Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31 - Zoom Out

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 74-77

Focus Verses: Psalm 77:6b, 9-13
6b My heart mused and my spirit inquired: - - - 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" 10 Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High." 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. 13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?


God cannot forget to be himself. God would have to forget who he is in order to forget his mercy and compassion. God would, in fact, simply not be God if he forgot himself. God cannot be who he is and, at the same time, contradict who he is.

Asaph mused and wrestled with this puzzle. He looked at the trials and problems he was facing and wondered why God was not intervening. He felt like his cries were not being heard. He felt like God was far off. He wondered, "Has God stopped being God? Has God forgotten who he is?"

As he thought, he appealed to the things God had done in the past. Instead of rejecting God, Asaph wisely rejected his own doubts about God. Through worship and faith, Asaph concluded that God really was holy, good, powerful, and faithful. He recounted all the ways God had been faithful to his people throughout history. He trusted that God really was God and would always be God. He trusted that God would save in the future, just as he had saved in the past.

Response and Action:
My limited view of my trials and circumstances can give a distorted view of God. From my point of view, it can look as though God has lost interest or forgotten to check in on me. It can be tempting to wonder if God has forgotten to be who he claims to be. After all, if he is loving, caring, powerful, merciful, and able to save, where is he?

When I have doubts about God, I'm forced to choose between my fearful perceptions and the testimony of Scripture. I have to decide if I will trust my limited perspective more than I trust the promises of God. Will I reject God, or will I reject my doubts?

When I find myself wondering about God's faithfulness, I will gain perspective by reflecting upon the Scriptures, the testimony of Christians, the history of Israel and the church, and the encouragement of Christian friends today. When I can't see past my circumstances, I will "zoom out" in order to get a broader view. I will trust God to be the good and holy God he has proven himself to be.

O God, I trust you to be faithful and good. I trust you to be YOU. I give thanks to you, for your Name is near. People tell of your wonderful deeds. You choose the appointed time for everything. You judge uprightly. When the earth and all its people quake, it is you who holds its pillars firm. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Matthew 7:24-25
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
In Context: Matthew 7:24-29

Proverb for Today: Prov. 31:9
"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Recommended Reading:
Reflections on the Psalms
by C. S. Lewis

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30 - Envy Until...

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 70 – 73

Focus Verses: Psalm 73:1-3; 16-17
1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. - - - 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.


I really appreciate how the songwriter, Asaph, is so honest about his feelings and doubts. He believes that God is good and that he is good to his people. He believes that those who are pure in heart can count on God's goodness. He admits, however, that his faith was on slippery ground. His foothold was shaken by the prosperity of the wicked and he found himself beginning to envy them. "What good does it do me to have faith in you God?" he asks. "I don't understand what's going on!" he says.

Trying to reason through the whole philosophical/theological problem of how God can be good while the world is so evil became oppressive to him. It was only when he began to worship God that he began to see and understand. Worshipping the eternal God gave him an eternal perspective. Temporal prosperity lost its shine and allure in the light of eternal destiny.

Response and Action:
Like the Psalmist, I am sometimes tempted to feel like faith in God isn't getting me anywhere. I can envy the wicked. I can lose sight of eternal promises when I see people who have no regard for God prospering and succeeding. Worship is the way to hold on to understanding and my faith. Worship gives me perspective and reminds me of what is eternal and what is temporal. I will worship God, believing he is good and faithful to his people--to those who seek him with pure hearts.

O God, help me to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. In your faithfulness to me, do not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Thank you for your goodness to those who seek you. Give me humility and the wisdom to not envy the arrogant. Give me the perspective and discernment to know what is true and what is real. Deepen my understanding of life and truth as I worship you and praise you. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In Context: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Proverb for Today: Prov. 30:7-9
"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29 - Let Me Tell You!

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 66 – 69

Focus Verses: Psalm 66:1-5, 16
1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! 3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4 All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name." 5 Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf! - - - 16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.


In Psalm 66, the psalmist is absolutely exuberant with praise at the thought of all God is and has done. So many of the psalms are filled with appeals for God to do something, but this psalm is celebration of all God has done.

Response and Action:
I spend a lot of time asking God to do things for me. I want to spend more time reflecting on all God has done and the many blessings he has provided. I will lift up my needs to the Lord, but I will also lift up enthusiastic shouts of praise for the awesome deeds he has done on behalf of humankind--the awesome works that have blessed me in so many ways.

Not only will I praise God, I will make that praise glorious and unrestrained. I will tell anyone who will listen of the great things God has done for me. I will celebrate and tell others about the things God is doing in my life. I will delight in the great things God has promised to do.

