Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reading Schedule for December 1 - 6

Dec. 1 - Dt. 31:30 – 34:12
Dec. 2 - Josh. 1:1 - 2:24
Dec. 3 - Josh. 3:1 – 4:24
Dec. 4 - Josh. 5:1 – 6:27
Dec. 5 - Josh. 7:1 – 8:35
Dec. 6 - Josh 10:29 – 11:23

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through the entire New Testament and key passages of the Old Testament. The 2008-09 Useful Breath reading can be downloaded for printing by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

November 29 - Thanking God First

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Dt. 26:1 – 28:14
"Firstfruits, Blessings, and Curses"

Focus Verses: Deut. 26:5-10a
5 Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: "My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. 7 Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me."

Once they had taken possession of the land and were enjoying the fruits of working the land, the Israelites were to bring the firstfruits of their harvest to the Lord. The ceremony of presenting their firstfruits was one of thanksgiving, humility, remembrance, and recognition.

I am struck by the profound simplicity of the firstfruits ceremony as I imagine people bringing baskets of their firstfruits and presenting them with words expressing humility and thanks. "O Lord, I am the descendant of a nomadic man who had nothing. I am the child of a nation of slaves. Without God's deliverance, protection, and provision I would have nothing. Yet here I am today with a basket of blessing. What I bring is NOT because of me, my fathers, or my nation, but rather because of our good God who has kept his good promises. I bring these firstfruits of my crop to acknowledge that everything I have is from God!"

Response and Action:
This is the attitude I want to have as I give to the Lord. I want to acknowledge that every blessing I have comes from him. I want to give my first and my best to God as an act of humble worship and a thankful recognition of his goodness to me.

O God, you are my provider. Every good and perfect gift I have is from you. May every blessing I have remind me of your faithfulness. Give me a wise and humble heart that gives you thanks and praise before all else. I pray in the name of Jesus, the greatest blessing of all. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Cor. 9:10-12
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
In Context: 2 Corinthians 9

Proverb for Today: Prov.29:7
"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."

Giving to God: The Bible's Good News about Living a Generous Life
by Mark Allan Powell

Friday, November 28, 2008

November 28 - Generous to Others

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Dt. 14:1 – 16:20
"Food, Debts, and Holy Feasts"

Focus Verses: Deut. 15:7-11
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

One of the truly astounding aspects of the Mosaic law is the concern for the welfare of the widow, orphan, slave, and alien. God expected his people to live with compassion, concern, and generosity toward those who were in need. Those who were doing well were to see their wellbeing as a blessing from God. They were expected to give "without a grudging heart" and to be "openhanded" to the poor. There will always be someone in need, so those who are in a position to help must always be ready and willing to do so. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Response and Action:
Do I have concern for those who are in need? Do I have compassion for those who are in circumstances that lead to poverty? If so, how do I demonstrate this compassion and concern? I must be ready to pitch in and give when someone around me is in need. I should also encourage my church family to be ready to meet practical needs within our fellowship and in the community around us. I can also be an advocate for social programs on the local, state, and federal level, that are directed toward meeting the needs of the poor and the alien. I must be realistic about poverty; it is persistent and ongoing. My concern for those in poverty must likewise be persistent and ongoing.

O God, you have been so gracious and generous to me. Give me a heart like you -- compassionate toward the poor and generous to the needy. Give me the attitude of Christ Jesus, who emptied himself for my sake. Help me to be cheerful and openhanded as I share the blessings you've given me with those who are in need. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 1 John 3:17-18
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
In Context: 1 John 3

Proverb for Today: Prov.28:27
"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."

Practical Justice: Living Off-center in a Self-centered World
by Kevin Blue

Thursday, November 27, 2008

November 27 - Don't Listen


Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Dt. 12:1 – 13:18
"True Worship and True Prophecy"

Focus Verses: Deut. 13:1-4
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Moses warned the people to be very careful about prophetic claims. He told them to reject any and every claim of prophecy that encouraged them to worship anything or anyone other than the one true God--the God of Abraham who had delivered them from Egypt.

Similarly, the Apostle Peter warned Christians to be on guard against false teachers who could be identified by their denial of God's sovereignty, shameful ways of living, greed, and the exploitation of others.

Not everyone who claims to be teaching the truth of God is doing so. Wise truth-seekers must be careful that they are not lead astray by so-called prophets and teachers.

Response and Action:
I need to be a discerning. Because I want to know truth and live by it, I will study the Scriptures carefully everyday. I will judge every truth claim and teaching I hear by Scripture and the light of Christ's teaching and example. I will be on guard against every teaching that diminishes God or questions the lordship of Jesus. I will evaluate teachers and leaders with a critical mindset, and watch out for indicators of greed, exploitation, or other selfish motives.

O God, your word is sharper than a two edged sword -- able to cut through the attitudes and motives of the heart. Give me a growing love for your written word and the discipline to study and meditate upon it each day. Thank you for Jesus, the Living Word. Help me to follow him closely and to become so familiar with his words, his actions, and his life that I am able to clearly recognize and reject anything that runs contrary to his way. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Peter 2:1-3
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
In Context: 2 Peter 2

Proverb for Today: Prov.27:12
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

God Talk: Cautions for Those Who Hear God's Voice
by Ruth Tucker

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November 26 - It's Not Because of Me

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Dt. 9:1 – 11:32
"Remembering and Obeying God"

Focus Verses: Deut. 9:4
4 After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, "The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness." No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you.

It's important to note that in driving out the nations who were occupying the land he had promised to Israel, God was not only blessing Israel for their obedience, he was judging those other nations for their wickedness. Moses warned the people of Israel against becoming smug and self-righteous as if they were better than the people who were being dispossessed. Moses reminded them of their own idolatry and rebellion against God. He made it clear to them that God's righteousness and goodness, not their own, was the reason for the blessings they were about to experience.

Response and Action:
Moses' warning to the Israelites is a good one for me to think about. I need to be careful to avoid the mistake of thinking that the blessings I enjoy are the result of my own goodness and merit. I am a stubborn and sinful person saved by grace. God's goodness and mercy are the source of blessing and promise in my life.

It is by the power and grace that I am able to experience renewal, transformation, and promise that lead to an abundant life in Christ Jesus. Apart from God's grace, I am no more righteous than anyone else. Apart from God's grace I have no more claim to his promise or blessing than anyone else. Humility and thanksgiving are the attitude I need to have as I enjoy God's provision and promise.

O God, thank you for your grace and mercy toward me, a sinner. Thank you for the hope and promise you have poured into my life. Give me the wisdom and grace to recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from you. Help me to live with humility and gratitude, and make me a channel of your grace and blessing to others. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 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.
In Context: Ephesians 2:1-10

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."

by Andrew Murray

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 25 - Cleaning House

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Dt. 7:1 – 8:20
"Driving Out the Nations"

Focus Verses: Deut. 7:25-26
25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.

In order to take possession of the land God had promised to the Israelites, they would have to drive out the nations who were living there. This would take time and would not happen all at once. So even as they moved in and conquered, they would need to be on guard against being seduced by the idols and practices of the current residents. Those foreign idols and pagan practices were destined for destruction. If the Israelites embraced and adopted them, they too would be destroyed.

Response and Action:
I am courting disaster when I embrace the things God hates. It is foolish and reckless to hold on to things that are bound for destruction. I must be careful to turn away from the things I know are detestable to God. With God's help and guidance, I must commit myself to drive out of my life every idol and practice that he has condemned. It is self-destructive for me to carelessly bring them into my house, to live with them in complacency, or worse yet, to love them and delight in them.

O God, give me the discernment to recognize what is good and what is corrupt. Give me the wisdom and will to turn away from what is unholy and detestable to you. Help me to see through temptation and deception, and give me a holy disdain and disregard for everything that would divert me from walking in your ways. Guide me in your truth, and teach me, for you are God, my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
In Context: 1 John 2:7-17

Proverb for Today: Prov.25:26
"Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked."

Love Not The World: A Prophetic Call to Holy Living
by Watchman Nee

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 24 - Loving with All

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Deut. 5:1 – 6:25
"Obedience and Love"

Focus Verses: Deut. 6:4-8
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

God loves and calls people to love him. The love God has for us is beyond comprehension. He desires that we love him with our all-- all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. Hiding God's word and treasuring his commands is vital to living out our love for God. If I truly want to love God with all I am, I must know God's word, desire to walk in his ways, and allow his commands to shape and form my very being and character.

This is something I want to impress upon my family and friends as well. I want to talk about it, pray about it, sing about it, and think about it every day with them. Even my house and workplace should be filled with reminders of God's love and calling for me.

Response and Action:
I will commit myself to reading the Bible each day and give prayerful thought to how the verses I have read can help me to love God and live in obedience to his will. I will talk with my family and friends about my faith, my desire to follow God, and the ways I am being challenged, shaped, and directed by the Spirit and the Word.

O God, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and 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. By the truth of your Holy Word and the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: John 14:23-24
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. In Context: John 14:15-31

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."

How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth
by Gordon D. Fee

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reading Schedule for November 24 - 29

Nov. 24 - Dt. 5:1 – 6:25
Nov. 25 - Dt. 7:1 – 8:20
Nov. 26 - Dt. 9:1 – 11:32
Nov. 27 - Dt. 12:1 – 13:18
Nov. 28 - Dt. 14:1 – 16:20
Nov. 29 - Dt. 26:1 – 28:14

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through the entire New Testament and key passages of the Old Testament. The 2008-09 Useful Breath reading can be downloaded for printing by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22 - Where I've Been, Where I'm Going

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Deut. 3:1 – 4:49
"Lessons Learned and Life to Live"

Focus Verses: Deuteronomy 4:9, 39-40
9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. - - - 39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

The Israelites had nearly completed their forty year sojourn through the wilderness from Mt. Sinai to the Promised Land. Moses was old and God had told him that it wouldn't be much longer until he died. At this critical milestone in their historic journey, Moses delivered a great and solemn proclamation. He spoke to them of their deliverance, Mt. Sinai, God's provision, their failures and successes, his own failures and successes, the Law God had given, and even the hopes and dangers they would see in future days.

Now, as they entered the Land of Promise, he urged the people to be careful and wise by: 1. Remembering all the things they had seen and learned in their wilderness experiences; 2. teaching their history to their children and grandchildren; 3. Acknowledging there is only one God in heaven and earth--the LORD, the God of Abraham; 4. Being diligent to honor and obey God by keeping his commands; and 5. Remembering that blessing and obedience go hand in hand.

Response and Action:
Today is a new day with new possibilities. As I look back over the years of my life's journey what have I learned, what should I remember, what should I take to heart, and what should I do in the days ahead? Like the Israelites, I must: 1. Recognize there is one true God; 2. Love, value, and obey the instruction and commands he has given me through his revealed word; 3. Learn from my mistakes and commit myself to knowing and honoring God; 4. Realize that every blessing is from God.

O God, help me to follow you and to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me the wisdom to look back over the years of my life and to learn from my past experiences. Help me to learn from my mistakes, to seek the guidance of your Spirit and your Word, and to obediently and expectantly keep moving toward the promise and future you have for me. You alone are God. Help me to honor and follow you all the days of my life, and help me to teach my children and their children to do the same. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Hebrews 12:1-2a
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2a Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...
In Context: Hebrews 12:1-12

Proverb for Today: Prov.22:5
"In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them."

Knowing God's Will: Finding Guidance for Personal Decisions
by M. Blaine Smith

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 21 - Strength for the Journey

Overview of: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
Deut. 1:1 – 2:37
"Moses Recounts Events"

Focus Verses: Deuteronomy 2:7
7 The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

God took care of the Israelites during all their travels in the wilderness, even though their wandering in the wilderness was a punishment for their lack of faith and disobedience. God did not abandon his children, or fail to meet their needs.

Response and Action:
My failures to believe in God or obey him can result in missed blessings and a more difficult journey. Even when God's hand of discipline or punishment is on me, he will not abandon me or fail to provide for me.

O God, make me quick to obey you and strong in faith toward you. Thank you for being faithful to take care of me even when I fail you. Be my guide, my strength, and my provider, by the power grace of your Spirit, through Christ Jesus. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 8:35, 37
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - - - 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
In Context: Romans 8:28-39

Proverb for Today: Prov.21:30
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD."

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
by Jerry Bridges

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20 - Misrepresenting God

Overview of: Numbers

Today's Reading:
Numbers 20:1 - 21:9
"A Hard Road to Travel"

Focus Verses: Numbers 20:12
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

The Israelites faced many trials and dangers as they traveled through the wilderness. There were water and food shortages. There had difficulty with regional powers and peoples as they tried to pass through their lands. Then there was pestilence and an infestation of poisonous snakes. And beyond all these troubles, the elderly people among them were dying. I'm sure many were grieving the deaths of their parents and older loved ones, which included Moses' sister, Miriam, and his brother Aaron (who was serving as the high priest).

Not surprisingly, these trials exposed the weaknesses in the general population and in their leaders. When the people cried out in complaint because they needed water, God told Moses and Aaron to take a staff, gather the people, and speak to the rock so that water would pour out of it. Instead, Moses, tired and frustrated by his people, struck the rock twice and spoke harshly to the people, calling them rebels.

Later, God rebuked Moses and Aaron for "not honoring him as holy" in the sight of the people. This misrepresentation of God was so serious that God told them they would not lead the people into the land of promise.

Response and Action:
As a Christian, the things I say and do reflect upon God. It is important keep this in mind as a parent, friend, neighbor, and church leader. It is dishonoring to God to present one's own frustration, anger, or annoyance as though it were God's. I want to be a humble witness of God's holiness and a faithful representative of his grace. I need to be especially careful about this at times when I am tired, irritable, hurt, or easily provoked.

O God, help me to be mindful of how my actions reflect upon you. Give me the wisdom I need to treat others in a righteous way and to keep a tight reign on my attitude and my mouth. Forgive me for the times something I have said or done has given someone else a wrong impression of you. By your grace and mercy, shape me and transform me into a faithful ambassador of your truth and your goodness. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:20
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
In Context: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Proverb for Today: Prov.20:27
"The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being."

Character Witness: How Our Lives Can Make a Difference in Evangelism
by Christine Wood

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19 - Grasshopper Eyes

Overview of: Numbers

Today's Reading:
Num. 13:1 - 14:44
"Moses Sends Spies into Canaan"

Focus Verses: Numbers 13:31-33
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

All of the spies Moses had sent to scout out Canaan agreed that the land was good -- flowing with milk and honey. All of the spies saw that the inhabitants of the land were powerful and that conquering them would be very difficult.

Because Caleb and Joshua saw themselves in the light of God's promises and power, they believed the land could be taken. The other ten could only see their own weaknesses and fears and therefore became "like grasshoppers" in their own eyes.

Response and Action:
Life is filled with challenges and opportunities that I am unable to face in my own strength. If I fail to remember God's promises and strength, I become a grasshopper in my own eyes.

To forget God is to diminish my life and to miss great opportunity and blessing. I must hold every possibility, choice, and potential up to the light of God's promise and call for my life. With God, all things are possible.

Almighty God, I am painfully aware of my weaknesses and limitations. Make me even more aware of your strength and boundless grace. Help me to lean on you in every circumstance and believe in your power to sustain and support me. Guide me and give me courage to do whatever is necessary to follow your leading. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 8:31b-32
31b If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
In Context: Romans 8:28-39

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

Strength for the Journey: Day-by-Day with Jesus
by Joseph Stowell

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 18 - Grumbling or Grateful

Overview of: Numbers

Today's Reading:
Num. 11:1 - 12:16
"Quail and Complaints"

Focus Verses: Numbers 11:21-23
21 But Moses said, "Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, 'I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!' 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?" 23 The LORD answered Moses, "Is the LORD's arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you."

After all God had brought them through, it's difficult to see how the Israelites could complain about their diet. When they were slaves in Egypt, surely any of them would have gladly given up meat from their diet in exchange for freedom. But now, even though they were free, they had the audacity to talk about Egypt like they missed it.

Instead of being thankful for what they had and for all God had done to bless them, they whined about what they didn't have and what they wanted God to do. God proved, once again, that he was more than able to provide for them. So able, in fact, that he brought them enough quail to feed them for a month.

Response and Action:
I don't want to be a complainer. I want to be much quicker to thank God for what I have than I am to complain to him about what I don't have. I want to be a grateful person who is continually giving praise to God for what he has done and is doing in my life. I will trust God to provide for my needs.

O God, thank you for your goodness and your generous provision to me. Give me a heart of thanksgiving and eyes to see the many ways you have blessed me. Help me to trust in you for all my needs. Forgive me for the times I whine and complain. Help me to mature and grow so strong in you that I am able to be content in any and every circumstance. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Philippians 4:14-15
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...
In Context: Philippians 2:14-16, 4:12-13

Proverb for Today: Prov.18:12
"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."

Following Jesus
by N.T. Wright

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17 - Watching for God's Lead

Overview of: Numbers

Today's Reading:

Numbers 9:15-23
"Following the Cloud "

Focus Verses: Numbers 9:22-23
22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the LORD's command they encamped, and at the LORD's command they set out. They obeyed the LORD's order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

After receiving guidance from God on Mt. Sinai, Moses and the Israelites took steps to prepare and organize themselves for their trip to the land God had promised to them. They built the Tabernacle (a portable worship center), they established a priesthood, they took a census, and they established an orderly way to set up camp and travel. It was a huge endeavor and their entourage must have been an impressive sight to see.

Even more impressive was the dramatic way God made his presence and leading visible among them. A cloud covered the Tabernacle and towered above it by day. At night the cloud appeared as fire. When the cloud lifted and began to move, the Israelites would break up camp and prepare to travel. The direction and timing of their travels was absolutely determined by the cloud.

Response and Action:
Just as Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive guidance from God, I want to seek God's guidance for my life's journey. The ways I organize my goals, schedule, priorities, and strategies must be informed by the instruction of Scripture and direction by the Holy Spirit.

Just as the Tabernacle was one of the first priorities of the Israelites and at the center of their encampment, I will put worship and spiritual formation first and center in my life. Just as the Israelites were sensitive to God's leading, whether that meant pulling up and moving or staying in place and waiting, I want to be sensitive to God's leading in my life. Just as they followed the cloud, I will follow Jesus and listen to him.

O God, help me to trust in you with all my heart and not depend solely on my own understanding. In all my ways, I want to acknowledge your presence, trusting you to lead me in the best path. Be my cloud by day, shielding me from the draining heat of sun. Be my fire by night, protecting me from the chill of the darkness. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Matthew 17:5
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
In Context: Matthew 17:1-12

Proverb for Today: Prov.17:24
"A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth."

Following Jesus
by N.T. Wright

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading Schedule for November 17 - 22

Nov. 17 - Num. 9:15 – 10:36
Nov. 18 - Num. 11:1 - 12:16
Nov. 19 - Num. 13:1 - 14:44
Nov. 20 - Num. 20:1 – 21:9
Nov. 21 - Dt. 1:1 – 2:37
Nov. 22 - Dt. 3:1 – 4:49

You're invited to read through the Bible with Dave Burkum. Six readings each week will take you through the entire New Testament and key passages of the Old Testament. The 2008-09 Useful Breath reading can be downloaded for printing by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 15 - Which Way?

Overview of: Leviticus

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 26:3-46
"Rewards and Punishments"

Focus Verses: Lev. 26:3-4,14-16
3 "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. --- 14 But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it."

After God gave the Law to Moses, he gave solemn promises and warnings. They can be summed up like this: "If you do what I say, you will be blessed. If you turn away from me and disregard my guidance and commands, you will suffer the consequences." This is a good chapter to bookmark because you will see many of the warnings and promises are fulfilled during the destruction of Jerusalem, the years of exile that followed, and the eventual return of the exiles to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles - Esther).

Response and Action:
God is my maker. Therefore, his instruction and commands for are best for me. When I walk in his ways I am walking toward blessing. If I turn away from his ways I am turning toward disaster and destruction.

It is not enough to know his ways, I need God's help to walk in them. I have failed to follow God's commands, but Jesus' sacrifice on the cross has atoned for my sin and made forgiveness and restoration possible. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God is purifying my heart and transforming my will to turn away from sin and to delight in his ways.

O God, show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me. Only you can save me from sin; my hope is in you all day long. Thank you for Jesus who loved me and gave himself for me as a sacrifice to atone for my sin. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who is changing my heart, drawing me closer to you, and helping me to live a life that honors you. Help me to walk in your ways that I might enjoy the blessing and reward you have promised me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Romans 8:3-4
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
In Context: Romans 8:1-11

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:3
"The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14 - Sexuality

Overview of: Leviticus

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 18:1 – 19:37
"Laws about Sexual Conduct"

Focus Verses: Lev. 16:20-22
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'I am the LORD your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.

Humans are sexual beings. It is crucial that our sexual perspectives and conduct be informed and guided by God. So much of life--our sense of self, our relationships, our respect and responsibility toward others--is affected by our sexuality. It makes sense, then, that the Law Moses received from God should be very specific about sexual behavior.

The detailed instruction in the Law about sexual conduct implies the need humans have to be instructed. Such instruction would not be necessary if we were not so susceptible to the many possibilities for violating God's plan and intention for our sexuality. God called people to live according to his commands, not according to the practices of the people around them, and not according to their own inclinations or desires.

Response and Action:
God's will relates to every aspect of my life, including my body and my sexuality. God's will is about more than my heart, my mind, my beliefs, and my motives; it is about my interactions and relationships with everyone around me. My body is the means through which I relate with everyone and everything around me. I will turn away from sexual immorality. My ideas about sexuality and my sexual conduct must not be shaped by the world around me, nor my own inclinations, but rather by God's command. I have faith that the abundant and healthy life I want, including my sexuality, is to be found in obedience to God.

O God, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to love and honor you with my heart, my mind, and my body. Thank you for guidance you give for every aspect of life. Help me to turn away from sexual immorality. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Do not let me be shaped by the pattern of this world. Instead, transform me by the renewing of my mind and your holy word. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Hebrews 10:1-4
3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
In Context: 1 Thes. 4:1-12

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:8
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."

Thinking About Sexuality (eBook)
by Paul R. Stevens, Robert Banks
Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
by Lauren F. Winner
Rumors of Another World: What on Earth Are We Missing?
by Philip Yancey

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13 - Driving Sin Away

Overview of: Leviticus

Today's Reading:
Leviticus 16:1-34
"The Day of Atonement"

Focus Verses: Lev. 16:20-22
20 "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

The Day of Atonement was an annual ritual of cleansing and forgiveness that foreshadowed the ultimate and eternal cleansing that would be accomplished by Christ's sacrificial death. What they did year after year was a picture that anticipated what Jesus would one day do once for all (Hebrews 10:11-13).

The goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, along with the other sacrificed animals, symbolized the death and sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. There is much discussion and speculation about the meaning of the scapegoat driven away. Some think it represents the physical suffering and hardship Christ endured in bearing our sins. I think it may represent the believer's part in casting sin aside. Christ died for sin, but the believer must also participate in Christ’s work by turning away from and dying to sin (Rom. 12:1-2).

Response and Action:
I will look to Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, renewal, and the hope of eternal life. I will put my faith in his saving sacrifice on my behalf. I will also make every effort to drive out the sins in my life. Christ not only died to atone for my sin, but also gives me the power of his Spirit to be made new and to find freedom from sin. By the power and grace of Christ, I will make every effort to put aside the sins that entangle me. Beyond forgiveness, I will pursue holiness.

O God, by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Thank you for the forgiveness you have given through Jesus. Help me to drive sin and unfaithfulness out of my life. Help me to offer myself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you. By your grace, strengthen and bless my efforts to turn away from sin. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Hebrews 10:1-4
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
In Context: Hebrews 10

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:6
"Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner."

The Pursuit of Holiness
by Jerry Bridges

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 12 - Playing with Fire

Overview of: Leviticus

Today's Reading:
Lev. 10:1 – 11:47
"Commands and Consequences"

Focus Verses: Lev. 10:10-11
10 You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses."

The instruction and guidelines God gave to his people through Moses were commands, not suggestions. When Nadab and Abihu burned unauthorized incense (perhaps incense that was common in pagan worship - see Ex. 30:7-9), they were consumed by holy fire from God's presence. In approaching God, they had shown dishonor and carelessness. They had trivialized God's command, and in doing so they had trivialized and dishonored God.

Response and Action:
I cannot come to God on my terms. God is God and his commands are holy. To imagine that my relationship with God should be according to my personal tastes or ideas or traditions would be to make God smaller than me. Thinking I can live my life my way is like playing with fire. Following Christ must be done his way. Any confidence I have in approaching God is found in Christ Jesus, my Sovereign Leader, and his atoning sacrifice for me. I will love and obey Jesus and seek to do things his way.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Forgive me for the times I put my ways above your ways. Help me to follow Jesus--to abide in his word, to love and obey him. Give me the wisdom and will to be more than just a hearer of his words. Help me to put them into practice, like a wise man building his house upon a rock. Thank you for the new and living way Jesus has made for me, and the confidence I can have through him. Amen.

New Testament for Today: Hebrews 10:19-20
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
In Context: Hebrews 10

Proverb for Today: Prov. 12:1
"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."

The Pursuit of Holiness
by Jerry Bridges

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11 - Holy Servants

Overview of: Leviticus

Today's Reading:
Lev. 8:1 – 9:24
"Priests Consecrated"

Focus Verses: Lev. 9:7-8
Moses said to Aaron, "Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people; sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded." 8 So Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself.

Before Aaron and his sons could serve as priests on behalf of God's people, they needed to acknowledge their own sin, humble themselves before God, and offer sacrifices for their own purification.

The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus has served as the High Priest for all who come to him through faith. His sacrifice for me makes it possible for me to serve in the holy priesthood of Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Every Christian has been consecrated and purified by Christ to serve in his redemptive mission to the world. Holiness and humility are essential for all who would minister his name.

Response and Action:
Before I can minister to others in the name of Jesus, I must acknowledge my own sin and look to him for atonement and purification. I need to rid myself of malice, deceit, envy, hypocrisy, and slander. I must long for spiritual nourishment and pursue holiness and maturity.

Jesus has called me to more than salvation; he has called me to serve and minister in his name. Christians are more than followers of Christ, they are his hands and feet to a world that needs to find redemption and hope. I will commit myself to spiritual growth and holiness, through Christ, in order to be ready to serve others in his name.

O God, purify my heart and incline it toward you. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Teach me your ways, and give me the wisdom and the will to walk in them. Cleanse me and make me ready to serve others and lead them to the salvation and life that is found in Christ Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

New Testament for Today: 1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In Context: 1 Peter 2:1-12

Proverb for Today: Prov. 11:30
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise."

The Pursuit of Holiness
by Jerry Bridges