Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31 - The Place of Worship

Overview of: 1 CHRONICLES

Today's Reading:
1Chr. 16:1-16; 17:1-27
"David, the Ark, and the Temple"

Focus Verses: 1 Chr. 16:8-10
8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

David was quick to praise God for what God had promised, for what God had done, and for what God was doing. Now that the nation of Israel was beginning to be united under his leadership, he wanted to make sure that the praise and worship of God was central to his reign.

He brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from the house of Abinadab where it had sat, largely ignored, during the years of Saul's reign. He envisioned building a Temple as a place of worship for God's people. It would serve as a testimony to the nations of God's faithfulness to Israel and be a place for the Ark of God to reside.

Response and Action:
David saw his life in the long context of the history of Israel and God's promises to Abraham and God's plan to redeem the world. He understood that it was necessary for worship, thanksgiving, and faith to be at the very heart of his life and his nation. I want to see and understand my life in the greater context of God's plan and promises. I want to make faith, worship, and thankfulness the foundation of all I do.

O God, help me to see how my life is connected to the lives of all the faithful believers and seekers who have gone before me. Help me to find my purpose and life in you. Grant me the wisdom and readiness to obey, serve, worship, and honor you. May my thoughts, words, and actions flow out of my relationship with you and your people. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 31:30
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

New Testament for Today: Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In Context: Romans 12

Recommended Reading:
Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts
by Harold Best

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reading Schedule for Dec. 31 - Jan. 5

Dec. 31 - 1Chr. 16:1-16; 17:1-27
Jan. 1 - Ps. 103:1-22
Jan. 2 - 2Sam. 11:1-27
Jan. 3 - 2Sam. 12:1-25
Jan. 4 - Ps. 51:1-17
Jan. 5 - Ps. 139:1-24

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through key scripture passages from Genesis through Revelation. Click here
to download your copy of the Useful Breath Reading Schedule for 2007-08.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

December 29 - For the Sake of Others

Overview of: 2 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 31:1-7; 2Sam. 1:17-27; 5:1-25
"Saul's Death, David's Rise"

Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 5:4-5,12
4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. - - - 12 And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

Saul had forgotten how and why he had become king in the first place. Instead of seeing his role as a means to bless others, he was obsessed with holding on to power and position for himself. The nation of Israel was in disarray by the time of Saul's death. There were divided loyalties and sharp political differences. The divisions were so intense that it was necessary for David to conquer the capital city in order to establish his reign.

One of the things that made David so different from Saul was that he understood “that the Lord had established him as king over Israel." He recognized the he had been placed in the position of king, not for his own glory or because of his own merit, but rather "for the sake of the people of Israel."

Response and Action:
How do I think about my successes and accomplishments? Do I pat myself on the back, or do I see that it is the Lord who is blessing and granting success? Do I see my victories and gifts as something for my personal gain and benefit, or do I recognize them as opportunities to serve God's purposes and God's people?

O God, give me eyes that see your blessing, guidance, and support in every success. Grant me the wisdom to see every victory and strength as a gift from you that I might serve your people and to accomplish your purposes. I ask for a humble heart and a willing spirit. Make me quick to give you thanks and ready to live my life to the praise of your glorious grace. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:2
"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."

New Testament for Today: Romans 12:3
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
In Context: Romans 12:1-8

Recommended Reading:
The Making of a Leader
by J. Robert Clinton

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28 - Making Peace

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 25:1-42
"Abigail becomes David's Wife"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 25:29-31
29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, 31 my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant."

This chapter of 1 Samuel tells the dramatic story of how Abigail became King David's wife. With Samuel's death, the conflict in Israel over who should be king, Saul or David, was bound to intensify. The powerful and rich man, Nabal, was clearly not in David's camp. Though he had profited from the protection and help David's men had given him, he insulted David by giving him nothing in return. Nabal heaped on the offenses with snide remarks like, "Who is this David?" and "I hear many men are breaking away from their masters these days."

We can tell from Abigail's words, however, that David's fame with Goliath, his military successes, and his struggles with King Saul were well-known among the people. The faith, wisdom, and decisiveness of Abigail give her a prominent place in the story of Israel (background stories about the wives of kings are rare in the Bible).

She was able take action in a very volatile situation and prevented needless bloodshed. She was articulate, shrewd, and strong. She had faith in God and believed David to be the rightful successor to the throne of Israel. She was rewarded for her wisdom by being brought into Israel's royal family.

Response and Action:
Like David, I want to have the wisdom to listen to godly advice and refrain from rash overreactions in difficult circumstances. Like Abigail, I want to have the clearness of mind and the strength of faith to take decisive actions that stop bad situations from escalating into needlessly painful and destructive situations.

O God, help me to acknowledge you in all my ways and not lean on my own understanding. Give me the wisdom to listen to sound advice. Grant me the wisdom to be able to give godly counsel to others. Give me the courage and good sense to take action when something must be done to prevent problems from becoming tragedies. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 28:26
"He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."

New Testament for Today: 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.
In Context: Romans 12

Recommended Reading:
The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27 - Established by God

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 24:1-22
"David Spares Saul"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 24:18-20
18 You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.


Saul was hunting David with the intent to kill him. Rather than recognizing that the loss of his kingship was due to his own failure and sin, Saul convinced himself that David was the problem.

The events described in today's reading illustrate how David could have easily taken Saul's life, but he would not do it. This made the situation so clear that even Saul was forced to admit that David was not stealing the kingdom away from him. God was taking the kingdom from Saul and giving it to David.

Response and Action:
Like David, I want to have the wisdom to wait on God to accomplish his purposes, especially when I am facing resistance or when there is controversy about what is the right thing to do. This kind of waiting on God is very important, not only for me, but for others around me.

If I push too hard or move too quickly in times of conflict, it may make it more difficult for me and for others to recognize God's will from our own. Like David, I want God's leading and blessing to be recognized by all concerned, even those, who like Saul, may be standing in opposition to what God is doing.

O God, help me by faith to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do. Give me the wisdom and patience to do them in ways that are clearly blessed and guided by you. Help me to be measured and righteous in times of conflict and controversy. Give me a heart that depends on you and trusts you to accomplish your purposes. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:1-2
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips."

New Testament for Today: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
In Context: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Recommended Reading:
Leadership Essentials
by Greg Ogden & Daniel Meyer

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26 - My Heart Says, "Seek"

Overview of: PSALMS
Today's Reading:
Psalm 27:1-14
"A Psalm of David"

Focus Verses: Psalm 27:7-8
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.

David was determined to seek God. It wasn't just his need or external circumstances that caused him to seek God; his heart also told him to "seek God's face!"

Response and Action:
I will seek God with all my heart. I do not want to be a person who seeks God only in times of need. I want a heart that desires to draw near to God so that I am ready for difficult situations. I will seek God through prayer, through the Scriptures, through fellowship with others who seek him, and through every true and beautiful thing in the world around me.

O God, help me to seek you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Show yourself to me through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Give me the desire and delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 26:12
"Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him."

New Testament for Today: Luke 11:9-10
9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
In Context: Luke 11:1-13

Recommended Reading:
Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

December 25 - Waiting and Trusting

lMerry Christmas!l
Overview of:

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 23:7-29
"Saul Pursues David"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 23:13-14
13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there. 14 David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

Samuel had anointed David as King of Israel but King Saul would not let go of his power and position. Instead of humbling himself before God and relinquishing his throne, he pursued David with the intent to kill him.

Hundreds of soldiers gathered around David in his support and defense. Even Jonathan, the son of King Saul, acknowledged David's rightful ascent to the throne. But rather than fighting or attacking Saul, David waited on the Lord. He trusted God to defend him and to raise him to the position of King in God's time and in God's way.

Response and Action:
Sometimes it's hard to wait on the Lord. God's promises can seem very far away from my present circumstances. I will take David's example to heart when I am tempted to give up or to just try to make things happen in my own strength and in my own way. I will do my best to be faithful in the difficulties of today, trusting that God will sustain me and keep his promises. I trust God to lead and provide for me in his own way and in his own time. I also trust that his way and his time are best for me, and the best for accomplishing God's will.

O God, teach me your ways; show me how to best deal with the troubles and problems I face. Don't let me be overwhelmed or defeated by lies, by enemies, or by hardships. I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in my lifetime. I tell my heart and soul, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Help me to press on through Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:28
"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."

New Testament for Today: Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
In Context: Titus 2

Recommended Reading:
Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson

Monday, December 24, 2007

December 24 - True Friends

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 20:1-42
"David and Jonathan"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 20:16-17
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the LORD call David's enemies to account." 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

Jonathan's affection and loyalty for David are a beautiful example of what friendship can be for those who humble themselves before God and walk with integrity. Jonathan could have easily seen David as a threat to his future, his standing, his prospects and his birthright. Instead, Jonathan accepted that David was God's choice to be the next king of Israel. Because Jonathan and David were both committed to God and trusted in him, they were able to pledge their trust and loyalty to each other.

Response and Action:
I want to be a good friend. By seeking God with my whole heart and living according to his word, I will find the wisdom, integrity, and humility I need to be a good friend. I am thankful for the many good friends God has brought into my life. I will pledge myself to being a blessing to them.

O God, I thank you for the friendship Christ Jesus has extended to me. Help me to know him, follow him, and trust him so completely that I am able to be a Christlike friend to others. Teach me to love others as Christ has loved me. I pray through Jesus, my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 24:26
"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips."

New Testament for Today: 1 John 4:11-12
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
In Context: 1 John 4:7-21

Recommended Reading:
Spiritual Friendship
by Mindy Caliguire

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reading Schedule for December 24 - 29

Dec. 24 - 1Sam. 20:1-42
Dec. 25 - 1Sam. 23:7-29
Dec. 26 - Ps. 27:1-14
Dec. 27 - 1Sam. 24:1-22
Dec. 28 - 1Sam. 25:1-42
Dec. 29 - 1Sam. 31:1-7; 2Sam. 1:17-27; 5:1-25

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through key scripture passages from Genesis through Revelation. Click here
to download your copy of the Useful Breath Reading Schedule for 2007-08.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

December 22 - Against the Wall

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 19:1-24
"Saul's Wickedness"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 17:45-47
18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah"; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied.

King Saul's heart and mind had become so dark and wicked he was up against the wall in every area of his life. Spiritually he was distant from God. Relationally he had become paranoid and distant from his family and friends. Emotionally he was a mess with manic mood swings. Politically he had become a tyrant whose only ambition was to hold on to his power and position. He had become a very sad and pathetic man.

When Saul sent soldiers to capture and kill David, God intervened. Instead of taking David, they found themselves involuntarily singing and shouting with a group of prophets. So Saul sent more soldiers, but when they arrived, they too were involuntarily caught up in the prophesying. When Saul finally went himself to get David, but was struck down by the Spirit and began to praise God instead of hurting David. The more Saul tried to hurt others, the more he hurt himself. His struggle against God and others was utterly self-destructive.

Response and Action:
Spiritual failure results in the loss of self, truth, relationships, purpose, and hope. I do not want spiritual failure to result in life failure. I will turn to God because he is the very source and hope for what my life is meant to be. I will draw near to God because that is how to grow into the person I want to be. I will seek the Lord with my whole heart because my relationship with God makes possible the relationships I long to have, and the love I want to experience. Spiritual growth is absolutely essential to every aspect of my life.

O God, 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. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Help me find myself, my purpose, and my all in you. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:5
"In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them."

New Testament for Today: Ephesians 4:22-23
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
In Context: Ephesians 4:17-32

Recommended Reading:
The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
by David G. Benner

Friday, December 21, 2007

December 21 - Facing Giants

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 17:1-54
"David and Goliath"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 17:45-47
45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

The young David did not have the size, strength, or military experience of a soldier, but he had reverence for God and faith in God's power. He spoke defiantly against Goliath with great boldness, believing as he did that the battle was not something to won by might, but by the Lord.

Response and Action:
The challenges and threats I face in life must be faced by faith in God. My well-being and victory over troubles is something that only God can provide. When I trust in God's power to save and deliver, I can face hardship and challenge with great boldness.

O God, give me the faith to face giants. When the problems and hardships of life are more than I can bear, grant me a heart that trusts in you so completely I am able to stand firm. Help me to remember that victory is not by might or power, but by your Spirit. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:30-31
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD."

New Testament for Today: 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
In Context: 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Recommended Reading:
David: Developing a Heart for God (12 Studies for Individuals or Groups)
by Jack Kuhatschek

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20 - Following the Shepherd

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalm 23
"A Psalm of David"

Focus Verses: Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

What a blessing it is to be shepherded by the Lord! He provides for my needs - "I shall not be in want." He leads me to places that are good and pleasant - "green pastures" and "quiet waters." He saves and keeps me - "he restores my soul." He shows me what is best - "he guides me in paths of righteousness." He stakes his reputation on how well he provides and cares for me - "for his name's sake."

Response and Action:
I will look to the Lord to provide for my needs. I will trust him to lead me to what is best for me. When I fall or when I am lost, I will count on him to save and restore. I will follow his lead and pursue righteousness. I will strive to honor the Lord and bring glory to his name.

O God, be my Shepherd. Lead me by the truth of your written word. Guide me in the steps of your Son, Jesus. Save me by the gracious gift of the cross of Christ. Restore and renew me by the resurrection power of the Spirit. Equip me for every good work through the useful breath of Scripture. Teach me to sing your praise. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 20:24
"A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?"

New Testament for Today: John 10:14-15
14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
In Context: John 10:1-18

Recommended Reading:
Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19 - Get Going

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 16:1-23
"Samuel Anoints David"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 16:1
1 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."

There are many interesting things in today's reading. Most of the times I’ve read this chapter, it seems like “the anointing of David” or “Saul's tormenting spirit” grab my attention. But this morning, my wife and I were talking about this text and she shared a wonderful insight from the very first verse.

Samuel had been mourning Saul's demise and corruption, knowing that God had rejected him as king and would no longer bless or help him. One day, God told Samuel to quit looking at the past and mourning what would not change. He said, "Get up, get your anointing oil, and get going. I have chosen a new king!"

Response and Action:
Sometimes it's tempting to just mourn the failures and losses in life. There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to get up and get going. If we just mourn the past we won't be able to move forward into God's redemptive plan for our future. Today, I want to get up and consider God's anointed plan for what is ahead. I will open my eyes and my heart to new possibilities. I will trust that God's blessing and redemptive power is greater than my past or my failures.

O God, help me to get up and to get going today. Life is draining and difficult and it's so easy to let the past drag me down. Save me from the pessimism of always looking back, O God. Don't let the failures and sin of yesterday blind me to the promise of today and the blessing of tomorrow. Help me to seek you with all my heart. Encourage me by your Holy Spirit, through your Word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:21
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

New Testament for Today: 1 Peter 1:13
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
In Context: 1 Peter 1:3-21

Recommended Reading:
Hope Has Its Reasons: The Search to Satisfy Our Deepest Longings
by Rebecca Manley Pippert

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December 18 - Failing Myself

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 15:1-29
"Saul's Failure as King"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 15:10-12
10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. 12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal."

Saul was anointed and empowered by God to serve Israel as their king. At first, Saul was humble and reluctant to enter into this role. He understood that he was utterly dependent upon God. But once Saul became king, experienced military successes, and surrounded himself with strong and brave men, he began to trust in himself. He stopped listening to Samuel. He erected monuments for his own glory. Instead of honoring God through acts of worship, he began using religious rituals as a way to bolster his own authority and importance. Saul's failure to seek God with his whole heart resulted in his failure as king.

Response and Action:
I must be devoted to God and remember that the strength and guidance I need come from him. My calling and purpose in life come from God; it is, therefore, essential that I draw near to God, be attentive to his leading, and love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Instead of trying to succeed by pushing my own agenda, promoting myself, polishing my image, and manipulating situations for my own gain, I will trust in God and seek him first.

O God, be my strength and my guide. Save me from the deception of self-reliance. Help me seek you with all my heart, to walk in your ways, and to trust in your power to provide, protect, and bless. Make me quick to obey and ready to praise you. Help me to stand on the solid ground of faith in you instead of building on the shifting sand of me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 17:24
"A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth."

New Testament for Today: 1 Corinthians 1:28-31
28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
In Context: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Recommended Reading:
Courage & Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential
by Gordon T. Smith

Monday, December 17, 2007

December 17 - Chosen for a Purpose

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 9:1 – 10:8
"Saul is Anointed King"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 9:25 - 10:1
9:25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, "Get ready, and I will send you on your way." When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the servant to go on ahead of us"-and the servant did so-"but you stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God." 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?

Saul was chosen by God to accomplish a specific purpose. Seemingly mundane events in Saul's life were used by God in order to get Saul to the right place at the right time. As a witness to Saul that he was God's choice, Samuel anointed him with oil. Then, in order to confirm his words and actions to Saul, Samuel prophesied to him about specific things he would soon encounter and experience.

Response and Action:
I want to discover God's purpose and plan for me. I believe that the simple everyday actions of my life can be used by God to lead me to the place he wants me to be at the time he wants me to be there in order to to things he wants me to do. I will trust God to show me his will and to help me to do it by the power and grace of his Holy Spirit.

O God, lead me, teach me, transform, shape and strengthen me that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Confirm your calling and purpose for my life as seek you and prayerfully apply your word each day. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:3-4
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. The LORD works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster."

New Testament for Today: Romans 12:1,2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In Context: Romans 12:1-8

Recommended Reading:
Listening to God in Times of Choice: The Art of Discerning God's Will
by Gordon T. Smith

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reading Schedule for December 17 - 22

Dec. 17 - 1Sam. 9:1 – 10:8
Dec. 18 -
1Sam. 15:1-29
Dec. 19 -
1Sam. 16:1-23
Dec. 20 -
Ps. 23
Dec. 21 -
1Sam. 17:1-54
Dec. 22 -
1Sam. 19:1-24

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through key scripture passages from Genesis through Revelation. Click here
to download your copy of the Useful Breath Reading Schedule for 2007-08.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December 15 - The Wrong King

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 8:1-22
"Israel Demands a King"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 8:6-9,19-22
6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do." - - - 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."

In Samuel's old age, the people of Israel were once again turning away from God. Even his own sons were corrupt and selfish and did not walk in his ways. Rather than seeking God or listening to Samuel, the people were sure they needed a king. They thought that would make them like other nations and fix everything. They imagined a king who would fight their battles and solve their problems. They were unwilling to heed any warning of how a king could actually make their life worse. And since they would not listen, God gave them what they wanted.

Response and Action:
How many times have I looked to something other than God to solve my problems? It is so easy to look at the world around me and think, "Maybe if I did things the way they do them, my life would be better, easier, or safer." Rejecting God and his ways, however, is never the way to go--even if God is willing to let me go that way. Getting my own way may not really be best, what I need, or what want. I will be careful to seek God with my whole heart, listen, and always turn to him first for the direction I need.

O God, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to not envy the wicked or put my faith in the ways of man. 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.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:21
"Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course."

New Testament for Today: Colossians 3:2
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
In Context: Colossians 3:1-17

Recommended Reading:
Jesus: Lord and Savior
by F.F. Bruce

Friday, December 14, 2007

December 14 - Speaking Truth

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 3:1-21
"God Calls Samuel"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 3:17-19
17 "What was it he said to you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you." 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, "He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes." 19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.

The very first call God gives to Samuel is to speak a prophetic word of condemnation to Eli the priest about the sin of his sons. From the very start of his ministry, Samuel learned that service to God would require the boldness to confront sin and to speak the truth. Whether it was to Eli, the old priest who had raised him from boyhood, or to Saul, the powerful first king of Israel, Samuel was called to point people to righteousness, integrity, and devotion to God.

Response and Action:
God's call for my life requires that I have the boldness to recognize sin and to confront it. This begins with my own life and my own family. While I am not in a position to judge or condemn others, neither am I in a position to turn a blind eye to sin and unrighteousness. God calls his people to encourage, confront, and challenge each other. He calls us to speak the truth in love and to do so in a way that saves, redeems, and restores. I will do my best to live with integrity and walk in God's ways. I will do all I can to help my family and friends do the same.

O God, teach me to walk in your ways and to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help me to encourage others to do the same. Show me the best ways to confront, support, admonish, challenge, and spur those around me to love you and follow you with undivided hearts. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:27
"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."

New Testament for Today: Galatians 6:1
1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
In Context: Galatians 6:1-10

Recommended Reading:
Restoring the Fallen: A Team Approach to Caring, Confronting & Reconciling
by Sandy Wilson, Paul Friesen, Virginia Friesen, Larry Paulson, Nancy Paulson, Earl D. Wilson

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13 - Praying and Praising

Overview of: 1 SAMUEL

Today's Reading:
1 Samuel 1:1 - 2:11
"The Birth of Samuel"

Focus Verses: 1 Samuel 2:7-8
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world.

Hannah was downhearted about being childless and prayed that God would bless her with a son. When her prayer was answered, she raised her voice in a song of praise. Her experience was a clear testimony of God's ability to raise up the poor and to lift up the needy. Her son, Samuel, would become the last and greatest of the Israelite judges. He functioned as a leader, priest, and prophet and he ushered in the era of Israel's kings.

Response and Action:
God is able to bring about great things and great leaders from humble, weak, and unexpected places. I must always remember that God can bless and use me. I will be careful to ask for God's blessings, be faithful to use those blessings to serve God, and be quick to praise God for them.

O God, bless me in ways that help me to serve and honor you. Remind me of your power and provision. Give me the courage to ask for the things I long for. Give me a heart that longs for your will. Teach me to walk in your ways and to give you thanks in all things. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:12
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

New Testament for Today: 1 Peter 5:6,7
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
In Context: 1 Peter 5:1-11

Recommended Reading:
Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 12 - Redeemed

Overview of: RUTH

Today's Reading:
Ruth 3:1 – 4:22
"Boaz Marries Ruth"

Focus Verses: Ruth 4:13-17
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Though Naomi and Ruth were without husbands and without the means to provide for themselves, they were not without hope. They found redemption through their kinsman, Boaz. He paid their debts, restored their family property in Israel, married Ruth, and gave her a son (a grandson for Naomi). This little son, Obed, would one day have a son named Jesse, who would have a son named David, who would become the great psalmist, warrior, and king of Israel.

A thousand years later, another baby named Jesus was born in the line of David. He became the kinsman-redeemer of the world. He is able to redeem us from our hopeless situation. He pays our debt, gives us a place among God's people, and makes us children of God.

Response and Action:
I will look to Jesus for redemption and restoration. My situation and needs may seem hopeless, but my Redeemer is able to save and help me. If I humble myself and ask him to cover me with his grace, he will bless me by making me his own and giving me hope for the future.

O God, thank you for sending Christ Jesus into the world to share humanity with me as a kinsman. Thank you that he is able to redeem and restore all who come to him. Thank you for making me your child, for giving me purpose, for forgiving my sin, and for freeing me from bondage to sin. Through Christ, I pray. Hallelujah! What a Savior! Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 12:3
"A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted."

New Testament for Today: 1 Peter 1:13-25
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
In Context: 1 Peter 1:13-25

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott