Saturday, June 30, 2007

June 30 - Esteemed by God

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 64 - 66
N.T. - 1 Peter 5:1-10

Focus Verses: Isaiah 66:1-2
1 This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Insight:
Most of us spend too much time thinking about how we appear to other people. We also hear a lot about the importance of self-esteem, having a good feeling about ourselves. The really important questions we should be asking ourselves are: "What kind of qualities does God look for in his people?" and, "Who is it that God esteems?"

According to the prophet Isaiah, God esteems those who are humble, those who are contrite, and those who tremble at his word.

Response and Action:
I need to be careful to humble myself before God and before other people. I want to be contrite, recognizing my weaknesses, my sins, and my need for God. I need to have great reverence and love for God's word. I will commit myself to reading, considering, obeying, memorizing, and living the truth of God given to me in the pages of Scripture.

O Lord, I humble myself before you. Show me your ways and guide me by your holy word. Give me a heart that is honest and ready to follow you. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ, help me to be a person you esteem. Amen.

Proverbs: 30:32
"If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!”

Resources:
Humility: True Greatness
by C. J. Mahaney

Friday, June 29, 2007

June 29 - Good News

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 61 - 63
N.T. - Luke 4

Focus Verses: Isaiah 61:1-3
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Insight:
What does the favor of God look and sound like? Healing for the brokenhearted. Freedom for captives. Light instead of darkness. Comfort for those who mourn. Beauty where there was once only ashes. Gladness replacing sorrow. Praise overcoming despair.

Isaiah spoke these words for the first time nearly seven hundred years before the time of Christ. Those were bleak and difficult years for the nation of Israel, marked by destruction, exile, captivity, poverty and political struggles. Through it all, the people held on to Isaiah's beautiful words of hope and promise for Zion. After half a millennium of hoping, the prophecy must have seemed more like a dream than a promise. Jesus began his ministry by quoting this passage in the synagogue of the town where he grew up. He declared himself to be the one who would fulfill the prophecy and bring good news.

Response and Action:
I will look to Jesus in order to experience the favor of God. Healing, forgiveness, hope, beauty, joy, and stability are found in him. As I follow Jesus, I will participate in his mission of favor and his message of hope. I will commit myself to becoming a channel of blessing and a messenger of freedom.

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


Proverbs: 29:7
"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."

Resources:
Ambassadors of Hope: How Christians Can Respond to the World's Toughest Problems
by Robert A. Seiple

Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 28 - Spending Myself

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 58 - 60
N.T. - Matthew 25:31-46

Focus Verses: Isaiah 58:6-7, 9-10
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
- - -
9
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

Insight:
True worship and reverence for God requires attention to issues of social justice. God cares about the poor, he hears the cries of the oppressed, and he expects those who truly honor him to care about these issues and the people affected by them. It's true that the gospel of Christ is more than food, shelter, clothing, and freedom from oppression and systemic poverty and bigotry. It is impossible, however, for those who are truly following Jesus and being transformed by the Spirit, to ignore these overwhelming needs.

God calls his people to "spend themselves" on behalf of those who are in poverty. Fasting should be more than a religious exercise of restraint and self-denial. The spirit of fasting is lived out every time we do without something in order to provide for the needs of others.

Response and Action:
I must never turn a blind eye to the needs of others. To claim to honor God while ignoring the needs of the poor and hungry is offensive to God. To claim to love God who is unseen while turning a blind eye to poverty, disease, war, and suffering is hypocritical. I must give generously. I must share what God has given me with those in need. I should work, vote, influence, and pray for people to be delivered from oppression and suffering.

O God, help me to see Jesus in the faces of those who are in need. Give me a soft heart and a generous spirit. Show me ways that I can share and help. Deliver me from greed and self-indulgence. Give me wisdom so that the blessings of life will not become obstacles to true discipleship. Help me to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humble with you. Amen.


Proverbs: 28:27
"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."

Resources:
Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America
by Ronald J. Sider

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 27 - Satisfaction

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 55 - 57
N.T. - John 7

Focus Verses: Isaiah 55:1-3a
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3a Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.

Insight:
Only God can give true life and true satisfaction. It is such a waste to spend time, money, and effort on things that do not ultimately fulfill or satisfy the deepest longings our hearts. How many things have I chased after, thinking they would really make life great, only to find yet another empty promise!?

Jesus said, "Let everyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For he who believes in me will have streams of living water flowing from the innermost part of his being." If we listen to God, give attention to his words, and take hold of the life he offers, we will find ourselves delighted and truly alive in Christ.

Note: Compare Acts 8:26-40 with yesterday's reading, Isaiah 52-54. Then take another look at chapters 55 - 56 from today's reading. Can you see any reason the man in Acts 8 might have been working hard to study and understand this part of Isaiah? What did he do when he understood the passage in the light of Jesus?

Response and Action:
God invites me to find fulfillment and satisfaction in him. Jesus invites me to come to him for life and meaning and salvation. I will respond to God's invitation and take hold of his promises by placing my faith and hope in Christ Jesus. I will follow Jesus and commit heart and soul to living by faith in him.

O God, forgive me for the times I chase after the things that do not give life. Give me the wisdom and will to seek you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Only you can satisfy the desires of my heart. Only you can give my life the meaning and purpose I long for. Only you can meet my deepest needs and fulfill my highest aspirations. Thank you for Jesus and the life he gives to thirsty people like me who come to him and drink. Amen.


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

Resources:
Cries of The Heart
by Ravi Zacharias

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

June 26 – Wounded Healer

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 52 - 54
N.T. - Romans 5:1-11

Focus Verses: Isaiah 53:4-6
4
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Insight:
God's deliverance and salvation of humanity was purchased at a great price. God sent his son, Jesus, into the world to redeem the world from sin. Christ Jesus shared our humanity, but he lived without sin. He suffered violence and death at the hands of sinful men in order to subvert mankind's bondage to sin. Jesus, like all other humans, experienced sin and evil. But unlike all other humans, he himself was without sin. He was wounded and hurt by others, but he never hurt or wounded anyone else. That is why his death is able to bring us peace. He has purchased, by his death, new life for all who turn to him in faith.

Response and Action:
I believe that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried. On the third day, he rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures. I believe that Jesus has purchased salvation and new life for sinful humanity. I believe that God loves the world, and so he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

O God, thank you for Jesus, your son, my Savior. Thank you, Jesus, for your willingness to suffer death in order to give me life. Help me to live my life by faith in you with reverence and thanksgiving. Make me a witness of your love and salvation. Help me to take up my cross and follow you. Give me a heart like yours--willing to sacrifice in order to bless others. Amen.


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

Resources:
Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts
by Joel B. Green and Mark D. Baker

Monday, June 25, 2007

June 25 - Faith and Fear

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 49 - 51
N.T. - Romans 8:18-39

Focus Verses:
Isaiah 51:7, 12-14

7 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. - - - 12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, 13 that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor? 14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.

Insight:
People suffer at the hands of other people every day. Sadly, men and women suffering reproach, insults, terrorism, oppression, destruction, bondage, and starvation at the hands of others is a fact of life. It's easy to live in fear of all the terrible things people do to each other. God encourages his people, "those who know what is right and have his law in their hearts," to remember and trust him. He reassures them that his power to save and deliver is greater than humanity's power to destroy or hurt. Those who trust in God do not need to fear men.

Response and Action:
I do not want to live in fear. I will put my trust in God. I will remember and cling to his promises. I will be careful to pursue righteousness and be good to others. I will commit myself to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk with my God. My confidence and hope are in the Lord.

O God, thank you for your promises to save and deliver your people. Give me a hope in you that eclipses all my fears and worries. You have said, O God, that you will never leave or forsake me, and so I have confidence for life. You are my helper, I will not be afraid. Amen.


Proverbs: 25:25
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."

Resources:
Be Not Afraid
by David Ivaska

Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 24 - The Way I Should Go

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 46 - 48
N.T. - John 14

Focus Verses:
Isaiah 48:17-18

17
This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. 18If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. 19Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me."

Insight:
God wants what is best for his people. His direction and his commands are not arbitrary or selfish. God's desires and our best interests are in perfect alignment. Honoring and obeying God results in our peace and righteousness. Our peace and righteousness result in joyful lives that are both pleasing to us and pleasing to God.

