Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reading Schedule for March 1-6

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...

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

March 1 -
John 14:1-14 / Colossians 1:1-14
Psalms 123-124 / 1 Chronicles 1-2

March 2 -
John 14:15-21 / Colossians 1:15-29
Psalms 125 / 1 Chronicles 3-4

March 3 -
John 14:22-31 / Colossians 2:1-7
Psalms 126 / 1 Chronicles 5-6

March 4 -
John 15:1-8 / Colossians 2:8-15
Psalms 127 / 1 Chronicles 7-9

March 5 -
John 15:9-17 / Colossians 2:16-23
Psalms 128 / 1 Chronicles 10-11

March 6 -
John 15:18-27 / Colossians 3:1-14
Psalms 129 / 1 Chronicles 12-14

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27 - The Way They Know

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 13:31-38
Philippians 4:14-23

Old Testament -
Psalms 122
2 Kings 24-25
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 13:34-35

34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Insight:
Jesus calls his followers to love each other. The love he commands is the same love he has exemplified. Following Jesus means loving like Jesus. This type of love is the true mark of the true disciple.

Response & Action:
If I am to love others as Jesus loves, I will need to know and understand all I can about Jesus and his love. I must read, study, contemplate, and emulate all that the scriptures reveal about his example of what love should be. I cannot duplicate something I do not know.

Since mature followers of Jesus have more experience at practicing and pursuing Christlike love, there is much to be gained from following their example too. I will pay attention to the lives and actions of those who have been following Christ for a long time. Those who are mature, committed, and growing in their walk with Jesus are a visible example of what Jesus' love looks like in my world. I will copy them as they copy Christ.

O Lord, help me to know and understand the love of Jesus. Help me to experience it. Help me to share it. Help me live out love in such a way that it is clear to all around me that I am following Jesus. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 2:5-6
5 "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26 - Now that You Know

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 13:18-30
Philippians 4:8-13

Old Testament -
Psalms 121
2 Kings 22-23
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 13:14-17
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Insight:
The normal time for foot washing would have been upon entering the room. The water, basin, and towels must have been just sitting there in plain sight. Any one of the disciples could have taken the role of servant, but none of them did. They certainly must have seen no was serving them, but apparently did not see the opportunity to serve each other.

After the meal had begun, Jesus got up from the table, took the role of a servant, and began washing feet. He demonstrated that true greatness and authority is lived out in servanthood. He told his disciples blessing would result from doing what he had modeled.


Response & Action:
I want my eyes to be open to opportunities to serve. If I am observant, I will see these opportunities all around me. They may be as simple as washing dishes or housekeeping. The longer I follow Jesus, and the more like him I become, the better I should be at serving.

O God, make me a servant. Give me eyes that see what needs to be done. Give me hands that are ready to pitch in and help. Give me the humility and wisdom to see that no act of service or care is below me. Give me a willingness to serve and give me the joy and blessing that comes from serving in Jesus name. It's in his name that I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25 - Peace and Stress

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 13:1-11
Philippians 4:1-7

Old Testament -
Psalms 120
2 Kings 20-21
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
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.

Insight:
It's not hard to be stressed out. Life is filled with burdens and problems that can lead to worry and fear. Rather than being consumed with anxiety, Paul advises prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. Worry and stress accomplish nothing, but lifting up my needs to God in a spirit praise and thanksgiving accomplishes something beneficial. There is a peace only God can give, and only those who cast their anxieties upon the Lord experience that peace in their hearts and minds.

Response & Action:
Instead of letting the concerns and difficulties of life fill me with anxiety, I will let them push and prompt me toward prayer. I will make my needs and concerns known to God, trusting that he will provide and care for me. As I pray, I will praise God for his goodness and thank him for all the ways I believe he has blessed me.

O Lord,
you are gracious and righteous and full of compassion. I know you see my needs and hear my prayers. Guard my heart and mind with the peace of Christ. When I am stressed, give me rest as I trust in you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 14:26-27
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Resources:
Living Peacefully in a Stressful World: A Stategy for Replacing Stress With Peace
by Ronald Hutchcraft and Ray C. Stedman

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24 - Seek Me When I Stray

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 13:1-11
Philippians 3:15-21

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:169-176
2 Kings 18-19
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:174-176
174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. 176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Insight:
Even those who delight in God's law can stray from it. Getting lost doesn't mean that you've forgotten God's commands. The psalmist asks God to seek him out when he strays, and to bring him back to the truth.