O God, thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank you for the love you have not withheld from me. Give me a mind to recount my blessings. Give me a heart to offer up thanks. Give me a mouth that is quick to sing praise. Give me an eagerness to tell others of all you have done for me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Mark 5:19-20
19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
In Context: Mark 5:1-20

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:13
"The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both."

Recommended Reading:
Reflections on the Psalms
by C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28 - Night Song

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 60 – 65

Focus Verses: Psalm 63:6-8
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.


You can tell how difficult and threatening life must have been for David; so many of his psalms perpetually focus on the need for deliverance and refuge. Many of these threats were external--enemies, armies, malicious words, arrows, and swords--but others were internal, like his fears, his sins, his ignorance, and his weaknesses.

He must have had many a sleepless night, but even in those times he turned his thoughts toward God. When he couldn't sleep, whether he was on duty or whether he was filled with anxiety, he remembered that God was his help. Because he believed God would uphold and protect him, he could offer up a song of praise in the darkest night.

Response and Action:
Just a few nights ago I found myself awake. My mind was racing through a long list of concerns over responsibilities and relationships. It was a mild and peaceful night outside, so I went outside and sat down in one of the Adirondacks in front of my house. I laid my head back and watched the clouds float by in the moonlight.

There, in the quiet of the night, I thought of David's words in Psalm 63, and tried to follow his example. I praised God and told him I was trusting him to accomplish his will and to see me through. Then, I went back to bed and slept soundly until morning. When life's concerns wake me up (or keep me up), I will sing a song of trust and hope to God, and then get some rest.

O God, you are my God. I seek you earnestly. In this dry and weary land, my soul thirsts for you and my body longs for you. My soul finds rest in you alone. May the peace of Christ guard my heart and mind in every circumstance. It's in his name that I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In Context: Philippians 4:2-20

Proverb for Today: Prov. 28:14
"Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."

Recommended Reading:
Praying the Psalms of Jesus
by James Sire

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27 - Peril and Praise

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 55 – 59

Focus Verses: Psalm 57:4-7
4 I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 They spread a net for my feet—I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path—but they have fallen into it themselves. 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
See 1 Samuel 24 to read the story behind the Psalm

The Psalms in today's reading are filled with descriptions of perils juxtaposed with expressions praise. In one breath David describes the tongues of his enemies as sharp swords, but then in the next breath David's tongue begins to praise his God. David describes the trap his enemies have spread for his feet, though they are the ones who will trip and fall. In contrast, David's heart is steadfast. He is confident that by God's grace he will not be brought down, and so he lifts up his voice in songs of praise.

Response and Action:
When I think of the fears and challenges in my life, I will lift them up to God in prayer. And as I cry out for help, I will also sing songs of honor and trust. I will punctuate my pleas for help with shouts of praise. Every problem I recount to God will be accompanied with an expression of hope and adoration. Every time I think of the things that threaten to bring me down, I will give thanks to the Lord who has promised to hold me up.

O God, I live in a world of danger, but you are a God of deliverance. There are things that scare me, but you have promised to save me. Traps have been set to pull me down, but your truth has been given to hold me up. In the face of every peril, I will give you praise. Thank you for Christ Jesus who has both promised and proved that you are the faithful God who has defeated every enemy--even death. Nothing can defeat those who have placed their confidence in you by trusting in your Son, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit--one God now and forever. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 8:33-37
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
In Context: Romans 8

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:12
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."

Recommended Reading:
Faith & Doubt
by John Ortberg

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reading Schedule for July 27 - August 1

July 27 - Psalms 55 – 59
July 28 - Psalms 60 – 65
July 29 - Psalms 66 – 69
July 30 - Psalms 70 – 73
July 31 - Psalms 74 – 77
August 1 - Psalms 78 – 79

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 can be downloaded by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25 - A Contrite Heart

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 50 – 54

Focus Verses: Psalm 51:6,10,17
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. - - - 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - - - 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

When Samuel rebuked King Saul and told him the kingdom would be taken away from him (1Sam. 13:14), he said the Lord had "sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people." That man was David. In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul also makes reference to David as being "a man after God's own heart" who "would do everything God wanted him to do."

David was every bit the sinner that Saul was. In fact, David's adultery and murder of a good and faithful soldier are right up there, and might surpass, any of Saul's sins. So how can it be that David is described as a man "after God's own heart?"

Obviously, "having a heart after God" does not mean being without sin. David and Saul were both sinners, but only David was willing to recognize his sin, humble his heart, ask God for cleansing, and turn his heart back toward following and obeying God.

