Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31 - Encourage and Spur

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 10:5-39
"A New and Living Way"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 10:23-25
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Our hope in Christ requires commitment and faith in God's promises. Faith is meant to be lived out in community, and so we must be committed to fellowship with other Christians. Because of the hope we have in Christ, we should spur each other on toward love and good deeds. We must do our best to encourage each other with a sense of urgency, knowing that Christ's return is imminent.

Response and Action:
My hope is in Christ. I will put my hope in him and trust his promises. I will look for ways to encourage and prompt others toward a deeper relationship with God. I will also cultivate ways to help my Christian community to become more loving and servant-minded toward others.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, shape, and strengthen me. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do. 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. 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 30 - Like Us

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 2:1 – 3:6
"The Son, Our Brother"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 2:14-15
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

In Jesus, through the incarnation, God shares our humanity. Jesus suffered death, in order to destroy the power of death. Jesus, the one human being who is not guilty of sin or bound by death, willingly laid down his life in our place in order to free us from the bondage to death and the fear of death.

Response and Action:
I will put my trust and hope in Jesus. I will praise and thank God for the great deliverance Christ Jesus has made possible by sharing my humanity and through his sinless death destroyed death's power and grip on me. I will live with hope and purpose and joy, believing that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. I will live today in the confidence that I have eternal life in Jesus. I will encourage others to take hold of eternal life through faith in Jesus.

I will rejoice in you, O God. You are my salvation and my strength. I bless and thank you, Lord, because you are a God of deliverance -- the escape from death belongs to you. Even when walking in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. You are worthy of my praise, my life, my all. Because you have freed me from death, I will live for you. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 49:15
15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
In Context: Psalm 49

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 29 - Noble Purpose

Overview of: 2 Timothy

Today's Reading:

2 Tim. 2:1-26
"Instructions for Serving"

Focus Verses:
2 Tim. 2:20-22
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

The many objects in my house serve as a good illustration of what it means to be "set apart for a noble purpose." Some objects, like the couch in my living room, are for anybody to use. Others, like the scouring brush in the kitchen sink are for specifically dirty purposes. Others, like my pillow or my toothbrush, are set aside for me, and for me alone. In the same way, God is calling us to his noble purposes. We can't be used by just anybody for anything and still be set apart for him.

Response and Action:
I want to be used by God for noble purposes. I need to flee from evil desires and unrighteousness. I need to pursue purity, faith, love, and peace in the company of others who are trying to do the same.

O God, help me to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Forgive, cleanse, and renew me so that I might serve your holy purposes. Make me an instrument of your love and peace. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 4:3-4
3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. 4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
In Context: Psalm 4

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:6

"An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad."

Recommended Reading:
The Pursuit of Holiness
by Jerry Bridges

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 28 - Christ the Victor

Overview of: 2 Timothy

Today's Reading:

2 Tim. 1:1-18
"Be Faithful"

Focus Verses:
2 Tim. 1:8-10
8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

God's purpose to save and give life has been put on display in the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Christ has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality. This is good news for all of us. Even though death and suffering are so pervasive in our world, God has a will and a way to save us! He calls us to believe and follow Christ, and live holy lives by his grace and power.

Response and Action:
My hope and faith are in Jesus. I will follow him and look to God for the power and grace to live a holy life. In a world filled with death and suffering, I will remember that Christ has destroyed death; life and immortality are found in him. He is alive and he is giving life to me; I can face today with hope and purpose.

O God, you have saved me from death, not because of anything I have done, but because your purpose has always been to save and restore. Thank you for Jesus, who has shared my humanity, has faced death, and has destroyed it. Thank you for giving me the gift of life through Jesus. Make me more alive each day. Help me to remember that I have eternal life right now. Help me live in the hope of light of your eternal love today. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 18:24-26
24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
In Context: Psalm 18

Proverb for Today: Prov. 28:14

"Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reading Schedule for July 28 - August 2

July 28 - 2 Tim. 1:1-18
July 29 - 2 Tim. 2:1-26
July 30 - Hebrews 2:1 – 3:6
July 31 - Hebrews 10:5-39
Aug. 1 - Hebrews 11:1-40
Aug. 2 - Hebrews 12:1-28

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, July 26, 2008

July 26 - Love and Money

Overview of: 1Timothy

Today's Reading:

1 Tim. 6:3 – 21
"Focus and Fight"

Focus Verses:
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Am I rich? According to the Global Policy Forum's Statistics on Poverty and Inequality, in 1999, 3 billion of the world's people were living on less than $2 per day while 1.3 billion were getting by on less than $1 per day. Chances are that if you're able to read this blog, you, like me, are rich in comparison to most people in the world.

In today's scripture passage, Paul has some very practical instructions for rich people like us. We need to avoid arrogance. We should not put our hope in what we possess. We should remember that wealth is uncertain. We should trust in God and acknowledge him as the source of blessing and provision. We should be rich in good deeds -- generous and willing to share with others.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize how much I have. I need to be thankful to God who has so generously blessed and provided so much for my needs and enjoyment. I need to be careful to always remember that God is my hope and provider, and to never put my trust in things. Instead of trying to be rich in possessions, I will strive to be rich in doing good deeds.

I need to be generous and open-handed with all God has given me. I need to be a faithful steward of all God has given and to be ready to share with others. I will generously give to the church, to efforts to help the poor, to ministries that are taking the Good News of Jesus to the world, and to practical causes that contribute to the health and betterment of my community and my world.

O God, you have blessed me in so many ways. Help me, in reverence and thanksgiving to share all you have given me. Help me to be a source of blessing. Give me the wisdom I need to be a good steward and generous heart that is ready to give and share. Let me to live with a generosity that boldly demonstrates my confidence in you -- my hope, my security, and my provider. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 49:12-13
12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
In Context: Psalm 49

Proverb for Today: Prov. 26:27

"If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him."

Recommended Reading:
Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions
by Craig L. Blomberg

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25 - Prayers for Everyone

Overview of: 1Timothy

Today's Reading:

1 Tim. 1:1 – 3:8
"Instructions for Timothy"

Focus Verses:
1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

There are many ways to pray: making requests, lifting up the needs of others, and giving thanks. There are many people to pray for: those in authority, friends, relatives, neighbors, enemies, leaders, and co-workers. There are many reasons to pray: the hope of a peaceful life, the pursuit of holiness, to please and honor God, and to give witness to the truth of Christ.

God wants all people to be saved. God wants all people to come to a knowledge of the truth. Prayer is essential to my spiritual growth, my service, my worship, and my testimony.

Response and Action:
I will be intentional about prayer. I will pray for others, making requests and giving thanks. This will help me grow in my faith, live with godliness, and become an example and testimony of Christ's power to saving grace and power.

O God, thank you for the gift of prayer. Thank you that I can lift my needs and the needs of others up to you. Thank you for your desire to save all people and help them come to a knowledge of the truth. Help me to live in a way that demonstrates your power to save. I pray all this in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: 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.
In Context: Psalm 5

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:25

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."

Recommended Reading:
The Prayer God Longs For
by James Emery White

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 24 - Saying, "No"

Overview of: Titus

Today's Reading:

Titus 2:1 – 3:8
"Teaching and Doing"

Focus Verses: Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

God desires a people for himself -- people who are purified by his grace, and eager to do what is good. God's grace is more than forgiveness; it is our teacher. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passion. It teaches us to live self-controlled lives that honor God.

Response and Action:I want to be taught by God's grace. I want and need to learn how to say "No" to ungodliness. I want to say "No" to worldly passion. I want to honor God and learn how to live a self-controlled life by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. I will prayerfully identify areas of my life where I need to say "No" in order to live a godly life.

