This week's community reading schedule:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 76, Jeremiah 40, Acts 16
Tue Psalm 77, Jeremiah 41, Acts 17
Wed Psalm 78, Jeremiah 42, Acts 18
Thurs Psalm 79, Jeremiah 43, Acts 19
Fri Psalm 80, Jeremiah 44, Acts 20
Sat Psalm 81, Jeremiah 45, Acts 21
Sun Psalm 81, Jeremiah 46, Acts 22

Today's community reading: Psalm 70, Jeremiah 34, Acts 10

By definition, favoritism says that some people are more valuable than others. It creates a system where people feel like second-class citizens and this happens everyday all throughout our society. And yet, the church has the opportunity to mend what is broken because we’ve been the gospel message, a narrative in which God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t show partiality and this theme is woven throughout the Scriptures. In Genesis 12, all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abram and his lineage. In the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ hospitality is winsome to the lease of these. 

This theme continues in Acts 10 as we read about the gospel being proclaimed to an ever-expanding audience with the conversation of Cornelius, a Gentile commander in the Roman army.  Here, God crosses the paths of Peter and Cornelius. Peter testifies how the gospel has shaped him (v.v.28, 34-35) and then shares with with Cornelius’ family and close friends the good news (v.v. 34-43). So why does all of this matter? Well, this text shapes us to be a community that is non-partial in our welcome of others. It shapes us this way because each of us, were once far off and have been brought near. The gospel mends what is broken and pushes back against the darkness and unfair treatment of others. 

This week's community reading:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 69, Jeremiah 33, Acts 9
Tue Psalm 70, Jeremiah 34, Acts 10
Wed Psalm 71, Jeremiah 35, Acts 11
Thurs Psalm 72, Jeremiah 36, Acts 12
Fri Psalm 73, Jeremiah 37, Acts 13
Sat Psalm 74, Jeremiah 38, Acts 14
Sun Psalm 75, Jeremiah 39, Acts 15

Today's community reading: Psalm 64, Jeremiah 28, Acts 4

In the closing verses of Acts 4, the believers had everything in common. There was a great sense of generosity among the believers and this created much unity and harmony. Central to this harmony is the resurrection - it has social implications. One theologian says that if we push the resurrection to the margins or leave it out all together, we don’t just lose an extra feature, like buying a car without heated seats, we actually lose the central engine which drives and gives every other component its reason for working. 

The church that is shaped by the message of Jesus’ resurrection is thrusted out into the world to participate with God in his renewal of all things, including spaces and places. This means that we push back on corruption and decay holistically through mercy and justice. We protect the vulnerable, help to establish policies that are for the well-being of all, campaign for better housing and care for those in need, both inside and outside the church. 

This week's community reading schedule:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 62, Jeremiah 26, Acts 2
Tue Psalm 63, Jeremiah 27, Acts 3
Wed Psalm 64, Jeremiah 28, Acts 4
Thurs Psalm 65, Jeremiah 29, Acts 5
Fri Psalm 66, Jeremiah 30, Acts 6
Sat Psalm 67, Jeremiah 31, Acts 7
Sun Psalm 68, Jeremiah 32, Acts 8 

Today's community reading: Psalm 57, Jeremiah 21, John 18

Exodus 34:6 is a key OT passage that the writers of Scripture refer to time and time again. It’s a passage that puts the character of the LORD on display: "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” David draws our attention to the steadfast love and faithfulness of the LORD at the beginning and end of Psalm 57 (v.v. 3,10). This psalm is David’s lament as he cries out to the LORD for help (v.4,6) and protection. What started out as a relationship filled with appreciation and love between David and Saul (1 Samuel 16:20-23) has now turned into David on the run from Saul, hiding in a cave, and fearing for his life. The culprit: Saul’s jealousy of David’s success (1 Samuel 18:6-8). Even in the slightest bit, the jealousy we experience is poisonous and left unchecked, it is capable of destroying the beauty and harmony of our closest relationships. David is right to lament “what once was” and seek refuge and comfort in the LORD’s protection.

This week's community reading schedule:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 55, Jeremiah 19, John 16
Tue Psalm 56, Jeremiah 20, John 17
Wed Psalm 57, Jeremiah 21, John 18
Thurs Psalm 58, Jeremiah 22, John 19
Fri Psalm 59, Jeremiah 23, John 20
Sat Psalm 60, Jeremiah 24, John 21
Sun Psalm 61, Jeremiah 25, Acts 1

Today's community reading: Psalm 49, Jeremiah 13, John 10

From time to time, many of us place our faith in success, a picture-perfect family or being liked by others. When we take good things like working hard or the well-being of our families and make them the ultimate aim of our lives we find ourselves on a performance treadmill running at a pace that is physically impossible for us to maintain. John 10 tells us that Jesus isn’t like other gods and in this text we see us a picture of the God that we all really want, a Savior who truly satisfies our hearts. 

Jesus is our Good Shepherd and he gives up his own life for us (v.v. 11-12, 18). He gives himself and is self-serving unlike the self-seeking gods of success and reputation. The Good Shepherd also knows his sheep. It can be easy for this truth to lose its meaning. What is expressed here isn’t a ‘Jesus sorta or kinda knows his sheep’, but instead it is a knowledge of his sheep in the same manner that God the Father and God the Son know one another (v.v.14-15). There’s no closer intimacy than this. In Jesus there is salvation and that’s when our hearts can truly find rest and truly be satisfied (v.v. 7-9).

This week's community reading:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 48, Jeremiah 12, John 9
Tue Psalm 49, Jeremiah 13, John 10
Wed Psalm 50, Jeremiah 14, John 11
Thurs Psalm 51, Jeremiah 15, John 12
Fri Psalm 52, Jeremiah 16, John 13
Sat Psalm 53, Jeremiah 17, John 14
Sun Psalm 54, Jeremiah 18, John 15

Today's community reading: Psalm 38, Jeremiah 1, Luke 21

In Jeremiah 1, we see that Jeremiah, a prophet of the LORD, was given the task to call God’s people back to being the vehicle of blessing to the nations. Jeremiah’s audience, Judah (the Northern Kingdom), had forsaken the Lord their God. They had formed allegiances with other gods (v.16) and their hardness of heart was going to make it very, very difficult for them to hear Jeremiah’s preaching. As daunting as they were, we miss out on the grace of God in this text if we focus solely on the circumstances (v.v. 14-16) facing Jeremiah. In the midst of the heated opposition and arduous persecution, God’s grace enables Jeremiah for his uphill battle. Jeremiah must get ready for work and be willing to rely on the LORD for the words to say (v.17) and for the protection (v.19) needed to call God’s people back to be a light to the nations. 

This week's community reading schedule:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 35, Isaiah 64, Luke 18
Tue Psalm 36, Isaiah 65, Luke 19
Wed Psalm 37, Isaiah 66, Luke 20
Thurs Psalm 38, Jeremiah 1, Luke 21
Fri Psalm 39, Jeremiah 2, Luke 22
Sat Psalm 40, Jeremiah 3, Luke 23
Sun Psalm 41, Jeremiah 4, Luke 24 

Today's community reading: Psalm 30, Isaiah 59, Luke 13

A few weeks ago in youth group our middle school students talked about Jesus comparing the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Admittedly, this seems fairly obscure to us today but Jesus’ original audience would have understood his illustration. In Luke 13:18-19, Jesus makes the point that, like the mustard seed, the Kingdom of God begins in a seemingly small and almost unnoticeable way, but eventually becomes a source of great blessing too big to ignore. The take-away from the evening was that being present with a friend who is hurting, building someone up with kind words or being patient with a sibling are all ways God's people can bring significant blessing to others.

This weeks community reading schedule:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 28, Isaiah 57, Luke 11
Tue Psalm 29, Isaiah 58, Luke 12
Wed Psalm 30, Isaiah 59, Luke 13
Thurs Psalm 31, Isaiah 60, Luke 14
Fri Psalm 32, Isaiah 61, Luke 15
Sat Psalm 33, Isaiah 62, Luke 16
Sun Psalm 34, Isaiah 63, Luke 17 

Today's community reading: Psalm 23, Isaiah 52, Luke 6

In the back of our minds many of us are asking, “Do I matter?” or “Does anyone care about me?” Sometimes these questions play loudly on repeat and other times they’re subtle but still there. Psalm 23 helps to silence these questions. It is a well-known passage perhaps because it is so widely used, and for good reasons. This psalm speaks to one of humanity’s most innate desires: the need to be cared for. We long for this and David uses two metaphors to make it abundantly clear that the Lord cares for his people (Shepherd and Host).

The Lord cares for his people like a Shepherd. His care is holistic and abundant so that we may not lack or be in need (v.1). He brings rest, guides us towards a life of blessing and walks alongside us, escorting us in the face of danger (v.v.2-4). Also, the Lord is a Host whose guests aren’t merely acquaintances invited for one day, but guests who live with Him. His goodness and mercy follows or pursues them wherever they go and they have the great confidence that his commitment to them is unending (v.6)

This week's community reading:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year, the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 21, Isaiah 50, Luke 4
Tue Psalm 22, Isaiah 51, Luke 5
Wed Psalm 23, Isaiah 52, Luke 6
Thurs Psalm 24, Isaiah 53, Luke 7
Fri Psalm 25, Isaiah 54, Luke 8
Sat Psalm 26, Isaiah 55, Luke 9
Sun Psalm 27, Isaiah 56, Luke 10

How to spot "self-made religion"

Christ set us free from "self-made religion." We didn't have time to go into this in the sermon yesterday on Colossians 2:16-23, but I thought some of you would find this helpful. How do you recognize controlling, rule-based, unhealthy Christianity that is very common in blogs, conferences, books, and churches? Here are a few thoughts: 
- Doesn’t Center the Christian Life We are Called to Live on the Life of Jesus
- Certainty about Minor Matters
- Us vs. Them Mentality (either Church vs. World or Our Church vs. Those Churches)
- Either/Or Thinking
- Shifting Rules (often one set for you, one set for them or changing the rules for you because the goal is control)
- Catering to Fear (a symptom that there is little love present, as love casts out fear)

Today's community readings: Psalm 15, Isaiah 44, Mark 14:

Psalm 15 describes the good life for the people of God. It is a character-forming psalm aimed at shaping God’s people into a new community. The good life has both personal and social implications. Personally, the concern of this psalm is that God’s people would have integrity. That we would be advocates for what is right and true and speak honestly in our conversations (v.2). Socially, that we would protect the well-fare and reputation of others (v.3), honor others as they seek to honor the Lord (v.4a) and financially, that we would seek justice above personal gain (v.5a-b).

We pursue the good life of Psalm 15 with the Lord’s help. We trust him to shape us into this new and beautiful community and as we exert ourselves towards these qualities, we can be assured that we will not be shaken or moved, ever (v.5c).

Today's community reading: Psalm 10, Isaiah 39, Mark 9

"But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless." - Psalm 10:14

 

Psalm 10 is one of my favorite Psalms. It is one of the portions of Scripture that ring most true to me. In it you have the ability for Christianity to tell the whole truth. Only the religion with the death of God at its center can tell you that things are at least as bad as you suspect. And only the religion with a resurrected God at its center can tell you that things are better than you can imagine. Only Christianity can bear the burden of both those crucial truths. Only Christianity can send out a people who can both grieve with the victim and hope with them too. It is the whole truth here. May we grieve with hope in this world, with thanksgiving for a God whose final word is joy.

This week's community reading:

Yearly Bible-reading plan:
*Plan takes you through the Psalms twice per year,
the New Testament once, and 1/3 through the
Old Testament.

Mon Psalm 7, Isaiah 36, Mark 6
Tue Psalm 8, Isaiah 37, Mark 7
Wed Psalm 9, Isaiah 38, Mark 8
Thurs Psalm 10, Isaiah 39, Mark 9
Fri Psalm 11, Isaiah 40, Mark 10
Sat Psalm 12, Isaiah 41, Mark 11
Sun Psalm 13, Isaiah 42, Mark 12

Today's community reading: Psalm 8, Isaiah 37, Mark 7:

Psalm 8 takes God’s people on a tour along the beauty of his handiwork in nature and in humanity. When we’re confronted with the larger-than-life wonders of His creation we can praise his beauty. Whether we’re consumed by the vastness of the Milky Way on a summer night or whether we stand at the bottom of the world’s tallest waterfall gazing up to its edge, these wonders were given to us to enjoy.

Not only does God display his beauty in nature, but he does so in our humanity. You and I have been given great dignity. We are significant to Him. He is mindful of us (v. 4). He cares for us and moves towards us; this is His posture. We’re also given dominion to rule over creation for the common good. This isn’t an exploitation but instead, we get to be involved in God’s process of making all things new and seeing creation flourish to be a blessing to all.