Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, November 2. Read Jeremiah 1:14-16; 29:10-11. 1) To whom did Jeremiah address his words in this text? 2) Therefore, who are the words in 29:10,11 addressed? 3) What is God promising to these addressees?
Tuesday, November 3. Read Genesis 12:1-3. 1) What did God say to Abram, in verse 1? 2) What would happen to Abram as a result? Look at the corporate nature of this promise?
Wednesday, November 4. Read John 1:10-13. 1) What happened when the Word came into the world? 2) How did his own people respond? 3) What happens to all who receive him? Is this plural or singular?
Thursday, November 5. Read Romans 8:15-16. 1) Look at the pronouns used in this text. Are they plural or singular? 2) What other words in this text help you see the singular or plural number?
Friday, November 6. Read Galatians 326-27. 1) To whom is this text being spoken? 2) What kinds of pronouns and nouns does Paul use, singular or plural?
Saturday, November 7. Read 1 John 3:1-11. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, we give thanks to stand inside that group that you call your “children.” How that changes the way we look at our lives and our relationships. How that humbles us and removes from us any basis for boasting, except in the Cross of Jesus. How that enlarges the family to which we belong and also the people we love. Please keep us close to you. May we not attempt to live outside this family. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
How Sweet, How Heavenly, is the Sight
by Joseph Swain, 1851.
How sweet and heavenly is the sight
When those who love the Lord
In one another’s peace delight,
And so fulfill his word!
Oh! may we feel each brother’s sigh,
And with him bear a part;
May sorrows flow from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart.
Let love, in one delightful stream,
Through every bosom flow,
Let union sweet and dear esteem
In every action glow.
Love is the golden chain that binds
The happy souls above;
And he’s an heir of heaven who finds
His bosom glow with love.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Can we really know God?
by Phil Ware
We settle for so much less than God wants for us. So often this is because we will simply not let go of our own ways of doing things. I’m not sure I had realized it before, but as I left a rat hole called a halfway house, I knew it in my gut.
The place stunk with the acrid smell of old urine from a bathroom not kept up to standards. It smelled with the odor of stale cigarette smoke and damp mold. It smelled of body odor. And as I sat across from this one guy going through detox, it stunk with the awful smell of speed sweat — the sweat of a guy who had mainlined crank for far too many years and was literally sweating the “speed” out of his system.
“You know,” I replied when given an opportunity to respond, “some folks talk about addicts as folks aching for God, but having taken what they thought were shortcuts to get there without having to do the religious thing. Next thing they know, they are in bondage to satan and can’t get out of their addiction.”
“I know I have had a hunger for God all these years,” the guy said, “but I have to decide to surrender to Him for Him to be real to me, and I don’t know how to do that. It’s just so much easier and quicker to get a fix … and that’s what I know how to do.”
It’s not just those who crave some drug that hunger for God. There is a “God-shaped hole” in each of us and nothing can satisfy the soul-ache, the spiritual-hunger, the relentlessness in our hearts, but God. Nothing else, no matter how socially acceptable, can satisfy this hunger. God made us to crave relationship with Him … to need His presence in our lives to be complete. But, He also gave us the freedom to accept or reject Him.
God also gave us the freedom to choose substitutes, even so-called spiritual ones, if we choose them over Him. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that the evil foe we face is perfectly happy for us to substitute some form of Christian-sounding religious hooey for really knowing God. But life — real life, eternal life that begins right here and now and never ends — is only found in knowing God.
This language for knowing God is bold, daring, and dangerous. Think of it: the Creator, the Almighty that no one can adequately describe, the Ruler of the universe, the only true God really wants us to know Him and be known by Him. And the language used to declare this truth is frank and personal.
Our modern translations have taken the metaphor out of some of the passages that help us understand this. But the word in Scripture for intimacy was to “know” someone. (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:17; Genesis 4:25; and Luke 1:34 all use the term “knew” or “known” for the act of sexual intimacy.) This is the Holy Spirit’s way of daringly saying that we are made to know God — to experience His personal presence in a close way in our daily lives. In other words, “to know God” is so much more than just “knowing facts about God.” As Jesus promised, God comes to us, lives in us, makes His home with us, and reveals Himself to us (John 14:19-23).
Think about this a minute! The concept is mind blowing. God wants us to experience His presence in our lives. He wants us to have a real relationship with Him. And at a soul level, we know it’s true. That’s why so many of the Psalms speak so powerful to our hearts. They are personal, honest, open, and yearning. That’s why some worship songs grab our hearts: they speak the truth of our yearning souls.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; …
As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.
My spirit pants for Thee, O Living word!
What a friend I’ve found, closer than a brother … Jesus, friend forever.
So rather than settling for tired, stale, religious rituals and forms, let’s call each other to truly “know” God. But as my friend at the halfway house reminded me, we have to choose to surrender our preconceptions, biases, and traditions to Him, and let Him “draw us ever nearer”!