Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reading Schedule for Sept. 1 - 6

Sept. 1 - Psalm 119:105-128
Sept. 2 - Psalm 119:129-152
Sept. 3 - Psalm 119:153-176
Sept. 4 - 2 Timothy 2:1 - 3:17
Sept. 5 - 2 Peter 1:1-21
Sept. 6 - Hebrews 4:1-16


You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through the entire New Testament and key passages of the Old Testament. The 2008-09 Useful Breath reading plan will be available soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 30 - Honey

The new Useful Breath reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again.

The new Sept. 2008 - August 2009 schedule will be available for you to download soon. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!


Overview of: Bible FAQs

Today's Reading:

Psalm 119:81 - 104
"Love & Longing for the Word"

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:97, 103-104
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. - - - 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Insight:
Bible reading should not be approached as a mere duty or study assignment. The psalmist loved the Scriptures and savored them like honey. When something is sweet and desirable it is approached as a joy and privilege. Those who delight in the richness of the Word gain understanding for life and find every right path.

Response and Action:
I am thankful for the Bible and I read it because I want to! I want to enjoy and delight in the precious gift of God's Word. So often Bible reading is talked about in terms of duty and discipline, but I think about it in terms of love and longing for truth. I cannot think of anything sweeter than finding my way in life and growing in wisdom.

O God, thank you for the sweetness and goodness of your Word. Help me to delight in it each day. Lead me and bless me as I do. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 30:5

"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."

Recommended Resource:
Zondervan NIV Study Bible
#1 Best-selling study Bible / the most read, most trusted English-language translation. / Over 20,000 study notes. / Introductions and outlines provide valuable background information for each book of the Bible. / In-text maps, charts, diagrams, and illustrations right where you want them / 16 pages of full-color maps plus timelines and presentation page. / NIV concordance plus subject and study notes indexes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

August 29 - Finding My Way

The new Useful Breath reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again.

The new Sept. 2008 - August 2009 schedule will be available for you to download soon. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!


Overview of: Bible FAQs

Today's Reading:

Psalm 119:57 - 80
"God's Direction"

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:59, 73
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. - - - 73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

Insight:
Living according to God's Word is sensible! In verses 59 and 73, the psalmist gives two very practical reasons for doing so. First (v. 59), he considered the ways he was out of step with the instruction of Scripture and decided that living by God's statutes had better results. Secondly (v.73), he concludes that since God was his maker, God's commands would be the best guidance he could get.

Response and Action:
First, I need to give consideration to my ways. How would my life be better if I turned my steps to follow the instruction of the Bible? What difficulties and burdens in life are the result of failing to follow God? Secondly, since God is my maker, I need to trust him to know what is best for me. Doesn't it make sense to listen to my creator?

O God, show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and lead me. Teach, rebuke, correct, and train me through the wisdom of your inspired and useful Word. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:18

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

Recommended Resource:
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth
by Gordon D. Fee

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28 - The Theme of My Song

The new Useful Breath reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again.

The new Sept. 2008 - August 2009 schedule will be available for you to download soon. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!


Overview of: Bible FAQs

Today's Reading:

Psalm 119:33 - 56
"Remembering God and His Word"

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:50-55
50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. 51 The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law. 52 I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them. 53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law. 54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge. 55 In the night I remember your name, O LORD, and I will keep your law.

Insight:
The psalmist found God's Word to be a source of encouragement and hope in every circumstance, place, or time. In suffering, God's promises preserved and sustained him. In the face of mocking and wickedness, God's ancient laws gave comfort and direction. Whether at home or traveling, God's decrees were like a song in his heart. Night or day, the Word filled his thoughts and brought the Lord's name to mind.

Response and Action:
Reading and meditating on God's Word makes me ready to face every situation. It makes me able to remember who God is, what he has commanded, and what he has promised. No matter what my circumstance, no matter where I am, no matter what time of day it is, God's Word will sustain me, direct me, put a song in my heart, and bring to mind thoughts of God and his goodness.

O God, I long for your Word. Help me to hide it in my heart that it might sustain and direct me everyday, everywhere, and in every circumstance. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:17

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Recommended Resource:
Can I Trust the Bible?
by Darrell L. Bock

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August 27 - The Path of Freedom

The new Useful Breath reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again.

The new Sept. 2008 - August 2009 schedule will be available for you to download soon. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!


Overview of: Bible FAQs

Today's Reading:

Psalm 119:17-32
"Singing about Scripture"

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:28-32
28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. 29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. 30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. 31 I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. 32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Insight:
Taking time to read Scripture and meditate on it gives strength in times of weariness, and moral clarity in the face of lies. Running the path of God's commands leads to a heart that is free.

