Monday, April 30, 2007

April 30 - Doing Good

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 138 - 140
N.T. - Matthew 12

Focus Verses:
Matthew 12:9-12
9Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" 11He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."

Psalm 140:6 6O LORD, I say to you, "You are my God." Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy.

It is always right to do good. Jesus clearly counters any suggestion that God has more concern about rituals or laws than he has for the people they are intended to help.

Response and Action:
I need to be careful to notice anytime laws are moral precepts are used as a way to stop anyone from doing what is good. God's instructions and commands are not an end in and of themselves, but instead are intended to serve the very best interests of people. When applying and interpreting the commands of scripture, I will always consider what would be the most redemptive, caring, and helpful for all involved.

O God, help me to seek you and obey you with all my being. Help me to understand your word and to be obedient to your commands. Help me to grasp the spirit and heart behind your commands in order that I might apply and obey them for the right reasons and the right attitude with the right ends in mind. Amen.

Proverbs: 30:5-6
"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."

What's So Amazing About Grace?
by Philip Yancey

Sunday, April 29, 2007

April 29 - Keeping in Step

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 133 - 137
N.T. - Matthew 11

Focus Verses:
Matthew 11:27-30
27"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Those who want to know God need to know Jesus. No one knows God like he does. He is the only one who can truly show us who God is, what God is like, what God wants, and how God leads. Walking beside Jesus -- being yoked with him -- is the way to come to know God. Just as a young ox learns how to keep in step by being yoked with an older well-trained animal, we learn by keeping in step with Jesus. Knowing Jesus and following his example and instruction for life is the sure path to knowing God and walking in his ways.

Response and Action:
I will read and study the Gospels closely to make sure I am deeply acquainted with Jesus' actions and words. I will give careful and prayerful consideration how my words and actions compare to his. I will do my best to take on his "yoke," to keep his pace, not rushing ahead or dragging behind. To walk in step with him so that I have his strength and experience sharing the load and burden of every step I take.

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my savior. My hope is in you all day long. Thank you for your son, Jesus. Help me to follow his example, walk in his ways, and keep in step with his Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs: 29:18
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law."

In the Company of Jesus: Finding Unconventional Wisdom And Unexpected Hope
by Bill Donahue

Saturday, April 28, 2007

April 28 - Lose to Find

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 125 - 132
N.T. - Matthew 10

Focus Verses:
Matthew 10:37-39
37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Psalm 126:5-6 5Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

It seems counterintuitive, but loving God more than anything or anyone, including yourself (especially yourself), is actually the best and most loving thing you can do for others and yourself. It's in losing our lives in surrender to Jesus that we find our deepest and richest self. The life I find, by loving Jesus above all else, fills me and enriches me in ways that result in my being more ready and more able to give more love to others. Jesus calls me to love him most because it prepares and teaches me how to love others best.

Response and Action:
I will put Jesus first in my life. By putting him first I hope to become the truest, deepest, and most loving person I can be. By loving him more than others, I hope to be able to love others more.

O Christ, help me to love you above all else. Help me to find myself in you. By the power and grace of your Spirit and the guidance of your word, lead teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might become more and more able to serve and love others. Amen.

Proverbs: 28:27
"He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."

The Life You've Always Wanted
by John Ortberg

Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27 - Mercy

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 120 - 124
N.T. - Matthew 9

Focus Verses:
Matthew 9:10-13
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Psalm 123 1I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. 4We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

The question: "Why does Jesus eat with sinners?" The answer: "Mercy." Religion that has lost sight of redemption is very far from what God desires. God desires mercy! Having a zeal for rules is not the same thing as having a heart for God. The whole point of identifying sin is to help sinners find redemption and forgiveness. Even the mosaic laws regarding sacrifice were intended to accomplish mercy. We’re all spiritually sick and in need of a doctor. Only the arrogant, blind to their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness, can look at the sins of others with contempt.

Response and Action:
I will lift up my eyes to God and look to his hand for mercy and redemption. I will follow Jesus' example of merciful fellowship and redemptive friendship. I will eat with sinners. I will not love religion at the expense of loving people. I will stay humble by always remembering that I am a sinner saved by the mercy and grace of God.

Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner. Thank you for the hope and healing that you offer to me through Jesus. Thank you that he emptied himself and lived among us, touching us and sharing our humanity. Help me, through the presence of your Holy Spirit, to live out the mercy of Jesus in my daily life. Help me share hope, healing, and redemption with everyone around me. Amen.

