Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, December 6. Read Psalm 71:1-6. 1) What does the Psalmist ask God to do for him? 2) What kind of relationship does this Psalmist have with God?
Tuesday, December 7. Read Psalm 18:1-6. 1) Why did David write this Psalm? 2) Notice what he says to and about God. How does David’s prayer different from the usual Western prayer you hear today?
Wednesday, December 8. Read Exodus 15:1-10. 1) What did Moses and the Israelites do when they passed through the Red Sea safely? 2) What was the reason and object of what Moses did?
Thursday, December 9. Read Luke 19:37-40. 1) When Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem’s gates, what did people do? Why do you think they probably misunderstood what Jesus was about to do? 2) What did the Pharisees ask Jesus to do? What was his response to them?
Friday, December 10. Read John 4:7-26. 1) Who did Jesus find at the well, and what did he ask of that person? 2) When did it become apparent to that person, that Jesus was offering something to her that was different than what she thought? 3) Verse 21. How was the world that Jesus was referring to different than the womans?
Saturday, December 11. Read Isaiah 12:1-6. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, in this week of national Thanksgiving, may we rich, privileged Americans think about the ways that we see your footprints in this world. Help us take our eyes off ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
When all thy mercies
by Joseph Addison, 1712
When all thy mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I’m lost
in wonder, love, and praise.
Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ,
nor is the least a cheerful heart,
that tastes those gifts with joy.
Through ev’ry period of my life
thy goodness I’ll pursue,
and after death in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.
Through all eternity, to thee
a joyful song I’ll raise,
but, oh, eternity’s too short
to utter all thy praise!
Devotional Article of the Week:
Restored to Life: Our real Salvation
Saved every way a person can be saved
by Phil Ware
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10 ESV).
Toward the end of the classic 1997 movie Titanic, Rose finishes her story with the line of the movie that has the most romantic elixir:
A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets. But now you know there was a man named Jack Dawson, and that he saved me… in every way a person can be saved. I don’t even have a picture of him. He exists now only in my memory.
I remember hearing the line in the movie when I saw it. It troubled me. Part of me wanted to say, “Nun huh! No way! Don’t you know that is borderline blasphemy? Don’t you know…”
My self-righteous indignation got the better of me and I was ready to pronounce all the dangerous things lurking beneath the surface of this powerful love story — a simplistic approach to class warfare, the formulaic excuse for adultery because of an abusive fiancee, and the lure of exotic love over marital faithfulness that dominated the movie themes of the time.
While all those concerns were probably true, the Holy Spirit seemed to trouble me at a deeper level… a more personal level… at a level of spiritual reflection of my definition of salvation. While Rose’s definition of salvation was based completely in the moments of this world, I became convicted that what my Western Christian religion was offering was an other worldly salvation some time in the distant future that seemed to connect very little with the world where I live — the great pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye rather than something in the here and now.
Over the years, I have come to call this elevator theology. We tell someone how to “get saved” and then send them over to the line in front of the elevator where they wait for Jesus to come down and finish the work of salvation by taking us away from here.
The problem is, there is no clear salvation in the now… in the moment… in the living of our lives until Jesus returns. It’s all about being saved from all that is evil (Ephesians 2:1-9) and forgets about the being saved for something important, vital, and full of life now (Ephesians 2:10).
This gap in our theology, this gap in our everyday spiritual lives, is intended to be filled with the Kingdom of God. It is God’s pull on hearts to make our Father’s Kingdom come and our Father’s will be done on earth, at least in our lives and influence, as it is in heaven. It is for salvation to be real in the way we live our lives — not just a quick deliverance from the guilt of our sin and a long wait to be delivered from our earthly travails.
As Jesus deals with the dreaded “Big Four” primal fears* in the lives of real people, we are reminded that restoration of people back to life — real life, God-ordained life of fullness, true shalom (John 10:10), so they can live for God in their communities and families — is a key part of what Jesus’ salvation entails. We’re not just saved from evil and hell’s fiendish intent for us, but we are also saved for a life…
* of discipleship — “Who is this man? How can He command wind and water so they do what He says?” (Luke 8:35 The Voice).
* of witness to friends and family — “Go home. Tell your people this amazing story of how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).
* in community — “Your faith has made you well again, daughter. Go in peace” (Luke 8:49).
* of everyday life in family — “Get her something to eat” (Luke 8:55).
Jesus didn’t just come to preach and teach. Jesus didn’t just come to heal and cast out demons. He did both:
And so Jesus went throughout Galilee. He taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of the Kingdom, and He healed people, ridding their bodies of sickness and disease (Matthew 4:23).
Jesus went through many towns and villages. He taught in their synagogues. He preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. He healed every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:35).
Jesus saves people in every way a person can be saved. He saves them from all that evil longs to do. He saves them for Kingdom life now in everyday, real world, circumstances. He saves them to a life of bringing the power of the Kingdom into the lives of others.
So rather than getting torqued, scorched, and bent about the shallow salvation the world offers in the here and now, let’s look at how we’ve made salvation too pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye. Let’s work for the salvation Jesus brings — from sin and death, for life with God, and to bring the character and compassion of God’s Kingdom to the people around us.
There’s a lot more to salvation than standing in line waiting for the holy elevator to ding, open its doors, and usher us into our heavenly home. There’s the Kingdom to bring. There’s the lost to fully save. There’s family, friends, and community to share. There’s shalom of God to experience. There’s life to live abundantly. This is being saved… “in every way a person can be saved”!