a prophet, he answered Simon’s thoughts with a story.

“If a man forgave two debts—one for 500 pieces of silver another for 50—which debtor would love him more?” He asked.

Jesus used this comparison story to reveal the true comparison story happening at Simon’s table.

The first debtor is the woman. She has sinned greatly, and contrary to Simon’s supposition, Jesus knows it. Yet, he sees her sin as forgiven. Here at his feet is a daughter of the kingdom, who will one day dance—forgiven and clean—on streets of gold!

But who’s the second debtor? It’s Simon. In his story, Jesus places the Pharisee and a prostitute side-by-side as two sin debtors who cannot pay. Obviously, Simon sees it differently. His condescending disgust reveals his elevated sense of superiority, as he sees himself as a judge. Yet he has misjudged both the woman and Jesus!

By offering no kiss, no foot washing, and no anointing oil, Simon has just snubbed the only One who can forgive his sin. And the woman, with her extravagant love, has rightly elevated Him.

Friend, are you lifting yourself up as a judge with your condescending disgust toward others? Or are you crouched low at Jesus’s feet—a woman who is forgiven and clean?

“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 33:34

Is there a person in your life who is difficult to get along with?

I know there is in my life. They have hurt me in so many ways that it affects my character. Sometimes, I wonder if they harm me on purpose or if it’s just second-nature for them.
Jesus, hanging on the cross, looked down and saw soldiers — the ones who had beat and ridiculed Him and who ultimately nailed His hands to the beam. They were gambling to see who could get His only possession: His bloodied clothes.

In that moment, Jesus’ character — who He was — rose above unimaginable pain. Seeing beyond the rough exterior of foreign, dirty soldiers, Jesus peered deep into their souls. He saw their pain from the past. He also saw their pain in the future. It all hinged on His forgiveness.

Would He be able to forgive these men? Would He be able to take on the sin of not only these people but of all humankind? Would He take on my sin? Even in His weakened and vulnerable state, Jesus did not give into anger, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, or revenge.

 

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” he pleaded, requesting forgiveness from His Father, who had the power to rain down fire on the soldiers. In that moment of human weakness, Jesus didn’t sin. He gave unselfishly of Himself and His rights to grant others something they didn’t deserve: forgiveness.

Do I still struggle to forgive? You bet I do! But just as Christ forgives those soldiers and me, I have the choice to look at the person who hurts me every time they wrong me and think, “Father, forgive them, for they really don’t know what they are doing.”

Pray and Respond
Who is the person or past situation that is difficult for you to forgive and what is something Jesus has forgiven you for? Pray that Jesus will give you the grace to forgive your difficult person, just as He has forgiven you.

Have you ever poured out your heart before the Lord? “Downhearted, deep anguish, crying bitterly” are the emotions of the childless woman, Hannah, which opens the book of 1 Samuel. The writer declares, “God has closed her womb.” Elkanah, her loving husband, fails to understand her while his other wife mocks her.

Her emotions erupt during a pilgrimage to the house of the Lord. Can you feel the weight of her longing? It is palatable. Hannah’s faith is displayed as she takes her emptiness to God. Feeling overwhelmed, her lips move to pray, but her weary heart has no sound. She is assumed drunk. In raw honesty, Hannah sighs, “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” God hears. God remembers. God gives Hannah a son. (1 Samuel 1:15b)

In a worshipful response, Hannah again bares her soul before the Lord. This time her words are recorded. (1 Samuel 2:2-10) Her prayer’s focus is not on the gift of her son, Samuel,  but upon the goodness of the Giver Himself. Affirming God’s unchanging nature, Hannah proclaims God’s future promise of redemption, for his people.  

She exclaims that God opposes the proud and exalts the humble. (2:3-4) God is at work in the world despite chaos and evil. (2:9) God will send a king. (2:10) Through Samuel, God transitions Israel to a monarchy. This monarchy is a shadow of an eternal kingdom. God promises King David, whom Samuel anointed, an everlasting throne. Through David’s line, a king will come to rule and reign with all the goodness of God himself.

Centuries later, another mother responds in worshipful prayer, echoing the words of Hannah. (Luke 1:46-55) God visits humble Mary, giving her a son. Through this Son, all of God’s promises to Israel are completely and finally fulfilled. He is the long-awaited King from the line of David to rule forever. What Hannah knew in part is now known in full. 

May our hearts worship with hers as we pour out our own longings before the Lord.

Did you know that some of Jesus’ closest followers were women?

Mary Magdalene, from whom he cast out seven demons, was the first person to witness his resurrection!

You can watch Magdalena, the true story of Jesus told through Mary’s eyes and see how Jesus treated the women of his day.

You have a special place in God’s heart today too!

 

God, Do You Really Care About Me? 

I hope you enjoy the retelling of the life and ministry of Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. As you watch the film, you will see that in the beginning Eve was the crowning touch and grand finale of God’s creative masterpiece – fashioned to complete the picture of mankind created in the image of God.

When Jesus entered the world on that starry night in Bethlehem, His first cry echoed the heart cries of women through the centuries. Women led secluded lives. They were not allowed to talk to men in public, testify in court or mingle with men at social gatherings. They were uneducated, unappreciated, and segregated in the social and religious life of their communities.

Jesus saw women hidden in the shadows behind lock and kay and flung the doors open wide with the truth to restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden. With honor and respect, Jesus healed women spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

It is easy for us twenty-first-century readers to view Jesus’ interaction with women as somewhat ordinary, but it was radical in every sense of the word. He spoke to women publicly, taught them openly, ate with them freely, and treated them respectfully. In a culture that kept women tucked away in the recesses of the home to be neither seen nor heard, Jesus pulled them from behind the scenes, positioned them front and center, and shone the spotlight of His divine love and calling on their lives. As the curtain of the New Testament rises, women fill the stage and take starring roles as God’s grand drama of salvation unfolds.

As you consider each woman Jesus impacted, I pray you will write your name into the script and experience Him as never before. You are precious to God. Your name is written in the palm of His hand.