Week of Feb 3rd

Salvation:  it is a religious word, we do not use much anymore.  But if all roads lead to heaven and grace covers all of our sins, there is not much need for salvation.  But in the Bible, there is a high price paid for salvation.  And our response is more than to simply show up on judgment day.  Here are som passages about salvation to ponder.

PRAYER

O Holy and Gracious God, reveal your truth through your Word that I may live in the grace of your salvation, through Jesus Christ I pray.  Amen.

Monday – John 3:14-19

Jesus is teaching Nicodemus, a religious teacher, about the true nature of God’s plan.  What action did God initiate?  Why?  It is not God’s intention to condemn anyone, but what will lead to judgment/condemnation?  So what is it we need to do to receive salvation?  How do you live that out today?

Tuesday – Mark 8:31-36

These were hard words to hear.  The disciples had given up all to follow Jesus, and now they hear he is to be rejected and killed.  Where did that leave them?  Jesus teaches them a paradox of God’s truth.  What does it take to follow Jesus?  How does one find salvation – save their life?  What will happen to those who do gain all the world has to offer?  How does this truth shape the decisions you will make today? 

Wednesday – Romans 10:9-13

Paul is writing to the church in Rome about the importance of speaking about one’s faith.  To simply be a good person often leads to misconstrued assumptions.  So what does Paul teach about witnessing?  Who is it then that will receive salvation?  In Paul’s day, nearly everyone was either Jew or Greek.  What terms would we use today?  There is no distinction between ____ and ____.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!  Who will surprise you when you discover they are in heaven?  Who will be surprised that you are there?

Thursday – Titus 3:1-7

We live in a culture where we often believe the right politics will solve the world’s problems, and to have political power and influence is the key to salvation.  It is not new to our day.  But Paul – who once had political power and threw it away – teaches something different to young Titus.  What is it?  Who initiated the work of salvation?  How do we earn it or pay for it?  What is the reward of salavation?  How do you plan to live in this salvation?

Friday – Ephesians 2:1-10

The nut and bolts of the gospel in this paragraph.  How would you paraphrase this in your own words?  How do we receive the gift of salvation?  How do we know that?  What are we supposed to do with it?  What is God’s way of life for you?

Saturday – Galatians 2:15-21

Paul was a Jew – a very good Jew.He was a rising star of Pharisees, until he confronted Jesus on the road to Damascus.Therefore, he understood the limitations of the law – living as a good person.Instead of that, what did he discover worked for him?What does it mean to be “crucified with Christ?”How is the power and presence of Christ within us better than doing it on our own?

Week of Jan 27

Do you believe in the Bible?  What do you believe about the Bible?  What we believe shapes how we behave, and what we believe about the Bible shapes significantly how we choose to live our lives.  Here are some passages about God’s Holy word and how scripture continues to remain helpful and provide spiritual guidance within our 21 century lives.

A Prayer Before Reading Scripture

Open my eyes, gracious Lord, as I turn to your word.
I long to know you, to understand life, and to be changed.
Examine me, Lord, by the floodlight of your truth.  Amen.

A Prayer After Reading Scripture

May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart.
Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it
and so built my life on the rock of your truth.  Amen.

 

(Both prayers are taken from the 95 prayers in Prayers for Our Lives.)

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Monday – 2 Timothy 3:10-17  Specifically v 16

How are the scriptures God breathed?  Scriptures have the breath of God in them; they give life.  The Scriptures are unlike ordinary books; they are God’s authoritative Word.  God initiated the Bible and inspired its writers.  He safeguarded it from error and guided its complication.  The Bible we have is precisely the Word God wants us to have. 

Tuesday-  Romans 15:1-6  Specifically v 4    

Should we read the Old Testament as through it was written for us?  There is a difference between something that was written for us and something written to teach us.  The Old Testament was originally written for Israel as a record of her history, laws and worship.  It was also written to record God’s prophetic commentary on Israel’s present and future.  But as the spiritual children of Abraham, we can profit immeasurably from the spiritual lessons found in the OT today.

Hey you!  If you enjoy the NEXT Steps scripture and prayer guide, let us know.  Drop us an email, make a note on the connect card, verbally tell us, …even smoke signals.  Just… let us know if this is useful.  We’d like to hear back from you and evaluate if the NEXT Steps Prayer and Scripture guide is helpful to people at LC.

Wednesday- Hebrews 4:12-14

What does God’s sharp word have to do with rest?  God’s word is more than letters on a page; it is alive with God’s Spirit and power.  This word of promise judges what’s in a person’s heart:  whether a person is resting in God’s grace for salvation or whether a person is resting in a false security based on obeying religious laws and doing good works. 

Thursday- Matthew 22:23-33

How many times have you heard someone “misuse” God’s written work for their personal agenda?  …or simply misunderstood?  It might give you pause, because nobody wants to misrepresent God’s word or meaning.  Do you think God’s people tend to refrain from using God’s word in fear of making mistakes?  Have you the courage to speak God’s Words to those who desperately need encouragement and a savior?  Who might need a word of encouragement in your life?  Could you meet them?  Call them?  Email them?  Text them?

Friday- James 1:23-25

We all do it.  Right?  We read something important and quickly forgot the value of what we’ve read.  How might we continue to meditate and make God’s word stick in our life?  Are there people in your life who you share scripture with?  If yes… you’re surely blessed to have those people.  If not… who might you begin sharing God’s word with, and grow in His understanding? 

Saturday- 2 Peter 1:19-21 

How did God inspire the writing of the Bible?  The Greek word translated “carried along” suggests a picture of a boat driven by the wind; the same Greek word is translated “driven along” in Acts 27:15 & 17.  This does not mean God dictated the precise words to the writers as though they were stenographers.  Instead, each writer’s personality and literary style are evident.  We can say the writers were supernaturally influenced by God’s Spirit to convey His exact message to humanity. 

Week of Jan 20th

What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?  Millions of books have been written on the Trinity.  What does it mean when we speak of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  How are they three in one?  What is the role of the Holy Spirit?  Here are several passages about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER

O Holy and Gracious God, send the Holy Spirit upon me as I study that I may learn more about your grace and truth in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 1:1-5

In the very beginning the Spirit is identified as the power and presence of God.  In verse 2, the writer informs us that it is the Spirit of God that hovers over the unformed waters.  God speaks and creation begins.  What does it mean that God’s Spirit of Creation is the same Spirit who faithfully watches over you?

Tuesday – 1 Samuel 16:1-13

God had rejected King Saul.  He had taken matters into his own hands too many times.  So God sends Samuel looking for the next king – the greatest of all of Israel’s Kings:  David.  What role did the Spirit play in identifying which of the sons should become King?  In verse 13, how did the Spirit become part of David’s life?  Why? 

Wednesday – John 14:15-31

It was the night before Jesus’ death.  It was time for important truths, and I suspect Jesus wondered if the disciples were getting it.  But Jesus knew there was more.  When Jesus left, there is another power, another presence that would continue His work through the disciples and other believers.  How does Jesus describe him (vss 16 & 17, vs 26)?  What does Jesus say is the Spirit’s purpose?  How can the Holy Spirit provide this for you today?

Thursday – Acts 2:1-13

Pentecost – which was a Jewish holy day attracting pilgrims from wide areas in the Roman empire – becomes a significant day in the history of the Christian Church.  Prior to this, the Holy Spirit seemed to come to specific people for a measured period of time.  But on Pentecost, the Spirit came to everyone who believed.  The coming the Spirit broke down all kinds of barriers:  language, culture, and even fear.  Those disciples who were hiding in the upper room were now loudly proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in the streets.  How can the Holy Spirit help you overcome fear?

Friday – 1 Corinthians 12

The Corinthians were an exciting, but young church.  Paul was teaching them about spiritual gifts.  The Holy Spirit provides special abilities to each believer for the purpose of witnessing to Jesus and building up Christ’s body.  There are several lists in scriptures.  They are not all the same, and perhaps not in language we are accustomed to using.  What gifts has the Spirit given you, and how can you use them in the ministries of Christ?

Saturday – Galatians 5:16-26

Paul also teaches about the fruit of the Holy Spirit.When one is filled with the Spirit, these are the inevitable characteristics that person will display (see vss 22-23).These are offered in contrast to the other examples of the works of the flesh, or sin.How are these reflected in your life, in your relationships, and in your work?

Week of Jan 13th

Do you believe in Jesus?  What do you believe about Jesus?  What we believe shapes how we behave, and what we believe about Jesus shapes significantly how we choose to live our lives.  Here are some passages about the character and nature of Jesus, the Son of God.

PRAYER:  Matthew 6:9-13 (CEB)

9 Pray like this:  Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. 10 Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.  11 Give us the bread we need for today.  12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.  13 And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Monday – Matthew 9:36  Compassion

Jesus never looked away from people; He always looked upon them and had compassion (Matthew 9:36). Whenever people were around him, Jesus understood what their real needs were and sought to address them. For some, physical healing was necessary, for others the root issue was spiritual. In all cases though, Jesus took the time to actually notice that people were hurting—and His compassion drove Him to help them.

Tuesday-  Mark 10:45   Servant

Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant. Although He was praised as a great teacher and even had a decent following, He made sure to teach them to be servants by actually doing it himself. In Mark 10:45, Jesus even tells everyone: “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” Despite having the authority to get anything He wanted, have people praise and pamper him, He did the exact opposite by lowering himself and serving others. 

Wednesday-  Luke 23:34  Forgiving

One of the most startling things said in Scripture is found in Luke 23:34, when Jesus is on the cross and proclaims: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even while bleeding and experiencing pain, Jesus had His heart set on forgiveness—even forgiving those who put Him there in the first place! This is definitely contrary to the everyday mantra of looking out for number one and obtaining personal justice. Jesus was by no means concerned for His own life; all He wanted was to provide a way for forgiveness.

Thursday, Matthew 14:23 Prayerful

No matter how busy His ministry got, He found time to be alone and pray. Whether it is in the garden of Gethsemane, across a river, or on a mountaintop, Jesus disappeared for a while in order to pray to the Lord. People always tried to find Him, and He never turned them away, but He also made sure to make time spent with His heavenly Father a priority.

Friday, Matthew 11.29   Gentleness

There were certainly times where Jesus used stern words, but He knew when gentleness was appropriate. Children seemed to love coming to him, and He made sure the disciples knew not to hinder them when they did so. When speaking with His disciples, mother, or other ladies, He could be very kindhearted and gentle. But, when He was giving someone a rebuke or making a point in an argument, He knew when turning up the heat was necessary and only did so strategically.

Saturday, John 12.12-16 Humble

Jesus had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for His miracles and teachings, but He never did! Even when the crowds sought to make Him king, He rushed away from their grasp. He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Rather, He wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for sinful people. Yes, He could have traveled around in order to show off His powers in other towns, but He chose not to.


Hey you!  If you enjoy the NEXT Steps scripture and prayer guide, let us know.  Drop us an email, make a note on the connect card at service on Sunday, verbally tell us, …even smoke signals.  Just… let us know if this is useful.  We’d like to hear back from you. 

Week of Jan 6th

Do you believe in God?  What do you believe about God?  What we believe shapes how we behave, and what we believe about God shapes significantly how we choose to live our lives.  Here are some passages about the character and nature of God.

PRAYER

O Holy and Gracious God, grant me eyes of faith to see and recognize your power and presence in my world today.  Guide me with your wisdom and strengthen me with your Spirit.  In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Monday – Psalm 90:1-12

God is eternal.  The Psalm writer recognizes that God has been a refuge for people in every generation.  What else does the writer reveal to us about God?  How does this understanding affect the way we choose to live?

Tuesday – Isaiah 43:8-13

The people of Isaiah’s day had a problem.  They thought life was all about them.  And when they headed down some dead-end alleys in their culture, they found themselves in trouble.  Isaiah was trying to warn them.  What does he teach them in this passage?  How would Isaiah speak to us today?

Wednesday – Job 38:25-38

Most of us know a little about the story of Job.  He seems to have suffered immensely due to some contest between God and Satan.  But few of us have wrestled with God’s answer to Job’s questions.  They are not simple answers.  In this passage God finally speaks to remind Job that Job is not God.  It sounds heavy handed in our culture of democracy where we believe everyone is entitled to a voice and vote.  But we are not God, and therefore, we may not be able to grasp truths that go beyond us.  What phrases in this passage remind you who God is?

Thursday – Acts 17:24-31

Paul is preaching in Athens, Greece.  This is the place where everyone loves to talk and talk and talk about ideas.  He tries a new approach talking about the God above all of their other idols and gods.  What does he say about God that distinguishes God from all of their idols?  How is your God above all other gods?  What do you believe?

Friday – 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

The Corinthians were also Greeks, and they had their share of idols to worship, too.  But Paul points out that the Christian God is different.  How so?  How does that make our faith, and our practice different from the rest of the world?

Saturday – Revelation 4

Some voices in the past have insisted that God is really dead, and that we as a human race have outgrown our need for such superstition.But in the end… that may look differently.The writer of Revelation speaking to a church under intense persecution reminds them who wins in the end.What do you believe about the ultimate end of time?

Week of December 30th

Now that Christmas is over, we can go back to our usual routines, right?  Or can we?  Can life ever be the same when we have encountered the heights, the depths, and the breadth of God’s grace?  Does the good news of Christmas have hope for our daily dilemmas?

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, guide me to encounter your presence of grace throughout the year.  In the name of Immanuel, who is always with us, Amen.

Monday – Matthew 2:1-12

It may have taken up to two years for the wise men to arrive in Bethlehem.  Likely they were not there the first Christmas night.  That is commitment.  Their encounter first with the star and then with the infant Jesus changed their lives.  Verse 12 indicates they returned home by a different route, but I ponder if they also returned home different men.  How has Christmas changed your life?

Tuesday – Matthew 2:13-18

Christmas did not mean they lived happily ever after.  Life still happens, but God was with Mary and Joseph in the midst of danger.  The required trip to Bethlehem, the narrow escape to Egypt, and the return to Nazareth; these were not likely their plans in the beginning.  Immanuel:  God is with us.  How has God delivered you in the midst of life’s challenges? 

Wednesday – Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus calls Matthew, whom we believe composed the book bearing his name.  Matthew does not reveal many details, but he responds immediately.  He leaves behind his tax-collecting business to follow Jesus.  This is a radical change, but one that leads to a life of significance and mission.  How has God called you into a life of significance and mission?

Thursday – Matthew 9:18-26

A tale of two women healed by Jesus; one who had been sick as long as the other had lived.  But Jesus is drawn by compassion to both of them.  In God’s scheme of things, everyone is important.  God gives grace and hope and salvation to everyone!  Who have you and I overlooked in our daily routine that could use a word of healing, of encouragement?

Friday – Matthew 9:27-31

Ever had eye surgery?  I had a cataract removed several years ago.  What an amazing transformation!  I can’t imagine what it was like for Jesus to heal someone who was blind.  Would that change one’s life?  When we encounter Jesus’ grace, we see everything more clearly.  What is it that Jesus’ grace can help you to see more clearly?

Saturday – Matthew 9:35-38

The purpose of Christmas is not just for us to feel warm and fuzzy inside.  The purpose of God’s grace walking in our shoes is to reveal salvation for a hurting and lost world.  And for whatever reasons, God often chooses the least likely people to carry out this mission.  God has chosen you and me and many others to carry that message of hope.  Who will you encounter today that needs hope?

Week of December 23rd

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope, joy, and peace in my heart this Christmas.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 2:8-20

When the shepherds heard the good news of Jesus’ birth, they ran to see the miracle.  Ever wonder why God didn’t announce the good news to emperors and kings and priests?  Maybe they can’t run?  When the gospel captures our hearts, we cannot help but run towards Jesus.  Where are you running today?

Tuesday – Titus 3:3-7

The purpose of Christmas is not just to sing happy songs and bail merchants out of bankruptcy.  The purpose of Christmas is to offer salvation to the world through Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born to reveal the extent of God’s grace for all of us.  How does God’s grace give you hope?

Wednesday – 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul understood Christmas because he personally experienced the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Where once he was a fearful persecutor of Christians, now he was a fervent proclaimer of the faith.  How would you express your experience of the gift of grace through Jesus Christ?  Makes Christmas special, eh?

Thursday – Galatians 3:27-4:7

Paul again interprets the meaning of Christmas through the purpose of salvation.  Through the mystery of Christmas, we are adopted into God’s family, heirs of the gift of redemption.  As you gather with your family and loved ones in this holiday season, share the good news of belonging to God’s family through the grace of Christmas!

Friday – Ephesians 2:1-10

I have a friend who loved to preach on this passage.  If he didn’t start here, he finished here.  It is a compelling explanation of the gospel.  We are saved through grace, not by our own effort.  The purpose of Christmas is to offer us grace through Jesus Christ.  And the net effect of grace is that we bless others with the good works of grace.  Sounds like Christmas year round!  How will you bless others with the gift of Christmas today?

Saturday – Romans 5:6-11

Paul is describing the mystery of the gospel to his readers in Rome.  It was dangerous to be a Christian in Rome.  They understood the reality of death, even martyrdom.  Recognizing that Jesus had first died for them – and us – led them to a deeper understanding of the gospel.  Christmas comes to lead us to a deeper understanding of life.  How will you celebrate Christmas this year?

Week of December 16th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope, joy, and peace in my heart this Christmas.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 2:8-14

Do you like to sing?  Somehow in the human spirit, regardless of musical talent, when we encounter the mystery and wonder of God’s work; we want to sing.  The angels sang at the first Christmas.  That’s why we have sung at every Christmas since then.  Where have you encountered the mystery and wonder of God’s work?  How does your favorite Christmas carol reflect your Christmas encounters?

Tuesday – Ephesians 5:15-21

Paul is writing to people living in difficult times.  It would be easy to get drunk and sing.  Some people do, but Paul is encouraging them to be filled with the Spirit instead.  How would these songs be different?  What kinds of songs are you singing today?

Wednesday – Exodus 15:1-18

Talk about tough times….  The people of Israel were trapped against the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army behind them.  And God delivered them to safety.  No surprise they sang a song to remember the event.  Have you ever felt trapped between the “devil and the deep blue sea?”  What songs would you sing about how God has protected, provided for, and delivered you?

Thursday – 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem, and it was the day to dedicate it.  What did they do?  (I mean besides the potluck!)  They sang God’s praises.  What did God do?  God filled the Temple.  Could it be that our praises open the door for God to fill us with God’s power and presence?  If we sang God’s praises every time we felt overwhelmed, how would it change us?  How will you sing today?

Friday – Colossians 3:12-17

Paul teaches the people to express grace and love towards one another.  Furthermore, the church is to let the message of the Messiah dwell in our hearts.  Then we will sing praises to God with gratitude in our hearts.  Not sure what to sing?  Let the message of the Messiah saturate your heart!

Saturday – Revelation 14:1-5

A lot of Revelation is symbolic, but an interesting piece here.  Only the redeemed knew the words of this song.  Why?  Because only the redeemed understood what it meant to be saved.  They were redeemed because they followed the Lamb (Jesus).  Ever notice how people who find Jesus begin to sing?  How is your singing?

Week of December 9th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope, joy, and peace in my heart this Christmas.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 2:1-7

There is no mention of an innkeeper in the story, but there must have been someone pointing them to the stable.  What more humble surroundings could God have chosen for this miraculous moment?  A teenage girl, a simple carpenter, an unprepared innkeeper, and some rather surprised animals – all played a key part in the story.  If God likes to work this way, how might God work in your world?

Tuesday – Isaiah 9:2-7

The prophet understood the hope of “a light in the darkness.”  He was writing to a people who facing an overwhelming threat in a foreign army.  What is that hope, and how does Isaiah describe it in the birth of a child?  Can this child bring hope today? 

Wednesday – Psalm 119:105-112

What is the source of light in this song?  The writer is not experiencing a perfect world.  There are dangers and threats lurking everywhere, yet the composer of this song sticks to the source of light.  Where would we find this light today?  How can the light of Christmas protect you from lurking dangers?

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

The Apostle Paul faced his share of lurking danger.  What is the source of light for Paul?  What for him is the gospel?  Paul does not make much mention of Jesus’ birth or teachings or miracles.  For Paul it is all about the crucifixion and resurrection.  Christmas matters because it leads to the rugged cross, the empty tomb, and the victorious throne. 

Friday – 1 John 1:5-2:2

The epistle writer also uses the metaphors of light and darkness.  What is the determining test of walking in the light vs walking in darkness?  What is our hope if we find we are walking in darkness?  What is the role of Jesus I this dilemma?  And that is why we have Christmas!

Saturday – 1 John 5:6-13

The same epistle writer comes back to the heart of his message.What is it?How would you summarize it in your own words?And what is the net result for the one who believes?Christmas matters!It mattered in the first century and it matters in the 21st century!How will it matter for you this Christmas?

Week of December 2nd

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope and joy and peace in my heart this Christmas season.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 1:5-25

Christmas does not just happen.  Christmas involves lots of people who invest their lives in what God is doing.  How did Zechariah and Elizabeth invest their lives in God’s mission?  How do they become an example for us to prepare for Christmas this year?

Tuesday – Luke 1:26-38

Ah, the plot thickens!  Mary was an unmarried teen ager.  For her to embrace God’s call was a bold and risky act of faith.  She could not have imagined what it would mean for her hopes and dreams, for her life.  Yet, she responded with joy and faith.  How can you say “Yes” to God this Christmas?

Wednesday – Luke 1:39-56

Women seem to have this instinct for recognizing the mystery of God so quickly.  And remember, this is a patriarchal world.  So it was scandalous for Luke to report that the women played such an important role in God’s plan of salvation.  Elizabeth was one of the first to recognize God’s mission through Christmas!  How can you and me recognize God’s mission this Christmas?

Thursday – Luke 1:57-66

Back to speechless Zechariah…. How does he demonstrate his faith in God’s mission?  When Zechariah could speak, what did he do with this gift?  And what role did this baby play in God’s plan?  In God’s scheme of things, what role will you play in God’s plan?

Friday – Luke 1:67-80

Zechariah speaks, and it is memorable!  How does he retell the story of God’s plan of redemption in Christmas?  What phrase leap out at you?  How will you retell the story of God’s plan of redemption in this Christmas?

Saturday – Psalm 27

This song was likely written by King David, not Zechariah.But I suspect Zechariah knew the Psalm.How does Christmas bring light and salvation to your family and your world?What does it mean to dwell in the presence of the Lord?

Week of Nov 25th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope and joy and peace in my heart this Christmas season.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 1:1-17

Tedious reading, eh?  It is not inspirational unless we dig a little deeper.  How many generations are included?  It seems God was preparing for a long time.  How many women are mentioned here?  How many nonJews are included in the list?  Scandalous family tree!  What does that reveal about the grace revealed in Christmas?  How far will you go to prepare for Christmas?

Tuesday – Matthew 1:18-25

Christmas was a disruption into the ordinary lives of ordinary people.  They had to lay aside their hopes and dreams to embrace God’s hopes and dreams for the world.  That was not easy.  What dreams do you think Joseph laid aside?  What dreams would you give up to participate in God’s gift of Christmas?

Wednesday – Isaiah 7:10-16

King Ahaz just did not trust God, and when the prophet Isaiah invited him to ask God for assurance; he refused.  God gave him a sign anyway.  And it came true just as Isaiah predicted.  But it had a deeper point.  It became a sign of God’s continued deliverance through the birth of Jesus.  Like King Ahaz, all we need do is trust.  How will you trust God this Christmas?

Thursday – John 3: 16-21

Jesus was talking to the religious teacher, Nicodemus.  Why did Jesus come?  How is Christmas a light in the darkness of our world?  How does Christmas bring the light of truth and wisdom into your world?

Friday – Psalm 43

Light is an important theme in Christmas.  Maybe that’s why we are so magically mesmerized by candles.  In this passage, the writer is anxious and dejected over something.  So, the writer appeals to God in prayer for “light and truth.”  How does Christmas bring light and truth for you today?

Saturday – Isaiah 60:1-3

The prophet is writing to a people in exile.But the words are a message of hope that the current trial is temporary.God’s hope is yet to be revealed.In Christmas we anticipate in faith that God’s hope will soon be revealed.For what do you hope?

Week of Nov 18th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the New Testament about giving thanks.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – John 6:1-13

Picture this.  There are thousands of people gathered around Jesus.  Jesus decides to feed them.  The disciples are incredulous!  This is impossible!  And Jesus takes what everyone knows is inadequate, and he gives thanks.  Most of our prayers complain where we don’t have enough, and Jesus gives thanks for what is insufficient.  And then, the miracle happens.  In Jesus’ hands, it is abundant, full, and free.  For what do you need to give thanks to God… even if it appears to inadequate?

Tuesday – Acts 16:16-40

Okay, a little longer than usual, but what a story.  Paul and Silas are thrown in to prison for what?  And while they are in chains in the dungeon, they do what?  And what happens?  And because of all that, whose lives were changed?  How can you learn to sing when everything            is going bad?  How will your thanksgiving faith shake the foundations of prisons everywhere?

Wednesday – Philippians 4:1-9

Scholars believe this might have been one of the last letters Paul wrote –  at least of the letters still in existence today.  They also believe Paul was  in prison when he wrote these words.  These are not the words I would expect to read.  What is the relationship between thanksgiving and peace in these verses?  How would Paul know about thanksgiving and peace?   On what do you focus your thinking?

Thursday – Colossians 2:4-15

Things were not going all that well in the Colossian church.  And Paul couldn’t be there to sort things out.  There were many confusing issues around circumcision, worship of angels, different holidays to observe, etc.  What did Paul teach?  (see vss 6-7).  What are the other pieces that fit with gratitude?  How can this bring order and wisdom to your world?

Friday – Ephesians 5:15-21

This is Paul’s formula for “making the most of time.”  What are the steps Paul encourages for following God’s will?  For what are we to give thanks?  Any exceptions?  What is the power of thanksgiving in transforming “everything” into God’s special blessings?

Saturday – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Paul often ended his letters with these rapid fire lists of how to live faithfully.What does he say about the spiritual discipline of giving thanks?How does this commitment connect with the other elements such as God’s gift of peace, comfort, help, and patience?How does giving thanks trigger God’s faithfulness?Does this have any impact on … say, … any special football games today?

Week of Nov 11th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the Psalms about giving thanks.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Psalm 30

This is not a generic “gotta sing something on Thanksgiving” kind of Psalm.  It comes out of the real life experience the song writer had.  We may not know the details, but it becomes clear something serious had happened.  Can you list the qualities of God for which the Psalmist is thankful?  Which ones help you to sing your thanksgiving?

Tuesday – Psalm 96

While this song is not as explicit to its immediate context, scholars link it to 1 Chronicles 16 we read last week.  King David is bringing the Ark of the Lord into the city of Jerusalem.  He dances so poorly, his wife is embarrassed (but that is another story.)  What are the qualities about God for which David gives thanks?  Can we still thank God for the same qualities today?

 

 

Wednesday – Psalm 107

Although scholars are not certain of the day and time this Psalm was sung, it is imagined it was composed as the people of Israel returned from exile to regather in the Land of Promise.  God gathered them from all directions to return home.  In their troubles and afflictions, God offered them grace.  What verses or phrases leap out at you?  How can you remind yourself of these words during the day?

Thursday – Psalm 92

Some scholars believe this song was used as part of an annual festival, perhaps like a new year festival where the composer is looking back over the past year and looking forward to the coming year.  The encounter with God in a time of worship has helped the writer see life through God’s eyes.  The writer no longer envies the wicked, but sees their inevitable conclusion. Instead the writer focuses faith on God who is forgiving and gracious.  How can you focus on faith in God today?

Friday – Psalm 145

This song is attributed to King David.  Even though David is King, it is clear to David who his King is.  In the midst of David’s praise of God’s power and authority, David shifts to another quality of God – see verses 8 & 9.  Those who do not read their Bibles very closely will miss this.  What is it?  How will you encounter this in God in your everyday routines?

Saturday – Psalm 100

How do you live to 100?Aunt Orie – as everyone called her – celebrated her 100th birthday.Every time I visited her, she would recite from memory these words.Her many years and depth of spirit were nurtured by a faith revealed in this Psalm.How might it extend your life?

Week of Nov 4th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the Old Testament about giving thanks.

PRAYER:  O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 8:15-22

I have not grasped how traumatic it must have been for Noah and his family.  Surely, they had friends and neighbors, but they were obedient to God.  And when the flood was over, and dry ground reappeared, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices to God.  God was so delighted with Noah’s gratitude, God promised never to destroy the earth by flood again.  Could it be that your thanksgivings can inspire God to promise more blessings?  Could it be that your worship triggers God’s generosity?  How will you give thanks?

Tuesday – 1 Chronicles 16:8-24

The song goes farther than verse 24.  The Ark contains some of the most sacred relics to the Hebrew people.  Because they lost the Ark in battle, (see 1 Samuel 4) it had been in enemy hands for a long time.  Now King David wanted to bring it to the holy city, Jerusalem.  So it was truly a special occasion.  So David composes a song of Thanksgiving.  What are the qualities about God for which David gives thanks?  Can we still thank God for the same qualities today?

 

Wednesday – 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Short song – apparently, King Solomon was not the song writer his father, King David, was.  King Solomon finishes the Temple and brings the ark into its holy place inside.  They celebrate in praise.  What do they give thanks to God for?  Are these appropriate for thanksgiving today?

Thursday – Isaiah 42:10-12

Scholars believe this part of Isaiah was composed after the people were conquered by Babylon troops and forced into exile.  Yet, these are words of hope, of faith, and even thanksgiving.  What is the power of thanksgiving when everything goes wrong?  How does the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving in difficult times transform our attitudes?

Friday - Nehemiah 9:1-8

Actually, the whole chapter is their song.  Nehemiah and the people celebrated the completion of the rebuilding of the wall, and the reading of the Law.  It was a national day of confession as well as thanksgiving for God’s blessings.  The song is a history of how God has dealt graciously with the people since the beginning.  What would happen if you put together a song of the history of God’s blessing for you and your family?

Saturday – Ezra 3:8-13

Nehemiah led the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Ezra led the rebuilding of the Temple.  How did the people respond as the foundations were laid once again?  Why?  How do you respond when something valuable once lost, is rebuilt again?  Not only does God do the amazing thing, God accomplishes it through the commitment of people.  How can your commitment today honor God and bless others?

Week of October 28th

Leading Causes of Life 

Prayer

Dear God,  Thank You for the gift of love.  I pray that You would use me to share Your love with others.  May this world know real love and may they be moved by it.  Help me to live out love.  Help me to love my neighbor more,  …in Jesus’ name.   Amen! 

 

Monday – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Can you think of a wedding that you’ve attended where these words have NOT been shared?  They’re enduring and poignant on wedding day celebrations, but they’re far more relevant in everyday life too.  This is a calling to love every day.  Not “everyday” love, but… love that’s exceeds our expectation and never makes mistakes.  We may mess this up from time to time, but it’s still an incredible goal to pursue.  …the way the father pursue us and sent his only son to die for us.  They’re a lot to God’s love!  Let’s explore that love together as a community of believers:  God’s Holy Church

 

Tuesday – 1 John 4:113-19 

Does living a life of love mean we can never get angry?To live in love is to live in God, and to live in God is to remain in God.We are to remain in a relationship with God that is characterized by Biblical love.Jesus was an example of someone who lived and breathed love.He gave himself for others, and he called us to do the same.True love is more than a feeling; it is consistent attitude of giving ourselves to God and to others.So… is anger ever needed?

Wednesday – 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

If love is so powerful, how does the Lord protect us from the “Evil One”?  The context of this scripture alludes to protection through prayer.  God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  The Lord also gives us the full armor of God so we can stand against the Devil’s schemes.  We can rely on the Scripture’s teaching and promises, just as Jesus did when he was under Satan’s attacks. 

 

Thursday – Ephesians 3:14-21

Can you possibly hate or dislike someone that you’re actively praying for?  Paul was in prisons for preaching the gospel to the Ephesians.  He put himself at risk so they might come to God.  Who can you actively be praying for that required more love and intention?  What might be the benefits of working through God to love others?  What could it hurt?

 

Friday – Romans 12:9-18

Everyone?!?!  Seriously?  A perfect example is one of the thieves who hung on the cross next to Jesus.  Both men jeered and gave Jesus difficulty, but Jesus still had enough love and care for those who persecuted them.  He even asked His father to “forgive them, for they know NOT what they do.”  Therefore… being more like Jesus can be VERY difficult.  Let’s pray that God’s not done using and reforming us. 

 

Saturday – 1 Peter 4:7-11

How does love cover sins?  Though this may refer to the way God’s love deals with our sins, the context of this verse speaks of the way love affects our relationships.  When we truly love someone, we are much more willing to overlook that person’s faults.  When we’re sinning against, love over rides our reflex for revenge.  Perhaps revenge is best not served cold.   …or ever.  

Week of October 21st

My daughter once taught me that one can be about as happy as they want to be.  A lot of that depends on our focus.  Do we focus on fears and troubles?  Or do we look for faith and blessings?  That is a choice all of us can make.  Here are some passages about blessings.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 1:20-31

This is part of the creation story.  How many times in this first chapter did God do something and declared it good?  How many times did God bless what was created?  God is the source of all blessing.  It is an initiative of God’s creating work and a response of God to all that is created.  It is God’s preference to bless you.  And one of the ways God blesses you is to give you opportunities to bless others.  Who will you meet today that God will bless through you?

Tuesday – 2 Chronicles 1:1-13

Solomon was one of Israel’s greatest kings.  God wanted to bless Solomon when his father, David, passed on.  God even invited Solomon to request whatever he wanted.  (Have you ever dreamed of doing that?  What would you choose?)  What did Solomon choose?  And how did God respond to him?  What were the blessings Solomon received?  How would you pray that God would bless you?

Wednesday – Psalm 1

Sometimes the word “blessed” is translated as “happy.”  That is often true in this Psalm.  What are the sources of this blessing or happiness, according to this Psalm?  The songwriter compares the one who follows God with the wicked.  What happens to them?  How does God bless the righteous person?  How has God blessed you?

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 9:8-15

Paul is teaching the early church about generosity.  Generosity begins with God who has blessed us in lavish and luxurious ways – especially in the grace expressed through Jesus Christ.  Giving of our time, talents, and treasures is a very personal way that we practice that same spirit of generosity, and it is how we thank God for the blessings God has showered upon us.  Not giving means we get spiritually flabby.  We are not ready for the more serious work to which God is calling us.  How does God want to use you to bless others today?

Friday – Malachi 3:7-12

The prophet was concerned that the people were suffering because they were not putting God first in their lives.  It was not that God was punishing them.  It was that they put themselves in postures and positions that made it impossible for God to bless them; like giving the car keys to a 12-year-old.  They weren’t ready for what God wanted to give them.  So the prophet urges them to rearrange their priorities, even if just to test and see if God keeps promises.  Are you in the right place at the right time with the right attitude for God to bless you?

Saturday – Matthew 5:1-12

What is the right place at the right time with the right attitude for God to bless us?Jesus uses these “be-attitudes” at the beginning of the sermon on the mount to describe what it means to be blessed.It is not about comfort and convenience, is it?It is about mission and purpose for the Kingdom of God.How will God use you to bless others today?

Week of October 14th

Too soon old and too late smart.  It hit me a few weeks ago that some of my favorite stories in the Bible have a similar theme:  God invites us into partnership to announce the arrival of the Kingdom, because it gives God great joy and us significant purpose.  Here are some of my faves.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may hear your call and respond with faithfulness for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 10:1-10

Okay, this is not one of my favorite stories, but it sets the stage for the rest of the readings this week.  Until a few weeks ago, I had not thought of this passage.  Sure, it names the disciples, but how significant is it that Jesus gave them the authority over disease, disaster, and death?  These are the things Jesus was doing, and Jesus shared that power with them … and with us?  How does God want to work through you today to help others overcome disease, disaster, and death?

Tuesday – Matthew 14:13-21

I continue to be amazed at this miracle.  But isn’t it interesting how Jesus responded to the disciples’ request to send the crowd away to get food.  Jesus said, “You feed them.”  Surely Jesus knew this was impossible … for them.  But they brought what they had.  Jesus blessed it.  Jesus gave it back to them to share with the crowds.  And it was more than enough.  What do you have that would be more than enough if you gave it to Jesus to bless?  How would Jesus have you share it with others?

Wednesday – John 11:38-44

I love this story.  It reveals Jesus’ compassion and the hopes of those who believed in him.  But it is also a clash of the reality of death in a life of faith.  What catches my imagination is that Jesus commands the witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection to “Loose him and let him go.”  Why did Jesus need someone to unbind the mummy like bandages?  If he has the power of resurrection, he couldn’t dress him, too?  Or was it the privilege of others to participate in the miracle by helping set Lazarus free? Who can you help set free today?

Thursday – Judges 6:11-24

Gideon is so honest.  He complains that his people are being persecuted and wonders what God intends to do about it.  But when God reveals that Gideon is God’s answer to the problem, Gideon has all kinds of excuses.  God meets all of Gideon’s objections with the promise of God’s faithful presence and power.  Could it be that you and I are God’s answer to the problems of our world?  Could it be that God wants to use you and me today, and blesses us with God’s own presence and power?

Friday – Acts 1:1-8

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those first followers of Jesus.  They witnessed his crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection.  What is he about to do next?  And when they asked the crystal ball question about God restoring the kingdom to Israel, Jesus taught them that they will receive power to be his witnesses – even to the ends of the earth!  We may not know much about the future, but we do know what role God wants us to play.  Be a witness!  Are you a witness!

Saturday – Jeremiah 29:11

Okay… this is just my favorite verse – because it was written to a people in exile who may have lost hope.  It is reassurance that even in the worst of circumstances, God is still engaged with us and will bring us through whatever we face.  What hopes and dreams does God have for you?

Week of October 7th

There is a kind of hope that sounds more like wishful thinking.  “I hope my favorite baseball team is better next year.”  But there is another kind of hope that is deeper and more influential.  “I hope my children will grow in faith and wisdom as they mature.”  That kind of hope is grounded in the faithfulness of God.  Here are some passages about hope.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may live in hope because of the assurance of your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Romans 8:18-30

This is not “Rookie” Paul.  He has been around the block a few times, and yet, he is confident of God’s grace.  In fact, he believes that God’s activity creates hope for all of creation.  What does Paul say about hope in vss 24-25?  How does Paul’s faith in vs 28 become a basis of hope?  What is your hope in life?  On what is your hope grounded?

Tuesday – Romans 5:1-5

Paul sees hope in even the most challenging and difficult times.  Why?  In chapter 4 he has talked about the example of Abraham and Sarah.  Their faith was accounted to them as righteousness – as if they had not sinned.  In God’s scheme of things, faith and hope matter!  Can you trace the line from afflictions to hope?  How do these things lead to hope?  Have you experienced that in your life?

Wednesday – Hebrews 6:9-20

The writer urges us to become imitators of those who will inherit the promises.  He cites the example of Abraham and Sarah.  The waited patiently for so long, but did so in hope.  And God fulfilled the promise.  In the meantime, they became the Patriarch and Matriarch God dreamed they would become.  What Jesus accomplished on the cross is a guarantee that God keeps promises.  In whom do you put your hope?  How will you live in hope today?

Thursday – Titus 2:11-15

Paul is writing to young Pastor Titus.  The point of this hope is the return of Jesus Christ and the completion of God’s redemption of all creation.  Paul’s hope in Christ sustained him through all kinds of difficulties and disasters.  And because of this conviction, he lived his life in a “sensible, righteous, and godly way.”  How does your hope in Christ’s return shape the way you live?

Friday – 1 John 2:28-3:3

What does hope in Christ do for us today?  What did it do for believers in the writer’s day?  We do not know a lot of details about what that time will look like or what it will mean.  But we do believe that living as God’s children forms, reforms, and transforms our lives into a likeness of Jesus.  How is God working in and through your life?

Saturday – Lamentations 3:22-24

This Old Testament passage is the basis for that favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  We believe the writer may have been the prophet Jeremiah, or a close friend of his.  This writer’s hope is based on the faithfulness of God.  No matter the outward circumstances, the writer sees the faithfulness of God.  How do you focus on God’s faithfulness towards you?  On what do you base your hope?

Week of September 16th

It was a holy pilgrimage to travel to Jerusalem and visit the holy Temple.  And from pictures and models I have seen, it must have been impressive to climb the hills to the city with the gleaming Temple shining in the sun.  Here are several Psalms people sang as they ascended to the holy city.

PRAYER

O God who still invites us to enter into your holy presence:  focus our attention on the power and presence of your Holy Spirit in our crazy world today.  May we never lose sight of your hand at work in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Psalm 121

This is a “Song of Ascents.”  Often the pilgrims visiting the city of Jerusalem would sing these songs as they ascended up the hills and mountains towards the holy city and the Temple.  So when they lifted their eyes toward the mountains, where did they acknowledge their help came from?  God is eager to help you.  How will you look toward the Lord today?

Tuesday - Psalm 122

This is another “Song of Ascents.”  Why would it be so meaningful to go to the Temple?  For them, the Temple represented the place where God dwelled among the people.  The Temple was a reminder of God’s faithful presence with them.  Today, we live on this side of Jesus and the cross.  We know God is not limited to one space and time.  What symbols do you have to remind you of God’s faithful presence?

Wednesday - Psalm 128

Again, one of King David’s “Song of Ascents.”  To fear the Lord is the secret sauce of happiness.  What does it mean to fear the Lord in this context?  How will blessings come to those live in this “fear” of the Lord?  How have you been blessed to “fear” the Lord?

Thursday – Psalm 130

Living the life of a believer does not mean we are immune to difficulties.  God is not a magic genie.  But God does provide hope and grace.  How does this song celebrate that hope and grace?  How do you celebrate hope and grace in your daily routine?

 Friday – Psalm 131

This is a fascinating idea.  In our crazy chaotic world, we are yearning for moments of peace and meditation.  But this is a discipline that has spiritual roots for us.  A child who is calm and quiet in the arms of his/her mother, because he/she trusts in Mom.  Can we place ourselves in God’s loving and faithful arms because we trust God?  How would a moment of peace and quiet bless you today?

Saturday – Psalm 132

King David had his moments of hardship.  Some were brought on by himself.  At other times he was the victim of the choices of others.  Yet, he kept his faith in God.  He made sure he had a place in his life to worship God.  It is difficult today to make space for God.  There are so many things tugging at our shirt sleeves for our attention.  And many of them are good things.  But when and where do you create space for God?  Where is your “resting place” with God?

Week of September 9th

In our lives and in our families, there are often stories or metaphors that become significant and memorable because they reveal something about who we are.  Often the details become enhanced so we never forget the meaning.  It may be a birth, a death, or some other life-turning event.  When we answer the call to follow Jesus, His story becomes part of our story.  God’s past actions become part of our future destiny.  So here are some significant stories of God’s actions.  How do they shape your destiny? 

PRAYER

O God who still calls acts to offer men and women destinies of hope and purpose in our world today.  Speak through your Word to form and transform my life in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 17:1-8

This is the Covenant that Pastor Phil and I preached about this summer.  But what is remarkable about this passage is that God is renewing the covenant – after the Ishmael debacle, after the Egypt scandal, and after all the fuzzy confusion about Lot and his family.  Still God chooses to change the names of Abraham and Sarah to reflect God’s steadfast commitment to grace.  How has God steadfastly revealed grace to you?

Tuesday – Exodus 14:5-31

Spectacular drama, but even more important:  This defining moment is celebrated by Jews and Christians every year.  It is the history of how God has come to the rescue of people, despite their fears and lack of faith.  How has God come to your rescue in the past?  Where will God come to your rescue in the days and years to come?

Wednesday – 1 Kings 18:20-39

Showdown on Mt Carmel.  Elijah stood alone against the King and Queen, and the 450 prophets of Baal.  With boldness Elijah called upon the power of God to reveal truth to the people.  And God always shows up.  Sometimes God shows off.  And the people remembered who really is God.  When has God shown up in your history?  When do you need God to show off in your future?

Thursday – Luke 23:32-49; Romans 5:6-11

The previous passages are part of Israel’s Hebrew scriptures.  These next three become unique to our identity as Christians.  Jesus’ death is not just a tragic end to a noble life, his death is a divine sacrifice on our behalf to put us right with God.  It is a gift of grace, of hope, of joy and peace.  How do you embrace this grace?  How do you accept this gift?

Friday – Luke 24:13-34

Not only is Jesus’ death on the cross formative in our lives, but also Jesus’ resurrection.  The witnesses in this story and others saw him physically alive and well.  Such is the testimony of God’s power over death, and God’s gift of life abundant and eternal.  If one does not believe this, we are – as Paul says – to be most pitied.  Easter is our hope in a crazy and chaotic world.  How does Easter give you hope every season of the year?

Saturday – Acts 1:1-8

The story of Pentecost is recorded in Acts 2, but these verses reveal that the coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer is actually a promise of Jesus.  This is a promise of power, and a purpose of mission and witness.  The rest of the story of Acts is how the believers moved from Jerusalem to Rome, the center of the empire.  Jesus declared that promise not just for the disciples of 1st century, but for all Christians.  How is the promise of the Spirit part of your history, and how is the Spirit part of your destiny?