Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31 - Faith and Scripture

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 24:45-53
1 Corinthians 16

Old Testament -
Psalms 94
Ruth 4
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Luke 24:44-45
44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Insight:
When Jesus came alongside the two disciples traveling to Emmaus and began to speak with them, they did not recognize him. The two travelers shared their sense of lost hope and sadness over Jesus' crucifixion, not knowing it was Jesus they were talking to. Rather than immediately revealing his identity to them, Jesus pointed them to the Scriptures. He wanted them to first see that who he was and what they had experienced was utterly consistent with the law and the prophets and the poets.

When Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem, he once again pointed them to the Scriptures, opening their minds to understand them. Jesus wanted their belief to be rooted in more than personal events; he wanted their faith to be rooted in the truth and tradition of Scripture. He wanted them to see him not just through the lens of their own experience, but also through the broader and more comprehensive lens of Scripture.

Response & Action:
I want to see and experience the presence, truth, and power of Christ Jesus in my life. In order to truly see and understand him, I need to be a student of the Scriptures. In reading the Bible, I am deepening and broadening my understanding of who Jesus is. A greater grasp of God's written word will give me greater insight into the words of Jesus. This will give me a greater recognition of who he is to me, and help me understand he calling and promise for my life.

O God, thank you for the Bible. Thank you for the words of the law, the prophets, and the psalms. Thank you for the gospels, the acts of the early church, and the teaching of the apostles. Open my mind to understand the Scriptures. Help me to see Jesus for who he truly is. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, open my eyes to the truth and make it burn within my heart. Help me to delight in and live by your word. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: 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.

Resources:
Can I Trust the Bible?
by Darrell Bock

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30 - The Lord Reigns

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 24:36-44
1 Corinthians 15:29-58

Old Testament -
Psalms 93
Ruth 2-3
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 93:1-3
1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

Insight:
God's power, authority, and word are unshakable and eternal. He is before all things and after all things. Truth and life are found only in him and in his word. All authority belongs to him.

Response & Action:
I believe that God reigns and that he has given all authority to Christ Jesus. I humbly yield to him and recognize his rightful place of authority in my life. I will seek him and build my life upon his word in order to have a steadfast faith and an unshakable life.

O God, you reign over all things. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. By your power and grace, help me to follow Christ and yield to his Lordship. Help me to be a faithful disciple, and help me to help others become disciples. Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 7:26-29
26 "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Resources:
The Lord and His Prayer
by N.T. Wright

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29 - Resurrection

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 24:28-35
1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Old Testament -
Psalms 92
Ruth 1
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:

1 Corinthians 15:13-20

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Insight:
If Jesus Christ did not raise from the grave--if the resurrection story is just a myth or wishful thinking, then Christianity is a sham. Apart from the resurrection, faith and preaching is worthless and the Apostles were misled at best and liars at worst. Without the resurrection, there is no hope for deliverance from sin, and all who have died with faith in Christ are lost. But Christ has been raised from the dead! The testimony of scripture, history, the church, and of changed lives all point to the veracity of Christ's resurrection.

Response & Action:
I believe in the resurrection of Jesus - my faith matters. Because I believe it, the study of scripture and learning as a disciple of Jesus are vital. Because I believe in the resurrection, I have hope of something beyond my mortal life. Because I believe in resurrection power, I have hope of transformation and renewal in my life today. Because I believe in the resurrection, I have hope that the world can change through faith and obedience to Christ. Because I believe in the resurrection, I have hope of salvation. Because I believe and my belief has changed my life, I want to help others find that same hope and salvation.

O God, thank you for raising Christ Jesus from the dead. Thank you that resurrection power is available to me today as I surrender to you (Romans 8). Help me to take hold of that power that I might be changed into the likeness Jesus in thought, word, and deed. Thank you for your promise to raise me on the final day, that I might spend eternity with you and all those who have believed in Jesus. Help me to be a witness and a blessing to everyone around me that others might come to salvation and be raised into a new life and a new hope. I look for the resurrection and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 1:3-5
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Resources:
Resurrection
by N.T. Wright

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28 - Beyond Confusion

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 24:13-27
1 Corinthians 14:26-40

Old Testament -
Psalms 91
Judges 20-21
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Luke 24:20-24
20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.