Response and Action:
I want to experience peace like a river. I want waves of righteousness to continually roll up and over the shores of my life. I want God's blessings on me to be as numberless as the grains of sand. I will turn to the Scriptures and to Jesus for instruction and guidance. I will embrace God's authority in my life and ask him to show me the ways I should go.

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. You word is a lamp to my path and a guide to my feet. Give me peace, by your Spirit. Give me direction, by your word. Bless and keep me as I follow you in faith. Amen.


Proverbs: 24:14
"Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off."

Resources:
The Life You've Always Wanted
by John Ortberg

Saturday, June 23, 2007

June 23 - One Savior, One God

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 43 - 45
N.T. - Philippians 2:1-11

Focus Verses:
Isaiah 43:11; 45:18, 22-24

43:11I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
45:18For this is what the LORD says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other. - - - 22"Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.' All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame."

Insight:
Only God is God. Only God can save. God created the heavens and the earth and created humanity to inhabit it. He calls out to everyone, "Turn to me and be saved. I'm the only one who can save." To reject God's invitation is to reject the only hope of salvation. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." This is not narrow-mindedness; it is simply reality. There is only one God, and only he can save. God has offered us salvation through his only Son.

Response and Action:
I recognize my need for God's grace and salvation. My faith in God gives me a real view of life and the world. I need God's guidance and strength to live. By faith, I see God's grace and salvation in Jesus. I will commit myself to know and follow Jesus. I will give thanks to God for the hope and life I have through Christ.

O God, only you are God and only you can save. Thank you for the great salvation you have offered to all people through your only son, Jesus. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus, who loves me and gave himself for me. Help me to live for you and through you. You alone are worthy of my praise, my honor, my life, and my all. Amen.

Proverbs: 23:17-18
"Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."

Resources:
No God but God/Breaking With the Idols of Our Age
by Os Guinness and John Seel

Friday, June 22, 2007

June 22 - Comfort & Renewal

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 40 - 42
N.T. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Focus Verses: Isaiah 38:12-16
1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. - - -
28
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Insight:
The themes of judgment and rebuke in the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah can be tough reading. There are glimpses of hope and promises of renewal sprinkled throughout those chapters, but the overwhelming message has been a call to repentance, and as we read it we sense the dark shadow of impending disaster. In chapter forty, Isaiah's message takes a decidedly strong turn toward a message of hope and redemption. Instead of calls to repentance and weeping, there is a promise of comfort. Tiredness and weariness, the prophet says, will be replaced by hope for all who trust in the Lord. Those who stumble and fall will now experience the renewal and strength God can give.

Response and Action:
My faith in God can sustain me through times of hardship, pressure, and suffering. God promises comfort and deliverance for those who trust and hope in him. Faith in God makes it possible to have patient endurance through times of trial and despair. God promises me renewal, resurrection, and rejoicing. I will fix my hope firmly in Him.

O God, you are my God. I seek you because you are my hope for life. When I am weary, comfort me and give me strength. When I stumble and fall, pick me up and give me a solid place to stand. When I am downcast, be the wind beneath my wings and help me to rise up and soar like the eagles. Bring me through sadness and sorrow and help me to rejoice in you. Amen.

Proverbs: 22:4
"Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life."

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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 21 - Divine Intervention

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 37 - 39
N.T. - James 5:7 - 20

Focus Verses: Isaiah 38:12-16
12Like a shepherd's tent my house has been pulled down and taken from me. Like a weaver I have rolled up my life, and he has cut me off from the loom; day and night you made an end of me. 13I waited patiently till dawn, but like a lion he broke all my bones; day and night you made an end of me. 14I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!" 15But what can I say? He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. 16Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live.

Insight:
When Isaiah delivered the prophetic word from God that King Hezekiah was going to die, the King cried out in prayer and asked God to intervene. God had told Isaiah that Hezekiah would not recover from the illness he was suffering, but that changed when Hezekiah pleaded to God to save him. God responded and extended Hezekiah's life by fifteen more years.