Response & Action:
As a person who calls out to God for help, I must be ready to obey the direction of God's Word. Knowing God's word helps me know how to live and what choices to make. It also helps me know when I have strayed or lost my way. I will seek God with all my heart, but I will also ask God to seek and save me!

O God, teach me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me. When I stray, O Lord, please seek me and bring me back to the green pastures and still waters of your truth and blessing. Thank you for Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Luke 15:3-7
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Resources:
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
by Timothy Keller

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23 - Reach and Strain

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 12:37-50
Philippians 3:10-14

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:161-168
2 Kings 16-17
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Philippians 3:12b-14

12b I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Insight:
For the Christian who is growing and maturing, nothing comes before Christ. The center and priority of life is to know him and all he has for us--experiencing the transformation and purpose he brings. This requires effort.

Paul says he "presses on" and "strains toward what is ahead." Implicit in these words is the idea that Christians face pressures and resistance as they endeavor to move ahead in their pursuit of Christ. Paul also says that in order to move forward he "forgets what is behind." The habits and burdens from the past can also drag Christians down and hold them back.

Response & Action:
If knowing Christ and taking hold of his plan for me is my greatest desire and priority, I must fix my eyes on Jesus and direct my energies toward him and the purposes he has for me. I must let go of the past and be prepared to face challenges in the future. I do this in the confidence that his grace and power will sustain me.

Dear Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you and to desire you more than anything else in life. You are my life. I want to know you and the power of your resurrection. Lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me. Help me to let go of the past, to break free from old patterns and habits, and to shake off the sin that so easily entangles. Help me to press forward through the challenges and pressures that would hinder me from knowing and serving you. Help me to mature in Christ and give me confidence in your grace and power to help me win the prize of my upward calling. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 12:2-3
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22 - The Theme of My Song

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 12:20-36
Philippians 3:1-9

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:153-160
2 Kings 14-15
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 5:19-20
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reading Schedule for February 22-27

James 1:23-35
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

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

February 22 -
John 12:20-36 / Philippians 3:1-9
Psalms 119:153-160 / 2 Kings 14-15

February 23 -
John 12:37-50 / Philippians 3:10-14
Psalms 119:161-168 / 2 Kings 16-17

February 24 -
John 13:1-11 / Philippians 3:15-21
Psalms 119:169-176 / 2 Kings 18-19

February 25 -
John 13:12-17 / Philippians 4:1-7
Psalms 120 / 2 Kings 20-21

February 26 -
John 13:18-30 / Philippians 4:8-13
Psalms 121 / 2 Kings 22-23

February 27 -
John 13:31-38 / Philippians 4:14-23
Psalms 122 / 2 Kings 24-25

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20 - Read and Heed

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 12:12-19
Philippians 2:19-30

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:145-152
2 Kings 12-13
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Psalm 119:145-147
145 I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees. 146 I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. 147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

Insight:
Calling for help and heeding God's Word go hand in hand. The psalmist called out to God for an answer, realizing that the answer would require obedience. He called out for salvation, understanding that he must keep God's statutes. He cried to God for help, and at the same time put his hope in the promise and direction of the Word.

Response & Action:
As a person who calls out to God for help, I must be ready to obey the direction of God's Word. As a person who looks to God for salvation, I must be ready to live out my salvation by keeping God's Word. In order to live according to God's Word, I will need to read it, delight in it, meditate up on it, know it, respond to it, follow it, and hope in it. The words of God are wonderful to me. Therefore, I obey them.

O God, the unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Give me a heart that longs for your words and a mouth that is ready to speak them. Direct my footsteps according to your word that no sin may rule over me. Your words are forever right; give me understanding that I may live by them. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19 - Waste and Worship

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 12:1-11
Philippians 2:12-18

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:137-144
2 Kings 10-11
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 12:4-8

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."

Insight:
Jesus and his disciples were apparently frequent guests in the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. On this occasion, six days before the Passover, it's not hard to see why he was the guest of honor. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read about an earlier occasion when Jesus and his disciples visited their home. Even back then, Martha was busy with all the preparations and wanted everything to be just right. Can you imagine what kind of dinner and preparations she must have made for Jesus now that he had raised her brother from the dead?

In Luke's account of the earlier visit, Mary sat at Jesus' feet as a devoted disciple—enjoying his presence and absorbing his every word and insight. Now that her brother's life had been restored, can you understand why she would now express her love and devotion with such extravagance and effusiveness?

Response & Action:
Mary and Martha recognized the power and life and redemption Jesus had to offer. They had experienced it in a very personal and dramatic way. Their faith was vibrant and growing.

In recognizing who Jesus was, they also recognized that the proper response of faith was to hold back nothing. This is in stark contrast to Judas, who despite being a companion of Jesus, failed to recognize who he was, and therefore failed to see the beauty and appropriateness of lavish and reverent love and worship Mary gave.

I want to see Jesus for who he is. I want to be overwhelmed by the recognition of his power, grace, and promise. I want to overflow extravagant thanks—to be lavish in my love for him.

O God, give me eyes to see Jesus. Open my eyes to his resurrection work in my life. Overwhelm me with the recognition that he is my hope, my life, and my all. Forgive me for the times I hold back and hoard for myself. Save me from the self-deception that fails to see the difference between wastefulness and worship. Give me the wisdom to see how selfishness opposes true faith and worship. Give me the eyes, the heart, and the mind to see Jesus. Move me to wholehearted, openhanded, unreserved, and munificent response. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:1
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18 - The Jesus Way

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 11:45-57
Philippians 2:1-11

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:129-136
2 Kings 8-9
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Philippians 2:3-8
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Insight:

Selfishness, pride, and self-serving ambition are contrary to following Christ. Jesus demonstrated true humility, selfless concern, and a willingness to sacrifice for the needs of others. Though he existed in the very nature of God, he emptied himself for our sake and for God's glory. He was humble and obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Response & Action:
As a follower of Jesus, my attitude and my actions should be like his. With God's guidance, and by his grace, I must cultivate a genuine concern for the needs of others. I must become self-giving and humble. I must let go of any selfish agenda and any attitude that runs contrary to the pattern of Christ. I must seek God's will and strive to honor him in all my ways.

O God, help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, shape me and help me to have the mind of Christ. Teach me through your word and give me the readiness and willingness to obey. Help me to serve you and honor you even if it means sacrifice and hardship for me. Help me to delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ Jesus my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 4:1-2
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17 - Eyes Open

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 11:38-44
Philippians 1:21-30

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:121-128
2 Kings 6-7
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
2 Kings 6:17-18
17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

Insight:

When Elisha's servant saw that the army of Aram had surrounded them, he was afraid. Elisha prayed that his eyes would be opened to see God's mighty power to defend and deliver. Next, he prayed that the eyes of his enemies would be closed so their plan of attack would be given up in blind confusion.

God has the power to help us see, and the power to strike us blind. He opens the eyes of those who seek and serve him, helping them to see his provision and power to save. He blinds and confuses the way of those who reject him and oppose his will.

Response & Action:
I will seek God with my whole heart, and ask him to open my eyes. I will open my eyes to the truth of Scripture. I will open my eyes to the work of the Spirit. I will open my eyes to the counsel and fellowship of the Church. I will open my eyes to the needs of the world. I will open my eyes to the possibilities God has for those who follow Jesus.

O God, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you, your power, and your salvation. Light my way, show me your will, and save me from the blindness of sin. Thank you for the resurrection power you promise to all who believe in Jesus. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 1:18-20
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...

Resources:
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16 - Resurrection Hope

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 11:17-37
Philippians 1:12-20

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:113-120
2 Kings 4-5
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
John 11:23-27
23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

Insight:

In raising Lazarus from the dead, Christ demonstrated his power and authority over death. He came preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, and his miracles over nature, sickness, demons, and death were a witness of the kingdom power he had.

This kingdom power is the promise and hope for our future, and the reason we can put our trust in Jesus today. The power of Jesus isn't just hope for some distant day; it's the hope for each and every day.

Response & Action:
I believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. I believe that he has the power to redeem, sustain, deliver, and rescue me. My trust is firmly placed in Jesus. I will seek him with my whole heart. I will give myself fully to pursuing him through the scriptures, prayer, devotion, worship, service, and Christian community. I trust Jesus to raise me on the final day. I trust him to raise me and sustain me today.

O God, I believe in Jesus, your Son, my Lord and Savior. I will look to him for the power and guidance I need for life today. I will live in the joy of know that he is greater than death, and he will raise me up. I will live by faith in the Son of Man, who loved me and gave himself for me. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 1:3-9
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. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

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

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15 - Partners in Grace

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 11:1-16
Philippians 1:1-11

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:105-112
2 Kings 1-3
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Philippians 1:3-8
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Insight:

The opening lines of Paul's letter to the Christians in Philippi reveals his great heart for them. They are not just fellow believers; they are partners and friends. As partners, they share in the experience of being shaped by Christ, and the work of spreading the gospel to others. As friends, they pray for each other, enjoy being together, and have real affection for each other.

Response & Action:
Following Jesus is not a solitary pursuit; it is something shared with a wonderful company of friends. Following and serving Christ is something I get to and want to experience with others. I need to find specific ways to partner with Christian friends in service for God. I need to invest myself into the lives of Christian friends--sharing experiences, praying for them, and working with them. I should cultivate genuine affection for my Christian friends, and truly enjoy time spent with them.

Thank you, O God, for the friendship and love you have shown to me through Christ. Thank you that he calls me his friend and laid down his life for me. Help me to be a true friend for those who follow Jesus. Help me to be faithful in prayer for them, to be diligent in work with them, and to be joyful and thankful for experiences and time shared with them. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 1:22
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Resources:
The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends
by Richard Lamb

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reading Schedule: February 15-20

Psalm 119:129-133
129 Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. 131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. 132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. 133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

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

February 15 -
John 11:1-16 / Philippians 1:1-11
Psalms 119:105-112 / 2 Kings 1-3

February 16 -
John 11:17-37 / Philippians 1:12-20
Psalms 119:113-120 / 2 Kings 4-5

February 17 -
John 11:38-44 / Philippians 1:21-30
Psalms 119:121-128 / 2 Kings 6-7

February 18 -
John 11:45-57 / Philippians 2:1-11
Psalms 119:129-136 / 2 Kings 8-9

February 19 -
John 12:1-11 / Philippians 2:12-18
Psalms 119:137-144 / 2 Kings 10-11

February 20 -
John 12:12-19 / Philippians 2:19-30
Psalms 119:145-152 / 2 Kings 12-13

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13 - Fighting Against Evil

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
John 10:22-42
Ephesians 6:10-24

Old Testament -
Psalms 119:97-104
1 Kings 21-22
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Ephesians 6:11-13
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Insight:

The struggle for good and evil has a spiritual, cosmic dimension. Paul reminds us that the struggles of humanity are part of a much larger picture. There is a spiritual dimension to the problems we face. To address difficult life issues effectively, we must recognize the spiritual roots and principles at work: hate, greed, malice, dehumanization, fear, rage, envy, pride, lust for power, possessions, self-gratification, godlessness, rebellion, and blasphemy.

To be truly concerned about spiritual issues in our world, we must also recognize and counter the problems and systems that grow out of spiritual depravity: social injustice and war; corporate greed; systemic poverty, starvation, and disease; political corruption; abuse and discrimination; human trafficking, and so much more. Our struggle is not merely with flesh and blood; it is against spiritual powers and principalities. Neither is our struggle merely spiritual; it is against the very material systems and evils brought on by dark powers at work in our world.

Response & Action:
I must recognize the spiritual root of all the evil and human suffering in my world. I must recognize the very practical and physical ways that spiritual evil is corrupting human affairs in my world. I must put on the full armor of God—his truth, his counsel, his word, his righteousness, his peace, and his Spirit—if I am to stand firm in the fight against evil. As a follower of Jesus, in the strength of the Lord, I need to oppose evil and stand up for what is right.

Our Father, who fills the heavens, holy is your name. I long to see your Kingdom come to earth—your will lived out on earth as it is in heaven. Strengthen me, protect me, and help me to stand firm in the face of evil. Help me to raise my voice, give my energy, and exercise my abilities as a force for truth and good against those powers of evil that are destroying the lives of so many in our world. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: James 4:7-8
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Resources:
Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World
by Gary A. Haugen