Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31 - Responsibility

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matt. 27:1-31
"Judas, Pilate, and Soldiers"

Focus Verses:
Matthew 27:24
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

When Judas experienced remorse for his actions, he tried to return the money the priests and elders had given him to betray Jesus. They said, "It's your responsibility, not ours." When Pilate saw that the crowd was out of hand and determined to see Jesus crucified, he said, "It's your responsibility, not mine." In the same way, it's easy for me to look at Judas, the priests and elders, Pilate, the crowd, and the Roman soldiers and think, "It's their fault; they're responsible for Jesus' death. It's their responsibility, not mine."

The scriptures, the Spirit, and my own conscience tell me that I need to take responsibility for my sin if I am to truly understand who Jesus is. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. My sins, along with the sins of all humanity, are the reason Jesus died on the cross. He was wounded for our transgressions. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered death, was buried, and rose again on the third day.

Response and Action:
I will give thanks to God for the saving work Christ Jesus did on the cross. I will not deceive myself by refusing to take responsibility for my actions. I will confess my sins, repent, and surrender my life to Christ. I will confess Jesus is Lord and look to him for salvation and renewal. I will take the responsibility and take initiative to follow in the steps of Christ by the power of his Spirit.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Thank you for Jesus who, in becoming human and dying at the hands of sinful men, demonstrated your great love for all humanity. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, save and renew me. Give me a heart that delights in your will, a mind to walk in your ways, and a desire to bring glory and honor to your name. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 53:4-6
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In Context: Isaiah 53

Proverb for Today: Prov. 31:8
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30 - What Do You Think?

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matt. 26:36-75
"The Christ, the Son of God"

Focus Verses:
Matthew 26:63-66
63 ...Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?" "He is worthy of death," they answered.

If Jesus did not believe himself to be the Christ, the Son of God, or had been misunderstood, or misrepresented, his trial before the high priest would have been the perfect time for him to set the record straight.

Instead of backing away from the questions, Jesus said, "Yes, I am the Christ. And you will see me in my glory at the right hand of God the Father." It's clear that the high priest and the crowd understood Jesus' words to be a clear affirmation of his claims to deity and messiahship because they considered them to be blasphemy.

Response and Action:
I believe Jesus' claim to be the Son of God. I accept his authority. I believe he suffered death, was buried, and on the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures. I believe that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead and that his kingdom will have no end.

Thank you, O God, for Jesus, your Son who came to live among us, full of grace and truth. Help me to grow in my relationship with him. Help me to follow him wherever he leads. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Daniel 7:13-14
13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
In Context: Daniel 7:1-14

Proverb for Today: Prov. 30:4
"Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!"

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29 - The Answer to Christ's Prayer

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 17:1-26
"Jesus Prays for His Disciples"

Focus Verses:
John 17:20-21
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

While it would be confusing to most people, this chapter could be titled as "The Lord's Prayer." The model prayer Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray is profound and beautiful (Luke 11:1-4). The prayer of John 17 is very personal, deeply relational, missional, and hopeful.

Jesus asked his Father God to help him accomplish his mission in a way that would demonstrate divine love and glory. He asked God to protect, sustain, and guide his disciples. He asked God to help them know the truth and to live holy lives. He prayed for the unity of believers, not just those who were following him at that point, but for all believers who would eventually come to believe in him because of the testimony of his disciples.

Response and Action:
In this prayer of Jesus, I recognize his claim to divinity. He calls God his Father and claims to have been present with God in glory before the world began. I also recognize Jesus' call to his disciples to follow him in faith, to walk in holiness, to be witnesses of the truth, to share the gospel, and to live in unity with other believers.

O God, thank you for Jesus and his prayer for all who believe in him. Thank you, Jesus, for interceding for your people at God's right hand. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, help me to grow in my faith, to lead a righteous life, to be a light, to live in harmony and shared purpose with other believers, and to give glory to God. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 133:1
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
In Context: Psalm 133

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:23
"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor."

Recommended Reading:
Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs for
by Gerald L. Sittser

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28 - Real World Promises

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 16:5-33
"The Spirit, the Father, and the Son"

Focus Verses:
John 16:33
33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

With the imminent approach of his death, resurrection, and return to the Father, Jesus gave his disciples important promises and provision. He promised to send the Holy Spirit who would convict the world of sin and guide them into all truth. He promised that though they would face grief and trouble, he would sustain them, and ultimately their grief would turn to joy. He promised them that they could make requests to God in his name, and that God would provide for them and make their joy complete. He promised them that though in this world they would see trouble, they could take heart and live in faith, being confident that he had overcome the world.

Response and Action:
I need to look to the Holy Spirit for truth, guidance, and understanding. I need to hold on to Christ Jesus through every hardship and grief. I need to find hope in Jesus, trusting that God hears and answers every request I offer up to him in Jesus' name. I need to remember that though troubles are a certainty in this broken world, Jesus has overcome the world and will one day set all things right. I will take courage and comfort in these promises.

O God, thank you for the Holy Spirit who convicts, guides, teaches and renews me. Thank you for the promise and hope I have in Christ. Help me to take courage as I face troubles and hardship, and help me to overcome through faith in Jesus. O God, sustain me by your Spirit. Redeem and renew all things through Jesus. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 85:6-9
6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
In Context: Psalm 85

Proverb for Today: Prov. 28:5
"Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully."

Recommended Reading:
Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel
by Andreas J. Kostenberger

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27 - Staying Connected

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 15:1 – 16:4
"Jesus Teaches about Fruitful Living"

Focus Verses:
John 15:5-8
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Living in relationship with Jesus is essential to becoming a person who glorifies God. In the same way a branch must be connected to the vine in order to produce fruit, I must live in connection with Christ. If I am abiding in Jesus, my life will bear fruit that looks and acts like Jesus. Loving as Christ has loved is the best evidence that I am abiding in him. Bearing the fruit of Christ's love brings glory to God.

Response and Action:
I will do all I can to abide in Christ. I will look to Jesus for the guidance, the power, the nurture, and the transformation I need to love as he loves. I will be intentional about seeking Christ through prayer, study, obedience, community, worship, and service. I do not want anything to threaten or diminish my connection with Jesus, and so I will put those things aside and ask God to prune away those dead branches that stifle my wellbeing and fruitfulness.

O God, thank you for the fruitful life I am able to live through Christ. Help me to stay connected to Jesus. By the power and grace of his 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. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Jeremiah 17:7-8
7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
In Context: Jeremiah 17:1-18

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:18
"He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored."

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

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26 - Promise and Peace

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 14:1-31
"Jesus Comforts His Disciples"

Focus Verses: John 14:23-27
23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Jesus promised his disciples that though he would be returning to the Father, he would not leave them as orphans. Through his Holy Spirit he would guide them, comfort them, sustain them, and live with them. He would give them peace as they faced the troubles and fearsome challenges of life. He would also return to redeem and renew the world. He called them to live in truth and obedience, trusting that following him would surely lead to eternal life.

Response and Action:
Because I believe in Christ Jesus and love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I will obey him. I will give careful attention to the Scriptures in order to know and understand his teachings, his example, and his commands. I will pray and meditate and cultivate sensitivity to the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit. I will rest in his promises, even in the face of trouble, stress, and frightening circumstances.

O Father God, thank you for Jesus your Son who has shown me who you are. Thank you for the truth he has revealed, for the way he has shown, and for the life he has given. Help me to discern the leading and counsel of your Holy Spirit. Give me a readiness and desire to obey you in all things. Grant me the peace that the world cannot give, through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 26:3-4
3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
In Context: Isaiah 26

Proverb for Today: Prov. 26:12
"Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him."

Recommended Reading:
Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel
by Andreas J. Kostenberger

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reading Schedule for May 26 - 31

May 26 - John 14:1-31
May 27 - John 15:1 – 16:4
May 28 - John 16:5-33
May 29 - John 17:1-26
May 30 - Matt. 26:36-75
May 31 - Matt. 27:1-31

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through key scripture passages from Genesis through Revelation. Click here to download your copy of the Useful Breath Reading Schedule for 2007-08.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 24 - Seeing Ways to Serve

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 13:1-17
"Jesus Washing Feet"

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

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

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

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

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

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 25:8-9
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
In Context: Psalm 25

Proverb for Today: Prov. 24:14
"Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."

Recommended Reading:
Jesus With Dirty Feet
by Don Everts

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23 - Bread and Wine

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 14:1-31
"Devotion, Dinner, and Denial"

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."

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 through 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.

Old Testament for Today: 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.
In Context: Psalm 23

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:17
"Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD."

Recommended Reading:
The Meal Jesus Gave Us
by N. T. Wright

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22 - Ready and Watching

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 13:1-37
"The End of the Age"

Focus Verses: Mark 13:32-34
32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

These apocalyptic passages provoke more questions than provide answers. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. seems to fit the description of much of what Jesus is foretelling. Those events, however, do not adequately embody the full sense of finality and ultimate vindication Jesus describes.

It seems, to me, that Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, and, at the same time, using it as a picture of the final day when the Son of Man would return. I think he was pointing to the immediate crises and struggles of their time, while simultaneously putting them in the context of the ultimate crises and struggles of all time and all creation.

While the passage may be mysterious, it's important to not let the clear message of Jesus' words get lost among the questions.

1. Life will be filled with struggles and hardships. These struggles are part of the ultimate struggle (Mk. 15:5-13).
2. Believers need to be on guard because our troubled world is filled with false claims, false teachers, false Christs, and false miracles (Mk. 13:21-23).
3. Jesus, the Son of Man, will ultimately be vindicated and bring justice and redemption (Mk. 13:26-27).
4. Following Jesus is the way to be watchful and ready for anything that happens whenever it happens (Mk. 13:32-36).

Response and Action:
Am I living in the last days? Yes. If not the final days before Christ's return, certainly the last days for me (I'll be doing good if I live another 30 years). The difficult events and problems of my time and life are part of the ultimate struggles and conflicts of all time and all life. I need to follow Jesus with all my heart in order to be ready for this day, every day to come, and the never ending day of eternity.

O God, I want to be watchful, alert, and ready. Help me to follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me the peace and hope that comes from trusting him to sustain and provide for all my todays and tomorrows. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 26:19-20
19 But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. 20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
In Context: Isaiah 26

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:3
"A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 21 - Putting in Everything

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 12:13-44
"Various Teachings"

Focus Verses: Mark 12:43-44
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Giving is an indicator of what the heart values most. Giving demonstrates faith in God's promise to provide and sustain. Giving out of surplus requires less faith than giving out of sacrifice. It is difficult to be generous and open handed today if there is a real possibility of being empty handed tomorrow. If I am trusting God for everything I need, I will see everything I have as being from him and for him.

Response and Action:
If I truly trust God to provide for me, and if I put God first in my life, I will make giving a priority. Instead of using my resources first for everything I want and need, and then after that giving some—if anything--of what's left, I will first give what I have decided to give and then live on what remains. I want my giving to flow out of my thanksgiving and love for Jesus, my faith in God to provide for my needs, and my desire to seek first Christ's kingdom and his righteousness.

O God, my hope and my treasure are in you. My first desire is to honor and serve you. 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. Give me the faith that looks to you for purpose and provision. Give me the heart to live with generosity. Help me to excel in the grace of giving. Make me quick to share and a cheerful giver. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 112:4-5
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
In Context: Psalm 112

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:17
"He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich."

Recommended Reading:
Thinking About Money
by Paul R. Stevens and Robert Banks

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 20 - My Sure Foundation

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 11:12 – 12:12
"Jesus Claims Authority"

Focus Verses: Mark 12:10-12
10 Haven't you read this scripture: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" 12 Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

The authority of Jesus' words and actions were a direct confrontation to the authority of the religious establishment in Israel. This tension between the two was increasing and coming to a point of crisis. In clearing the temple, the cursing of the fig tree (see Luke 13:6-9), and the parable of the tenants, Jesus was denouncing and rejecting the authority of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. They rejected Jesus' claims to authority, and plotted to have him arrested and silenced.

Using the words of the Psalms and the prophets, Jesus claimed to be the capstone and foundation stone of God's salvation. He said that in rejecting him, the religious leaders were ultimately rejecting God's hope and salvation. Jesus' appropriation of Psalm 118 turned it into a powerful statement of his claim to be God, the Messiah, the source of salvation, the foundation for life, and the gateway to salvation.

Response and Action:
I accept Jesus' authority. I look to him as the Son of God, the source of salvation, and the rightful Lord and master of my life. I will seek to know him, to follow him, and to obey him. I will build my life on the solid rock of his teaching. I will submit myself to his ways and trust him for the strength I need for life.

O Christ, you are my God, and I will ever praise you. I will seek you in the morning and learn to walk in your ways. Lead me step by step. Save me, strengthen me, guide me, renew me, and sustain me. Help me to know you more each day. Be the cornerstone of my life. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 118:8, 20-24
20 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
In Context: Psalm 118

Proverb for Today: Prov. 20:12
"Ears that hear and eyes that see—the LORD has made them both."

Recommended Reading:
Praying the Psalms of Jesus
by James Sire

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19 - Shouting Out

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 10:32 – 11:11
"The Road to Jerusalem"

Focus Verses: Mark 10:48-50
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" 49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

Each of the four sections of today's reading offer important things to think about, but the blind man, Bartimaeus, has caught my attention. There he was, a beggar, sitting along the roadside, doing the same thing he had done day after day with little hope for anything to ever change. And yet, the very moment he heard that Jesus was passing along that way, he erupted with hope began to shout out his name.

I love the way he seized upon his opportunity to encounter Jesus with such abandon and intensity. I love that when others told him to calm down and be quiet "he shouted all the more." He had, apparently, already heard a lot about Jesus and was not about to miss the opportunity to meet him.

Jesus restored Bartimaeus' sight and commended his faith. Bartimaeus left his place among the beggars and followed Jesus down the road.

Response and Action:
I want to call out to Jesus with the intensity and focus of Bartimaeus. When circumstances, people, or even my own feelings and doubts tell me to calm down and be quiet, I will shout out all the more! I believe in Jesus and in his power to save and restore. I will pursue him with abandon, asking him for healing and for hope. I will follow Jesus wherever he leads and leave my blindness and begging behind.

O God, thank you for the mercy and healing you have given through Christ Jesus, your son. Help me to seek him above all else. Give me a focus and desire for Jesus that cannot be suppressed. Help me to encounter him through the Scriptures, through the Spirit, through the Church, and through his redemptive and saving work in my life. Help me to follow him all the days of my life. Help me to press on to take hold of all the blessing and purpose he has for me. It's in his healing name that I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 146:7-8
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
In Context: Psalm 146

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:8
"He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers."

Recommended Reading:
Encountering Jesus: 8 Studies for Individuals or Groups
by Douglas Connelly

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reading Schedule for May 19 - 24

May 19 - Mark 10:32 – 11:11
May 20 - Mark 11:12 – 12:12
May 21 - Mark 12:13-44
May 22 - Mark 13:1-37
May 23 - Mark 14:1-31
May 24 - John 13:1-17

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through key scripture passages from Genesis through Revelation. Click here to download your copy of the Useful Breath Reading Schedule for 2007-08.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 17 - Power Over Death

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 11:1-44
"Lazarus and Jesus"

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

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

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

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

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

Old Testament for Today: Job 19:25-27
25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
In Context: Job 19

Proverb for Today: Prov. 17:3
"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart."

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

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16 - Good or Best

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:

Luke 10:38-42
"Mary and Martha"

Focus Verses: Luke 10:36-37
41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

It's possible to be so busy and concerned about doing what is good that we miss what is best. This particular encounter between Jesus, Mary, and Martha is a good reminder of this truth. Martha was so concerned with serving Jesus and the guests that she could not really enjoy and savor her time with them. Mary was so focused on simply being with Jesus and listening to what he had to say that she left some things unattended. Jesus commended her for this.

Response and Action:
I do not want to be so busy with serving Jesus that I have no time to enjoy him. I must take time to simply be with him, to pray, and to delight in the word. The same is true for my family and Christian friends. I must be intentional about being with them and enjoying them, not simply serving them.

O God, help me to glorify you and enjoy you all my days. May Jesus be more than Messiah, Lord, Savior, and God to me; may he be my friend, my delight, my brother, and my faithful companion. Give me a heart to serve Christ, O God, but first give me a heart to love him. Give me a hunger and affection for the scriptures. Give me a desire to pray. Give me a fullness of the Spirit and a deep awareness of his presence in every minute of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 84:10
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere...
In Context: Psalm 84

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:19
"Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."

Recommended Reading:
Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent
by Charles Hummel

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 15 - Knowing and Doing

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:

Luke 10:25-37
"The Good Samaritan"

Focus Verses: Luke 10:36-37
36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

When the expert in the Law of Moses asked Jesus the way to eternal life, Jesus pointed the expert to the Law and asked his expert opinion on what it said. The expert was right on track when he quoted from Deuteronomy ("love the Lord your God") and from Leviticus ("love your neighbor"). But when he began to get philosophical and ambiguous about the meaning of the word "neighbor," Jesus told a down to earth story that put the application of the Law into a real life situation. The story included a priest and a Levite who, like the expert, would surely have known the "love the Lord your God" and "love your neighbor" passages from the Law, but did not live them out. Jesus was essentially telling the expert, "It's not enough for you to know and discuss the Law, you have to live it."

Response and Action:
It's one thing to know what I should do and another to do it. I want my love for God and my love for my neighbor to be more than words. I will strive to put my beliefs and knowledge into action. If I truly love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I will respond to his admonition to extend grace and love others. When it is within my power to help someone, I will take action. I will keep my eyes open to the needs of people around me in order to be a channel of God's love and care to them.

O God, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me show love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where their is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; 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 in dying that I am born to eternal life. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Leviticus 19:15-18
15 "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. 16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD. 17 Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."
In Context: Leviticus 19

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:23
"The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor."

Recommended Reading:
God's Neighborhood: A Hopeful Journey in Racial Reconciliation and Community Renewal
by Scott Roley

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14 - Seeing and Being

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:

Luke 10:1-24
"Sent Out by the Son"

Focus Verses: Luke 10:22-24
22 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." 23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Jesus clearly claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to have an exclusive relationship with the Father. He claimed to be the only person who could truly reveal the Father. He told his disciples that they were blessed to be the ones who were seeing the things he was showing them. He claimed to fulfill and reveal the things the prophets would have longed to see and know. He sent his disciples into the world to share what he had revealed to them. He called his followers to more than belief; he called them to live out the truth he had given them, and to join him in revealing that truth and hope to others.

Response and Action:
I believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. I believe that he is God, he is Savior, and he is Lord. I believe that he is the only one who can show me God the Father. Beyond belief, I want to live out the truth Christ Jesus has revealed. I want to not only hear his words, but also put them into practice. As I follow in his steps, I want to be a part of his taking truth and hope and life to others.

O God, thank you for sending you one and only Son into the world to save us and show us your ways--God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. Thank you for the blessing of being able to see the things he reveals. Help me to love and follow after him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Transform and shape me so completely that my life reveals the truth of Christ and his power to save. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 98:2-3
2 The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. 3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
In Context: Psalm 98

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:5
"A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies."

Recommended Reading:
Jesus: Lord and Savior
by F. F. Bruce

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 13 - Greatness

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 9:1-41
"Deity, Deliverance, and Distinction"

Focus Verses: Mark 9:35-37
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

Those who are focused on achievement and personal status will not find true greatness. Those whose priority is honoring God and whose joy is serving others will discover true greatness, even though it is not their goal or motivation. The person whose goal is greatness will be too busy with important people and projects to "waste" time with those people or things that are unlikely to serve that goal.

The person who is unconcerned with greatness and accomplishment is more likely to spend an afternoon with a child or serve the needs of someone who has nothing to offer in return. And in that selflessness, such a person will discover what true greatness is all about. Whoever loses his life will find it.

Response and Action:
I will not seek after accomplishment and praise. I will seek to love, know, and honor Christ Jesus with all my heart and soul. I will endeavor to live a selfless life and cultivate a heart and readiness for serving others. I will not think of myself as more important than others. I will share time and my attention with others without thought of personal gain. I will aspire to be unpretentious, unselfish, and unreserved.

O God, thank you for Jesus, who although he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself and became a servant. Help me, like him, to reach across barriers, to welcome the weak, to serve, and to look to the interests of others. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 113:5-7
5 Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap..."
In Context: Psalm 113

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:10
"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12 - The Christ

Overview of: Mark

Today's Reading:

Mark 8:1-38
"Miracles, Faith, and a Prediction"

Focus Verses: Mark 8:27-29
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" 28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ."

There were all sorts of ideas circulating about just who Jesus was. According to Mark's account, Peter declared what he believed with the words, "You are the Christ." Luke records Peter as saying, "You are the Christ of God" (Lk. 9:20). Matthew has the fullest statement, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt. 16:16). In saying that he believed Jesus to be the Christ, Peter was declaring his faith that Jesus was the Messiah and deliverer promised by the prophets. Peter believed that Jesus was the one sent to "save his people." In saying he was "of God" or "the son of the Living God," Peter was declaring his faith in Jesus' deity. Peter believed that Jesus was God.

Response and Action:
There are many theories and ideas about who Jesus was/is, but I believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. The testimony of Scripture, the anticipation of the prophets, the witness of the apostles, the unfolding story of the Church, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my own heart all confirm the claims of Jesus. Like Peter, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father--God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, of one being with the Father. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven.

O God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, into the world to save and redeem humankind. Open the eyes of my heart that I might know him more each day, O God, and that my faith might be strengthened in new ways. Confirm and increase my faith as I follow Christ. Make my life a witness to the truth of Christ. It's in his saving name that I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Prov. 30:3-4
3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. 4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!
In Context: Proverbs 30:2-6

Proverb for Today: Prov. 12:28
"In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott