Friday, June 30, 2017

The Water of Life

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 37:1-38:28
Revelation 22:1-21
Proverbs 7:21-27
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Revelation 22:1, 17
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb..." - - - 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Jesus offers an invitation to everyone, "Come and quench your thirst—take the free gift of the water of life." The Spirit of God says, "Come!" The church, Christ's bride, says, "Come!" Everyone who comes to the water and drinks will in turn say, "Come!" Come to Jesus. Come to the only hope for life in a world that is dying.

Compare this passage to the invitation Jesus gave on one occasion during the Feast of Tabernacles, recorded in John 7:37-38: "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Response and Action:
I have accepted Jesus' invitation to come to him for life, hope, guidance, and purpose. I will pass the invitation along to others. I will drink deeply of all Jesus offers through his word, his people, his promises, and all that is beautiful and true. I will pray and seek God's guidance every day. I will read Scripture and meditate upon it. I will share my heart, my life, and my faith through friendship and service to others.

O God, thank you for your invitation to life. Help me respond fully to you that I might live life to the fullest to your glory. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And help me to love my neighbor as myself. Satisfy my needs and quench my thirst, and make a stream of living water flow out of me. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 63:1-4
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. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

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

Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch
by Max Lucado

Thursday, June 29, 2017

God Himself Will Be with Them

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 35:1-36:32
Revelation 21:1-27
Proverbs 7:6-20
Click on Text Link to Read Online

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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 24:9-10
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory.

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Like a Bird in a Snare

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 33:1-34:22
Revelation 20:1-15
Proverbs 7:1-5
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Proverbs 7:21-23
21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose 23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

In Proverbs, Wisdom is personified as a virtuous woman who offers instruction, truth, and knowledge. Folly is also personified as a woman, but in contrast to wisdom she is a lying temptress who persuades with empty promises of pleasure and instant gratification. Wisdom calls out, "Let all who are feeble minded come in here and find understanding. Leave your foolish ways behind and live!" Folly calls out, "Stolen water is sweet. Let's have a good time. If it feels good, do it." Wisdom offers life. Folly offers death.

No one has to try to be foolish. It doesn't take any effort at all. In fact, the best way to become a fool is to just put aside the whole idea of effort and intention. Just go with your feelings. Just do whatever is easy and within reach.

Becoming wise, however, requires effort. It is necessary to heed warnings and seek out truth. It requires discipline, intention, the drive to shake off laziness, and the ability to rise above feelings. Most of all, it requires the grace and truth of God. Without God's help and guidance, wisdom is beyond our reach. Thankfully, God is reaching out to us and has made wisdom available to us through the Scriptures, his Son, his Spirit, and his people—the Church.

Response and Action:
I am thankful that Wisdom is calling out to me. I am thankful that God in his grace and mercy has revealed himself through Christ Jesus. I want to be responsive to the gift of wisdom and truth God has extended to me. I will listen to his Word, and I will heed the warnings he gives. I will cling to the promises he has made, and I will walk in the ways he has instructed me to go. I will be on guard against temptations and lies--within and without--that would turn me away from wisdom.

O God, help me to live for you and through you. Help me 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. Grant me the wisdom and the will to guard my heart, to feed my spirit, to stimulate my mind, and care for my body. Be faithful to me and do not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear, and when I am tempted, give me strength to stand and show me the ways of escape. Help me to leave my foolish ways and to walk in the truth. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

How to Read Proverbs
by Tremper Longman

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Written on Their Hearts

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 31:27-32:44
Revelation 19:1-21
Proverbs 6:30-35
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 31:33-34
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Jeremiah's message of restoration and renewal includes God's promise to make a new covenant with his people. This new covenant includes transformation of the heart. God promises he will not only forgive the sins of his people, but will also renovate their hearts in such a way that their desires and wills are in line with his desires and will. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy (Hebrews 10). Forgiveness and transformation of the heart are found in Jesus.

Response and Action:
I want to take hold of God's promise and experience the new covenant by surrendering my heart to Christ and putting my faith for life in him. God has given me more than a list of rules and expectations; he has given me the gift of his Holy Spirit. The Spirit will guide me into truth and strengthen me to live according to God's will and purpose for my life. I will draw near to God through prayer, reading and meditating upon the Scriptures, and fellowship with Christian friends who encourage me and spur me on toward love and good deeds.

O God, I have confidence in you and your promises to forgive, renew, and transform me. Thank you for the new and living way I have found in Christ. 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. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 10:19-23
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

I Will Restore and Have Compassion

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 30:1-31:26
Revelation 18:1-24
Proverbs 6:20-29
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 30:15, 18-19
15 Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you. - - - 18 "This is what the LORD says: " 'I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. 19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.

The consequences of Israel's guilt and sin were painful and inevitable. Their wound could not be cured apart from the correction and discipline God was bringing upon them. God's intentions, however, were not merely punitive, but rather redemptive. God's promise was that they would come through the correction and suffering to a place of restoration and renewal. The mourning and sorrow of discipline would eventually be replaced with songs of thanksgiving and sounds of rejoicing.

Response and Action:
I must always remember that God's love and good will toward me does not mean that he will spare me from every consequence of sin. In fact, the consequences of sin are sometimes a necessary part of being refined and purified. Distress is often a part of being disciplined. The pain of correction is often a prerequisite to the blessing of renewal.

I will trust God to discipline and renew me, just as a loving father disciplines and blesses his children. When I face consequences for my sins and mistakes, I will humble myself before God, turn away from sin, and gain wisdom from lessons learned. I will also look forward with confidence in God to restore and renew me.

O God, have mercy upon me, a sinner. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of salvation and uphold me by your liberating Spirit. Help me to delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 12:11
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Lamb Will Overcome

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 28:1-29:32
Revelation 17:1-18
Proverbs 6:12-19
Click on Text Link to Read Online

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 Old Testament prophets, 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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

Reading Schedule for June 25 - July 1

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, June 25 -
Jeremiah 28:1-29:32 / Revelation 17:1-18
/ Proverbs 6:12-19

Monday, June 26 -
Jeremiah 30:1-31:26
/ Revelation 18:1-24 / Proverbs 6:20-29

Tuesday, June 27  -
Jeremiah 31:27-32:44
/ Revelation 19:1-21 / Proverbs 6:30-35

Wednesday, June 28  -
Jeremiah 33:1-34:22
/ Revelation 20:1-15 / Proverbs 7:1-5

Thursday, June 29 -

Jeremiah 35:1-36:32 / Revelation 21:1-27 / Proverbs 7:6-20

Friday, June 30 -

Jeremiah 37:1-38:28 / Revelation 22:1-21 / Proverbs 7:21-27

Saturday, July 1 -

Jeremiah 39:1-41:18 / Matthew 1:1-2:12 / Proverbs 8:1-11

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Leader of the Flock

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 26:1-27:22
Revelation 16:1-21
Proverbs 6:1-11
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 25:34-37
34 Weep and wail, you shepherds; roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock. For your time to be slaughtered has come; you will fall and be shattered like fine pottery. 35 The shepherds will have nowhere to flee, the leaders of the flock no place to escape. 36 Hear the cry of the shepherds, the wailing of the leaders of the flock, for the LORD is destroying their pasture. 37 The peaceful meadows will be laid waste because of the fierce anger of the LORD. 

Jeremiah 26:8-9
 8 But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the Lord had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the Lord’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?” And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

The failure of leaders to seek and honor God is a tragedy. Nations, families, churches, organizations, businesses, and ministries all need to be led and shepherded by men and women who are humble before God, love truth, and are guided by integrity. Leadership is a sacred trust and God holds leaders accountable for the way they lead.

Response and Action:
I will take leadership responsibilities seriously and aspire to be a good leader. Every opportunity I have to lead must be seen as an opportunity to honor God. I will seek God, study the scriptures, pursue righteousness and integrity, and commit myself to learning sound principles of leadership. Following Christ is the first and highest principle for leading others.

O God, you are my God and I will praise you forever. I will seek you in the morning and learn to walk in your ways. Lead me every step of the way. Teach me to follow you, and as I follow you, grant me the ability to lead others to do the same. Help me to be an effective leader in my home, in my church, in my community and in every other good endeavor. I ask this in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Shepherd. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 5:1-4
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Basic Christian Leadership: Biblical Models of Church, Gospel And Ministry
by John Stott

Friday, June 23, 2017

Nations Will Come and Worship

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 23:21-25:38
Revelation 15:1-8
Proverbs 5:15-23

Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Revelation 15:3b-4
3b"Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. 4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
Hope and worship go together; they reinforce each other. God is to be praised for his righteousness, mighty acts, justice, truth, and power to save. When these words of praise are (become) the firm conviction of our hearts, we have reason to hope.

Response and Action:
I will worship God for his righteousness and mighty acts. I will praise him for his justice and truth. I will thank him for his promise to save through Christ Jesus.

O God, help me to see you for who you really are, and fill me with a sense of hope as I worship you. Show yourself to me in new ways today. Encourage me, by your Spirit, through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 71:14-16
14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.

The Air I Breathe: Worship As a Way of Life
by Louie Giglio

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Words Supposedly from God

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 22:1-23:20
Revelation 14:1-20
Proverbs 5:1-14
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 23:25-26, 30-32
25 "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? - - - 30 "Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.' 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD.
Not every claim of a message from God is true. Sometimes people say, "God told me this or that," but, at best, it's nothing more than wishful thinking, or, at worst, a flat out lie or delusion. God is against those who wag their tongues and carelessly profess to speak for God or claim to have special revelation from God. False claims of hearing from God are worthless!

Response and Action:
I will be very careful about believing or making claims about hearing from God or speaking for God. I will look to the Bible and the teaching of Jesus and the apostles for guidance. Critical thinking and faith are not mutually exclusive. Claims need to be tested and evaluated. Discernment requires humility, a readiness to ask questions, sound counsel, and a thorough knowledge of Scripture.

O God, show me your ways. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Help me to live with integrity and wisdom. Strengthen my faith, but protect me from foolish gullibility. I want to hear your voice clearly and never confuse it with my own thoughts or ideas. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 7:22-23
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blessings and Burdens

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14
Revelation 13:1-13:18
Proverbs 4:20-27
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 20:13-14
13 Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked. 14 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
The contrast of these two consecutive verses is extreme and abrupt enough to give you whiplash. In one breath, Jeremiah says, "Praise God!" In the next he says, "I wish I had never been born!" The sheer resolve of verse thirteen stands out like a brilliant rose in this chapter of thorns and thistles.

The message Jeremiah had been called to preach was one of doom and judgment. The responses he got from people were rejection, violence, and hate. Jeremiah's life was filled with sorrow and pain because he was faithful to God's calling and God's message. Yet, in the midst of his pain he resolutely declared, "Sing to the Lord! Give Praise to the Lord!"

Though his suffering was unbearable, Jeremiah said, "I believe God sees my need and he will rescue me from the wicked." Jeremiah's praise was not a response to blessing and comfort he had already received, but was instead a profound statement of his faith. It was an expression of hope from a person in great pain.

Response and Action:
Praise is more than a response to blessing, it is an act of faith! I will praise God in times of blessing, but I will also praise him in times of need. I will sing songs of thanks when I am in a place of ease and comfort, but I will also worship him when I am in distress. My praise will be more than an expression of gratitude for what God has done, it will be a testimony of my faith in what God will do.

O God, whether by life or by death may Christ be exalted in me. You are worthy of my praise at all times. I believe you are faithful to your promises and I will praise you because I believe you will never fail to keep your word. Open my mouth Lord, and my lips will declare your praise! Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:35-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Where Is God When It Hurts?
by Philip Yancey

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Like a Tree Planted by the Water

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 16:16-18:23
Revelation 12:1-17
Proverbs 4:10-19
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 17:5-8
5 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 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."

Looking to God and trusting in him is the path to blessing and stability. Trusting in our own strength and wisdom always results in coming up short in life. Strength and blessing come from the Lord. Instead of trusting in ourselves, we should commit all our strength, energy, and will to seeking and serving God.

Response and Action:
Blessing, prosperity, stability, and confidence sound good to me. I trust that God is more able to direct my life into those things than anyone else, including me. I will commit all my strength and abilities toward knowing, loving, and following God. My trust is in the Lord.

O God, give me the wisdom to know my own limitations. Save me from the delusion of self-confidence and help me to trust in you with my whole heart. I want to acknowledge and follow you in every way and in every day. Thank you for Jesus; help me to walk in his steps. Thank you for your Holy Spirit; help me to surrender fully to him that he might transform, strengthen, and lead me. Thank you for your Holy Scriptures: help me to know the truth and hide it in my heart. Encourage me as I walk with you, O God, and give me more confidence in you with each new day. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Matthew 6:31-34
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace
Jan Johnson

Monday, June 19, 2017

Like the First Gleam of Dawn

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 14:11-16:15
Revelation 11:1-19
Proverbs 4:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Proverbs 4:18-19
18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

The more a person walks in the light of God's wisdom, the more he is able to see. As the light increases, the clearer things become. As the sun of wisdom rises higher into the sky of a person's life, the right paths to walk become easier to find and follow.

Darkness, on the other hand, leads to deeper darkness. The longer the sun of truth sinks below the horizon, the darker the night becomes, and the harder it becomes to see anything at all. The tighter people close their eyes, the more hopeless and futile their journey becomes.

Response and Action:
I am encouraged by the idea that knowledge leads to more knowledge. I'm inspired by the promise that living in the light of wisdom will result in greater light and wisdom. I want to grow in truth and understanding every day.

I will seek God's wisdom through study, knowing that as I learn and grow, I will get increasingly more out of the things I am studying. I will explore and consider things that stretch my mind. I will seek out meaningful conversations with others, trusting that deep questions and discussions will lead me to deeper understanding. I will humble myself before God through prayer, worship, and obedience, believing that the more I see the light of Christ, the more clearly I will see everything else by that light.

O God, guide my steps in the light of your truth. Help me to walk in the light as Christ is in the light. Make your wisdom to shine brighter and brighter each day I live. Help me to see the light and to see by the light. Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Be thou my best Thought, by day or by night--waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Luke 8:16-18
16 "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him."

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It Tasted as Sweet as Honey

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 12:1-14:10
Revelation 10:1-11
Proverbs 3:21-35
Click on Text Link to Read Online

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—both 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 promise of salvation and the hope of a restored and renewed world made possible through 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.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 30:4-5
4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reading Schedule for June 18-24

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, June 18 - 
 Jeremiah 12:1-14:10 / Revelation 10:1-11 / Proverbs 3:21-35

Monday, June 19 - 

Jeremiah 14:11-16:15 / Revelation 11:1-19 / Proverbs 4:1-9

Tuesday, June 20  - 

Jeremiah 16:16-18:23 / Revelation 12:1-17 / Proverbs 4:10-19

Wednesday, June 21  -
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14 / Revelation 13:1-13:18 / Proverbs 4:20-27

Thursday, June 22 - 

Jeremiah 22:1-23:20 / Revelation 14:1-20 / Proverbs 5:1-14

Friday, June 23 - 

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38 / Revelation 15:1-8 / Proverbs 5:15-23

Saturday, June 24 - 

Jeremiah 26:1-27:22 / Revelation 16:1-21 / Proverbs 6:1-11

Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 10:1-11:23
Revelation 9:1-21
Proverbs 3:11-20
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Jeremiah 10:1-5
1 Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

So much of what people honor, pursue, and trust are worthless idols. No matter how slick, beautiful, religious, philosophical, or attractive people make them, these idols are nothing more than something they've made. When we choose to love the gods of our own making, we are bound for disappointment as we discover that they are powerless to give joy, security, or fulfillment.

Response and Action:
I will reserve my love, honor, and worship for God. I will not chase after the worthless things that most people seem to value, love, and trust. I want to see God for who he is and see empty substitutes for what they are.

O God, show yourself to me. Help me to know you more and more each day as I follow Christ, listen to your word, and surrender myself to your Spirit. Lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 1:20-25
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Breaking the Idols of Your Heart
by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

Friday, June 16, 2017

Too Much Woe!

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 8:8-9:26
Revelation 8:1-13
Proverbs 3:1-10
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Revelation 8:13
As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"

The world is filled with woe, woe, and more woe. Much of the pain and suffering we experience results from sin—the sins we commit and the sins of others. Other hardship seems to be deeply rooted complexities and brokenness of an out-of-balance world spinning out of control. From viruses to volcanoes, nature itself seems to be reeling from one trauma to the next and we're along for the scary ride.

What can we do? How can we deal with the sorrows and tragedies? Some of us reject God because we can't make sense of the pain. Some even taunt those who hope and believe in God. And even those who do place their faith in God become downcast and find themselves crying out to God, "Where are you?" We hurt, we feel despair, and we can't understand why we are suffering.

In Revelation, the Apostle John writes as a pastor encouraging Christians (and perhaps even reminding himself) that though the times are often dark and difficult, Christ will reign at the end of the day. In Psalm 42, the psalmist does something very similar; he admits that he is disturbed and depressed, even to the point of wondering if God sees or cares. The psalmists faith in God, however, triumphs as he sings the words, "Put your hope in God, your Savior, for suffering will give way to praise and victory in the end."

Response and Action:
There is nothing wrong with voicing my fears and my sorrows to God. Expressing my doubts and giving full voice to my questions are part of an honest relationship with him. My expressions of praise and hope and confidence in God are made even deeper and stronger when they stand up tall over my suffering, and overshadow my doubts. I will express my true feelings and concerns to God. I will cling to the hope I have in Christ Jesus and shout out my faith and confidence in him.

O God, as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you. My soul thirsts for you, Living God. When tears are my food, comfort me. When men say to me all day long, "Where is your God," speak to my soul, O Lord, and remind me that you are with me. When I become downcast, strengthen my heart to hope in you. Give me the faith to trust in you and praise you all my days. Protect me from discouragement, and encourage me by your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 42:9-11
I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson