Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Kind and Faithful Lord

Today's Reading:
Genesis 23:1-24:51
Luke 5:12-28
Psalm 9:1-6
 
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Focus Verses: Genesis 24:26-27
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives."

Insight:
When the time came for Isaac to have a wife, Abraham sent his most trusted servant to find a wife from among the kinsmen Abraham had left behind. The servant was extremely faithful to Abraham. On his journey, he displayed responsibility, focus, honesty, and faith, and he was continually in prayer. God blessed his way and gave him success.

Response and Action:
I want to be a faithful servant—faithful to God and to others. I want to approach the tasks and responsibilities God has given me with a whole heart. I need to avoid distractions, pray continually, and be faithful and honest. I want to approach my days, my tasks, and my challenges with a prayerful attitude and with eyes ready to see how God is providing.

O Lord, help me to be a good steward of all you have given me. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do. To be fruitful, faithful, and effective as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor, and co-worker. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 25:23
23 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Resources:
How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Lord Will Provide

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 20:1-22:24
Luke 4:31-5:11
Psalm 8:1-9

Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 22:13-14
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

Insight:
Abraham and Isaac believed that the God they followed and worshiped was the only true God. The devotion they had for their God was no less than the devotion the pagans around them had for their false Gods. If those worshiping pagan deities were willing to sacrifice their children to demonstrate complete devotion, Abraham was willing to do the same.

But the one true God proved himself to be nothing like the false Gods of the pagans. Those false God's were takers who demanded satisfaction. But the true God, the God of Abraham and Isaac, was and is a provider. He doesn't hurt and take away; he gives and protects.

God demands my all and asks me to lay down my life, but it is actually God who has given his Son, Jesus, to save me and give me life. Even as I surrender my all, God provides more than I have to give.

Response and Action:
Like Abraham, I want to be willing to give up anything for God. I want to demonstrate that my devotion to God is as whole-hearted as anyone else's devotion to anything else. I want to seek God above all else. I do not want anything or anyone to be a rival for my commitment to God. I am grateful that God is a giver. I rejoice that God is a giver and a provider, not a taker who diminishes me. Instead, as I offer him my all, he provides and blesses me and makes me more than I could ever be on my own.

O Lord, you are good and gracious to me. Thank you for Jesus who emptied himself for me and for all humanity. Help me to become like him in my attitudes and actions toward others. Help me to give grace more than I seek it; to love others more than I seek to be loved; to forgive others more than I ask for forgiveness; to understand others more than I seek to be understood. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 4:9-10
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Resources:
How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Good News!

Today's Reading:
Genesis 18:16-19:38
Luke 4:1-30
Psalms 7:10-17
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Luke 4:18-21 
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Insight:
Jesus came preaching the good news, which had been promised and foretold by the prophet Isaiah. It was good news of healing, freedom, justice, and restoration. More than merely spiritual, philosophical, or religious, Jesus came to bring truth and deliverance that would bring about real change, recovery, and hope in the real world.

This good news was not just for Israel, but for all people everywhere. When the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, he reminded them that they were not the first to reject someone sent by God. In fact, the abuse and rejection of the prophets was typical in their history. They became outraged when he pointed out scriptural examples of non-Jews who, unlike them, were quicker to recognize God's power and truth.

Response and Action:
I recognize Jesus as good news. He is the hope of salvation. He brings forgiveness and restoration. He offers freedom from oppression and bondage. He is the proof of God's love and favor toward humanity. I will embrace the good news that Jesus embodies. My faith and hope are in him.

Not only will I receive the good news, I will commit myself to joining Jesus in preaching and living the good news of God. As a follower of Jesus, I must commit myself to bring peace, deliverance, health, justice, life, truth, and freedom to the world around me. To embrace Christ Jesus is to embrace his agenda for the world.

O God, you are holy and loving. Your love and holiness have been gloriously lived out on earth through Christ Jesus. Thank you for the good news Jesus has brought to the whole world. Help me to follow in his steps and to walk in the power of his Spirit, that I might live and preach the same good news. Help me to be an active agent and living witness of the freedom, restoration, and hope that are in Christ Jesus. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 10:14-15
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Resources:
Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World
by Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Reading Schedule for September 15-21


SUNDAY
Genesis 18:16-19:38
Luke 4:1-30
Psalm 7:10-17

MONDAY
Genesis 20:1-22:24
Luke 4:31-5:11
Psalm 8:1-9

TUESDAY
Genesis 23:1-24:51
Luke 5:12-28
Psalm 9:1-6

WEDNESDAY
Genesis 24:52-26:16
Luke 5:29-6:11
Psalm 9:7-12

THURSDAY
Genesis 26:17-27:46
Luke 6:12-38
Psalm 9:13-20

FRIDAY
Gen 28:1-29:35
Luke 6:39-7:10
Psalm 10:1-11

SATURDAY
Genesis 30:1-31:16
Luke 7:11-35
Psalm 10:12-18

Is Anything Too Hard?

Today's Reading:
Genesis 16:1-18:15
Luke 3:23-38
Psalm 7:1-9
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 18:10-14
10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?" 13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
 

Insight:
Though Abraham and Sarah were very old and long past the age of having children. God promised them that Sarah would give birth to a son within the year. The thought was so outrageous to Sarah that she laughed out loud at the thought of it. From her limited human point of view, God's promise seemed laughable, but from God's point of view, nothing is too hard.

Response and Action:
I will trust God to keep his promises no matter how unimaginable they seem to be from my limited point of view. God can do more than I ask or imagine. I will put my complete trust in him.

O Lord, help me to believe your promises. Give me a heart that fully trusts in you. Strengthen me with power through your Spirit in me. Help me to trust you with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Resources:
The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative
by Christopher J. H. Wright

Friday, September 13, 2019

Worship and Trust

Today's Reading:
Genesis 13:5-15:21
Luke 3:1-22
Psalm 6:1-10
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Genesis 13:8-9, 14-17
8
So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left." - - - 14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."

Insight:
The account of Abram and Lot going their separate ways begins and ends with Abram building altars to the Lord and looking to God. His worship and his trust went hand in hand. Faith in God is strengthened by a life of devotion, worship, prayer, and thanksgiving.

When their families and possessions became too large to manage together, Abram offered Lot the first choice of where he would like to go. Lot seems to have grabbed for himself what he thought would be the best and most promising option. Abram trusted God to provide for him, and God did not disappoint.

Response and Action:
My time spent in worship and devotion to God will strengthen my ability to trust in him. Living out my trust in God is an act of worship. Trusting God to provide for me helps me avoid conflict and petty quarreling with others. I don't have to fight and grab for my own interests if I truly believe God is watching out for me.

O Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding. May my worship before you become the solid foundation for the way I live. Instead of clawing and grabbing for myself, teach me to trust in you for the things I need. Help me to acknowledge you in every circumstance. Make my paths straight, and help me to live in peace with others as I believe you are watching over me and will be faithful to provide for me. 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:
Genesis: The Story We Haven't Heard
by Paul Carlton Borgman

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Consider My Sighing

Today's Reading:
Genesis 11:1-13:4
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 5:1-12
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 5:1-3
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Insight:
Two words in this passage catch my attention today: morning and expectation. The first word speaks to practice and the second word speaks to motivation. First, morning prayers were routine for the psalmist. Making time to pray every morning was the norm. Secondly, the psalmist believed that God heard, considered, and answered his prayers. When he prayed, he prayed with the expectation that God would act--his prayers mattered.

Response and Action:
I will make regular times and patterns for prayer part of my daily life. I will make every effort to make and guard a time for prayer every morning. When I pray, I will pray believing that God hears and cares about my prayers. I will pray with expectation, knowing that somehow, some way, my prayers connect my heart, my needs, and my requests into the gracious and loving presence of God. I will lay my requests before Him.

O God, I want to know your presence and involvement in my life. I want to talk with you and to hear your voice. I need you to hear my cries and concerns. I need to know your word and to be assured of your promises. Help me to be a person of prayer. Help me to demonstrate my faith and my confidence in you by making times of quiet focus and prayer a routine part of my every day life—as normal as breathing, eating, and sleeping. Because I believe you are present, and trust in your promises, I will live and pray accordingly. Increase my faith, and help me to live each day with the awareness and expectation that true faith inspires. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.


Spiritual Formation 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.

Resources:
Learning to Pray Through the Psalms
by James Sire

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

THE BIBLE PROJECT: GENESIS (PT 2)

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My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 8:1-10:32
Luke 2:1-35
Psalm 4:1-8
 
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Focus Verses: Luke 2:27b-32
27b When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Insight:
Simeon was a righteous and devout man who worshiped God with his whole heart, and prayed faithfully for the consolation of Israel. When he saw the baby Jesus at the temple, he recognized the hope and peace for which he had been waiting and praying. He saw in Jesus, the fulfillment of the promised salvation the prophet Isaiah had foretold.

Response and Action:
What do I see in Jesus? Do I recognize in him the hope of peace and comfort? Do I see in him the fulfillment of God's promises to save?

I believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. I believe there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father—God from God, light from light, true God from true God. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven. I believe the word became flesh and has lived among us full of grace and truth.

O God, give me eyes to see who Jesus is. Please help me to recognize him as the Savior you sent into the world to rescue me from the dominion of darkness. Show me the hope, healing, light, and life that are found only in him. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 1:10-12
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...

Resources:
The Incomparable Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Every Inclination and Thought

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 5:1-7:24
Luke 1:57-80
Psalm 3:1-8
 
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Genesis 6:5-9
5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
 

Insight:
We've barely gotten a start in the Bible's account of human history, and the creator is ready to start over! The wickedness of humanity had become so great so quickly that God was grieved to have created them. Noah, however, stood out among the people of his time and found favor with God. He walked with God, turned away from the evil around him, and pursued righteousness.

Response and Action:
What are the inclinations and thoughts of my heart? Do I grieve the heart of God? Do I turn away from the wickedness? I need God to flood my life and wipe out the wickedness in me. I need to be made new and walk with God in righteousness. Though evil is so prevalent, with God's gracious help and direction I can be different and pursue righteousness. Jesus Christ has made a way for me to have new life!

O Lord, I do not want to grieve your heart. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Thank you for giving me a new start through Jesus. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, please lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 
Romans 8:1-2
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Resources:
How To Read Genesis
by Tremper Longman

Monday, September 09, 2019

THE BIBLE PROJECT: PSALMS

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What Have You Done?

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 3:1-4:26 
Luke 1:26-56 
Psalms 2:1-12
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Genesis 4:8-10 
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.
 
Insight:
Sin not only separates us from God, as we see in Genesis 3, it also separates us from each other. Sin and selfishness are so destructive to the human heart that even efforts to know and worship God can result in social strife and violence. When envy, anger, pride, and sin master the human heart, the result is conflict, hate, and bitter competition. Instead of living in harmony with each other, people become disconnected—restless wanderers fearful of others.

This animosity gets passed on from generation to generation. The strife of two brothers becomes the strife of cities. The vengeance of seven people becomes the violence and murder of seventy-seven. Only in Christ Jesus can we find the healing and grace we need to be right with God and right with others. Only with humility and surrender to God can we break the chain of retaliation and hostility that divides individuals, people groups, and nations.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize the ways sin, jealousy, lies, pride, and selfishness destroy my relationships with others. If I want to understand and overcome conflict among people (nations, families, neighbors, religions, siblings, races), I need to recognize the underlying causes of sin.

When I am in conflict with others, I will humble myself and prayerfully examine my heart and mind for sin. If I want to live in harmony with others and be a voice and influence for peace, I must seek to be right with God. I must love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength if I am to be able to love my neighbor as myself.


O Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is despair, hope; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light. Grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that I receive, it is in pardoning that I receive pardon, it is dying that I am born to eternal life. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:17-19
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

Resources: 
A Just Forgiveness: Responsible Healing without Excusing Injustice
by Everett L. Worthington, Jr.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

THE BIBLE PROJECT: LUKE (PART 1)

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A People Prepared for the Lord

Today's Reading: 
Genesis 1:1-2:25 
Luke 1:1-25 
Psalms 1:1-6
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Luke 1:16-17 
16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
 
Insight:
The Old Testament prophets spoke of a future hope that Israel had yet to see. This hope was more than the rebuilding of Jerusalem, more than the return of the Jews from exile, and more than the restoration of the temple. They spoke of the coming Messiah who would save his people. He would bring redemption and give new hearts. He would bring freedom and eternal life.

The coming Messiah would be announced by a special messenger who would shout, "Prepare the way of the Lord." An angel appeared to Zechariah and said, "Your son is going to be the messenger who proclaims the coming of Christ." It's exciting to see that the first words of promise in the New Testament are the fulfillment of the last words of promise of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6).

Response and Action:
I am thankful for God's unfolding story of redemption and salvation. By faith, I embrace the promises of the prophets. By faith, I believe that Jesus is God's promised Messiah. By faith, I believe that God is present in the world today, still working toward redemption and salvation. By faith, I have given and continue to give my life to Jesus. By faith, I have entered the unfolding story of redemption, and pray that God will direct and use me for his redemptive purposes as I serve and follow Jesus.

O God, thank you for your son Jesus, who for us and for our salvation became incarnate from the virgin Mary and was made man. Thank you that for our sake, he suffered death, but rose again on the third day as the victor over death. Help me to love and follow Jesus, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen. 

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Resources: 
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Saturday, September 07, 2019

THE BIBLE PROJECT: GENESIS (PT 1)

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READING SCHEDULE FOR SEPT. 8-14

Here we go again! 
Thanks for reading with me.

Tips for Bible Readers

THE BIBLE PROJECT: GENESIS (PART 1)

SUNDAY
Genesis 1:1-2:25
Luke 1:1-25      
Psalm 1:1-6

THE BIBLE PROJECT: LUKE (PART 1)

MONDAY
Genesis 3:1-4:26
Luke 1:26-56
Psalm 2:1-12

THE BIBLE PROJECT: PSALMS

TUESDAY
Genesis 5:1-7:24
Luke 1:57-80
Psalm 3:1-8

WEDNESDAY
Genesis 8:1-10:32
Luke 2:1-35
Psalm 4:1-8


THE BIBLE PROJECT: GENESIS (PART 2)

THURSDAY
Genesis 11:1-13:4
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 5:1-12

FRIDAY
Genesis 13:5-15:21
Luke 3:1-22
Psalm 6:1-10

SATURDAY
Genesis 16:1-18:15
Luke 3:23-38
Psalm 7:1- 9

The Sun of Righteousness

Today's Reading: 
Malachi 3:1-4:6 
Mark 16:1-20 
Proverbs 31:21-31
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Malachi 4:1-3 
1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty.

Insight:
People of faith cling to God's promises of judgment and redemption. Though the wicked may prosper and the righteous may suffer for a season, God promises to one day set things straight. Believers put their trust in God's will and ability to put the world to rights. Those who love and revere God are promised healing, freedom, joy, and triumph over evil.

Response and Action:
I need to persevere in faith. I must remember God's promises to deliver and save his people. I want to live in reverence before God, and acknowledge him in all my ways.

O God, remind me of your promises and help me to persevere in life out of love and reverence for you. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Protect me from discouragement, and encourage me by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Bring me safely through this day and all the days to come. Be my hope and my life and my strength. 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, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
 
Resources: 
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright

Friday, September 06, 2019

Never Forsaken

Today's Reading: 
Malachi 1:1-2:17 
Mark 15:1-47 
Proverbs 31:10-20
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Mark 15:33-34
33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Insight:
When Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," he was 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. I think he was quoting or alluding to the last words of this Psalm ("he has done it") when he said, "It is finished." The account of the crucifixion in Mark 15 and the words of Psalm 22 are amazingly interconnected considering the Psalm was written hundreds of years before the time of Christ.

I don't believe that Jesus was forsaken by God, or that he thought he had been forsaken by God. His reference to Psalm 22 was actually a way for him to declare his absolute faith that God would not forsake him. He knew the last verse as well as the first verse. While others 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, and his expectation 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: Psalm 22:1-5 
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. 3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. 4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
 
Resources: 
Praying the Psalms of Jesus by James Sire

Thursday, September 05, 2019

THE BIBLE PROJECT: MALACHI

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One Lord and King

Today's Reading:
Zechariah 14:1-21
Mark 14:53-72 
Proverbs 31:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Zechariah 14:9 
9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

Insight:
When all is said and done, the truth of God will be known to all people. Everyone will know there is one Lord; his name will be exalted, and all people will acknowledge his authority over all things.

Response and Action:
I do not want to wait until the final day to recognize the Lordship of Jesus. I want to look to him in faith today and every day. I want to submit to his authority and serve him with my whole heart.

O God, I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father—God from God, light from light, true God from true God. I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. Help me to acknowledge him in faith, surrender to him in love, and worship him in spirit and in truth. Amen. 

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 2:9-11  
9 Therefore God exalted him [Christ Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Resources: 
Why I Am a Christian
by John Stott

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

This Is My Body

Today's Reading: 
Zechariah 12:1-13:9 
Mark 14:22-52 
Proverbs 30:24-33
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Focus Verses:
Mark 14:22-25 
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." 23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25 "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."

Insight:
This special meal that Jesus gave to his disciples must be the most reenacted historical event of all time. Every day for most of the last two thousand years, some group of people somewhere around the world has broken bread, poured a cup, and remembered Jesus and the new covenant of his blood. And now, the sun never sets on this special meal, as every day millions of Christians all around the world are breaking bread in sacred remembrance and joyful proclamation of the redemption and new life Jesus has made possible through his death on the cross.

Response and Action:
I will join with other Christians every week to worship and remember Christ with the simple elements of broken bread and poured wine. In doing so I will remember and give witness to my need for forgiveness and salvation. I will remember and give witness to God's great love for humanity. I will remember and give witness to my place in the church--the body of Christ. I will remember and give witness to my faith and hope in the promise of Christ's return to redeem, restore, renew, and set all things right.

O God, thank you for sending your only Son into the world to save and redeem. O Christ, thank you for your selfless sacrifice. Thank you for the new and living way you have made for us to be renewed and made right with God. Thank you for rescuing us from the dominion of darkness and bringing us into your kingdom. Thank you for your church and for the opportunity to gather with them around a table each week to remember the cross, the resurrection, and the hope and purpose you give to our lives. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 23:5-6 
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
 
Resources: 
The Meal Jesus Gave Us
by N. T. Wright