Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reading Schedule: February 1-6

John 12:44-50
44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."

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

February 1 -
John 7:45-53 / Ephesians 1:15-23
Psalms 119:9-16 / 1 Kings 2-3

February 2 -
John 8:1-11 / Ephesians 2:1-10
Psalms 119:17-24 / 1 Kings 4-5

February 3 -
John 8:12-20 / Ephesians 2:11-22
Psalms 119:25-32 / 1 Kings 6-7

February 4 -
John 8:21-30 / Ephesians 3:1-13
Psalms 119:33-40 / 1 Kings 8

February 5 -
John 8:31-47 / Ephesians 3:14-21
Psalms 119:41-48 / 1 Kings 9-10

February 6 -
John 8:48-59 / Ephesians 4:1-16
Psalms 119:49-56 / 1 Kings 11

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30 - Living Water

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 7:37-44
Ephesians 1:1-14

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:1-8
1 Kings 1
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 7:37-39
37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Insight:
Jesus stood up on the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles and offered "living water" for all who were thirsty. He said, "Come to me and drink." He promised that belief in him would result in a stream of living water flowing from within the believer. From and within! The Spirit that Jesus was offering would well up within the innermost part of the believer's being and flow outward.

Response & Action:
Faith in Jesus is the solution for my thirsty heart. How can I come to Jesus and drink? I can come to before him in worship and surrender. I can read and take in his teachings recorded in scripture. I can reflect on his many interactions with people recorded in the gospels. I can call out to him in prayer. I can obey him, heed his warnings, cling to his promises, and follow his example. For years and years I have been coming to Jesus in these ways and I have indeed found cool water for my soul.

O God, thank you for Jesus. Keep the cool and living water of the Spirit he gives flowing in my being. May that stream not only satisfy my thirst, may it also flow out of me and be a source of life and hope to everyone around me. Help me to be a blessing to my family, friends, and neighbors through the living stream of your Spirit. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 4:14
14 Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Resources:
Streams of Living Water
by Richard Foster

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29 - This is the Day

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 7:25-36
Galatians 6

Old Testament -
Psalms 118
2 Samuel 23-24
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 118:13-14; 22-24
13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. - - - 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Insight:
It's not unusual to hear someone at a church gathering quote "this is the day the Lord has made" from Psalm 118. It is unusual, however, to hear them quote it with the same meaning the psalmist had in mind. Most times you would think it meant: "Wow, what a nice day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing; it's good to be together on this lovely day that God has given us." But is that what the Psalmist had in mind? Nope.

The "day" the psalmist is talking about is certainly a good one, but exactly what good "day" is he talking about? The day of salvation. The psalmist is talking about the day of deliverance given to us by our faithful and good God whose love endures forever. The psalmist was rejoicing in God's salvation from a national perspective (v. 1), from a faith perspective (vv. 2-3), and a personal perspective (vv. 5-6).

The psalmist understood the need for rescue from sin in order to have peace and fellowship with God (v. 27). In the New Testament, the Apostles picked up on this theme and proclaimed Jesus to be the ultimate deliverer the psalmist was pointing to. This is the day that the Lord has made: the day of salvation through Christ Jesus, who laid down his life for us and conquered death in order that we might have eternal life, peace, and fellowship with God. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Response & Action:
I will give God thanks for the many ways he delivers and saves me. I look to Christ Jesus as the supreme expression of God's faithfulness to save. I will seek to be an instrument of God's faithfulness and grace in the lives of others around me.

O God, thank you for the ways you save and deliver me. Thank you for bringing me through trials and hardships. Thank you for saving me from the ignorance and foolishness of human reasoning that lacks your counsel and your Word. Thank you for rescuing me from an empty life without meaning or purpose. Thank you for liberating me from the fear of death. Thank you for saving me and granting me eternal life through Jesus. Thank you for reclaiming my life and renovating my spirit through the indwelling of your Holy Spirit. I rejoice in every day of deliverance you have made! I will rejoice and be glad as I place my complete trust and confidence to keep and save me to the end! Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Acts 4:11-12
11 He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Recommended Reading:
How to Read the Psalms
by Tremper Longman

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28 - Fruitful Living

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 7:14-24
Galatians 5:13-26

Old Testament -
Psalms 117
2 Samuel 22
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Galatians 5:19-25

19
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Insight:
To belong to Christ is to be committed to being transformed by Christ. Faith in Christ is lived out by putting off the sinful nature and by bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot do this apart from the grace and power of God. It's crucial that we keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

We must surrender our will to the Spirit's will. We must be careful to not grieve the Spirit by ignoring or rejecting his help and guidance. The life of those who belong to Christ is marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Response & Action:
I want to live out my faith and keep in step with the Spirit. With the Spirit's help and guidance, I must put off those attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors that are rooted in sinfulness. I must open my heart and life to the Spirit's work in my life. I want love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to be present and in my life in ever-increasing measure.

O God. Thank you for the free gift of the Holy Spirit to all who belong to you through Christ. Help me to open my heart and mind to the Spirit's work in my life. Help me to put off the sinful nature and to live by the Spirit. Help me to discern the Spirit's leading and that I might follow in his steps. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:5
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Resources:
Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community
by Philip D. Kenneson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27 - As Long as I Live

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 7:1-13
Galatians 5:1-12

Old Testament -
Psalms 116
2 Samuel 20-21
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 116
:1-5
1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD : "O LORD, save me!" 5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

Insight:
The person who lives by faith trusts that God is not distant or unconcerned. We believe he hears our voice and is responsive to our cries for help. When we are tied up in the stress and struggles of our lives, we call on the Lord. We believe he is gracious and righteous and full of compassion, and so we ask him to save us. And because we cry out to him, we experience his help. We discover that he does indeed hear our cries and he does meet us in our times of need.

Having faith, we are moved to prayer. Having prayed, we are more able to recognize God's saving response. Having recognized God's response, we grow in faith. Having grown in our faith, we find ourselves more apt to pray and more confident in God's grace. Having grown more confident in God's grace, we find ourselves more able to live by faith.

Response & Action:
I believe God is gracious, righteous, and compassionate. Because I trust him, I will cry out to him. Problems, heartaches, struggles, losses, defeats, and threats will drive me to the God I trust. I will cry out to him as long as I live.

O God. I believe in your goodness, therefore I pray. Though the world is filled with liars and lies, you speak and act in truth. Though the world is full of death, you offer life. Though life is difficult and demanding, you are attentive and faithful. Though the world is entangled in the lie that everything is meaningless, you give meaning a purpose and hope. Thank you for the salvation, the strength, and the stability you have given through Christ Jesus, my Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:11-12
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Resources:
Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
by Richard Foster

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26 - Who Else?

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 6:60-71
Galatians 4:21-31

Old Testament -
Psalms 115
2 Samuel 18-19
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 6:66-69
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."


Insight:
Many people turned away from following Jesus when they found his teaching difficult to accept or understand. When Jesus turned to the twelve disciples he had chosen and asked them if they too wanted to turn away, Peter made one of his great statements of faith: “We believe and know you are the Holy One of God.” Peter had found life and hope in Jesus he could find nowhere else: "Lord, who else would we follow? Who else has the words of life?"

Response & Action:
I believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God. I follow him because he has the words of life. Even when his words are difficult, I will follow. I believe that he is the bread of life, the one who can sustain me, and the one who will raise me on the final day. Nothing else and no one else has offered the hope, purpose, and life I have found in Jesus.

O God, thank you for Jesus, who for our sake and for our salvation came down from heaven. Help me to follow him, to take in all he has to say, and to build my life on the solid rock of his words by putting them into practice. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: John 10:9-11
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25 - Living Bread

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 6:41-59
Galatians 4:1-20

Old Testament -
Psalms 114
2 Samuel 16-17
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 6:46-51

46 "No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Insight:
Jesus claims to be the only one who can show us God the Father. He claims to be the one who is able to give everlasting life to those who believe him. He claims to be the true bread of God--the one who is able to sustain us through our life's journey. He claims to be the one who will give his life in order to give life to the world.

Response & Action:
I will look to Jesus in order to know and understand God. I will put my faith in him in order to have hope in his promise for everlasting life. As I make my way along the path of my life's journey, I will look to Jesus for guidance and help, believing he will sustain me. I will take hold of the life Jesus has made possible for me by giving up his own life for my sake.

O God. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Help me to see others with the love of Christ. Give me a humble attitude that looks to the best interests of others. Help me to honor others above myself. Give me a readiness to treat all who love and follow you with equal respect and care. Make me thankful for the goodness and acceptance I have been shown by others. 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:
Who Was Jesus?
by Scot McKnight

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reading Schedule for January 25-30

James 1:19-22
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

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

January 25 -
John 6:41-59 / Galatians 4:1-20
Psalms 114 / 2 Samuel 16-17

January 26 -
John 6:60-71 / Galatians 4:21-31
Psalms 115 / 2 Samuel 18-19

January 27 -
John 7:1-13 / Galatians 5:1-12
Psalms 116 / 2 Samuel 20-21

January 28 -
John 7:14-24 / Galatians 5:13-26
Psalms 117 / 2 Samuel 22

January 29 -
John 7:25-36 / Galatians 6
Psalms 118 / 2 Samuel 23-24

January 30 -
John 7:37-44 / Ephesians 1:1-14
Psalms 119:1-8 / 1 Kings 1

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23 - We're All One

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 6:25-40
Galatians 3:15-29

Old Testament -
Psalms 113
2 Samuel 14-15
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Galatians 3:26-28

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Insight:
Through faith in Christ, we are God's children. Regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, education, or socioeconomic standing. In the history and patterns we see in the world, these distinctions are the basis of much division, conflict, and human rights issues. In Christ, these distinctions are swept away. Those who are in Christ are called to no longer look at the world in this new and redemptive way.

Response & Action:
My relationship with Christ Jesus has a profound impact upon the way I see the world. If he is my Lord, I must see others as God sees them. I must not show favoritism, but should instead love and respect all who follow Christ. They are all equal heirs of his blessing and calling.

O God. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Help me to see others with the love of Christ. Give me a humble attitude that looks to the best interests of others. Help me to honor others above myself. Give me a readiness to treat all who love and follow you with equal respect and care. Make me thankful for the goodness and acceptance I have been shown by others. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 2:1
1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.

Resources:
One Body, One Spirit
by George A. Yancey

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22 - Sinners

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 6:16-24
Galatians 3:1-14

Old Testament -
Psalms 112
2 Samuel 13
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
2 Samuel 13:20-22

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, "Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Insight:
Okay, it's official. David's family qualifies to be on the Jerry Springer Show. In one horrific chapter we see the house of David engaged in incest, premeditated sexual assault, misogyny, denial, enabling, injustice, vengeance, and murder. Yikes. So much for reading the Bible for inspiration and heroes to emulate!

Evil is nothing new. The unfolding drama of God's plan to redeem and save humankind is a long, tragic, and messy story. Sin isn't just a problem for humanity; it's our preoccupation. It's not just a proclivity for us; it's a profession.

No wonder the story of our salvation culminates with Jesus dying at the hands of those he came to save. No wonder the cross, an instrument of death and violence, has become a symbol of our salvation. The cross is not just a reminder of Jesus' love and sacrifice, it's a reminder of the violence, death, hate, and sin we all need to be saved from.

Response & Action:
The first step toward salvation is to recognize the sinfulness of the human heart and the need to be saved. I need to recognize the sin in my life. I need the forgiveness, deliverance, and power of God to turn away from sin. I cannot be saved from sin if I refuse to recognize it and fail turn away from it. I need to embrace the hope, the life, the direction, the grace, and the transformation only Christ can give me.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. 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, and to love my neighbor as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, I ask you to 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 6:22-23
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21 - Living Crucified

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 6:1-15
Galatians 2

Old Testament -
Psalms 111
2 Samuel 11-12
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Galatians 2:19-21

19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Insight:
Like so much of the New Testament, Galatians is a letter. Reading Galatians 2 really feels like reading someone else's mail because of the references to very specific people and events that only the writer and recipients can fully appreciate. We can, however, pick up on the main gist of what was going on.

The early Christians, their leaders, and even the apostles, were struggling with the issue of how the freedom and grace of Christ related to the observance of Mosaic law. Was observance of the law something Christians needed to do? Were Gentile's who followed Jesus supposed to observe Jewish laws and customs? Paul says, "No." He says that no one is justified by observing the law (vv. 15,16). Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, are justified through Christ Jesus, not by obeying laws.

Paul insists that the observance of laws or traditions cannot be used as a test to determine who is or who is not a Christian. Paul says he has died to the law so that he might live for God (v.19). The essence of being a Christian is living for God through faith in Christ, dying to self and everything else—even the law. Paul's point is that devotion to observing laws is not what brings us to God or produces righteousness; instead, it is complete surrender to God and living in faith and devotion to Christ that saves and results in righteous living.

Response & Action:
I need to live in full surrender to God. Doing the right things is not what makes me right with God; being right with God is what makes me do the right things. Jesus must be the focus of my devotion to God: loving him, following him, hearing him, and pleasing him. I must surrender the ownership of my life to Christ. He must be Lord and master. I must let Christ live his life through me. The choices and actions of my life must be guided not by rules but, rather, by the Spirit of Christ. I want my life to be guided by how he would choose and act if he were living my life.

Thank you, O God, for salvation and life through Christ. Help me to surrender fully to you and to follow Jesus with my whole heart. Help me to know him, to love him, to understand him, to honor him, and to draw near to him so that my life is completely shaped and guided by him. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Mark 8:34-35
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Resources:
Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians
by Tom Wright

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20 - Revelation

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 5:31-47
Galatians 1

Old Testament -
Psalms 110
2 Samuel 8-10
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Galatians 1:11-12

11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Insight:
Paul makes a bold claim about his preaching. He says he received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. He asserts that his message is not a religion or philosophy he has learned from others or invented himself. Rather, it is truth he has received directly from the living Christ—from Jesus, who rose from the dead and has chose Paul to be his messenger to the Gentiles (vv.15-16).

The claims of Jesus—"I am the way, the Christ, the Son of God”—put me in a position where I have to decide whether or not to accept them. Is he confused, or misunderstood, or lying, or telling the truth? The claims are so straightforward that they require a response. In the same way, I have to decide whether or not to accept Paul's claims—"my message is not man-made, not invented, not learned, but rather revealed to me directly from Jesus Christ." Is he confused, misunderstood, or lying, or telling the truth?

Response & Action:
I have decided to accept Paul's claims and therefore regard his teaching as true and authoritative. His claim is so straightforward I'm forced to make a choice. His life and the hardships he faced for preaching his message don't support a motive for lying. His reasoning, relationships, and results don't indicate any mental instability. I think it's reasonable to accept that he is telling the truth.

I trust the authority of the Bible and consider it to be revealed by God. As the Apostle Paul says to Timothy, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness."

O God, thank you for the inspired truth of the New Testament scriptures that have been given to us through the apostles. Help me to understand and apply what I read. 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. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Peter 1:20-21
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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19 - Crossing Over

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 5:16-30
2 Corinthians 13

Old Testament -
Psalms 109
2 Samuel 5-7
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 5:24-26
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself."

Insight:
Jesus was persecuted for more than breaking Sabbath laws. There were attempts and plots to kill him, not because he was a controversial teacher, but because "he was calling God his own father, and making himself equal with God" (John 5:18). He claimed to be the Son of God, the promised redeemer, the giver of eternal life, the one who would raise the dead, and the one who would judge on the final day.

Response & Action:
My faith is in Jesus. I accept his claims about himself. I believe he is the fulfillment of the promises found in the law and the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. The scriptures tell me that belief in Jesus is the way to cross over from death to life. My hope of life, purpose, and eternity are in Jesus. I will seek to do good, and to pursue his righteousness today and every day as I eagerly await the day of his appearing—the day when he will redeem all humankind and all of creation with his resurrection power.

O God, thank you for the life and redemption you have given through Christ Jesus, your Son. Thank you that I can cross over from death to life through faith in him. Give me the wisdom and the will to follow and serve him. Help me to live in such a way that my life becomes yet another testimony of the hope and life he came to give. Strengthen and transform me that I might know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 3:16-17
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Resources:
Faith & Doubt
by John Ortberg

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18 - Praise before Petition

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 5:1-15
2 Corinthians 12:11-21

Old Testament -
Psalms 108
2 Samuel 3-4
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 108:1-4

1 My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Insight:
This song is a cry for help in a time of need with David describing God as having rejected them and refusing to help their armies. It's a song of humility with David acknowledging that human strength is not enough and that their only hope is in the Lord.

It's interesting that David would begin this song with words of praise and faith, not words of request. Though he felt rejected and abandoned and had an urgent request, his expression of faith and his words praise for God came first. Rather than withholding praise until his life was victorious and blessed, David put faith and worship before his own needs.

It doesn't take much faith to offer praise after God's blessings have been received. David, on the other hand, demonstrates his faith by praising God before he is blessed. True faith and worship are not merely the response to God's blessing, but rather the foundation for a life God can bless.

Response & Action:
God is worthy of my praise regardless of my circumstances or feelings. Even when life is difficult and overwhelming, I will trust God to ultimately redeem and save me. I will worship God as an expression of my faith, not just a response to God's blessing. My praise will precede my petitions for help. I will express my worship before I express my worry and woes. I will declare God's goodness before I ask him to show his goodness to me. My awe will come before my asking.

O God, give me a steadfast heart. Give me a faith that is bigger than my circumstances. Give me a mouth that is quicker to offer praise than to ask for blessing. Help me to awaken the dawn each day with worship, and to sing of your love with all my soul. Help me to live by faith, and to demonstrate this faith through a life that puts praise before need. Through Christ, Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 4:7,19
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. - - - 19 We love because he first loved us.

Resources:
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
by Eugene Peterson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reading Schedule for January 18 - 23

Ephesians 6:14-17
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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

January 18 -
John 5:1-15 / 2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Psalms 108 / 2 Samuel 3-4

January 19 -
John 5:16-30 / 2 Corinthians 13
Psalms 109 / 2 Samuel 5-7

January 20 -
John 5:31-47 / Galatians 1
Psalms 110 / 2 Samuel 8-10

January 21 -
John 6:1-15 / Galatians 2
Psalms 111 / 2 Samuel 11-12

January 22 -
John 6:16-24 / Galatians 3:1-14
Psalms 112 / 2 Samuel 13

January 23 -
John 6:25-40 / Galatians 3:15-29
Psalms 113 / 2 Samuel 14-15

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16 - When I Am Weak

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 4:43-54
2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Old Testament -
Psalms 107
2 Samuel 1-2
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
2 Cor. 12:10

10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Insight:
Most of us find it difficult to admit weaknesses, let alone delight in them. Even Paul wasn't really happy about hardships and weaknesses. He cried out to God asking him to remove them. Paul had learned, however, that his weaknesses and hardships revealed the evidence of God's grace and strength in his life.

Paul came to see that his problems and difficulties were windows for God's grace and strength to shine through. This gave him a new perspective. He could delight in weaknesses because God was clearly displayed through them. He could see his limitations as strengths because they gave witness to God's strength and provision.

Response & Action:
I need to recognize my weaknesses and limitations. I need to rely on God's strength. My reliance on God, my openness about my weaknesses, and transparency about my problems can be a testimony of God's grace and power in my life.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to lean on you and look to you for strength. May my reliance upon your strength, and my humble acknowledgment of my weakness, be a witness that results in praise to you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Corinthians 1:26-27
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Resources:
2 Corinthians: Finding Strength in Weakness
by Paul Stevens