Mary Magdalene: First Apostle

 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:17–18 (ESV)

To Read: John 20:1–18

Biblical Synopsis: Mary Magdalene stayed by Jesus’ side during his death and burial. After he was risen, she found his tomb empty and assumed his body had been stolen. But Jesus appeared to Mary near the tomb and told her to proclaim the good news of his resurrection! Read more

Euodia & Syntyche: Co-laborers in the Gospel

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. — Philippians 4:2–3

To Read: Philippians 4

Biblical Synopsis: Paul met the believers of Philippi during his second missionary journey, and he wrote the Epistle to the Philippians to thank them for their generous support and encourage the church concerning practical matters. In the final chapter he commended several people including Euodia and Syntyche. Read more

Huldah: Truthful Prophetess

So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. — 2 Kings 22:14 (ESV)

To Read: 2 Kings 22

Biblical Synopsis: Josiah, known as Israel’s last good king, reigned for 31 years during a period of rest before the Babylonian exile. Part way through his reign, a priest found the Book of the Law in the temple and brought it to him. Upon hearing the words, Josiah tore his garments and asked the priests to inquire of the Lord concerning the words. These men of God sought advice from Huldah the prophetess, and she helped bring about reform in the nation of Israel. Read more

Anna: Proclaimer of Christ

familyAnd coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.— Luke 2:38 (ESV)

To Read: Luke 2:22–38

Biblical Synopsis: Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord in accordance with the Mosaic law. Simeon, a man in the temple, took the babe in his arms and blessed him. Afterward, they met the pious woman Anna, who gave thanks and spoke of the Redeemer to all who would listen.

Application for Today: Anna’s story, encompassing only three verses, doesn’t give many details to her life. We don’t hear how she met her husband, or if she had any children, or even what she said. Read more

Shepherds: First Guests to the Manger

shepherdAnd they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. — Luke 2:16 (ESV)

To Read: Luke 2:1–20

Biblical Synopsis: As shepherds watched their flocks, an angel appeared with news of great joy over the Savior’s birth and a multitude of angels sang glory to God. They made haste to see the newborn king making known the angel’s report.

Application for Today: Many in the ancient world despised these low men on the totem pole (cf. “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”; Gen. 46:34). But there is also a sense in which the term “shepherd” engenders great respect. Many of Israel’s revered forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David—claimed the trade of sheepherding. God himself is also described as a shepherd to his people (cf. Ps. 23) and Jesus as the “good shepherd” who “lays down his life” (John 10:11). Read more

Esther: Courageous Queen

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” — Esther 4:14 (ESV)

To Read: Esther 4

Biblical Synopsis: After the dismissal of Queen Vashti, King Xerxes chose a beautiful, Jewish girl as his new queen. Not knowing the new queen’s nationality, Haman—advisor to the king—devised a plan to destroy all the Jews. Esther’s adoptive father urged her to speak out on behalf of her people.

Application for Today: Queen Esther had many desirable qualities. After all, you don’t get the position of queen without at least a few notable traits. But God had more in store for Esther than she could possibly imagine. Read more

Hannah: Humble Petitioner

prayingFor this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.
— 1 Samuel 1:27–28 (ESV)

To Read: 1 Samuel 1

Biblical Synopsis: Hannah was anguished and afflicted because she was barren and made fun of by her husband’s other wife, Peninah. Out of “bitterness of soul,” Hannah prayed to the Lord begging for a son and vowed to give the son back to the Lord. Read more

Deborah: Mighty Leader and Mother of Israel

“. . .Deborah arose as a mother in Israel.” — Judges 5:7 (ESV)

To Read: Judges 4–5

Biblical Synopsis: Deborah served as a judge and prophetess during a period when judges ruled over Israel. As the narrative unfolds, she becomes a key military leader giving orders to Barak and signaling when the battle would begin. She held the position of highest authority in Israel and was honored with the title “mother of Israel,” as a sign of respect signifying her leadership over the whole nation. Read more

Moses: God’s Chosen Leader

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” — Hebrews 11:24–25 (ESV)

To Read: Hebrews 11:23–28; Exodus 3–4

Biblical Synopsis: When Pharaoh ordered his guards to throw the Hebrew baby boys in the Nile, Moses’ mother put him in a basket and placed it in the river hoping for a miracle. The Princess found him and adopted Moses as his own but allowed Moses’ mother to nurse him until he was weaned. As an adult, Moses sided with his biological clan and led the Israelites out of Egypt in the great Exodus. Read more

Miriam: The First Prophetess

 I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. — Micah 6:4 (ESV)

To Read: Exodus 15:19–21

Biblical Synopsis: Exodus records God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt through 10 grueling plagues followed by the destruction of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. In response, the Israelites praised the Lord and Miriam, the prophetess, led the women in public worship with tambourines and dancing. Read more