Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reading Schedule for June 1 - 6

June 1 - James 1:1 – 2:26
June 2 - James 3:1 – 5:20
June 3 - 1 Pet. 1:1 – 3:25
June 4 - 1 Pet. 4:1 – 5:14
June 5 - 2 Pet. 1:1 – 3:18
June 6 - 1 John 1:1 – 3:24

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, May 30, 2009

May 30 - The Race

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 12:1 – 13:25
"Discipline and Encouragement"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 12:1-2
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. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Following Christ and living by faith requires perseverance. We must throw off the things that drag us down and entangle us in sin. We must fix our eyes on Jesus, who endured the pain of the cross for the joy and victory of salvation.

Response and Action:
Following Jesus will require perseverance, and I will certainly face hardship and struggles. I need to examine my life and identify the things that drag me down and entangle me in sin. I must then be intentional--making every effort to throw off those entanglements. I must also pursue Christ Jesus through the scriptures, through prayer, and through the fellowship and community of his church.

O God, help me to live for you and through you this day in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. Lead me away from temptation, and deliver me from evil. Provide for my needs today. Protect me from discouragement, and encourage my by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus. Grant me the strength and wisdom to persevere. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 25:4-5, 15
4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. - - - 15 My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
In Context: Psalm 25

Proverb for Today:
Prov. 30:5
"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."

Recommended Reading:
Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day
by James Emery White

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29 - Us

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 10:19 – 11:40
"Perseverance, Faith, & Action"

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

God is faithful and he will keep his promises made to us in Christ. Because I have professed faith in Christ, I will hold on tightly to the hope I have in him. Christian community should be a source of encouragement to all believers. It should also prompt believers to grow in love and to do good deeds.

Response and Action:
I must hold on tightly to hope I have in Jesus. I must live out my faith in the company of friends who also follow Jesus. Christian community is necessary for me; I must be actively involved in the fellowship of the Church. Christian friends can encourage me in my faith and spur me on to do good deeds. I, too, can be a source of godly encouragement and prompting for others.

O God, you are faithful to your promises. Help me to remember your promises and cling to the hope I have in you. Surround me with Christian friends who can encourage me and push me toward righteousness. Help me to be a source of encouragement and prompting for my Christian friends. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 53:6
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In Context: Isaiah 53

Proverb for Today:
Prov. 29:18
"Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed are those who heed wisdom's instruction."

Recommended Reading:
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
by Eugene Peterson

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28 - Behold the Plan

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 8:1 – 10:18
"A Better Priest, Temple, & Sacrifice"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 9:23-28
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

While many things before Jesus (the tabernacle, ceremonial washings, offerings, feast days, the temple, sacrifices, Passover) pointed to God's plan and desire to save the world from sin, Jesus himself is God's plan. Jesus is not another symbol or message about the salvation God has in mind for the world and mankind; Jesus actually is that plan. All those other things were preparing the way and pointing to him.

Response and Action:
My faith is in Jesus the Christ. I believe that he takes away the sins of the world through his sacrifice on the cross. The cross is much more than a symbol of God's love. Jesus’ sacrifice is God's love in action. Through Christ's death the my sins are taken away. I will praise Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, my redeemer, and my salvation. I long for his appearing on the final day when my salvation will be fully realized.

Jesus, you are worthy of my praise, my life, and my all. You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. I will give you my worship and honor and glory and power, forever and ever! I look for the resurrection and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 53:6
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In Context: Isaiah 53

Proverb for Today:
Prov. 28:5
"Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully."

Recommended Reading:
The Cross of Christ
by John R. W. Stott

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27 - Confident of Better Things

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 5:11 – 7:28
"Warning, Certainty, & Covenant"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 6:4-9
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.

It's very easy to miss the real point of this passage of scripture if we are sidetracked into a discussion about whether or not these verses say salvation can be lost. That's not an uninteresting subject or a bad conversation to have; it's just a distraction from the writer's main point--the things that accompany salvation.

Like land that that produces a useful and blessed crop after it drinks in the falling rain, our lives should produce better things -- a harvest of righteousness -- once we have taken in the life-giving rain of salvation through Christ. If we are truly receiving the saving grace of God through faith in Christ, our lives will be transformed; we should expect better things, the things salvation produces. To be saved is to change and grow and produce a life that honors God, and is blessed by God.

Response and Action:
I want to experience transformation. With God's salvation and by his grace and power, I want to move toward better things. I want God's word and blessing in my life to produce fruit that gives witness to his salvation and power in my life. Through Christ, I will continually pursue righteousness and turn from sin. I will confidently expect change and growth in my life. I will not settle for a "taste" of heaven and the word; I will give every effort to experiencing the transformation salvation brings.

Thank you, God, for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making me whole. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving to me your great salvation, so rich and free. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Ezekiel 36:25-27
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
In Context: Ezekiel 36

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

Recommended Reading:
Revolution of Character: Discovering Christ's Pattern for Spiritual Transformation
by Dallas Willard and Don Simpson

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26 - Thoughts Fixed on Jesus

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 3:1 – 5:10
"Christ's Faithfulness"

Focus Verses:
Hebrews 3:1, 12-14
1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. … 12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

The Hebrew writer encourages his Christian readers to fix their thoughts on Jesus, and to hold firmly to him in faith to the end. He warns them to not turn away from faith in the living God, and uses the story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness to illustrate his point. Their bodies fell in the desert, and they never entered into the promise land because of their unbelief.

Response and Action:
More than just a warning, the Hebrew writer suggests two things I can do to cultivate enduring faith. 1) I must focus on Jesus. I should immerse myself in everything the scriptures tell me about Jesus -- his words, his actions, his promises, his mission, his teaching, his commands, his example, and his call to me. 2) I must be part of a Christian community that encourages and admonishes me in faith. I should seize every opportunity to stimulate and inspire others toward a deeper knowledge and experience of Christ. In my circle of Christian friends, we should be able to help each other identify and turn away from the deceitfulness of sin.

O God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you. I will seek you in the morning. I will learn to walk in your ways. Lead me step by step that I might follow you all of my days. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 84:2
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."
In Context: Psalm 84

Proverb for Today:
Prov. 26:12
"Do you see people who are wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for fools than for them."

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25 - Humanity

Overview of: Hebrews

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 1:1 – 2:18
"The Son, Our Brother"

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

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

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

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

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

Proverb for Today:
Prov. 25:25
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”

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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reading Schedule for May 25 - 30

May 25 - Heb. 1:1 – 2:18
May 26 - Heb. 3:1 – 5:10
May 27 - Heb. 5:11 – 7:28
May 28 - Heb. 8:1 – 10:18
May 29 - Heb. 10:19 – 11:40
May 30 - Heb. 12:1 – 13:25

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, May 23, 2009

May 23 - Understanding

Overview of: Philemon

Today's Reading:

Philemon 1:1-24
"Living as God's People"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:12

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

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22 - Controversy

Overview of: Titus

Today's Reading:

Titus 1:1 - 3:15
"Paul Instructs Titus"

Focus Verses:
Titus 3:9-11
9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Being argumentative is dangerous and divisive. It’s one thing to ask hard questions, to reason through disagreements, and to think through important issues. It's another thing altogether to be quarrelsome and nitpicky about things that are of questionable value.

An unhealthy interest in controversy is usually indicative of self-centeredness and divisiveness. It is sinful and distorted to value your own opinions (and the sound of your own voice) over the people with whom you disagree. People who stir up controversy over unimportant and unknowable things are hurting themselves and those associated with them.

Response and Action:
I will avoid foolish and stupid arguments. I will not value my opinions over people. When there is an issue or controversy that is important to me, I will strive to discuss it and handle it in humble and respectful ways. I will exercise restraint in areas of opinion. I will recognize and remember that some things are not important enough to argue about. I will not discuss difficult issues with people who are unable to do so without being threatened and upset. I will not let unimportant things become quarrels that hurt and divide.

O God, show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me. Give me a humble spirit so that I can be teachable. Give me sensitivity and care for others that I might be able to discuss important and difficult things in constructive and loving ways. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Proverbs 6:16-19
16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
In Context: Proverbs 6

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:10-11

"Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend."

Recommended Reading:
Talking About Good And Bad Without Getting Ugly
by Paul Chamberlain

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21 - Useful

Overview of: 2 Timothy

Today's Reading:
2Tim. 3:1 – 4:22
"Scripture for Life"

Focus Verses:
2 Tim. 3:12-17
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Some of the promises of Scripture don't get quoted as often as others. Verse 12 is one of those promises: "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Doing the right thing is likely to lead to difficult circumstances. Jesus faced persecution, so it stands to reason we should not be surprised to encounter persecution as we follow in his steps.

The Scriptures are able to give us wisdom for life and salvation. The Scriptures are useful to us because they are alive with the very breath of God's truth and wisdom. The teaching, rebuke, correction, and training we receive from Scripture equips us for every good work and every circumstance.

Response and Action:
I need to expect some measure of hardship and suffering as I follow Jesus. I need God's wisdom and truth to live a righteous life. I will look to the Scriptures as a source of God's wisdom and truth. I will read and study God's word with diligence and a desire to be taught, rebuked, corrected, and trained.

O God, how can I keep my way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. Help me to hide your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Give me wisdom and understanding as I commit myself to the study of Scripture. Use the Scriptures to shape and guide me, O Lord, that I might honor and serve you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 19:7-8
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
In Context: Psalm 19

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

Recommended Reading:

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20 - Life and Light

Overview of: 2 Timothy

Today's Reading:

2Tim. 1:1 – 2:26
"Loyalty, Strength, and Truth"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19 - Riches

Overview of: 1Timothy

Today's Reading:

1Tim. 4:1 – 6:21
"Leadership Advice"

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

If you have access to the resources to read this blog, by global population standards you're among the wealthiest people in the world. Paul has some very practical instructions for rich people like you and me. We need to avoid arrogance. We should not put our hope in what we possess. We should remember that wealth is uncertain. We should trust in God and acknowledge him as the source of blessing and provision. We should be rich in good deeds--generous and willing to share with others.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize that all I have is a gift from God. God is my hope and provider, so I must never put my trust in things. I should strive to be rich in doing good deeds instead of trying to be rich in possessions. I need to be generous and open-handed. I need to be a faithful steward of all God has given. I will generously give to the church, to efforts to help the poor, to ministries that are taking the Good News of Jesus to the world, and to practical causes that contribute to the health and betterment of my community and my world.

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 19:17

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done."

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

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 18 - Pray

Overview of: 1Timothy

Today's Reading:

1Tim. 1:1 – 3:16
"Instructions for Timothy"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 18:10

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reading Schedule for May 18 - 23

May 18 - 1Tim. 1:1 – 3:16
May 19 - 1Tim. 4:1 – 6:21
May 20 - 2Tim. 1:1 – 2:26
May 21 - 2Tim. 3:1 – 4:22
May 22 - Titus 1:1 – 3:15
May 23 - Phi. 1:1-24

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, May 16, 2009

May 16 - Encouragement

Overview of: 2 Thessalonians

Today's Reading:

2Thes. 1:1 – 3:18
"Thanks and Instruction"

Focus Verses:
1 Thes. 3:2-5
15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Paul's admonitions for the Thessalonian believers were the overflow of God's grace, encouragement, and hope in his own life. He urged the Thessalonians to stand firm and to hold on to the teachings he had passed on to them. He prayed that their hearts would be strengthened and encouraged for doing and saying all God had called them to through Christ.

Response and Action:
If I am going to teach or encourage others, it must flow out of a deep relationship with Christ Jesus. The grace of God, the encouragement of the Spirit, and my hope in Christ are the basis of every good deed and word I have to offer. I will hold to the teachings of Scripture, seek to live by the transforming grace and power of the Holy Spirit, and do all I can to encourage others in their walk with Christ.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as myself. By your grace and mercy, encourage me and strengthen me for every good work. Make me an encourager and give me the grace to spur others on to a deeper walk with you. By the transforming power of your Holy Spirit, help me to stand firm in my faith, to delight in your will, and to walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 10:17-18
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
In Context: Psalm 10

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:21

"The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction."

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

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15 - Ambitious

Overview of: 1 Thessalonians

Today's Reading:

1 Thessalonians 4:1 - 5:28
"Expectant Living"

Focus Verses:
1 Thes. 4:11-12
11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

The ambition of Christians, Paul says, is to be directed toward a quiet life. In their everyday lives they should avoid being a burden on others, mind their own affairs, hold down a job, and do honest work. Christians should live in a way that wins the respect of those who do not yet know or follow Christ.

Most people in the world are ambitious for possessions, achievement, success, happiness, and status. Christians just seem to add more ambitious projects to the mix (family, mission, worship, study, evangelism, family, social justice). If asked, I don't think most people, Christian or not, would say that a quiet life describes the life they are living. Even fewer would describe a quiet life as their ambition.

Response and Action:
What does ambition mean to me? What are my ambitions? As a follower of Jesus, I will be ambitious toward the regular activities of my everyday life. I will do an honest day's work. I will mind my own business. I will try not to be a burden on others. And I will do my best to live in a way that earns the respect of my neighbors and friends.

Living for Jesus begins with ordinary details of life: my routine, my responsibilities, and my relationships. I will not let other ambitions (even noble and good ones) distract me from the most basic of ambitions--to be quiet, content, rooted, and satisfied in Christ.

Dear Lord, make me ambitious about a quiet life in Jesus. Help me to be hardworking and responsible in my daily life. Help me to pay my bills, to be a good worker, to take care of my home, to be a good steward of all you have entrusted to me. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, feed my spirit, stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Help me to live a contented and praiseworthy life that bears witness to your grace and power at work in me. Through Christ, Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 131:1-2a
1 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2a But I have stilled and quieted my soul..."
In Context: Psalm 131

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:16

"Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil."

Recommended Reading:
Living the Story: Biblical Spirituality for Everyday Christians
by R. Paul Stevens and Michael Green

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14 - Nurture

Overview of: 1 Thessalonians

Today's Reading:

1Thes. 1:1 – 3:13
"Thanksgiving and Concern"

Focus Verses:
1 Thes. 2:6b-12
6b As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Paul uses the imagery of parenthood to describe the nurturing role that he and his missionary companions served in Thessalonica. Like a mother with her children, they loved and delighted in the people they served. They didn't merely teach; they shared their very lives. Like a good father, they encouraged, comforted, and prodded their new converts to live lives that honor God, and to see themselves as Kingdom people with a purpose to fulfill.

This is a good model for spiritual guidance and mentoring. Christian leaders would do well to choose the model of loving and nurturing parents over the entrepreneurial, business, marketing, coach/expert models that seem to be more prevalent today. Nurture is more likely to flow out of relationships than lessons.

Response and Action:
I need to see relationships as the basis for real spiritual nurture and Christian mentoring. I need to look for this kind of leadership and example for my own maturity in Christ. I need to become this kind of leader to serve and bless others.

O God, bring spiritual leaders into my life who nurture and encourage me as good parents love and guide their children. Help me to be an encouraging and loving friend, example, and mentor to anyone who is looking to me for spiritual guidance and support. Help me to love and delight in the people I serve. I pray through Christ, your son, who has demonstrated true servanthood, and calls me to be a servant too. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Deut. 1:30-31
30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."
In Context: Deuteronomy 1

Proverb for Today: Prov. 14:27

"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."

Recommended Reading:
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction
by David G. Benner and Lawrence J. Crabb

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13 - Together

Overview of: Colossians

Today's Reading:

Colossians 3:1 – 4:18
"Living as God's People"

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

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

Response and Action:
Are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience prominent characteristics of my life? Are these the qualities I am known for by others? I need to think about Christ's great love and forgiveness for me. I need to consider how I can follow his example and exercise love, forbearance, grace, and mercy toward others.

Paul says instructs Christians to "clothe themselves" with these virtues. This instruction makes it clear that action on my part is needed for this to happen. I will give effort to the things that will help me cultivate, learn, and live out these virtues.

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

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

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:
"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

Recommended Reading:
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 12 - Rooted

Overview of: Colossians

Today's Reading:

Colossians 1:1 – 2:23
"Christ and His Church"

Focus Verses:
Col. 2:6-10
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Putting faith in Christ Jesus and surrendering to his authority is the beginning to a new life that must be continued and lived out. As our roots grow deep into Christ and our hearts are strengthened by faith in him, our lives are built up; we are able to do what we've been taught, and thankfulness flows out of us.

Response and Action:
I must not let my faith in Christ become a powerless list of rules, beliefs, and traditions, or be reduced to a philosophical system of principles. My faith is rooted in Christ. He is my hope because he embodies the fullness of Deity. As I receive Christ, his fullness becomes my fullness. He is greater than every power and authority. It is by his power and authority that my life can be transformed.

I desire to live a transformed life, and to be built up with Christ as my foundation. He is the one who saves me--not religion, not a set of ideas, not traditions, not spiritual disciplines, and not rules. All these become distractions unless they lead me to a deeper love and relationship with Jesus. They are only valuable to me as a means of growing into and building upon Jesus, who is the hope of my life and the power for living.

O God, help me to know and experience Christ Jesus more each day. My faith and hope are in him. Strengthen and increase my faith, as I put down deep roots through the study of scripture, prayer, service, obedience, and fellowship with other believers. O Jesus, all authority and power belong to you. Lead me, teach me, and transform me into your likeness. May my life overflow with thanksgiving as I continue to build my life on you. 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. 12:3

"A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted."

Recommended Reading:
Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation
by Joshua Choonmin Kang

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11 - Anxiety

Overview of: Philippians

Today's Reading:

Philippians 3:1 – 4:23
"Focus and Faithfulness"

Focus Verses:
Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It's not hard to be stressed out. Life is filled with burdens and problems that can lead to worry and fear. Rather than being consumed with anxiety, Paul advises prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. Worry and stress accomplish nothing, but lifting up my needs to God in a spirit praise and thanksgiving accomplishes something positive. There is a peace only God can give, and only those who cast their anxieties upon the Lord experience that peace in their hearts and minds.

Response and Action:
Instead of letting the concerns and difficulties of life fill me with anxiety, I will let them motivate me toward prayer. I will make my needs and concerns known to God, trusting that he will provide and care for me. As I pray, I will praise God for his goodness and thank him for all the ways he has blessed me.

O Lord,
you are gracious and righteous and full of compassion. I know you see my needs and hear my prayers. Guard my heart and mind with the peace of Christ. When I am stressed, give me rest as I trust in you. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 94:18-19
18 When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me. 19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
In Context: Psalm 94

Proverb for Today: Prov. 11:3
"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

Recommended Reading:
Living Peacefully in a Stressful World: A Stategy for Replacing Stress With Peace
by Ronald Hutchcraft and Ray C. Stedman