Insight:
The two Christ-followers on the road to Emmaus were downhearted and confused. They had placed their hope in Jesus, believing him to be the promised Messiah. These hopes were dashed when they saw him crucified and buried. When they heard the news that his body was no longer in the tomb, the possibility of resurrection does not seem to have entered their minds.

It's possible to be confused and disheartened, even if you're following and believing the right person. Faith might be well-placed, yet lack the depth and understanding that comes through difficult questions and tough experiences. Faith is something that must be refined and adjusted as it matures.

Response & Action:

When I am confused or disheartened, I will look to God for the insight I need to work through the problem at hand. Instead turning away from God and the Scriptures, I will lean into God and his word even more. Working through despair and questions will help me to mature in my faith. The truth that comes from God is deeper than my confusion and stronger than my weakness. Wrestling with deep questions will lead me to deeper understanding and deeper roots.

O God, I trust that, as you have promised, if I seek you, I will find you. I trust that honest doubts can lead me to greater faith. I trust that, with your help, struggling through confusing problems can lead me to deeper understanding. I trust that by turning to you in times when hope is waning, I will find a confidence in you that cannot be shaken. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs 3:5-6

5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.


Resources:
Six Dangerous Questions to Transform Your View of the World
by Paul Borthwick

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reading Schedule for Dec. 28 - Jan. 2

Luke 24:30-32
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Schedule and Tips
2009-10 Reading Schedule
Tips for Daily Bible Readers

December 28 -
Luke 24:13-27 / 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
Psalms
91 / Judges 20-21

December 29 -
Luke
24:28-35 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-28
Psalms
92 / Ruth 1

December 30 -
Luke 24:36-44 / 1 Corinthians 15:29-58
Psalms
93 / Ruth 2-3

December 31 -
Luke 24:45-53 / 1 Corinthians 16
Psalms
94 / Ruth 4

January 1 -
John 1:1-18 / 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Psalms
95 / 1 Samuel 1-2

January 2 -
John 1:19-28 / 2 Corinthians 1:12-24
Psalms
96 / 1 Samuel 3-5

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26 - Numbering My Days

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 24:1-12
1 Corinthians 14:1-25

Old Testament -
Psalms 90
Judges 19
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 90:2-6, 10, 12
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning- 6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. - - - 10 The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. - - - 12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Insight:
Psalm 90 is attributed as "A Prayer of Moses the Man of God." Moses knew a lot about life and death. He had seen many of his people die as slaves in Egypt, and even as they were delivered from bondage, he saw many of them die in the wilderness during their forty-year sojourn before entering the land God had promised. Though he lived a long life, he was acutely aware of its brevity in the big picture of God's creation, God's plan, and the history of God's people. He knew that in order to be wise, a person must understand how just how ephemeral life is.

Response & Action:
My life is short. I will commit each new day God grants me to honoring him. Today, I will seek him with my whole heart. Today, I will strive to serve him. Today, I will treasure his Word. Today, I will surrender my life to the call of Christ Jesus. Today, I will love my neighbor. Today, I will hold up every goal, action, attitude, responsibility, and relationship to the light of God's will.

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 what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teach me to number my days, that I might present to you a heart that is wise. Remind me that every day I have is a gift from you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 4:13-15
13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Resources:
Knowing God's Will: Finding Guidance for Personal Decisions
by M. Blaine Smith

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25 - Love Is

Merry Christmas!

Today's Readings:

New Testament -
Luke 23:50-56
1 Corinthians 13

Old Testament -
Psalms 89:19-52
Judges 17-18
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Insight:
Love is lived out through patience, kindness, contentment, humility, civility, unselfishness, forbearance, and graciousness. Love requires honesty, concern and care for others, and hopeful perseverance.

Response & Action:
I want to be a loving person. The virtues and qualities of love described in these verses help me to see what that means. Paul's words also give me some very practical guidance for self-examination.

