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28th of June 2017 08:33 AM
June 28, 2017

Galatians 4:8-31 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Galatians 4:8-31: Paul is deeply worried that other people have turned the Galatians away from what he has taught. Drawing upon the example of Abraham’s two sons by Hagar and Sarah, Paul demonstrates that anyone who follows the Law is a slave like Hagar and her son, but those who have faith in Christ are like the descendants of Sarah because she was the mother of Isaac, the child born according to God’s promise.

Today's Scripture: Galatians 4:28

Now, you, my friends, are God’s children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was.

Today's Reading

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8In the past you did not know God, and so you were slaves of beings who are not gods.9But now that you know God—or, I should say, now that God knows you—how is it that you want to turn back to those weak and pitiful ruling spirits? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again?10You pay special attention to certain days, months, seasons, and years.11I am worried about you! Can it be that all my work for you has been for nothing?

12I beg you, my friends, be like me. After all, I am like you. You have not done me any wrong.13You remember why I preached the gospel to you the first time; it was because I was sick.14But even though my physical condition was a great trial to you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you received me as you would an angel from heaven; you received me as you would Christ Jesus.15You were so happy! What has happened? I myself can say that you would have taken out your own eyes, if you could, and given them to me.16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17Those other people show a deep interest in you, but their intentions are not good. All they want is to separate you from me, so that you will have the same interest in them as they have in you.18Now, it is good to have such a deep interest if the purpose is good—this is true always, and not merely when I am with you.19My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ's nature is formed in you.20How I wish I were with you now, so that I could take a different attitude toward you. I am so worried about you!

The Example of Hagar and Sarah

21Let me ask those of you who want to be subject to the Law: do you not hear what the Law says?22 It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by a free woman.23His son by the slave woman was born in the usual way, but his son by the free woman was born as a result of God's promise.24These things can be understood as a figure: the two women represent two covenants. The one whose children are born in slavery is Hagar, and she represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai.25Hagar, who stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia, is a figure of the present city of Jerusalem, in slavery with all its people.26 But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother.27 For the scripture says,

“Be happy, you childless woman!

Shout and cry with joy, you who never felt the pains of childbirth!

For the woman who was deserted will have more children

than the woman whose husband never left her.”

28Now, you, my friends, are God's children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was.29 At that time the son who was born in the usual way persecuted the one who was born because of God's Spirit; and it is the same now.30 But what does the scripture say? It says, “Send the slave woman and her son away; for the son of the slave woman will not have a part of the father's property along with the son of the free woman.”31So then, my friends, we are not the children of a slave woman but of a free woman.

Reflect

How does Paul express his concern for the Galatians? Abraham had two sons. Because he didn’t believe he could have a son by his wife, Sarah, he first had a son by Hagar, Sarah’s slave (Genesis 16). Hagar’s son was named Ishmael. Later Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac, who was the child God had promised (Genesis 21:1-8), and his descendants became the people of Israel. What is your understanding of why Paul uses the example of Hagar and Sarah in his argument with the Galatians?

Pray

Lord God, in faith, I trust in your promises. Thank you for calling me to be your child as a result of your promise. May all I do and say this day reflect your love and grace. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Parents and children

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 5:1-26: Paul writes about the freedom believers have in Christ.
27th of June 2017 08:19 AM
June 27, 2017

Galatians 3:15—4:7 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Galatians 3:15—4:7: Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that faith in Christ makes one a child of God and a descendant of Abraham and an heir to God’s promises. He contrasts dependence on obeying the Law versus a life of faith that is dependent on God’s promises. Paul assures the Galatians that, through faith, people are put right with God and live in union with Christ Jesus. Therefore, there are no differences among people.

Today's Scripture: Galatians 3:26

It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus.

Today's Reading

The Law and the Promise

15My friends, I am going to use an everyday example: when two people agree on a matter and sign an agreement, no one can break it or add anything to it.16Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant. The scripture does not use the plural “descendants,” meaning many people, but the singular “descendant,” meaning one person only, namely, Christ.17 What I mean is that God made a covenant with Abraham and promised to keep it. The Law, which was given four hundred and thirty years later, cannot break that covenant and cancel God's promise.18 For if God's gift depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on his promise. However, it was because of his promise that God gave that gift to Abraham.

19What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham's descendant, to whom the promise was made. The Law was handed down by angels, with a man acting as a go-between.20But a go-between is not needed when only one person is involved; and God is one.

The Purpose of the Law

21Does this mean that the Law is against God's promises? No, not at all! For if human beings had received a law that could bring life, then everyone could be put right with God by obeying it.22But the scripture says that the whole world is under the power of sin; and so the gift which is promised on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ is given to those who believe.

23But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until this coming faith should be revealed.24And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith.25Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us.

26It is through faith that all of you are God's children in union with Christ Jesus.27You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself.28So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.29 If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

1But now to continue—the son who will receive his father's property is treated just like a slave while he is young, even though he really owns everything.2While he is young, there are men who take care of him and manage his affairs until the time set by his father.3In the same way, we too were slaves of the ruling spirits of the universe before we reached spiritual maturity.4But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law,5 to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's children.

6 To show that you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.”7So then, you are no longer a slave but a child. And since you are his child, God will give you all that he has for his children.

Reflect

What does Paul say regarding the purpose of the Law (3:19-25)? Reread verses 26-29. What does it mean to you to be “in union with Christ Jesus”? What does this say to you about your relationship with other believers?

Pray

Lord Jesus, I am filled with joy because, as a child of God, I know I belong to you and live in union with you. Because I have faith in you, I am assured that I am an heir to God’s promises. I thank you, God, that you have sent the Spirit of your Son into my heart. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those seeking to strengthen their faith

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 4:8-31: Paul continues to express his concern for the Galatians.
26th of June 2017 06:46 AM
June 26, 2017

Galatians 3:1-14 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Galatians 3:1-14: Paul continues his discussion of what it means to be saved by faith (see 2:15-21 from yesterday’s reading). In today’s reading, Paul argues that God’s Law is a curse because no one can follow it perfectly. Jesus took the place of all people and died under a curse so that all who believe in him would be freed from the curse and the Law.

Today's Scripture: Galatians 3:11

It is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”

Today's Reading

Law or Faith

1You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!2Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it?3How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power?4Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something!5Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it?

6 Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.”7 You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith.8 The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless all people.”9Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was.

10 Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God's curse!”11 Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”12 But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.”

13 But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God's curse.”14Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God.

Reflect

According to Paul, who are the descendants of Abraham (verse 7)? In verses 10-13, Paul cites references from Habakkuk 2:4 when he says “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live,” and from Deuteronomy 21:23, 27:26 when he says that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings.” What is the blessing that such redemption brings (verse 14)?

Pray

Lord Jesus, you have redeemed me from the curse that the Law brings by becoming a curse for me. Thank you for the blessing of God’s promised Spirit and that, through faith, I have been put right with God and shall live. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Churches seeking to renew and enliven their ministries

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 3:15—4:7: Paul discusses the purpose of the Law.
25th of June 2017 09:08 AM
June 25, 2017

Galatians 2:1-21 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Galatians 2:1-21: Paul describes his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem, and he reports on a disagreement he had with Peter in Antioch. The chapter concludes with Paul’s teaching on how one is put right with God.

Today's Scripture: Galatians 2:16a

Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires.

Today's Reading

Paul and the Other Apostles

1 Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.2I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure.3My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised,4although some wanted it done. Pretending to be believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us,5but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute.

6 But those who seemed to be the leaders—I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances—those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me.7On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews.8For by God's power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews.9James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews.10All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.

Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch

11But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong.12Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them.13The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action.14When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jews and Gentiles Are Saved by Faith

15Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” as they are called.16 Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires.17If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners, as much as the Gentiles are—does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means!18If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law.19So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead—killed by the Law itself—in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,20so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.21I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!

Reflect

What was the “special task” that the apostles recognized had been given to Paul (verses 7-9)? The apostles asked that Paul “remember the needy in their group” (verse 10). In what ways do faith-based organizations remember the needy today? How do you remember the needy? What was the source of Paul’s conflict with Peter (verses 11-14)? According to Paul, how are we “put right” with God (verses 15-21)? What does being “put right with God” mean to you?

Pray

Almighty God, thank you for the gift of faith. Through faith in your Son, Jesus, I have been reconciled and put right with you. Teach me to live my life in ways that reflect your love and in obedience to your will. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Churches experiencing conflict

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 3:1-14: Paul discusses the relationship between the Law and faith.
24th of June 2017 01:28 PM
June 24, 2017

Galatians1:1-24 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Galatians1:1-24: Today we begin reading the apostle Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, a Roman province in Asia Minor. The letter was written in response to a surmounting crisis brought about by other missionaries who were misleading the Galatian Gentiles with false teachings and proclaiming a message that was contrary to what Paul had taught. In today’s reading, Paul expresses his shock that the Galatians have accepted “another gospel,” and he defends his call to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.

Today's Scripture: Galatians 1:4

In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father.

Today's Reading

1From Paul, whose call to be an apostle did not come from human beings or by human means, but from Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from death.2All the believers who are here join me in sending greetings to the churches of Galatia:

3May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

4In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father.5To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

The One Gospel

6I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel.7Actually, there is no “other gospel,” but I say this because there are some people who are upsetting you and trying to change the gospel of Christ.8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell!9We have said it before, and now I say it again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell!

10Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God's approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11Let me tell you, my friends, that the gospel I preach is not of human origin.12I did not receive it from any human being, nor did anyone teach it to me. It was Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to me.

13 You have been told how I used to live when I was devoted to the Jewish religion, how I persecuted without mercy the church of God and did my best to destroy it.14 I was ahead of most other Jews of my age in my practice of the Jewish religion, and was much more devoted to the traditions of our ancestors.

15 But God in his grace chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. And when he decided16to reveal his Son to me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the Gentiles, I did not go to anyone for advice,17nor did I go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and then I returned to Damascus.18 It was three years later that I went to Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for two weeks.19I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord's brother.

20What I write is true. God knows that I am not lying!

21Afterward I went to places in Syria and Cilicia.22At that time the members of the churches in Judea did not know me personally.23They knew only what others were saying: “The man who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy!”24And so they praised God because of me.

Reflect

What has caused Paul to be surprised (verse 6)? By what authority does Paul claim to be an apostle? What biographical information does Paul provide about himself? What is the mission to which he has been called (verse 16)? Has anyone ever challenged your beliefs and tried to mislead you? If so, how did you respond?

Pray

Lord Jesus, you sacrificed yourself for my sake and released me from the power of sin and the sting of death. Through you I have been given the gift of eternal life. To you be glory forever and ever! Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those who have been misled by false teachings

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 2:1-21: Paul describes his meeting with the other apostles.
23rd of June 2017 11:04 AM
June 23, 2017

Acts 18:1-23 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 18:1-23: From Athens, Paul travels to Corinth and meets Aquila and Priscilla with whom he stays. He has a vision in which the Lord encourages him to keep on speaking and leading people to faith. While many in Corinth believe Paul’s message and are baptized, he is brought to court by his opponents but is released by the Roman governor. Paul travels to Syria, Ephesus, and Caesarea before returning to Antioch in Syria. He then journeys on to Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the believers.

Today's Scripture: Acts 18:9, 10a

One night Paul had a vision in which the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up, for I am with you.”

Today's Reading

In Corinth

1After this, Paul left Athens and went on to Corinth.2There he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, for Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,3and stayed and worked with them, because he earned his living by making tents, just as they did.4He held discussions in the synagogue every Sabbath, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks.

5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul gave his whole time to preaching the message, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.6When they opposed him and said evil things about him, he protested by shaking the dust from his clothes and saying to them, “If you are lost, you yourselves must take the blame for it! I am not responsible. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”7So he left them and went to live in the house of a Gentile named Titius Justus, who worshiped God; his house was next to the synagogue.8Crispus, who was the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his family; and many other people in Corinth heard the message, believed, and were baptized.

9One night Paul had a vision in which the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up,10for I am with you. No one will be able to harm you, for many in this city are my people.”11So Paul stayed there for a year and a half, teaching the people the word of God.

12When Gallio was made the Roman governor of Achaia, Jews there got together, seized Paul, and took him into court.13“This man,” they said, “is trying to persuade people to worship God in a way that is against the law!”

14Paul was about to speak when Gallio said to the Jews, “If this were a matter of some evil crime or wrong that has been committed, it would be reasonable for me to be patient with you Jews.15But since it is an argument about words and names and your own law, you yourselves must settle it. I will not be the judge of such things!”16And he drove them out of the court.17They all grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the court. But that did not bother Gallio a bit.

The Return to Antioch

18 Paul stayed on with the believers in Corinth for many days, then left them and sailed off with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria. Before sailing from Cenchreae he had his head shaved because of a vow he had taken.19They arrived in Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He went into the synagogue and held discussions with the Jews.20The people asked him to stay longer, but he would not consent.21Instead, he told them as he left, “If it is the will of God, I will come back to you.” And so he sailed from Ephesus.

22When he arrived at Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem and greeted the church, and then went to Antioch.23After spending some time there, he left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the believers.

Reflect

In Corinth, why did Paul’s opponents bring him to court? What action did Gallo, the Roman governor, take? What happened to Sosthenes? How do you envision Paul strengthening the believers as he traveled throughout the Mediterranean basin? Where or to whom do you turn for strength and encouragement?

Pray

Dear Jesus, keep my faith strong. In moments of weakness, encourage me with your Word. Help me not to be afraid and to proclaim your message boldly. I know that you are always with me. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those whose faith is weak

Tomorrow's Reading

Galatians 1:1-24: The apostle Paul defends his call and his message.
22nd of June 2017 08:18 AM
June 22, 2017

Acts 17:16-34 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 17:16-34: In Athens, Paul debates with philosophers and delivers a speech before a council called the Areopagus. This council of powerful people from Athens was in charge of the culture and morals of the city. They met on a small hill that was named Ares, the Greek god of war.

Today's Scripture: Acts 17:27b, 28a

God is actually not far from any one of us; as someone has said, ‘In him we live and move and exist.’

Today's Reading

In Athens

16While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was.17So he held discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentiles who worshiped God, and also in the public square every day with the people who happened to come by.18Certain Epicurean and Stoic teachers also debated with him. Some of them asked, “What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?”

Others answered, “He seems to be talking about foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.19So they took Paul, brought him before the city council, the Areopagus, and said, “We would like to know what this new teaching is that you are talking about.20Some of the things we hear you say sound strange to us, and we would like to know what they mean.” (21For all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing.)

22Paul stood up in front of the city council and said, “I see that in every way you Athenians are very religious.23 For as I walked through your city and looked at the places where you worship, I found an altar on which is written, ‘To an Unknown God.’ That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you.24 God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands.25 Nor does he need anything that we can supply by working for him, since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.26 From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live.27 He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us;28as someone has said,

‘In him we live and move and exist.’

It is as some of your poets have said,

‘We too are his children.’

29Since we are God's children, we should not suppose that his nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by human art and skill.30God has overlooked the times when people did not know him, but now he commands all of them everywhere to turn away from their evil ways.31For he has fixed a day in which he will judge the whole world with justice by means of a man he has chosen. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising that man from death!”

32When they heard Paul speak about a raising from death, some of them made fun of him, but others said, “We want to hear you speak about this again.”33And so Paul left the meeting.34Some men joined him and believed, among whom was Dionysius, a member of the council; there was also a woman named Damaris, and some other people.

Reflect

What were the main points of Paul’s speech to the people in Athens? How did his listeners respond? What did Paul say to the people about their altar “To an Unknown God” (verse 23)? Why did some refer to his message as a “new teaching” (verse 19)? Were there any “new teachings” that you learned from today’s reading?

Pray

Sovereign God, you are Lord of heaven and earth. You are my source of life and in you I live and move and exist. Open my heart and mind each day to your teachings and guide me in the way of your truth. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Seminary students

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 18:1-23: Paul travels to Corinth and his opponents bring him to court.
22nd of June 2017 08:17 AM Link
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21st of June 2017 08:26 AM
June 21, 2017

Acts 17:1-15 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 17:1-15: Paul and Silas travel to Thessalonica and Berea, teaching about Jesus. Some choose to believe, but others seek to stir up trouble. While in Thessalonica, a believer named Jason is brought before the city authorities for hosting Paul and Silas in his home. In Berea, Paul is sent away to the coast (probably the northwest coast of the Aegean Sea), and from there he journeys to Athens.

Today's Scripture: Acts 17:2b, 3a

[Paul] held discussions with the people, quoting and explaining the Scriptures, and proving from them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from death.

Today's Reading

In Thessalonica

1Paul and Silas traveled on through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue.2According to his usual habit Paul went to the synagogue. There during three Sabbaths he held discussions with the people, quoting3and explaining the Scriptures, and proving from them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from death. “This Jesus whom I announce to you,” Paul said, “is the Messiah.”4Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so did many of the leading women and a large group of Greeks who worshiped God.

5But some Jews were jealous and gathered worthless loafers from the streets and formed a mob. They set the whole city in an uproar and attacked the home of a man named Jason, in an attempt to find Paul and Silas and bring them out to the people.6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city authorities and shouted, “These men have caused trouble everywhere! Now they have come to our city,7and Jason has kept them in his house. They are all breaking the laws of the Emperor, saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus.”8With these words they threw the crowd and the city authorities in an uproar.9The authorities made Jason and the others pay the required amount of money to be released, and then let them go.

In Berea

10As soon as night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue.11The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true.12Many of them believed; and many Greek women of high social standing and many Greek men also believed.13But when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul had preached the word of God in Berea also, they came there and started exciting and stirring up the mobs.14At once the believers sent Paul away to the coast; but both Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea.15The men who were taking Paul went with him as far as Athens and then returned to Berea with instructions from Paul that Silas and Timothy should join him as soon as possible.

Reflect

How did various people react to the message Paul and Silas brought to them? Why were some willing to believe and others not? What risks did Jason take in hosting Paul and Silas (verses 5-9)? Does believing in Jesus require one to take risks today? Explain.

Pray

Lord God, with great eagerness I seek to study the Scriptures and grow in knowledge of you. I believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah who suffered and rose from death and ransomed me from sin. Loving and merciful God, I thank and praise you for your gift of salvation and eternal life. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Bible study leaders

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 17:16-34: Paul delivers a speech in Athens.
20th of June 2017 08:18 AM
June 20, 2017

Acts 16:16-40 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 16:16-40: Paul and Silas are beaten and put in jail after freeing a girl from enslavement to an evil spirit. While in jail, they sing and pray, and a strong earthquake shakes the jail doors open. Paul and Silas do not leave, and the jailer becomes a believer.

Today's Scripture: Acts 16:25b

Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Today's Reading

In Prison at Philippi

16One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a young servant woman who had an evil spirit that enabled her to predict the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes.17She followed Paul and us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They announce to you how you can be saved!”18She did this for many days, until Paul became so upset that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I order you to come out of her!” The spirit went out of her that very moment.19When her owners realized that their chance of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities in the public square.20They brought them before the Roman officials and said, “These men are Jews, and they are causing trouble in our city.21They are teaching customs that are against our law; we are Roman citizens, and we cannot accept these customs or practice them.”22And the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas.

Then the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be whipped.23After a severe beating, they were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to lock them up tight.24Upon receiving this order, the jailer threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet between heavy blocks of wood.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.26Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, which shook the prison to its foundations. At once all the doors opened, and the chains fell off all the prisoners.27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he thought that the prisoners had escaped; so he pulled out his sword and was about to kill himself.28But Paul shouted at the top of his voice, “Don't harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for a light, rushed in, and fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas.30Then he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your family.”32Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in the house.33At that very hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; and he and all his family were baptized at once.34Then he took Paul and Silas up into his house and gave them some food to eat. He and his family were filled with joy, because they now believed in God.

35The next morning the Roman authorities sent police officers with the order, “Let those men go.”

36So the jailer told Paul, “The officials have sent an order for you and Silas to be released. You may leave, then, and go in peace.”

37But Paul said to the police officers, “We were not found guilty of any crime, yet they whipped us in public—and we are Roman citizens! Then they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly? Not at all! The Roman officials themselves must come here and let us out.”

38The police officers reported these words to the Roman officials; and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid.39So they went and apologized to them; then they led them out of the prison and asked them to leave the city.40Paul and Silas left the prison and went to Lydia's house. There they met the believers, spoke words of encouragement to them, and left.

Reflect

Why were Paul and Silas put in jail? Why did they refuse to leave when the earthquake struck? How did they bear witness to their faith while in jail? What can you learn from the actions of Paul and Silas?

Pray

Lord God, empower me with your Holy Spirit to bear witness to your truth, and empower those who are unjustly imprisoned and seek to speak out against injustice. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Prison chaplains

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 17:1-15: Paul and Silas travel and preach throughout Asia Minor.
19th of June 2017 06:32 AM
June 19, 2017

Acts 16:1-15 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 16:1-15: Chapter 16 begins the final section of the book of Acts, which focuses on Paul’s mission to spread the faith. As he begins his second journey, Paul meets Timothy, who will become one of his co-workers. Paul has a vision, calling him to preach in Macedonia. When he and his companions arrive in Philippi (a Roman colony in the district of Macedonia), they meet Lydia, who invites them to her home.

Today's Scripture: Acts 16:5

So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.

Today's Reading

Timothy Goes with Paul and Silas

1Paul traveled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek.2All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy.3Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothy's father was Greek.4As they went through the towns, they delivered to the believers the rules decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and they told them to obey those rules.5So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.

In Troas: Paul's Vision

6They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia.7When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.8So they traveled right on through Mysia and went to Troas.9That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”10As soon as Paul had this vision, we got ready to leave for Macedonia, because we decided that God had called us to preach the Good News to the people there.

In Philippi: the Conversion of Lydia

11We left by ship from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis.12From there we went inland to Philippi, a city of the first district of Macedonia; it is also a Roman colony. We spent several days there.13On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there.14One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshiped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying.15After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, “Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.” And she persuaded us to go.

Reflect

When Paul had the vision to go to Macedonia, what convinced him it was the right thing to do? How do you experience God’s call in your life? What was Lydia’s role in the community in Philippi? What took place after she met with Paul?

Pray

Sovereign God, you call me to be your voice, hands, and feet in the world. Open my eyes, ears, and heart to your call that I may grow in discipleship and in knowledge of you. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those discerning a call to serve the church

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 16:16-40: Paul and Silas are put in jail.
18th of June 2017 06:54 AM
June 18, 2017

Acts 15:22-41 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 15:22-41: A decision is reached by the church leaders in Jerusalem regarding the extent to which Gentile converts were to observe Jewish laws. Along with Paul and Barnabas, Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas are sent to Antioch to meet with the believers there. The chapter concludes with Paul and Barnabas going their separate ways and Paul choosing Silas to travel with him.

Today's Scripture: Acts 15:31

When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement.

Today's Reading

The Letter to the Gentile Believers

22Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, decided to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas,23and they sent the following letter by them:

“We, the apostles and the elders, your brothers, send greetings to all our brothers of Gentile birth who live in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.24We have heard that some who went from our group have troubled and upset you by what they said; they had not, however, received any instruction from us.25And so we have met together and have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you. They will go with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul,26who have risked their lives in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ.27We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things we are writing.28The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules:29eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes.”

30The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the whole group of believers and gave them the letter.31When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement.32Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, spoke a long time with them, giving them courage and strength.33After spending some time there, they were sent off in peace by the believers and went back to those who had sent them.

35Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch, and together with many others they taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.”37Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them,38 but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia.39There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus,40while Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the care of the Lord's grace.41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Reflect

What decision was reached in Jerusalem? How was the decision conveyed to the Gentile believers? How did the Gentile believers react? What caused Paul and Barnabas to separate? Do you agree with Paul’s decision regarding John Mark? (The reference to John Mark’s earlier departure is recorded in Acts 13:13.)

Pray

Lord God, even within a community of believers, disagreements can occur. Teach me patience and understanding so that differences can be resolved peacefully in accord with your will. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Mediators of disputes

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 16:1-15: Paul embarks on his second missionary journey.
17th of June 2017 10:37 PM Link
17th of June 2017 09:06 PM Link
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17th of June 2017 06:29 PM
June 17, 2017

Acts 15:1-21 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 15:1-21: While still in Antioch in Syria, Paul and Barnabas become involved in an argument with followers who have come from Judea. An appeal is made to the church leaders in Jerusalem, and a meeting is held to discuss who can be part of God’s kingdom.

Today's Scripture: Acts 15:11a

[Peter said]: “We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Today's Reading

The Meeting at Jerusalem

1 Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires.”2Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter.

3They were sent on their way by the church; and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported how the Gentiles had turned to God; this news brought great joy to all the believers.4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them.5But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses.”

6The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question.7 After a long debate Peter stood up and said, “My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe.8 And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us.9He made no difference between us and them; he forgave their sins because they believed.10So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry?11No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

12The whole group was silent as they heard Barnabas and Paul report all the miracles and wonders that God had performed through them among the Gentiles.13When they had finished speaking, James spoke up: “Listen to me, my friends!14Simon has just explained how God first showed his care for the Gentiles by taking from among them a people to belong to him.15The words of the prophets agree completely with this. As the scripture says,

16 ‘After this I will return, says the Lord,

and restore the kingdom of David.

I will rebuild its ruins

and make it strong again.

17And so all the rest of the human race will come to me,

all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own.

18So says the Lord, who made this known long ago.’

19“It is my opinion,” James went on, “that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God.20 Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood.21For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town.”

Reflect

What problem was discussed in Jerusalem? What did Peter say? What was the response from James? Are you aware of any burdensome obligations that are placed on people new to the faith?

Pray

Almighty God, your love and forgiveness know no bounds. May none of my words and actions be a hindrance to those who seek you. May all I do and say reflect your love and grace. Amen.

Prayer Concern

New converts to Christianity

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 15:22-41: A letter is sent to the Gentile believers.
16th of June 2017 12:58 PM
June 16, 2017

Acts 14:21-28 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 14:21-28: Paul and Barnabas preach the Good News in Derbe. Before returning to Antioch in Syria, they go back to the places they had visited at the outset to strengthen and encourage the believers.

Today's Scripture: Acts 14:27b

[Paul and Barnabas] gathered the people of the church together and told them about all that God had done with them and how he had opened the way for the Gentiles to believe.

Today's Reading

The Return to Antioch in Syria

21Paul and Barnabas preached the Good News in Derbe and won many disciples. Then they went back to Lystra, to Iconium, and on to Antioch in Pisidia.22They strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. “We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God,” they taught.23In each church they appointed elders, and with prayers and fasting they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

24After going through the territory of Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.25There they preached the message in Perga and then went to Attalia,26and from there they sailed back to Antioch, the place where they had been commended to the care of God's grace for the work they had now completed.

27When they arrived in Antioch, they gathered the people of the church together and told them about all that God had done with them and how he had opened the way for the Gentiles to believe.28And they stayed a long time there with the believers.

Reflect

What is your understanding of the teaching “We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God” (verse 22)? If you were asked to tell about all that God has done for you in your life, how would you answer?

Pray

Lord God, thank you for your many blessings and for all that you have done for me. By your Holy Spirit, continue to nurture me in faith, and open my heart and mind to hear and obey your teachings each day. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those enrolled in Bible study classes

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 15:1-21: An important meeting is held in Jerusalem.
15th of June 2017 08:21 AM
June 15, 2017

Acts 14:1-20 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 14:1-20: Paul and Barnabas continue their first missionary journey throughout Asia Minor, traveling to Iconium and Lystra. Those who oppose their teachings create trouble. Paul is stoned and dragged out of town, but when the believers gather around him, he gets up and goes on to Derbe with Barnabas.

Today's Scripture: Acts 14:15b

[Barnabas and Paul shouted]: “We are here to announce the Good News, to turn you away from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them.”

Today's Reading

In Iconium

1The same thing happened in Iconium: Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of Jews and Gentiles became believers.2But the Jews who would not believe stirred up the Gentiles and turned them against the believers.3The apostles stayed there for a long time, speaking boldly about the Lord, who proved that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to perform miracles and wonders.4The people of the city were divided: some were for the Jews, others for the apostles.

5Then some Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, decided to mistreat the apostles and stone them.6When the apostles learned about it, they fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia and to the surrounding territory.7There they preached the Good News.

In Lystra and Derbe

8In Lystra there was a crippled man who had been lame from birth and had never been able to walk.9He sat there and listened to Paul's words. Paul saw that he believed and could be healed, so he looked straight at him10and said in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” The man jumped up and started walking around.11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they started shouting in their own Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us!”12They gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and Paul the name Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.13The priest of the god Zeus, whose temple stood just outside the town, brought bulls and flowers to the gate, for he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice to the apostles.

14When Barnabas and Paul heard what they were about to do, they tore their clothes and ran into the middle of the crowd, shouting,15 “Why are you doing this? We ourselves are only human beings like you! We are here to announce the Good News, to turn you away from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them.16In the past he allowed all people to go their own way.17But he has always given evidence of his existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness.”18Even with these words the apostles could hardly keep the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them.

19Some Jews came from Antioch in Pisidia and from Iconium; they won the crowds over to their side, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead.20But when the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe.

Reflect

How did the people in Iconium react to the teachings of Paul and Barnabas? Who accepted their message? Who opposed them? What did the crowds in Lystra do? What did Barnabas and Paul say to the people? What does today’s reading teach you about the risks involved in proclaiming the Good News? Do people today face such risks?

Pray

Living God, you made heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them. My heart is filled with happiness that comes from serving you. May the Good News of your love and salvation spread throughout the world. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Missionaries

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 14:21-28: Paul and Barnabas strengthen and encourage the believers.
14th of June 2017 06:50 AM
June 14, 2017

Acts 11:19-30 (Good News Translation)God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal

Introduction

Acts 11:19-30: Today’s reading focuses on the expansion of the gospel beyond Palestine. The church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch (in Syria), and Barnabas invites Saul to join him. They spend a year in Antioch, meeting with and teaching the people, and in Antioch the believers are first called Christians.

Today's Scripture: Acts 11:21

The Lord’s power was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

Today's Reading

The Church at Antioch

19 Some of the believers who were scattered by the persecution which took place when Stephen was killed went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message to Jews only.20But other believers, who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and proclaimed the message to Gentiles also, telling them the Good News about the Lord Jesus.21The Lord's power was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22The news about this reached the church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23When he arrived and saw how God had blessed the people, he was glad and urged them all to be faithful and true to the Lord with all their hearts.24Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and many people were brought to the Lord.

25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul.26When he found him, he took him to Antioch, and for a whole year the two met with the people of the church and taught a large group. It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.

27About that time some prophets went from Jerusalem to Antioch.28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and by the power of the Spirit predicted that a severe famine was about to come over all the earth. (It came when Claudius was emperor.)29The disciples decided that they each would send as much as they could to help their fellow believers who lived in Judea.30They did this, then, and sent the money to the church elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Reflect

Today’s reading introduces us to Barnabas who became an important leader in the early church (he is first mentioned in Acts 4:36). His name means “One Who Encourages.” How is Barnabas described? In what ways do you encourage others in their faith journey?

Pray

Lord God, empower me with your Holy Spirit and help me to tell the Good News about Jesus. Like Barnabas, teach me to encourage others to be faithful and true to you. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those in need of encouragement

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 14:1-20: Paul and Barnabas continue their missionary journey.
12th of June 2017 05:35 PM Link
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12th of June 2017 08:45 AM Link