Monday, October 31, 2016

The Water Turned to Wine

Today's Reading: 
Leviticus 9:7-10:20
John 2:1-25
Psalm 31:9-18
 
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Focus Verses: John 2:7-11
7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Insight:
There are some unusual things about Jesus' first miracle. To begin with, the supply of wine at a wedding doesn't seem like it really warrants supernatural intervention. There also seems to be reluctance on Jesus' part. His mother wants him to do something, but he doesn't want to get involved; he doesn't think it's the right time. When he does get involved, it seems to be at Mary's insistence. And though he performs a miracle, he does so in an anonymous way. Only Mary and the servants seem to know what has happened.

All of these peculiarities make fertile ground for both speculation and question. We ask “why this” and wonder “why that?” John jumps beyond our questions about this specific miracle and gets to a bigger question: Why miracles at all? His answer: To reveal Jesus' glory and to foster his disciples' faith in him (v. 11).

Response and Action:As I encounter Jesus' miracles while reading the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I will remember what John said at the conclusion of his account of Jesus' first miracle. I will ask myself, "What does this miracle reveal to me about Jesus' glory?" and "What does this miracle call me or cause me to believe about Jesus?" I will look for his glory and consider my faith in him.

O God, help me to recognize Jesus as your Son, the Christ, the Savior, and Lord. Help me to grow in my knowledge and experience of who he is and what that means. Increase my faith and do a miraculous work in my life. Take my bondage to sin and transform it into freedom and righteousness. Help me to live by the miraculous power of resurrection. Change my heart from stone to flesh. Turn the tepid and bitter waters of my life into the rich new wine of your Spirit. Take my death and give me life. In Jesus transforming and powerful Name, I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 11:6
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Resources:
Miracles
by C. S.Lewis

Sunday, October 30, 2016

This Is the Son of God

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 7:28-9:6
John 1:29-51
Psalm 31:1-8
 
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Focus Verses: John 1:32-34
32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

Insight:
John the Baptist was born to parents of advanced age. The angelic visits and miracles that accompanied his conception and birth (Luke 1) were signs that John was a special voice—a prophet who would announce the coming of Messiah. At his birth, John's father, Zechariah, exclaimed, "You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation, through the forgiveness of their sins..." (Luke 1:76-77).

John the Baptist, was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 40:3). He was "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." He was also the fulfillment of God's promise through the prophet Malachi: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." (Malachi 4:5-6).

All this adds tremendous force to John's declaration that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. John was giving prophetic notice that Jesus was the one who would fulfill God's promise to save sinners from judgment. Jesus was God's solution to humanity's problem of sin. Jesus was the one who would be the instrument of God's saving grace and salvation for the world.

Response and Action:
I accept the testimony of John the Baptist. John's birth, life, and ministry give prophetic credibility to his witness. I am putting my faith in Christ Jesus and I look to him as the one who can save me from sin. I believe that Jesus saves me from the penalty of sin and from bondage to sin. As I follow Jesus, I pray that my life and my voice, as John the Baptist's, might be a testimony and declaration of the saving and transforming power of Jesus.

O God, thank you for Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Help me to recognize him, to follow him, and to trust him. Make my life a testimony of his salvation, and use me to point others to Christ Jesus, your Son, my Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 5:11-12
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Resources:
Jesus: Lord and Savior
by F. F. Bruce

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reading Schedule for October 30 - November 6


Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, October 30 -
Leviticus 7:28-9:6 / John 1:29-51 / Psalm 31:1-8

Monday, October 31 -
Leviticus 9:7-10:20
/ John 2:1-25 / Psalm 31:9-18

Tuesday, November 1  -
Leviticus 11:1-12:8
/ John 3:1-21 / Psalm 31:19-24

Wednesday, November 2  -
Leviticus 13:1-59
/ John 3:22-4:3 / Psalm 32:1-11

Thursday, November 3 -
Leviticus 14:1-57
/ John 4:4-54 / Psalm 33:1-11

Friday, November 4 -
Leviticus 15:1-17:16
/ John 5:1-30 / Psalm 33:12-22

Saturday, November 5 -
Leviticus 18:1-20:21
/ John 5:31-47 / Psalm 34:1-22

The Word Became Flesh

Today's Reading: 
Leviticus 6:1-7:27
John 1:1-28
Psalm 30:8-12

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Focus Verses: John 1:9-12
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...

Insight:
Jesus is the human manifestation of God's creative word—"all things came into being by him." Jesus is the incarnation of God's word of wisdom—"the true light that enlightens all mankind." Jesus is the embodiment of God's saving word—"in him was life." Jesus is the human face of God's regenerating word—"to those who received him, who believed in his Name, he gave to the power to become the children of God."

Response and Action:I believe that Jesus is God made flesh. I believe that the gifts of God's grace and truth are found in him. I believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior. I receive him, embrace him, surrender myself to him, and look to him in faith. I look to Jesus to understand and take hold of God's truth and wisdom. I look to him for salvation, regeneration, meaning, and purpose.

O God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, into the world. Thank you for showing yourself through him. Thank you for the grace and truth we receive through him. Give me the wisdom and the will to love and follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is in his saving Name that I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 1:1-3
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Resources:
Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels
See
Part 3, Chapter 12, p. 409 for a helpful explanation of John 1.
by Darrell Bock

Friday, October 28, 2016

He Explained All the Scriptures

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 4:1-5:19
Luke 24:13-53
Psalm 30:1-7
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 24:25-27
25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Insight:
When the disciples failed to recognize Jesus, he did not immediately tell them who he was. Instead, he asked them what they were thinking and feeling. He then turned them to the testimony of scripture. He wanted them to see how the scriptures accurately explained who he was and what would happen to him. He helped them see the reliability of scripture and emphasized the importance scripture has for all who want to understand and recognize him.

Response and Action:
Knowing and understanding the Bible is a very important part of knowing and understanding who Christ is. I must make time for reading and meditating upon God's word and make it a priority in my daily life. I want to be a person who recognizes Jesus for who the Scriptures show him to be.

O God, thank you for your written word. Thank you that your Spirit has spoken through the prophets. Help me to be a person of the Word. I want to read, study, memorize, and know the scriptures. As I hide your word in my heart, please help me to better recognize and know Jesus.
Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs 8:33-34
"Listen to my (wisdom's) instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway."

Resources:
The IVP Introduction to the Bible
by Philip S. Johnston

Thursday, October 27, 2016

They Did Not Believe

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 1:1-3:17
Luke 23:44-24:12
Psalm 29:1-11
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 24:9-12
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Insight:
Bible scholars generally agree that the gospel account of women being the first witnesses to the resurrection gives support to the veracity of the biblical narrative. Many a commentator has pointed out that if overzealous male disciples had fabricated the resurrection story, they would surely never have chosen women to be the first to know and tell about the empty tomb.

First-century Jewish society rejected women as legal witnesses. In fact, it's worth noting that Luke's account shows the apostles doing just that. Even though these women were surely well-known to them, the apostles dismissed their story as nonsense. Because they had a bias against the testimony of women, the apostles' first response to the resurrection message was one of rejection.

Response and Action:
Truth can come from very unexpected places. It's all too easy to miss the truth when it comes from someone I have dismissed as unreliable. Just because something seems incredible or unexpected or nonsensical to me, it doesn't mean it is untrue. It's fine to be skeptical and to thoroughly question and examine truth claims, but it is foolish to reject a truth claim simply because I have a predisposition or bias toward unbelief.

I will be a thoughtful and generous listener. When people share personal stories, experiences, and beliefs, I will be careful to not dismiss them without first giving their testimony honest consideration and examination. I will remember that God sometimes uses things that seem foolish to shame the wise. Sometimes God works through the weak instead of the strong. Sometimes wisdom comes from the mouths of children.

O God, save me from arrogance that would blind me to truth. Save me from overconfidence in myself that might cause me to reject something authentic and good. Deliver me from any prejudice that would make me insensitive and closed to the beautiful and redeeming things you are doing in the world. Give me the humility, the curiosity, the patience, and the wisdom to see truth regardless of who is speaking it. Help me to remember that all truth is your truth. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Corinthians 1:27-30 
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. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Resources:
Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?
by James W. Sire

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Let Him Save Himself

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 39:1-40:38
Luke 23:13-43
Psalm 28:1-9
 
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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," were inadvertently stating the fact of the situation. Ironically, their taunts were true. It's true that 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 and 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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Will Seek Your Face

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 37:1-38:31
Luke 22:54-23:12
Psalm 27:7-14
 
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Focus Verses:
Psalm 27:7-8
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.
 
Insight:
David was determined to seek God. It wasn't just his need or external circumstances that caused him to seek God; his heart also told him to "seek God's face!"

Response and Action:
I will seek God with all my heart. I do not want to be a person who seeks God only in times of need. I want a heart that desires to draw near to God so that I am ready for difficult situations. I will seek God through prayer, through the Scriptures, through fellowship with others who seek him, and through every true and beautiful thing in the world around me.