O God, by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, teach me to love. Help me to clearly see Christ's example and transform my heart and mind that I might follow him more completely each day. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 4:7-9
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

Resources:
Love Walked Among Us: Learning To Love Like Jesus
by Paul E. Miller

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24 - My Part in the Body

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:44-49
1 Corinthians 12:14-31

Old Testament -
Psalms 89:1-18
Judges 16
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:

1 Corinthians 12:14-18

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Insight:
People in the body of Christ--the Church--have different gifts, serve different purposes, and meet different needs. Our place and purpose is arranged by God to accomplish God's intent for each individual and for the entire community. There is no need for competition, envy, or pride. Each person, each member of the body, should be content to be what she is and to do what he has been made to do. This is how we support the greater community, find our own fulfillment, and glorify God.

Response & Action:
I need to discover, develop, and exercise the gifts God has given me. I shouldn't envy others for what they are and do. I shouldn't despise or diminish what I am or what I can do. I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good things God has prepared for me to do (Eph. 2:10). Every member of the body is needed. By finding and doing my part, I support and serve the health and life of the whole body. I benefit others and others benefit me.

O God, you have fearfully and wonderfully made me. You know the purposes you have for me and the gifts you have given me. Help me, as I seek you with my whole heart, to discover my gifts and to understand how I can use them to serve your will. Give me good things to do and the heart to do them. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:4-5
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Resources:
Christly Gestures: Learning to Be Members of the Body of Christ
by Brett P. Webb-Mitchell

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23 - Useful, Not Just Used

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:38-43
1 Corinthians 12:1-13

Old Testament -
Psalms 88
Judges 13-15
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Judges 14:3-4
3 His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)

Insight:
Samson is not very likable or honorable. He shows himself to be brash, selfish, impulsive, violent, spoiled, disrespectful, deceptive, quarrelsome, and self-absorbed. During his time, the Israelites were living among the Philistines and were dominated by them. To the dismay of his parents, Samson decided (and demanded) to marry a Philistine woman.

Samson is a stunning reminder that not every person used by God is a good example of how to follow God. Samson's flaws were much bigger than his muscles, but God used him to accomplish his will to save his people. The redemptive power of God is so great that he can use even the failings of a person to accomplish a greater good. God can hit a home run with a broken bat.

God's ability to redeem our failures, however, does not mean that God wills or needs us to sin. Samson learned the hard way that it is possible to be used by God and still lose sight of God. How much better it would have been for Samson, had he loved the Lord God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength!

Response & Action:
I want to know and honor God, not just be used by him. I want to set my heart on things above, to love God with everything I have, to know His will, and to walk in His ways. I want my doing to flow out of my being. I want my service to God to flow out of my love for God. I will commit myself to living a righteous and pure life for God's glory, trusting that this will result in joy, fulfillment, purpose, and fruitful labor.

O God, draw me to you. Give me a pure and devoted heart. Strengthen me to love, obey, honor, and serve you. Help me to flee the evil desires of youth, and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. And then, O Lord, use me to accomplish your purposes and your will. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Timothy 2:20-21
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Resources:
Following After God: What Difference Does God Make
by Daniel Hill

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22 - Taunting the Truth

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:32-37
1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Old Testament -
Psalms 87
Judges 10-12
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Luke 23:33-35

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

Insight:
The people who sneered and mocked Jesus with the words, "He saved others, let him save himself," unintentionally stated the fact of the situation. Ironically, their taunts were true. Jesus could not save us if he saved himself from the pain of the cross. The incarnation of Jesus and his death on the cross are necessary for my salvation. Jesus freely chose to save humankind rather than saving himself.

Response & Action:
My salvation and life are the reason for Christ's incarnation and his death at the hands of sinful men. Jesus was without sin, yet was willing to enter a sinful world and suffer the violence of sinners. That is why God has given him all the life needed to reverse the injustices and crimes of humanity. He is the only human without sin, the only one worthy to receive life, and therefore the only one able to graciously give new life to the rest of humanity. I will put my hope and faith and confidence in him. I am a sinner, saved by grace--a grace made possible by Jesus!

Thank you, Jesus, for enduring the shame and suffering of the cross. You freely laid down your life in order to save mine. Help me, now, to hold fast to this great gift to me. Help me to lay down my life in surrender to you. Help me to live out surrender to you in all my choices and actions today. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 2:14-15
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Resources:
The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views
by Thomas R. Schreiner

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21 - Undivided Heart

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:26-31
1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Old Testament -
Psalms 86
Judges 9
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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

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

Response & Action:
I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. I will consider the marvelous things God has done and praise him for them. I will commit myself to seeking his truth and learning to walk in his ways. I will love him and follow him with an undivided heart.

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

Spiritual Formation Verses: Deuteronomy 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.

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reading Schedule for December 21 - 26

John 1:1-2. 14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. - - - 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Schedule and Tips
2009-10 Reading Schedule
Tips for Daily Bible Readers

December 21 -
Luke 23:26-31 / 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalms
86 / Judges 9

December 22 -
Luke
23:32-37 / 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalms
87 / Judges 10-12

December 23 -
Luke 23:38-43 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-13
Psalms
88 / Judges 13-15

December 24 -
Luke 23:44-49 / 1 Corinthians 12:14-31
Psalms
89:1-18 / Judges 16

December 25 -
Luke 23:50-56 / 1 Corinthians 13
Psalms
89:19-52 / Judges 17-18

December 26 -
Luke 24:1-12 / 1 Corinthians 14:1-25
Psalms
90 / Judges 19

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19 - Avoiding Folly

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:13-25
1 Corinthians 10:14-33

Old Testament -
Psalms 85
Judges 8
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 85:7-9
7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Insight:
The book of Judges describes a miserable series of spiritual cycles as the Israelites repeatedly turned toward and then away from God. Sadly, this pattern would become the norm throughout Israel's history. The echo of this pattern can be seen in Psalm 85. The first few verses recount both God's blessing and wrath--his favor and his fierce anger. They infer that the psalmist's cry for forgiveness and restoration was due to Israel's unfaithfulness.

The psalmist recognized God's promises of peace and salvation for his saints (those who seek holiness), but also acknowledged that there was a need for the people to change. Those who truly listen to God and embrace his promises must stop returning to folly. One cannot live in the blessing of God's restoration while repeatedly turning away from him. Salvation is near for those who have reverence and faithfulness toward God, who listen to his instruction, and who walk steadfastly in his ways.

Response & Action:
I want to live a life that consistently gives glory to God and brings satisfaction to me. I cannot fully take hold of God's promises and blessing if I only half-heartedly listen and obey. I will listen to God. I will seek his guidance through the Scriptures, through prayer, and through Christian community. I will turn away from folly. With reverence and love for God, I will turn away from the things that entangle and diminish and destroy. I will give thanks for God's unfailing love, his grace, his mercy, and the transforming power of his Spirit.


O God, you are the one who can teach me how to live. Give me ears to listen. You are the one who restores. Give me the wisdom to draw near to you. You are the one who is faithful. Make me able to live in faithful surrender and devotion to you. You are the one who saves. Give me a heart that honors you, and save me from the unfaithfulness and frailty of trying to live in my own strength and by my limited understanding. 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, Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18 - Tempted

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Luke 23:1-12
1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Old Testament -
Psalms 84
Judges 6-7
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Insight:
The history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament, the history of the Church, and even the history of our own lives should serve as constant reminders of how easy it is to fall if you begin to have a false sense of confidence in self. Complacency leads to carelessness.

We must be on guard against temptation. No temptation is unique, but rather "common" to all people. Temptation can be aggressive--it "seizes" upon people. Yet, in the face of every temptation, God is faithful, protecting us from temptations that are too great for us to face, giving us strength, and providing ways of escape.

Response & Action:
I must recognize and deal with my vulnerability to temptation. Everyone faces temptation, so I must be prepared for it and guard against it. Temptation, however, is not something I need to fear, because God will protect and strengthen me. When I am tempted, I can look to God for strength and make use of the escape he is providing. When I see a way of escape, I must act immediately to take hold of it. I will give thanks God for the protection, strength, and guidance he gives to help me in times of temptation.


Thank you, O God, for your faithfulness to protect me from temptation I cannot endure. Thank you for the strength and deliverance you provide when I face the temptations. Thank you that I can face temptation with your help. Strengthen me to live a life that brings glory to you. I bless you Lord, because you help me with my burdens, through Christ Jesus, who lives are reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 68:19-20
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. 20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.

Resources:
Lies We Tell Ourselves: How to Say No to Temptation and Put an End to Compromise
by Greg Laurie