Friday, February 15, 2019

Teach Me to Number My Days

Today's Reading:
1 Kings 7:1-51
1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Psalm 90:1-10
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 90:2-6, 10, 12
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning- 6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. - - - 10 The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. - - - 12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Insight:
Psalm 90 is attributed as "A Prayer of Moses the Man of God." Moses knew a lot about life and death. He had seen many of his people die as slaves in Egypt, and even as they were delivered from bondage, he saw many of them die in the wilderness during their forty-year sojourn before entering the land God had promised. Though he lived a long life, he was acutely aware of its brevity in the big picture of God's creation, God's plan, and the history of God's people. He knew that in order to be wise, a person must understand just how ephemeral life is.

Response and Action:
My life is short. I will commit each new day God grants me to honoring him. Today, I will seek him with my whole heart. Today, I will strive to serve him. Today, I will treasure his Word. Today, I will surrender my life to the call of Christ Jesus. Today, I will love my neighbor. Today, I will hold up every goal, action, attitude, responsibility, and relationship to the light of God's will.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teach me to number my days, that I might present to you a heart that is wise. Remind me that every day I have is a gift from you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 4:13-15
13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Resources: 
Make Your Job a Calling
by Bryan J. Dyk and Ryan D. Duffy

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Parts in the Body

Today's Reading:
1 Kings 5:1-6:38
1 Corinthians 12:1-26
Psalm 89:46-52
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 12:14-18
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Insight:
People in the body of Christ—the Church—have different gifts, serve different purposes, and meet different needs. Our place and purpose is arranged by God to accomplish God's intent for each individual and for the entire community. There is no need for competition, envy, or pride. Each person, each member of the body, should be content to be what she is and to do what he has been made to do. This is how we support the greater community, find our own fulfillment, and glorify God.

Response and Action:
I need to discover, develop, and exercise the gifts God has given me. I shouldn't envy others for what they are and do. I shouldn't despise or diminish what I am or what I can do. I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good things God has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). Every member of the body is needed. By finding and doing my part, I support and serve the health and life of the whole body. I benefit others and others benefit me

O God, you have fearfully and wonderfully made me. You know the purposes you have for me and the gifts you have given me. Help me, as I seek you with my whole heart, to discover my gifts and to understand how I can use them to serve your will. Give me good things to do and the heart to do them. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:4-5
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Resources:
Christly Gestures: Learning to Be Members of the Body of Christ
by Brett P. Webb-Mitchell

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Discerning Heart

Today's Reading:
1 Kings 3:3-4:34
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalm 89:38-45
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Kings 3:7-10
7 "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

Insight:
God forgave David for his grave sins in the affair with Bathsheba, but scandal, violence, infidelity, and power struggle plagued his kingdom for the rest of his life. Eventually, his son Solomon, whose mother was Bathsheba, became the heir to David's throne. His succession was challenged, but Solomon finally prevailed and reigned over Israel's most glorious days as a united kingdom.

Early on, Solomon recognized that being the King of Israel was more than anyone could do in their own strength and understanding. He humbly asked God to grant him the wisdom needed to lead. His commitment to walk in the ways of his father David, and his quest for wisdom, served him well. God's blessing was upon him and the nation of Israel flourished.

Response and Action:
I recognize that my life is bigger than my ability to live it. The privileges, responsibilities, relationships, and struggles are more than I can face in my own strength and in my own understanding. I need wisdom from God, the strength of the Holy Spirit, and the hope that comes through faith in Christ.

I will seek wisdom through prayer, through Scripture, and through godly counsel. I will humble myself before God and look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and transformation. I will trust in the Lord Jesus, walk in his ways and hold to his teaching.

O God, show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Resources:
Discipleship of the Mind: Learning to Love God in the Ways We Think
by James W. Sire

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

David's Throne Established Forever

Today's Reading:
1 Kings 2:1-3:2
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalm 89:30-37
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 89:34-37
34 "I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. 35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—and I will not lie to David— 36 that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; 37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”

Insight:
God's covenant with David ensured that there would always be a descendant of David on the throne. Someone from the lineage of David would reign forever. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of this covenant promise.

Response and Action:
Jesus is the fulfillment of God's faithful promise. He is the Eternal King, the Son of David. I will yield to him. I will submit myself to his authority over my life. He is Lord!

Our Father, who fills the heavens, holy is your Name. We long to see your kingdom come—your will lived out on earth as in heaven. Give to us, we pray, the bread we need this day. And forgive the debts we cannot pay, just as we forgive our debtors. Lead us away from temptation. Deliver us from evil. For the Kingdom is yours alone—the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Acts 13:16-23 
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 23 From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised."

Resources:
Jesus According to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels
by Darrell L. Bock

Monday, February 11, 2019

Seeking the Good of Others

Today's Reading:
1 Kings 1:1-53
1 Corinthians 10:14-33
Psalm 89:19-29
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

Insight:
Some things a person may be free to do, with a clear conscience before God, may not be beneficial. Sometimes it is wise and righteous to give up a freedom. It's not enough for a person to consider whether something is legally permissible; one must also determine whether or not such actions would be beneficial.

Christians must consider how exercising their freedoms will impact the lives of others. Before claiming a right, we must consider whether or not the exercise of that right will be beneficial or detrimental toward ourselves and toward others.

Response and Action:
Instead of merely considering whether something is legal or allowable, I will consider whether or not it is helpful. Some things are not right to do, even if they are not wrong or sinful in and of themselves. Actions must be evaluated in the context of community.

Instead of asking if something is wrong, I will ask if it is beneficial. I will consider how my actions are likely to be helpful or hurtful. Some freedoms and rights are worth setting aside if doing so will make a positive impact in my own life or the lives of others. Pursuing holiness is more important than exercising freedoms. Being a source of blessing is always better than clinging to rights.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light. Grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving we receive; it is in pardoning, we receive pardon; it is in giving that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 14:19-21 
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Resources: 
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Running to Win the Prize

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 23:24-24:25
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13
Psalm 89:14-18
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Insight:
Paul uses the metaphor of running a race to describe the Christian life of discipleship, holiness, and mission. The Christian life has a goal, and it requires effort, training, and self-control. With this in mind, Paul says that he runs with: 1. DIRECTION - He is not aimless; 2. DISCIPLINE - He exercises control over his body and his actions; 3. DILIGENCE - He is in the race for the long run and his eye is on the prize at the finish line.

Response and Action:
Christ has called me to a life of discipleship--serving and honoring God, becoming more like Jesus, and sharing in the work and mission of Jesus. This Christian life will require no less focus, effort, training, and self-control than that of a runner who is competing to win a race.

I must keep my purpose before me at all times (direction). I must be very intentional and make every effort to establish patterns and practices in my life that move me toward my goals (discipline). I must be persistent and perseverant. I will keep my eye on the finish line, realizing that my goals are lifetime goals (diligence).

O God, help me to run my life's race with direction, discipline, and diligence. Show me the ways I should go through your word and by your Spirit. By your grace and power, help me to live with discipline and self-control. Help me to do the things that help me grow stronger in Christ. Uphold me and encourage me that I might be faithful and diligent as I follow Jesus all the days of my life. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 12:1 
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Resources: 
The Spirit of the Disciplines
by Dallas Willard

Reading Schedule for February 10-16


SUNDAY
2Samuel 23:24-24:25
1Corinthians 9:19-10:13
Psalm 89:14-18

MONDAY
1Kings 1:1-53
1Corinthians 10:14-33
Psalm 89:19-29

TUESDAY
1Kings 2:1-3:2
1Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalm 89:30-37

WEDNESDAY
1Kings 3:3-4:34
1Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalm 89:38-45

THURSDAY
1Kings 5:1-6:38
1Corinthians 12:1-26
Psalm 89:46-52

FRIDAY
1Kings 7:1-51
1Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Psalm 90:1-10

SATURDAY
1Kings 8:1-66
1Corinthians 14:1-17
Psalm 90:11-17

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Leaders Who Have Reverence for God

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 22:1-23:23
1 Corinthians 9:1-18
Psalm 89:9-13
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 23:2-4
2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. 3 The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, 4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.’

Insight:
For all of King David's failings, the saving ballast of his life and rule was his reverence for God. David was honest about his sin, his violence, his selfishness, and his transgressions. Here in his final words, David declares that the success of any king or kingdom is rooted not in military power, wealth, resources, or political acumen, but rather in reverence for God. Here at the end of his life, David acknowledged that any true success he had experienced was by the grace of God, not his own strength.

Response and Action:
Reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the key for success in life and any endeavor. I think David's final words were right on track. When a king rules in the fear of God, then his reign is like the light of dawn on a cloudless morning. When a king has reverence for God, his leadership is like the spring rains the make the grass and crops grow.

I will seek God. In humility, I will look to God for wisdom and direction. I will follow Jesus, believing that he is the fullest and most visible expression of God. I will read and meditate upon the scriptures. I will humble myself before God believing that my success and joy are in his hands. Reverence for God and faith in his Son form the sure foundation for my life.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me a humble spirit and a contrite heart. Show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Through Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 3:17-18 
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Resources:
Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship
by David Peterson

Friday, February 08, 2019

Careful about Freedoms

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 20:14-21:22
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Psalm 89:1-8
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 8:1-2; 9-12
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. - - - 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a  stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Insight:
What a person knows, understands, and believes has a direct relationship with what that person can or cannot do with a clear conscience. Some Christians, with a clearer knowledge and understanding of truth, may have freedoms that others do not. They must, however, exercise those freedoms with sensitivity and care toward others--Christian or not--who do not share them.

Knowledge that results in carelessness toward others is not wise or Christ-like. Real and mature knowledge is always more concerned with the interests of others than with the exercise of personal freedoms.

Response and Action:
I need to pursue truth and wisdom. The more I know the truth, the more the truth will set me free. My freedoms must always be lived out with reverence for Christ and concern for others. I must guard against knowledge that is blind to the interests of others. I must avoid pride and live with humility. I will not sin by exercising freedoms in ways that are hurtful or destructive toward others.

Lord God, Help me to grow in knowledge and understanding. I want to live in the freedom that comes from a knowledge and understanding of truth. At the same time, Lord, I want to live the truth in love. Give me a sensitivity and awareness of the needs and views of others who may not fully understand what is true or may not have the same freedoms. Give me a love and concern for others that tempers and guides my actions. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 14:12-13 
12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

Resources:
Revolution of Character: Discovering Christ's Pattern for Spiritual Transformation
by Dallas Willard and Don Simpson

Thursday, February 07, 2019

When the Darkness Closes In

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13
1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Psalm 88:10-18
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 88:16-18
16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. 17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. 18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.

Insight:

Psalm 88 begins with the words: "LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry." The Psalmist acknowledges faith in God's power to save, but also expresses frustration with the feelings that God may not be listening. The combined impact of feeling overwhelmed by life and feeling ignored by God is deadly to a person's emotional and spiritual wellness. So the Psalmist pours out his lament and complaint to God.

This bold and honest expression of doubt is surprisingly also an expression of faith. The psalmist's faith in God's goodness, justice, and compassion is what gives him the confidence to be honest and direct in his prayer. If God is who the psalmist believes him to be, then there is freedom to speak honestly about doubts, fears, and frustrations. He wants to be a friend of God, but right now the darkness seems closer to him and more real than God.

Response and Action:
Life is overwhelming and frustrating. I believe in God, but there are many times when the silence and darkness engulf me. Instead of retreating from God in these times, I will boldly and honestly pour out my heart to God. I will tell God when I am frustrated and confused. I will complain and cry out when I feel abandoned or unheard. It is only people of faith who talk to God about their doubts.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Do not be far away from me, O God. Give me a deep and unshakable sense of your presence. Sustain me in times of trouble. Strengthen my faith in times of doubt. Be my light and my closest friend when the darkness closes in. In your compassion and mercy, be patient with my complaints. By your grace, calm my heart. By your Spirit, guard my heart and mind with the peace of Christ. Be my heart's wellspring of deep and abiding joy, and dispel the shadows of despair. Abide with me and graciously make me able to abide in you. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: John 16:33b 
33b "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Resources:
Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Marriage: Belonging to Each Other

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 18:1-19:10
1 Corinthians 7:1-24
Psalm 88:1-9
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Insight:

Remaining unmarried is a good thing, but it is not advisable for people with strong sexual needs and desires. People must be realistic about their sexuality and the temptations they will face in a sexually immoral culture.

Marriage is the God-given context for sexual activity. It is the sacred context for the fulfillment of sexual needs. Husbands and wives must take sexual intimacy very seriously—caring for each other and considering themselves to be one flesh.

Husbands and wives may, by mutual consent, agree to refrain from sexual activity if it serves a higher spiritual purpose, but even that must be approached as a temporary situation. A healthy sexual relationship in marriage strengthens the relationship and serves as a deterrent to sexual immorality.

Response and Action:
I am a married person. I must treat my wife with loving respect and care. Our marriage is a sacred and committed context for sexuality. Even within marriage, there may be times where spiritual formation and ministry needs may require a season of sexual abstinence. This must be mutually agreed upon. My wife and I belong to each other. Our healthy intimacy strengthens our belonging and safeguards against sexual immorality and temptation.

Lord God, I thank you for the gift of marriage. Help me to love, cherish, and honor my wife. Thank you for this special relationship, and thank you for making it a sanctuary for loving intimacy in a world filled with sexual sin. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 5:3 
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.

Resources:
The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle
by Mike Mason

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Flee Sexual Immorality

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 17:1-29
1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Psalm 87:1-7

Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 6:13b-20
13b The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Insight:

Sexual immorality is a product of fallen humanity. The human body is not meant for immorality. The body is intended for glorifying God. God raised Jesus from the dead and by that same power he can raise us from our fallen condition. Sexuality is a very deep part of the human self. That makes it a very dangerous form of sin. Once it takes root in our bodies it is very difficult to root it out, and its impact upon our whole person can be devastating.

We need to think of our bodies as a temple--a holy place for the Holy Spirit to live. We bring honor to God by caring for our bodies and making sure they are used for holy purposes.

Response and Action:
I must avoid sexual immorality. I must recognize the danger sexual immorality poses to my whole self. I need to honor God with my heart, mind, and body. I need to draw upon the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to rise above my vulnerability and the sexual sinfulness of my fallen world, recognizing that God's power and grace can raise me up. God is the creator of sexuality, and so it follows that if it is to be a blessing to me, and an honor to God, I must acknowledge and heed God's boundaries and purposes for sexuality.

O God, lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Give me the wisdom and the will and the strength to do what is right. Help me to honor you with my heart, my mind, and my body.
Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 5:3 
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.

Resources:
On the Meaning of Sex
by J. Budziszewski

Monday, February 04, 2019

Relationship and Accountability

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 15:23-16:23
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Psalm 86:11-17
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Insight:
Corinth was famous for sexual immorality. The church there would certainly have had to deal with a wide variety of sexual issues as people were coming to God through faith in Christ. How does the church extend grace and hope to all people—all sinners—and still hold up a standard for holy living?

The case in 1 Corinthians 5 was one of incest. A man was having a sexual relationship with a woman who was or who had been his father's wife. The church was evidently proud of how tolerant they were, thinking that non-confrontation would be the gracious, Christian thing to do. Paul counters this attitude in no uncertain terms. The problem seems to be that the man claimed to be a Christian, but didn't see his sexual behavior as inconsistent with this claim.

Paul says that Christians need to take holiness and morality very seriously because Christian fellowship should be moving people toward maturity and holiness. Sin must be seen as sin if it is to be dealt with. A "toleration" that turns a blind eye toward sin and a deaf ear to Christ's call to holiness is a form of tolerance that denies the need for change and the possibility of transformation.

Response and Action:
I need to pursue holiness and take sin seriously in my life. I also need to take it seriously when I see it in the lives of my Christian friends. To tolerate open and defiant sin in my life or in the lives of my Christian friends would be to ignore the calling of Christ and the resurrection power he offers for our transformation. We must recognize sin in our lives, repent of this sin, and work together toward holiness by the grace of God.

O God, help me to be honest about sin in my life. Help me to be honest and loving with my Christian friends about the sins I recogniz
e in their lives. Help us all to humbly turn to you for the power we need to change. Help us to graciously receive the gentle corrections and admonitions we extend to each other. Help the Christian community I'm a part of to be both loving and straightforward in a spirit of gracious accountability and support. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Resources:
Restoring the Fallen: A Team Approach to Caring, Confronting & Reconciling
by Sandy Wilson, Paul Friesen, Virginia Friesen, and Larry Paulson

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Restoring the Banished

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22
1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Psalm 86:1-10
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 14:14
14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

Insight:
Joab's elaborate ruse to convince David to show mercy to his son, Absalom, is very interesting. Why is this type of approach so prevalent in the stories about David? Was David difficult to confront? Did he not take criticism well? Was he so feared even by those closest to him? Whatever the reason, the words Joab put in the mouth of the woman from Tekoa were effective and David was persuaded (even though he saw through the scheme).

The woman's description of God—"he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him"—may have reminded David of his own words of repentance (Psalm 51) he offered up to God after his sin with Bathsheba"Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:11-12)

Response and Action:
I praise God for devising ways to save the lost, welcome back the banished, and restore the estranged.  I will praise God for the hope and peace he extends to all who follow Jesus—peace with God, peace among people, and peace of heart and mind. I will make every effort to live at peace with all people, restore relationships, and rebuild the broken.

Thank you, O God, for your gracious and restoring love toward me. Help me to likewise be gracious to others
. Thank you for the peace and restoration you extend through Christ. Help me to live in that peace and to live out that peace. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Resources:
Rebuilding Your Broken World
by Gordon MacDonald

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Reading Schedule for February 3-9


SUNDAY
2Samuel 14:1-15:22
1Corinthians 4:1-21
Psalm 86:1-10

MONDAY
2Samuel 15:23-16:23
1Corinthians 5:1-13
Psalm 86:11-17

TUESDAY
2Samuel 17:1-29
1Corinthians 6:1-20
Psalm 87:1-7

WEDNESDAY
2Samuel 18:1-19:10
1Corinthians 7:1-24
Psalm 88:1-9

THURSDAY
2Samuel 19:11-20:13
1Corinthians 7:25-40
Psalm 88:10-18

FRIDAY
2Samuel 20:14-21:22
1Corinthians 8:1-13
Psalm 89:1-8

SATURDAY
2Samuel 22:1-23:23
1Corinthians 9:1-18
Psalm 89:9-13

Dark Stories of Sin and Salvation

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 13:1-39
1 Corinthians 3:5-23
Psalm 85:8-13
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 13:20-22
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, "Has that Amnon, your brother, been    with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Insight:
Some portions of the Bible are deeply disturbing. Today's reading exposes David's family for the dysfunctional mess it was—a mess that rivals any horror story you could point to in the news today. In this one horrific chapter, we see the house of David engaged in incest, premeditated sexual assault, misogyny, denial, aiding and abetting, injustice, vengeance, and murder. Yikes. So much for reading the Bible for inspiration and heroes to emulate!

Evil is nothing new. The unfolding drama of God's plan to redeem and save humankind is a long, tragic, and messy story. Sin isn't just a problem for humanity; it's an addiction.

It's no wonder the story of our salvation culminates with Jesus dying at the hands of those he came to save. It's why the cross, an instrument of death and violence, has become ironically the symbol of salvation and love. The cross is not just a reminder of Jesus' love and sacrifice, it's a reminder of the violence, death, hate, and sin he came to save us from.

Response and Action:
The first step toward salvation is to recognize the sinfulness of the human heart and the need to be saved. I need to recognize the sin in my life. I need the forgiveness, deliverance, and power of God to turn away from sin. I cannot be saved from sin if I refuse to recognize it and fail to turn away from it. I need to embrace the hope, the life, the direction, the grace, and the transformation only Christ can give me.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, I ask you to lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 6:22-23
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Resources:
Never Beyond Hope: How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People
by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom