This week in the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we’ll complete Acts and begin Paul’s epistle to the Romans. One writer has said, “Romans may be the most important letter you will ever read.” It is indeed Paul’s masterpiece, the clearest and fullest explanation of the gospel in the Bible. We desperately need to grasp the message of Romans in our day. Many are preaching a gospel which lacks clarity or substance. Churches turn out feel-good-Christians who lack an understanding of the seriousness of their sin or the spiritual depths of the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection. We cannot correct this problem merely by memorizing gospel outlines or canned presentations. As Christians, we need to immerse ourselves in Scripture through diligent study and thoughtful reflection. Only when the gospel grips our hearts can we realize, “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). As you begin Paul’s letter, may you be encouraged and challenged by the new life and the new lifestyle we have in Christ. Blessed readings friends.
Monday, Mar. 11 – Acts 26; Psalm 29
Though his innocence has been clearly stated many times, Paul remains a prisoner. Now, for a fifth time he will give a defense of his life of faith (ref. 22:1-21; 22:30-23:10; 24:10-21; 25:1-12; and then a sixth in 28:17-19). Paul was not on trial here in chapter 26. When he had appealed to Caesar (25:11), he had guaranteed that his next trial would be before the emperor. This was simply a hearing designed to acquaint Agrippa with Paul’s case so the King could give governor Festus help in understanding and communicating the apostle’s suit to the emperor. Looking back over Paul’s miscarriage of justice in the last several chapters, how does he set an example for you in Christian Living? Character? Attitudes? Outreach? Evangelism? What one aspect of Paul’s example would you like most to apply?
This is a hymn of praise to the Lord for His awesome power, where a thunderstorm serves as a visible emblem of God’s majestic voice. Biblical authors do not present the phenomena of nature as problems for humanity. Rather, they are God’s creation, serve His purposes, and demonstrate His power, wisdom, glory, faithfulness, and even love. The awesomeness of nature, serves as a reminder that the power of God is a resource for us. That’s to say, the God of creation is also the God who saves His people. What effect does the majestic, awe inspiring beauty of nature have on your perception of God? Does your view of God change when nature becomes violent and seemingly out of control? Explain. What is the weather like right now? Of which part of God’s character does today’s climate remind you?
Tuesday, Mar. 12 – Acts 27; Proverbs 8:12-21
For reasons unknown to modern readers, Luke describes this scene from Paul’s life in great detail. (I like to think that since it was such a harrowing event Luke wanted everyone to know about it.) This story, perhaps like none other in Acts, also throws more light on the personality and character of Paul. Though he was a prisoner, he became the leader and savior of those who traveled with him. Luke artfully (and by inspiration) weaves together an edge-of-your-sit kind of story. It might be helpful to expand your daily reading on to 28:16. What do you see of Paul’s confidence in God throughout his ordeal at sea? How were others affected by this great confidence in God? In what ways have you see your confidence in God affect those around you?
As previously stated, we’ll have four readings from Proverbs 8. This chapter is an apology, or defense, of wisdom. We’ve already noted that wisdom would be every person’s guide (vv. 1-11). With today reading we’ll see embracing wisdom as the key to success (vv. 12-21). In what ways does Lady Wisdom bring success into one’s life? Since success only comes to those who “love” wisdom (vv. 17, 21), how does one “love” wisdom? How would you characterize your own “love” of wisdom? Beyond merely reading Proverbs, what’s one specific way you will foster a deeper fondness for Wisdom?
Wednesday, Mar. 13 – Acts 28; Psalm 30
The last scene of Paul in Rome brings Luke’s account of the spread of the gospel to a climatic close. It had gone from Jerusalem to Judea the Samaria, and now to the uttermost parts of the earth (ref. Acts 1:8). Paul was now able to bear witness to the power and gospel of Christ in the capital of the empire just as had desired to do for many years (ref. Romans 15:22-33). Luke’s closing words “boldly and freely he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 31) summarizes not only Paul’s two years in Rome but his whole Christian life. To what degree would you like this to be a summary of your life? Explain your thoughts.
In Psalm 30, David tells of his emergence from an experience of chastening by the Lord for some sin he had committed. He praises God because His anger is temporary but His favor is permanent. The title of this psalm is subject to several interpretations. There are two episodes from David’s life that might be the inspiration for this work. First, when the tent that David erected in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant was brought it into the city (2 Samuel 6). Or perhaps the occasion was the dedication of the temple site (1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1). The Lord’s chastening of the king preceded both of these events. Describe a time when you felt the Lord was chastening you: What sin(s) had you committed? What was the chastening like? How did you respond? Now, slowly reread vv. 4-5 and reflect on how this truth has played out in your life. Share your thoughts with God in prayer.
Thursday, Mar. 14 – Romans 1; Proverbs 8:22-31
For many believers, Romans is the most important letter one will ever read. It is Paul’s masterpiece, the clearest and fullest explanation of the gospel in the Bible. The apostle was excited about the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, and wanted nothing more than to share it with others. As you read these opening verses of his magnum opus, you find his excitement is contagious. Why is it difficult to keep good news to yourself? Think of some good news you’ve heard recently. How did you respond when you heard it, and why? How does it compare or contrast with how you share the good news of Jesus? Do you ever feel or act ashamed of the gospel? Why? If you do, confess and meditate on vv. 16-17. Ask God to truly convince you that the gospel is His power to save and to light a desire within you to tell others the good news of Jesus.
As previously stated, we’ll have four readings from Proverbs 8. This chapter is an apology, or defense, of wisdom. We’ve already noted that wisdom would be every person’s guide (vv. 1-11) and that it is the key success (vv. 12-21). Today calls for us to consider Wisdom’s role in the creation (vv. 22-31). As Creator, God counted wisdom most important. Wisdom is older than the universe, it has always existed as an attribute of God, and it was essential in the act of creation. As such we should value it highly. Even though the times change, the wisdom of God is timeless. In your opinion, why do some reject God’s wisdom? Why do others accept it? How does the timelessness of God’s wisdom help fortify your decision to accept and apply it in your life?
Friday, Mar. 15 – Romans 2; Psalm 31
It’s not uncommon to see Romans characterized as a classical diatribe. Simply stated, this is a classical style of discourse in which the speaker, or writer, seeks to persuade an audience by debating an imaginary opponent. The speaker, or in this case writer, raises hypothetical questions and responds to them or states false conclusions and goes on to refute them. Paul will do this over and over again throughout Romans. Having described in Romans 1:18-32 the depravity of those who reject God, now in chapter 2 Paul begins to employ the diatribe style of writing to show why even nice, religious moralist also need the gospel. Explain how Christians today can be like the people Paul describes? What is Paul’s message to them? To you? Confess the Lord any ways in which Paul describes you. Ask God to change your attitudes and show you your weaknesses this week.
In this Psalm, David is worn out with trouble and beset by enemies who want to do him harm. The psalm weaves together expressions of grief and gratitude, depression and dependence, fear and faith. With each line, we’re never quite sure where the psalmist will land emotionally. But one thing is clear, he puts his faith in God to deliver him. Reflect on your previous prayers, for what do you often ask to be rescued from? What words would you use to characterize your faith during difficult times? Give this last question some thought, how does (or how should) the kingdom’s cause benefit when God delivers you from difficult circumstances?