O God, help me to live for you and through this day in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong, and to do what is right. Teach me to say "No" to ungodliness, and teach me to say "Yes" to all that is righteous and true. Make me yours and help me to honor you. Change my heart and help me to live a self-controlled life by the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Old Testament for Today: Psalm 15:1-21 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart...
In Context: Psalm 15

Proverb for Today: Prov. 24:1-2
"Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 23 - "So That"

Overview of: Philemon

Today's Reading:

Philemon 1:1-25
"Living as God's People"

Focus Verses:
Philemon 1:4-6
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Two little words in verse six always catch my eye: "so that." It's not at all surprising the Apostle Paul would be praying that Philemon would be active in sharing his faith. Paul’s prayer for Philemon to have "a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" is also very typical. Both of these prayers are common in Paul’s pastoral letters. In this case, however, he connects "sharing faith" and "understanding" with the words "so that," suggesting that sharing our faith is essential to gaining a fuller understanding of Christ's blessing and call on our lives.

The more we share Jesus with others, the more we will understand just how much he gives us! To fully understand what it means to live in Christ, we must share our lives and our faith. God's grace toward us in Christ has a deeper and richer meaning for those who live out and share that grace with the world around them.

Response and Action:
I want to grow in my understanding and my experience of every good thing God offers me through Christ. I will look for every opportunity to share my faith with others. The good things I have in Christ are intended by God to be shared.

O God, help me to live out my faith and share my life with others. Help me to share my faith: as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor, and colleague. Thank you for every good thing you have given to me. Give me a generous heart and a readiness to share with others the blessings I have received. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 12:3-5
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
In Context: Isaiah 12

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:12

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge."

Recommended Reading:
Speaking of Jesus: How to Tell Your Friends the Best News They Will Ever Hear
by J. Mack Stiles

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22 - One-Another Living

Overview of: Colossians

Today's Reading:

Col. 3:1-25
"Living as God's People"

Focus Verses:
Col. 3:12-15
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience are all prominent characteristics of God's people. These qualities are essential if people who follow Christ are to become a "people" -- a community. Forbearance and forgiveness are also essential to community. Love is at the heart of all of this. Christ's love, peace, and forgiveness are what make it possible for his people to love each other and live together in unity.

Response and Action:
Are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience prominent characteristics of my life? Are these the qualities I am known for by others? I need to think about Christ's great love and forgiveness for me. I need to consider how I can follow his example and exercise love, forbearance, grace, and mercy toward others. Paul says instructs Christians to "clothe themselves" with these virtues. This instruction makes it clear that action on my part is needed for this to happen. I will give effort to the things that will help me cultivate, learn, and live out these virtues.

O God, thank you for the love, mercy, and forgiveness you have for your people. Help me to clothe myself with the virtues of love, humility, gentleness, and patience, that I might experience true Christian community and make a positive contribution to it. Help me to graciously forgive and forbear others and live in peace with everyone as much as is possible. Help me, and my circle of Christian friends, to be a testimony of your truth and grace as we live in unity. Help our unity to be marked by love, gentleness, servanthood, and peace. 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. 22:11

"He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend."

Recommended Reading:
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 21 - All Over the World

Overview of: Colossians

Today's Reading:

Col. 1:1-25
"Christ and the Church"

Focus Verses:
Col. 1:3-6
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

The truth of God and the good news of Jesus is bearing fruit all over the world. Christianity is not a private thing or a western culture thing. In fact, there are now more Christians in the southern hemisphere than in the northern. English is not the first language of most Christians. People all around the globe are putting their faith in Jesus, which is resulting in changed lives. Hope for life and love for others flows out of an understanding of God's grace in all its truth. Hearing about the worldwide response to Christ should make me thankful and move me to prayer.

Response and Action:
I want to be a world Christian who appreciates being part of global community of faith in Christ. I want to pray for Christians around the world. I want to grow in my own faith as I gain understanding and encouragement from Christians living in other cultures and circumstances. I want to understand and experience God's grace in all its truth.

Dear Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy to all people. Thank you for extending your love to the whole world and your salvation all who will receive your grace by putting their faith in Christ. Help me to understand and remember that my faith in Christ is not just a personal, individual affair, but is, rather, a reality to be experienced in a global community of believers. Help me to be faithful to pray for Christians around the world. Help all who follow Christ to be a light and witness, that the household of faith will extend to and include people from every tribe, language, ethnicity, and nation. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 33:8-9
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
In Context: Psalm 33

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:30

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD."

Recommended Reading:
Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire
by Brian J. Walsh, Sylvia C. Keesmaat

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Reading Schedule for July 21 - 26

July 21 - Col. 1:1-25
July 22 - Col. 3:1-25
July 23 - Philemon 1:1-25
July 24 - Titus 2:1 – 3:8
July 25 - 1 Tim. 1:1 – 3:8
July 26 - 1 Tim. 6:3 – 21

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, July 19, 2008

July 19 - Pushing Back

Overview of: Ephesians

Today's Reading:

Eph. 5:21 – 6:20
"The Struggle against Evil"

Focus Verses:
Eph. 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.

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 and possessions, self-gratification, godlessness, rebellion, 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, war, pornography, poverty, starvation, disease, political corruption, abuse, discrimination, human trafficking, and, sadly, so much more. Our struggle is not merely with flesh and blood; it is against spiritual forces. Neither is our struggle merely spiritual; it is against the 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.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 94:20-23
20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—one that brings on misery by its decrees? 21 They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. 23 He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them.
In Context: Psalm 94

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:28

"A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil."

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

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 18 - Once Darkness, Now Light

Overview of: Ephesians

Today's Reading:

Eph. 4:1 – 5:20
"Christian Unity and Witness"

Focus Verses:
Eph. 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."

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.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 37:5-7
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
In Context: Psalm 37

Proverb for Today: Prov. 18:12

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 17 - God's Workmanship

Overview of: Ephesians

Today's Reading:

Eph. 1:15 – 2:13
"Power, Life, and Salvation"

Focus Verses:
Eph. 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.

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 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 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, 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.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 104:30-33
30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works- 32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
In Context: Psalm 104

Proverb for Today: Prov. 17:3

"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart."

Recommended Reading:
God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life
by Gene Edward, Jr. Veith

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16 - All About Jesus

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 28:1-31
"Paul in Rome"

Focus Verses:
Acts 28:23-24; 30-31
23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. - - - 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Paul arrived in Rome, just as God had promised he would, he was encouraged and thankful. He was enthused and invigorated with his sense of mission. He believed God had brought him safely to Rome for the purpose of proclaiming Christ. He believed that his chains and his imprisonment in Rome were being used by God to advance the Gospel. He saw purpose in his circumstances because he saw them as part of God’s plan and the "hope of Israel."

Paul considered every bit of his life and circumstances in the light of God's work in the world. Whatever his situation, Paul thought about how God might use it to advance the hope and truth of the Gospel. His faith was intense; his life was focused; his testimony was genuine; and his preaching was bold.

Response and Action:
It is dangerous and easy to think of my life in self-centered terms, and then try to fit God into my plans and wants. Paul thought of his life in Christ-centered terms, and then tried to see how his life and circumstances fit into God's plans and purposes. This made it possible for Paul to be thankful, and to have hope, purpose, and boldness in any situation. I want to live like that. I want to see my life in the context of Christ's Kingdom. I want my perspective about what I do, what I have, where I go, what I suffer, what I need, and what I want to be centered in God's will and purposes in the world.

O God, I want to find my life in you. Help me to lose my life and self-centeredness for the sake of Christ, and find myself in you. Help me to live a life that is motivated, focused, and guided by your purposes and ways. Help me to see every circumstance and blessing in the light of your will. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for me to do. Help me to be bold, alive, faithful, and fruitful as your child and servant. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 68:34-35
34 Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. 35 You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!
In Context: Psalm 68

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:26

"The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on."

