If you resolved to regularly read your Bible this year and you’ve fallen way behind or just fallen off the wagon. This is a great week to start back! Monday we’ll start the book of Acts in our 2019 New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan. From the tiny beginnings among Jesus’ disciples, the church exploded into a worldwide force in just a few years. How? Jesus left His followers with a mission, and the Spirit of God moved mightily through them to fulfill it. Acts is an important book for us today because it confirms that the power of the Holy Spirit, which transformed the disciples’ lives, is the same power that can transform out lives today! Keep reading and blessings to you friends.
Monday, Feb. 4 – Act 1; Psalm 15
Luke begins his second work for Theophilus with a brief summary of the forty days Jesus spent with His disciples following the resurrection; ending with our Lord’s ascension into Heaven. Imagine that you were there looking up into the sky. How do you think the followers of Jesus were affected by the promise that He would return? Even though this pledge was made two-thousand years ago, how does the promise of Jesus’ return affect your life today?
Whereas the previous Psalm (14) focused on the way of the wicked, Psalm 15 is a celebration of the way of the righteousness. Our psalm offers a sequence of responses to the ultimate question, who will be welcomed into God’s dwelling. While the first line of the psalmist’s answer is rather generic, the following stanzas spell out specific examples. One striking feature of the psalmist answer is that it centers on matters of character, focusing on how one promotes the well-being of others. Does any part of David’s answer to the question in v. 1 surprise you? Why or why not? Of the examples David list, which one(s) are the hardest for you? Confess this to God and ask for His strength to be the person He wants you to be so you can dwell with Him.
Tuesday, Feb, 5 – Act 2; Proverbs 4:10-19
In Acts 2, Luke shows us the birth of the church. With so many people gathered together, Peter seizes the moment and delivers a sermon that first defends the events that are occurring (vv. 14-21) and second proclaims Jesus as the long foretold Messiah (vv. 22-36). Convinced of the truth about the Savior and the truth about themselves, the crowd ask, “What shall we do?” (v. 37). Peter’s response is for them to “repent and be baptized” (v. 38). Baptism is something we will see new believers do throughout the book of Acts (i.e. 8:36-38; 16:31-34; 22:16). Going beyond the idea that he commands it, why would Peter call for these new believers in Jesus to be baptized (ref. Romans 6:1-11)? If you’re a believer, write out your baptism story. Does your commitment to Christ that day still resonate in your heart? Explain.
In our reading today from Proverbs, two paths again lie before us, the way of wisdom and the way of folly or wickedness. What contrast does Solomon draw between the “way of wisdom” (v. 11) and the “way of the evil” (v. 14)? How does one walk in wisdom and avoid the way of the evil person?
Wednesday, Feb. 6 – Act 3; Psalm 16
Seeing the astonished crowd’s response to the healing of the lame beggar, Peter capitalized on an opportunity to talk about Jesus. The most remarkable feature of his sermon is its Christ-centeredness. He directs the crowd’s attention away from both the formerly lame man and the apostles to the Christ. List the titles and adjectives Peter uses to describe Jesus (note vv. 13, 14, 15, 18, and 22-23). How do each of these speak to the uniqueness of Jesus? How do these truths shape the way you view the Lord? Plan to share your thoughts with a friend. Write their name below. Along with what you plan to share with them and why they need to hear this about Jesus. Be sure to follow through.
In the first two verses of Psalm 16, David seeks divine protection because of his loyalty to God. What follows is David’s praise of God for his rich blessings, as he expresses a contentment in his life rooted in its providential order. Overall, would you describe yourself as a content person? Why or why not? Focus in on vv. 5-8, in what way(s) does/should your trust in God’s ordering of your life fill your heart with contentment?
Thursday, Feb. 7 – Act 4; Proverbs 4:20-27
A disabled man becomes abled and a one-time burden to society, a beggar, becomes functional and a contributing citizen. Instead of expressing gratitude, the religious leaders become extremely upset and strictly warn Peter and John to stop preaching in the name of Jesus; which they gladly refuse to do. Then Peter and John along with the other believers, respond to the Sanhedrin’s threats with prayer (vv. 23-31). What does their prayer tell you about their faith in the character, power, and faithfulness of God? Looking at what you’ve written, how does this view of God enable believers to respond to persecution with prays for boldness? Describe at least one way in which you can apply the apostles’ / believers’ example in your own dealings with belligerent authority or unbelievers.
Solomon exhorts his readers to “keep [his sayings] in your heart for they are life to those who find them, and healing to one’s entire body” (vv. 21b-22). What follows is an exhortation to apply the teachings of wisdom to the whole body. In your own words, restate his advice on using various body parts wisely: the “heart” (v. 23), mouth and lips (v. 24), “eyes” (v. 25) and “feet” (vv. 26-27).
Friday, Feb. 8 – Act 5; Psalm 17
Luke doesn’t idealize his portrait of the early church but paints an accurate picture, warts and all with the account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. How does this story demonstrate the high value that God places on truth and unity with the body of Christ? In what way(s) might we lie to each other today within the church? Let’s spiritualize this for a moment, how does not telling the truth with each other bring about death, in a spiritual and/or emotional sense within a church community?
This is the first psalm we’ve encounter that is simply entitled, “A prayer of David.“ His “prayer” brims with petitions, (as many as seventeen depending on the translation you’re using) as he pleads for God’s protection. Verse 8 is one of those verses that makes for a nice embroidered pillow, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wing.” Do a little research and explore the meaning of these two phrases. Record your findings. As a believer, living for God, what hope do you get from understanding God’s protection in these terms?