Thursday, May 29, 2014

Psalm 21: A Study in Contrasts

Psalm 21 gives us two cases: that of the Lord's friend (the king), and that of His enemies.

Galatians 1: Paul's Gospel

The New Testament is made up primarily of letters written by the leaders of the early church.  Some of these letters, also called epistles, were to individuals, such as to Timothy or Titus.  Others were written to specific churches, or to the Church in general.  Sometimes a letter is called by its author's name (James, I John, Jude, etc.) while at other times the title comes from the party being addressed (Romans, II Corinthians, Ephesians, etc.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Acts 28: Prophecy's Fulfillment

As we reach the conclusion of the book of Acts, we realize how God's fingerprints were all over the life of the early church and apostles, bringing to a fulfillment what was prophesied much earlier.

Acts 27: Stormy Weather

In this chapter, the Apostle Paul, who had narrowly escaped many attempts on his life by fellow humans, now must endure a crisis from an "Act of God" - a violent storm at sea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Acts 26: Paul: Liar, Lunatic, or Legitimate Apostle?

"I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking sober truth." (vs. 25)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Acts 25: Appeal to Caesar!

With a new governor in town, Paul's "cold case" is re-activated after a two year hiatus.  Festus goes first to Jerusalem where the Jews plead for Paul to be returned to them.  (They are once again hoping to ambush him on the way.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Psalm 20: In Who Do We Trust?

Verse 7 is probably the most famous part of this psalm: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."  It is fitting that this is so, for this line encapsulates the message of the Psalm - trusting in God for His deliverance.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Acts 24: What Will You Do With The Resurrection?

On trial (again), Paul continues to assert that he is in trouble because he believes in the resurrection (vs. 21).  He insists that his faith is not something novel, but that he "worships the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets" (vs. 14).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Acts 23: The Midnight Ride of Paul of Tarsus

Acts 23 is a great chapter, bursting with behind-the-scenes action, courtroom drama, and a thrilling flight to safety.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Acts 22: The Power of Words

Words can incite violence or save your neck.  In Paul's case in Acts 22, they do both.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Acts 21: Full Boil

The tensions that have been rising between Paul and the Jews reach a full boil in Acts 21 as his appearance in Jerusalem causes a riot.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Acts 20: The Long Good-bye

Frankly, after reading Acts 20, I never want to hear anyone complain about the length of preachers' sermons again!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Psalm 19: From Creation to the Law

In my Bible, Psalm 19 has a subtitle: "God's Glory in Creation and the Law," and that about sums it up!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Acts 19: Paul in Ephesus

According to Acts 19, Paul stayed in Ephesus for well over two years.  This chapter recounts some of the memorable events that happened during his tenure there.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Acts 18: The Team Expands

While Paul may have been the primary mover-and-shaker at this stage of the Church's development, especially considering the letters of the New Testament he wrote, it would be wrong to think that he was a Lone Ranger.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Acts 17: TBA

The next leg of Paul and Silas' missionary journey (this is considered Paul's second trip, by the way) takes them to three Greek cities: Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens.  In each location, the apostles contend for the faith and present the claims of Christ in previously unreached areas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Acts 16: A Church on the Move!

Acts 16 is a turning point for a number of reasons.  From now on, Acts will mostly tell the story of Paul and his companions.  We see the Church expand its reach into a new continent (Europe), and new characters are introduced, including Timothy and - apparently - Luke himself.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Acts 15: The First Council...and First Division

How Jewish do you have to be in order to be a Christian?  While that may not be much of a live issue these days, it was a front-burner topic in the first-century Church!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Psalm 18: Praise for an Answered Prayer

There are many famous phrases in this psalm that have echoed as allusions and references in other works down through the ages.  (Especially songs and hymns!)  The imagery is one of deliverance - even more than that, vindication.  David goes from a near-death experience at the hands of his enemies to reigning and ruling as a God-favored monarch.  While that may not be our own individual story, as Christians we have a God who delights to hear and answer the prayers of His servants!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Acts 14: All Over The Map

What determines a person's response to the Gospel?  Jesus famously shared a parable of different kinds of soil: some hard-packed, some shallow, some weedy, some rich.  As Paul and Barnabas continue their missionary journey in Acts 14, they, too, encounter many different responses to the Gospel, sometimes even among the very same people.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Acts 13: Turning to the Gentiles

The missionary impulse was strong in Antioch.  After fasting and praying, the leaders commissioned Saul and Barnabas for a special work: taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to new lands.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Acts 11: The First "Christians"

Interestingly enough, it is when the Gentiles start streaming into the Church that the followers of Christ pick up their most widely-used name: "Christians."  The disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians in Antioch.  The Bible uses the word "Christians" three times: in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and I Peter 4:16.  Each time, the context suggests that it was a label applied to believers - and quite possibly negatively, as an insult!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Acts 10: One Small Step for a Man...One Giant Leap for the Church

Acts 10 represents a real turning point, not merely in the Book of Acts, or the Bible - but in the history of the world.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Psalm 17: Deliverance

You may not be able to relate to the woes of the psalmist (David) as he appeals to the Lord for help.  He is facing an onslaught from wicked foes who "surround" him like lions hungry for prey.  His enemies seek to throw him down and destroy him.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Acts 9: Better Call Saul

Remember that guy we met in Acts 7 who was working as the coat check attendant for the people martyring Stephen? Saul?  Yeah, it wasn't long before this young man was causing more mischief for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Acts 8: Ripples

Remember what Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1?  "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  We see this unfolding in Acts 8 as the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins spreading out, first into Samaria and other points further away from the epicenter of Jerusalem.