Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30th: Acts 21 - 23 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 21-23

Acts 21:30
The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.

Obviously the people of Jerusalem were wrong in how they treated Paul, in the passion they showed against him, they ran from all directions to get at and seize Paul.

But what if we had the same passion the people of Jerusalem had, but in an opposite way, in a way for God and His will? Would I be willing to leave my job, or what I'm doing, and run over to help someone who needs help, because I love God, and want to see His kingdom grow?

As we read further on, the people of Jerusalem had a hard time with a man like Paul coming in and teaching a "new way", they preferred to keep going with their old traditions, even though they were flawed in many ways.

Acts 23:20-21
He said: “Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. [21] Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

God protected Paul, by using his nephew to deliver this message to the commander, who then transferred Paul safely away, and to be dealt with by the governor. Paul wasn't free and clear at this point, but was saved from the immediate danger. In a sense he lived to fight another day.

Sometimes we need help to get through a tough time, this won't mean there won't be more tough times ahead, but we need to be happy and give thanks that we were helped to get through the immediate danger in front of us. Praying and trusting in God is the only way. Trusting in people only, will lead to ruin.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 24-26

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29th: Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38

“…be wise about what is good, & innocent about what is evil.” – Romans 16:19

This is something that has been a part of conversations with the girls in a Bible study that I'm doing. We have been reading a book/study that we don't completely agree with, some of us more than others. That being said, it has definitely brought about some interesting discussions.

We have discussed not putting God “into a box” in our ideas of who he is & being open to considering others’ views. While I agree with this, we do have to continually check these views against what the Bible says.

Romans 16:17-18
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions & put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk & flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.

One of the biggest concerns that I have for myself & my children is that we will recognize God’s truth. It can be a difficult thing, especially when we are even warned in the Bible that deception will come from within (2 Corinthians 11:13-For such men are false prophets, deceitful workman, masquerading as apostles of Christ) & that many can take a couple verses of the Bible to twist them in a way to satisfy their own fleshy desires while make convincing arguments .

I was wrestling with this & wondering how someone like me (not a deep intellect, not a seminary student; just the average person) can determine if something is really God’s truth or not.  And then it hit me, “faith like a child.”  God didn't make the Bible hard to understand & if I or anyone needs to spend days/months/years trying to find the right verses & the right translation from Greek or Hebrew to prove a point, it's probably pretty far off base.

Along with that, where's my heart at.  Do I search the Bible to find the answer that satisfies me or am I seeking God's way?

Lord Jesus, thank you for your word that you have given us to follow. Even more than that, I thank you for your Spirit within us that will guide our way.  Help us to truly hear you & seek you; to not twist your words to but to recognize your truth. We live in a time where there is so much division even within Christians & churches & we need to seek you more than ever. Give us a clarity & understanding of what is right in this mixed up, deceiving world.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 21-23

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28th: Romans 12-14 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 12-14

It didn't take me long to hit a "stand out" verse in our passage today.

12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Why do we submit our bodies to God, striving to live in a way that honours and glorifies Him?  Out of thankfulness for what He has done for us.  As an act of worship.  As an outflow of a heart that has been miraculously changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We will be different than the world.  We must be.  If we are not, it is time for some serious self-reflection!

Then I made it all the way to v3.... Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

We need to take stock of our lives, but if we're being honest about that and we're continuing to grow in the knowledge of God and His holiness - we will always be humble enough to know that no matter how far we've come, we still have so far to go!

I feel like I could highlight all of chapter 12!

We are to use the gifts God has given us for His glory, no matter what those gifts are.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Is anyone else feeling convicted while reading this chapter?!  What a reminder that I still have so far to go!

Chapter 14 is quite pertinent to the subject of alcohol and the believer.  I actually just re-read an article by Tim Challies about this very subject today - if you have time, check it out.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Romans 15-16, Acts 20:4-38

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, November 27th - Romans 8 - 11 - Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 8-11

Out of the 3 chapters that I read Romans 8 stood out the most for me.  I will mention a few things that I learned while reading this particular chapter.

The verses in Romans 8 gives us hope.  Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins in order that we might have eternal life.  By accepting Jesus as our Saviour we receive the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit is in work in us we will want to serve God and do His Will.  In Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."  I love the part that says we are God's children.  What a wonderful verse.  Being God's children, God has shared some of his treasures with us like His Son, forgiveness and eternal life.  Knowing that God loves us that much is so amazing.  

Another 2 verses that stood out for me is  Romans 8:26-27.  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."  I love the fact that when I don't always know what to say when praying or how to ask for help that Jesus will still understand our needs and know our hearts as the Spirit will intercede for us.  

While reading verse 28 in Romans 8 I looked at the notes in my Life Application Bible to see what it had to say and it reminded me that God works for our good but this doesn't necessarily mean that everything happens to us is good.  It is hard sometimes to think that God works for our good when something bad happens but when looking back, these circumstances can be seen as God fulfilling His plan.  It's not easy in the moment to remember that God is in control.

Finally, in verses 38 & 29 we are given a wonderful promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  No matter what happens we can always know that God loves us and that nothing can take that away from us.  

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Romans 12-14

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, November 26: Romans 3-7 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Romans 3-7

Romans 7: 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power[v] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

This paragraph describes the difference between the instant sanctification that happens when we receive eternal life through faith in Jesus, versus the gradual and progressive sanctification that happens as the Holy Spirit continues to transform us every day.

When we become His followers we are given new hearts, and we become slaves to Christ instead of to sin. But that doesn't mean that our struggle with sin is over, or even easy. As long as we remain in our earthly bodies we will continue to struggle with sin, but it is a battle worth fighting, and it will get better.

I heard once that as we mature in our Christian faith we will begin to sin less and less. However, our sin will bother us more as we continue to more fully understand the depth of our depravity and the utter holiness of God. So it might seem like we're not making any progress even though we are!

The key is to continue to fight against that sin nature in His strength. After all, as the scripture above says, Jesus Christ is the answer.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday, November 25: 2 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 20:2-3, Romans 1-2

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 20:2-3, Romans 1-2
A few things stood out from today's readings:

Paul's "thorn". I found this commentary here (Emphasis in bold is mine)

Paul speaks of a “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He calls it “a messenger of Satan” that had a purpose of “torment.” Many explanations have been put forward, but whether Paul is referring to a physical, spiritual, or emotional affliction—or something else entirely—has never been answered with satisfaction. Since he was not talking of a literal thorn, he must have been speaking metaphorically. Some of the more popular theories of the thorn’s interpretation include temptation, a chronic eye problem, malaria, migraines, epilepsy, and a speech disability. Some even say that the thorn refers to a person, such as Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul “a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14). No one can say for sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but it was a source of real pain in the apostle’s life.

Paul clues us in concerning the thorn’s purpose: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” So, God’s goal in allowing the thorn in the flesh was to keep Paul humble. Anyone who had encountered Jesus and was commissioned personally by Him (Acts 9:2-8) would, in his natural state, become “puffed up.” Add to that the fact that Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament, and it is easy to see how Paul could become “haughty” (KJV) or “exalted above measure” (NKJV) or “too proud” (NCV).

Paul also says that the affliction came from or by a “messenger of Satan.” Just as God allowed Satan to torment Job (Job 1:1-12), God allowed Satan to torment Paul for God’s own good purpose.

No one likes to live in pain. Paul sought the Lord three times to remove this source of pain from him (2 Corinthians 12:8). He probably had many good reasons why he should be pain-free: he could have a more effective ministry; he could reach more people with the gospel; he could glorify God even more! But the Lord was more concerned with building Paul’s character and preventing pride. Instead of removing the problem, whatever it was, God gave Paul more overwhelming grace and more compensating strength. Paul learned that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9).

The exact nature of Paul’s thorn in the flesh is uncertain. There is probably a good reason that we don’t know. God likely wanted Paul’s difficulty to be described in general enough terms to apply to any difficulty we may face now. Whether the “thorn” we struggle with today is physical, emotional, or spiritual, we can know that God has a purpose and that His grace is all-sufficient.

What a comfort to know that whatever we are going through that God is with us and that He can use a hardship  in our lives for good.

11 Finally, brothers,[b] rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,[c] agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Paul's closing words to the Corinthians can be compared to Christ's instructions as we await his return:

Rejoice - the battle has already been won and God is victorious. Aim for restoration - forgive because you are forgiven. Comfort one another - Love your neighbour as yourself and take care of their needs. Agree with one another- do not stir up anger and cause divisions with others. Live in peace- Live as Jesus did. the God of love and peace will be with you - The Holy Spirit

Romans also had some key verses:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The message of salvation is for all. Not for some. Not for a select few. All. 
 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Christianity is more than believing God exists. Even Satan acknowledges God. When we fail to live our lives for God and within His plan, we become foolish. We may not even fully comprehend how our foolish thinking can deny our eternal salvation. We rely on ourselves instead of God. That is a recipe for disaster.

 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Just like the gift of salvation is for everyone, so is the accountability for our actions. One day we will all have to give an account before God. No matter what "thorns" we endure. Not matter what happens in our lives while we wait for Christ's return. We all will face judgement.

From this commentary:

"...perhaps a lot of so-called Christians do not have the assurance of salvation because they are not really saved. Just because you attend church or engage in certain religious activities does not necessarily mean you are a Christian. The Apostle Paul instructed those in the early church to examine themselves to see if their faith was genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5). 
So, how do I know if you are a Christian? How do you know if I'm one? There must be evidence. Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). If someone examined your life, would they find any spiritual fruit—hard evidence to prove that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ? 
Or, let me put it another way: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? By "evidence," I don't mean how many Bibles you own, or how many bumper stickers you might have on your car with Christian sayings on them. I mean hard evidence. If your family members, neighbors, and coworkers were interviewed and asked the question, "Is (your name here), in your opinion, a real Christian?" we might not be happy with the response. 
The only way others can tell whether you are a Christian is by your works. While all the good works in the world won't save a person (Titus 3:5), they are reasonable evidence that someone is saved. 
In a nutshell, all the great religions of the world, apart from Christianity, say, "Do." "Do this and you might go to heaven," "Do that and you might find nirvana," and so on. Christianity, in contrast, says, "Done." 
In other words, God has taken care of your salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He cried out, "It is finished!" He purchased your ticket to heaven at the cross. But having received that ticket, your life should reflect your commitment to Christ. Works won't save you, but if you really are saved, then works will follow (2 Corinthians 5:17). Has that happened to you? Has there been a change in your life?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageRomans 3-7

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday, November 25th: 2 Corinthians 8-11 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Corinthians 8-11

Sorry this is so late today...

In chapters 8 & 9 Paul is talking to the churches about giving. This is sometimes a hard topic for me because I think that I often don't give enough, or it goes in spurts, or I wish I could give more and yet we really have so much and if we would cut back on our own pleasures we could give so much more. I think it's hard in our culture to find a balance between enjoying life and meeting our needs so we can give more. I did appreciate this comment from my bible commentary...

"The point of giving is not so much the amount we give, but why and how we give. God does not want gifts given grudgingly. Instead, he wants us to give as these churches did -- out of dedication to Christ, love for fellow believers, the joy of helping those in need, as well as the fact that it was simply the good and right thing to do. How well does our giving measure up to the standards set by the Macedonian churches?"

I also found 2 Corinthians 10:18 very amusing...

"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends."

I found this verse amusing because Cam so often uses a similar line when it comes to hockey parents who think their kid is so great.  What he says is "If you have to tell me how great your kid is, he's likely not that great. If he is that good, I'll have heard about it from someone else".  How true is that...If we have to tell people how good we are we likely aren't as good as we think we are...we are better off doing as well as we can and getting a commendation from the Lord as that's the only opinion that matters anyway.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 20:2-3, Romans 1-2

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday, November 23rd: 2 Corinthians 4 - 7 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Corinthians 4-7

A few things that caught my attention while ready today's scripture,

2 Corinthians 4 :1
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

The words "God's mercy" stood out to me. God allowed this to happen and it is for our good that we can read about Paul's ministry, today.


2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

As I get older I realize I can't do things the same as when I was younger. When I play hockey now I see this clearly, before I could play all evening and the next night if possible, now when I'm done after one game I feel like I need a rest.

I'm glad my spiritual life doesn't work this way, as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I hope I can do more for Christ, and live for Him more and more the way He wants.


2 Corinthians 5: 6-8
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. [7] For we live by faith, not by sight. [8] We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord

I enjoy my time here with my wife and family and friends, but these verses are a reminder that we as Christians are not at home here, this shouldn't be considered permanent for us. We should long for heaven and be focused on Him, and look forward to what's in store for us "later".

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 2 Corinthians 8-11

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday, November 22nd: Acts 19:21-41, Acts 20:1, 2 Corinthians 1-3 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 19:21-41, Acts 20:1, 2 Corinthians 1-3

Acts 20:34-
But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about 2 hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

I read this verse & then I stopped & read it again & almost laughed. Really, this crowd could yell the same thing repeatedly for 2 hours until someone actually stopped them?! I thought this to be quite ridiculous. This was all because the crowd realized he was a Jew & wanted to make their point.

We might have people in our lives (or come across someone) who is so against Christianity that they too will seem to be completely unreasonable. We may need to give them their “2 hours” & wait for them to quiet down before they will be willing to listen.

As we continue reading these verses, after the crowd is quieted & someone is able to speak, it is made clear that nothing could be held against those they were rioting against.

It is important that, during the time that they spend “rioting,” we live by example so nothing can be held against us. This may be our loudest testimony.

I like how this story ends, with the realization that because their rioting was unfounded, not only were those they were against free to go, but they themselves could be held responsible & charged because of their riots.

Maybe in the end, the truth will be clear & those we are trying to reach will see clearly the destruction of their own ways.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  2 Corinthians 4-7

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday, November 21: 1 Corinthians 15-16 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Corinthians 15-16

Scripture:  1 Corinthians 16:13

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Observation: Sometimes we just need a few simple reminders.

Application: Paul offers encouragement and advice to the people of Corinth. This particular snippet shows great wisdom in just a few short words.

Be Watchful- Our son Kaden started driver's ed last week. He will get his beginner's license next week. We will need to be watchful as we sit in the passenger seat as he learns to drive. He will need to be watchful for traffic, street signs, pedestrians, lights, signals, and so much more. As the guiding passenger as our son learns to drive we will have to be extra diligent to make sure we are watching to hazards and to make sure he is able to recognize the action he needs to drive safely. Being watchful is active not passive. We are to be active in our faith and not passive. We need to watch for opportunities to share our faith and also opportunities to serve others.

Stand firm in the faith: In our school chapels this month we have been talking about building good foundations. We talked about the wise man building on the rock and the foolish man on the sand. When we stand firm on the faith, we are building on a firm foundation that will withstand the "storms of life". Standing firm implies unmovable, unshakable, and not wishy washy. That's what our faith should look like to others.

Act like Men: How applicable this advice is today. What a crazy society we live in that to think that the promotion of a gender neutral culture is the norm and that to celebrate the uniqueness of male and female is looked down on. God designed us as to be complementary and to ignore this is contrary to His plan for us. Men should act like men. Women should act like women.

Be strong. In order to be strong we must push ourselves. We become stronger when we work out. Our faith becomes stronger when we work on it. Our love for others grows stronger when we love others. Be. Strong. Don't dream of what you could be or what you should do, just be.

Let all that you do be done in love. So hard and yet so simple. In all things may Christ show through our words and our actions.

Prayer: Lord, Your word is alive and applicable today just as they were in the time of Paul's writings. We need these reminders, almost daily, that are so simple and yet so hard to do. Thank you for bringing these words to my attention and to offer simple reminders to help us grow in our faith, grow in our love for others, and grow to bring others to You. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Acts 19:21-41, Acts 20:1, 2 Corinthians 1-3

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday, November 20th: 1 Corinthians 12-14 ~ Jay

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 1 Corinthians 12-14

Below are a few of the thoughts that made an impact on me today as I read through the passage.

1) With respect to spiritual gifts- they are provided by the Holy Spirit are provided to help others.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  
No one gift is more important than another and jealousy over specific gifts has no place in the lives of believers.

2) The church is compared to a human body that has many parts that allow it to function.   I thought of it much like a team.  Each individual has a function or assignment based on their gift, and they must give 100% and utilize their talent in order for the entire "team" to succeed.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Just as on a team when one player may be struggling, we need to encourage that player. This same concept applies to the body of believers (the church).  We need to be actively looking for those that may be discouraged and encourage them.  

3) The spiritual gifts God has granted us, as powerful and effective as they could be, are rendered ineffective if we do not have genuine love for others.  If I speak in the tongues[e] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[f] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4) As many times as I have heard the description the passage from 1 Corinthians 13 vs 4-7 which describes love ( typically at weddings), it struck me just how opposite this is to human nature.  Only God working in and through us is able to accomplish a love like this. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

5)   The death of loved ones, long term illness, starvation, and difficult challenges we face with others are all things which sometimes we struggle to understand as to why God might have allowed these things to transpire.  Fortunately we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and has an understanding and vision beyond what our limited minds are able to grasp. The passage today tells us that the day will come when God will allow us to visualize things through His perspective. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  

God, thank-you for the unique gifts  you have provide and the team you have allowed us to be part of.  May we continue to strive to be more effective as we focus on our love for others.  Although we may not always understand why certain things happen, we know they are part of your master plan and look forward to the day when we shall see you face to face.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:1 Corinthians 15-16

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday, November 19th: 1 Corinthians 8-11 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Corinthians 8-11

The theme I noticed popping up throughout today's passage was love and concern for others.

1 Corinthians 8:1b But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

Knowledge, particularly knowledge about God and the Bible is a good thing, but it can also make us arrogant if love does not take precedence.

(Emphasis mine) 8:9 and 13 - But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.... So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live - for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble.

Paul was willing to never eat meat again in his life if it would help a fellow believer.  That's a pretty big sacrifice.  Would I be willing to be a vegetarian (no steak?!) - not for my own benefit, but for someone else's?

As my Life Application Bible says....
Christian freedom does not mean that anything goes. It means that our salvation is not obtained by good deeds or legalistic rules; it is the free gift of God.  Christian freedom, then, is inseparably tied to Christian responsibility.....When we truly love others, our freedom is less important to us than strengthening the faith of a brother or sister in Christ.

Are we willing to love our fellow believers like this?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 1 Corinthians 12-14

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday, November 18th: 1 Corinthians 4-7 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 1Corinthians 4-7

There were a couple of verses that jumped out to me today:

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful."
1Corinthians 4:2 

Everything we have is from God.  He is the source of our wealth, our health, our personal talents, and even the special moments in our lives.  We cannot take credit for anything we have, because everything we have has been entrusted to us by God.  

This verse jumped out to me as Pamela and I are currently discussing various scenarios on selling our current house and then knowing what to do next.  Do we build a new house, or buy an existing one?  Where is God leading us, and are we spending our money wisely?  God asks us to be content with what we have, so at what point are we being carried away with our own desires?

"Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts." 1Corinthians 7:19

Obedience.  We are to keep God's commands.  Plain and simple.  Not always easy to accomplish, but a straight forward command.

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1Corinthians 6:11

We are sinners, and thankfully we have been given the gift of salvation through the blood shed by Jesus Christ.  He has washed us, and now we need to submit to the rules and regulations of the Law, and display obedience to our God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 1 Corinthians 8-11

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 17th: Acts 18:12-28, Acts 19:1-20, 1 Corinthians 1-3 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Acts 18:12-28, Acts 19:1-20, 1 Corinthians 1-3

As I was reading through these verses I came across a passage that was very similar to what I had read in my devotions yesterday morning. I found the similarity interesting...maybe you will too...

Acts 19:13-20 
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

My commentary says that "Ephesus was a center for black magic and other occult practices.  The people cooked up magical formulas to give them wealth, happiness, and success in marriage. Superstition  and sorcery were commonplace. The sons of Sceva were impressed by Paul's work, whose power to drive out demons came from God's Holy Spirit, not from witchcraft, and was obviously more powerful than theirs. They discovered, however, that no one can control or duplicate God's power. These men were calling on the name of Jesus without knowing the person. The power to change people comes from Christ. It cannot be tapped by reciting his name like a magic charm. God works his power only through those he chooses."

In my devotions, I was reading in 1 Samuel 4:1-11 where the Israelites are being defeated by the Philistines. The Israelites then decided that they needed the Ark.  They thought that it's power would help them, and so in walk Hophni and Phinehas (2 people who despised and disrespected the sacred things of God) with the Ark thinking that this would save them. The Philistines were worried when they heard the great shout of excitement from the Israelite camp when the Ark arrived and yet they had no trouble defeating the Israelites.

Here's an excerpt from my devotions that I think ties this all together...

"I have noticed something specific to religious people who do not walk with God. They cannot tell the difference between legitimate faith and a people who had rejected and ignored God for a generation, their first question upon being slaughtered by their enemy was, "Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today?" We can take a great lesson from their presumption that God would be with them if they had the Ark like their ancestors did.  The sovereign God loves deeply, but he will not be disrespected. He will not permit us to take Him for granted. He will not honor our neglect. Those who honor Him will respect the symbols of His presence, but they will not worship those symbols. They certainly will not allow them to take His place.  Likewise, the cross has no power to save -- only the Christ who graced it with His presence.  We must be very cautious to avoid ever approaching the Divine as a talisman."

We may not practice magic or dabble in the occult. We may not worship symbols. But do we treat our Father as a good luck charm? Do we go to Him with our wishes and requests hoping he will grant them while we hold Him at arms length?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage1 Corinthians 4-7

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 16th: 1 Thessalonians 4-5, 2 Thessalonians 1-3 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Thessalonians 4-5, 2 Thessalonians 1-3

There were so many things that stood out to me today, but I am going to focus on the section in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5, that is titled "The Hope of the Resurrection" in my Bible.

First, in 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.

This gives us the hope and reassurance that we will see our loved ones again. I have a grandpa and two siblings that I have never met, but I have hope and reassurance through Christ that I will see them again. And these verses prove that.

Second, in 5:8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armour of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

Be on guard because we don't know the day of Christ's return. While we are waiting, we will be "protected by the armour of faith and love". That is incredibly reassuring that God gave that to us. As well as "our confidence of our salvation" as our helmet. That's right, protecting your head is the confidence of your salvation. How confident are you in your faith? How much protection do you really have?

And lastly, 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 

Christ is risen from the dead, and He is coming back for us! Encourage fellow believers with these words of hope!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageActs 18:12-28, Acts 19:1-20, 1 Corinthians 1-3

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday, November 15th: Acts 17:1-18:11, 1 Thessalonians 1-3 ~ Danae

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 17:1-18:11, 1 Thessalonians 1-3

We continue reading, today, of Paul’s journey & his teachings.

What hit me today while reading was Paul’s urgency in spreading God’s word & that being his life's mission.

I can't say that I spend my days continually spreading the message of God or thinking of who or where I need to minister next.  I mean, I try to live as an example of God in me, but “evangelism” isn't first on my mind.

Why not?
This is actually something that has been on my mind lately. I think that we can get so caught up in living & enjoying today that we fail to remember that happiness/pleasure shouldn't necessarily be our primary aim in life. (I say this cautiously because I do believe that God wants us to find enjoyment in his blessings too.) We live without eternity on our minds. While we know that one day God will come, the world will end & we will go to heaven, it isn't part of our day to day reality.  I think that we forget the urgency that Paul had to reach everyone because in some ways it feels like it's not even real.

1 Thessalonians 1-
8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Acts 17-
31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

God promises us in his word that he is coming back at which point he will judge the world. It is a reality. I think it's a good reminder today & maybe an opportunity for us to stop & consider those in our lives & around us who don't know Christ & to place in us an urgency to reach them.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  1 Thessalonians 4-5, 2 Thessalonians 1-3

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday, November 14th: Acts 15-16 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Acts 15-16

This verse caught my attention...
Acts 15:8a God knows people's hearts

God knows people's hearts.

To me this is a reminder of a few different things.

First, we cannot hide anything from Him.  No matter what we say or do, He knows what's in our hearts.  He knows what we're really thinking and feeling, and what our motives are.  He can see through any mask we may try to wear.  We are not fooling Him, we're only fooling ourselves.  We need to be honest with God about our sin and ask Him to work in those areas.

Secondly, though God knows people's hearts, we do not.  We do not have a right to judge that.  We can, and should, judge people's actions as sinful as described by God's word, and hold our fellow believers accountable in love and gentleness.  But we cannot judge the things that only God can see - their motives, their heart.

Third, despite knowing our hearts and the depravity within us, God loves us anyway.  He saves us, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:11b).

Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 17:1-18:11, 1 Thessalonians 1-3

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, November 13th - Galatians 4-6 ~ Kelora

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Galatians 4-6

A few key verses stood to me while reading these chapters.

Chapter 5:6 says. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."    The last part of this verse stood out for me.  We are saved by faith and our love for others will be shown through our faith. 

Another verse that I really like is Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Against such things there is no law.  These are wonderful character traits but they cannot be achieved on our own but through God's help.

Lastly, the final verse that I will mention is Galatians 5:14 "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be devastated by each other."  These verses are a good reminder to myself that it is so easy to get caught up and be critical of others around me but to remember to love each other. 

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Acts 15 - 16

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 12th: Galatians 1-3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Galatians 1-3

To some extent Galatians is the counterpart to James.  Both warn about two opposite extremes.

Genuine believers do not use their freedom in Christ as a liberty to sin.  Rather, holy living is evidence of genuine faith.  That is the message of James.

Genuine believers do not count on their good works to save them, or to continue in God's good graces after being saved.  That is the message of Paul in this first portion of Galatians.

We are not saved by good works, we are saved by faith in Christ Jesus.  We are not saved by obedience, because none of us are capable of perfect obedience, and perfection is the standard. The law showed us our inability to save ourselves and directed us to Christ, the only One who lived out God's law perfectly and the only One who can give us salvation.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Galatians 4-6

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday, November 11th: James 1-5 ~Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: James 1-5

I found reading the book of James to go quite quickly from one topic to another.  The book of James stresses the importance of an active faith, being expressed through Christian living.

There were many topics that I could have commented on, but I am choosing to comment on the topic of temptation.

"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;"  James 1:13  

Satan wants to have us question our faith by using various deceptive schemes to entice us to sin; seeds of doubt, unbelief, and rebellion.  Satan failed in his attempt in tempting Jesus while He was in the wilderness.

The Bible encourages us to resist temptation and stand firm in the faith.  God promises to help us resist temptation, and He assures us that He will not allow temptation beyond what we can endure.  

Temptation should not be confused with God's testing of our faith as a way of strengthening it.  By standing firm in the faith and resisting temptation, it will make our strength stronger, but the temptation comes from Satan, and our strength comes from God.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Galatians 1-3