O God, help me to seek you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Show yourself to me through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Help me to desire and delight in your will and to walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Colossians 3:1-3
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Resources:
Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Monday, October 24, 2016

Artistic Skill, Ability, and Knowledge

Today's Reading:
Exodus 35:10-36:38
Luke 22:35-53
Psalm 27:1-6
 
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Focus Verses: Exodus 35:30-35
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.

Insight:
God selected and gifted people to craft the Tabernacle structure, curtains, furnishings, tools, incense, and garments. These people were described as Spirit-filled and skillful. They had knowledge, ability, and artistry.

God has gifted different people in different ways for different purposes. The arts have a special purpose as they contribute to the worship and life of faith communities. Artistry, beauty, and craftsmanship are God-given. Those who are skilled in the arts should be called upon to use these gifts to nurture and enrich worship experiences and community life.

Response and Action:
I am thankful for the artistic men and women God has gifted in my church family. I am grateful for the music, photography, craftsmanship, beauty, creative writing, graphic arts, drama, architecture, painting, dance, and so much more that make my worship and Christian experience so rich and enjoyable. I will take note of the ways God has gifted me and consider how I can use these gifts to honor God, serve my Christian community, and shine as a witness of God's goodness to the world around me.

O God, thank you for beauty and creativity. When I consider all the worlds your hands have made--the stars, the rolling thunder, the lofty mountains, the gentle breeze, the songs of birds, the babbling brook--my soul sings, "O my Lord, how great you are!" Thank you for giving human beings the ability to appreciate beauty, and for giving them the skill and desire to create beautiful things. May the works of our hands be a praise to you, a blessing to your people, and a testimony of your grace. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 4:8
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Resources:
Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic
by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Being the the One Who Serves

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 34:1-35:9
Luke 22:14-34
Psalm 26:1-12
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 22:24-27
24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Insight:

Jesus was and is a servant. He did not serve despite his greatness, but rather, he served because of his greatness. Servanthood is at the core of greatness. To truly follow Jesus, I must become a servant. Unless a person learns to serve and care for others, it is impossible to be like Jesus.

Response and Action:
I will not pursue greatness, but rather Christ-likeness. I will look toward the needs and interests of others, rather than concern myself with how others think about me. I will apply my energy, time, and creativity toward helping others more than myself. I will come alongside and below others in an effort to lift them rather than try to exalt myself over others. Even when I am placed in positions of leadership and authority, I will see them as a privilege and a responsibility. Leadership is to be exercised with humility toward self and concern for others.

Lord God, help me to be a servant. I want to follow in the way of Jesus. Help me to pour out my life for others. Help me to serve my spouse, my family, my neighbors, my co-workers, my church, and my community, through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 5:2-3 
2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Resources:
Full Service: Moving from Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood
by Siang-Yang Tan

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Reading Schedule for October 23 - 29


Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, October 23 -
Exodus 34:1-35:9
/ Luke 22:14-34 / Psalm 26:1-12

Monday, October 24 -
Exodus 35:10-36:38
/ Luke 22:35-53 / Psalm 27:1-6

Tuesday, October 25  -
Exodus 37:1-38:31
/ Luke 22:54-23:12 / Psalm 27:7-14

Wednesday, October 26  -
Exodus 39:1-40:38
/ Luke 23:13-43 / Psalm 28:1-9

Thursday, October 27 -
Leviticus 1:1-3:17
/ Luke 23:44-24:12 / Psalm 29:1-11

Friday, October 28 -
Leviticus 4:1-5:19
/ Luke 24:13-53 / Psalm 30:1-7

Saturday, October 29-
Leviticus 6:1-7:27
/ John 1:1-28 / Psalm 30:8-12

Stiff-Necked and Quick to Turn Away

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 32:1-33:23
Luke 21:29-22:13
Psalm 25:16-22
 
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Focus Verses: Exodus 32:7-9
7
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' 9 "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people.

Insight:
The Golden Calf was not some new invention of the Israelites. During the time of the Exodus, the image of "The Bull" was an object of worship in Egypt. It was also widely worshiped among their neighboring nations in the Ancient Near East.

Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights. That was long enough for the people of Israel to jump to the conclusion that something had happened to him. In his absence, they reverted to pagan idolatry and turned back to a god-image they had learned in Egypt. Not only did they make a calf, they celebrated the deity it represented with pagan practices of ritualistic gluttony and sexual immorality.

