Friday, September 22, 2017

Such Great Faith!

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 28:1-29:35
Luke 6:39-7:10
Psalms 10:1-11
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 7:9-10 
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

I love the story of the centurion and his amazing faith. His faith was so complete that even Jesus "was amazed at him." He wanted Jesus to heal his servant, but didn't need Jesus to come to his house. He didn't even need to see Jesus face to face, but instead sent friends to make his request.

He had such faith in the authority of Jesus that he only needed Jesus to "say the word." If Jesus declared his servant healed, that would be enough. He would simply take that word as true and expect his servant to be healed.

Response and Action:
I would like to amaze Jesus with my faith. I would like to have such confidence in his power and authority that I am satisfied to make my needs known to him. No matter what my circumstances or needs are, I will ask Jesus to simply say the word and trust in his power. I will also trust in God's goodness and purposes, believing that he also has the authority to deny my requests.

O God, my faith and my hope are in you, your son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that you are powerful and able to meet my needs. I believe that you are personal and that you care about my burdens and my circumstances. I believe you are persuadable—that you hear my prayers and that you are responsive to the cries of my heart. I believe that you are present with me, that you are closer than the air I breathe, that you are good and just and gracious and merciful. Help me to live with confidence that comes from recognizing and embracing your authority. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 11:6
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith and Doubt
by John Ortberg

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Decision and Destiny

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 26:17-27:46
Luke 6:12-38
Psalm 9:13-20
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 25:23
23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."

God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation. God didn't choose a nation, he chose to make a nation. He started with an old man, Abraham, and his old barren wife, Sarah. Eventually they had a son, Isaac, who's wife, Rebekah, was also unable to have children. It's as if God were making it absolutely clear that the promised nation would only exist by his provision.

God answered Isaac's prayers, and Rebekah became pregnant with twin sons. With the birth of Esau and Jacob, the story then turns to the push and pull of which son would become the heir to God's promise Abraham. Jacob was a scrambler and a schemer who wanted more than his birthright. Esau was a outdoorsman who didn't really care or value his birthright.

The story of God's promise and God's people begins in the story of two little boys who become two very different men with very different futures. Who they become and what results in their lives is very much rooted in the attitudes they have toward God, toward God's promises, and toward each other.

Response and Action:
The future of two nations began in the nursery of twin brothers. I need the wisdom to see how my future is rooted in the small things in my life today. How will my attitudes and actions today impact the future of God's promise and plan for me? How will the beliefs and choices I have right now impact my family, my church, my community, and my world. A faith and awareness of God's promises, and a commitment to pursue and value those promises, will make all the difference.

O Lord, help me to see the potential and promise you have for me. Help me to value and treasure the birthright you have given to me in Christ. Help me to trust you and follow you with all my heart. Give me a strong faith and grant me the wisdom to choose and act in accordance with my faith. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential
by Gordon T. Smith

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why Do You Eat with Sinners?

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 24:52-26:16
Luke 5:29-6:11
Psalm 9:7-12
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 5:29-32
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus was on a mission to restore and renew sinners. He spent time in the company of people who needed hope and recovery. Relationship is at the heart of redemption. A doctor cannot administer healing care without getting close to the patient. The way of Christ is not to pull away from sinners, but rather to pull sinners away from sin.

Response and Action:
I am so thankful for Jesus' saving mission toward me. I will take hold of the renewal and restoration he came to give. I will respond to Christ's call by repenting of my sin and pursuing righteousness. I will join Jesus in his redemptive mission toward sinners. I will reach out and build relationships with others in order to help them find healing and hope in Christ.

O Lord, thank you for your mercy toward me--a sinner. Thank you for coming to me as I was and as I am, because you have a vision for what I can be. Your love and mercy are life to me. In the saving name of Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Timothy 1:14-16
14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did
by Aaron Chambers

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Kind and Faithful Lord

Today's Reading:
Genesis 23:1-24:51
Luke 5:12-28
Psalm 9:1-6
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 24:26-27
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives."

When the time came for Isaac to have a wife, Abraham sent his most trusted servant to find a wife from among the kinsmen Abraham had left behind. The servant was extremely faithful to Abraham. On his journey, he displayed responsibility, focus, honesty, and faith, and he was continually in prayer. God blessed his way and gave him success.

Response and Action:
I want to be a faithful servant—faithful to God and to others. I want to approach the tasks and responsibilities God has given me with a whole heart. I need to avoid distractions, pray continually, and be faithful and honest. I want to approach my days, my tasks, and my challenges with a prayerful attitude and with eyes ready to see how God is providing.

O Lord, help me to be a good steward of all you have given me. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do. To be fruitful, faithful, and effective as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor, and co-worker. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 25:23
23 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Lord Will Provide

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 20:1-22:24
Luke 4:31-5:11
Psalm 8:1-9

Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 22:13-14
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

Abraham and Isaac believed that the God they followed and worshiped was the only true God. The devotion they had for their God was no less than the devotion the pagans around them had for their false Gods. If those worshiping pagan deities were willing to sacrifice their children to demonstrate complete devotion, Abraham was willing to do the same.

But the one true God proved himself to be nothing like the false Gods of the pagans. Those false God's were takers who demanded satisfaction. But the true God, the God of Abraham and Isaac, was and is a provider. He doesn't hurt and take away; he gives and protects.

God demands my all and asks me to lay down my life, but it is actually God who has given his Son, Jesus, to save me and give me life. Even as I surrender my all, God provides more than I have to give.

Response and Action:
Like Abraham, I want to be willing to give up anything for God. I want to demonstrate that my devotion to God is as whole-hearted as anyone else's devotion to anything else. I want to seek God above all else. I do not want anything or anyone to be a rival for my commitment to God. I am grateful that God is a giver. I rejoice that God is a giver and a provider, not a taker who diminishes me. Instead, as I offer him my all, he provides and blesses me and makes me more than I could ever be on my own.

O Lord, you are good and gracious to me. Thank you for Jesus who emptied himself for me and for all humanity. Help me to become like him in my attitudes and actions toward others. Help me to give grace more than I seek it; to love others more than I seek to be loved; to forgive others more than I ask for forgiveness; to understand others more than I seek to be understood. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 4:9-10
9 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.

How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Good News!

Today's Reading:
Genesis 18:16-19:38
Luke 4:1-30
Psalms 7:10-17
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 4:18-21 
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus came preaching the good news, which had been promised and foretold by the prophet Isaiah. It was good news of healing, freedom, justice, and restoration. More than merely spiritual, philosophical, or religious, Jesus came to bring truth and deliverance that would bring about real change, recovery, and hope in the real world.

This good news was not just for Israel, but for all people everywhere. When the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, he reminded them that they were not the first to reject someone sent by God. In fact, the abuse and rejection of the prophets was typical in their history. They became outraged when he pointed out scriptural examples of non-Jews who, unlike them, were quicker to recognize God's power and truth.

Response and Action:
I recognize Jesus as good news. He is the hope of salvation. He brings forgiveness and restoration. He offers freedom from oppression and bondage. He is the proof of God's love and favor toward humanity. I will embrace the good news that Jesus embodies. My faith and hope are in him.

Not only will I receive the good news, I will commit myself to joining Jesus in preaching and living the good news of God. As a follower of Jesus, I must commit myself to bring peace, deliverance, health, justice, life, truth, and freedom to the world around me. To embrace Christ Jesus is to embrace his agenda for the world.

O God, you are holy and loving. Your love and holiness have been gloriously lived out on earth through Christ Jesus. Thank you for the good news Jesus has brought to the whole world. Help me to follow in his steps and to walk in the power of his Spirit, that I might live and preach the same good news. Help me to be an active agent and living witness of the freedom, restoration, and hope that are in Christ Jesus. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 10:14-15
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World
by Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Reading Schedule for September 17-23

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2017-2018

Sunday, September 17 -
Genesis 18:16-19:38 / Luke 4:1-30 / Psalm 7:10-17

Monday, September 18 - 

Genesis 20:1-22:24 / Luke 4:31-5:11 / Psalm 8:1-9

Tuesday, September 19  - 

Genesis 23:1-24:51 / Luke 5:12-28 / Psalm 9:1-6

Wednesday, September 20  - 

Genesis 24:52-26:16 / Luke 5:29-6:11 / Psalm 9:7-12

Thursday, September 21 - 

Genesis 26:17-27:46 / Luke 6:12-38 / Psalm 9:13-20

Friday, September 22 - 

Genesis 28:1-29:35 / Luke 6:39-7:10 / Psalm 10:1-11

Saturday, September 23 - 

Genesis 30:1-31:16 / Luke 7:11-35 / Psalm 10:12-18

Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

Today's Reading:
Genesis 16:1-18:15
Luke 3:23-38
Psalm 7:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 18:10-14
10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?" 13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

Though Abraham and Sarah were very old and long past the age of having children. God promised them that Sarah would give birth to a son within the year. The thought was so outrageous to Sarah that she laughed out loud at the thought of it. From her limited human point of view, God's promise seemed laughable, but from God's point of view, nothing is too hard.

Response and Action:
I will trust God to keep his promises no matter how unimaginable they seem to be from my limited point of view. God can do more than I ask or imagine. I will put my complete trust in him.

O Lord, help me to believe your promises. Give me a heart that fully trusts in you. Strengthen me with power through your Spirit in me. Help me to trust you with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative
by Christopher J. H. Wright

Friday, September 15, 2017

When You Worship and Trust

Today's Reading:
Genesis 13:5-15:21
Luke 3:1-22
Psalm 6:1-10
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 13:8-9, 14-17
So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left." - - - 14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."

The account of Abram and Lot going their separate ways begins and ends with Abram building altars to the Lord and looking to God. His worship and his trust went hand in hand. Faith in God is strengthened by a life of devotion, worship, prayer, and thanksgiving.

When their families and possessions became too large to manage together, Abram offered Lot the first choice of where he would like to go. Lot seems to have grabbed for himself what he thought would be the best and most promising option. Abram trusted God to provide for him, and God did not disappoint.

Response and Action:
My time spent in worship and devotion to God will strengthen my ability to trust in him. Living out my trust in God is an act of worship. Trusting God to provide for me helps me avoid conflict and petty quarreling with others. I don't have to fight and grab for my own interests if I truly believe God is watching out for me.

O Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding. May my worship before you become the solid foundation for the way I live. Instead of clawing and grabbing for myself, teach me to trust in you for the things I need. Help me to acknowledge you in every circumstance. Make my paths straight, and help me to live in peace with others as I believe you are watching over me and will be faithful to provide for me. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs 3:5-6 
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Genesis: The Story We Haven't Heard
by Paul Carlton Borgman

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Consider My Sighing

Today's Reading:
Genesis 11:1-13:4
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 5:1-12
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 5:1-3
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Two words in this passage catch my attention today: morning and expectation. The first word speaks to practice and the second word speaks to motivation. First, morning prayers were routine for the psalmist. Making time to pray every morning was the norm. Secondly, the psalmist believed that God heard, considered, and answered his prayers. When he prayed, he prayed with the expectation that God would act--his prayers mattered.

Response and Action:
I will make regular times and patterns for prayer part of my daily life. I will make every effort to make and guard a time for prayer every morning. When I pray, I will pray believing that God hears and cares about my prayers. I will pray with expectation, knowing that somehow, some way, my prayers connect my heart, my needs, and my requests into the gracious and loving presence of God. I will lay my requests before Him.

O God, I want to know your presence and involvement in my life. I want to talk with you and to hear your voice. I need you to hear my cries and concerns. I need to know your word and to be assured of your promises. Help me to be a person of prayer. Help me to demonstrate my faith and my confidence in you by making times of quiet focus and prayer a routine part of my every day life—as normal as breathing, eating, and sleeping. Because I believe you are present, and trust in your promises, I will live and pray accordingly. Increase my faith, and help me to live each day with the awareness and expectation that true faith inspires. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 8:1-10:32
Luke 2:1-35
Psalm 4:1-8
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 2:27b-32
27b When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Simeon was a righteous and devout man who worshiped God with his whole heart, and prayed faithfully for the consolation of Israel. When he saw the baby Jesus at the temple, he recognized the hope and peace for which he had been waiting and praying. He saw in Jesus, the fulfillment of the promised salvation the prophet Isaiah had foretold.

Response and Action:
What do I see in Jesus? Do I recognize in him the hope of peace and comfort? Do I see in him the fulfillment of God's promises to save?

I believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. I believe there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father—God from God, light from light, true God from true God. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven. I believe the word became flesh and has lived among us full of grace and truth.

O God, give me eyes to see who Jesus is. Please help me to recognize him as the Savior you sent into the world to rescue me from the dominion of darkness. Show me the hope, healing, light, and life that are found only in him. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 1:10-12
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...

The Incomparable Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Every Inclination and Thought

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 5:1-7:24
Luke 1:57-80
Psalm 3:1-8
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Genesis 6:5-9
5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

We've barely gotten a start in the Bible's account of human history, and the creator is ready to start over! The wickedness of humanity had become so great so quickly that God was grieved to have created them. Noah, however, stood out among the people of his time and found favor with God. He walked with God, turned away from the evil around him, and pursued righteousness.

Response and Action:
What are the inclinations and thoughts of my heart? Do I grieve the heart of God? Do I turn away from the wickedness? I need God to flood my life and wipe out the wickedness in me. I need to be made new and walk with God in righteousness. Though evil is so prevalent, with God's gracious help and direction I can be different and pursue righteousness. Jesus Christ has made a way for me to have new life!

O Lord, I do not want to grieve your heart. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Thank you for giving me a new start through Jesus. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, please 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 8:1-2
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Monday, September 11, 2017

What Have You Done?

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 3:1-4:26 
Luke 1:26-56 
Psalms 2:1-12
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Genesis 4:8-10 
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.
Sin not only separates us from God, as we see in Genesis 3, it also separates us from each other. Sin and selfishness are so destructive to the human heart that even efforts to know and worship God can result in social strife and violence. When envy, anger, pride, and sin master the human heart, the result is conflict, hate, and bitter competition. Instead of living in harmony with each other, people become disconnected—restless wanderers fearful of others.

This animosity gets passed on from generation to generation. The strife of two brothers becomes the strife of cities. The vengeance of seven people becomes the violence and murder of seventy-seven. Only in Christ Jesus can we find the healing and grace we need to be right with God and right with others. Only with humility and surrender to God can we break the chain of retaliation and hostility that divides individuals, people groups, and nations.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize the ways sin, jealousy, lies, pride, and selfishness destroy my relationships with others. If I want to understand and overcome conflict among people (nations, families, neighbors, religions, siblings, races), I need to recognize the underlying causes of sin.

When I am in conflict with others, I will humble myself and prayerfully examine my heart and mind for sin. If I want to live in harmony with others and be a voice and influence for peace, I must seek to be right with God. I must love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength if I am to be able to love my neighbor as myself.

O 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 despair, hope; 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 that I receive, it is in pardoning that I receive pardon, it is dying that I am born to eternal life. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:17-19
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

A Just Forgiveness: Responsible Healing without Excusing Injustice
by Everett L. Worthington, Jr.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A People Prepared by the Lord

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 1:1-2:25 
Luke 1:1-25 
Psalms 1:1-6
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Luke 1:16-17 
16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
The Old Testament prophets spoke of a future hope that Israel had yet to see. This hope was more than the rebuilding of Jerusalem, more than the return of the Jews from exile, and more than the restoration of the temple. They spoke of the coming Messiah who would save his people. He would bring redemption and give new hearts. He would bring freedom and eternal life.

The coming Messiah would be announced by a special messenger who would shout, "Prepare the way of the Lord." An angel appeared to Zechariah and said, "Your son is going to be the messenger who proclaims the coming of Christ." It's exciting to see that the first words of promise in the New Testament are the fulfillment of the last words of promise of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6).

Response and Action:
I am thankful for God's unfolding story of redemption and salvation. By faith, I embrace the promises of the prophets. By faith, I believe that Jesus is God's promised Messiah. By faith, I believe that God is present in the world today, still working toward redemption and salvation. By faith, I have given and continue to give my life to Jesus. By faith, I have entered the unfolding story of redemption, and pray that God will direct and use me for his redemptive purposes as I serve and follow Jesus.

O God, thank you for your son Jesus, who for us and for our salvation became incarnate from the virgin Mary and was made man. Thank you that for our sake, he suffered death, but rose again on the third day as the victor over death. Help me to love and follow Jesus, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen. 

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Reading Schedule for September 10-16

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2017-2018

Sunday, September 10 -
Genesis 1:1-2:25 / Luke 1:1-25 / Psalm 1:1-6

Monday, September 11 - 

Genesis 3:1-4:26 / Luke 1:26-56 / Psalm 2:1-12

Tuesday, September 12  - 

Genesis 5:1-7:24 / Luke 1:57-80 / Psalm 3:1-8

Wednesday, September 13  - 

Genesis 8:1-10:32 / Luke 2:1-35 / Psalm 4:1-8

Thursday, September 14 - 

Genesis 11:1-13:4 / Luke 2:36-52 / Psalm 5:1-12

Friday, September 15 - 

Genesis 13:5-15:21 / Luke 3:1-22 / Psalm 6:1-10

Saturday, September 16 - 

Genesis 16:1-18:15 / Luke 3:23-38 / Psalm 7:1- 9

The Sun of Righteousness Will Rise

Today's Reading: 
Malachi 3:1-4:6 
Mark 16:1-20 
Proverbs 31:21-31
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Focus Verses:
Malachi 4:1-3 
1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty.

People of faith cling to God's promises of judgment and redemption. Though the wicked may prosper and the righteous may suffer for a season, God promises to one day set things straight. Believers put their trust in God's will and ability to put the world to rights. Those who love and revere God are promised healing, freedom, joy, and triumph over evil.

Response and Action:
I need to persevere in faith. I must remember God's promises to deliver and save his people. I want to live in reverence before God, and acknowledge him in all my ways.

O God, remind me of your promises and help me to persevere in life out of love and reverence for you. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Protect me from discouragement, and encourage me by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Bring me safely through this day and all the days to come. Be my hope and my life and my strength. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright