Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30 - Keeping Step with Jesus

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 11:20-30
Hebrews 2:1-9

Old Testament -
Proverbs 19:15-29
Isaiah 6-8
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Matthew 11:27-30
27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

According to Jesus, no one knows God like he does. Those who want to know God need to know Jesus. He is the only one who can truly show us who God is, what God is like, what God wants, and how God leads. Jesus offers rest for the weary and burdened. He does not add to the burden of those he teaches. He is gentle and humble and gives peace.

Walking beside Jesus--being yoked with him--is the way to learn from him. Just as a young ox would have been trained for work by being yoked with an older well-trained animal, we learn how to live by keeping in step with Jesus. Knowing Jesus and following his example and instruction for life is the sure path to knowing God.

Response & Action:
I will read and study the Gospels closely to make sure I am deeply acquainted with Jesus' actions and words. I will give careful and prayerful consideration to how my words and actions compare to his. I will do my best to take on his "yoke" and walk in his ways. I will endeavor to keep his pace and match his stride, not rushing ahead or lagging behind. I need his strength, guidance, and experience. I'm thankful for his promise to share the load and burden of every step I take.

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my savior. My hope is in you all day long. Thank you for your son, Jesus. Help me follow his example, walk in his ways, and keep in step with his Spirit. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 2:5-6
5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God
Dallas Willard

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29 - Owning Folly

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 11:1-19
Hebrews 1:10-14

Old Testament -
Proverbs 19:1-14
Isaiah 3-5
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Proverbs 19:2-3
2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. 3 A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

Proverbs is a book about wisdom. It's also a book about foolishness. It explains the way of the wise, and it also describes the way of fools: spurning discipline, failing to listen, dishonoring parents, hating correction, telling lies, manipulating others, starting fights, loving quarrels, gushing careless words, being arrogant, despising the poor, condemning the innocent, acquitting the guilty, being lazy and selfish, disregarding instruction, losing your temper, and failing to seek God's counsel.

Zeal without knowledge causes us to miss the way of wisdom and to become fools instead. It is foolish to be so excited about our own ideas and ambitions that we fail to seek God's counsel and guidance. We ruin our lives when we follow our own selfish desires and counsel, which then result in our own stupid mistakes. We then increase our folly if we blame God for the messes we find ourselves in.

Wise people take ownership of their mistakes and learn from them. Fools blame others and God. Wise people see the ways they have brought trouble upon themselves. Fools whine in denial and shake their fists at God.

Response & Action:
I do not want to be a fool or to be blind to my own sin and stupidity. I will take responsibility for my mistakes. Instead of blaming God or others for my problems, I will ask God to show me the error of my ways. I will humble myself, listen, accept correction, follow instruction, honor those who are older and wiser. I will avoid laziness and selfishness, tell the truth, be gracious toward others, love integrity more than comfort, and seek to honor God in word, thought, and deed.

O God, forgive me for the times I blame you for my problems. Forgive me for the ways I rationalize my sin and show disregard for your counsel. Forgive me for the ways I seek comfort and possessions instead of seeking truth and righteousness. Give me the wisdom and the will to love truth, to walk in your ways, and to live with integrity. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me the courage and honesty to recognize my own ignorance and weakness. Give me the desire and wisdom to take hold of your perfect knowledge and strength. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:13-15
13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

The Smell of Sin: And the Fresh Air of Grace
by Don Everts

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28 - The Biggest Love

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 10:21-42
Hebrews 1:1-9

Old Testament -
Proverbs 18
Isaiah 1-2
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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."

Loving God more than you love your family is actually the way to love your family the best. It may seem counterintuitive, but loving God first and foremost is the surest path to loving others and yourself. We will have a bigger and better love for everyone else when God is the object of our biggest and best love.

It's only when we lose our lives in surrender to Jesus that we are able to find our deepest and richest selves. By loving Jesus above all else, I am so enriched and fulfilled that I become truly ready to love others. Jesus calls me to love him above all others because my relationship with him is what prepares and teaches me how to love others. Loving him first is what makes me able to love others best.

Response & 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 13:34-35
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

The Life You've Always Wanted
by John Ortberg

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27 - A Man of Few Words

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 10:1-20
Philemon 1:12-25

Old Testament -
Proverbs 17:15-28
Esther 9-10
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Proverbs 17:27-28
27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Verbosity is not the mark of knowledge. Those who have real smarts are careful and measured in their use of words. Being easily offended or irritated demonstrates a lack of understanding, but patience is evidence of wisdom. When a person doesn't know what to say, it's best to keep silent. It's foolish to keep talking when, instead, you should be listening, or thinking, or asking questions.

Response & Action:
I will make every effort to choose my words carefully and use restraint. I want to speak clearly and concisely. I will strive to be level-headed and quick to listen. And when I don't know what to say, I will keep silent or ask questions. I will consider the words of scripture before blurting out words of my own. My words must be well-chosen, well-tempered, and well-meaning.

O God, help me to be wise. Help me be mature, considerate, and understanding in all my dealings with others. Help me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Lead me into a righteous way of living that pleases you. May the words of my mouth and the attitudes of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:19-20
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

How to Read Proverbs
by Tremper Longman

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26 - Sharing for Understanding

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 9:27-38
Philemon 1:1-11

Old Testament -
Proverbs 17:1-14
Esther 7-8
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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. What is unique is this case, is the way he connects "sharing faith" and "understanding" by using the words "so that." This suggests 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 & 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 co-worker. 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 from you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 3:15a
15a But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Hope Has Its Reasons: The Search to Satisfy Our Deepest Longings
by Rebecca Manley Pippert

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reading Schedule for April 26 - May 1

James 1:19-22
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Schedule and Tips:
2009-10 Reading Schedule
Tips for Daily Bible Readers

April 26 -
Matthew 9:27-38 / Philemon 1:1-11
Proverbs 17:1-14 / Esther 7-8

April 27 -
Matthew 10:1-20 / Philemon 1:12-25
Proverbs 17:15-28 / Esther 9-10

April 28 -
Matthew 10:21-42 / Hebrews 1:1-9
Proverbs 18 / Isaiah 1-2

April 29 -
Matthew 11:1-19 / Hebrews 1:10-14
Proverbs 19:1-14 / Isaiah 3-5

April 30 -
Matthew 11:20-30 / Hebrews 2:1-9
Proverbs 19:15-29 / Isaiah 6-8

May 1 -
Matthew 12:1-21 / Hebrews 2:10-18
Proverbs 20:1-15 / Isaiah 9-10

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24 - Foolish Arguments

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 9:14-26
Titus 3:9-15

Old Testament -
Proverbs 16:17-33
Esther 5-6
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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 pride. 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 & Action:
I want to avoid foolish and stupid arguments. 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 not value my opinions over people, but will instead exercise thoughtful restraint. I will be careful to listen and interact respectfully in a genuine effort to understand.

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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 2:14-16a
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16a as you hold out the word of life..."

Talking About Good And Bad Without Getting Ugly
by Paul Chamberlain

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 - Eating with Sinners

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 9:1-13
Titus 3:1-8

Old Testament -
Proverbs 16:1-16
Esther 3-4
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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, those blind to their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness, can look at the sins of others with contempt.

Response & Action:
I will humble myself before 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 not think of myself as better than others. I will break down the walls of self-righteousness that become barriers to the giving and receiving of God's grace. I must live with humility, 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:8-9
8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Eats with Sinners
by Arron Chambers

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 - Taught by Grace

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 8:23-34
Titus 2:11-15

Old Testament -
Proverbs 15:18-33
Esther 2
Click on Text Links to Read Online

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

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

God's grace is also our strength for transformation. It purifies our hearts, redeems us from wickedness, and shapes our desires.

Response & Action:
I want to be taught by God's grace. I want and need to learn how to say "No" to ungodliness. I want to say "No" to worldly passion. I want to honor God and learn how to live a self-controlled life by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.

I will draw upon the power of God's grace for transformation, redemption, and purification. I will prayerfully identify the things I need to say "No" to in order to live a godly life. I will look to God for the strength I need, trusting his gracious promise to shape the desires of my heart.

O God, help me to live for you and through this day in thought, word, and deed. Help me to turn away from what is wrong, and to do what is right. Teach me to say "No" to ungodliness, and teach me to say "Yes" to all that is righteous and true. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, make me yours and help me to honor you. Change my heart and help me to live a self-controlled life. Through Christ, Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:10-11
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21 - Behind the Scenes

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 8:14-22
Titus 2:1-10

Old Testament -
Proverbs 15:1-17
Esther 1
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Esther 1:12
12 But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

The story of Esther is colorful and entertaining. The writer seems to be primarily interested in explaining the Jewish custom of Purim, which grew out of the Persian exile experience. While God is never explicitly mentioned in the book, God's hand of providence and intervention is clearly implied in all the events and details of the story. As the details unfold, it becomes clear that God has been at work behind the scenes all along.

Response & Action:
Though the treatment Queen Vashti suffers at the hands of King Xerxes and his court is less than honorable, God is able to use it as an opportunity to work for the benefit of the Jewish people who were scattered and exiled. I must remember that God is at work in the details of my life. He is able to use even wrongheaded circumstances and turn them toward good results.

O God, you are not unaware of the details of my life. You know my coming and my going. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it. The twists and turns of my life are no mystery to you. You are able to lead me, and bring me safely through every trial and loss. Help me to trust you as I remember your ways are higher than mine, and your thoughts beyond comprehension. I know you can work all things together for good. I pray all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 4:19-20
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work in the World?
by Terrance Tiessen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20 - "I Am Willing"

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 8:1-13
Titus 1:10-16

Old Testament -
Proverbs 14:19-35
Nehemiah 13
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Matthew 8:1-3
When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

The leper asked Jesus "if he was willing" to heal. He was! The overwhelming testimony of scripture is that God is both ready and willing to heal and save those who call out to him. The eighth chapter of Matthew demonstrates Jesus' authority over disease, sin, nature, mental illness, and evil spirits. He willingly spoke the word, and his word was powerful to save.

Response & Action:
I am thankful that God is both ready and willing to restore and save. By faith, I acknowledge that God's word is powerful to save me and truthful to guide me. I will look to God for his saving word. I delight in the words of scripture. I will turn to Jesus, the good shepherd, trusting him to seek and save me. I will seek him with all my heart and he will not let me stray from his commands (Ps. 119:10).

O God, thank you for your powerful, healing, and sustaining word. Thank you for your readiness and willingness to save all who cry out to you. Give me a heart that delights in your word and make me ready and willing to follow you. Help me to grow in faith and confidence as I walk in your ways. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Timothy 2:3-5
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. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
by Brennan Manning

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19 - Loving What Is Good

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 7:15-29
Titus 1:1-9

Old Testament -
Proverbs 14:1-18
Nehemiah 12
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses: Titus 1:7-9
7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Paul instructed Titus that is was essential that spiritual maturity be evident before people are given leadership roles in Christian community. Many people claim to know God, but their actions contradict this claim (v.16). It's not enough for Christians to say what they believe; they must demonstrate it in the actions of their lives.

Spiritual maturity isn't just for those in leadership; it is for everyone who follows Jesus. The marks of maturity listed in these verses are appropriate for anyone who is growing in Christ. A mature Christian is not overly controlling, slow to get upset, not prone to excess, not rough or abusive, and not interested in dishonest gain.

Christians should be ready to share and quick to welcome others into their home. They should love what is good, be self-controlled, and lead lives that are upright and holy. Because they hold firmly to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, mature Christians are able to identify and refute anything contrary to the way of Christ.

Response & Action:
I want to grow in Christ. I want my faith to be more than words or empty claims. I want my life to demonstrate that Jesus' Spirit is really at work in my life. I will hold firmly to the trustworthy message of the Scriptures. I will surrender fully to God and take hold of his grace and power to make me a person who is self-controlled, disciplined, and wise. I will commit myself to growing in Christ so that I can discern between what is false and true. I will do my best to be a person who encourages others.

Thank you for your word, O God. Help me to get a firm grip on the trustworthy message of Christ so that it might direct and support me. 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. Make my life a praise to you and an encouragement to others. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 5:12-14
12 ...though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ
by Greg Ogden

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reading Schedule for April 19-24

Psalm 119:32-34
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart."

Schedule and Tips:
2009-10 Reading Schedule
Tips for Daily Bible Readers

April 19 -
Matthew 7:15-29 / Titus 1:1-9
Proverbs 14:1-18 / Nehemiah 12

April 20 -
Matthew 8:1-13 / Titus 1:10-16
Proverbs 14:19-35 / Nehemiah 13

April 21 -
Matthew 8:14-22 / Titus 2:1-10
Proverbs 15:1-17 / Esther 1

April 22 -
Matthew 8:23-34 / Titus 2:11-15
Proverbs 15:18-33 / Esther 2

April 23 -
Matthew 9:1-13 / Titus 3:1-8
Proverbs 16:1-16 / Esther 3-4

April 24 -
Matthew 9:14-26 / Titus 3:9-15
Proverbs 16:17-33 / Esther 5-6

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17 - Ask, Seek, Knock

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 7:1-14
2 Timothy 4

Old Testament -
Proverbs 13:13-25
Nehemiah 11
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Matthew 7:7-8
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Giving and receiving are central to meaningful and loving relationships. The bonds of love are both demonstrated and deepened when one has the freedom to make a request and another has the will to grant it. Just as neighbors open their doors for each other, and just as parents are ready to provide for their children, our Father in heaven is ready to give us good gifts. He also calls us to be ready to treat others with the same goodwill we would like to receive.

Response & Action:
God has invited me to a relationship with him through Christ Jesus. He wants me to seek him out, to knock on his door, and to ask him for help. He promises I will find, the door to be opened, and my needs provided. This is the way God demonstrates his love for me; it is also the way I can demonstrate love for others. In the same way that I receive grace and love in my relationship with God, I should extend grace and love in my relationships with others.

O God, help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as myself. Thank you that I can come to you with my requests and needs--that you can be found, your door is open, and you are giving. Grant me a sensitivity toward the needs of others around me. Help me to be available, approachable, and generous. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: James 1:17-18
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount: Christian Counter-Culture
by John Stott

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16 - Able to Make You Wise

Today's Readings:
New Testament -
Matthew 6:25-34
2 Timothy 3:10-17

Old Testament -
Proverbs 13:1-12
Nehemiah 10
Click on Text Links to Read Online

Focus Verses:
2 Timothy 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 & 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 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.

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