Month: January 2021

January 18, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: John 15:1-11

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Questions

  1. How is a vine and its branches an apt metaphor for my relationship with God?
  2. What steps can I take to abide more in Christ?

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory. 

Prayer

January 15, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 11

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 103

Of David.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,

    bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits,

3 who forgives all your iniquity,

    who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit,

    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness

    and justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,

    his acts to the people of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide,

    nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,

    nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who

fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame;

    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;

    he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

    and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from

    everlasting 

    to everlasting on those who fear him,

    and his righteousness to children’s children,

18 to those who keep his covenant

    and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the

    heavens,

    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,

    you mighty ones who do his word,

    obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,

    his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,

    in all places of his dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Questions

  1. Consider the different reasons we find in this psalm for praising God.
  2. Write my own version of this psalm praising God.

Prayer

 

January 14, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 10

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

    He leads me beside still waters.

3 He restores my soul.

    He leads me in paths of righteousness

    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

    I will fear no evil,

  for you are with me;

    your rod and your staff,

    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me

    in the presence of my enemies;

  you anoint my head with oil;

    my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

    all the days of my life,

  and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

    forever.

Context & Commentary

At its heart Psalm 23 is an expression of confidence in the protective care of [God], upon whom the psalmist expresses absolute dependence.

Wilson, Gerald H. NIV Application Commentary: Psalm – Volume 1.

v.4 In the Middle East the shepherd carries only a rod and staff… the shepherd boy spends hours practicing with this club, learning how to throw it with amazing speed and accuracy… The rod was what he relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And it was, furthermore, the instrument he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away.

Keller, Philip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

v.5 The anointed head speaks of the Lord’s welcome; the overflowing cup his lavish provision. But this goodness and love will continue as long as life lasts.

Carson, DA. New Bible Commentary

Questions

  1. Take some time to reflect on how God has been a Good Shepherd in my life.

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory.

Prayer

 

January 13, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 9

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 8

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

    You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

    you have established strength because of your foes,

    to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

    and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

    and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

    you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,

    and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

Context & Commentary

v.4 The universe reveals God’s glory. Aren’t humans just specks of dust in this vastness? Physically, yes; yet we fill the mind of God (verse 4). The astonishment of the psalmist should be ours: Why should God care about us?

Timothy Keller, with Kelly Keller. “Philippians 2:5-11” in The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, 12. New York, Viking, 2016.

Questions

  1. Consider the grandeur of the universe and reflect on the majesty of God who created everything.
  2. Reflecting on vv.3-4, what is the relationship between humility and gratitude?
  3. How has God “crowned [me] with glory and honor”? Take some time to give thanks to God.

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory.

Prayer

 

January 12, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 8

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Isaiah 40

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

    and cry to her

    that her warfare is ended,

    that her iniquity is pardoned,

    that she has received from the Lord’s hand

    double for all her sins.

3 A voice cries:

  “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;

    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

    and every mountain and hill be made low;

  the uneven ground shall become level,

    and the rough places a plain.

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

    and all flesh shall see it together,

    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Cry!”

    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

  All flesh is grass,

    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

7 The grass withers, the flower fades

    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;

    surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers, the flower fades,

    but the word of our God will stand forever.

9 Go on up to a high mountain,

    O Zion, herald of good news;

  lift up your voice with strength,

    O Jerusalem, herald of good news;

    lift it up, fear not;

  say to the cities of Judah,

    “Behold your God!”

10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,

    and his arm rules for him;

   behold, his reward is with him,

    and his recompense before him.

11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

    he will gather the lambs in his arms;

   he will carry them in his bosom,

    and gently lead those that are with young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

    and marked off the heavens with a span,

    enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure

    and weighed the mountains in scales

    and the hills in a balance?

13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,

    or what man shows him his counsel?

14 Whom did he consult,

    and who made him understand?

   Who taught him the path of justice,

    and taught him knowledge,

    and showed him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

    and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

    behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,

    nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

17 All the nations are as nothing before him,

   they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

18 To whom then will you liken God,

    or what likeness compare with him?

19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,

    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

    and casts for it silver chains.

20 He who is too impoverished for an offering

    chooses wood that will not rot;

    he seeks out a skillful craftsman

    to set up an idol that will not move.

21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?

    Has it not been told you from the beginning?

    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

    who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

23 who brings princes to nothing,

    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,

    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

    when he blows on them, and they wither,

    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,

    that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:

    who created these?

   He who brings out their host by number,

    calling them all by name;

   by the greatness of his might

    and because he is strong in power,

    not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,

    and speak, O Israel,

    “My way is hidden from the Lord,

    and my right is disregarded by my God”?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

   The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

   He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

    and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,

    and young men shall fall exhausted;

31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

   they shall run and not be weary;

   they shall walk and not faint.

Questions

  1. What does this passage reveal about God’s majesty?
  2. Even though God is so majestic, He does not disregard us (vv.11, 27). How does this challenge my view of God?
  3. Why is idolatry (vv.18-20) so foolish in light of who God is?

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory.

Prayer

 

January 11, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 7

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Luke 15:11-32

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” 

Questions

  1. How does the story of the lost son capture my story?
  2. Jesus’ audience, in their 1st century Palestine context, would have been shocked by his portrait of the father. What do I learn about God and His heart for me?

Prayer

 

January 8, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 6

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Isaiah 6:1-8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Context & Commentary

v.3 “‘Holy, holy, holy’ – The threefold repetition intensifies the superlative (cf. Rev. 4:8). Holiness implies absolute moral purity and separateness above the creation.”ESV Study Bible Commentary

Questions

  1. Describe how Isaiah must have felt as he encountered the holiness of God. What thoughts and feelings do I have when I think about God’s holiness?
  2. Reflect on how Isaiah sees himself against the backdrop of God’s holiness. Take some time to honestly assess myself before the holy God.
  3. How have I experienced my guilt being taken away, and my sin atoned for?

Prayer

January 7, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 5

 

INTRODUCTION

Part 1) Imitate: Be Imitators of Christ

Imitating Jesus is the beginning of Christian discipleship and a joyful, lifelong pursuit

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Philippians 2:1-11

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Context & Commentary

“In many ways this is the greatest and most moving passage Paul ever wrote about Jesus. It states a favourite thought of his. The essence of it is in the simple statement Paul made to the Corinthians that, although Jesus was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). … Paul is pleading with the Philippians to live in harmony, to lay aside their discords, to shed their personal ambitions and their pride and their desire for prominence and prestige, and to have in their hearts that humble, selfless desire to serve, which was the essence of the life of Christ. His final and unanswerable appeal is to point to the example of Jesus Christ.”

Barclay, William. “Philippians 2:5-11” in The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Westminster John Knox, 2011.

Questions

  1. Reflect on the character and humility of Jesus.
  2. What is one way I am challenged to imitate Jesus’ humility today?

Prayer

 

January 6, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 4

 

INTRODUCTION

Part 1) Imitate: Be Imitators of Christ

Imitating Jesus is the beginning of Christian discipleship and a joyful, lifelong pursuit

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: John 2:13-22

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Context & Commentary

“Passover was an annual festival celebrated each spring that retold the story of Israel’s departure from Egypt … Over the centuries Passover had become a pilgrimage festival in which Jewish families were expected to travel to Jerusalem and participate in sacrifice, a symbolic meal, and reflective study of Israel’s salvation. Since pilgrims would need approved animals for sacrifice, a considerable business grew in the city at this time of year… Jesus’ frustration does not stem from supposed wholesale greed or graft, but from the fact that these transactions are happening in the temple at all: ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’ (2:16) is a prophetic command to return the temple to its intended use: worship, prayer, instruction, and pious sacrifice… Jesus is attacking the financial machinery of the festival system. […]

“The scene is dramatic, provocative, and upsetting. Furniture was broken; animals went running; coins flew from their scales. Jesus makes a disturbance…”

Burge, Gary M. “John 2:1-25” in NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: John. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Questions

  1. How do Jesus’ actions in this passage contrast with popular notions of Jesus?
  2. The New Testament describes each believer as a temple of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). What are some implications of this in my life?
  3. Jesus’ zeal was ultimately displayed on the cross. What implications does this have for me?

Prayer

 

January 5, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 3

 

INTRODUCTION

Part 1) Imitate: Be Imitators of Christ

Imitating Jesus is the beginning of Christian discipleship and a joyful, lifelong pursuit

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text

Mark 1:40-45

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Context & Commentary

Leprosy is an uncommon disease today, largely eradicated in the modern world, but it still exists in some underdeveloped nations.

“In the New Testament there is no disease regarded with more terror and pity than leprosy…. No other disease reduces a human being for so many years to so hideous a wreck.

“[Leprosy] begins with an unaccountable lethargy and pains in the joints.  Then there appear on the body, symmetrical discoloured patches. On them little nodules form, at first pink, then turning brown.  The skin is thickened.  The nodules gather specially in the folds of the cheek, the nose, the lips and the forehead.  The whole appearance of the face is changed till the man loses his human appearance and looks, as the ancients said, like a lion ….The nodules grow larger and larger; they ulcerate and from them comes a foul discharge.  The eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the voice becomes hoarse and the breath wheezes because of the ulceration of the vocal chords.  The hands and the feet also ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths.  The average course of the disease is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma and ultimately death. The sufferer becomes utterly repulsive both to himself and to others.”

In addition to the physical effects, there were also ravaging social and psychological effects. Because leprosy was believed to be contagious, lepers were separated from their families and lived in leper colonies as outcasts. They were also seen as spiritually defiled and accursed. The Bible characterizes all of us as afflicted with spiritual leprosy: disfigured and diseased by sin, suffering many of the same social and psychological effects.

Questions

  1. In what ways have I experienced leprosy as an apt description of my spiritual condition?
  2. How have I experienced Jesus’ compassion and cleansing from sin?
  3. The leper does not doubt Jesus’ ability, but rather His willingness. Reflect on Jesus’ response.
  4. How can I imitate Jesus’ compassion? Who are the people in my life in need of compassion and words of healing?  

Prayer

 

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