Response and Action:
I want to have a heart after God. This does not mean that I will never sin or make mistakes. It does mean, however, that I am seeking God. It means that I am humble before God and ready to recognize my sin and my need for forgiveness. It means that I desire to obey and serve God. It means that I will look to God for direction, for cleansing, for purpose. It means that I acknowledge Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and that I will seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

O God, create in me clean heart -- a heart that is after your heart. Search me and try me to see if there is anything hurtful or sinful in me. Forgive me, purify me, and lead me in your everlasting ways. Put your truth and wisdom in my inmost parts. Help me to delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Corinthians 7:9b-10
9b ...your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
In Context: 2 Corinthians 7:2-16

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:25-26
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked."

Recommended Reading:
A Heart for God: Learning From David Through the Tough Choices of Life
by Rebecca Manley Pippert

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24 - Fears

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 45 – 49
SONGBOOK II : Psalms 42 - 72

Focus Verses: Psalm 46:1-6
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

God's help and care are always available to me. In times of trouble, I will run to him for refuge and lean on him for strength. No matter how traumatic and hopeless the situation, no matter how deep the grief, no matter how frightening the circumstances, I will look to the Most High.

Response and Action:
What are the threats and fears I am facing today? What troubles in the world depress and overwhelm me? What is breaking my heart and shaking my world? I will not seek death or give up in despair, I will remember that God is present and persevere through him.

O God, be near me when I walk through the valleys of life. Be the light of hope for me when the shadows of death are looming all around me. Be a rock and a refuge to me when the storms rage. Remind me of your goodness and the future hope you have for me. Save me at the break of day and renew me with the river of life that flows from you; make me glad and bring me safely into your presence forever. Calm my every fear. In Jesus' name, Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 8:31-39
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Context: Romans 8

Proverb for Today: Prov. 24:10
"If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!"

Recommended Reading:
Be Not Afraid
by David Ivaska

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23 - Loving Regard

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 41 - 44
SONGBOOK II : Psalms 42 - 72

Focus Verses: Psalm 41:1-4
1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. 2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness. 4 I said, "O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you."

There is a connection between our relationship with God and our relationships others. The connection is a matter of perspective and motivation. If we truly understand and receive God's love, it will impact the way we love others. When we understand our need to be forgiven and God's grace to forgive, it moves us to forgive others. In recognizing our weakness before God and our need for deliverance, we are reminded and moved to have compassion on those around us who are weak and in need of rescue. As we love, forbear, help, and extend grace and support for others, we can rest in the assurance of God's faithfulness to preserve our lives and meet our needs.

Response and Action:
Because God is gracious and faithful to me, I will faithfully extend grace to others. I will have regard for the weak. I will do what I can to help others in times of trouble. I will pray, share, listen, work, give, and sacrifice for others as an expression of my faith and reliance upon God. Because I cry out to God, I will be sensitive to the cries of those around me who are hurting and in need.

O Lord, thank you for your gracious salvation and work in my life. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do--to be faithful, fruitful, and effective as your servant. Give me a regard for the weak, a heart for the hurting, a hand for the downtrodden, an ear for the misunderstood, a good word for the weary, and a generosity for the needy. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 1 John 4:19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
In Context: 1 John 4:7-21

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:6-7
"Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you."

Recommended Reading:
Love, The Ultimate Apologetic: The Heart of Christian Witness
by Art Lindsley

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22 - Wise Tongue

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 37 – 40
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 37:30-31
30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.

Having the truth of Scripture hidden in my heart will give stability to my life. God's wisdom and truth in my heart will be apparent in the words I say and the way I say them.

Response and Action:
I will read the Scriptures every day and apply them to my life. Knowing God's word will help me live a stable and healthy life and help me to speak with wisdom and truth.

O God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. Help me to know and understand your word, that my mouth might speak truth and wisdom. Help me to walk with integrity and to speak and act justly. Give me the heart that is guided and shaped by your Spirit, that my mouth would be a blessing to others. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Peter 1:19-21
19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
In Context: 2 Peter 1

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:11-12
"He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend. The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful."

Recommended Reading:
Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ
by Dallas Willard

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21 - My Little World

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 33 – 36
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 33:6,13-15, 22
6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. - - - 13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. - - - 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

In Psalm 33, the Psalmist praises the Creator who brought the vastness of the heavens and earth into existence with the breath of His mouth. Amazingly, this all-powerful God, who sees the expansive and mighty seas as something he could put into jars, is not distant or uninterested in humanity. To the contrary, he sees all of mankind and watches all who live on earth. The One who made the stars is the One who forms our hearts and thinks about everything we do.

Response and Action:
Sometimes I feel lost and insignificant. Though creation is beautiful and impressive, I often feel swallowed up by its enormity and complexity. It's hard to imagine that the God who breathed creation into being is interested in me, but that is exactly the hope and faith of the Psalmist, the message Christ taught, and the heart of the Christian faith.

I will rejoice in the promise that God knows me and cares about me. I will live today in the faith that God sees and considers everything I am doing. I will depend on God's unfailing love and put my hope in Him.

Oh God of the stars, the sun and the moon-- / Oh God of the wind and the sea, / Though You’re everywhere, How amazing it is that You can be here with me.

The uncharted craters of planets beyond, / You know like the palm of your hand; / And yet You’re concerned, with my little world. / Oh, help me to understand.

I know that miracles happen to people like me / the moment we dare to believe; / for we are the objects of God’s mighty love-- / love greater than our little minds can conceive.

The stars could collide, the sun could grow dim, / the whole universe pass away, / Still nothing can change the promise He made, / and Christ in my heart will stay.

"My Little World"
Written by Ralph Carmichael © Bud John Songs, Inc.

New Testament for Today: Matthew 6:26-30
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
In Context: Matt. 6:5-34

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:2
"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart."

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20 - Blessing in Confessing

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 28 – 32
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 32:1-5
1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Failure to acknowledge my sin before God will result in guilt and depression. How much better for me to admit my failures, uncover my sins, and confess my need for God's forgiveness and grace. The blessing of forgiveness and relief from guilt comes from being humble and honest before God. If I confess my sins, God is faithful and just and he will forgive me my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness.

Response and Action:
I will be humble and honest before God and admit my sins and weaknesses. God knows all about them anyway, so covering them up is only self-deception. I want the peace and freedom from guilt that comes with confession and honesty to God. I will openly acknowledge my weakness and transgressions to God. I will look to God for the grace and guidance I need to overcome sin. I will give God my thanks and praise for his mercy and faithfulness to forgive and restore.

Thank you, Almighty God, for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your faithfulness and your forgiveness that blesses all who confess their sins and look to you for salvation. Lead me away from temptation, and deliver me from evil. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me a humble heart and a readiness to repent, and as I do, restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 1 John 1:8-9
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.
In Context: 1 John 1:5-10

Proverb for Today: Prov. 20:9
"Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?"

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading Schedule for July 20 - 25

July 20 - Psalms 28 – 32
July 21 - Psalms 33 – 36
July 22 - Psalms 37 – 40
July 23 - Psalms 41 – 44
July 24 - Psalms 45 – 49
July 25 - Psalms 50 – 54

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 can be downloaded by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July 18 - He Guides Me

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 23 – 27
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

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

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

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

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 18:10
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

Recommended Reading:
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
by W. Phillip Keller

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17 - Glory to God

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 19 – 22
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41
Note: Review my post from July 11, 2009 for thoughts on Psalm 22.

Focus Verses: Psalm 19:1, 9, 14
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. - - - 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. - - - 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


It's hard to imagine how bright the stars blazed during the time of David. Our 21st century atmosphere is flooded with man-made light that diminishes our experience of the night sky. Sometimes when I get away from the lights of the city, like on a trip to northern woods and lakes of Minnesota, I'm reminded of just how breathtaking the heavens can be.

As a shepherd, and then later as a soldier, David spent many a night under the stars. He looked up and heard them "declare God's glory." The sun, moon, and stars were all giving glory to God by being exactly what he had made them to be. God had brought them into being by his word, and by God's word they were a glory to God.

Like the stars in the heavens, David wanted to be exactly who God had made him to be. He realized that God was his maker and he wanted to live by God's word in order to bring glory to God.

Response and Action:
I recognize that I exist by God's creative word. I want to live according to God's word. I will seek to know God's word as he has revealed it through creation, through the Scriptures, and through his Son Jesus--the Word made flesh. I will treasure, heed, and keep God's Word. God's Word will guide and inform all I am and think and do. I will pray that the words of my mouth, the attitudes of my heart, and the works of my hands will be pleasing and honoring to God.

O God, help me to delight in your word, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Context: Romans 16

Proverb for Today: Prov. 17:3
"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart."

Recommended Reading:
How to Read the Psalms
by Tremper Longman

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16 - Son of David

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 16 – 18
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 16:8-11
8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.


The Apostle Peter famously quoted this Psalm in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. Many of the the Psalms of David were considered to be Messianic--they were seen to have a meaning that would ultimately be fulfilled in the fullest way by the promised Messiah (the Anointed One, the Son of David, the Christ).

Peter reasoned that since King David himself died, was buried, and experienced decay, Psalm 16:8-11 was more perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David who had risen from the grave. Peter understood King David to be prophesying about Jesus Christ.

It seems to me that some other passages in today's reading could also be seen to find their fullest meaning and fulfillment in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Consider these: Psalm 17:11-15; Psalms 18:4-6; 18:45-50.

Response and Action:
In keeping with the teaching of the Apostles, I see Jesus to be the Christ who fulfills the Messianic promises and hopes of the Old Testament prophets. My faith is strengthened the more I see the ways that Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection so accurately embody the hopes and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. I will place my hope and my faith in Jesus, believing that he is God's promised deliverer who has conquered death, brought salvation, and will one day reconcile all things to God.

O Lord, I praise you because you counsel me. Even at night, by your Spirit, my heart instructs me. I have set You always before me. I call on you, for you will answer me. Give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonder of your great love. Save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Amen

New Testament for Today: Acts 2:29-32
29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
In Context: Acts 2

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:10a
"The lips of a king speak as an oracle..."

Recommended Reading:
How to Read the Psalms
by Tremper Longman

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15 - Righteousness from God

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 11 – 15
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 14:2-3
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Contrasting the wicked and the righteous is a major consideration throughout the Old Testament Psalter. It is certainly the prevalent theme throughout the five psalms in today's reading.

In Psalm 11, David says that "He takes refuge in the Lord" who "is righteous and loves justice," believing that "upright men will see his face." In Psalm 14, he attaches wickedness with the denial of God, saying those who say 'there is no God' are corrupt. He acknowledges, however, that "all have turned aside" from God, and "there is no one who does good, not even one."

In Psalm 15, he extols the virtues of integrity and applauds the one who "is righteous, speaking the truth from his heart." David says that these are the people who will dwell with God and cannot be shaken.

Response and Action:
I will give careful thought to my ways. I want to live a righteous life that honors God. Though I want to speak the truth, I humbly recognize the ways I have turned from God and become corrupt. I am thankful that, through faith in Christ Jesus, God has reached past my sin and is at work to redeem and renew me. I’m glad that by God’s grace and redemptive power I can turn away from misdeeds and, instead, live by the Spirit.

O God, by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me. Forgive me of my sin and help me to turn away from it. Create in me a clean heart. By your Spirit, make me a person of integrity. I cannot be righteous on my own. Thank you for the grace you've extended to me through Jesus. Help me to abide in Him and in doing so become able to walk in his ways. Amen

New Testament for Today: Romans 3:20-24
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
In Context: Romans 3

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:9
"The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness."

Recommended Reading:
Becoming Good
by David W. Gill

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14 - Pitfall

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 6 – 10
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

Focus Verses: Psalm 7:15-17
15 He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. 16 The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head. 17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

King Saul was a Benjamite. David's succession to the throne was a difficult and contentious road. Many from the tribe of Benjamin opposed him. This psalm arises out of that conflict. It's about a specific circumstance and person. The note in the title tells us it is a song David sang to the Lord about Cush, a Benjamite.

David begins the psalm with a statement of trust in God, and ends the psalm with a statement of praise and thanks to God. The body of the psalm is filled with the fears, thoughts, and anger that filled David's thoughts and heart due to his conflict with Cush.

As David considered the motives and morality of others, he must have also been considering his own integrity and heart. He believed that evil motives and actions would eventually bring destruction upon those who did them. Ultimately, David trusted God to sort things out, to vindicate the righteous, and to judge the wicked.

Response and Action:
It makes sense to bring specific conflicts and problems to God. When I come to God with specific people and circumstances in mind, I will be careful to start with expressions of trust and end with thanksgiving and praise. While talking to God about the actions and motives of others, I will also be careful to evaluate my own heart. I will give careful thought to how my problems may have been brought on or worsened by my own actions. I will ask God for humility, wisdom, support, and restoration, because my ultimate hope is in him.

O God, help me live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Help me to delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen

New Testament for Today: James 1:2-6
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
In Context: James 1

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:8
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."

Recommended Reading:
How to Read the Psalms
by Tremper Longman

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13 - Pray A.M.

Overview of: Psalms

Today's Reading:
Psalms 1 – 5
SONGBOOK I : Psalms 1-41

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

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

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

Every morning mercies new
Fall as fresh as morning dew;
Every morning let us pay
Tribute with the early day:
For your mercies, God, are sure;
Your compassion does endure.

New Testament for Today: Mark 1:35-37
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
In Context: Mark 1

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

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