Response and Action:
Life is draining and demanding; I will look to God's Word as a source of strength. The world is filled with lies and deceit; I will look to the Bible for guidance and wisdom. My daily path is filled with snares and burdens; I will look to the words of Scripture to find freedom and peace for my heart and mind.

O God, by the power and grace of your Spirit, bless me and sustain me as I take time to meditate upon your Word each day. Grant me strength when I am weary. Give me joy in times of sorrow. Give me wisdom to discern what is true. Give me freedom as I follow your commands. I pray in the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. 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."

Recommended Resource:

Zondervan NIV Study Bible
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August 26 - How to Live?

The new reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again. The new reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!

Overview of: Bible FAQs

Today's Reading:

Psalm 119:1-16
"Scripture Psalm"

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:9-11
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Insight:
God's Word is useful for knowing God's will and for learning how to live in purity and truth. It is important to have a desire to know God and his will. This whole-hearted desire motivates the believer to read, apply, study, know, and memorize Scripture.

Response and Action:
If I want to know God and his will for my life, I need to spend time in the Bible. I will seek him with my whole heart and commit myself to walking in the light of his truth. I will make time every day to read the Scripture, to prayerfully consider how it applies to my life, and to be as responsive to it as I can be.

O God, thank you for the Bible. Open my mind to understand what it says. Make my heart soft and ready to receive it. Give me the wisdom and the will to obey and respond to it. Show me your ways, O Lord, guide me in your truth and lead me for you are God, my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Amen.

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:28

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."

Recommended Reading:

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reading Schedule for August 26 - 30

Aug. 26 - Psalm 119:1-16
Aug. 27 - Psalm 119:17-32
Aug. 28 - Psalm 119:33-56
Aug. 29 - Psalm 119:57-80
Aug. 30 - Psalm 119:81-104


You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through the entire New Testament and key passages of the Old Testament. The 2008-09 Useful Breath reading plan will be available soon.

Congratulations!

If you started reading the Bible with me in September 2007, congratulations, you've successfully read key passages through the entire Bible. I'm revising the Useful Breath reading plan for next year so that it will include the entire New Testament and key passages throughout the Old Testament.

Please invite friends and family to join us as we read through the Bible once again. The new reading schedule will begin on Monday, September 15, 2008. Until then, our daily readings will be centered on the importance of Scripture in our lives. Keep reading!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 23 - No More Tears

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 21:1 – 22:5
"The New Jerusalem"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 12:10
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And 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. 4 He 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." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Insight:
The surprising hope of the gospel is that God has promised to one day make all things new. Jesus' prayer--"your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"--will be granted. Earth and heaven will be one; God's dwelling place will be here with us; every tear will be wiped away; there will be no more death or crying or pain. This is the glorious promise of God, who has called us to the hope of resurrection and eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

Response and Action:
I will place all my trust and hope in Christ Jesus. My life and purpose in this world will be shaped by the redemptive purpose and promise of Jesus. I will do all I can to draw near to God, to meditate on the Scriptures, to follow in the steps of Jesus, and to enter into his redeeming and saving work in my world.

O God, help me to live in the transforming power of the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. Help me to live each day in the glorious hope and promise of resurrection and eternal life. Grant me the wisdom and perseverance to follow the Lamb wherever he leads. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.

When Christ shall come will shout of acclamation,
To heal this world, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I will bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, "My God, how great you are!"


Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 116:7-9
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. 8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
In Context: Psalm 116

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:17-18

"Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."

Recommended Reading:

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 22 - Cosmic Conflict

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 12:1-17
"The Dragon Defeated"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 12:10
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

Insight:
There is so much in life that poses a threat to my well-being and causes me to be weary. Beyond the practical difficulties of my circumstances and problems, these things are part of a spiritual battle for my heart and mind.

Response and Action:
I recognize that there is a spiritual dimension to the challenges and struggles I face. According to the Scriptures, all of creation is part of a cosmic battle God is waging to redeem and save. I will cry out to the Rock who is higher than I when I am weary and overwhelmed. I believe in the salvation, power, and authority of Christ. I believe that he can save me and bring me safely to himself.

Save me, O God, when my heart is fainting. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Protect me from discouragement and encourage me, by your Spirit, through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. 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 trust and acknowledge you in all my ways. Be my rock and helper in every storm and trial. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 61:1-2
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
In Context: Psalm 61

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:8

"He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed."

Recommended Reading:

The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation
by Paul Spilsbury

Thursday, August 21, 2008

August 21 - Hearing His Voice

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 2:1-29
"Letters to Churches"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 3:17-20
17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Insight:
It is so sad and so dangerous to be blind to one's own need. It is so easy to fall under the delusion of self-sufficiency that comes from comfort and possessions. Jesus is calling all lukewarm and half-hearted Christians to be earnest and repent. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks. If we will be responsive to him, he will come in and live with us. He will guide us to truth and refine us. He will give us the true riches of righteousness.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize my sin and need for Christ. I need to see the pitiful blindness and darkness of being deceived and lulled into half-heartedness by comfort and possessions. I need to hear Jesus' voice and open the door of my heart to receive his full counsel and the refining grace only he can give.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for any lukewarm and halfhearted attitudes you find in me. Give me a responsive heart and tune my ears to hear your voice. Thank you for the promise that you will live with me if I will open the door to you. Lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of God. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Deut. 30:19-20
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In Context: Deuteronomy 30

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:2

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart."

Recommended Reading:

The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer, and the Witness of the Spirit
by Gordon T. Smith

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 20 - Love Lost

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 2:1-29
"Letters to Churches"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 2:1-4
1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Insight:
In John's vision, the glorified Christ has words of commendation and warning for seven churches; the first was the church in Ephesus. He commends them for good deeds, hard work, perseverance, holiness, and discernment. He warns them that, despite all these good qualities, they have forsaken their first love. It seems that it is possible to do good, work hard, be committed, and exercise commitment, and yet somehow lose sight of a genuine love for Jesus himself. A true love for Christ will always produce the good qualities and actions the Ephesians displayed. Without a love for Christ, these commendable qualities deteriorate into religiosity and law that is eventually unsustainable and empty.

Response and Action:
I must cultivate my love for Jesus. My obedience and commitment to Christ must be rooted in my love and trust for him. I will nurture my love for Jesus through worship, expressions of thanks, and meditation upon the things he did and the words he said. I will remember that following Christ is more than belief, obedience, and perseverance; it is love.

Lord Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Help me to love you with my whole heart, so that my obedience and deeds and commitment might flow out of that love. Thank you for your great love for me. Forgive me for the times I lose sight of you and forget that you want more than my belief and my behavior -- you want my love. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Deut. 6:4-5
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
In Context: Deuteronomy 6

Proverb for Today: Prov. 20:6

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?"

Recommended Reading:

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 19 - He Holds the Keys

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 1:1-20
"The Revelation of Jesus"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 1:17-18
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Insight:
In the Apostle John's great vision he sees the resurrected Christ Jesus, the Son of Man, who "has freed us from our sins by his blood" (1:5), and will return again -- "coming with the clouds" (1:7). The sight and sound of the glorified Christ Jesus so overwhelm John that he falls to the ground as a dead man. But Jesus puts his right hand on John saying, "Don't be afraid." Jesus is the beginning and the end. He is the Living One and is alive forever; he has conquered death and holds the keys to death. Jesus holds the keys that open the doors from death to life for all humanity.

Response and Action:
Jesus is alive; forever! He is the Living One who has conquered death. Every thought I have of Jesus will be shaped and celebrated with the amazing truth that he is alive today. He is coming again. He is the beginning and the end. He holds the keys and he will deliver me from death.

O God, help me to walk and live in the truth that Jesus is alive. Fill my heart with hope, and give me peace and confidence as embrace this truth by faith. Give me courage in the face of suffering and hope in the face of death, as I trust in Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Deut. 32:39-40
39 "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40 I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever..."
In Context: Deuteronomy 32

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:23

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

Recommended Reading:

Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in an Everyday Life
by Eugene H. Peterson

Monday, August 18, 2008

August 18 - Love & Obedience

Overview of: 2 John and 3 John

Today's Reading:

2 John, 3 John
"Warning and Encouragement"

Focus Verses:
2 John 1:5b-6
5b I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Insight:
Love for God moves us to draw near to him and to obey his commands. Drawing near to God and obeying his commands moves us to love others. Love for God, and love for others -- each one feeds the other. The more we love God, the more ready and able we are to love others. The more we love others, the more we recognize our need to know and love and obey God.

