Friday, March 31, 2017

From Sunrise to Sunset

Today's Reading:
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10
Philippians 2:19-3:3
Psalm 113:1-9
 
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Focus Verses: Psalm 113:2-4
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. 4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.

Insight:

From the beginning of the day to its ending, the Lord is worthy of my praise. From the beginning of my week through its conclusion, the Lord is worthy of honor each and every day. His love is higher than the heavens, and his faithfulness reaches beyond the skies. The contemplation of all God has made and has done call for a response of worship and thanksgiving.

Response and Action:I want praise and thanksgiving to be the central ingredient of my day. I want to lift up praise to the Lord. I will worship him and stand in awe of his mighty acts. I will thank him for his grace and his faithfulness. I will wake up to all of the reasons to give glory to God.

O God, give me the eyes to see your goodness, and the mind to remember your faithfulness to your people throughout history. Give me a heart that is ready to worship you all day every day, and a voice that is quick to sing your praise. Thank you for your grace and mercy toward me, a sinner. Thank you for the redemption you have given through Christ. Thank you for the transformation and renewal you make possible by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:1-2
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. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Resources:
Reflections on the Psalms
by C. S. Lewis

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Interests of Others

Today's Reading:
2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11
Philippians 1:27-2:18
Psalm 112:1-10
 
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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 and 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:
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Whether by Life or by Death

Today's Reading:
2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17
Philippians 1:1-26
Psalm 111:1-10
 
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Focus Verses: Philippians 1:19-21
19 ...for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Insight:

Paul was in prison and facing the real possibility of death. He wasn't sure whether he would be released and given more opportunities to minister, or whether he would be silenced by long-term imprisonment or even death. His faith in God was so much deeper than his fear of circumstances that he could imagine how God might use either possibility to accomplish his will. Paul could entertain the possibility of dying for Christ as easily as living for Christ.

Paul believed that by the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and through prayers of his Christian brothers and sisters, God's purposes would be accomplished. Paul was convinced that he personally would not be ashamed in either outcome—death or in life. For Paul, to live meant fruitful labor for God, and to die meant the great gain of being with the Lord.

Response and Action:
I want the driving motivation in my life to be centered on serving God's purposes and bringing glory to God. I want to draw so near to God, and be so convinced of his provision and good will, that I am willing to risk all and face anything. I want to grow so deep in my faith that I see every moment of life as the opportunity to serve and honor God, and see the possibilities and realities of death as gain.

O Father, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to seize every opportunity to know you, serve you, and love you. Give me a heart that seeks your guidance for life, and trusts your provision and promise in death. Help me to know you and experience you so deeply that I am able to say with Paul, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." Give me eyes to see how you are able to make all things work toward the ultimate good of your redemptive and saving will. Help me to remember that there is more to life than my circumstances, and that life in Christ is bigger and truer than death. I pray all this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Resources:
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Put On the Full Armor of God

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30
Ephesians 6:1-24
Psalm 110:1-7
 
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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 and 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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Once Darkness, Now Light

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34
Ephesians 5:1-33
Psalm 109:21-31
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 5:8-14
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Insight:
The light of life and truth is in Christ. To surrender to Christ and follow him is to embrace the light and come out of the darkness of sin, corruption, and shame. In Christ, we not only follow the light, we become light--"now you are light in the Lord." We are to live as "children of the light." Rather than participating in the fruitless acts of the darkness, we expose them for what they are. We see sin for the empty thing it is and the death it brings. We wake up and rise from the dead when we come out of the darkness of sin into the bright light of Christ.

Response and Action:
I see darkness and sin for what they are. I see the shame, destruction, and death they bring. I see Christ Jesus for who he is. I see the light and truth and life he gives. My faith is in Jesus. He is my Lord and my savior. He is my light. I will love and follow him with all my heart. I want to walk in his light. I want to break free from the darkness and become light in Him. I want to have nothing to do with the darkness. With faith in Christ's grace and power, I will put aside the fruitless acts of darkness and, instead, live in truth, goodness, and righteousness.

O God. Show me your ways; guide me in your truth and lead me. Be the light that guides my way. Raise me from the darkness. Help me to follow Christ so wholeheartedly that I am changed so completely that I too become light. Help me to be honest about the darkness in my life and in the world around me. Expose it for the emptiness and death it is, O God, so that it would have no attraction for me. Fill my heart with a desire to know and experience the true light of Christ and to live in it all my days. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 5:14-16
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Resources:
Reflecting the Glory: Meditations for Living Christ's Life in the World
by N.T. Wright

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Getting Rid of Bitterness

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 24:1-26:11
Ephesians 4:17-32
Psalm 109:1-20
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Insight:
Fellowship and friendship among Christians requires care and effort. There are many things that threaten to destroy unity within the body of Christ. Paul warns the Ephesians of some of the things they must guard against: falsehood, failure to speak truthfully, uncontrolled anger, holding grudges, stealing, laziness, selfishness, careless words, bitterness, rage, fighting, slander, lack of compassion, ignoring the Spirit, and the failure to forgive. All these things give the devil a foothold and sabotage Christian community.

Response and Action:
I want to both enjoy and extend the blessing of Christian fellowship. I understand that this will require effort, humility, and obedience on my part. I will strive to live with integrity. I will speak truthfully and carefully because I want my words to be helpful and beneficial to others. I will keep my attitude and my temper in check. I will not allow anger to slip into rage or bitterness. I will not hold grudges, but will instead learn to forgive and extend grace. I will do my best to be a responsible and hardworking person. I will cultivate a compassionate and generous attitude toward others. I will look to the Holy Spirit for the guidance, strength, and transformation I need to be a life-giving member of the body of Christ.

O God, protect your people from the sins and weaknesses that destroy fellowship. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, shape and create a community of Christ-followers that honor you, love each other, and bless the world. Forgive us for the times we are careless and allow anger, malice, and selfishness divide us from each other. Help us to turn away from careless words, ugly attitudes, and foolish actions that cause dissension. Give us hearts that seek to love you with everything we've got, and seek to love others as ourselves. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 2:1-4
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 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.
 
Resources:
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reading Schedule for March 26 - April 1


Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017


Sunday, March 26 -
1Chronicles 24:1-26:11 / Ephesians 4:17-32
/ Psalm 109:1-20

Monday, March 27 -
1Chronicles 26:12-27:34
/ Ephesians 5:1-33 / Psalm 109:21-31

Tuesday, March 28  - 

1Chronicles 28:1-29:30 / Ephesians 6:1-24 / Psalm 110:1-7

Wednesday, March 29  - 

2Chronicles 1:1-3:17 / Philippians 1:1-26 / Psalm 111:1-10

Thursday, March 30 - 

2Chronicles 4:1-6:11 / Philippians 1:27-2:18 / Psalm 112:1-10

Friday, March 31 - 

2Chronicles 6:12-8:10 / Philippians 2:19-3:3 / Psalm 113:1-9

Saturday, April 1 - 

2Chronicles 8:11-10:19 / Philippians 3:4-21 / Psalm 114:1-8

Live a Life Worthy of the Calling

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32
Ephesians 4:1-16
Psalm 108:6-13
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 4:1-6
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. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Insight:
Paul urged the Ephesian Christians to live up to their calling in Christ. He reminded them that God was not only over all, but through all, and in all. The life of the person who answers Christ's call is a life empowered and filled by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love, and unity are all the fruit of God's transforming work in the believer's life—his authority (over), his power (through), and his indwelling presence (in).

Response and Action:
To live a life worthy of the calling I have received, I must live out my salvation as fully as possible. Paul urged the Ephesians to take hold of God's grace and power for all its worth. I want to take hold of all God has in store for me. Half-heartedness and apathy are opposed to living a life worthy of the call of Christ.

Jesus calls me to more than belief and more than forgiveness. He calls me to transformation and the fullness of God. By the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit who indwells my mortal body, I can and must grow into likeness of Christ. When I am taking hold of all God offers to me (taking hold for all its worth), I will grow in humility, patience, endurance, tolerance, love, and concern for others.

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, and to love my neighbor as myself. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Colossians 1:9b-13
9b We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 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:
The Life You've Always Wanted
by John Ortberg

Friday, March 24, 2017

Filled to the Measure of God's Fullness

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30
Ephesians 3:1-21
Psalm 108:1-5
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
 
Insight:
With great passion, the Apostle Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians to be strengthened by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He prays for them to be rooted in love. He prays that they will be able to grasp, know, experience all God has for them. He prays that they be filled with the fullness of Christ's love.

Response and Action:
I want to live and pray with an intensity and vision like that of the Apostle Paul. I want to be passionate in my devotion to Christ. I want to know the love of Christ and experience the fullest measure of the life he gives. I want to be strengthened, guided, and shaped by the Holy Spirit. This must be my highest priority, the foundation for all my life, and the object of all my intentions. This is also my prayer for others in Christ—my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my colleagues.

O God. I believe that knowing you and growing in you must be the passion of my life. I believe that living life to the fullest can only happen by knowing and experiencing the love of Christ to the fullest. Help me as I desire to seek him first—his kingdom and his righteousness. Strengthen me and guide me by your Spirit. Help me, by your grace, to stretch and to focus my energies and intentions on every good thing that draws me closer to you—further, deeper, higher, and wider into Christ. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 6:33
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Resources:
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Thursday, March 23, 2017

We Are God's Workmanship

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17
Ephesians 2:1-22
Psalm 107:33-43
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Insight:
By his grace, God is saving all of us who are being made alive in Christ. His great power—the same great power he demonstrated in raising Jesus from the dead—is at work in our lives. Our lives are a demonstration of God's grace and power as he creates, shapes and forms us in Christ to do the good things he has in mind for us to do.

Response and Action:
I want to be transformed by God's grace—to know and experience the power and truth of Christ more each day. I want to do the good things God has planned for me, and I want God to prepare me to do them. I will study and meditate up on the Scriptures. I will pray and yield my heart and will to God. I will give thought and care to my choices, actions, and attitudes. I will in all things seek to follow Christ, honor God, and walk in truth.

O God. Thank you for saving me by your grace. Do not let the world squeeze me into it's mold, instead, transform me by the renewing of my mind. Show me your good, perfect, and pleasing will and strengthen me to live in it. Help me to be a good steward of all you have given me. Grant me the will and wisdom to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, care for my body, and diligently do the good work you have laid before me. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 3:12b-14 
12b Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, 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.

Resources:
Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential
by Gordon T. Smith

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Eyes of Your Heart

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36
Ephesians 1:1-23
Psalm 107:23-32
 
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Focus Verses: Ephesians 1:18-20
18 I pray 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 his people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...

Insight:
Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus to be wide-eyed, receptive, open-hearted, and fully aware of all that God had for them—the hope, inheritance, and power for all who believe. Implicit in his prayer is the possibility that people can be believers, yet still be blind to much of what God has for them through Jesus. Christians must live, pray, and act in ways that open them up to see and take hold of God's power and blessing in their lives.

Response and Action:I want my heart to be wide-eyed! I want my life to be transformed by God's grace. I want to know and experience the power and truth of Christ more each day. I want to do the good things God has planned for me, and is preparing me to do.

I will seek times of solitude in order to focus upon God. I will study and meditate up on the Scriptures. I will pray and yield my heart and will to God. I will give thought and care to my choices, actions, and attitudes. In all things, I will seek to follow Christ, honor God, and walk in truth.

O God, the God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, grant me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know you better. Open the eyes of my heart and enlighten me in order that I may know the hope to which you have called me. Show me the riches of your glorious inheritance for all the saints, and transform me by your incomparably great power for all who believe. Make my life a demonstration of your power and workmanship. Help me to do the good things you would have me do. Through Christ, Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 12:1b-3 
1b Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sharing and Bearing Burdens

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17
Galatians 6:1-18
Psalm 107:10-22
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Galatians 6:2-5
2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.

Insight:
To live into the character of Christ and follow his example, we must share each other's burdens. This requires humility and selflessness. As followers of Christ we should be quick to help others carry their burdens. We should also make every effort to carry our own load, and not be an unnecessary burden to others.

When our burden is more than we can bear, we should gladly accept the love and help others extend to us. When we see someone else struggling under a burden, we should do what we can to help.

Response and Action:I need to be sensitive to the needs of those around me. How can I help? What can I do to share or lighten the load? A humble spirit will stimulate this kind of awareness toward others. This kind of awareness will also contribute to a humble spirit. I want to do my best to carry my own load, and yet be ready to accept help when I need it. I don't want pride to get in the way of giving or receiving help.

O God. Thank you for the love and support you give me through fellowship with other Christians. Give me a humble heart and a readiness to help others bear their burdens. Thank you for Christ Jesus who has given his all to bear my burdens. Help me to have a Christ-like heart for others. 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:
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Fruit of the Spirit

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:18
Galatians 5:13-26
Psalm 107:1-9
 
Click on Text Link 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 and 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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Save Us, O Lord!

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 9:1 - 10:14
Galatians 5:1-12
Psalm 106:40-48
 
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Focus Verses: Psalm 106:47-48
47 Save us, LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD.

Insight:
The psalmist cries out to God for deliverance. He asks God to gather in and restore the people of Israel who, because of their unfaithfulness, have been scattered and taken captive by the surrounding nations. He asks God to do this for the glory of his holy name. The psalmist appeals to God with the pledge that the salvation of his people will result in their songs of praise.

Response and Action:I cry out to God for help every day. My prayers for family, friends, church, neighbors, community, and world are too many to count. But when I ask for salvation, is it for me alone or for God's glory? When I pray for deliverance, do I expect the deliverance to result in thanks to God? When I cry out for relief and provision, am I concerned only with temporal needs, or do I want God's name to be praised from everlasting to everlasting?

Instead of my prayers being focused on me, I want them to be rooted in a genuine desire to bring reverence and devotion to God!

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the "Amen" sound from His people again,
Gladly for YES we adore Him.


Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 1:3-4a
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, 4a and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

Resources:
Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Reading Schedule for March 19-25


Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017


Sunday, March 19 -
1Chronicles 9:1-10:14 / Galatians 5:1-12
/ Psalm 106:40-48

Monday, March 20 -
1Chronicles 11:1-12:18
/ Galatians 5:13-26 / Psalm 107:1-9

Tuesday, March 21  -
1Chronicles 12:19-14:17
/ Galatians 6:1-18 / Psalm 107:10-22

Wednesday, March 22  -
1Chronicles 15:1-16:36
/ Ephesians 1:1-23 / Psalm 107:23-32

Thursday, March 23 -
1Chronicles 16:37-18:17
/ Ephesians 2:1-22 / Psalm 107:33-43

Friday, March 24 -
1Chronicles 19:1-21:30
/ Ephesians 3:1-21 / Psalm 108:1-5

Saturday, March 25 -
1Chronicles 22:1-23:32
/ Ephesians 4:1-16 / Psalm 108:6-13

All One in Christ Jesus

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40
Galatians 3:23-4:31
Psalm 106:32-39
 
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Focus Verses: Galatians 3:26-28
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and 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 look at the world in this new and redemptive way.

Response and 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, March 17, 2017

Prisoners before Faith Came

Today's Reading:
1Chronicles 5:18-6:81
Galatians 3:10-22
Psalm 106:16-31
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Galatians 3:21-24
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. 23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Insight:
The declaration of Scripture and the testimony of our own experience is that "the whole world is a prisoner of sin." Having laws and moral codes doesn't change our hearts nor our actions. In fact, having the law serves to convict us all, as we are all shown to have broken it. It's great to have the moral guidance of the law, but what we need even more is the transformed heart that helps us live up to it.

We need more than knowledge; we need freedom. We need to be saved from our bondage to sin. Christ's sacrifice opens the door for us to be justified by faith in him. The power of his Spirit can transform us into people whose lives are guided not by the constraint of laws, but by our Christ-like hearts.

Response and Action:
I will take hold of freedom through Christ, remembering that salvation is not earned by human effort, but rather by faith. In order to live a righteous life, I need to be transformed by God's Spirit. With my faith firmly rooted in Christ, I can then make every effort to pursue righteousness as I am led and empowered by the Spirit.

God's grace in my life is freedom from sin and the power of salvation. By grace, the Holy Spirit in me is the source of strength for leading a righteous life, serving Jesus, and honoring God.

O God, work in my life. Change me as I follow Jesus in complete trust. Make me a person who does what is right out of a heart and mind that has been made right by you. Open every door and show me every path that leads to a closer walk with you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 8:36
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Resources:
Galatians: Experiencing the Grace of Christ
by John Stott

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Christ Lives in Me

Today's Reading:
1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17
Galatians 2:17-3:9
Psalm 106:1-15
 
Click on Text Link 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 and 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 N. T. Wright