This whole event is a stark and shocking reminder of just how far the people of Israel were from understanding or knowing the true God who had delivered them from slavery. Moses was angry with the people, but he begged God to forgive them.

Response and Action:
The people of Israel were so close to God, and yet so far away from him. Moses was in the very presence of God on Mt. Sinai, receiving God's promises and commands, but the people of Israel were distant, disobedient, and confused in the dark valley of their ignorance. They needed the commands and guidance God was giving them through Moses. They needed the truth God was revealing and to turn from their false ideas about God.

I need to draw near to God. The truth revealed to me in the Bible will help me to leave the darkness of my ignorance and help me to recognize the One True God and not confuse him with my own ideas or the false concepts of God so prevalent in the world around me.

O God, thank you for your Holy Word. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Save me from my own ignorance and the false ideas of the world that surround me. Thank you for Jesus who has made you known to me. Help me to follow in his way and to build my life upon the solid ground of his words. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Colossians 1:13-14
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Resources:
Breaking the Idols of Your Heart
by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

Friday, October 21, 2016

Stand Firm and Gain Life

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 30:11-31:18
Luke 21:1-28
Psalm 25:8-15
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 21:16-19 
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

Insight:

Jesus warns his followers of a time when, because of their faith in him, they will face betrayal, hate, and even death. He tells them to stand firm in their faith because in standing firm they will gain life. Jesus speaks these words with great confidence and authority. He even appropriates the very words of God (Isaiah 40:8) as his own when he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Response and Action:
I have never yet faced the kind of persecution Jesus warns about in these verses, but someplace in the world today Christians are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. I must pray for them and prepare my heart and mind for the very real possibility of persecution at some time in my future. The world is a volatile place where things can shift dramatically and unexpectedly.

I must follow Jesus with my heart, soul, and strength today—acknowledging his lordship and authority—if I am going to be ready to stand firm in him in times of trial and hardship. I must embrace Jesus' words and promises with the same confidence he speaks them to me. I will hold to the words of Jesus as the very words of God Almighty. In faith, I must live with the conviction that if I stand firm in Christ, I will gain life.

O God, you are my hope, my strength, and my deliverance. The escapes from death belong to you. You scatter your enemies and overcome the darkness with light. You bear my burdens, you save me, and you sustain me. By your power and grace, O Lord, help me to navigate difficult times and dark days. Help me to stand firm in you. Give me your peace and guard my heart and mind. Give me confidence for life through faith in Christ. Blessed be his name! 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:
The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance
by Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Hope Is in You All Day Long

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 29:1-30:10
Luke 20:27-47
Psalm 25:1-7
 
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Focus Verses: Psalm 25:1-5
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; 2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. 4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Insight:
Hoping and trusting in God are closely related to the desire and willingness to be led by God. Those who seek God's salvation must seek to know his ways. Those who hope in the Lord must be eager to be guided in the paths of truth.

Response and Action:
Because I hope in the Lord, I will seek to know his ways. I will read his word. I will meditate upon the truth of Christ and the instruction of the Scriptures. I will heed Christ's commands. Because I believe in God's goodness to save, I will look to him for guidance and protection.

O God, you are my God and I seek to be led by you. Lead me into truth. Show me your ways. Teach me to follow your lead. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. My hope is in you all day long. Help me to be a faithful follower of Jesus and help me to become more like him each day. It's in his name that I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Luke 6:40
40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Resources:
Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Consecrated for Noble Purposes

Today's Reading:
Exodus 28:1-43
Luke 20:1-26
Psalm 24:1-10
 
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Focus Verses: Exodus 28:36-41
36 "Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. 37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron's forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron's forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the LORD. 39 "Weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen. The sash is to be the work of an embroiderer. 40 Make tunics, sashes and headbands for Aaron's sons, to give them dignity and honor. 41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

Insight:
All the details and elements of the Tabernacle—its accouterments, its furnishings, and the priests—were set aside for a special purpose. These things and these people were consecrated for serving God. Every aspect of Israel's religious practice was intended to emphasize the holiness, uniqueness, and majesty of God.

The objects, the garments, the rituals, and the priests were dedicated to one purpose—the worship of God. Once consecrated to God, they were not to be used for anything else. They belonged to their Holy God and were exclusively committed to his holy purposes.

Response and Action:
I want all the details of my life to be devoted to honoring and serving God. My choices, my lifestyle, my mouth, my attitudes, my work, my relationships, my hopes, and my plans should be consecrated to his holy purpose for me.

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. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead me, teach me, transform me, shape me, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to you. Through Christ, 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:
Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

If You Had Only Known

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 26:1-27:21
Luke 19:28-48
Psalm 23:1-6
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 19:41-44
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

Insight:
Peace is often forfeited because the source of peace is not recognized. Suffering is often not averted because the presence and power of God is not acknowledged.

Response and Action:
I need to open my eyes to the realities of life. I need to give careful consideration to the possibilities that are available to me through Christ. Jesus claimed to be the one who could show me the Father, lead me into truth, bring me safely through hardship, and give me eternal life. If he is who he claimed to be, it would be costly and sad to ignore or deny him.

O Lord, what peace am I missing today because I am failing to recognize you as the source of peace? What hardships will I have to face in the future if I fail to acknowledge your presence with me today? Help me to know your peace and to practice your presence today. I acknowledge Jesus as the source of peace—Immanuel, God with us. Grant me the grace to recognize your presence, your guidance, and your power to save. 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:
The Incomparable Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Monday, October 17, 2016

Moses Went Up on the Mountain

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 23:14-25:40
Luke 19:1-27
Psalm 22:22-31
 
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Focus Verses: Exodus 24:15-18
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Insight:
The Israelites saw what looked like a consuming fire and cloud on the mountain. The elders of Israel went part of the way toward the mountain with Moses and saw some sort of vision of God's presence. Moses climbed the mountain into the cloud cover and spent forty days in the very presence of God. The overwhelming message of all this serves to reinforce the authority of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was understood to be directly from God.

Response and Action:
My view of the Scriptures is very important. If I consider the Bible to be just a book with the ideas and beliefs and directives of human beings, it will probably not have much power or authority in my life. If I consider it to be the Word of God, it will have a great deal of authority and power in my life. I will give careful consideration to my views toward Scripture. If I believe the Bible is from God, then I must give it the respect and authority it deserves. A desire to read, study, memorize, and apply the truths of the Bible should accompany the belief that it is truly inspired by God.

O God, thank you for the Bible. Show me your ways, O Lord, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. I seek you, Lord, with all my heart. Don't 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: Psalm 119:105
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Resources:
Can I Trust the Bible?
by Darrell Bock

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Come Quickly to Help Me

Today's Reading: 
Exodus 21:22-23:13
Luke 18:18-43
Psalm 22:12-21
 
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Focus Verses: Psalm 22:17-20 
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. 19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
 
Insight: When Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," he was very likely quoting the opening lines of Psalm 22, a psalm of David. He must have known, recited, and pondered over this song many times, especially as he knew the time of his death was drawing near. It seems even more likely that he was thinking of Psalm 22 considering the last words of this Psalm, "he has done it,' are so close to his last words on the cross, "It is finished." The account of the crucifixion in Mark 15 is amazingly interconnected with the words of Psalm 22, though it was written hundreds of years before the time of Christ.

Jesus was not forsaken by God (Psalm 22:24). He didn't think he had been forsaken by God. His quotation of Psalm 22 was actually a way for him to declare his confidence that God would never forsake him. Jesus knew the last verse of Psalm 22 as well as he knew the first verse. While people mocked and treated him as though he had been forsaken by God, Jesus quoted a song that declared his faith and hope that God would vindicate him. He expected to be victorious over death.

Response and Action:
I will trust in God's promises, even in the face of adversity and the threat of death. I believe that God is able to save. When it looks like I have been forsaken, I will, like Jesus, cling to the belief that God will save and restore me. I believe that nothing can separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.

O God, thank you for the hope of salvation. Lead me away from temptation. Deliver me from evil. Provide for my needs today. Protect me from discouragement, and encourage me by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Amen.


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

Resources:
Praying the Psalms of Jesus
by James Sire

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reading Schedule for October 16-22


Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, October 16 -
Exodus 21:22-23:13
/ Luke 18:18-43 / Psalm 22:12-21

Monday, October 17 -
Exodus 23:14-25:40 / Luke 19:1-27
/ Psalm 22:22-31

Tuesday, October 18  -
Exodus 26:1-27:21
/ Luke 19:28-48 / Psalm 23:1-6

Wednesday, October 19  -
Exodus 28:1-43
/ Luke 20:1-26 / Psalm 24:1-10

Thursday, October 20 -
Exodus 29:1-30:10
/ Luke 20:27-47 / Psalm 25:1-7

Friday, October 21 -
Exodus 30:11-31:18
/ Luke 21:1-28 / Psalm 25:8-15

Saturday, October 22-
Exodus 32:1-33:23
/ Luke 21:29-22:13 / Psalm 25:16-22