Response and Action:
God is able to change the course of our lives. He hears our prayers and is able to intervene in our lives. The future in known by God, but it is also subject to God's power and will. Nothing is beyond God's knowledge, and nothing is beyond God's power. This has tremendous implications for how I think about God, my future, and prayer. It is always appropriate to cry out to God for deliverance and intervention. All my needs, circumstances, and tomorrows are subject to God's sovereign will. I will humbly look to God in every day and in every concern. I will pray with confidence in God's ability to act and intervene for me.

O God, I believe you are powerful. I believe you are personal. I believe you are persuadable. I believe you are present and that you hear my voice. Because my faith is in you, I will humble myself before you and lift up my voice in prayer. Thank you for not being distant and unconcerned with the affairs and needs of your people. Walk with me, O God, and get involved with the details of my life. Save me, lead me, heal me, stretch me, strengthen me, guide me, and use me for your good pleasure and purposes. Amen.

Proverbs: 21:30
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD."

Resources:
When God Answers Prayer
by Bob Russell and Rusty Russell

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

June 20 - Peace & Promise

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 34 - 36
N.T. - Philippians 4:4-9

Focus Verses: Isaiah 35:1-4
1The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."

Insight:
Isaiah's message of judgment for the nations was tempered by the hope of redemption for those who trust in God. The Assyrian King, Sennacherib, was threatening to wipe out Jerusalem if they did not surrender. He mocked King Hezekiah, he mocked Judah's military weakness, and he arrogantly mocked the God of Israel. In the face of these threats and impending doom, the prophet declared that God, in the end, would redeem and restore his people. In this case, because of his arrogance toward God, Sennacherib was defeated before he even had a chance to attack.

Response and Action:
God is a defender and a redeemer. I will put my faith and trust in him in every circumstance. Pride and rebellion against God are an ongoing cause of conflict and heartache between people and nations, but those who walk with integrity and place their faith and confidence in God will not be disappointed. God is faithful and able to fulfill his promises to them.

O God, strengthen my feeble hands and bring peace to my fearful heart. Remind me of your promises and strengthen me by your Spirit. Help me to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you, O God. Protect me from discouragement and encourage me through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. I ask all this in the name of Jesus my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Proverbs: 20:28
"Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure."

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 19 - Strength & Trust

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 31 - 33
N.T. - Colossians 1:3-14

Focus Verses:
Isaiah 31:1
- Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.

Isaiah 33:2 - O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.

Insight:
Isaiah chides those who have turned from God and placed their trust in human strength. It's tempting to trust in military might, political power, or wealth, but none of those things are ultimately as reliable as God. It's even more tempting to trust in our own strength, smarts, and ability to scramble to get us through life. But the short prayer offered up in Isaiah 33:2 reveals the way of faith. It's a wonderful prayer and reminder for all of us who see the fallacy of trusting in ourselves or anyone or anything else besides God. Only God can give us the strength to live with joy, endurance, and patience.

Response and Action:
I need to be very careful about where I place my trust. I am not smart enough or strong enough to navigate and manage my own life. The money, power, privilege, and promises the world has to offer me are never as stable or satisfying as they appear to be. I need to recognize that the strength and security I long for in life are only found in God. My faith needs to be fixed firmly upon Jesus. I can live with confidence only through Christ who gives me strength.

O God, you are my strength and my salvation. Every morning you hear my voice as I lay my requests before you. You listen to my cries for help. I wait upon you with confidence and fully expect that you will answer my prayers and strengthen me for life. I see that trusting in myself, or earthly strength, is like building my life on shifting sand. I will build my life upon the solid rock of faith in you. Amen.

Proverbs: 19:23
"The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble."

Resources:
Isaiah: Trusting God in Trouble Times
by Howard Peskett

Monday, June 18, 2007

June 18 - Nearer to God

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 28 - 30
N.T. - Matthew 15:1-20

Focus Verses: Isaiah 29:13-14
13The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. 14Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

Insight:
It is possible to be religious, to observe rituals and keep traditions, and yet have a heart that is far from God. False religion comes from spurious ideas, impure motives, duplicity, half-heartedness, legalism, and superstition. True religion and meaningful ritual flow out of a genuine love and reverence for God, humility, a sound understanding of Scripture, and the desire to honor and obey God.

Response and Action:
I want my faith and my religion to be more than words. I want my religious acts and words to be rooted in truth and genuine submission to God. I will look to Jesus, the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit to guide me into truth. I will be careful to not let my religious practices slip into empty lip service and meaningless repetition. I will cultivate a heart for God and do all I can to draw near to him.

Open my mouth, O God, and my lips will declare your praise. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teach me true religion that honors you. Help me to worship you in spirit and in truth. Help me to live my life in full surrender to you, that every thought, word, and deed might be a spiritual act of worship. Amen.

Proverbs: 18:7
"A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul."

Resources:
The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life
by Louie Giglio

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 17 - Peace & Justice

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 25 - 27
N.T. - James 2:1-26; 3:13-18

Focus Verses: Isaiah 26:3-6
3You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 4Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. 5He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. 6Feet trample it down—the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.

Insight:

The judgment Isaiah has been declaring toward the proud and the mighty is also a proclamation of deliverance for those who have been oppressed and trapped in poverty. Those who steadfastly set their minds upon the Lord and trust in his deliverance will not be disappointed. The Lord is a rock and a refuge for those who suffer at the hands of injustice. God will bring down the proud oppressor and lift up the downtrodden.

Response and Action:
I will put my trust in God. I will pray, work, influence, give, and vote for social justice. I will praise God when freedom and opportunity are given to those who are victims of injustice. When I face hardship and difficult circumstances, I will steadfastly look to God for peace and strength.

O God, you have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor. Amen.

Proverbs: 17:5
"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."

Resources:
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity
by Ronald J. Sider

Saturday, June 16, 2007

June 16 - Reality Check

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 22 - 24
N.T. - Ephesians 2:1-10

Focus Verses: Isaiah 24:8-10
8The gaiety of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. 9No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. 10The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred.

Insight:
Pride and self-gratification are often at the root of sin. Prosperity is often a precursor to careless self-indulgence. Eventually the parties give way to pain, the drinking is overcome by the misery of a hangover, and the songs turn into crying. Judgement is a wake-up call to face reality. Life is not meant to be lived without God. We were not created to gratify ourselves or serve our selfish desires. Rebellion against God is actually a refusal to recognize the truth.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize God as my maker an the rightful and worthy owner of my life. Self-gratification is not the path to fulfillment and wholeness. Instead, I want to humbly acknowledge Jesus as Lord and to live for him. Self-indulgence and pride are deceptive and result in emptiness and ruin. I want to trust God, acknowledge him in all my ways, and find direction and wholeness in the truth.

O God, show me your ways, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth. Give me the humility and wisdom to live for you and to follow you. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.

Proverbs: 16:5
"The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished."

Resources:
Honest to God?
by Bill Hybels

Friday, June 15, 2007

June 15 - Stricken and Healed

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 19 - 21
N.T. - 2 Cor. 5:11-21

Focus Verses: Isaiah 19:21-22, 25
21So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. 22The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them. - - - 25The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance."

Insight:
In today's reading, the prophet Isaiah turns his words of judgment toward Egypt, Cush, Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. Once again, there are also promises of redemption and renewal, and the promises may have been more shocking to his listeners than the judgments. Isaiah declared that God would strike these nations, but that God would also heal them. God, Isaiah says, will be responsive to the pleas of those who cry out to him. He will bless them and even call them "His people."

Response and Action:
Just think of a world where Israel lived in peace with the surrounding nations. How amazing it would be if all nations could see their need for God and cry out to him! Imagine how different life would be if people could comprehend God redeeming and blessing their enemies instead of just destroying them.

God is more than a judge. He is a savior. No single people group or nation has an exclusive claim to being called "God's people." God is willing to adopt and give his name to anyone who turns to him in faith. I will pray for my enemies, ask God to redeem and heal all who cry out to him, and prepare my heart and mind to accept them as friends and brothers.

O God, thank you for your grace and mercy toward humanity. Forgive us for being more interested in seeing our enemies punished than in seeing them healed and transformed. O Lord, reconcile all people to you and as we are reconciled to you, give us the grace and hearts to be reconciled to each other. Thank you for the hope we have in you, that conflict and discord can be overcome by love and goodwill. Amen.

Proverbs: 15:11
"Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more the hearts of men!"

Resources:
Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace
by Miroslav Volf

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 14 - Weeping God

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 16 - 18
N.T. - Hebrews 12:7-11

Focus Verses: Isaiah 16:9-11
9So I weep, as Jazer weeps, for the vines of Sibmah. O Heshbon, O Elealeh, I drench you with tears! The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit and over your harvests have been stilled. 10Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards; no one sings or shouts in the vineyards; no one treads out wine at the presses, for I have put an end to the shouting. 11My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. 12When Moab appears at her high place, she only wears herself out; when she goes to her shrine to pray, it is to no avail. 13This is the word the LORD has already spoken concerning Moab. 14But now the LORD says: "Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab's splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble."

Insight:
Even as Isaiah prophesies God's judgment against Moab and Damascus, God's love and grace are evident. There was weeping in the streets and homes of these nations because of the discipline God is bringing upon them. There was also weeping in heaven as God grieved over the people he wanted to redeem and renew.

God took no joy in their suffering, and grieved when he saw them turn to idols and pray to false gods who were powerless to help them. God's hand of discipline upon them was motivated by his loving heart for them and his desire for them to live in truth and to know him.

Response and Action:
I am committed to seek God and to live in truth. I know that God loves and disciplines his children. I will accept his hand of discipline as a blessing of being his child. I trust that God's judgment and discipline will result in renewal and righteousness for me. I will humble myself before God so that he can lift me up.

O God, you are a loving father. Your heart is touched and you weep for me when I hurt myself by turning away from you. Thank you for loving me enough to discipline and correct me. Your discipline and correction never seems pleasant at the time, but I trust that you are lovingly working for my good. Amen.

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

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 13 - Wrath or Repentance

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 13 - 15
N.T. - Romans 2:1-16

Focus Verses: Isaiah 13:6-9
6Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. 8Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

Insight:
The three chapters of Isaiah in today's reading are very sobering as they are filled with words of judgment and condemnation. There are hints of grace and restoration, the things we would rather focus on in our conversations about God, but they are overshadowed by the ominous pronouncements of wrath and punishment.

Paul's words in Romans 2 remind me of some important things as I consider God and his judgments. Everyone of us is guilty of something, and therefore none of us is in a position to condemn others (v.1). God's judgments are based on truth (v.2), taking into account our actions (v.7-8), and given without favoritism (v.11). God is just, but he is also kind and patient and desires to lead us to repentance (v.4).

Only those who are unresponsive to God--the stubborn and unrepentant--will experience the wrath of his righteous judgment (v.5). To those who are responsive to God, seeking to do good and to honor him, he will graciously give eternal life.

Response and Action:
I must have reverence for God. He is holy, and he has called me to be holy. I must recognize that I am a sinner and look to God, through Christ, for forgiveness. I must also have faith in God's power to renew and transform me. I must surrender my will to his and yield to his leading. In faith, I must take hold of his promises to give me life through the Holy Spirit who lives in me.

O Father, you are righteous and holy. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me to do what is right and to turn away from what is wrong. Help me to love you will all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Thank you for your kindness and mercy toward me. Help me to delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

Proverbs: 13:13
"He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded."

Resources:
What's So Amazing About Grace?
by Philip Yancey

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June 12 - Sing Tomorrow's Song Today

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 10 - 12
N.T. - Hebrews 12:1-13

Focus Verses: Isaiah 12:1-5
1In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." 3With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

Insight:
Through faith, the prophet Isaiah could see beyond the coming oppression of Assyria. He could see that though they were few in number, there were people in Israel who were faithfully looking to God, heeding his commands, and clinging to his promises.

They would one day sing a song of praised as they experienced God's salvation and deliverance. Because of his faith in God's deliverance, Isaiah pauses in his prophecy to offer up a present-tense version of the song that he believed the remnant of Israel would one day sing as they looked back at their salvation.

Response and Action:
I want to be faithful to God. Even though there are so many who reject Christ, or turn away from God, or deny truth, or abandon faith, I intend to hold on to the deliverance and salvation promised to me in Scripture and given to me through Jesus. I will sing songs of praise to God today for the hope I have in Christ for tomorrow.

O Father, you are holy and you fill the heavens. I long to see your kingdom on earth, your will lived out here as it is in heaven. I ask you to provide the bread I need for today. Forgive me and give me the grace to forgive others in the same way. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. You alone are King. You reign in power and glory forever. Amen.

Proverbs: 12:28
"In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality."

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

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 11 - Wait, Seek, Trust

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 7 - 9
N.T. - 2 Peter 1:12-21

Focus Verses: Isaiah 8:17-20
17I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. 18Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

Insight:
Matthew's use of Isaiah's famous Immanuel text, in his gospel account of Jesus' birth, is better known than Isaiah's original context for the prophecy. The nation of Israel and its king had turned away from God. Isaiah warned that now they would know God was with them as they experienced his judgment against them through the nation of Assyria. Isaiah announced that his wife would soon have a son, his name would be Immanuel (God with us), and before that child was old enough to know right and wrong, Assyria would invade and take over their land.

In the midst of this trouble, many would turn to spiritualism, superstition, and false gods rather than turning to God and the words of Scripture. Isaiah declares that they should instead look "to the law and to the testimony!" Anything that contradicts the word of Scripture, he says, "has no light of dawn." God was hiding his face from them; they would have to seek him out, look to Scripture, and put their trust in him.

Response and Action:
I must always remember that God is near; he is with us. If I turn away from him, it will become harder and harder for me to find him. If I refuse to acknowledge his presence, he may hide his face from me. Instead, I will do all I can to seek him, to know him, and to follow him. I will turn to him first in every circumstance. When things are difficult and I am overwhelmed with problems, I will continue to seek out God and I will look to the Scriptures as a primary source of truth and testimony. As the Apostle Peter said, "I would do well to pay attention to God's word, as a light shining in a dark place."

O God, you are closer to me than the air I breathe. Thank you for the indwelling of your Holy Spirit. Give me a growing awareness of your presence as I seek you and follow you. How can I keep my way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; don't let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Amen.

Proverbs: 11:27
"He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it."

Resources:
Why Isn't God More Obvious?
by Paul K. Moser

June 10 - 20/20 Worship

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 4 - 6
N.T. - Romans 12

Focus Verses: Isaiah 6:1-5
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Insight:
It was while he was worshiping in the temple, that Isaiah began to see clearly who God is, who he was, and what his nation had become. In the act of worship Isaiah recognized the holiness, righteousness, and awesome sovereignty of God. He saw his own sin and rebellion toward God. And he realized just how far his people (family, friends, neighbors, nation, religious teachers, political leaders) had wandered from God. Sincere wholehearted worship was like bright light that gave him 20/20 clarity about how he and Israel needed to repent and turn their hearts to God.

Response and Action:
I need to worship God with my whole being. Sincere worship will help me see more clearly who God is, and who I am. Worship is more than words, rituals, songs, and traditions. Those things are empty apart from a true desire to know and honor God. God hates it when lips honor him, but hearts are far away from him. I will humble my heart and truly seek God in my personal daily worship times and when I gather with other Christians for corporate worship.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Apart from your grace and mercy I would be undone. Help me to recognize your awesome glory and majesty, your love and beauty, your holiness and righteousness, your truth and wisdom and to worship you with all my heart and soul. Accept my sincere repentance and cleanse me and renew me as I put my faith in Christ Jesus and surrender my life to you. Prepare me, equip me, and empower me to be your witness and your servant to the world around me. Amen.

Proverbs: 10:9
"The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out."

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

Saturday, June 09, 2007

June 9 - God Forsaken

Today's Reading:
O.T. - Isaiah 1 - 3
N.T. - 2 Timothy 3

Focus Verses: Isaiah 1:3-5
3 The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. 5 Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.

Insight:
Turning away from God and turning to evil results in injury and affliction. To rebel against God is to do harm to one's self. Corruption is self-destructive.

Response and Action:
I will surrender myself to God and submit to him. I will trust God with all my heart and look to him for wisdom, truth, and understanding. I will study the Scriptures and let them guide and teach me.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and do right. Help me to love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Help me to know and honor you. Don't let me stray from you or forsake you. Through Christ, Amen.

Proverbs: 9:6
"Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding."

Resources:
Can Man Live Without God
by Ravi Zacharias