Of all the gospels, Mark's is the most fast-paced. Jesus appears on the scene in chapter 1, and is preaching 15 verses into this book. Mark repeatedly uses the breathless phrasing of "immediately" or "at once" in his transitions between stories. If you're looking for a story with a lot of "get up and go," Mark is the gospel for you!
Monday, September 29, 2014
I love the little book of Philemon! In it, we get a glimpse of Paul's relationship with some of the early Christians, as well as his knack for bringing his strong personality to bear on them through his writing. We also learn a little about the dynamics of household slavery in the first century. (Plus, in a single session's reading, you can knock off 1/27th of the New Testament!)
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Psalm 38 sounds like it was written by David in the throes of a serious physical ailment which he took to be a punishment from the Lord for his sins. Rather than stubbornly digging in his heels in rebellion or angrily proclaiming his innocence, David instead admits his guilt and pleads for mercy. "I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin" (vs. 18). How much trouble could we save ourselves (and our loved ones) if we took this same approach? Rather than prolonging his suffering or making more trouble for himself, David's penitent response clears his heart and makes room for the Lord's cleansing Spirit to flow through and bring him restoration, both physical and spiritual. This psalm can be a model for our own contrition!
Friday, September 26, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Although Paul's final letter was most likely II Timothy, Paul's epistles are not arranged chronologically in the New Testament. (Bonus points to whoever can tell me, in the comments, how Paul's letters are arranged!) Thus, we pick up in a fresh letter to another disciple of Paul: Titus.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
"Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Jesus Christ before the beginning of time..." (II Timothy 1:8-9)
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
Do you demand complete clarity in your Bible? Do you insist everything is a clear matter of black-or-white when it comes to biblical teaching? If so, you may have difficulty reconciling various passages of scripture that approach some issues differently! While I agree that the vast majority of scripture is quite plain and straightforward, there do exist areas of tension that arise naturally from the context of the verses in question.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
As we transition into Paul's personal letters, we see a shift from his messages to congregations and groups toward a focus on speaking intimately to specific individuals. Timothy, Paul's partner in the gospel and "son in the faith," is in Ephesus on Paul's instructions (vs. 3) while the older apostle is in Macedonia. Both are carrying out their ministry, keeping the other in prayer. Paul writes this letter to encourage Timothy and give further directions about leadership in the Church.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
In addition to being interested in the end-times, several in the Thessalonian church seemed to have a problem with idleness. Paul warns them that such a lifestyle is not appropriate for believers. Rather than being dependent on others for their bread, everyone should work for their own food. In fact, Paul even coins a new phrase: "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat." This may sound harsh to twenty-first century American ears, but Paul is concerned for the integrity and respectability of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not a place for busybodies or freeloaders. Independent living ought to be the goal for everyone.
Christianity is a "No Idling Zone!"
Christianity is a "No Idling Zone!"
The Thessalonian church was very interested in the end-times. They wanted to know what to expect - and when. In fact, some were concerned that they had already missed the return of Jesus! Paul sets their mind at ease by explaining a few details that they (and all of us) should know about the end.
Monday, September 8, 2014
As Paul begins his second letter to the Thessalonian church, he acknowledges their afflictions and persecutions. But he also highlights the reason they are undergoing such troubles. It is for their benefit, so that they may be made worthy.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I Thessalonians 4 contains some very practical teaching on how Christians should live. Paul includes several instructions about what a life pleasing to God looks like.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
In I Thessalonians 3, Paul reveals that he was concerned about the Thessalonians. He feared that - because he had been rushed out of town during a time of persecution - the Thessalonians' faith would waver and diminish. How would this young church fare after its planters had suffered persecution and fled?
Monday, September 1, 2014
Paul spends a great deal of time reminiscing about his ministry in I Thessalonians 2. He recalls the time when he first came to Thessalonica after being expelled from Philippi. He reminds the Thessalonians of how he conducted himself among them, for he was always proclaiming the gospel to them - even when he was not preaching.