Journey through the Bible in 13 months – Weeks 46-58 New Testament

Bible with coffee

Updated: October 14, 2018

Week 58

Well friends, you did it! This is the last book of the Bible and the final week of our Journey Through the Bible together. What a fantastic trip! Congratulations! I hope it was a trip that has changed your life and strengthened your understanding of and trust in our most gracious Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s do it again sometime!

Day 1:

1http://www.biblecenter.de/bibel/studien/e-std310.php

2http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res026.htm

3 http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/the-seven-churches-of-revelation-map.html

Day 2:

1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq4W9Qdhc6M

2 https://scholar.csl.edu/lbidecodingapocalypse/index.html

Day Of   Journey  Week Daily Readings Nugget

 

400

Week 58

1

Revelation 1,2,3

Here we are at the last book of the Bible, and the one that speaks of the end times so vivid. Therefore, it makes sense that it is placed last. However, there are actually two theories of the date of John’s writing of Revelation: 60s AD or 90s AD. See the first two links above to learn more. We will consider the writing of Revelation as the latter date since they can be the final words of encouragement and reprimand to the 7 churches and to us. For a map of the 7 churches see link 3 above.

Boy does this experience of John’s vision, sound like what Ezekiel experienced with the majesty and symbols, except an Angel spoke with Ezekiel and Jesus spoke with John.

Also, again we see how the Word of God is like a double edged sword as spoken about in Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17b.

May we find encouragement and guidance in these words from Christ, for each church was at a different point in their faithfulness and Christ’s words were meant to get them back on track. In the same way, wherever we are in are faith life, may we find ourselves in a similar place as one of the churches and be encouraged to repent and stay faithful until the end.

 

401

2

Revelation 4,5,6

What a glorious day! Today we have a glimpse of Heaven with the Father on his throne and Jesus the lamb the victor over death.

When I read the words of the song of praise being sung by the angels, all I can hear is Handel’s Messiah:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (5:12)

 Take a listen at the first link above for this day.

Finally, I do not know the full extent of the meaning of the seals but each seem to be a particular aspect of our earthly life through the ages, with the sixth being Christ’s return. For a more in depth look at the seals in chapter 5, and all of Revelation, check out the second link for today.

 

402

3

Revelation 7,8,9

What a glorious thought of heaven in chapter 7:

‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (7:16-17)

However, the rest of the reading for today is not nearly as peaceful. In fact, it is anything but peaceful. It is the events of the end times, which is presented from the 7th seal, and released for destruction by the sounding of the 7 trumpets. It seems the first four trumpets announce destruction of the earth through environmental and natural disaster. Whereas as the 5th and 6th trumpet announce destruction to mankind. Although it sounds like believers are present, as the ones with ‘the mark’, they are not directly targeted; only the unbelievers, in order for them to come to repentance and acknowledge the Saviour of the world.

 

403

4

Revelation 10,11,12

Again there is a similarity between John and Ezekiel with request to eat the scroll. In both cases the scroll tasted sweet like honey but for John, it was not made to sit very well in his tummy.

Eeks… things are getting quite abstract and complicated in chapters 11 and 12. I am not at all a scholar, but there are many things that may not need to be explained and reasoned. Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is our shield of all that is planned. We may continue to experience the destruction but we are protected from it. In Chapter 12 the woman and her children are the church and the believers in Christ, although at first you might think it is Mary, Jesus’ mother. I am also wondering if the 1260 days were the number of days of Jesus’ ministry…hmmmm. That’s just me thinking. In any case, for a more thorough explanation of these verses, check out the link above again.

 

404

5

Revelation 13,14,15

A Dragon (satan) and beasts, Angels with sickles and plagues. These analogies can be confusing and scary. They are the things to come of the end times. Have they begun? Perhaps.

In any case, as God’s children through the saving work of Jesus our Saviour, we need to stand firm and faithful. In fact, todays reading proclaims the difficulties that believers in Christ will face during these days, but they also pronounces words of encouragement too:

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. (13:10b)

And then again in the next chapter:

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (14:12-13)

Perhaps our days will become like that of Polycarp that we read about last week, or worse. In any case, be aware and alert, stand firm and ready!

 

405

6

Revelation 16,17,18,19

Today the wrath of God was poured out on the earth, the waters and its inhabitants who bore the sign of the beast. Unfortunately, those who bore the sign of the beast did not see their sinfulness, but “cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.”(16:11)

We may not be able to figure out all the analogies, like distinguish which king in revelation is the king in history. However, we can believe that the end will come and with it great destruction, evil, and chaos to this world. But take heart, in Christ we have overcome the world. We can be confident that in the end, we will be saved from this battle.

Through this scripture, we have been informed and so we need to stay alert. We are not ignorant, but we need to wait patiently. For God will “come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (16:15) Remember and be ready. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…” (Ephesians 6:12-13)

And in the end, we too will sing, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (19:6-8)

 

406

7

Revelation 20,21,22

Eden restored! 406 days ago we started reading about the creation of the Garden of Eden and then mankind being kicked out of it. Now, today, we learn of its restoration that is coming, which will include you and I, believers in the one who overcame the sin and death that separated us from God in the Garden. We will be part of that restoration, despite what may come during our earthly days. Cling tightly to the Lamb as you walk your earthly walk. Find courage, strength and encouragement from these words for the glorious home that is being prepared for you for eternity.

In the meantime, let us proclaim with the Spirit and the Lamb, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (22:17b)

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus

be with God’s people.

Amen.

22:20b-21

God’s continued blessings to you always, in Christ Jesus our Lord!

In His love and mine,  Brenda

Updated: October 7, 2018

Week 57

Only two weeks left until our journey comes to an end! It’s so hard to believe 56 weeks have passed already!

Day 4: https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/polycarp

Day5: https://biblehub.com/summary/jude/1.htm

Day 5-7: https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/introduction-to-1-3-john

Day Of   Journey  Week Daily Readings Nugget

393

Week 57

1

Hebrews 1,2,3

Today we begin the book of Hebrews which was written to convince the Hebrew Christians, those previously of the Jewish faith and ancestry, that Jesus was the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah. In the first three chapters the writer makes convincing arguments by using the things these Hebrews would know and hold fast to, like Moses, the angels, and Old Testament Scripture, to prove that Jesus is God’s Son. Intermixed with these apologetics are pleas to pay attention, to believe, and not to remain in their unbelief.

May our own faith be strengthened in the assurance of these writings, and we too hold fast to the truth that Jesus is God’s Son, our Redeemer!

 

394

2

Hebrews 4,5,6

With reference to the Jewish order of holy positions, which his readers would know, the author emphasizes Jesus’ position as the Great High Priest, and states that Jesus is a High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Do you remember Melchizedek? He’s back in Genesis 14:18-20. Even there Melchizedek, King of Salem, is call the priest of God Most High. Just tuck this tidbit away until tomorrow.

Again the author encourages his readers to not fall away but stand firm, not to fall back into the old ways of Judaism but to continue to move forward with the understanding of God’s righteousness in Christ. His comparison of their understanding with feeding on milk or solid food is one that we can use as well. Are you still waffling back and forth in the salvation we have through Jesus? Do you know someone who is? Then perhaps it’s important to go slowly, feed on milk. Do not expect them be able to ingest deeper aspects of God’s teachings in Christ, save the solid food until they‘re ready.

 

395

3

Hebrews 7,8,9,10

Oh how desperately the author is trying to convince his Hebrew Christian readers to be solid in the New Covenant: Salvation through Jesus Christ. Take a look at the footnotes at the end of the chapters, especial chapter 10. Look at all the Old Testament quotes. They are references of the One to come; the promise that they would have known and been waiting for.

Today’s readings can be very confusing. However, we must remember that the readers would know all about the Old Testament teachings; the promise to Abraham, the Levitical Priesthood and the laws and purpose behind the sacrifices. These people and their ancestors lived this life of sacrifices and the priesthood. It was a part of them. I can imagine that it would be easy to revert back and difficult to give it all up. That’s why the author is using the depth of examples that he is. In a nutshell, he is proving that Jesus is the Priest of God Most High, with no beginning and no end. He is above the Levitical Priesthood, which God established through Aaron- an earthly priesthood, whereas Jesus is from the priesthood of God Himself. Also, that Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all, the permanent sacrifice for all sins, unlike the sacrifices made by the Levitical priests on behalf of the people which are only temporary and have to be done repeated. Jesus is our new covenant. Jesus is our great Priest of God Himself, and Jesus’ sacrifice, the perfect one without blemish or spot, takes away ours sins permanently!

 

396

4

Hebrews 11,12,13

Didn’t it feel good reading chapter 11 and knowing the faith stories of those Old Testament people? I have found Hebrews and the other books of the New Testament much more enlightening since having read the Old Testament. It just allows everything to make sense.

In chapter 12, the author speaks about enduring suffering and discipline as a loving father disciplines his children. Then in chapter 13 he speaks about remembering those in prison, which I just connected it to being those Christians that are imprisoned, (as opposed to the average person that is in prison due to their crime). Finally, he speaks of Timothy being released, which we would conclude that Timothy was just released from prison. Therefore, in the midst of this glorious spreading of the Gospel over the first century AD, there was much persecution of the Christians and there was much more to come in the centuries to come, and still occurs today. I can imagine these words of persistence and remaining faithful in the midst of suffering and being considered a privilege to suffer for Christ are words that many have turned to for strength in the midst of severe persecution and earthly death. If you haven’t read about some early century martyrs, take a look of the faith of Polycarp and his martyrdom at the link stated at the start of this week’s readings.

 

397

5

Jude 1; 1 John 1,2

The Book of Jude consists of this one chapter. As the years are getting on, it is clear to see from Jude, and the other books recently, the directive to stand firm, do not be swayed by false teachers, and to walk in the ways of the Lord and not to give in to sinful ways.

Regarding the the epistles (aka letters) of John, it is in the 90s AD. John is getting on in age but still getting around.

In John’s first letter, he too is acknowledging it is getting close to “the last hour” (2:18) and to not fall away or be swept away by false teachers. John’s words in 1:8-10 are well known in church liturgies and good to remember as part of our own self-reflection:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

 

398

6

1 John 3,4,5

Oh what beautiful words of God’s love and the assurance of our salvation. There are so many passages of comfort.

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 3:1a

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 4:11-12

So may we, fearlessly and with confidence and compassion, love those in our lives and on our paths, as we walk through this world, until the day he calls each of us home.

Finally, with all confidence trust these words of John:

And this is [God’s] testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (5:11)

In Jesus, there is no question about your eternal resting place – you are going home to be with the Lord. No question!

 

399

7

2 John 1; 3 John 1

In 2 John, John is speaking to the church body as a whole and in 3 John, John is speaking specifically to Gaius. 2 John is a short little letter which kind of sums up 1 John; to live in love and to be strong against the false teachers. Then 3 John encourages Gaius in his love for the believers and his faithfulness in the truth.

Updated: September 30, 2018

Week 56

Day 3: https://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/the-good-book-blog/the-fourth-missionary-journey-what-happened-to-paul-after-acts.html

Day 6: https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-1-peter

Day Of   Journey

 Week Daily Readings

Nugget

386

Week 56

1

1 Timothy 1,2,3

Here Paul is writing his first letter to Timothy to encourage him to shepherd and guide the Ephesians in their worship and faith life. If you think about it, there really wasn’t any process given for the format of Worship, like it has evolved into today. He begins with the importance of prayer, and then spends a great deal of time on the human character of people in worship, men, women, overseers (i.e. pastor, priest, etc.) and deacons. Although it may be easy to get caught up in particular things he says about what people should and should not do, the important part is to look personally at your own position in the church and your own character and ask:

Am I living and worshiping my Lord “…from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”? (1:5b)

Then commend yourself to following the Lord and he will continue to guide you.

 

387

2

1 Timothy 4,5,6

These chapters are meant for overseers of the church to abide by; to be pure and godly in their own life, to give appropriate respect to those older and younger, the poor and widowed, and to teach and train others in the practical living of their faith. They are good words of instruction for us to heed, as well.

It is cute, how in the midst of Paul’s instruction to Timothy, he gives medicinal advice due to Timothy’s stomach and health issues… “Do this, and do that, and rebuke him, and care for her, and…  Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. ” (5:23)

Can you imagine Paul’s conversation at his next visit with Tim:

Paul: Son, it is clear you are being faithful. You are well respected. You are caring for this assembly of believers well. You have stood up against and rebuked the deceivers. Oh, but how is your tummy? Have you been doing what I said- adding a bit of wine to your beverage?

Isn’t that just like a parent! LOL

In all seriousness though, it just goes to show how our faith in Christ is a practical faith, which calls us to love, care for, and help others.

 

388

3

Titus 1,2,3

It seems that after Paul’s house arrest in Rome, he continued his travels. Here Titus receives a letter from Paul requesting Titus to meet him in Nicopolis. Yet, while he waits for others to arrive in order to continue ministering and leading the Christian assemblies in Crete and the surrounding areas, he encourages Titus, as he did Timothy, in leading the people. The passage that stands out for me is chapter 3:5-8

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

How these words go hand in hand with what James said in James 2:26, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

In other words, with the Holy Spirit living in us, our faith cannot be hidden as we “do [the] good works, which God prepared in advance for [each of] us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Therefore, go and shine the light of Christ through your words and actions today! You never know if you and your good deeds are the only interaction/view of Jesus someone you meet may ever experience.

 

389

4

 

2 Timothy 1,2,3,4

Now Paul is back in prison and he writes again to Timothy. In this letter he is feeling like he is almost at the end of his life’s journey. He is feeling abandoned, as many have continued their journeys, like Titus, and others have perhaps left the faith, as implied toward Demas. Yet, he still has Luke by his side.

In his words, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (4:6-7) It is clear that he is coming to the end of his earthly journey and he desires to encourage Timothy, the one he sees as a son, to stand firm in the faith and be true in his pastoral duties. He directs Timothy to scripture for assurance of guidance for the future days as spoken in 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

These words are good for us to remember and turn to and to be solid in Scripture as our true source of wisdom for teaching, and guidance.

 

390

5

1 Peter 1,2,3

Today we read Peter’s first letter to the Christians scattered around Asia Minor. Peter is encouraging these Christians how to live in this new life of grace and what a privilege it is. His words from chapter 2:9-10 are especially good for us to remember:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

May we always remember the sacrifice that was made in order for us to be called the children of God.

Peter then encourages us to endure suffering as Christ had suffered, and to live a loving, Godly life and to be prepared to answer anyone who may ask:

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.. (3:15)

 

391

6

 

1 Peter 4,5

Peter continues with encouragement for suffering for the faith. Then goes on to encourage the elders /leaders of the churches and to be aware of satan’s schemes, which are also great words for us to heed:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (5:8-9)

Finally, we can see by Peter’s Final Greetings that he is with the church in Babylon, and the year is in the 60s AD. That’s about 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection.

 

392

7

2 Peter 1,2,3

This letter of Peter’s really focuses on being aware of false teachers, standing firm against them and being aware of and ready for the return of Jesus. However, he does remind them that Christ’s return will not necessarily be seen in their time, but in God’s time:

 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (3:8-9)

Peter is close to the end of his time on earth and he so desires that these Christians continue in the faith. I can’t help but think that the first apostles, who walked with Jesus and are now coming to their earthly end, must have felt desperate to have the blessed truth of salvation in Christ firmly established.  Therefore, may we too stand firm in the faith and pass it on to the next generation.

Updated: September 23, 2018

Week 55

Only 4 weeks left of our journey!

Day Of   Journey  Week Daily Readings Nugget

379

Week 55

1

Acts 20:7-23:35

My goodness! What a time Paul is having with the Jews in Jerusalem. Oh how we could be as bold to proclaim Christ even in the midst of a little tiny bit of questioning, let alone while facing full attacks from those who oppose Christ. Yet, how often do we keep our words to ourselves or agree with ways and teachings that we know are contrary to the salvation in Christ, just to keep from others thinking we’re ‘Jesus freaks’. Well, Paul was a Jesus freak and he didn’t care and he won souls for eternity in his boldness to proclaim the gospel. May his words in Acts 21:13 resonate with us: “…I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

May we too be ready to die for the name of our Lord Jesus, being bold in the love, truth and proclamation of Christ and his salvation, not with violence or force, but with words and actions of love, humility, and truth.

