Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31 - Unstoppable

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 5:1 - 7:60
"Dramatic Events"

Focus Verses:
Acts 5:38-39
38 "Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

While the miracles and healings the Apostles performed by the power of the Holy Spirit were a source of great joy and hope for all who experienced them, the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira put fear into the hearts of people both inside and outside the church. Clearly, the Holy Spirit who was moving and blessing the ministry of the early church was the very same Spirit of the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. God's Holy Spirit, while a source of great blessing and power for those who believed and responded with humility and reverence, was a source of fearful consequence for those who were careless, presumptuous, or blasphemous (Lev. 10:1-3; 2 Sam. 6:6-7; 2 Chron. 26:16-20).

Gamaliel, a Pharisee, was one of the greatest teachers of Israel at that time. When he observed all that was happening through and around the early believers, he urged caution to those who opposed them. He reasoned that their movement would fail on its own if God was not with them, just as other movements making similar claims had failed. Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul, was one of Gamaliel's students. Was Saul thinking about, perhaps ignoring, Gamaliel's counsel when he witnessed and approved the stoning of Stephen?

Response and Action:
I think Gamaliel was right. I believe that the very existence and ongoing movement of the Church suggests that God is in it. I believe that the Holy Spirit really is at work in the life and work of the church today. I believe that the Holy Spirit is blessing, empowering, saving, purifying, and transforming the lives of believers today.

I will study the Scriptures for the Spirit's guidance. I will humble myself before the Holy Spirit and offer my worship and obedience. I will ask the Holy Spirit for transformation and new life. I will commit myself to keeping in step with the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and being part of the ongoing work of the Church in the world today.

O God, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life who proceeds from you and your son, Jesus, and has spoken through the prophets and apostles. 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. I pray in the name of Jesus, my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Zechariah 7:12
12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry."
In Context: Zechariah 7

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:
An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind
by Erwin McManus

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30 - Times of Refreshing

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 3:1 – 4:37
"A Miracle and a Message"

Focus Verses:
Acts 3:19-21
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Peter preached that Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham. He gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus. He declared that the miracle he performed was done by the power of Jesus. He called people to turn from sin and put their faith in Christ Jesus. He promised that this would result in refreshment and restoration in their lives, and eventually all things would be restored and renewed by Christ.

Response and Action:
I believe that my hopes for forgiveness and renewal are in Jesus. I believe that only Christ can give me the refreshment and strength I need for life. I believe that Jesus will one day restore and renew all things. I will turn away from sin and seek him with my whole heart. I will follow and obey him. I will put my faith in him and build my life on the foundation of his words and his example. I will trust him to restore all things as I look toward the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

O God, thank you for the redemption and restoration you have made possible through Christ. Help me to seek him and follow him with all my being. Give me hope and refreshment as I walk in his ways and obey his commands. Restore and renew me today and make my life a testimony of your power and promise to ultimately restore and renew all things. Help me to live by faith and to be a shining demonstration of your power to save and restore. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 40:29-31
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
In Context: Isaiah 40

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:
Surprised by Hope
by N. T. Wright

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reading Schedule for March 30 - April 4

March 30 - Acts 3:1 – 4:37
March 31 - Acts 5:1 – 7:60
April 1 - Acts 8:1 – 9:43
April 2 - Acts 10:1 – 11:30
April 3 - Acts 12:1 – 13:52
April 4 - Acts 14:1 – 15:41

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 by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 28 - The Promise

Overview of: Acts

Today's Reading:

Acts 1:1 – 2:47
"Jesus, the Spirit, and the Church"

Focus Verses:
Acts 2:36-39
36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Peter preached to the crowds who had gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Many of the God-fearing Israelites accepted his message and responded to it in faith and obedience. They were cut to the heart and said, "What should we do?" Because of their faith, Peter told them to repent and be baptized. Three thousand people were baptized that day. In that public act they gave witness to their faith--they believed Jesus as Messiah and Savior. They gave witness to their repentance--they acknowledged their sin and need to turn away from it. They gave witness to their submission--they recognized Jesus' authority for their lives.

Response and Action:
The message of Jesus requires a response from me. If I believe the message of Jesus, I must respond to it in faith. My faith response to Christ begins with belief, repentance, surrender, and obedience. Through baptism I give public witness to the faith-response of my heart (believing, turning, accepting authority).

Responding to Christ is more than a beginning--it's a continual way of life. Every day, every way, I want to live out my faith. I want to live a life that is constantly responsive to the truth of Christ and his calling. I will press on to take hold of all that Christ has for me to be and do.

O God, give me ears to hear, a heart that is receptive, and a mind that is responsive. Help me to live a life that demonstrates my faith, my desire to turn away from sin, and my commitment to follow Jesus in full surrender to his authority. Help me to be so responsive to Christ that I am always praying and thinking about what it means to follow in his steps. Show me your ways. Guide me in your truth, and lead me, for you are God, my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long! Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 118:24-26
24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
In Context: Psalm 118

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:
Basic Christianity
by John R. W. Stott

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27 - Stop Doubting

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 20:1 – 21:25
"Empty Tomb, Risen Lord"

Focus Verses:
John 20:27-29
27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he found it difficult to believe them. Maybe they had seen someone or something else. Thomas would have to see Jesus for himself. He would have to hear his voice, see his face, and see the evidence of his crucifixion. When he saw Jesus, he became so sure of the resurrection that he called Jesus, "his Lord and his God!"

Thomas' expression of praise and worship means more to me, just knowing that it comes from a person who found it difficult to believe. I also find it important to that Jesus accepts Thomas' worship and surrender. If Jesus were not Lord and God, why would he allow Thomas to say such a thing? Jesus' claim of deity and authority is clearly implicit in his acceptance of Thomas' confession.

Response and Action:
My doubts and concerns are not too much for Jesus. God will meet me in my honest doubts and help me come to the truth. Faith is not opposed to reason. Humble reasoning may even lead me to believe and strengthen my faith.

O God, I believe in Jesus. Increase my faith and help me to deal with honest doubts. Thank you for every testimony, every Scripture, and every experience you've provided to give me reasons to believe. Help me to see Jesus, and as my eyes are opened, make me quick to confess him as Lord and God. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 80:17-19
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. 18 Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. 19 Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
In Context: Psalm 80

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:17
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Recommended Reading:
Doubting: Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith
by Alister McGrath

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26 - They All Fell Down

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 18:1 – 19:42
"Arrest, Trials, and Crucifixion"

Focus Verses:
John 18:6-8
6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8 "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."

John's account of Jesus' arrest includes a very important detail missing from the other gospels. It also seems to be missing from most contemporary recounts of the story. I've never seen this detail depicted in any passion play, movie, or painting. I've rarely heard it talked about in sermons. I've actually had many Christians react with surprise when I point out this detail in John's eyewitness account.

When Judas leads a detachment of soldiers and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees to the garden to arrest Jesus, an amazing thing happens. Jesus asks, "Who are you looking for?" They reply, "Jesus the Nazarene." Jesus says, "I am he," and when he says those words, Judas and all the soldiers and officials, with their swords and lanterns and torches, fall to the ground.

This is an incredible display of Jesus' authority and the power of his word. He clearly would not have had to submit to arrest. No wonder Peter was so emboldened to strike out at a guard. Jesus made his point and asked for the release of his disciples, which was granted, and then submitted to arrest.

Response and Action:
Jesus clearly did not have to submit to arrest. This demonstrates his free and selfless choice to suffer death on the cross for us and for our salvation. Today, I will offer up my thanks to Christ Jesus who loved me and gave himself for me. I will praise him for his selfless gift of salvation. As a follower of Jesus, I will endeavor to live a selfless life, and surrender myself to God in service to others.

Help me, O God, to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus. He emptied himself and was obedient to death. Even death on a cross. Help me to empty myself and freely choose to live for you. Give me the grace and courage to serve others in the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 22:30-31
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.
In Context: Psalm 22

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:19
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25 - Branches

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 15:1 – 17:26
"Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father"

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

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

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

O God, thank you for the fruitful life I am able to live through Christ. Help me to stay connected to Jesus. By the power and grace of his Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:14
"Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give."

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24 - Do As I Have Done

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 13:1 – 14:31
"Jesus Teaching His Disciples"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Reading:
Jesus With Dirty Feet
by Don Everts

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23 - Resurrection

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:

John 11:1 – 12:50
"Resurrection & Faith"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:18
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reading Schedule for March 23 - 28

March 23 - John 11:1 – 12:50
March 24 - John 13:1 – 14:31
March 25 - John 15:1 – 17:26
March 26 - John 18:1 – 19:42
March 27 - John 20:1 – 21:25
March 28 - Acts 1:1 – 2:47

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 by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 21 - Blind

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:
John 9:1 – 10:42
"Healer and Shepherd"

Focus Verses: John 9:1-5
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

When the disciples saw a man disabled with blindness, they asked Jesus a question that betrayed a very simplistic view of God and suffering. The man was blind so they assumed it was a punishment from God. They seemed sure his condition was a direct result of sin; it was only a question of who had sinned. Was God punishing the man for his own sins or for the sins of his parents? Jesus’ answer boldly countered their assumptions. He declared that the man's blindness had nothing at all to do with sin. It wasn't a punishment from God, but it was something God could use to display his redemptive power and will to save.

Response and Action:
When things go wrong do I jump to the simplistic conclusion that God is punishing me or someone else? While it's always good to consider how the problems I face may be consequences from sin or errors on my part, it doesn't make sense to interpret every problem or hardship as judgment from God. Sometimes hardships are just part of living in an imperfect world. Every hardship and weakness is an opportunity for God to display his redemptive and saving power in my life.

O God, you know the hardships and weaknesses I'm dealing with today. Help me to discern the difference between the consequences of sin and the ordinary hardships of life. In every weakness and need, I turn to you, O Lord, asking you to display your saving power to redeem and transform. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 40:16-17
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!" 17 Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.
In Context: Psalm 40

Proverb for Today: Prov. 21:13

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."

Recommended Reading:
by C. S. Lewis

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20 - Streams

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:
John 7:1 – 8:59
"Jesus and Belief"

Focus Verses: John 7:37-39
37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Jesus stood up on the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles and offered "living water" for all who were thirsty. He said, "Come to me and drink." He promised that belief in him would result in a stream of living water flowing from within the believer. From and within! The Spirit that Jesus was offering would well up within the innermost part of the believer's being and flow outward.

Response and Action:
Faith in Jesus is the solution for my thirsty heart. How can I come to Jesus and drink? I can come to before him in worship and surrender. I can read and take in his teachings recorded in scripture. I can reflect on his many interactions with people recorded in the gospels. I can call out to him in prayer. I can obey him, heed his warnings, cling to his promises, and follow his example. For years and years I have been coming to Jesus in these ways and I have indeed found cool water for my soul.

Oh God, thank you for Jesus. Keep the cool and living water of the Spirit he gives flowing in my being. May that stream not only satisfy my thirst, may it also flow out of me and be a source of life and hope to everyone around me. Help me to be a blessing to my family, friends, and neighbors through the living stream of your Spirit. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 55:1-3a
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3a Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
In Context: Isaiah 55

Proverb for Today: Prov. 20:12

"Ears that hear and eyes that see—the LORD has made them both."

Recommended Reading:
Streams of Living Water
by Richard Foster

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19 - Crossing Over

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:
John 5:1 – 6:71
"Amazing Claims and Testimonies"

Focus Verses: John 5:24-26
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself."

Jesus was persecuted for more than breaking Sabbath laws. There were attempts and plots to kill him, not because he was a controversial teacher, but because "he was calling God his own father, and making himself equal with God" (John 5:18). He claimed to be the Son of God, the promised redeemer, the giver of eternal life, the one who would raise the dead, and the one who would judge on the final day.

Response and Action:
My faith is in Jesus. I accept his claims about himself. I believe he is the fulfillment of the promises found in the law and the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. The scriptures tell me that belief in Jesus is the way to cross over from death to life. My hope of life, purpose, and eternity are in Jesus. I will seek to do good and pursue his righteousness today and every day as I eagerly await the day of his appearing—the day when he will redeem all humankind and all of creation with his resurrection power.

O God, thank you for the life and redemption you have given through Christ Jesus, your Son. Thank you that I can cross over from death to life through faith in him. Give me the wisdom and the will to follow and serve him. Help me to live in such a way that my life becomes yet another testimony of the hope and life he came to give. Strengthen and transform me that I might know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 78:19-24
19 They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the desert? 20 When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food?Can he supply meat for his people?" 21 When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, 22 for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. 23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.
In Context: Psalm 78

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:20

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise."

Recommended Reading:
Faith & Doubt
by John Ortberg

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18 - Loving Light

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:
John 3:1 – 4:54
"Jesus Encounters"

Focus Verses: John 3:19-21
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

The people who encountered Jesus had to wrestle with who he was and what he was doing. The merchants driven out of the temple, the crowds who heard him making unusual claims ("tear this temple down and I'll build it up in three days"), the disciples who followed him, and the religious teachers who questioned him, all had to deal with him. Was he telling the truth or was he a fraud? Was he sent from God or a troublemaker?

Jesus claimed to be the son of God, the one sent from heaven, and the one able to give eternal life. He said he had been sent into the world as an expression of God's great love and desire to save all who would believe.

Response and Action:
Jesus said light had come into the world, but people loved darkness more than light because of their evil deeds and desires. The desires of the heart affect the response of the person. Do I have desires that are getting in the way of my faith? Am I holding on to things that keep me from knowing truth and following Jesus?

I love and embrace the light of Christ. I will follow him. I believe his claims, and I will look to him in faith for truth, for life, and for salvation.

O God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, into the world. Thank you for loving people and for making a way for us to be saved and renewed. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Through Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 60:1-2
1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
In Context: Isaiah 60

Proverb for Today: Prov. 18:15

"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17 - Flesh Light

Overview of: John

Today's Reading:
John 1:1 – 2:25
"The Word, the Lamb, the Christ"

Focus Verses: John 1:9-12
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...

Jesus is the human manifestation of God's creative word--"all things came into being by him." Jesus is the incarnation of God's word of wisdom--"the true light that enlightens all mankind." Jesus is the embodiment of God's saving word--"in him was life." Jesus is the human face of God's regenerating word--"to those who received him, who believed in his Name, he gave to the power to become the children of God."

Response and Action:
I believe that Jesus is God made flesh. I believe that the gifts of God's grace and truth are found in him. I believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior. I receive him, embrace him, surrender myself to him, and look to him in faith. I look to Jesus to understand and take hold of God's truth and wisdom. I look to him for salvation and regeneration.

O God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, into the world. Thank you for showing yourself through him. Thank you for the grace and truth we receive through him. Give me the wisdom and the will to love and follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is in his saving Name that I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Prov. 8:27-29
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
In Context: Prov. 8:22-36

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."

Recommended Reading:
Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels
Part 3, Chapter 12, p. 409 for a fantastic explanation of John 1.
by Darrell Bock

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16 - Written

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:

Luke 23:1 – 24:53
"Crucified, Risen, Ascended"

Focus Verses:
Luke 24:44-45
44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

When Jesus came alongside the two disciples traveling to Emmaus and began to speak with them, they did not recognize him. The two travelers shared their sense of lost hope and sadness over Jesus' crucifixion, not knowing it was Jesus they were talking to. Rather than immediately revealing his identity to them, Jesus pointed them to the Scriptures. He wanted them to first see that who he was and what they had experienced was utterly consistent with the law and the prophets and the poets.

When Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem, he once again pointed them to the Scriptures, opening their minds to understand them. Jesus wanted their belief to be rooted in more than personal events; he wanted their faith to be rooted in the truth and tradition of Scripture. He wanted them to see him not just through the lens of their own experience, but also through the broader and more comprehensive lens of Scripture.

Response and Action:
I want to see and experience the presence, truth, and power of Christ Jesus in my life. In order to truly see and understand him, I need to be a student of the Scriptures. In reading the Bible, I am deepening and broadening my understanding of who Jesus is. A greater grasp of God's written word will give me greater insight into the words of Jesus. This will give me a greater recognition of who he is to me, and help me understand he calling and promise for my life.

O God, thank you for the Bible. Thank you for the words of the law, the prophets, and the psalms. Thank you for the gospels, the acts of the early church, and the teaching of the apostles. Open my mind to understand the Scriptures. Help me to see Jesus for who he truly is. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, open my eyes to the truth and make it burn within my heart. Help me to delight in and live by your word. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 119:15-16
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
In Context: Psalm 119

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:16
"How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!"

Recommended Reading:
Can I Trust the Bible?
by Darrell Bock

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reading Schedule for March 16 - 21

March 16 - Luke 23:1 – 24:53
March 17 - John 1:1 – 2:25
March 18 - John 3:1 – 4:54
March 19 - John 5:1 – 6:71
March 20 - John 7:1 – 8:59
March 21 - John 9:1 – 10:42

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 by clicking the link in the right column.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14 - Faith Stand

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:
Luke 21:1 – 22:71
"Faith in Dark Days"

Focus Verses: Luke 21:1-19
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

Jesus warns his followers of a time when, because of their faith in him, they will face betrayal, hate, and even death. He tells them to stand firm in their faith because in standing firm they will gain life. Jesus speaks these words with great confidence and authority. He even appropriates the very words of God (Isaiah 40:8) as his own when he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Response and Action:
I have never yet faced the kind of persecution Jesus warns about in these verses, but someplace in the world today Christians are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. I must pray for them and prepare my heart and mind for the very real possibility of persecution in my future.

I must follow Jesus with my heart, soul, and strength today--acknowledging his lordship and authority--if I am going to be ready to stand firm in him in times of trial and hardship. I must embrace Jesus' words and promises with the same confidence he speaks them to me. In faith, I must live with the conviction that if I stand firm in Christ, I will gain life.

O God, you are my hope, my strength, and my deliverance. The escapes from death belong to you. You scatter your enemies and overcome the darkness with light. You bear my burdens, you save me, and you sustain me. By your power and grace, O Lord, help me to navigate difficult times and dark days. Help me to stand firm in you. Give me your peace and guard my heart and mind. Give me confidence for life through faith in Christ. Blessed be his name! Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 68:18-20
18 When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious—that you, O LORD God, might dwell there. 19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. 20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
In Context: Psalm 68

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:26

"He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge."

Recommended Reading:
Faith & Doubt
by John Ortberg

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13 - Seekers

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:
Luke 19:1 – 20:47
"Jesus: Savior, King, Christ"

Focus Verses: Luke 19:3-6
3 [Zacchaeus] wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

Zacchaeus was so motivated to see Jesus he was willing to climb a tree if that's what it took. It must have been quite a sight to see a wealthy man like Zacchaeus up a tree. This wholehearted effort was hard to miss, and when Jesus saw him, he looked up and said something to this effect: "Come down here! You're obviously a man with a story, and I've just got to hear it. Let's go to your house."

Zacchaeus was seeking out Jesus; and Jesus was "seeking the lost" (Lk. 19:10). That was a very happy convergence of searches. Today there are many people seeking a glimpse of Jesus, and it’s good to know that Jesus is still seeking them through his church and by his Spirit. Those who have found Christ need to join him in seeking out those who are still searching for him.

Response and Action:
I will join Jesus in his mission to seek and save the lost. I will draw near to Christ and keep my eyes open for others who are searching for the truth, salvation, hope, forgiveness, restoration, and purpose he has for them. Because I have found Jesus, I must become a seeker like him.

O God, give me the grace and discernment to see those who are seeking Jesus. Help me to draw nearer to Jesus every day, so that I might be more able to help others do the same. Thank you that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Help me to join him in seeking out those who are searching for him and all he has to offer. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: 1 Chron. 16:10-11
10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
In Context: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:12

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

Recommended Reading:
Who Was Jesus?
by Scot McKnight

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12 - Humbling Myself

Overview of: Luke

Today's Reading:
Luke 17:1 - 18:43
"Faith, Prayer, and Life"

Focus Verses: Luke 18:13-14
13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Jesus taught that God sees the injustices of our world and will one day bring justice and set all things right. Jesus warned those who looked down at others and felt a little too sure of their own goodness. He told them that truly righteous people understand they are sinners, and have a deep sense of their need for mercy. Humility is the mark of true righteousness.

Response and Action:
I want to be humble before God and others. I want to be quicker to see the sin in my own life than to notice the faults of others. I will deal with the log in my own eye before trying to help others with the speck in theirs. I want to draw upon God’s grace for living a righteous life. I will be careful to give God glory for any good thing he does in me. I will put aside arrogance and self-congratulation and depend on God to lift me up at the right time.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Thank you for your son, Jesus, who has brought your grace and forgiveness to me. Help me to follow him in humility and full surrender. Thank you for the promise of redemption Christ brings for me and for the whole world. Give me the wisdom and the strength to join him in his redemptive work today, as he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: 2 Chron. 7:14
14 ...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
In Context: 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

Proverb for Today: Prov. 12:22

"The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful."

Recommended Reading:
Why Sin Matters: The Surprising Relationship between Our Sin and God's Grace
by Mark R. McMinn