Proverbs: 27:19
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

Living Faith: A Guide to the Christian Life
by John Schwarz

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 26 - Willing and Ready

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 119
N.T. - Matthew 8

Focus Verses:
Matthew 8:1-3

When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
Psalm 119:173-176
173May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. 176I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

The leper asked Jesus "if he was willing" to heal. The psalmist hopes God will be "ready to help." The testimony of scripture is that God is both ready and willing to heal and save those who call out to him. In this chapter of Matthew, Jesus demonstrates the power of God over disease, sin, nature, mental illness, and evil spirits. He willingly speaks and his word is powerful to save. The psalmist looks to God's word (precepts, laws, commands) because the truth of God's word sustains, guides, and restores him.

Response and Action:
I am thankful that God is ready and willing to restore and save. By faith, I acknowledge that God's word is powerful to save me and truthful to guide me. I will choose God's word. I delight in the words of scripture. I look to Jesus, the good shepherd, to seek me and save me. I will seek him with all my heart and he will not let me stray from his commands (Ps. 119:10).

O God, thank you for your powerful, healing, and sustaining word. Thank you for your readiness and willingness to save all who cry out to you. Give me a heart that delights in your word and make me ready and willing to follow you. Help me to grow in faith and confidence as I walk in your ways. Amen.

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

Transforming Bible Study:
Understanding Scripture Like You've Never Read It Before
by Bob Grahmann
How Can I Ask God for Physical Healing?
by David J. Smith

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25 - Standing on Stone

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 115 - 118
N.T. - Matthew 7

Focus Verses:
Matthew 7:24-27

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
Psalm 118:8, 21-23

8It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. - - - 21I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 23the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Life is filled with struggles and hardships. To not be swept away, we all need something firm and strong to anchor and shelter us through the storms of life. Jesus says, "My words, my teachings, are a solid rock on which to build your life." This is an amazing claim, but I have seen it validated in the lives of many people and experienced it myself. The Psalmist was right when he said, "Better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." It is better to follow Jesus and build a life on him than to build on the unstable sand of my own inclinations or other views that deny or contradict him.

Response and Action:
I will follow Jesus and build my life upon his teaching and his example. I will devote myself to knowing his words. I will meditate upon his every word -- his stories, his commands, his warnings, his rebukes, his prayers, and his promises. I will commit his words to memory and give careful thought to how they apply to my life. My choices, my hopes, my actions, my attitudes, and my beliefs will all be shaped by Jesus’ words.

O God, thank you for sending your only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world. Thank you for preserving his words through the written scriptures that have be handed down through the centuries. Help me to abide in his word, and may his word abide in me. Help me to stand strong through the storms of life as I build and stand on the solid stone of Jesus' words. Amen.

Proverbs: 25:11
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

In the Company of Jesus:
Finding Unconventional Wisdom And Unexpected Hope
by Bill Donahue
The Divine Conspiracy:
Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God
by Dallas Willard
Jesus according to Scripture:
Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels
by Darrell Bock

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 24 - Give

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 110 - 114
N.T. - Matthew 6

Focus Verses:
Matthew 6:1-4

1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Psalm 112:4-5

4Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.

Righteous living that honors God includes giving to the needy and having compassion for those in poverty. A readiness and willingness to help others is a testimony of gratitude and trust toward God. It is possible to give in a selfish way if the goal is to be noticed and praised by others. It is best to give in quiet and secret ways to keep personal motives in check. God knows and sees when we are caring and openhanded toward others, and God rewards those who are gracious and generous.

Response and Action:
My trust in and gratitude to God move me to be a giver. I will give a significant portion of all I have and receive as an act of worship and faith. I will open my eyes to the needs of others. I will open my hands and be generous to help those in need. I will open my heart to the leading of God's Spirit and let him lead me in the ways of compassion and justice. I will do this in quiet and secret ways because I am doing out of reverence for God. I want God to be praised and honored, not me.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my strength. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Give me a heart of compassion and a readiness to share with others. Teach me to be generous and cheerful in my giving. Help me to always remember that caring for the needs of others is an act of thanksgiving and worship toward you. Thank you, O God, for being generous and compassionate toward me. Amen.

Proverbs: 24:11-12
"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?"

Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America
by Ronald J. Sider
by John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson, Judson Poling

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23 - Sing Light

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 107 - 109
N.T. - Matthew 5

Focus Verses:
Matthew 5:14-16

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Psalm 108:2-3
2Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

A life lived in worship to God is a light to the world. Good deeds shine with the truth and beauty of God when they are done out of reverence for God. The testimony of a person who wholeheartedly loves and serves God is like a city on a hill that can't be hidden in the dark of night.

Response and Action:
I will follow Christ with my whole heart. I will commit my energy and efforts to living out my faith through good works and acts of love. I will spend time in the word everyday so that it can teach, rebuke, correct, and train me -- making me ready to do the good things God would have me do.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Give me the wisdom and the direction I need to live in your ways. Help me to walk with integrity and to do good for others. Let my love and devotion to you result in goodness and grace to everyone around me. Help me to walk so closely with you that my life is a song of praise to you and a witness for you. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverbs: 23:23
"Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding."

Living the Story: Biblical Spirituality for Everyday Christians
by R. Paul Stevens

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22 - Every Word

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 105 - 106
N.T. - Matthew 4

Focus Verses:
Matthew 4:1-4

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Psalm 105:4
4Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

In times of temptation and need, it is always wise seek God's guidance, strength, and provision. Both Jesus' forty days in the wilderness and Israel's forty years in the wilderness illustrate this important truth. Part of every temptation is the impulse to take things into our own hands or to turn to something or someone other than God for temporary relief. The person who truly has faith in God will wait on the Lord and look to God for the direction and help needed. Faith is tested and made strong through time spent in the wilderness.

Response and Action:
I need to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. I need to wait on the Lord and take in every word of truth and wisdom that comes from him. God's word can sustain me through difficult times and help me overcome temptation. I will spend time reading the Bible and meditating upon it. I will prayerfully consider God's leading in my life and hold up my actions and choices and thoughts to the light of Scripture. In the face of temptation, I will look to God for the strength to stand and the way of escape.

Thank you for your word, O God. By the power 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. Amen.

Proverbs: 22:19
“So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.”

Transforming Bible Study: Understanding Scripture Like You'Ve Never Read It Before
by Bob Grahmann

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 21 - Fruit of Repentance

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 103 - 104
N.T. - Matthew 3

Focus Verses:
Matthew 3:8-10

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Psalm 103:8-14

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

God knows my frailty and weakness. He knows I'm made of dust -- that I fail and sin -- and yet loves me. He has compassion on me as a good father has compassion on his children. God's compassion and forgiveness are given to all who have reverence for him, the humility to acknowledge sin, a heart to follow him, and the desire to live a fruitful life that honors him.

Response and Action:
Faith in God is more than a matter of words and beliefs; it is something to be lived out. True reverence for God is proven by good deeds in the way a good tree produces good fruit. True repentance results in a turning away from sin and a desire to follow God in my everyday choices and actions.

O God, have mercy upon me, a sinner. In your compassion, forgive my sin. Give me the strength and heart to live a life that honors you. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Thank you for your faithfulness to forgive and purify. By the power and guidance of your Holy Spirit, help me delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

Proverbs: 21:2-3
"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice."

Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel
by Richard Owen Roberts

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20 - Wise Worship

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 99 - 102
N.T. - Matthew 2

Focus Verses:
Matthew 2:10-11

10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Psalm 102:15,18-22
15The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. - - - 18Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD : 19"The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, 20to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death." 21So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem 22when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD.

Jesus is for everyone. God sent his son into the world to save in all nations through all generations. The Magi came from afar to worship the Christ-child, and they serve as a picture of the hope expressed in the Psalmist’s cry for salvation. The "Three Kings" of the nativity story bring to mind the hope that one day all peoples and kingdoms will "assemble to worship the Lord."

Response and Action:
I must always remember that Jesus is for everyone. Salvation and hope are for all people. I want to cultivate an awareness of the many cultures around me. I want my church to be a picture of the diverse international worship that the Scriptures promise. I want my relationship with God, through Christ, to break down the cultural and ethnic barriers that separate me from others.

Thank you, O God, for sending your son into the world to save the nations. I worship Christ Jesus because he is worthy, for he has redeemed, by his blood, people from every tribe, tongue, kindred, and nation. As we come to you, O God, please heal the wounds of separation and division that grow out of our racism, nationalism, bigotry, and ethnic bias. Reconcile all people to yourself and reconcile us to one another. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord. Amen.

Proverbs: 20:12
"Ears that hear and eyes that see—the LORD has made them both.

Diverse Worship: African-American, Caribbean & Hispanic Perspectives
by Pedrito U. Maynard-Reid
Where the Nations Meet: The Church in a Multicultural World
by Stephen A. Rhodes

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19 - Saved Song

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 95 - 98
N.T. - Matthew 1

Focus Verses:
Matthew 1:21

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Psalm 97:1-2
1Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

Throughout history, God has done so much to save his people. The fullest expression of his salvation is revealed through Jesus (whose very name means "the Lord saves"). Jesus saves us from our sins. He saves us from the results of our sin and from bondage to our sin. This is the greatest salvation imaginable -- to be saved from sin's domination and from sin's destruction. Loud songs of praise and fresh expressions of thanksgiving should spring from the hearts and mouths of all who come to know this salvation.

Response and Action:
I will consider the marvelous ways God has shown me salvation. I will praise him for the promise of eternal life. Today, I will sing out my thanks for the ways he saves me from hopelessness and emptiness. Right now, I will lift up my voice in worship for the freedom he gives from bondage to sin. I will rejoice because he has taken away the guilt of my sin. I will sing praise to Jesus, because he saves! Salvation isn't a mere theological concept or religious precept; it is the reality of my life. It's more than a belief; it's my standing in Christ Jesus. It's not just for someday; it's for NOW. Sing a new song to the Lord! He has saved, he is saving, and he will always save!

O God, O Christ Jesus, O Holy Spirit, I want to sing a new song of praise to you today! Show your righteousness and salvation to the ends of the earth. Open the eyes of all people, that they might see Jesus in all his redeeming work and saving power. O God, give me a heart of gratitude and mouth quick to sing your praise. Amen.

Proverbs: 19:22a
"What a man desires is unfailing love."

Music CD: Enter the Worship Circle: First Circle
by 100 Portraits and Waterdeep
Music CD: Enter the Worship Circle: Second Circle
by Enter the Worship Circle
BOOK: Enter the Worship Circle
by Ben Pasley

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18 - Life Invitation

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 90 - 94
N.T. - Revelation 22

Focus Verses: Revelation 22:1,17
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb..." - - - 17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Jesus offers an invitation to everyone, "Come and quench your thirst -- take the free gift of the water of life." The Spirit of God says, "Come!" The church, Christ's bride, says, "Come!" Everyone who comes to the water and drinks will in turn say, "Come!" Come to Jesus. Come to the only hope for life in a world that is dying.

Compare this passage to the invitation Jesus gave on one occasion during the Feast of Tabernacles, recorded in John 7:37-38: On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Response and Action:
I have accepted Jesus' invitation to come to him for life, hope, guidance, and purpose. I will pass the invitation along to others. I will drink deeply of all Jesus offers through his word, his people, his promises, and all that is beautiful and true. I will pray and seek God's guidance every day. I will read Scripture and meditate upon it. I will share my heart, my life, and my faith through friendship and service to others.

O God, thank you for your invitation to life. Help me respond fully to you that I might live life to the fullest to your glory. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And help me to love my neighbor as myself. Satisfy my needs and quench my thirst, and make a stream of living water flow out of me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverbs: 18:4
"The words of a man's mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook."

Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch
by Max Lucado
The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation
by Paul Spilsbury

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17 - Living with God

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 88 - 89
N.T. - Revelation 21

Focus Verses:
Revelation 21:2-5a
2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5aHe who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

Psalm 89:15-16 15Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. 16They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.

The thought of living in God's presence in a world God has saved and perfected is the hope every Christian expresses when praying, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This hope is more than a promise for someday in the distant future, it is the present reality for Christians who will recognize the indwelling of God's Spirit in their lives today. "Surely I am with you, always, to the very end of the age" was Jesus' assurance to his disciples before his ascension into heaven.

Response and Action:
I must take hold of Jesus' promise to be with me today. I want to cultivate a tangible and continual awareness of his Spirit in my life. I want to acknowledge present reality that Christ Jesus is living with me today. I want to persevere with a hope rooted in the future reality God has promised -- the day when the world will be made right, all evil swept away, and every tear wiped away.

O God, help me to trust in you with all my heart and to acknowledge you in all my ways. Help me to cultivate my awareness of your presence with me today. Fill me with hope and encouragement as I cling to your promise of a day when I will live in the very light of your glorious presence. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who indwells my mortal body right now. Help me to be sensitive to your Spirit as you lead and shape me today. Amen.

Proverbs: 17:17
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

The Practice of the Presence of God
by Brother Lawrence
Living With Jesus Today
by Juan Carlos Ortiz
The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation
by Paul Spilsbury

Monday, April 16, 2007

April 16 - Undivided

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 84 - 87
N.T. - Revelation 20

Focus Verses: Psalm 86:8-12
8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

There is no other god like the Lord, the only true God. His ways are the ways of truth. His deeds are marvelous and awesome. He is worthy of whole-hearted worship.

Response and Action:
I will consider the marvelous things God has done and praise him for them. I will commit myself to seeking his truth and walking in his ways. I will love him and follow him with an undivided heart.

O God, help me to recognize the things that threaten to diminish my love for you. Show me your ways and your truth, that I might follow you with an undivided heart. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Amen.

Proverbs: 16:17
"The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life."

Jesus Among Other Gods The Absolute Claims Of The Christian Message
by Ravi Zacharias

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15 - Hallelujah Living

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 80 - 83
N.T. - Revelation 19

Focus Verses:
Psalm 79:9-10 1Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! 2Begin the music, strike the tambourine, play the melodious harp and lyre. - - - 6He says, "I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. 7In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud..."

Revelation 19:6-7a
6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7aLet us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!"

God delivers and restores those who cry out to him. Deliverance and restoration call for loud songs of praise. Those who are saved shout aloud! They strike tambourines, strum melodies, and raise their voices in thunderous "Hallelujahs!" God hears and rescues them, so they rejoice in gladness and give him glory.

Response and Action:
My faith in God's salvation moves me to rejoice and praise him today. My loud shouts of thanks and adoration are witnesses to my faith. My voice raised in worship today is a rehearsal for the final day when I will raise my voice in the thundering multitudes of all the redeemed who shout out "Hallelujah!" Because I am living by faith, I will worship God today and raise my voice to praise him. I live my life as a spiritual act of worship and commit my energy and actions toward God's purposes to rescue and restore.

O God, the world is filled with injustice and sin. We need you to rescue and deliver us. I'm praising you today, Lord, for the many ways you save and restore us right now. I'm praising you because I believe your promise to reconcile all things and restore all creation. Save me and use me today, O God, as an instrument of your peace, your power to save, and your restoring love. Amen.

Proverbs: 15:24
“The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave.”

The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God's Call to Justice
by Mark Labberton

Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 14 - Mercy & Justice

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 78 - 79
N.T. - Revelation 18

Focus Verses:
Psalm 79:9-10
9Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake. 10Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.
Revelation 18:1-2a, 4-5, 24
1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2aWith a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! - - - 4Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. " - - - 24"In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth."

Once again, both Asaph the Psalmist and John the Revelator cry out to God for mercy and judgment. Both of them make lament the prosperity of the wicked and the persecution of the righteous.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize sin and injustice in my own life and appeal to God's mercy to forgive me, and God's grace to change me. I need to "come out of Babylon" and turn away from sin. I want to love the Lord, my God, with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength. I will persevere, even in a world filled with sin and injustice, because I believe God is merciful enough to forgive all those who surrender to him, and just enough to judge all those who reject and stand against him.

Open my mouth, O Lord, and my lips will declare your praise. 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 to do what is right. In your mercy, forgive me for the wrongs I have done and rights I have left undone -- known and unknown to me. Forgive me for the ways I have been half-hearted in my love for you. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit -- the Lord, the giver of life -- 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.

Proverbs: 14:32
"When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge."

Deliver Us From Evil
by Ravi Zacharias

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13 - Horns against Heaven

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Psalm 75 - 77
N.T. - Revelation 17

Focus Verses:
Revelation 17:12-14
12"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."
Psalm 75:1-5
1We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. 2You say, "I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly. 3When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. Selah 4To the arrogant I say, 'Boast no more,' and to the wicked, 'Do not lift up your horns. 5Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck.' "

All powers and authorities lifted up against God and his purposes will ultimately be brought down in defeat. Those who boast of their power and seem to have unlimited dominance will one day be judged and reduced to nothing. The Kingdom of Heaven and the chosen and faithful followers of the Lamb will eventually overcome because their Lord and Savior is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Response and Action:
God's people have always had to persevere in the face of oppression. From the ancient days of the Psalmist to the days of the Apostle John to the present days of the persecuted church in many areas of the world, God-fearing believers have been sustained by their faith in a righteous God who will one day put the world to rights and save his people from the corrupt powers of this world. My hope is in the Lord. I stand with those who follow the Lamb.

O God, sustain me and give me hope. Save this world and your people from the hands of wicked rulers and corrupt powers. Bring down those who oppress and destroy and deliver us from evil. Come Lord, quickly, and save. Amen.

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

Deliver Us From Evil
by Ravi Zacharias