380

2

Acts 24,25,26

God uses Paul’s defence to Festus and Agrippa and his appeal to Caesar to be Paul’s means to get to Rome, as well as, to have the rulers and leaders of the Roman empire hear of Christ’s salvation and permit the Holy Spirit to begin their journey to faith. We never know how God will fulfill his plans for our life. Good or bad, positive or negative, in all events of our lives, let’s be confident of God’s guiding and his will being done!

381

3

Acts 27,28;

Philemon 1

Finally, Paul made it to Rome. Could you imagine the journey they had by ship? What a ride! Yet in all the circumstances Paul proclaimed the Lord’s love and grace. Those soldiers and sailors, not to mention the people of Malta must have all come to believe in Jesus as their Saviour, as Paul, and the others, shared the gospel and healed the sick. In every situation, God’s word can be proclaimed for the salvation of souls. Are you questioning a situation or circumstance you are enduring? Perhaps God has placed you there to share his love and hope of life eternal to the people in that place.

Then in the book of Philemon, after some time of Paul being in Rome, he writes to Philemon, on behalf of his runaway slave, Onesimus. They are from Colossae and Philemon holds church in his home. After running away from Philemon’s household, Onesimus comes to faith in Jesus. I do not know if he comes to faith after hearing Paul preach, but we do know that Onesimus comes and assists Paul while he is in chains and on house arrest in Rome. The letter to Philemon is a request for Philemon to forgive Onesimus for running away and receive him as a brother in Christ. Paul would love to have Onesimus back with him but only with Philemon’s blessing.

This letter to Philemon is a good lesson for us to heed. In situations where we have done wrong, and it would be easier to just ignore reconciliation and let time soften the injustice, we should try to make ever attempt to take ownership of the situation, repent of our sins, receive forgiveness, and reconcile with those we have wronged.

382

4

Colossians 1,2,3,4

So many lessons and words of instruction for us through Paul’s letter to the Church in Colossae. He reiterates, as he did in previous letters, like to the Romans, Galatians, etc., about not finding your righteousness in the laws but also not to live in this world and its sinful desires. In particular, the joyful encouragement  given in the following passages are so encouraging to us as we live and speak our salvation in Christ:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 3:15-17

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 4:5-6

Finally, Onesimus is going home! Philemon must have responded to Paul’s letter and is accepting Onesimus home. Notice how in chapter 3, when speaking about relationships in the household, Paul makes special mention of how slaves and masters are to regard each other. Then at the end, Paul makes special mention to Archippus, Philemon’s son, to “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” 4:17

Is Paul not encouraging and guiding Philemon’s family and Onesimus to be reconciled and work together as if serving the Lord? I should say so.

 

383

5

Ephesians 1,2,3

Paul had a lot of time to think and write while he was hanging out in Rome. And his thoughts went to the Gentile churches and his written words were sent to continue encouraging them in the faith. Oh that our hearts were so set on encouraging others in the Lord!

In today’s reading Paul extends his thanksgiving to the Church of Ephesus for their faith and reaffirms God’s love and blessing upon them, and their inheritance from God along with the Jews, which is again reiterated from some previous letters. In particular, Ephesians 2:8-10 are great words to remind us of our salvation through the grace of God, not our own doings, but that our doings are a result of our new life in Christ:

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So, may we end today with the prayer that ended our reading:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

 

384

6

Ephesians 4,5,6

Chapter 4 starts out so beautifully with explaining the unity we have in Christ:

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  4:1-6

Later on in the book, Paul seems to get quite firm about not having anyone in their assembly who is living by the old ways… sinning. Wow! That would count me out. However, he simply is clarifying the distinction between the old self and our new self in Christ. We no longer need to, nor should we, live by the ways of the world. But we should live in this life of love and grace. In grace, we have received gifts and abilities, and we are to use them to uplift and support the body of Christ; living in the fullness of all that Christ has planned for us, for you and me– the works in which he has prepared in advance for each of us to do.

Then finally, he gives us the instructions of how to be able to live this new life, by putting on the full armour of God. Ultimately we are covering ourselves- body, soul, and mind- with the wisdom and power of God that we receive through his Word of truth and through which the Holy Spirit works and strengthens us. So be strong and ready. Do not give up equipping yourself by being in God’s word.

385

7

Philippians 1,2,3,4

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is another beautiful letter of encouragement in the faith. There are some repeat paragraphs about that one sect that is trying to claim circumcision still needs to occur and the closing paragraph which explains the return of a fellow Philippian who came to assist Paul. However, the glorious theme of Christ’s sacrifice and our life in him can be summed up in the beautiful verses below:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (2:5-8)

Therefore, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (4:11b-13)

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (3:8)

Therefore, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:4-7)

Ahhhh…..such comfort! Go forth into your day with the joy, peace and thanksgiving that is yours in Christ Jesus!

Week 48-54

Week 48-Day 2: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/468

Week 49- Day 5: https://www.gotquestions.org/Sadducees.html

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
330 Week 48

1

Matthew 14; Mark 6:14-56; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-24

 

John the Baptist beheaded

It is interesting to see how Herod was drawn to John. Even though John was correcting Herod, Herod was drawn to him. It’s too bad that Herodias led Herod down the wrong path.

Jesus Feeds 5000+

Could you imagine witnessing this miracle? Only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to start, but able to feed, I would bet, over 10,000 people including women and children, and then have more than what you started with as left overs. …And yet we worry when we hold a pot blessing (I don’t call in Pot Luck) meal at church and worry if we have enough food for the people who attend… Again, as we believe, so let it be…

Jesus Walks on Water

Another miracle that defies the laws of nature. Would we be any different if we saw Jesus, or anyone really, walking towards us on water while we sat in a boat in the middle of a lake? I don’t think so! Yet Peter’s trust to get out of the boat is growing but when the wind and waves got stronger, Peter’s faith wavered. But Christ was there to reach down and save him. In the same way, may we step out in faith with full trust in the Lord, and know that when trials or temptations come that we too just need to call out, “Lord, save me!” and trust that Christ will draw us into him.

 

331 2 John 6:25-71; Matthew 15; Mark 7,8 1 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”          John 6:28-29

Above all, cling to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Believe on him. It is not your works, nor the saints, nor the law that will save you; but only faith in Christ Jesus, alone.

2 May we too proclaim the words of  Peter when we can’t explain the ways of the Lord or when our faith is tested:

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

2 Both Matthew and Mark speak of the same incident but refer to the origin of the woman differently. Mark refers to her as the specific region – Syrophoenician- from which she comes; whereas, Matthew uses the term Canaanite in reference to the pagan inhabitants of the promised land as used in the Old Testament. For more details, see the link above.

332 3 Matthew 16, 17; Mark 9;

Luke 9:18-62

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees ask for a sign but that just shows how blind and hard hearted they are. Jesus has been performing miracles, of which each one is a sign of the coming Messiah. So sad! Yet Peter, a simple fisherman, exclaims the truth of Jesus being the Messiah. God reveals himself to the simple. Lord may I be among those to whom you are revealed!

2 How frustrated Jesus must have gotten with his disciples. I can imagine him looking at his disciples with the ‘whaaaat? Are you serious?’ look, when he heard the disciples’ response to his warning about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. “Bread really? You’re talking about bread right now?” …lol

3 Transfiguration

How awesome is that: to see Moses, Elijah, and Jesus glowing like the sun. Then to hear God speak. It would have been scary for the disciples but, at the same time, so gloriously unbelievable and overwhelming. What a mountain top experience! It is understandable why Peter did not want to leave that place, but wanted to stay and build shelters.

4  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

The response of the boy’s father is so very honest. It is a response that we can pray during trying times when God’s presence is not felt and we are quavering in our faith.

333 4 Matthew 18; John 7,8 1 How comforting it is reading the Parable of the Wandering Sheep; to be the lost sheep and have God, my Shepherd, come to find me, bring me home and to rejoice over my return. Currently, for those lost souls of family and friends, continue to pray to the Good Shepherd to seek, find, and bring them home to be with him.

2 Then there is the unmerciful servant whose story is good for us to heed. Be merciful- in receiving but especially in extending mercy.

3 Boy the crowds and Pharisees are really putting on the pressure. Jesus says some pretty harsh, but truthful, words but they just cannot stand to hear it. Oh how disheartened Jesus must have felt at their hard-heartedness and stubbornness.

334 5 Luke 10; John 9, 10 1 The Parable of the Good Samaritan is such a great lesson to love and help all. Everyone is our neighbour. There is no room for judgement or excuse when there is an opportunity to extend love and care.

2 Oh how it is so easy to be like Martha; busy, busy, busy. May we take the time to be like Martha, seeking and hungering to listen to God’s word.

3 How difficult it would have been on the other side of the cross; knowing a Messiah was to come but witnessing a man like you and me. Even for those living at the time of and hearing Jesus, it was a difficult step to take; to believe that he was the long awaited Messiah. Even in his presence, it took faith to believe that what they were seeing and to whom they were listening was the Son of God. God was not descending in a cloud upon Jesus (except in private, like at his Transfiguration) or sending down bolts of fire to set an altar ablaze, like with Elijah. They had to take Jesus at his word and by his actions, which should seem to be enough, but for many it wasn’t. ….But where would you be? How would you be responding?  How important it is for us to continue to pray for those who experience a stumbling block when it comes to Jesus’ words and his redemption. May they come to see clearly by his words and actions in us.

335 6 Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 13,14,15; 1 We have read many stories of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees’ dispute and anger towards these particular healings. How sad it is to see the leaders of the church so caught up in their laws and so unwilling to listen and hear what Jesus has to say about God’s love for the people and desire to heal them of all infirmities and all their sins.

2 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34)

This passage is such a beautiful statement of Christ’s desire to hold us close and care for us, but our unwillingness to go to him. Let yourself be cared for and carried in the arms of your Saviour.

3 In Luke 13:35 Jesus predicts his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

4 The Parable of the Prodigal Son and all the other parables of Chapter 15 share the joy that the Lord has when a lost, unbelieving soul comes to faith. What rejoicing there is in heaven over this one soul! It doesn’t change the person’s earthly situations, i.e. the prodigal son will still not receive any earthly wealth once his father is dead since he squandered his portion already, but he and all those who have been found have acquired a heavenly home and their peace in the Lord as they walk their remaining earthly days until they reach heaven’s door.

336 7 Luke 16, 17; John 11 1 May we learn from the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. Life may be hard and have its struggles, but trust in the Lord for life eternal. Do not fall prey to the temptations of living only for wealth and riches and in so doing turn your back on the Lord and trust in your money. Your earthly life may be easy but life eternal apart from the Lord is hell.

2 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

May we answer Jesus’ question as Mary does:

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:27

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
337 Week 49

1

Luke 18; Matthew 19; Mark 10:1-31 1 The story of the prayers of the tax collector and the Pharisee is a good reminder that God wants our humble hearts. Even in the midst of the most sinful acts, a sincerely repentant heart will be forgiven, but arrogance will not.

2 We ask the Lord for so many things in prayer. How many times do we go back to him and give him thanks and praise for answering those prayers, like the one out of 10 men who had leprosy? God is not a good luck charm, but our God who gives us even the smallest request because it pleases him to bless us. Let us give him thanks for even the smallest requests.

3 In the story of the Rich man and the Kingdom of Heaven, we see how difficult it is to give up/deny ourselves worldly possessions and wealth in order to follow Christ. Do not envy those with much but be thankful and pray that what you have permits you to remain faithful.

338 2 Matthew

20; Mark 10:32-52;

Luke 19:1-27;

John 12:1-11

Parable of the Workers

This parable really makes you see the graciousness of God. Even in the last hour, God will grant the full extent of his promise of Salvation to a soul who comes to faith in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice.

Parable of the 10 Minas

This parable tells us that whatever God blesses us with, a little or plenty, we are to care for it with the utmost care. In other words, be content with what you have and care for it as a good steward for their master’s belongings. It is summed in these verse:

 

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’” Luke 19:26

 

339 3 Matthew 21:1-27; Mark 11; Luke 19:28-20:19;

John 12:12-50

Jesus enters Jerusalem as King (Palm Sunday)

It’s the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. He enters Jerusalem and the crowds have gathered to praise him. He is loved by the people, yet he knows that many will turn on him in only a few days, for whatever reasons– fear of the Pharisees? Unbelief? Payment to testify against Jesus?… We do not know why they do. Oh how the tension must be mounting in him for the upcoming painful events he knows will be taking place. Jesus’ anger is peaked when he enters the temple courts and sees the market activities. The tension certainly is rising!

340 4 Matthew 21:28-46;

Mark 12:1-12;

Luke 20:1-19

Jesus certainly is not holding anything back anymore with the Pharisees. The Parable of the Tenants would have convicted the Pharisees, and in their arrogance, it is easy to see how they would have begun putting into full force their desire to kill Jesus. Yes, the tension is mounting!

However, let us not be so prideful like the Pharisees to reject the discipline and guidance of the Lord when he confronts us and his Word convicts us of our sinfulness.

341 5 Matthew 22:15-46, 23; Mark 12:13-44

Luke 20:20-21:4

Boy, Jesus stops the Sadducees and Pharisees in their tracks and makes them speechless! What an amazing time it would have been listening to Jesus respond to their questions. They tried to stump Jesus, but Jesus just left them amazed.

In particular, Jesus’ response to the question about paying taxes is brilliant.

 

“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21b

Then, Jesus when Jesus shuts down the Sadducees, everyone is amazed. The Sadducees were known more for their political slant on behalf of the Temple in Jerusalem and their relations with Rome. They mingled with the wealthy and walked around high and mighty. So for Jesus to basically tell these arrogant Sadducees that they didn’t know what they were talking about was totally humiliating for them. (for more on the Sadducees see link above.

Then Jesus states the Seven woes of the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. They are quite condemning. Instead of heeding his words and believing Christ,  the Pharisees and leaders of the Law used these condemnations to hate Jesus and plot to kill him. However, these words are good for our church leaders and us to heed. We must remember to respond to God and others in love first, while not denying the law for ourselves.

342 6 Matthew 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38 1 Jesus talks about the end times. Simply put, do not worry about knowing when the end will come, but rather, just be ready for that day. When Christ comes, be ready to stand before him and present yourself as one who has lived in and is proclaiming his saving grace.

2 In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and the end times, Jesus is just stating the point again that you must be ready. You are responsible for your own actions, your own faith. Take the time to prepare yourself. The faith of another will not get you a place in eternity. You are accountable for yourself, no one else. The five who prepared themselves by bringing enough oil to keep their lamps lit was justified in saying ‘no’. For the light of their lamps could represent the light of Christ in our lives, and the oil is the Holy Spirit in our hearts, sanctifying us, that keeps the light lit. We cannot give it away. Everyone will have their own light and oil with God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – working in their life. Be ready!

343 7 Matthew 26:1-35;

Mark 14:1-31;

Luke 22:1-38;

John 13, 14

The Last Supper

Here Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper saying:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

 

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28

What a wonderful blessing it is to receive Jesus’ body and blood, in the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of sins, each and every time we come to communion.

2 Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal. What an emotional, anxiety filled time knowing that one of your own was desiring to betray you and to hand you over to the authorities.

3 The washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus is meant to be an example for us. In the culture of Jesus’ day, the servant of the house washed the owners’ and guests’ feet. It was a very lowly job done by the lowliest in the house: a paid servant. Therefore, we are to be humble and to serve others. If our Lord can wash the dirty feet of others, who are we to think we are too good to do such a lowly thing.

Day Of

Journey

 

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
344 Week 50

1

John 14,15,16,17 1 Can’t you just see these conversations taking place? It was after supper, Jesus and his 11 disciples were preparing to leave the upper room and make their way to the Garden of Gethsemane, and all the while Jesus spoke and shared, and the disciples questioned and responded. What a beautiful, intimate time Jesus and his disciples had. Although, there were probably many walks and conversations between them like this, this would be the last.

2 Jesus is sharing so much with his disciples during this period of time. Like someone who is dying and needing to share with their loved ones and to set in place the final things needed to be put in order. Jesus too is giving the disciples encouragement for them following his death and getting things in order for them to continue sharing the Good News of the salvation we have in Christ.

