Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30 - Hypocrisy and Me

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:
Matthew 23:1 – 25:46
"Woes, Warnings, and Watching"
Focus Verses: Matthew 23:27-28 27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

In reading this chapter, it's easy to stand on the sidelines and watch with smug satisfaction as Jesus comes down hard on the teachers and Pharisees. We might even catch ourselves chiming in, "Yeah, take that you hypocrites!" Of course, the minute we do, we betray our own duplicity. It's easy to read Scripture and apply it to others before applying it to ourselves. How quick we are to see the sins of others, but blind the same failings in ourselves! Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and all the more because they refused to recognize it. What should we expect Jesus say to us when we refuse to see our own hypocrisy?

Response and Action:
I need to identify and acknowledge the ways I am a hypocrite. I do not want to say one thing, but do another. I want to be honest, real, and consistent. I do not want to present myself as better than I am. I want to be more concerned about how I truly am and what I truly need, than how I appear to others or what others think about me.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. You see all my hidden faults and know all my secret sins. I've got a long way to go in my pursuit of holiness. Thank you for loving me where I am and giving me the grace and guidance to rise above my weakness and failure. Help me to live with humility before you and before the people around me. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Grant me integrity that my life might be a proof, not a pretense, of my devotion to you. Amen.
Old Testament for Today: Psalm 26:4-5
4 I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.
In Context: Psalm 26

Proverb for Today: Prov. 30:11-12
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever."

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29 - Party Invitation

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 21:1 – 22:46
"Triumphal Entry, Temple, and Teaching"

Focus Verses: Matthew 22:8-10
"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding feast where everyone is invited. The invitation is sent to palace dwellers and street people, to the good and the bad alike. The invitation is not given on the basis of merit or status; it springs from the king's heart to celebrate and honor his son.

There are several ways to disrespect the king's invitation. The first is to be too busy (Mt. 22:5) to accept the invitation--to not consider the invitation important enough for your time and attention. The second is to have utter contempt (Mt. 22:6) for the king and his invitation--to just rob and abuse his messengers. The third disrespectful response is to accept the invitation, but refuse to do what is expected (Mt. 22:11) of the king's guests--refusing to wear the special white wedding clothes the king provides.

Response and Action:
I want to accept God's invitation to celebrate and honor his son, Jesus. I realize that I do not deserve to be invited to such a celebration; I consider it an awesome privilege. Nothing in my life is more important than my wholehearted response to this invitation. As I accept the invitation to join in the Kingdom, I will also accept the King's expectations for those he has welcomed. I want to be transformed, to put on Christ, to be renewed and clothed in the righteousness the King offers me.

Thank You, O God, for inviting me to the party! Thank you for your gracious invitation to everyone. Help me to celebrate and honor your son, Jesus. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, clothe me in the new garments of Christ's righteousness. 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: Psalm 145:7-8
7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
In Context: Psalm 145

Proverb for Today: Prov. 29:6
"An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad."

Recommended Reading:
Kingdom of God Is a Party
by Tony Campolo

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reading Schedule for June 29 - July 4

June 29 - Matt. 21:1 – 22:46
June 30 - Matt. 23:1 – 25:46
July 1 - Matt. 26:1 – 27:10
July 2 - Matt. 27:11 – 28:20
July 3 - Mark 1:1 – 2:27
July 4 - Mark 3:1 – 4:41

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, June 27, 2009

June 27 - It's Possible

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 19:1 – 20:34
"Teachings and a Miracle"

Focus Verses: Matthew 19:23-26
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" 26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Wealth can be an obstacle to living with a "kingdom of heaven" perspective. The comfort, privilege, and power that accompany material possessions, are often in conflict with Kingdom values. You cannot serve both God and money. If Jesus is Lord of our lives, our money should serve his kingdom and his righteousness. This is difficult and counter to the prevailing attitudes of the world, but with God's grace and guidance, it is possible.

Response and Action:
I recognize that I am very blessed. I live in a wealthy nation and I have many possessions. I must be careful to never let wealth and blessing possess me. My money, my house, my car, and everything else I own must be used to serve and honor God. Following Jesus and living by his Kingdom values requires that I open my eyes to the needs of people around me. Good stewardship requires generosity and concern for others.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help me to seek first your Kingdom and your righteousness. Give me eyes to see all that I have as a gift from you to be used to honor and serve you. Teach me to hold on to Jesus with all my might, and to be open-handed and generous with my possessions. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Ecclesiastes 5:10-11
10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?
In Context: Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

Proverb for Today: Prov. 27:23-24
"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations."

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26 - The Christ

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 16:1 – 18:35
"Lord, Christ, Healer, Teacher"

Focus Verses: Matthew 16:13-17
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Ever since the birth of Jesus, people have had many ideas about just who and what he is. When Jesus asked his disciples to recount some of the things they had heard people say about him, they had no trouble producing a variety of answers. "But what about you," Jesus asked, "What do you say?" Peter didn't have to go on hearsay and speculation; he had face-to-face, day-to-day experience with Jesus. This experience caused him to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah, God's anointed deliverer. He saw Jesus as the only Son (sharing God's divinity and authority) of the only true, living, and eternal God.

Response and Action:
Who do I say Jesus is? I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World. I believe he is Lord, the only begotten Son of God--light from light, true God from true God, of one being with the Father. I will acknowledge him in all my ways. My life is the truest expression of what I say I believe. Whatever I say about Jesus must be confirmed in my actions, choices, and attitudes.

O God, help me to follow your Son, Christ Jesus, with a whole heart. Help me to live out my faith in my words and in my deeds. Make my path straight as I make every effort to acknowledge Jesus to be my Savior and my Master each and every day. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Isaiah 52:10
10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
In Context: Isaiah 52

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

Recommended Reading:
The Incomparable Christ
by John Stott
Who Was Jesus?
by Scot McKnight

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25 - Little to Give

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 14:1 – 15:39
"Feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000"

Focus Verses: Matthew 14:13-16
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." 16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is better known than the circumstances that led up to it. I've always thought it was important to notice that it took place when Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds. He had just been told about the murder of John the Baptist and wanted to be alone. Yet, when the crowds found him out he was "filled with compassion" instead of being indignant. Rather than being upset with the people for their lack of regard for his needs, Jesus focused on their needs—healing their sick and providing them with food.

Response and Action:
The selfless love Jesus displays in this event is more impressive to me than the miracle of multiplying a small amount of fish and bread. The way he was able to produce feelings and acts of compassion out a heart that was grieving and longing for solitude is, to me, a greater miracle than producing abundant food from a little boy's lunch. Maybe that's the point of this story! None of us ever really have what it takes to meet the needs of others. We don't have the emotional strength, the time, the answers, or the patience to really meet needs. I will look to God to multiply the little I have. Through Jesus, I can be a blessing to others, even when the circumstances leave me with little to offer on my own.

O God, give me a heart to look beyond my own needs and to see the needs of others. Dear Jesus, bless and multiply my meager resources so that I can bless and help others. When I feel too empty or weak to share, fill my heart and hands with good things to give. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 145:15-18
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
In Context: Psalm 145

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

Recommended Reading:
Transforming Power: Biblical Strategies for Making a Difference in Your Community
by Robert C. Linthicum

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24 - Always Time for Good

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 12:1 – 13:58
"Jesus' Authority and Teachings"

Focus Verses: Matthew 12:9-12
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" 11 He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."

It is always right to do good. Jesus clearly counters any suggestion that God has more concern about rituals or laws than he has for the people they are intended to help.

Response and Action:
I need to be careful to notice anytime laws are moral precepts are used as a way to stop anyone from doing what is good. God's instructions and commands are not an end in and of themselves, but instead are intended to serve the very best interests of people. When applying and interpreting the commands of scripture, I will always consider what would be the most redemptive, caring, and helpful for all involved.

O God, help me to seek you and obey you with all my being. Help me to understand your word and to be obedient to your commands. Help me to grasp the spirit and heart behind your commands in order that I might apply and obey them for the right reasons and the right attitude with the right ends in mind. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 140:6
6 O LORD, I say to you, "You are my God." Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy.
In Context: Psalm 140

Proverb for Today: Prov. 25:11
"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter."

Recommended Reading:
What's So Amazing About Grace?
by Philip Yancey

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23 - Loving God More

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 10:1 – 11:30
"The Apostles and John the Baptist"

Focus Verses: Matthew 10:37-39
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

It seems counterintuitive, but loving God more than anything or anyone, including yourself (especially yourself), is actually the best and most loving thing you can do for others and yourself. It's in losing our lives in surrender to Jesus that we find our deepest and richest self. The life I find, by loving Jesus above all else, fills me and enriches me in ways that result in my being more ready and more able to give more love to others. Jesus calls me to love him most because it prepares and teaches me how to love others best.

Response and Action:
I will put Jesus first in my life. By putting him first I hope to become the truest, deepest, and most loving person I can be. By loving him more than others, I hope to be able to love others more.

O Christ, help me to love you above all else. Help me to find myself in you. By the power and grace of your Spirit and the guidance of your word, lead teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might become more and more able to serve and love others. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 126:5-6
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
In Context: Psalm 126

Proverb for Today: Prov. 23:23
"Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding."

Recommended Reading:
The Life You've Always Wanted
by John Ortberg

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22 - Desiring Mercy

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 8:1 – 9:38
"Miracles and the Call to Follow"

Focus Verses: Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The question: "Why does Jesus eat with sinners?" The answer: "Mercy." Religion that has lost sight of redemption is very far from what God desires. God desires mercy! Having a zeal for rules is not the same thing as having a heart for God. The whole point of identifying sin is to help sinners find redemption and forgiveness. Even the mosaic laws regarding sacrifice were intended to accomplish mercy. We’re all spiritually sick and in need of a doctor. Only the arrogant, blind to their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness, can look at the sins of others with contempt.

Response and Action:
I will lift up my eyes to God and look to his hand for mercy and redemption. I will follow Jesus' example of merciful fellowship and redemptive friendship. I will eat with sinners. I will not love religion at the expense of loving people. I will stay humble by always remembering that I am a sinner saved by the mercy and grace of God.

Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner. Thank you for the hope and healing that you offer to me through Jesus. Thank you that he emptied himself and lived among us, touching us and sharing our humanity. Help me, through the presence of your Holy Spirit, to live out the mercy of Jesus in my daily life. Help me share hope, healing, and redemption with everyone around me. Amen.

Old Testament for Today: Psalm 123
I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3 Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. 4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.
In Context: Psalm 123

Proverb for Today: Prov. 22:4
"Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life."

Recommended Reading:
Living Faith: A Guide to the Christian Life
by John Schwarz

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reading Schedule for June 22 - 27

June 22 - Matt. 8:1 – 9:38
June 23 - Matt. 10:1 – 11:30
June 24 - Matt. 12:1 – 13:58
June 25 - Matt. 14:1 – 15:39
June 26 - Matt. 16:1 – 18:35
June 27 - Matt. 19:1 – 20:34

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, June 20, 2009

June 20 - Needs and Giving

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 5:1 – 7:28
"Sermon on the Mount"

Focus Verses: Matthew 6:1-4
1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Righteous living that honors God includes giving to the needy and having compassion for those in poverty. A readiness and willingness to help others is a testimony of gratitude and trust toward God. It is possible to give in a selfish way if the goal is to be noticed and praised by others. It is best to give in quiet and secret ways to keep personal motives in check. God knows and sees when we are caring and openhanded toward others, and God rewards those who are gracious and generous.

Response and Action:
My trust in and gratitude to God move me to be a giver. I will give a significant portion of all I have and receive as an act of worship and faith. I will open my eyes to the needs of others. I will open my hands and be generous to help those in need. I will open my heart to the leading of God's Spirit and let him lead me in the ways of compassion and justice. I will do this in quiet and secret ways because I am doing out of reverence for God. I want God to be praised and honored, not me.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my strength. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Give me a heart of compassion and a readiness to share with others. Teach me to be generous and cheerful in my giving. Help me to always remember that caring for the needs of others is an act of thanksgiving and worship toward you. Thank you, O God, for being generous and compassionate toward me. 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. 20:12
"Ears that hear and eyes that see—the LORD has made them both."

Recommended Reading:
Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America
by Ronald J. Sider

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19 - Righteousness

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 3:1 – 4:25
"Jesus' Ministry Begins"

Focus Verses: Matthew 3:15 & 4:10
3:15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."

4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'

Jesus' baptism was an act of submission to God. It was an act of witness declaring Jesus' full surrender to God the Father. His submission to God was how righteousness would be fulfilled in his life.

Jesus' victory over temptation in the wilderness was an act of resistance. In every case, Jesus saw that giving in to temptation would be a failure to submit to God. He resisted and renounced every temptation, recognizing them for the satanic snares they were.

Response and Action:
Jesus' submission to God and his resistance in the face of temptation remind me of the words of James 4:7 -- "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Like Jesus, I want to live a righteous life that honors God. I will submit myself to God (a pledge I made when I was baptized), pursue righteousness, and hide God's word in my heart. I will guard against temptation, recognize it for what it is, and resist it.

O God, I desire to honor you this day in thought, word, and deed. Help to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Lead me away from temptation, and deliver me from evil. 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: Deuteronomy 6:13-15
13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
In Context: Deut. 6:4-19

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

Recommended Reading:
Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18 - He Will Save

Overview of: Matthew

Today's Reading:

Matthew 1:1 – 2:23
"The Birth of Jesus"

Focus Verses:
Matthew 1:20-23
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

Throughout history, God has done so much to save his people. The fullest expression of his salvation is revealed through Jesus (whose very name means "the Lord saves"). Jesus saves us from our sins. He saves us from the results of our sin and from bondage to our sin. This is the greatest salvation imaginable -- to be saved from sin's domination and from sin's destruction. Loud songs of praise and fresh expressions of thanksgiving should spring from the hearts and mouths of all who come to know this salvation.

Response and Action:
I will celebrate the marvelous ways God has shown me salvation. I will praise him for the promise of eternal life. Today, I will sing out my thanks for the ways he saves me from hopelessness and emptiness. Right now, I will lift up my voice in worship for the freedom he gives from bondage to sin. I will rejoice because he has taken away the guilt of my sin. I will shout praise to Jesus, because he saves!

Salvation is so much more than a theological concept or religious precept; it is the reality of my life. It's more than a belief; it's my standing in Christ Jesus. It's not just for someday; it's for NOW. Sing a new song to the Lord! He has saved, he is saving, and he will always save!

O God, O Christ Jesus, O Holy Spirit, I want to sing a new song of praise to you today! Show your righteousness and salvation to the ends of the earth. Open the eyes of all people, that they might see Jesus in all his redeeming work and saving power. O God, give me a heart of gratitude and mouth quick to sing your praise. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 97:1-2
1 Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
In Context: Psalm 97

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:

Jesus: Lord and Savior
by F. F. Bruce

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 17 - Everything New

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Revelation 20:1 – 22:21
"Ultimate Victory"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 21:2-5a
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5a He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

The thought of living in God's presence in a world God has saved and perfected is the hope every Christian expresses when praying, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This hope is more than a promise for someday in the distant future, it is the present reality for Christians who will recognize the indwelling of God's Spirit in their lives today. "Surely I am with you, always, to the very end of the age" was Jesus' assurance to his disciples before his ascension into heaven.

Response and Action:
I must take hold of Jesus' promise to be with me today. I want to cultivate a tangible and continual awareness of his Spirit in my life. I want to acknowledge present reality that Christ Jesus is living with me today. I want to persevere with a hope rooted in the future reality God has promised -- the day when the world will be made right, all evil swept away, and every tear wiped away.

O God, help me to trust in you with all my heart and to acknowledge you in all my ways. Help me to cultivate my awareness of your presence with me today. Fill me with hope and encouragement as I cling to your promise of a day when I will live in the very light of your glorious presence. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who indwells my mortal body right now. Help me to be sensitive to your Spirit as you lead and shape me today. Amen.

When Christ shall come will shout of acclamation,
To heal this world, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I will bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, "My God, how great you are!"

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 89:15-16
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. 16 They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.
In Context: Psalm 89

Proverb for Today: Prov. 17:2

"A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son, and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers."

Recommended Reading:

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16 - Lamb, Lord, King

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Revelation 16:1 – 19:21
"Wrath, War, and Worship"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 17:12-14
12 "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

All powers and authorities lifted up against God and his purposes will ultimately be brought down in defeat. Those who boast of their power and seem to have unlimited dominance will one day be judged and reduced to nothing. The Kingdom of Heaven and the chosen and faithful followers of the Lamb will eventually overcome because their Lord and Savior is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Response and Action:
God's people have always had to persevere in the face of oppression. From the ancient days of the Psalmist to the days of the Apostle John to the present days of the persecuted church in many areas of the world, God-fearing believers have been sustained by their faith in a righteous God who will one day put the world to rights and save his people from the corrupt powers of this world. My hope is in the Lord. I stand with those who follow the Lamb.

O God, sustain me and give me hope. Save this world and your people from the hands of wicked rulers and corrupt powers. Bring down those who oppress and destroy and deliver us from evil. Come Lord, quickly, and save. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 75:7-10
7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. 8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. 9 As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. 10 I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.
In Context: Psalm 75

Proverb for Today: Prov. 16:4

"The LORD works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster."

Recommended Reading:

Deliver Us From Evil
by Ravi Zacharias

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15 - The Battle

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Revelation 12:1 – 15:8
"The Dragon and the Lamb"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 12:10
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

There is so much in life that poses a threat to my well-being and causes me to be weary. Beyond the practical difficulties of my circumstances and problems, these things are part of a spiritual battle for my heart and mind.

Response and Action:
I recognize that there is a spiritual dimension to the challenges and struggles I face. According to the Scriptures, all of creation is part of a cosmic battle God is waging to redeem and save. I will cry out to the Rock who is higher than I when I am weary and overwhelmed. I believe in the salvation, power, and authority of Christ. I believe that he can save me and bring me safely to himself.

Save me, O God, when my heart is fainting. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Protect me from discouragement and encourage me, by your Spirit, through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. 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 trust and acknowledge you in all my ways. Be my rock and helper in every storm and trial. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 61:1-2
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
In Context: Psalm 61

Proverb for Today: Prov. 15:11

"Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more do human hearts!"

Recommended Reading:

The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation
by Paul Spilsbury

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reading Schedule for June 15 - 20

June 15 - Rev. 12:1 – 15:8
June 16 - Rev. 16:1 – 19:21
June 17 - Rev. 20:1 – 22:21
June 18 - Matt. 1:1 – 2:23
June 19 - Matt. 3:1 – 4:25
June 20 - Matt. 5:1 – 7:28

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, June 13, 2009

June 13 - Bittersweet

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Revelation 8:1 – 11:19
"Woes and Judgment"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 10:9-11
9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." 10 I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings."

God is the righteous and the Mighty Lord of all the heavens and earth. He shines forth in perfect beauty and summons all the earth and all people of all times to stand before him -- those who have made a covenant with him, and those who have ignored and rejected him. Judgment is a bitter thing to consider and take in, but the sweetness of a just and redeemed world is not possible without it. Thankfully, the Mighty Judge is also Mighty Savior, and has made a way -- the Lamb of God -- for everyone to find redemption and salvation.

Response and Action:
I must acknowledge my own sin and recognize my need for salvation. I will live in covenant with God by taking hold of the salvation he offers through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who has laid down his life in order to bring me safely through the fire of God's refining judgment. While judgment is bitter to me, redemption and the hope of a purified and righteous world is sweet to me. I will celebrate and share God's love and power to save. I will shout out the hope of salvation and the hope of a restored and renewed world, through faith in Christ Jesus.

O God, shine forth in perfect beauty and righteousness. Make your salvation known to all peoples, nations, languages, and kings, that they might escape your righteous judgment by your gracious redemption. May the sweetness of your desire to save overpower the bitterness of judgment that comes only to those who refuse your grace. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 50:1-6
1 The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. 2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. 4 He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 "Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice." 6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge.
In Context: Psalm 50

Proverb for Today: Prov. 13:12

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

Recommended Reading:

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

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12 - Living Springs

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Revelation 5:1 – 7:17
"The Lamb, the Seals, and the Multitude"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 7:13-17
13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?" 14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Hope, redemption, and eternal provision are part of John's vision for all who "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; he will cover them like a tent of protection, he will see that they never go hungry or thirsty, he will shade them from the scorching heat, and the Lamb will shepherd them to streams of cool refreshing water.

Response and Action:
I will persevere through the challenges, pains, and struggles of life in the hope that God will one day set things right and wipe away all tears from my eyes. My faith is in Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I will confess my sins, knowing that he is able to forgive and purify me ("wash my robes") because of his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

O God, you are my hope, my protector, and my deliverer. Shield me from the harsh heat of this world and bring me through the struggles of my life. Lead me and keep me. Let your holy word and the presence of your Spirit be like cool water to my soul. My soul thirsts for you and my flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. God, you are my God, I will seek you earnestly. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Psalm 63:1
1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
In Context: Psalm 63

Proverb for Today: Prov. 12:28

"In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality."

Recommended Reading:

The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation
by Paul Spilsbury

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 - Seeing My Need

Overview of: Revelation

Today's Reading:

Rev. 3:1 – 4:11
"More Words for Churches"

Focus Verses:
Revelation 3:17-20
17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

It is so sad and so dangerous to be blind to one's own need. It is so easy to fall under the delusion of self-sufficiency that comes from comfort and possessions. Jesus is calling all lukewarm and half-hearted Christians to be earnest and repent. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks. If we will be responsive to him, he will come in and live with us. He will guide us to truth and refine us. He will give us the true riches of righteousness.

Response and Action:
I need to recognize my sin and need for Christ. I need to see the pitiful blindness and darkness of being deceived and lulled into half-heartedness by comfort and possessions. I need to hear Jesus' voice and open the door of my heart to receive his full counsel and the refining grace only he can give.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for any lukewarm and halfhearted attitudes you find in me. Give me a responsive heart and tune my ears to hear your voice. Thank you for the promise that you will live with me if I will open the door to you. Lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of God. Amen.

Old Testament for Today:
Deuteronomy 30:19-20
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In Context: Deuteronomy 30

Proverb for Today: Prov. 11:2

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."

Recommended Reading:

The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer, and the Witness of the Spirit
by Gordon T. Smith