Response and Action:
I want to love God with my whole being. I want to know his word and obey his commands. I need God to work in my life and make me able to love others. I will put my love for God into action by making every effort to obey him and live by his word. I will follow Christ's example and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit as I make every effort to love others.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Make me more able to love others as I follow Christ and the example he has given. By your word and 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. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Leviticus 19:15-18
15 "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. 16 'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD. 17 Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."
In Context: Leviticus 19

Proverb for Today: Prov. 18:24

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Recommended Reading:

Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality
by David G. Benner

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Reading Schedule for August 18 - 23

Aug. 18 - 2John, 3John
Aug. 19 - Rev. 1:1-20
Aug. 20 - Rev. 2:1-29
Aug. 21 - Rev. 3:1-21
Aug. 22 - Rev. 12:1-17
Aug. 23 - Rev. 21:1 – 22:5



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, August 16, 2008

August 16 - Life in the Son

Overview of: 1 John

Today's Reading:

1 John 5:1-15
"Faith in the Son"

Focus Verses:
1 John 5:9-12
9 We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Insight:
God has spoken; his testimony is that life is in his Son, and only in his Son. Those, who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, have this testimony in their hearts. To reject faith in Jesus and this promise of life, John says, is to reject the Christian view of God and the Christian hope of life in Christ.

Response and Action:
I believe that the testimony and teaching of the apostles is true and reliable. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I believe that God has given abundant testimony -- through scripture, prophecy, miracles, incarnation, history, apostolic revelation, the present work of the Holy Spirit, and my personal experience in following Christ -- that Jesus is His Son and that life is found in him. This testimony rings true in my own heart.

O Lord, confirm your testimony and the truth of Christ Jesus in my heart more and more with each new day. Help me to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Help me to mature in my faith, that my life might also become a testimony of your grace and the truth of Jesus. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Neh. 9:5b-6
5b "Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
In Context: Nehemiah 9

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:6

"Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil."

Recommended Reading:

Who Was Jesus?
by Scot McKnight

This is the Testimony (Music CD)
CSF Scripture Songs

Friday, August 15, 2008

August 15 - God, Made Man

Overview of: 1 John

Today's Reading:

1 John 4:1-21
"Son of Man--Son of God"

Focus Verses:
1 John 4:1-3; 14-15
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. - - - 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

Insight:
Just as we saw warnings from Peter and Jude regarding faith and sound doctrine, we now see the Apostle John telling Christians to be careful to not believe just anyone. He urges them to "test the spirits" and to remember that there are many false teachers in the world.

John gave them some important truths about Jesus they should look for as they exercised discernment. First, sound doctrine acknowledges that Jesus is from God. Secondly, sound doctrine acknowledges that Jesus is God incarnate--actually human, actually flesh and blood. Third, sound doctrine acknowledges that Jesus is actually the Son of God--actually divine.

Response and Action:
I need to be careful not to believe just anyone who claims to be teaching from the Bible or claims to be a “Christian” teacher. I need to study the Bible carefully for myself in order to have first-hand knowledge of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. I will reject teaching that fails to recognize the importance of the incarnation and the humanity of Jesus. I will reject teaching that fails to acknowledge the deity of Jesus. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit became incarnate from the virgin Mary.

O God, how can a person keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Show me your ways, O Lord. Guide me in your truth, and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. I pray through Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God today and for all eternity. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Prov. 30:4
4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!
In Context: Proverbs 30

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:2

"The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."

Recommended Reading:

Who Was Jesus?
by Scot McKnight

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August 14 - Love Requires Action

Overview of: 1 John

Today's Reading:

1 John 3:1-24
"God's Love and Ours"

Focus Verses:
1 John 3:16-20
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Insight:
Jesus' love was more than words and feelings; he demonstrates God's love through the selfless act of laying down his life for us. We are called to follow his example through selflessly laying down our lives for others. Love must be demonstrated through actions that respond to the practical needs of people around us. Meeting real needs not only proves to others the sincerity of our love, it also confirms it to us. We begin to know that we belong the truth once we see ourselves living it out--not just talking about it.

Response and Action:
I need to be quick to see the needs of others. I need to be willing to take selfless action to help and address the needs of others. To see needs, but do nothing, is a contradiction to following Jesus. The call to love is a call to action.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love my neighbor as myself. Help me to follow Christ's selfless example, watching for the needs of others, and doing what I can to meet those needs. Help me to use every good gift you have given me to bless and encourage others. Through Christ, Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Deut. 15:11
11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
In Context: Deuteronomy 15:1-11

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:21

"He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy."