Recommended Reading:
Apologetic Preaching: Proclaiming Christ to a Postmodern World
by Craig A. Loscalzo

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15 - Courage in the Storm

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 27:1-44

Focus Verses:
Acts 27:22-25
22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Though he was a prisoner, Paul made himself useful to the crew and passengers during the harrowing storm and shipwreck experience Luke describes. Even in difficult and unusual situations, Paul sought and received God's guidance. Wherever he found himself, and whatever his circumstance, he looked to God for guidance, purpose, and promise.

Response and Action:
In every situation, I will look for ways to serve others and honor God. My faith and hope in Christ make it possible for me to be helpful and find purpose regardless of the circumstances.

O God, prepare me for every circumstance. Give me peace in my heart. Give me wisdom and clarity of thought. Make me ready to serve and encourage others in difficult situations. Give me a strength and hope that stands strong through storms and hardship. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 112:6-7
6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. 7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
In Context: Psalm 112

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:33

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Recommended Reading:
Strength for the Storm: Finding God in Every Crisis
by Richard Exley

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14 - Reasons for Faith

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 25:23 – 26:32
"Paul before Agrippa"

Focus Verses:
Acts 26:22-27
22 But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles." 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane." 25 "I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."

When Paul testifies before King Agrippa, he explains that belief in the possibility of resurrection does not contradict his own Jewish beliefs or background. Even as a Pharisee Paul would have accepted that possibility. He admits that early on, he too opposed the Christians, in fact he was obsessed with opposing them, until one day he came face to face with the resurrected Jesus himself. Paul tells Agrippa that he is now convinced that the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection are exactly what Moses and prophets said would happen. What's more, Paul says that he is sure Agrippa is already familiar with the accounts of Jesus' resurrection, because none of the things he was describing were "done in a corner."

Response and Action:
What could turn a Pharisee who opposed the followers of Jesus to become an ambassador for Jesus? 1) The realization that Jesus' resurrection was consistent with his faith in God; 2) seeing that the suffering and resurrection of Jesus were consistent with Jewish prophecy; 3) a face-to-face personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus; and, 4) the wide-spread testimony of many others who had also seen and encountered the resurrected Christ.

O God, I believe that you have the power of life and death. Resurrection is not too difficult for you. I see from reading scripture that Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection are perfectly consistent with prophecy. My own walk with Jesus has confirmed and strengthened my faith. The countless testimonies of people throughout history and around the world serve to increase my belief. May the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead raise and transform my life. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 53:1-2
1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
In Context: Psalm 53

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:15

"A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."

Recommended Reading:
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
by William Lane Craig

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reading Schedule for July 14 - 19

July 14 - Acts 25:23 – 26:32
July 15 - Acts 27:1-44
July 16 - Acts 28:1-31
July 17 - Eph. 1:15 – 2:13
July 18 - Eph. 4:1 – 5:20
July 19 - Eph. 5:21 – 6:20

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, July 12, 2008

July 12 - A Spirit of Unity

Overview of: Romans

Today's Reading:

Romans 14:1 – 15:13
"Tolerance and Unity"

Focus Verses:
Romans 15:5-7
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Not all Christians will see all issues in the same way. There will be a wide variety of redemptive behavior. Some matters are disputable. People have very different perspectives, backgrounds, and predispositions, which inevitably lead to differences in meaning, understanding, and application. Each of us stands before God on our own two feet, and so we must stop condemning others or passing judgment in matters of personal opinion and honest disagreement. What is most important is that we live in peace, and do all we can to encourage and edify each other. This should be done with a heart to honor God.

Response and Action:
I will not condemn or judge others in matters of opinion. I will strive to live in peace with those who disagree with me. I will do all I can to promote peace, give encouragement, and demonstrate love. I will do my part to build honest, patient, loving, and respectful Christian community. My hope in all of this is to promote love, advance truth, cultivate understanding, and honor God.

O God, make me an instrument of your peace. Let me be love in the midst of hated. Help me promote unity where there is discord. Help me to extend forgiveness when wronged. Help me to bolster faith where there is doubt. Help me to be encouraging when there is despair. Help me to be light where there is darkness. Through Christ, I pray. 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. 11:9

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Recommended Reading:
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight