Daily Bible Reading follows along with the passages discussed in the current teaching series. If you're jumping into the middle of a series or just prefer to read here instead of receiving a daily email, we hope this page is helpful to you.

If you’re part of a group, write down what God is saying to you through his word and share in your weekly discussion. You’ll get the most out of this if you read the verse several times throughout the day, and write down what stands out to you along the way.

(Not in a group yet? We can help you with that. Sign up for a group at your campus here.) 

Slow Down.

Psalm 34:8-9:
"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need."

James 1:19:
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."

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Throughout this series, we’re going to be taking on weekly challenges together, all revolving around our words. There’s no question our words have meaning, but many of us drift through our days not considering why we say the things we do or the power words have.

Before we can get serious about how we should speak, though, we have to get still enough to listen. This week, your challenge is to slow down and listen. Listen to God, listen to others around you, and listen to yourself.

Week one challenge: slow down and listen.

Is the tree bad?

Matthew 12:33-34:
"A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, the fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say."

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Have you ever wondered what it's like to be on the other side of your words? Have you asked friends and family how you make them feel? A tree isn’t nourished by its own fruit, but others are. In the same way, we should use our words to care for those around us. Consider what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your comments, observations, questions, and criticisms.

Take it a step further. Ask one or two people who live everyday life with you to give you some honest feedback: a coworker, roommate, spouse, or friend. Do others leave your presence better or worse? Do they feel encouraged or beaten down? Are they overwhelmed or lifted up? Fight any urge to get defensive. Just listen.

Week one challenge: slow down and listen.

What's in your heart?

Matthew 12:35-37:
"A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

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Now that you’ve taken some inventory and asked people to be honest with you, reflect today on the power of your words. Ask yourself:

  • What’s in my heart that’s spilling out in my words?
  • How are others receiving you?
  • Are your words building up or tearing down?
  • What am I going to do about it? 

Listen to your answers. Let them guide how you speak.

Week one challenge: slow down and listen.

Just show up.

1 Corinthians 3:1-7:
"Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 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 for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building."

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In the age of information, it's easy to believe growth is a result of more consumption. The availability of life hacks, wisdom, and advice have turned us into content junkies, but reading and studying don't always lead to growth. What information are you intaking? What seeds are you planting, and are you asking God to help the seeds grow?

Today, pay attention to what’s filling your mind most: words of others, or words from God? Half the battle of spending time with God is just showing up for it. Open his word and read it. Ask God to open your eyes and give you ears to hear from him.

Week one challenge: slow down and listen.

Whatever is good.

Isaiah 55:8-12:
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry."

"It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!"

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In this passage of Isaiah, God makes a promise: when you listen to his word and do what it says, it will never return void. Time spent in his word is never, ever wasted.

The apostle Paul emphasized this to the church in Philippi in Philippians 4:8. He said, “From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.”

Choose today to reflect on Jesus’ and his word. What would it look like for you to focus on his truth today in all things? Listen to his voice, and respond to his leading.

We're wrapping up our week one challenge to slow down and listen, but it's an important part of using our words well. Take it with you, and get ready to face a new challenge next week!

Figs and grapes.

Luke 6:43-45:
"A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart."

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The Greek word for “bad” in this verse can also translate as rotten, or diseased. In other words, if your heart is rotted out and diseased, your words will eventually reflect what’s going on in your heart. We can only hide for so long. One produces what one is.

This week in Daily Bible Reading, we’re going to find what’s in the root system. Be aware: when you start digging for the root, you might not like what you find, but uncovering the dark parts of our hearts will produce better fruit. When we bring what’s hidden into the light, true transformation can begin.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and get honest before him about the junk going on inside your heart. If it’s ever going to be redeemed, it has to be uprooted first.

Week two challenge: be honest.

Built on a foundation.

Luke 6:47-49
"I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins."

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When we build a foundation on Christ, our hearts are broken by sin—we know how good grace is because we know how deep our sin goes.

If you’ve got something that doesn’t belong in a secure foundation—a wobbly sense of identity, someone you’ve not forgiven that keeps you stuck in bitterness, or a sense of entitlement that leads you to sin—confess it today. Ask God to help you take one step toward his mercy, grace, and compassion.

We can’t build a house until we’ve set a firm foundation, one built entirely and only on his grace.

Week two challenge: be honest.

Motivated by something.

Psalm 141:3
"Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips."

Proverbs 12:18-19
"Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed."

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Whether we realize it or not, we're all motivated by something. Spend time today reflecting on what motivates your words. Do insecurity or fear cause you to exaggerate when telling stories or lie to cover up the truth? Does jealousy or envy lead you to gossip or spread rumors about others?

Solomon said it best: truthful words will stand the test of time, and the words of the wise will bring healing. Take note of how often you’re tempted to make yourself look good, tell a white lie, or embellish on a story, and what that reveals about where your real security lies.

Be confident in who God is, and trust that he keeps his promises.

Week two challenge: be honest.

Seek to understand.

Proverbs 1:5
"Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance..."

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This verse in Proverbs reveals a real key to wisdom: humility. Wise people are self aware enough to know they don’t know everything. In fact, they grow wiser the more they listen. Are you known for being a good listener? Do you seek to understand or just to be understood?

As we continue to dig down to our roots, you might notice your pride swelling up. We’re always letting our voices be heard, opinions fly, and our criticisms run wild, but imagine what might happen if we added some humility to the soil of our hearts.

Today, consider another’s point of view. Seek out someone with a different opinion—you might just learn something new. Uproot your pride a little, and stop trying always to be right.

Week two challenge: be honest.

Quit complaining.

Philippians 2:14-15
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

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Grateful people don’t complain or argue—have you noticed? Of course, grateful or not, people are still people, and we all have our moments. But if we were grateful for all God has done in our lives, if we were thankful for each day, if we remembered what Jesus has done for us, don’t you think it would be hard to find something to complain about?

Shining like a bright light in this world requires a thankful heart. Take a look at how much you complain or spark a disagreement today. Be honest with yourself, and consider how you can root your words in gratitude.

Being honest isn't only about telling the truth—it's about getting a clear look at your heart and facing up to all the good and bad you find there. This weekly challenge might be wrapping up, but honesty is a lifelong journey.

Death or life.

Proverbs 18:20-21
Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Romans 3:10
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.”

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This week is all about how we can use our words to speak life. We’ve assessed our hearts, examined our motives, taken inventory of how our words harm. Now let’s talk about how they can speak life.

Take some time today to write down the names of 10 (that’s right, 10!) people you want to give some encouragement—not just a, “You’re awesome!” or “Keep going!” but a purposeful, thoughtful, specific word just for them. Tell them who you see them becoming, why what they do matters, and what they mean to you personally.

If it feels awkward, that’s a sign that this is a foreign assignment to you. That’s okay! You have to start somewhere when it comes to encouraging others. Push through the weirdness and follow through. You’ll be amazed by the results.

Week three challenge: speak life.

Call each other up.

Proverbs 16:20-24
Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11
Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

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When we decide what words to use, we get to decide what kind of people we’re going to be. We get to choose how we’re going to spend them.

Do you want to remind people of who they are in God’s eyes, or who you think they should be according to your truth? Are you speaking words of freedom or words of shame and ridicule?

What keeps you from speaking life to others—fear, insecurity, busyness? Don’t buy into any of it. Your words can bring life. Use your words well today, and use them on purpose.

Week three challenge: speak life.

You have what you need.

Proverbs 18:4
Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.

Colossians 3:12-15
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

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You don’t need the perfect phrase or most eloquent word to encourage someone. God has equipped you with everything you need. Just by walking with Christ, you have constant access to as much compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience as you want or need.

Let the peace of Christ guide your heart today as you continue to use your words for good.

Week three challenge: speak life.

Wind in the sails.

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

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Can you think back to a time when someone spoke words of life over you when you needed them? When did someone believe in you before you even believed in yourself? How did the delivery of those words change you?

Remember that today as you encourage others. You might be giving them the wind in their sails they need to keep going or see their circumstances in a new light. Don’t be stingy with encouragement—give it freely, and give it often.

Week three challenge: speak life.

Make the most.

Colossians 4:5-6
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

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Think today about those you know, interact with, and love who don’t know Christ. What kind of Jesus do they know (or not know) because of your conversations? Do you represent Jesus as one who is kind, loving, gracious, and powerful? Or as judgmental, stingy, rude, and annoyed?

Make the most of every opportunity today, and look back at your list of people to encourage you made on Monday. Have you encouraged everyone on your list? What have you learned from this exercise?

Fit together perfectly.

Ephesians 4:15-16
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Psalm 25:5
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

John 17:17
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.

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The apostle Paul paints a beautiful picture of what the church can look like when everyone uses their words for good—the whole body fits together perfectly.

Pray today for this to be true of our church. Pray that we would speak the truth in love to one another, growing more and more like Christ.

Week four challenge: speak truth in love.

It's not about us.

Ephesians 4:14
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

John 8:32
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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According to a recent Barna study, 91% of Americans believe that “the best way to find yourself is to look within yourself.” And while that sounds like a sweet sentiment, it’s not at all the message of the gospel. God is perfect, we are not, and our hearts and minds can only be at rest when surrendered to him.

The truth of the gospel is that this life is not about us, but about Jesus. We have to fight to keep our focus on God’s truth, not our own, especially when it shifts our ways of thinking.

Today, get honest about where you’ve wanted this life to be about you instead of Jesus. Before you can speak the truth in love to others, you have to first see it for yourself. Then let his life-changing truth that he’s sufficient, all-powerful, loving, and all-knowing set you free to grow.

Week four challenge: speak truth in love.

This is genuine.

Colossians 2:13-15
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Romans 12:9-10
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

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What do you think it means to, “Love each other with genuine affection…”? Is there anyone you’ve only been pretending to love lately? Think of a way you could honor him or her—send a thoughtful text or note, pick up a special treat, or find time to spend together.

Week four challenge: speak truth in love.

Too much of one.

Romans 12:14-18
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

John 1:14
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

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When we’re growing in truth, love will come naturally. We’ll find it for those who can’t return it, for happy people and sad people, for people who have much and people who have less. These words from Paul beg us to be peaceful.

Jesus is also called the Prince of Peace. He was full of truth and love, but we tend to lean on one or the other. Some deal out heavy doses of truth and call it “tough love”, while others never confront sin with truth.

You might identify with one over the other, and that’s okay—you’re human. Speaking truth in love will require you to consider both in new ways, but if you don’t see peace as a result, it may be a sign that you are too heavy on one or the other.

Week four challenge: speak truth in love.

Fitting for followers.

Romans 15:5-7
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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If you’ve ever heard someone express their dislike for apple pie, Chevrolet, or baseball, you’ve likely also heard (or said) something like this: “That’s unAmerican!” In other words, it’s fitting for Americans to enjoy those things, and if you don’t, you must not be a true American. It’s a silly notion, but consider this question—what is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus?

Here are just a few Paul lists:

  • Patience
  • Encouragement
  • Unity
  • Acceptance

As we bring a close to this focus on our words, consider how patient and encouraging you are. If you are united in Christ and accepting of others, your words will reflect him. Focus on Jesus, and your words won’t be far behind!

We can't earn it.

Romans 5:6-11
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

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God gave the Israelites his law as a way to be in right relationship with him, but the Israelites, like the rest of us, failed to be able to obey his law perfectly (they had over 613 laws)! Then Jesus came on the scene and told them that he was the fulfillment of the law—that he was the perfect law-keeper. It would have been a huge adjustment for them, met with skepticism and doubt. For someone abiding by the religious law, grace would have seemed too good to be true. That’s why grace is such a prevalent theme in the apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament. It was a whole new way of living.

Grace often feels unfair, because it is. Grace feels unmerited because it is. We push against it because we can’t earn it on our own. As Paul wrote to the Romans—while we were still Christ’s enemies, we were saved through the life and death of Jesus. Through his redemption, we can be at rest: he loves us, cares for us, and we’ve done nothing to earn it.

Rest in this truth today, and when you find yourself trying to earn God’s acceptance or love, stop and thank him for his grace.