Recommended Reading:

The Mark of Jesus
by Timothy George and John Woodbridge

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 13 - Light from Light

Overview of: 1 John

Today's Reading:

1 John 1:1-10
"Fellowship with God"

Focus Verses:
1 John 1:8-10
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Insight:
Seeing ourselves for who we are is an important part of seeing God for who he truly is. God is light; in him there is no darkness. Recognizing my sin and confessing it to God is essential to receiving and experiencing the grace of God's forgiveness and restoration. Not only is God faithful to forgive, he is able to purify and transform me. Confession and repentance make it possible to be reconciled to God and to walk in fellowship with others.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize my sin and ask God for forgiveness and healing. I cannot walk in fellowship with God and with others if I am blind to my own need for forgiveness. Closing myself off from forgiveness destroys my relationship with God and with others. I will not be able to hear God's song of forgiveness for me unless I am willing to sing it with him. It is not simply a song to be heard; it is to be learned and sung with him. Realizing I need to hear the song comes first. Truly hearing that song comes next. The irresistible impulse to sing along with him naturally follows.

O God, have mercy upon me, a sinner. Forgive me of the wrongs I have committed, and give me a heart that is ready, willing, and able to forgive those who have wronged me. Thank you for your faithfulness to heal and restore. Through the transforming grace and power of Christ, help me to be an agent of your faithfulness and grace. Help me to walk in the light, as Christ Jesus is in the light. Help me to walk in the light with others who are looking to you for healing and forgiveness. May our fellowship be a living testimony of your saving grace. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 51:10-13
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
In Context: Psalm 51

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:14

"The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."

Recommended Reading:

Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope
by Everett L. Worthington

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 12 - Disciples or Deceivers

Overview of: Jude

Today's Reading:

Jude 1:1-25
"Warning and Encouragement"

Focus Verses:
Jude 1:17-21
17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Insight:
The Apostle Peter warned his readers to be discerning about false teachers and heresy; Jude does the same. In fact, Peter may have been drawing upon Jude in his second letter (compare 2 Peter 2 with Jude 4–18). Jude gives a number of markers for discerning heretical teachers and leaders. These include: a twisting of God's grace that leads to disregard for holy living (v. 4); a refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the only sovereign Lord (v. 4); a selfish pattern of putting themselves first (v. 12); boastful arrogance (v. 16); and being divisive and opposing the unity of the Spirit (v. 19).

Response and Action:
I need to recognize godly teaching and leadership. It is essential for the life and mission of my church family that our leaders follow the Lord Jesus Christ; he alone is able to keep us from falling. In order to live by the truth, I will build myself up in the true Christian faith; I will pray and look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and integrity; and I will look to the Scriptures and the teachings of the Apostles for direction and doctrine. In my Christian community, I will oppose heretical teaching and leadership, yet be merciful and redemptive toward others as I endeavor to be a voice for truth and sound doctrine.

O God, help me to know and live by the truth. Help me to be a student of the Scriptures. Help me to follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, give me the honesty and integrity to recognize your will and your ways. Deliver me from pride, selfishness, and unholiness. Grant me the faith and the perseverance of Christ Jesus, who is able to keep me from falling and present me without fault before your throne with great joy. To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Ezekiel 34:10-11
10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. 11 'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.'
In Context: Ezekiel 34

Proverb for Today: Prov. 11:3

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

Recommended Reading:

Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions And Leadership in the Bible
by Timothy S. Laniak

Monday, August 11, 2008

August 11 - Lie Detector

Overview of: 2Peter

Today's Reading:

2 Pet. 1:1 – 2:3
"Our Calling, Scripture, and Discernment"

Focus Verses:
2 Peter 2:1-3
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Insight:
In chapter 1, Peter says the testimony of the prophets and the apostles is trustworthy and inspired by God. Now in chapter 2 he warns of false teachers who make up their stories and their teachings. These false teachers are marked by: 1) their denial of God's sovereignty; 2) their shameful ways; and 3) their greed and exploitation of others. Peter urged Christians to exercise discernment. Not everyone who claims to be teaching the truth of God is doing so; followers of Jesus must be careful that they are not lead astray by so-called prophets and teachers.

Response and Action:
I need to be careful about whom I listen to and whom I follow. I want to follow Jesus, so I will study the Scriptures carefully everyday. I will hold every teaching and story I hear up to the light of Christ's teaching and example. I will be on guard against every teaching that diminishes God or questions the lordship of Jesus. I will evaluate teachers and leaders with a critical mindset and watch out for any indicators of greed, exploitation, or other selfish motives.

O God, your word is sharper than a two edged sword -- able to cut through the attitudes and motives of the heart. Give me a growing love for your written word and the discipline to study and meditate upon it each day. Thank you for Jesus, the Living Word. Help me to follow him closely and to become so familiar with his words, his actions, and his life that I am able to clearly recognize and reject anything that runs contrary to his way. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Deut. 13:1-4
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
In Context: Deuteronomy 13

Proverb for Today: Prov. 11:3

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

Recommended Reading:

God Talk: Cautions for Those Who Hear God's Voice
by Ruth Tucker