Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday, 31 July 2015 Psalms 54-56; Acts 21: 1-17 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 54-56; Acts 21:1-17

The psalmist prays for deliverance amidst persecution by family and even strangers. He is confident that God will help as He always has. In times of sudden testing and unexpected trouble, we easily become disillusioned and wonder if God has abandoned us. However, in every trouble, God is our sure helper. The deliverance He provides in Christ, who Himself knew persecution unto death, makes us triumphant despite every appearance to the contrary.

The author finds himself in a town full of wickedness and violence, betrayed by a trusted friend and colleague, with no one to help except God. He turns to the Lord in prayer, entrusting his life to God’s hand with confidence.  When troubles press hard, we may find it easy to give in to our feelings and give up on God. The psalmist’s steadfastness challenges us to trust in God’s mercy.

Even in the midst of danger, David rejoices in God’s love and His certain deliverance from death. When we face trials, we may be tempted to worry about our own welfare or feel like giving up in hopelessness. Instead, we can remember that our problems are nothing new and that God is able to help in every situation. Through these experiences, He strengthens our faith and draws us closer to Jesus Christ, our Savior.

In our NT reading Paul completes his journey to Jerusalem despite warnings about the dangers he will encounter there. Many times, due to fear or lack of understanding, we fail to do the Lord’s will. Contrary to all human logic, God’s plan of salvation was carried out through Christ for the forgiveness of all our failures. This shows us that God can make all things - however fearful or illogical they may seem to us - work out for our good. We are always on His heart.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Psalms 57-59; Acts 21:18-40

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday, July 30th: Psalms 51-53, Acts 20:17-38 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 51-53; Acts 20:17-38

Psalm 51 is David's prayer of repentance after being convicted of the sin of adultery and murder.  It seems unthinkable that a genuine Christian would be capable of committing these serious sins, and yet it is.  A huge reminder that we always need to be vigilant about every part of our lives, to be on guard to all temptations, to remain humble and not think that we are above anyone else or incapable of certain sins.  David's remorse is clearly genuine and he reconciled his relationship with God.  However, he still had to bear tremendous consequences for his sin.  The fact that David committed major sins and was still able to be reconciled to God should not be seen as a license to sin.  Far from it!  It is a reminder of how serious the consequences to sin can be, and that it is never worth the cost.

Our Acts passage reminds us that salvation is not an easy thing.  Indeed, few take the narrow road and enter the small gate of salvation, and we are not promised an easy path once we do so.  Paul speaks passionately to the elders of the church because of this fact.

It is a hard thing for a church to be saved, and harder still to be saved in the next generation and the generation after that. Only men who know how hard it is for believers to be saved themselves and who are steeled to face the hard work of that salvation, are fit to be entrusted with the salvation of the church! The cultivation of our young men for the future leadership of the church, to be better, holier, wiser, tougher men than their fathers, is the first and most important step a church takes to ensure its long term spiritual life and Christian usefulness.

So take away two lessons: one for yourself personally -- it is hard thing to be saved, so you must not take your salvation for granted, but apply yourself diligently to it always -- and one for the church -- that she must have a leadership committed to Paul's view of the vulnerability of the church and capable of protecting it by their own fidelity and zeal for the house of God and the name of Christ.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 54-56; Acts 21:1-17

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday, July 29th: Psalms 49-50, Acts 20:1-16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 49-50; Acts 20:1-16

Psalm 49 is a great reminder that we need to see our earthly troubles, and the earthly success of the wicked, through the eyes of eternity.  It is so hard for us to do that sometimes - we are timebound creatures and really have no way to truly grasp the concept or reality of eternity.  Yet, as much as we are able, we must.  By faith.

Psalm 50 is a reminder that ritual and sacrifice do not impress God - we need to worship Him from the heart.

In Acts we see the prescription of a healthy church.  They came together on the Lord's Day to be strengthened by hearing the Word and fellowshipping together, which gave them the energy they needed to live and serve in their individual stations during the week.

It's interesting to note what happens immediately after Paul raises Eutychus from the dead - they continued on with the evening, fellowshipping together and celebrating the Lord's Supper.  As Rayburn says....  The church's life is sustained primarily and most importantly by Word and sacrament, by the fellowship of the saints, and miracles are just the icing on the cake.

I love the humanity of this story - Eutychus falling asleep during the sermon.  Being Christians doesn't make us infallible.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 51-53; Acts 20:17-38

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday, July 28th: Psalm 46-48, Acts 19:21-41 ~ Nathan

Psalm 46 ends with verse 11:
"The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress"
Earlier in that chapter we read how God is our refuge and strength, ever present help in trouble,  and the writer gives examples of mighty things we would normally fear:
- the earth giving way
- mountains falling into the sea
- waters roaring and foaming
- mountains quaking with surging
- nations in uproar
- kingdoms falling

The writer then goes on to talk about how God is our fortress,  and then talks about how He makes wars cease. 

The verse that ends this portion of scripture best, for me,  is verse 10:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

When things beyond our control go wrong,  we can be comforted in knowing that God is in full control,  and He will one day be praised by all.

In our reading from Acts,  we see  how a silversmith named Demetrius was against Paul's spreading the gospel because it hurt his business of selling idols. I found this funny because it reminded me of a souvenir store selling toy Santas then getting mad at parents who tell their children that Santa isn't real. This made the whole worshiping idols seem even more ridiculous.

Because of Demetrius' issue with Paul, he raised a stink and before long a large crowd gathered and became unruly. It was a city clerk,  who also was a believer in worshiping idols,  who calmed them down by reminding them that Paul and his disciples preached the gospel and at the same time showed respect for the local religion,  no matter how silly it must have seemed to Paul. Therefore Paul should be left alone and not harmed.

This reminded me that no matter how silly or wrong we find other religions or beliefs around us,  we still need to show respect for these people and not mock them.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday, July 27th: Psalms 43-45, Acts 19:1-20 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Psalms 43-45; Acts 19:1-20

The writer in Psalm 43 is asking God for him to be delivered from his enemies and to be restored to God's presence.  It shows that he is dependent on God as asks God to "plead his case to an ungodly nation."

He shows trust in God asking that He would send His light and truth to guide him (vs3) for his requests.  

In Ephesus Paul finds some other people similar to Apollos who haven't been updated in a long time.  Like Apollos, they are only familiar with the preaching and baptizing of John the Baptist. It doesn't actually say here that they were not familiar with the ministry of Christ himself, but it is implied.  

10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Paul stayed in this part of Asia Minor and did a thorough job of evangelizing.  

A lot of miracles are taking place as a result of Paul's ministry and are impressive to all around Ephesus. Subsequently, some Jewish sons of the local synagogue priest decide to trail on the coattails of Paul's success by casting out demons through the power of Jesus Christ. Only one problem though, they themselves showed no signs of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So, when they tried, verse 15 says that the evil spirit spoke back to them saying, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 

The man in whom the evil spirit resided leaped on them and overtook them.  The seven sons were left naked and wounded. Big things took place in Ephesus; verses 17-20 tell us that the Word of God prevailed and many forsook their practices of witchcraft.     

Like Chris Tomlin sings - Our God is greater, our God is stronger, and more awesome in power than any other!

Am I dependant on God for everything?  Do I seek God daily and trust in Him alone to guide and direct me and to make my paths known?  For it is God who gives us victory, it is God who is worthy of all our praise!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 46-48; Acts 19:21-41

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday, July 26th: Psalms 40-42, Acts 18 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Psalms 40-42; Acts 18

Psalm 40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

In this Psalm David remembers God's past mercies to him, and at the end cries for God's help again.  Remembering God's faithfulness to us in the past helps us deal with our current troubles, by going to the One who is the only true source of help and comfort.

Psalm 41 reminds us that God rewards the faithfulness of His people.

Psalm 42  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

Do we have that kind of desire for God?  To know Him?  To delight in Him?

In our Acts passage we see, once again, how much of an impact home ministry is.  Church is ministry is a wonderful thing, but we cannot forget what an opportunity we have to minister to people in our homes.  Yes, our homes are places of relaxation and retreat for us.  But that should not be all they are.  We should be extending hospitality to unbelievers and using our homes as the natural and effective avenue for ministry that they are.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 43-45; Acts 19:1-20

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday, July 25th: Psalsm 37-39, Acts 17:16-34 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 37-39; Acts 17:16-34

Psalm 37 speaks of the fact that it really is better to stay loyal to God, that God will separate the evildoers from the faithful in His time, and that the faithful must wait patiently.  Waiting patiently is not something most of us are naturally good at, so it is a good reminder for us.

Psalm 38 is David acknowledging that the trouble he was going through was a result of his own sin.  Of course, not all our troubles are a result of our sin, but this psalm is geared towards those that do.  The anguish brought on as consequence to our sin is deserving, but when we call on God He will be faithful to come to our aid - even if only to offer the comfort only He can give.  He likely will not rescue us from circumstances of our own making, but He always longs to reconcile with a repentant sinner.

Psalm 39 is also about suffering, and a reminder of how fleeting life is.

In Acts we see Paul presenting the gospel to people who have no background whatsoever in Jewish faith or Christianity.  This is important for us, as that is increasingly the case in our society today.

Almost everyone believes in God (or a higher power of some sort) and an afterlife, but they usually are very vague about what they believe, often purposefully never even thinking it through and setting for nothing.

Unbelievers are made in the image of God. They have a high purpose and know it, even if they cannot seem to discover a purpose high enough to satisfy them. They know human life is sacred but cannot explain how and why they know this. They know right and wrong are real things, orders of being, and not simply social conventions, but they can't explain that either.... They know they have done much that is wrong, and it bothers them, estranges them from life, but they don't know where to find relief. And so come Christians saying, here is an explanation and a solution to the great realities of your life, an explanation that is really sufficient, adequate.
Are we willing to be bold enough to have these discussions with unbelievers, like Paul did?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 40-42; Acts 18

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday, 24 July 2015 Psalms 35-36; Acts 17: 1-15 Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 35-36; Acts 17: 1-15

David appeals to God Almighty as divine warrior and righteous judge. He prays that God will come to his defense and rescue him from those who were once close friends but who now accuse, slander, and condemn him with malice. The Lord forbids that we accuse an innocent person, that he or she might be wrongly punished in body, property, or reputation. He bids us to err on the side of the Gospel in the case of our neighbor, unless guilt is clear. As we endeavor to treat our neighbors fairly and with mercy, our merciful Lord justifies us according to His righteousness.

At Thessalonica, Paul and Silas continue the pattern of preaching at the synagogue, gaining converts, and experiencing harsh opposition. The offense and foolishness of the cross may well provoke a harsh response from the world. Yet Jesus, the Messiah, suffered, died, and rose, and “turned the world upside down.” Sinners are forgiven, the humble and poor are raised up, and the proud and rich are brought low. The first will be last, and the last, first. Persecution follows the Gospel, even when the Bereans eagerly receive it. God’s people should follow the noble example of the Bereans, who studied the Scriptures daily in order to receive further truths and to examine what they were being taught. Because the OT Scriptures also testify to Jesus Christ, searching them brings God’s blessings of salvation.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Psalms 37-39; Acts 17:16-34

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday, July 23rd: Psalms 33-34, Acts 16:22-40 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 33-34; Acts 16:22-40

There were numerous verses that stood out to me in our Psalms reading today, but the one that particularly challenged me was right at the beginning.

Psalm 33 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Play skillfully.

God has given each of us gifts, talents, and abilities.  We are not supposed to waste them.  We are to hone them, practice them, pursue them.  Not so that everyone can see how great we are, but so everyone can see how great He is.

My piano teacher shared this verse with me years ago.  God has blessed me with a talent or gift for playing the piano.  It comes naturally to me.  But I still needed to put the work in to be able to play skillfully.  When people make comments like "Oh, you're so lucky to be able to play piano like that", it irritates me because luck had nothing to do with it.  Hours and hours of hard work had a lot more to do with it.

And that, precisely is the danger of being able to play skillfully - becoming proud of our accomplishments, of our skillful playing.   Not just being proud of it - but taking all the credit for it.  Yes, there were hours and hours of practicing involved.  But God still gave me the gift, He gave me the desire, He gave me the determination, He gave me the fingers and feet that I use to hone the gift He gave me, and He deserves the glory, not me.

I always love this story in Acts.  First, that Paul and Silas were praising God and singing while in chains and a jail cell that I'm sure was not exactly comfortable.  Then that they acted with integrity, grace, and compassion when the earthquakes released their chains.  And that the other prisoners didn't try to escape!  The jailer and his household became believers.  And Paul doesn't let the authorities off easily in their release after their wrongful arrest.  Amazing story all around.  God is clearly at work in every area of our lives.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 35-36; Acts 17:1-15

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday, July 22nd: Psalms 31-32, Acts 16:1-21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 31-32; Acts 16:1-21

Psalm 31:15 My times are in your hand
The things that happen to us and when they happen are all in God's hand.  He is sovereign. Everything that happens to us is filtered through His hand, and is allowed for our ultimate (not necessarily temporary) good and His glory.  We will not always see the reason, and sometimes our circumstances may be difficult or even horrific, but we know that through it all He is there with us and He is still on His throne.

The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?” And answers:

We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from his love, since all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot even move.

Rayburn makes an interesting note about our Acts passage....

If the question is "what must I do to be saved?" We should all answer, as Paul does here: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ..." But, if the question is "why does one believe and not another" the answer is not "because he believed and she did not" but "the Lord opened Lydia's heart to respond to Paul's message." The Bible does ask that second question; often. And gives the same answer always: God gives his sheep eternal life, whom he loves he predestines to become conformed to the likeness of his Son, and those he predestines he calls and those he calls he justifies.

However much we are brought short by this doctrine and confused by it and troubled by it, as we all are from time to time, it is, after all, what happens. We have all seen this in speaking to people and in the conversion of people we know or hear about. One moment: darkness, unbelief, indifference to Christ and the next: clarity, faith, love, thrill in Christ's salvation.

This is what John 3:8 is referring to...
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Before salvation we are dead in our sins.  Dead people cannot do anything, certainly not accept salvation.  It is God who does it.  God who prepares and opens the heart.  God who calls.  God who saves. We can take credit for nothing.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 33-34; Acts 16:22-40

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday, July 21st: Psalm 29-30, Acts 15:22-41 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 29-30; Acts 15:22-41

Psalm 30:5
"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning"

The first part of the verse tells me how much God loves us. He disciplines us,  for a moment, then continues to love us forever. It also shows me that God moves on after being angry with us,  and doesn't sulk or make himself stay angry. This is something I can learn from,  to let go of past wrongs done to me.

The second part of the verse reminds me of how we live an imperfect life here on earth,  but it will be followed by a perfect life in heaven. We may suffer many hardships here,  but better days are ahead where we won't have hardships anymore. Looking at the big picture  helps.

In our New Testament reading, we see that Paul and Barnabas were given respect by the church in Antioch for how they risked their lives for the Gospel. The people listened and were encouraged by what Paul and Barnabas said, and they stayed longer in Antioch then originally planned. But later we read how Paul and Barnabas had a falling out and parted ways. This happens in our churches today as well,  we don't always agree or see eye to eye with everyone. It is my duty to love those I disagree with, which can be difficult, but is my job to do. I pray for help in these situations.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20: Psalms 26-28; Acts 15:1-21 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 26-28; Acts 15:1-21

Psalm 27:14 
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

Observation: Being a Christian does not mean things will come easy or that you won't be tested.

Application: I think that sometimes we believe that as Christians that our life should just go well. We look at evil that is prospering and people who are following lifestyles contrary to God's design as we scratch our heads and wonder why God would allow that to happen. I don't know about you...but I hate waiting. I like to be in control and know exactly what is going to happen. I like to plan and I like to see those plans work out exactly as I have planned them. However, that seldom happens. God is working in my heart and in my life to realize that He has things all worked out even when what I have in mind does not go the way I would have liked.

I once heard that God answers all prayers immediately in one of three ways:




I would have to say that "yes" is most often the way we would want our prayers to be answered. "No" may not be our preferred answer but it usually means that we can adjust our plans and still move forward. When the answer is "wait" then we struggle. How long will the wait be? Is this "wait" going to become a "yes" or a "no"? When we will know? How can I wait? Why do I need to wait? and it goes on...

I love that this verse ends with an exclamation mark. To see it means that David is implying that we should wait with excitement...with anticipation knowing that God is at work behind the scene with a big reveal on the horizon. We are told to "be strong" and to "take courage" in our wait.

Two couples in our circle are waiting for a child. One is pursuing an adoption. One is waiting for God to bring a child to full term. They are waiting on God...waiting on God's timing...waiting for their prayers to be answered. It's so hard to wait.

A friend of ours is job searching. He is waiting on God...waiting on God's timing...waiting for prayers to be answered.

We are all in various stages of waiting. It can be so hard. May we have patience in God's timing.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for always hearing our prayers. We know that You always have our best interests in mind. We know you have big things planned for each of us. Give us patience and peace as we wait. Thank you for this reminder that we are to wait with eager anticipation for what You will reveal to us in Your time. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 29-30; Acts 15:22-41

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, July 19th: Psalms 23-25, Acts 14 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Psalms 23-25; Acts 14

A couple years ago I listened to and learned some amazing things from Ray Vander Laan and his Follow the Rabbi lectures (though Focus on the Family).

I remembered learning about the actual meaning of "green pastures" from the famous Psalm 23,  I googled it and found this great video that explains it - and the video imagery makes the point even more than words ever could.

The green meadows were actually rocky hills, and with the very small amount of moisture available in the area, small tufts of grass grow by these small rocks, and the Shepherd leads His sheep to those tufts of grass, and every day the sheep eat them, and there is just enough for what they need for that day.

In other words - God gives us what we need for the day, or even for the moment, when we need it. This verse is not promising us a happy-go-lucky life with no problems along the way. No, it's promising us that God will provide what we need when we need it, and not before - if we follow Him! The grass is sparse and we can't find it on our own. But we can trust Him, because He was faithful yesterday and the day before that and He will continue to be faithful today and every day.

Anyway, here's the video.....

And the still waters?
In the deserts, wadis can quickly kill. In fact, in that part of the world, more people die in the desert from floods than from starvation or dehydration. When it rains in the hills, water rushes through the wadis, creating flash floods that can’t be seen or heard until it’s too late to escape.

Sheep without a shepherd go to the wadis to find fresh water and have no hope of escaping the floods. It’s the shepherd’s job to find “still water,” that is, water that doesn’t risk death.

Again, it's not referring to a beautiful placid river running through lush meadows that you lounge beside. It's about God leading you to water that refreshes and does not lead to death.

For more about the Shepherd - click here.

Acts 14: 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
Here we see the doctrine of common grace.  As Rayburn says....
This is, of course, not the saving grace of God which, when pitched on a sinner, in election, redemption, and salvation, draws him out of sin and death, delivers him from the curse of sin, and brings him into fellowship with God.....It is grace that is given to the just and the unjust alike. And it accounts for all that is orderly, worthy, good, and beautiful in sinful human life.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 26-28; Acts 15:1-21

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday, July 18th: Psalms 20-22, Acts 13:26-52 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 20-22; Acts 13:26-52

Psalm 20:4 May he give you the desire of your heart

I heard an interesting interpretation of this verse and I think it is a good one.  Of course, we love it when God grants us the desires of our heart, but it's possible this verse means more than that.  Perhaps it is a prayer for God to plant within our hearts God's desires for our lives so that His desires become our desires.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

An excellent reminder that our success does not depend on our own efforts and accomplishments but on God.  

In Acts we see that Paul does not waste his time on hardened hearts.  But even though he made the Gentiles the focus of his evangelistic efforts, he still prayed earnestly for the salvation of Israel.  A reminder for us to do the same.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 23-25; Acts 14

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday, 17 July 2015 Psalms 18-19; Acts 13: 1-25 Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 18-19; Acts 13: 1-25

David exults, “The Lord…is worthy to be praised”. This truth makes our failures to render Him thanks and praise a grievous affront. In this psalm, David recounts a time when the very cords of death were dragging him down into the abyss. The deliverance God provided him reminds us of our own victory over the grave, achieved for us by the risen Lord Jesus.
Luther describes Psalm 19 as, “A prophecy. It speaks of how the Gospel would spread to all the world, as far as the heavens extend. Day and night it would be spread, not only in Hebrew but in all languages.” The heavens continually declare God’s praise, and the forces of nature daily show forth His glory as they faithfully carry out the duties He has assigned them. Too bad we so often fail in the fulfillment of our divinely appointed tasks. Marvelous as the heavens are, and eloquent as nature’s testimony to the greatness of the Creator, God’s forgiveness and grace as revealed in His Word are even more glorious.

The momentous missionary journeys of Paul begin with the calling and equipping by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel and enlightens us with His gifts, especially those of teaching and spreading God’s Word, which we use in God’s service and to the benefit of others. At the first mission stop, there is both opposition to and belief in the Gospel. Jesus says, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me”. God’s powerful Word will create and strengthen faith in us and in those who hear His Word from us. Paul’s visit to Pisidian Antioch is typical of his missionary technique and preaching. Today, the unbelieving world often responds in opposition to the messages of salvation. Yet, the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection, which fulfilled the OT promises of salvation, “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 20-22; Acts 13:26-52

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday, July 16th: Psalms 16-17, Acts 12 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 16-17; Acts 12

So many truths in Psalm 16...

God is our refuge (16:1)
God alone is truly good and is enough (16:2)
We find true satisfaction in God (16:5-6)
God is the source of wisdom (16:7)
God is our stability (16:8)
God is our source of joy (16:9)
God is our strength and the hope of our resurrection (16:10)

In Psalm 17 David prays a prayer of lament, considering himself unjustly accused of wrong.  This is a prayer of vindication and it ends in triumph - anticipating the eternal presence of God for the faithful.

In Acts 12 we see the miraculous rescue of Peter contrasted against the death of James, the brother of John and disciple of Jesus (not James the brother of Jesus who is referred to in v17).

Of course, the question comes up - why was Peter rescued when James was not?

Clearly, we don't know the answer to that question.

But we do know some things.

We know that God will allow evil and man's evil choices for a time.
We know that eventually God will see that justice is done.
We know that our life of pain and suffering is temporary and that eternity will be filled with such joy that is beyond compare.
We know that God never abandons us, even during times of trial or persecution.
We know that God has promised to work all things together for good for those who love Him - sometime in this life, always in the next.
We know that God loves us, and He suffers alongside us when we hurt.
We know that God is sovereign.
We know that God is good.
We know that God will act to glorify His name.

It is interesting to note the difference between the two imprisonments.  When James is put in prison, it doesn't appear that the church is overly concerned.  After all, in Acts 5 other apostles were arrested but miraculously released.  Perhaps they weren't overly concerned and were certain that James would be released as well.  Imagine the shock and devastation when they heard about his death.  Things were certainly different when Peter was arrested.  The church immediately realized that God was Peter's only hope and prayer their only weapon.  And yet, they prayed with little faith - not even acknowledging the very answer on their doorstep.  Yet, God honoured their small faith and answered their prayer.  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

V5 is interesting to note - So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Could God have rescued Peter without prayer?  Of course!  But sometimes, as James (the brother of Jesus) wrote in James 4:2, You do not have, because you do not ask.

Church - we have to ask!  Truly, God is our only hope, prayer is our only weapon, and we must wield it!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 18-19; Acts 13:1-25

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday, July 15th: Psalms 13-15, Acts 11 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 13-15; Acts 11

In Psalm 13 we read this....
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

God does not forget us, and He does not hide His face from us - not ever.  But David felt like God had.  In this case, David's feelings and the facts were at odds with each other.

God gave us the gift of feelings, however our feelings are negatively impacted by our fallenness, and we cannot blindly trust them, or make decisions based solely on them.  It wasn't wrong for David to feel these things, and most certainly it was right for him to take those feelings to God, and thankfully, he did not accept his feelings to be reality and therefore, he was able to come to the right conclusion despite his feelings....
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

In Psalm 14 David rightly concludes that those who reject God, intellectually or emotionally, are fools, and the result of this denial is corruption.  No one on earth is naturally good, and the good we do is always tinged with evil due to the fall.  But David knew that God was a refuge for His people, and that evil would not win.  Though he doesn't know exactly what that deliverance will look like, he is confident it will come, and calls us to rejoice in that salvation.  With the benefit of our knowledge of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection, let us rejoice in our salvation all the more!

In Psalm 15 we see a description of one who walks with God.  It really is a reflection of what James talks about - not being able to separate faith and works.  Our lives are a reflection of our fellowship (or lack of fellowship) with God.  What does my life reflect?

In our Acts passage, Peter explains his ministry to the Gentiles, and interprets the events of our previous passages by remembering the words of Jesus, that believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  It was clear from both the NT and the OT, that Gentiles would come to God through the Messiah.  We may sometimes be tempted to validate what someone is doing based solely on the fruit of their activity - but we also must be able to validate based on the Word of God, as Peter did.

Back in Acts 1:8 it said  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This verse was fulfilled because of persecution (forcing believers to spread to the ends of the earth) and the acceptance of Gentile ministry when it was validated by Peter.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 16-17; Acts 12

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14th: Psalm 10-12, Acts 10: 24-48 ~ Nathan

In Psalm 10 the Psalmist asks why God let's the evil thrive and prosper. This is a question that Christians have been asking ever since. It annoys us when we are trying to do what's right and don't feel like we're gaining anything,  and the dishonest person beside us seems to have everything going for themselves. This carries over into our spiritual lives when we see someone else ignore God and only live for themselves and they are prospering,  and we are trying our best for God and feeling like nothing is working out for us.

The Psalmist answers this in 10: 17 and 18: "You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, [18] defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror."

Maybe God is testing us during those times we feel frustrated and when it seems like the evil around us is winning,

Chapter 11:5 "The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion"

Again,  this chapter ends with encouraging words for those who do right,
Chapter 11:7 "For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face"

Chapter 12 also begins with the Psalmist asking for help from those who boast and are dishonest.

This chapter also ends with words of encouragement,  that remind us that God will protect us,
10: 7 and 8 "You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, [8] who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race."

This theme in these three chapters reminds me of some of the talks we've had with our daughter who is starting high school this fall in a new school, which can be intimidating. We've talked about how it's better to stand alone and do what's right then join in with kids making bad choices. This is tough to do when it feels,  at that age in life,  that having friends and being accepted is one of the most important things. Just like the Psalmist noted about how it looks like the evil side is winning, in the end those who make choices that please the Lord will ultimately gain victory.

In our New Testament reading in Acts 10, I like how Peter makes it clear in verse 47 and 48a that salvation is available for  everyone,

"Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have .” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ... "

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday, July 13th: Psalms 7-9, Acts 10:1-23 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 7-9, Acts 10:1-23

In today's reading, David appears to be under some distress.  He's putting his case before the Lord, and he believes in his own heart that he has not done anything to deserve the ill-treatment of his adversaries.

Throughout our lives, we will be judged by others.  Judged by what we say or do, and also for what we don't say or don't do.  The people who judge us will not be perfect, and therefore their judgements about us may not be perfect either.

David is able to place his trust in the Lord knowing that real help comes from the Lord.  "My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart." Psalm 7:9 

"God is a righteous judge," (vs 11a) and thankfully, God is the ultimate judge.  We cannot run, we cannot hide, and nobody gets away with anything.

David is thankful and praises God for His righteousness, and so should we.

I liked how chapter 8 began and ended the same way - "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"  Words in a song we have sung in church, but hard to grasp how majestic He really is!  

Cristiano Ronaldo, a soccer player from Portugal, is the most popular athlete in the world according to  There is probably nothing more that he could do to become more well known than what he already has done.  Someone reading this blog may not of even heard of him.  But one day, everyone will know our Lord.  In The Message translation, this verse says, "God, brilliant God, your name echoes around the whole world."  To think that one day I could shout His name, and the furthest person away that could here my voice would recognize His name and also shout it out.  And so on, and so on, and so on, until it would come back to me - all around the world.  That's majestic!

In chapter 9, verse 10 stood to me.  "And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."  

David knows that the Lord has not forsaken him, and it is encouraging to know that when we seek the Lord, He will never forsake us, and leave us hanging.

In our NT passage we read about a man named Cornelius.  Cornelius was "a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God."

God appeared to Cornelius and instructed him to send soldiers to Joppa to bring back Peter. 

While they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter was hungry and decided to have a before-meal nap and dreams about food - ritually unclean food. In verses 13 and 14, "And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean."  

He has the same dream three times. However, the dream isn't really about food at all; we'll read about that tomorrow.  His rather informative dream voice tells him that he has visitors, and that he should go with them.  So, it's off to see Cornelius and his household - 30 miles up the coast to Caesarea. I wonder if he ever had a chance to eat before he left?

What I liked about this reading is that it shows that God will prepare us and others along our way when it is His plan.  Just like we read in Psalm chapter 9 we can put our trust in Him, because He will never forsake us!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday, July 12th: Psalms 4-6, Acts 9:22-43 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 4-6; Acts 9:22-43

Psalm 4:8 is a great verse to memorize to share with children when they are scared or anxious before bed....
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

The first 4 verse of Psalm 5 always remind me of a song my parents sang and recorded on an album with a band called the Galileans....
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

The song lyrics were...
Give ear to my words O Lord
Consider my meditation
Harken unto the voice of my cry
My King and my God
For unto Thee will I pray
My voice shalt Thou hear
In the morning
O Lord in the morning
Will I direct my prayer
Unto Thee and will look up

In Acts we aren't surprised to read that the other disciples too a little convincing to believe that Paul had become a believer.  No doubt they were scared it was a trap!

Paul's conversion reminds me of some of the tremendous stories we're hearing of conversions taking place amongst ISIS members.  God is still calling people to himself in dramatic ways!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 7-9; Acts 10:1-23

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday, July 11th: Psalms 1-3, Acts 9:1-21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Psalms 1-3; Acts 9:1-21

A post could be written about each of the Psalms!

I love Psalm 1.  It is the first chapter of the Bible that I memorized.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Note the contrast between v1 and v2.  The first verse describes things we're not to do, and the 2nd what we are to do in order to be blessed.

Walking, standing, sitting - common activities we do every day.  I see this as a reminder to be vigilant about even the most common of our activities.  To be purposeful about everything we do, and to always be on guard against evil.

Do we delight in the law?  Do we meditate on it?  I need to get back in the habit of memorizing God's word - it makes it possible to meditate on it wherever are, whenever we have a moment.

When we do these things we are like a deeply rooted and fruitful tree - that takes time and complete reliance on God for the transformation of our hearts.

In Acts we see Paul's dramatic conversion and the very clear hand of God drawing Paul to himself.  Can you imagine being Ananias and how scared he must have been?  But he trusted God and was obedient, despite the fear he must have felt.  That's courage!

Do I show that same courage?  Am I willing to do what God asks of me despite my fears?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Psalms 4-6; Acts 9:22-43

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday, 10 July 2015 Ruth 1-4; Acts 8: 26-40 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ruth 1-4; Acts 8: 26-40

The Book of Ruth relates a beautiful story in the history of King David’s family, illustrating how God guides history for the sake of His people. He works through suffering and redemption to preserve His people and to welcome the nations. These aspects of the book point to the birth of Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, who descends from Ruth and Boaz. Though the Book of Ruth is not a love story, it beautifully illustrates the Lord’s enduring love for us.

There are some challenges for readers, such as the book was clearly written in defense of David’s rule. Some critics see this as distracting from the book’s credibility. Some interpreters view the uncovering of Boaz’s feet as a polite way to note sexual activity. However, nothing else in the book agrees with this interpretation, and everywhere the faithfulness and integrity of Ruth and Boaz are emphasized.

Luther says of Ruth: “God has always been accustomed to collect a church for Himself even from among the heathen. Thus Ruth was a Moabitess, and Rahab was a Canaanite woman. They are numbered in the genealogy of Christ. Nor were these the only women who attached themselves to the godly, but many other Canaanites did so along with them. Not that Ruth or Rahab partook of the forgiveness of sins because they were on the wrong path. No, they were converted; they received the Word from the Israelites. This means, of course, that a heathen or unbeliever became a believer. For after believing the Word which he heard, he was a member of the church and no longer a heathen. (AE 8:135-36)

In our reading from Acts, God leads Philip to bear witness to and baptize an important official from Ethiopia, ensuring that Jews in Africa and also Ethiopians would likewise receive the Gospel. The Holy Spirit brings the eunuch to faith through the Word and Baptism. Today, rejoice in the Word and Baptism you have received, through which the Holy Spirit continues to work in your life. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Psalms 1-3; Acts 9:1-21

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday, July 9th: Obadiah, Acts 8:1-25 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Obadiah; Acts 8:1-25

There are several things we can learn from our Obadiah passage.

The first is a theme that is a very common one, and that is that God is sovereign.  If He wasn't, He couldn't promise Judah that Edom would receive judgment.  But He is and He did.

Pride is deceptive (v3) and results in destruction.  Both proud individuals and proud nations will reap what they sow.

The good news is that God has made a way of escape from wrath in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ, and one day He will rule the entire earth.

In our Acts passage we see that Simon appears to accept the gospel, but in the end he does not seem to have truly repented and believed.

People can respond favorably to the gospel without becoming genuinely saved.  Sometimes they are attracted to the message itself, or to the fellowship, or the tradition, or fear of judgment.

It is impossible for our to know, at the outset, if someone's conversion is genuine.  And it is not our job to determine it - we are to treat them as genuine believers.  However, saying you are a Christian, doesn't make it so, and eventually such a profession is proved false by open sin and lack of repentance.   Of course perfection is never possible - but there should be evidence of God's goodness and progress in our lives.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ruth 1-4; Acts 8:26-40

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wednesday, July 8th: Deuteronomy 32-34, Acts 7:44-60 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 32-34; Acts 7:44-60

Other than Elijah and Enoch (who never actually died), Moses' death would be the most extraordinary one recounted in the Bible, and his life one of the most extraordinary as well.  Moses dies in the presence of God and was buried by Him (or His angels).

We can learn things about our own life and death, through this record of Moses'.

Moses had a definite appointment with death.  Though we likely won't know the exact day, like Moses did, we too will receive that summons one day.

Though Moses went to death with regrets for past sins, he also went to his death confident of the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God.

Moses died within sight of the Promised Land, a figure of heaven - just like we can look past death to heaven.

God Himself attended Moses' death, and He will be there for every believer when their time comes - not in this life like He did with Moses, but in the next.

God wrote Moses' epitaph, and He is ready to write ours as well - well done, good and faithful servant.

Moses' death was temporary, just like ours will be.

In our NT passage, Stephen knew the same - and he faced his death with courage, and with the grace to forgive the very ones who killed him.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Obadiah; Acts 8:1-25

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday, July 7th: Deuteronomy 30-31, Acts 7:22-43 ~ Nathan

Some of the things that stood out for me in the reading from Deuteronomy are found in chapter 30, where Moses asks the Israelites twice to chose between living for God or living for themselves.
The Israelites are first given a choice in verse 15: "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction"  and then again later in verse 19:" This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live".

In both cases they are given a choice,  and it's followed up by a strong recommendation to follow God. We are also given the freedom to follow God or not. God gives us this freedom to chose because He wants us to decide for ourselves if we want to follow Him ,  and not to do it for other reasons. We know the end result for either decision, so why is it hard sometimes to then make the right decisions? Maybe we need to go back to these verses as a reminder.

In our reading from Acts,  we read about Moses,  who made the choice to obey God,  even when others were against him. This obedience wasn't easy,  and I'm sure was filled with frustration many times, yet Moses continued to make the choice to follow God.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday, July 6: Deuteronomy 28-29; Acts 7:1-21 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 28-29; Acts 7:1-21

Here are some verses that stood out for me today:

6: 15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

How true it is that when we do not obey the word of the Lord that we make our lives so much more difficult. We become overwhelmed in our sin and they do threaten to overtake us. This verse reminds us to do "all" of his commandments. Not some. Not most. Not one. All. I think sometimes it's easy to get a list of instructions...glance over them...and then do most of them or even all of the list (but not carefully) and call the list done. It's much harder to do each item on the list to the best of your ability and not just to stroke the item off the list. God's commandments are not meant to be a check list, but a handbook to follow to lead the life God wants for us.

6:58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59 then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 

Again, do "all". It is by obeying and trying to reach perfection that we truly understand the magnitude of sacrifice Jesus paid for us. We are sinners in desperate need of a Saviour. When we don't acknowledge that, and we don't teach it to our children, the effects are far-reaching and long-lasting. 

6:66  Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see.

This is talking about literal fear for your life but I think it is also figurative as well. When you lack contentment and are uncertainty of the direction in your life you are also in constant fear and turmoil. Having "no assurance of your life" might also relate to not making a firm commitment to Christ. You will feel dread and you won't feel the peace that can only be found with God. When we are not content with our lives we are always reaching and grasping on to the things we believe will fill the void. We may dread what our heart feels because we want what others have or we want our lives to be what they are not. Our eyes may see things we don't have or make us desire what we may never reach. Dread and fear and hopelessness is not terminal. We can always turn to Christ. 

Acts 7:20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house,21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.

"At this time". How often do we wait on God for him to answer in our time? How often do we want answers now...not in His! Moses arrived in God's perfect time. It was certainly far from perfect (you know with that law that all baby boys should be killed and all) but Moses arrived in God's perfect time. He was born and achieved exactly what God had planned for him-despite the circumstances and the time of his arrival. God truly does know exactly what He is doing. He sees the whole picture. We don't always know how God's timing will play out but we can have the assurance that is will. I heard Karen Kingsbury speak on the radio today about God's perfect timing. On her honeymoon, she and her husband prayed on the beach for their marriage, for any children they would have, and for any spouses any of their future children would have. At that exact hour, their son in law was being born. (Full story here) We may wonder how it will all work out when things seem too big...and yet God knows.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 28-29; Acts 7:1-21