Week of February 11 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: 2 Corinthians 5:19-21

that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Reflect: As a new creation, what is your new role?

Consider: This unit contains three key assertions. (1) God is the driving force behind the redemption of humankind. Reconciliation comes solely at God’s initiative. (2) God acted through Christ’s death, and Christ alone is the means of reconciliation. (3) God continues to act through those who have been reconciled. They have the privilege and responsibility to share in this great divine enterprise and are to call others to be reconciled to God.[1]

Respond: To whom are you an ambassador for Christ? List people in your realm of influence who need to know about God’s love for them. Ask God to show you how He wants to work through your life to offer reconciliation to them.

 

[1] David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, vol. 29, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 288–289.

Week of February 11 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: 2 Corinthians 5:18

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

Reflect: For what purpose have you been made a new creation? What first had to occur?

Consider: We were his enemies (Rom. 5:10; 11:28), but, because he was still our Friend and Father, he brought us back to himself by Christ.[1]

Respond: In what way were you an enemy of God? What was the root cause? Consider Romans 5:8. Reflect on all God has done for you in spite of your sin.

 

[1]  H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., 2 Corinthians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 122.

Week of February 11 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Reflect: What promise is proclaimed here?

Consider: New creation is literally “new ktisis.” The Greek word ktisis nearly always means “creation” in Paul’s letters, rather than “creature”; “creature” would make it refer to an individual person.[1]

Respond: How does the promise of that verse affect your view of yourself? Are there ways you are clinging to your old self that God no longer sees?

 

[1] Roger L. Omanson and John Ellington, A Handbook on Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 103.

Week of February 11 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Romans 8:28

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Reflect:  What is promised in this verse?

Consider: Believers, Paul began, know of sanctification’s certainty, and that knowledge is gained by spiritual perception. Christians know intuitively (oidamen)—though they may not always fully understand and sense it experientially—that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (lit., “to the ones who love God He works all things together unto good”). The things themselves may not be good, but God harmonizes them together for believers’ ultimate good, because His goal is to bring them to perfection in His presence.[1]

Respond: In what area of your life did you need this reminder today? Are there struggles, disappointments or failures causing you to not believe the promise of this verse? Ask God to reveal his plan for you in that situation.

 

[1] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 473–474.

Week of February 11 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Jeremiah 24:6-7

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Day 1 Read: Jeremiah 24:6-7

Reflect: How many promises does God make through the prophet in these two verses?

Consider: In Hebrew thinking the heart was looked upon as the seat of the intellect, as its connection with the verb to know indicates. The first part of the verse can be understood: “I will give them an understanding which will allow them to know me”; the Revised English Bible has “I shall give them the wit to know me.” This could also be expressed “I will give them the intelligence to know me.” However, what is involved here is not so much intelligence as making a decision to serve the Lord; “I will give them the will to know me” is possibly the best translation. Today’s English Version is similar to this: “I will give them the desire to know that I am the Lord.”[1]

 

Respond: What encouragement can you personally draw from these promises? Which one resonates the most with you? What do you need to yield to God in order to be more receptive to his promises?

 

 

[1]  Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 524.

Week of February 4 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Psalm 46:10-11

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Reflect: What is the bottom line of God’s call to the nations? What will occur?

Consider: God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea-storm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.5

Respond: How does being a part of God’s people—for whom He fights—move you to praise? How does it impact your resolve in the decisions you’ll make tomorrow?

 

 

5 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ps 46:1–11.

 

Week of February 4 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Psalm 46:8-9

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.

Reflect: What demonstration of God’s power is proclaimed by the Psalmist?

Consider: In verse 8b desolations translates a word meaning an event which evokes terror or wonder from those who see it, an “awesome” or “prodigious” event.[1]

Respond: Through the Holy Spirit, God now resides in those who, by grace, have faith in Jesus Christ. What is our mission, and how does it compare to the mission of Israel during the time of the psalmist? How does your response to this demonstrate how you “behold the works of the LORD”?

 

[1]  Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 434.

Week of February 4 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Psalm 46:6-7

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Reflect: How is God’s power demonstrated in these verses?

Consider: The Lord of hosts is with us (comp. 2 Chron. 15:2; 20:17; Isa. 8:8, 10). This is the ground of assurance. Our God, Jehovah, is “the Lord of hosts”—one who has countless angels at his command (2 Kings 6:16, 17; Ps. 68:17; Matt. 26:53). And he is “with us”—on our side, ready to help. The God of Jacob is our Refuge; i.e. our covenant God, the God who entered into covenant with our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.[1]

Respond: How should you approach potential conflict differently knowing that God is aware of everything that comes against you?

 

[1]  H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Psalms, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 358.

Week of February 4 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Psalm 46:4-5

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.

Reflect:  According to the psalmist, for what reason will the city of God never be moved?

Consider: God’s favor is denoted by a river (compare Ps 36:8; Zec 14:8; Rev 22:1). City of God, the holy place—His earthly residence, Jerusalem and the temple (compare Ps 2:6, 3:4; 20:2; 48:2, &c.). God’s favor, like a river whose waters are conducted in channels, is distributed to all parts of His Church.[1]

Respond: What daily practices or spiritual disciplines make God’s presence most vivid to you? How do those practices tend to shape your actions as you go throughout your day?

 

[1]  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 362.

 

Week of February 4 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Day 1 Read: Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
 

Reflect: How does the passage describe God? What do these qualities and characteristics communicate about God’s nature and abilities?

Consider: The psalmist declared that God is the Refuge (maḥseh, “shelter from danger”) and Strength of believers. In other words, they find safety and courage by trusting in Him, who is always present to help them in their troubles. So, the saints need not fear, even if many perils come against them. The language is hyperbolic, to describe how great the perils may be that could come. No matter what happens, those trusting in Him are safe.[1]

Respond: How do you respond to threats to your livelihood or security? Is your default to try everything to handle the matter yourself? At what point do you typically look to God for deliverance? 

 

[1] Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 828.

Week of January 28 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Matthew 23:27-28

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Reflect: What are the Pharisees guilty of? What are the dangers of living untruthfully in this way?

Consider: The whitewashed tombs of which Jesus speaks reflect the annual practice of whitewashing the tombs in the city of Jerusalem so that none of the visitors coming there would accidentally touch one and become ceremonially unclean. Jesus’ accusation against the Pharisees is that they, like the tombs, may appear clean and beautiful on the outside, but inwardly they are filthy and defiled. 5

Respond: In what ways is your life similar to that of the Pharisees? Confess these to God and allow Him to cleanse you from the inside out.

 

 

5 Barclay Moon Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1992), 719.

 

Week of January 28 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Romans 6:17-18

 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Reflect: Once we know the truth and are set free from sin, what do we become?

Consider: The freedom brought by grace does not provide carte blanche to continue in sin. On the contrary, grace places the believer under obligation (Conduct pleasing to God (i.e., “righteousness”) is viewed as the new power to which the believer is subject. Freedom is not the lack of all restraint but deliverance from everything that would keep a person from becoming what God intended that person to be.) to holiness and growth in righteousness.[1]

Respond: How does the biblical teaching of knowing truth which impacts action differ from modern thoughts on action impacting what we believe to be truth? How can you avoid slipping into that kind of mindset? What do you need to eliminate from your reading list? Tv watching? Friends you listen to?

 

[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 157.

Week of January 28 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: John 8:31-32

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Reflect: What does Jesus say is required for knowing the truth? What is the benefit of knowing truth?

Consider: The meaning here involves knowing Jesus as truth, who brings a transforming sense of freedom to human life. This verse is a statement neither advocating nor disparaging academics. Moreover, it is not a statement advocating attachment to mere information or doctrine about Jesus. It is instead a statement about a living relationship with the Son of God, “the truth,” who gives freedom to human beings (cf. 8:36).[1]

Respond: In what ways are you living captive and not experiencing the freedom Jesus promises? What practical steps do you need to take in order to depend more on Him and his teachings rather than others?

 

[1] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1–11, vol. 25A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 303.

Week of January 28 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Reflect:  What does Jesus say about truth? To what specifically is Jesus responding?

Consider: 31-The term “truth” in Greek philosophy had the connotation of “truth” versus “falsehood” or “reality” versus “illusion.” However, these are Aramaic-speaking disciples who would have understood Jesus to be speaking in the OT sense of truth which was “faithfulness” or “loyalty” (cf. Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 119:30). Both “truth” and “life” characterize “the way.” The term “truth” is often used to describe divine activity in John (cf. 1:14; 4:23–24; 8:32; 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 17:17, 19).[1]

Respond: What is one way you can fix your eyes on Jesus alone as the fullness of God in bodily form? In what areas does your understanding of his statement, “I am the truth,” need to impact your life? Where do you need to trust him more as the source of absolute truth?

 

[1] Robert James Utley, The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, vol. Volume 4, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 127.

Week of January 28 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: John 8:32

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Day 1 Read: Ezekiel 13:8-11

8 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God. 10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, 11 say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out.

Reflect: What specifically has caused God to be grieved? What is the punishment? To what extent is the punishment to be carried out?

Consider: The false prophets claimed to represent God, but He did not claim them. Because of their false words and lying visions, He was against them. Ezekiel mentioned three aspects of their judgment. First, they would not belong to the council of God’s people. The false prophets had enjoyed favor among Israel’s leaders. They were in positions of influence both in Jerusalem and in the exile; but after their prophecies were proved false, they would lose this favor. Second, besides losing their places on the council, they would also not be listed in Israel’s records (i.e., their names would not be recorded in the city’s list of citizens). To be excluded from the list would deprive an individual of the rights of citizenship (cf. Ezra 2:62). These false prophets would be excommunicated from the fellowship of Israel. Third, the false prophets would never again enter the land of Israel. They would die as captives in a foreign land.[1]

Respond: Why does truth matter? What is your standard for truth in practice? Do you adhere strictly with the truth of God’s Word, or do you modify truth to meet your own needs or lifestyle?

 

[1] Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1251.

Week of January 21 - Day 5

Day 5  Read: 1 Peter 1:13-16

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 

Reflect: How does Peter encourage his readers to practice holiness?

Consider: In the following verses the readers are exhorted to live a godly life. But all these exhortations are grounded in God’s saving work as explained in vv. 1–12. Believers are to obey because they are God’s chosen pilgrims, because they have been begotten by the Father, because they have an untouchable inheritance, and because of the greatness of their salvation. God’s commands are always rooted in his grace. Another way of putting this is to say that the indicative (what God has done for us in Christ) is always the basis of the imperative (how we should live our lives). To confuse the order here would be disastrous, and the result would be works righteousness instead of seeing holiness as the result of God’s grace and power, as a response to the love of God in Christ.4

Respond: In what area of your life is it most difficult for you to pursue holiness? What is one step you could take this week to focus your hope on the grace of God in Jesus Christ? How might such a focus change your perspective in this trouble spot?

 

 

4 Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 77.

 

Week of January 21 - Day 4

Day 4  Read: Leviticus 19:5-8; 7:15-18

5 “When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. 6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. 7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, 8 and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from his people.

15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. 16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. 17 But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire. 18 If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.

Reflect: What specific instructions are to be followed concerning the peace offering? What is the time limit to accomplish the task? What was the punishment for violating this command?

Consider: After the prohibition of idolatry, the laws address the proper way of offering sacrifices, specifically the proper observance of the fellowship offering. It is not readily apparent why the fellowship offering is singled out here. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that this is the offering where the individual Israelite (as seen in Lev 3 and 7:11–34) plays more of a major role in the sacrifice in that he, along with the priest, actually partakes of the offering. The offering could only be eaten when it was sacrificed or on the following day; the sacrifice was not to be eaten on the third day (19:6). Violation of this law resulted in a desecration of what is holy to the Lord, and the offender was subject to a premature death (19:8). These laws repeat the commands regarding the fellowship offering in 7:16–18. The fact that the proper method of presenting an offering is included in the discussion of holiness indicates that holiness touches every dimension of an individual’s life.[1]

Respond: How we worship God is important. What inhibits your worship? What keeps you from being a worshipper 24/7? How can you re-prioritize your life in such a way where you can worship God in a way that truly glorifies Him?

 

[1]  Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 255.

Week of January 21 - Day 3

Day 3   Read: Leviticus 19:3-4

3 Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. 4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.

Reflect: What commands are emphasized on the heels of “You shall be holy” in v.2?

Consider: Honoring parents and the Sabbath summarizes the whole Law and illustrates that holiness begins in the home. A child who learns to respect (lit., “fear,” as in v. 14) his mother and father is also likely to “fear God” and to flee from idols or … gods of cast metal.[1]

Respond: What gods are there in your life which hinder your obedience? What do you find yourself leaning into again and again when facing difficult times? Relationships? Food? Activity? As David wrote in Psalm 53, ask God to examine your heart fully.

 

[1]  F. Duane Lindsey, “Leviticus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 201–202.

Week of January 21 - Day 2

Day 2  Read: Exodus 19:1-6

On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Reflect:  What promise does God extend to the nation? What condition is attached to the promise?

Consider: qaw-dosh is the Hebrew term we translate to “holy”. It is used to mean “consecrated”, “pure”, “sacred”, “clean”. For the Israelites, there would be no confusion as to what was expected. They were to be different than other nations around them.

Respond: How has God delivered you? From what has He rescued you? How does your life reflect an appropriate response to what He has done?

Week of January 21 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Leviticus 19:2

Day 1  Read: Leviticus 19:2

“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. 

Reflect: What command was Moses to give the people?

Consider: Yahweh--Or The Lord; it is the personal name of God in Hebrew; “Yah” is the shortened form. Yahweh is used in places where the personal name of God is discussed (Ps 68:4) or in places of His self-identification (Is 42:8).[1]

Respond: Why is the command to be holy such a daunting one? What are the biggest obstacles for you personally? How are you, an imperfect and fallible human, supposed to achieve the holiness God demands?

 

[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).