Reading this week: Psalm 69
One of the most often quoted of the Psalms, Psalm 69 is Messianic, reflecting the prayer of the suffering servant (and so, the Suffering Servant). This week, look for what Psalm 69 teaches us about the love of Jesus.
Monday: Psalm 69:1-5, The prayer of desperation
The opening of this prayer reflects the heart of desperation and repentance. How does David’s desperation lead to his repentance? What does David’s repentance teach you about the sin in our own lives?
Tuesday: Psalm 69:6-12, The prayer of the suffering servant
In these verses, the psalmist shares the feelings of isolation that can accompany the servant of God. Jesus felt the ultimate in desertion for our sake. How does David’s “zeal for [God’s] house” led to insults? What do you learn from David’s and Jesus’ response to insults?
Wednesday: Psalm 69: 13-18, The prayer of the confident
David appeals to God’s goodness and loyal love for his deliverance. Why is David so sure that God will deliver him? When have you had this kind of confidence in God’s love?
Thursday: Psalm 69:19-21, On the cross
Matthew alludes to these verses in Matthew 27:48, when Jesus was offered vinegar while on the cross. What “gall” or “vinegar” has the world offered you? How did God provide when you were most in need of his comfort?
Friday: Psalm 69:22-28, The high cost of sin
Sin carries its own cost, even before God’s judgment is factored in. What impact has the curse had on your life and family? How have both God’s righteousness and justice been reflected in your response to sin?
Saturday: Psalm 69:29-36, The song of praise
David completes his prayer with words of praise and invites heaven and earth to join his song! How has God’s work led to praise in your life this week? Whom are you inviting to join this praise choir?
Reading this week: Freedom in Galatians
Paul’s letter to the Galatian church is a wonderful look into his concern for and God’s plan for Christian freedom. As you read Galatians, watch for encouragement for both the weak and the strong believers there. What are the disciplines of the mature believer?
Monday: Galatians 1:1-24, The Gospel
Paul sees legalism as a different gospel. What is the center of the true gospel (see 1:3-4), and what are the signs of the different gospel? How did you first receive this true gospel?
Tuesday: Galatians 2:1-21, The cost of freedom
How did Titus’ decision regarding the “disputable matter” of circumcision reflect his freedom? What cost have you paid in order to “go to the Gentiles”?
Wednesday: Galatians 3:1-25, The priority of faith
Abraham is Paul’s ultimate picture of faith. How has Abraham’s faith been a model for you? When were you fully away of the power of God’s gracious promises?
Thursday: Galatians 3:26-4:20, Sons and Slaves
Daughters and sons have a very special place in God’s economy of grace. How has the reality of being a child of God made your freedom in Christ easier to accept fully?
Friday: Galatians 4:21-5:15, Law vs. Freedom
Paul wonderfully sees no tension between standing firm in one’s freedom and expressing one’s faith in love. When have you been able to express to your neighbor both your freedom and your love?
Saturday: Galatians 5:16-26, Live by the Spirit
Yes, the final check on the misuse of my freedom is the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. How has the fruit of the Spirit (it is a singular fruit!) helped you finish the job that your freedom in Christ began?
Sunday: Galatians 6:1-18, What counts is New Creation
Yes, this is an extra day of reading, but Paul’s final words to too good to miss. Verses 14-15 are the theme of the mature believer. How has New Creation become real in your life?
Reading this week: Getting ready to finish Romans
Beginning next week, Pastor Fakkema will continue his series of messages from Romans. These are the texts for the final six sermons. Begin reading this week as we complete Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome and God’s word to his church in Anacortes.
Monday: Romans 13:1-7, Taxes, revenue, respect and honor
The questions around how we relate to civil authorities has always been a challenge for believers. We are, after all, citizens of two very different kingdoms. What does Paul’s principle of establishment mean for the church of the 21st century? How have you been blessed by God’s gift of (yes, gift!) of civil authority?
Tuesday: Romans 13:8-14, Love fulfills the law
Understanding debt has always been important (see Deuteronomy 15 and Proverbs 22:7). How has the debt of love that we owe changed your investment portfolio? When has “this present time” made loving more difficult? Easier?
Wednesday: Romans 14, Disputable matters
Christians never have agreed on everything. We do agree, however, on the need for mutual edification. How does the principle of disputable matters help you respect and love Christians who disagree on a matter you hold dear?
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13, A final word to the “strong”
This teaching is as difficult as Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness (see Matthew 6:14-15). Do you identify more with the stronger or with the weaker brother or sister? What has helped you live out the command to accept each other?
Friday: Romans 15:14-22, Proclaiming the gospel
How well have we (as church and as individuals) captured Paul’s passion for reaching the unreached? What is the role of prayer in building your own passion for the gospel?
Saturday: Romans 16, Ministry is about people!
Who most surprises you in this long list of Paul’s friends and associates? Who would you greet in your personal version of Romans 16?
Reading this week: It’s almost Christmas!
With a tip of the cap to Charles Schultz and my favorite character, Linus, here is an opportunity to again encounter “what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” This is the story of “God with us” and the story of our salvation.
Monday: Luke 1:1-26, Zechariah and the Angel
Alluding to the final Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, Malachi 4, the angel gives the priest some amazing news. God’s salvation plan is still at work, and Zechariah’s son will have a part in that plan! What is God telling you about your part in his salvation plan?
Tuesday: Luke 1:26-38, Mary’s story
Mary comes face to face with the reality that “nothing is impossible with God.” How does Mary’s response to this strangely good news, “I am the Lord’s servant”, inspire you this Christmas season?
Wednesday: Matthew 1:18-24, Joseph’s story
Often underappreciated, Joseph’s difficult trust is at the center of the “God with us” (from Isaiah 7:14) element of the Christmas story. What Joseph moments has God used to grow your faith this year?
Thursday: Luke 1:39-56, Mary and Elizabeth
The meeting in the hill country of these two pregnant cousins is one of the great scenes in the gospels, full of blessing and prayer. In which parts of Elizabeth’s blessing and Mary’s prayer do you most hear the voice of God this Christmas season?
Friday: Luke 1:57-80, Elizabeth and Zechariah
The priest and his wife are beautiful examples of obedience and devotion. I especially appreciate the way Zechariah’s song points us to the mercy of God. To what experience of peace is God guiding you this week?
Saturday: Luke 2:1-20, “In those days . . . .”
This is the part of the story that Linus chooses for his soliloquy. It reminds me that God is working from the palaces in Rome to the mangers in Bethlehem. What part of the story causes you to ponder God’s story this Advent season?
Reading this week: 1 Thessalonians
This might be Paul’s earliest encouragement to a church struggling with the implications of the Second Advent. I hope you will be as encouraged as our brothers and sisters in Thessalonica.
Monday: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, The Thessalonian faith
How much do you identify with the “severe suffering” of the Thessalonian church? How does their faith encourage you?
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16, Who is your Paul?
Who has been the Paul, the encourager, in your life? How did this person bring the word of God to you?
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13, Our glory and joy
What would Timothy say about your “faith and love”? This week, pray Paul’s 3:9-13 prayer for an ACRC friend.
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-11, Living to please God
How has brotherly love become a bigger part of your life? Who are you struggling most to love “more and more”?
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, The parousia
What aspect of Paul’s Second Advent teaching most encourages you? How does the reality of the “trumpet call of God” move you to more living to please God?
Saturday: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, Doug’s favorite benediction
How are you keeping the Spirit’s fire burning? How are the “alls” of 5:16-18 helping your spiritual flame?