345 2 Matthew 26:36-56:

Mark 14:32-52;

Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-11

Jesus Prays and is Arrested

These passages show the importance of prayer. God knows our weaknesses and desires us to come to him for guidance and strength against temptation. Jesus knows so well that our “spirit is willing but [our] flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41b

These passages surely shows Jesus’ humanness. Jesus felt the utmost fear and desire to avoid the painful events that were soon to take place. He prayed twice the prayer:

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

So we do not need to feel weak or unworthy when we fear something that is on our plate, but we are to give it to the Lord and let his will be done, and however it unfolds, to trust him to be with us through it all. In this assurance, we too can proclaim, as Jesus did:

Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11b

346 3 Matthew 26:57-75

Mark 14:53 -72

Luke 22: 54-71

John 18: 12-27

Jesus before the High Priest and Peter disowns Jesus

Jesus’ actions are good for us to heed. He did not fight, his words were kept to a minimum. These accusations were not worthy of a response. He knew the road that was a head of him and these lies were not worthy to argue against. At times it is best if we just keep our own words to a minimum.

Boy, has Peter’s courage ever gone into hiding. Just a few short hours ago he was boasting that he would go to the death for Jesus and now he totally denied ever knowing him. It may have been exactly for these moments that Peter should have prayed for strength and courage, but instead fell asleep. Peter is a good example for us to keep in mind when we turn from the truth and proclamation of the Lord for fear of the world, or when we are weak and fall into temptation. It is never too late to turn back to the Lord in repentance and seek the Lord’s forgiveness.

347 4 Matthew 27:1-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-19:16 Jesus’ Trials with Pilate and Herod

Herod wanted a spectacle show but he didn’t get it and became a bully. The soldiers too became ferociously nasty towards Jesus. Then there was Pilate. Pilate did all he could to release Jesus. I wonder if we’ll see Pilate and his wife in Heaven.

Woe to Judas and the leaders of the Jewish nation. Who in their pride led the Son of God to be killed, and could/would not repent of their ways. Yet, Christ knew it was to come; He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

348 5 Matthew 27:32-44; Mark 15:21-32;

Luke 23:26-43;

John 19:17-27

Jesus’ Crucifixion

1 Oh the pain the Lord endured to redeem mankind. Each spike nailed into his hands and feet, secured my sins to the cross. It was for this moment our Lord came to be born, and for this moment that God ordained in order for mankind to be returned to him. Our sins needed to be paid for. There was a cost for their redemption. Christ’s death was the punishment our sins deserved. Not just the Jewish leaders, but We- you and I- nailed Jesus to the cross that day.

2 Simon from Cyrene… what an honour to carry the cross of our Lord. It would not have been easy. In the same way, are we not called to carry the cross of our Lord when we endure trials and persecution? May we be as Simon was; willing to carry our crosses for the sake of Christ.

3 The recounting of the story of the thieves on either side of Jesus is one of great hope. Even in the last moment, no matter what kind of life was led, faith in Christ as our Lord and redeemer can take a person home to Heaven for eternity. What glorious hope we have for ourselves and for our loved ones.

349 6 Matthew 27:45-66; Mark 15:33-47;

Luke 23:44-56; John 19:28-42

Jesus’ Death and Burial

1 The sun stops shining at 12:00 noon, the earth shakes, rocks split, the Temple curtain, about 30’ in height, is torn in two, and the dead raised… now they say, “Surely he was the son of God!” Matthew 27:54b Oh how blind and wretched we are that we killed our God. Such a sad day!

2 Despite the violence and hatred surrounding Jesus’ trials and crucifixion, his burial was performed with love and honour by those who loved him and believed him to be the Son of God. As church leaders, I wonder if Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were given a hard time about giving Jesus a proper burial… Did they continue to keep their faith a secret or did they publicly proclaim the truth of whom Jesus was?

350 7 Matthew 28;1-15; Mark 16:1-11;

Luke 24:1-12;

John 20:1-18

Jesus’ Resurrection

1 This day of Jesus’ Resurrection is the reason for everything he needed to do while on earth; his life, his teachings, his death. It was all to come to this point- to redeem us from our sins but then to have dominion over death. His resurrection was essential in order for mankind to be redeemed and have eternity in heaven. If Christ had not been raised from the dead, neither would we. But in his resurrection we are secure and confident in knowing that death cannot hold us down either, for Christ has overcome death, and we too will live.

2 How miraculous it would have been at the opened tomb with the stone rolled away and the two angels shining like lightening that first Easter morning. I wonder how well the guards, whom the church leaders bought off, kept the lie. Who could keep it within themselves the awesomeness of what they had experienced.

3 I love the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as written in John. Oh how Mary loved Jesus. In him she had new life; her life had been one of sin and shame and now in Jesus she had been forgiven and reborn. What would life be like without him? Oh the fears and grief she must have been feeling at the loss of him guiding her days. Yet, Jesus meets her where she is at. He comforts her and assures her that his Heavenly Father is her Father, and his God is her God. She has nothing to fear for they will again be reunited. Jesus too meets us where we are. He comes to us in our grief and pain to comfort us and help us to continue to walk in his saving grace.

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
351 Week 51

1

Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:12-19; Luke 24:13-53;

John 20:19-31, 21;  Acts 1:1-11

Jesus’ appearance must have looked different since the two on the Road to Emmaus and the disciples, after catching the fish, did not recognize him. The profession of faith made by the disciples is the same one we can live by: None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. John 21:12b

We too can live by this same trust and faith, knowing the fruits and blessings that are from Christ. He even spoke about you and me when he spoke with Thomas, when he said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

Over the 40 days, from the time Jesus had risen from the dead to the time he ascended into heaven, he appeared to many. What a happy reunion it must have been for the disciples to again be with the Lord. In  these days Jesus was preparing them for the work ahead of them- the Great Commission- that after receiving the Holy Spirit, they are to go and spread the Good News that the Messiah has come and so that all may know and believe. Their purpose to go and make disciples is summed up in John’s words, which were written as to the purpose of his gospel: …that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

352 2 Acts 1:12-26,2,3 Have you ever thought about the process the disciples used to select a disciple to take Judas’ spot- the act of casting lots? Although dice games are played as games of chance, we can see and trust that God worked through this process to guide the disciples in selecting Mattias to take Judas’ place. Trust that where God is involved, it is not luck or by chance. It’s a sure and certain thing.

Pentecost occurs 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and 10 days after Jesus’ ascension. What an awesome day that would have been: to see the tongues of fire on each of the disciples’ heads and then to hear them all speaking in foreign languages. Wow! But the most glorious thing would have been to hear them speak the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. These fishermen, who just didn’t ‘get it’ so many times while Jesus walked alongside them and taught them. Now they are proclaiming Christ and enlightening the people with prophecies of old that have been fulfilled in Christ and healing in his name. How awesome! We too have been given the Holy Spirit. Walk in his strength as he guides you to proclaim Jesus our Saviour!

353 3 Acts 4,5,6 With the power of the Holy Spirit among the believers, comes the hatred and persecution of the non-believing leaders towards them. The harder the leaders try to subdue the proclamation of Christ, the more visible the Holy Spirit is: he’s in their words, he’s in their actions, and he’s physically shining through them, as in the case of Stephen and his glorious face.

The words of Gamaliel would be good for the Jewish leaders to heed: “…Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39

In the same way, who are we to bicker against someone serving the Lord. Do you really want to be found opposing the Lord? Instead, we should support and pray for them.

354 4 Acts 7,8,9 Today’s reading was about persecution and conversion. Despite the persecution with which the Disciples and the followers of Christ were face, many people came to faith in the Lord as their Saviour. In fact, if it wasn’t for the persecution in Jerusalem, perhaps many of the followers wouldn’t have left Jerusalem. It was in the leaving that a greater number of people heard about Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. This is an example of how God uses an undesirable event to bring about blessing and his purpose.

 

Stephen, the first martyr

Stephen’s summary of the history of the Israelites and the prophecies of the Messiah before the Sanhedrin was going all so well, until… Until he compared the current leaders to those who killed the prophets of old. It doesn’t take long before Stephen is stoned to death for proclaiming Christ as the long awaited Messiah and the leaders’ denial of the Holy Spirit. However, in the midst of all of this Stephen experienced glorious events: the Holy Spirit giving him words to speak so eloquently, the privilege to see Jesus standing to the right of God, the Father, and the gift of just falling asleep in the midst of being stoned… and then waking up in paradise. May our words be the same as Stephen’s when we are faced with resistance to the Lord, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (7:60b).

Saul, the greatest advocate for the Jewish faith and persecutor of the Christian faith, is turned to Paul, the great apostle of Christ. His story is an example of how we can entrust all things, especially the growth of his church, to God, even those situations that seem impossible, because God is in control and he can do the impossible.

355 5 James 1,2,3 James is writing his letter to the Jewish Christians. His encouragement and clarification of religion, favouritism, faith and deeds, taming the tongue, and true wisdom can be understand now in light of the behaviours of the Jewish leaders and their behaviour towards Jesus and acts towards one another. James is simply clarifying the law and faith. His words are good for us to heed as well. In these three chapters, chapter 2:13b rings through them all: Mercy triumphs over judgment. In all we say and do be merciful and do not judge. Again, here my favourite verse, Micah 6:8, can sum up what James is trying to say:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

So it is clear to see that James is not teaching something new, he is just trying to bring the Jewish people back to knowing and living in God’s truth.

356 6 James 4,5; In these chapters, James again speaks on being humble and not judging. Yet, he goes on to encourage his readers to be patient while suffering, not to get caught up in the ways and the wealth of this world and in so doing be led away from the ways of the Lord. Finally, he expresses the effectiveness of the prayer of a righteous person. He encourages us to stand bold in trusting the Lord and his faithfulness to answer us. James so eloquently states this in 5:16b; The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
357 7 Acts 10,11,12 The story of Cornelius and Peter is one of great importance in that it is the first time where it is clear that Christ came for all, the Jews-who were considered clean- and also the Gentiles- who were considered unclean. It is faith in Jesus as their Saviour that unites them, and makes all clean. Also, this same story opens the doors to God permitting all creatures to be worthy of being eaten; there is no more clean or unclean animals, which we will see later on.
Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
358 Week

52

1

Acts 13,14,15 It is clear from today’s readings that the disciples did not have it easy in spreading the news of Jesus. They met strong opposition, were stoned and beaten, had difficult decisions to make, and had disagreements themselves. But through it all, they continued to rejoice and sing the Lord’s praises and proclaim his salvation. We would do good to remember these stories when we ourselves fall upon hardship and opposition, hard decisions and disagreements. In all of it, stay focused on Christ and his joy, and seek him in all things, and he will guide you through it all.
359 2 Acts 16,17 It is interesting to see how Paul approaches the preaching and apologetics of the gospel to the different communities and how the citizens of each community respond. In knowing where the people are at, is where Paul starts. Whomever he is talking to- community leaders, the educated, the average person- he meets them where they are at and then continues with the salvation in Christ. He does not try to hit them over the head or apply force for them to believe; he simply states the truths. In fact, he takes the hardships and floggings while remaining humble and rejoicing in the Lord. Those uplifting characteristics speak louder than any harsh actions could. The Philippian jailer and his conversion is prime example of that as recorded in Acts 16.
360 3 1 Thessalonians 1,2,3,4,5 The book of 1 Thessalonians is so encouraging to believers. It’s like the pre-game speech of a coach to his team. Through these words, take heart and be encouraged in your faith walk as you live your days as a child of God.
361 4 2 Thessalonians 1,2,3; This letter feels like more of a finger wagging than the first letter to the Thessalonians. There is more instruction as to how to live with those who do not live as previously instructed. We can look at Paul’s instructions in the same light as the behaviours within a family setting, where each person is responsible for their part in the good of the family unit and for pulling their own weight. If a family member slacks or turns from his duties, the rest of the family addresses the situation. Paul in these chapters helps the Thessalonians know how to address the situation.
362 5 Acts 18,19 Paul had an encouraging, uplifting time in Corinth, which must have seemed like the calm before the storm, in hindsight. For when he went to Ephesus, things went wild. How we must take the storms with the calm, and be encouraged, as Paul was, with God’s word Acts 18:9-10: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you…
363 6 Galatians 1,2,3 Here Paul has written a letter to the Galatians to help get them back on track. After the gospel had first come to Galatia and the people believed, some time had passed and others were promoting that if they were truly believers in Christ that they needed to follow Jewish laws, like eating ‘clean’ food, especially to become circumcised. Many new believers fell into these misguided demands. In Paul’s letter, he is distinguishing between the promise of a Saviour and being saved through faith in that saviour versus thinking that by following the old laws that one would be more faithful. It is faith in Christ that saves – not by works or the law. As Paul says in Galatians 3:26-29:  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
364 7 Galatians 4,5,6 Wow! Paul is getting quite passionate and worked up over those ‘agitators’, as he calls them. And rightly so! It is good for us to know and be guided to focus on Christ and not the works or laws that God had given Moses. However, Paul does clarify that they are not eliminated, they are simply lived out,  like the Ten Commandments, when we live by the Spirit because if we are living by the Fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23, we will automatically fulfill the laws, and we will not gratify the sinful desires of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21. So live in the power of the Spirit to bear his fruits and to love one another. Alone this is impossible, but with the Holy Spirit’s presence in you it is possible.
Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
365 Week 53

1

1 Corinthians 1,2,3 Paul addresses an argument that arises within the body of believers in Corinth. With the different leaders that came to share the Gospel, some were choosing whom they liked better. Paul reprimands them for this, saying that in all who shared the gospel, we are to only follow Christ, not the messenger. How often do we do that: focus on the messenger instead of the saving message of Christ? Let us heed Paul’s words and focus on Christ and his salvation… and pray for our messengers of the Gospel, that they may preach it with love and humility, and that we may receive it with open ears and hearts.
366 2 1 Corinthians 4,5,6 In today’s reading, Paul focusses on how the body of Christ is to behave and how it is perceived by non-believers. As followers of Christ, we should be loving and forgiving, communicating and reconciling, guiding and being guided by one another; not quarrelling, suing, nor sinning against. Those things are what Paul is talking about. If each believer lived by the Spirit and in his power, there would be no worries of sinning against or non-reconciliation with each other, nor any misperceptions of who we are in Christ. Unfortunately, this is a passage we need to return to often; too many times, humans and our actions have/do not show the love or grace of Christ as we should.
367 3 1 Corinthians 7,8,9 In today’s readings Paul continues to give guidance for Christian living focussing on marriage or remaining unmarried, eating food sacrificed to idols or not, and self-discipline. The over-riding theme is to dedicate living your life for the Lord- wherever you are and whatever you do by living and sharing the love of Christ with all people. I love the passage in chapter 9:22b: I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
368 4 1 Corinthians 10,11,12,13 Today Paul addresses a few important issues. Although he discusses whether or not to cover one’s head, he does acknowledge in the end, that there really is no final answer on the topic. Therefore, most importantly, he reprimands the Corinthians for their inappropriate behaviour towards the reception of the Last Supper. This is important because receiving communion is no wishy washy, do whatever I want matter. It is serious self-reflection and the preparation in receiving the body and blood of Christ. Then in a more encouraging light, he acknowledges Gods gifts of abilities that is unique to each person, and that together we work in Gods kingdom as one body, each as a unique part of that body. This includes each one of us! Then finally and most importantly, he encourages everyone to live in love. No matter what your gift and ability is, we can all love one another, and our gift is no good if we do not live it out in love. Chapter 13:12-13 is such a profound passage where the essence is of it is God’s omniscience and intimacy of each of his creations: you and me.  So much of the time Chapter 13 is spoken of as if it is a love between a husband and wife, between humans. Certainly this is a love to strive for, but it is not a love that humans portray or innately have. The love in Chapter 13 is the love that God has for us. Verse 12 explains it: 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.

In our earthly days, we only see a reflection of the love God has for us and how others try to live his love towards us, but in eternity, where there will no longer be a need for faith or hope, we will experience and extend love in its fullness in God’s presence, just as he fully loves and knows each of us now– there is nothing in you or me that is hidden from him right now. How profound! How beautiful!

369 5 1 Corinthians 14,15,16 There is so much in today’s reading: speaking in tongues and prophesying, orderly worship, the resurrection of Christ and the assurance of our resurrection in Christ, and finally the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. There is so much advice to godly living, and encouragement in the faith that it’s hard to pick out any one theme, however, I feel, the most important verses to take from today for our encouragement in the faith are from chapter 15:56-58:

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Therefore, Go! Serve the Lord this day in confidence, for your labour in not in vain!

370 6 2 Corinthians 1,2,3 In today’s reading, Paul simply explains his reasoning behind not returning to Corinth as he had originally planned, as well as, the reason behind his first letter. He then commends them for following through with his commands from the first letter and that those who were reconciled to the family of believers that Paul too has forgiven them; he holds nothing against them. He then goes on to say in chapter 2:7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

This is a good lesson for us. How many times do we just tuck a person’s offense in our back pocket, even after forgiving them, just to pull it out the next time we have a disagreement with them. This is not how we are to act as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us be reconciled to one another, living in forgiveness and comforting one another.

371 7 2 Corinthians 4,5,6 Much of today’s readings has Paul encouraging the Corinthians- and us- in the joy and importance of the ministry of the gospel. I particularly love 4:6 and 5:21 which state the reality of what God has done for us in Christ:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In this light of God’s grace, he then goes on to strengthen and encourage us all in our faith and to live our days for the Lord and in his strength, as beautifully stated in 4:16-18:

 

  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
372 Week 54

1

2 Corinthians 7,8,9 In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he reprimands them for particular offenses and for becoming loosey goosey with the gospel. So in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul is rejoicing in their repentance and having heeded his words of discipline and instruction.

Then in chapters 8 & 9, Paul returns to encouraging the Corinthians to joyfully give for the collection of the poor and needy in Jerusalem. He is informing them that someone is coming to pick it up so please have it ready. The guidance he gives around giving can be heeded by us, as well. Don’t think about what you aren’t giving or what you don’t have. Give generously what you have set in your heart to give and give it joyfully, and God will take care of the rest. I love Paul’s words in 9:6-8:

 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

373 2 2 Corinthians 10,11,12,13 In today’s reading, Paul takes extra measures to speak out against others who had come to Corinth with a different teaching, and who seemingly won over many of the new Christians in Corinth. Who exactly they were, I do not know. However, they played a big part in diminishing Paul and his teachings to the Corinthians and made themselves more winsome. Therefore, Paul addresses himself and his ministry in order to justify himself against those who diminished him and to get the church of Corinth ‘back on track’ with the teachings of Christ. Ultimately he is caring for them as their pastor for their spiritual welfare, not so much as trying to just personally defend himself.
374 3 Acts 20:1-6; Romans 1,2,3 Today we read how Paul desires to go to Rome to spend time with the new Christians there. His writings really clarify how Christ came for all. He starts by explaining how God sent Christ in the midst of sinful humanity and that we should all turn from our sinful ways, but also that God continues to be faithful and trustworthy even when we cannot follow the law and sin. Not that the law is nullified and we can do whatever we want. No! …but that we uphold the law as we live in the forgiveness we receive through Christ’s redemption. He then goes on to speak in great depth that the Jews, with the Law and circumcision, are no better or more accepted by God since they too sin and God’s Law is nullified. That righteousness- being right with God- comes from the circumcision of the heart by faith in Jesus, and that this faith is freely given by God to all people – Jews and gentiles alike. There is no difference, as he explains in Romans 3:22-24:

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

There must have been a situation between the Jews and/or Jewish-Christians in Rome because Paul take great care and detail in clarifying our righteousness through Christ by using the Old Testament teachings.

 

375 4 Romans 4,5,6 Today, Paul continues his defense Christianity in light of the Old Testament. He defends man’s righteousness through faith in Christ in light of Abraham. He then makes the comparison of sin and death being brought to mankind through one man, Adam, and how much more righteousness and life is brought through one man, Jesus. In all his formal arguments for Christianity, Paul finishes with the wonderful news of the hope and peace we can have living in the righteousness of Christ, and to not give in to being a slave to sin but a slave to Christ as we finish todays readings with, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 Thanks be to God for his grace given to us in Christ Jesus and this new life we can now live!
376 5 Romans 7,8,9 There are so many wonderful passages in today’s reading. Chapter 7 and 8 work together in contrasting the purpose of the law and the gospel. In Chapter 7, how profound is the idea that if we had not heard of God’s law we would not know God’s expectations nor experience our inability to live fully by them. God’s law simply shows us our sin, our inability to obey God’s law, our separation from God because of our sin, and our need for a Saviour to reunite us to God despite of our sin. I love Paul’s words:

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. … For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. …So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me…. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 7:15..24

Then in Chapter 8, Paul showers the Righteousness we receive from God in Christ, as His children. We are reunited with God not by obeying the law – which we just learned in depth can never save us because we can never obey it perfectly- but by the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. In Christ we are saved, and in Christ we live our days, not burdened by the law but in His Spirit and his ways of love and reconciliation. In Christ, we are assured of God’s love and mercy and adoption that will never leave us nor forsake us. We can be sure of our salvation as Paul says in these wonderful words:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

Finally in Chapter 9, Paul expresses his grief over the Israelites that refuse to receive the gospel, and continue to simply live by the law. They cannot come to distinguish between God’s Law and the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Saviour through Christ. It really is such a heart breaking situation since the promise and covenant was given, through their ancestors, for them…and then to all people.

377 6 Romans 10,11,12,13 In Chapters 10 and 11, Paul continues to share his desire for his fellow Israelite nation to come to belief in Jesus as their long awaited and promised Messiah, and how the gentile Christians should not consider themselves better or become arrogant in their faith but to continue to be humble in their faith and desire all, Jew and Gentile, to come to faith in Christ Jesus.

Chapters 12 shares those beautiful words that remind us that we are all members of one body, where Christ is the head and how we are to work together, each having our own gifts and abilities, for the good of the body, and for everyone. The remainder of the chapter as well as chapter 13 goes on to give specific examples of how we are to live, love, and act towards others, like the governing authorities, or those who hate us, etc. In all things we are to love. For as Paul summarizes in Chapter 13:9..10:

The commandments… are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

378 7 Romans 14,15,16 Before Paul brings his letter to the Romans to an end, he really clarifies what it means to love and support others in the faith. It is a good lesson for us too. Whatever you believe in your heart and do for the Lord believe it fully. Do not be wishy washy. However on the other hand, if someone does something different according to how their faith in Christ is believed, do not judge them and do not let your actions as you believe pull them away and weaken their faith, just as Paul writes in Romans 14:15-19

 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Then in the final chapters, Paul shares with the Romans his plans to come visit them, and, in the meantime, sends his greetings and commends to the Romans those whom he is sending on ahead of him, probably to deliver the letter. Could you imagine being with your fellow Christians in your church with its current struggles and conflicts and then one day see this entourage of people coming to you with joy and love and encouragement in the faith; greeting you with hugs and kisses and laughter, then together, waiting for Paul, one of God’s chosen apostles to arrive. What an encouraging time that would be for you and your church!

Week 46-47

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
316 Week 46

1

John 1:1-18;

Luke 1; Matthew 1

1 Oh how the words of Zechariah in Luke and John’s words prophesy the coming of the Messiah and the purpose of John, the Baptizer…

And you, [John] my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun [Jesus, the Light] will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79) … In him [Jesus, the Light] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

2 The genealogy of Jesus is very important again as a witness and proof to the validity of Jesus’ life. There is no denying that the Saviour was born!

3 Did you take a close look at the genecology of Jesus? He did not come from a line of goodie-two-shoes. He has gentiles (Ruth) and prostitutes (Rahab) and deceivers (Judah and Tamar) in his line. The thing they all had in common, besides their sinfulness, was faith. Those who believe on him – have faith – are considered righteous. It goes to show that, in faith, God does not turn any of us away. In faith, we too are part of the line of Jesus!

 

317 2 Luke 2:1-40;

Matthew 2; Luke 2:41-51;

The Birth of Jesus

1 Giving birth in a farm animals’ barn… the best sky show ever only viewed by lowly shepherds. What is going on? … Take heart and learn of the ways of the Lord. Our Lord came into this world to save the lost, the lowly, the sinners – you and me. It is there where he started his life and where he ended it. It is to the lowly to whom he was first proclaimed by the angels and where we was last proclaimed the angels.

2 What peace the words of Simeon are. We too, through God’s word have seen and by faith know, God’s salvation in Christ for whom Simeon had long awaited. We too can depart in peace knowing we have life with him to look forward to.

3 The reference to the Old Testament prophesies are prevalent. This is important because the Israelites/Jewish nation knew/know these promises, and it is a means by which they could/can know that their long awaited saviour has come. How can you profess the truth of the Old Testament and yet deny the Messiah?

318 3 Luke 3;

Mark 1:1-13;

Matthew 3

John The Baptist Prepares The Way and the Baptism of Jesus

 

Although the Israelites had had a history of prophets, it had been quite some time since the final prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi had spoken to the people. So hearing John proclaiming would have drawn crowds, however, what he proclaimed was different than others. He proclaimed a baptism of repentance in addition to just turning from your sinful ways.

How awesome it would have been to know you were baptizing the Saviour of the world, the Messiah! It seems strange that the sinless, perfect Messiah needed to receive a baptism of repentance as he had no sin to repent of. However, he did not omit doing anything that we, mankind, were required to do or that would benefit us in order to walk in God’s ways.

319 4 Matthew

4:1-11;

Luke 4:1-13;

John 1:19-42

Jesus Tested in the Wilderness

How weak Jesus must have been after 40 days in the wilderness fasting. Then to be tempted the severest of temptations by Satan himself. Oh to have the trust in God as Christ did. Although Christ was true God, he was also true man; he got hungry, he had emotions, he felt the pull of temptation but he 100% of the time trusted in God the Father’s provision and he knew scripture 100%. In fact, he emulated the words of scripture, for he himself is the Word made flesh.  (How awesome it would be to be able to pull any scripture to mind at any time.)

320 5 Luke 4:12-44;

Matthew 4:12-25;

Mark 1:14-44; John 1:43-51

Jesus begins his ministry and calls his disciples

1 Right off the hop Jesus’ home town wants to kill him. Can you hear the elders saying things like, “ What a disrespectful young man. He needs to learn a lesson!” or “Mary and Joseph raised him better than that. The nerve he has to tell us we won’t be saved.” Instead of hearing and understanding what Jesus was saying, they acted exactly the way Jesus said they would and kept from having him proclaim God’s words to them.

2 What would you have done if Jesus had called you to leave everything and follow him? It’s easy to say, “I’d go with him, of course!” Yet, if actually faced with the request, it is hard to say. I pray I would and trust that the Holy Spirit stirred within me to want to do nothing else except follow him. Even then, despite the nudging of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is patient and understands our need to be understood and handled gently. It seems in each case Jesus did talk with them a bit before asking them to follow him, except for John’s disciples who just left John to follow Jesus. I can’t imagine that any of the disciples had in mind the final outcome of what it meant to follow Jesus.

321 6 Matthew 9:1-17; Mark 2;

Luke 5; John 2

1 Oh the faith of the friends of the paralyzed man. Besides forgiving and healing the man, Jesus forgave the friends because of their faith in him. Once again we see God blessing the intercessory acts of people of faith. Oh to love our family and friends so much as to present them to the Lord and to share with them his love and salvation.

 

2 …many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. (John 2:23b-25)

The above passage cuts through the heart with the fact that God knows the depth of our sin- yours and mine. He was not fooled and he would not entrust himself to us. Yet, he loved/loves us, beyond measure.

322 7 John 3,4,5; 1 In 3:19 God reminds us again of his knowledge of our sinfulness, but prior to that he shares the depths of God’s love in Christ in 3:16-18:

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (3:16-18)

2 in Chapter 4, when reading the story of the Samaritan woman, did you make the connection between the Jews and the Samaritans, from the Old Testament?

3 Jesus tells the Jewish leaders in plain words that he is the Messiah that God foretold them about. Yet they still are scheming ways to persecute Jesus. These leaders and the Pharisees covet God’s Law but have forgotten to love. Did it start getting so law focussed following the rebuilding of the temple following their Babylonian captivity? Were they so afraid of God’s punishment again for turning from his ways, that they just focussed on his law, but in so doing forgot that God desires a loving relationship with them? It is hard to say. Those Jewish leaders upon the Israelites’ return to Jerusalem – Ezra, Nehemiah – were devout and faithful to the Lord, but somewhere along the way, they forgot the Lord and his love for his people were more important than just following the laws. May we and our Church Leaders learn from them, and place the law where it belongs and seek the Lord first with all our hearts.

Day Of

Journey

 

Week

Daily Readings Nugget
323 Week 47

1

Matthew 12; Mark 3;

Luke 6:1-16

1I prefer how Mark and Luke presents Jesus’ question:  “…Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4)

Really?!? No response? It’s not that the church leaders didn’t know the proper answer. It is simply their pride which kept them from answering… and ultimately, kept them in their sin.

2 “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28-29

For many people, this passage is such a comfort, but one that many church leaders seem to have dismissed over the years. Dear friend, find comfort in knowing that there is no sin or act this side of heaven for which you cannot be forgiven nor any temptation or weakness with which God won’t help you work through. The rejection/denial of the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith in Christ that he desires to plant your heart – i.e. not believing in Christ, our Saviour, and his redemption- is the only thing that is not forgiven.

3 The 12 Apostles – Thaddaeus (in Mark) and Judas, son of James (in Luke) are the same person.

324 2 Luke 6:17-49

Matthew 5,7;

The Beatitudes and Jesus’ teachings –What is there to say that Jesus didn’t already explain. In summary, Seek the Lord first and foremost, for he loves you beyond measure, and he will guide you and keep you. Strive to follow his commands and lean on him when temptations and weaknesses are strong. Don’t be devoured by them, but cling to the Lord and trust his strength to be yours through them. Then LOVE others. Treat all with the utmost dignity and care, even those who hate you. There is no place for hatred, revenge, or judgement. You may be the only reflection of Jesus they have ever seen.
325 3 Matthew 6; Mark 13; Luke 11, 12 1 The Lord’s Prayer is instituted in today’s readings. It is good to heed the importance of forgiving others. It is a necessity! Who are we to hold a grudge and be unwilling to forgive others when Christ our Lord went to his death to have our sins forgiven? Are we above our Saviour? By no means! If he desires to forgive us all our sins, we can certainly forgive others their sins against us.

2 What comfort it is to take rest in the Lord and not worry. If he cares about each hair on my head, how much more will he care about my every need. It takes much courage to trust, but as the old saying goes, “Let go and let God handle it.”

326 4 Matthew

8:1-22; Luke 7; Matthew 11

1 The Centurion’s story gives such great comfort and assurance for us living with faith on this side of the cross. Even though he could see the Lord, he knew that the Lord did not need to be present or visible to receive his blessings. In the same way, we can trust that, although we may not see him, Jesus is present and healing and forgiving and bestowing upon us his goodness!

2 The story of the woman at Jesus’ feet too gives such conviction for us to share Jesus’ saving love to everyone, no matter how deep and tragic their sin is. For it is these souls that appreciate it and cling to it the closest.

3  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

May you take comfort in finding rest in Christ from the burdens of this world today and always!

327 5 Matthew 13; Mark 4:1-34: Luke 8:1-21 Jesus tells parables – earthly related stories with heavenly meanings. The Parable of the Sower is especially important as it explains the limitations and reasons for weak faith and strong faith. May you nurture that gracious seed of faith in Jesus by being in the Word and receiving the sacraments – baptism, communion – as instituted by Christ, so that you may stand firm when trials and hardships come.
328 6 Matthew 8:23-34, 9:18-38; Mark 4:35-41, 5; Luke 8:22-56 The miracles in Luke- calming the storm, driving out demons, healing the chronically ill and raising the dead- are really getting people talking and believing that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. However, others remain in their unbelief, especially those in Jesus’ home town. Woe to them!
329 7 Matthew 10, Mark 6:1-13, Luke 9:1-9 Jesus sends out the 12

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.  (Matthew 10:8)

What a wonderful passage for us to heed. Who are we to withhold the blessings of the Lord, especially his forgiveness when we have so freely received them. Now for the disciples they were able to do so much more… or so we think. As we believe, so let it be….

 

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