Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, November 8. Read Ruth 2:11-13. 1) This is the story of Ruth and Boaz. What does Boaz believe about Ruth? 2) What kind of determination or intention do you see in Ruth?
Tuesday, November 9. Read Psalm 132:1-5. 1) How does the Psalmist posture himself in the presence of God? 2) What does he promise to God? 3) Look at the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel and list the similarities you see between the Psalmist and Hannah.
Wednesday, November 10. Read Lamentation 2:19. 1) How did Jeremiah recommend that his people pray to the Lord? 2) What sort of things comprised their prayers? 3) How is this different than the Health and Wealth gospel?
Thursday, November 11. Read Luke 7:36-50. 1) This is the well known story about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet? What can you tell about her heart in the way she approaches Jesus? 2) What was Jesus’ response to this?
Friday, November 12. Read Read Luke 1:46-55. 1) Who is the one reciting this song? 2) What comparisons can you draw between this and the next text in 1 Samuel?
Saturday, November 13. Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, help us to hear the message of Hannah and Mary. May we look with favor on the poor and avoid, like a plague, the notion that you want to make us prosperous. Help us to grow in generosity and in our knowledge of you as our gracious father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
How Firm a Foundation
by George Keith, 1787
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
“Fear not, I am with you; O be not dismayed,
for I am your God, and will still give you aid.
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
“When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you the deepest distress.
“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flames shall not hurt you. I only design
your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.
“The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”
Devotional Article of the Week:
This Collision of Grace
Greatness and grace reveal themelves in a world so real we can smell the manure and hear the breathing sounds of the Son of God.
by Phil Ware
Tubby was a unique friend. His work moved him to places all over the world. Some of these were exotic and beautiful places. Others were primitive and undeveloped. Some were downright dangerous. Tubby and his wife had hunkered down to survive three bloody coup d’états where bullets flew just outside their door. They also experienced many other dangerous, but less violent, military and political uprisings and coups. Without children, they wanted to travel the world and experience other cultures. They spent their life doing just that!
“Living where you did must have been very exciting,” I suggested to Tubby as he shifted uncomfortably in his hospital bed.
“Well to be honest,” Tubby responded, “all these places were fun, exotic, and exciting for about three months. Then, they’re ‘just home’ — we quit noticing their beauty and novelty. Little-by-little we became immune to their charm. They no longer seemed exotic to us. They were just the familiar place where we lived.”
Recently, I was reading through the Gospel of Luke. I came across a familiar passage usually reserved for the Christmas season. As I pondered this passage, then re-read it, and re-read it again, I realized I was suffering from the “Tubby effect.” Over-familiarity had stolen the wonder in my approach to many powerful messages in the Scriptures. This day, however, the Holy Spirit nudged me to linger. Because I did, the Spirit helped me reawaken to the wonder of God’s incarnation in Jesus. Only this time, the umpteenth time I’ve read this passage, the grace of it all was fresh and new:
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among [the shepherds], and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:9-12 NLT).
If you have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, you have probably seen, read, and heard these words more times than you can count. If you are like me, you might even remember the words in the voice of the Christmas special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Unfortunately, our familiarity can steal the starkness of God’s grace in this all-important story of Jesus’ birth.
Notice the radical incongruity inherent in Luke’s words. How do “Savior… Messiah… Lord” fit with “baby… strips of cloth… in a manger”? They don’t fit! So, why does Luke present Jesus’ birth as the oxymoron of the incarnation? Why does Luke introduce us to Jesus at the intersection of “the radiance of the Lord’s glory” and “shepherds staying in their fields”? Because this collision of grace — the wondrous and the common… the glorious and the mundane… the Messiah and strips of cloth… the Lord and a manger — brings us God’s greatest gift: Jesus!
We must not lose our sense of astonishment with this grace. The almighty, eternal, and unapproachable God has made himself available in a vulnerable baby placed where farm animals licked up their grain. Holiness and hope drew near each other in a stable. Greatness and grace reveal themselves in a world so real we can smell the manure and hear the breathing sounds of the Son of God.
God has been here!
Our world has been visited by heaven’s glory.
Grace has become holdable.
Salvation has become touchable.
Jesus is his name.
Don’t miss the discontinuity, incongruity, and stark contradiction of this collision of realities. We need glory, grace, salvation, and Jesus to be real in this place we live — our world of discontinuity, incongruity, and stark contradiction. Thank God! Jesus makes grace real in the grit and grime of our human reality so glory, grace, and salvation can be ours!
For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.