Week 18 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

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“If only I had more…” We’ve all said in one form or another. More money, more success, more happiness, more knowledge, more clothes, more excitement, more of this and more of that. Not only in our society but also in the church, we cry for more. If only we had… more leaders, more money, more prestige, more people, more space, more influence, more workers, more faith. Guru’s abound to help us fill our desires for more. But what if we slowed down for a minute and remembered Who and what we already have; Jesus Christ our Savior and the fullness of life in Him.

This week in New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we’ll read through Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. This epistle will be one of Paul’s strongest declarations of the uniqueness and sufficiency of Christ, his full authority over all powers and the fullness of life He gives. Paul spells out the implications of this fullness of life again and again in the letter. Like the Colossians, we are bombarded by longings for something more. But Paul declares, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10). Enjoy it! Be satisfied in the Lord!

In addition to reading Colossians, we’ll have our first reading from the gospel of Mark (let’s wait until next week to introduce Mark). There will also be a psalm from Asaph, and two from David rooted in two troubling episodes of his life. Then from Proverbs we’ll, among other things, be challenged to have generous hearts and for the ladies a challenge to wisely use the power you possess as wives. These questions were a pleasure to write. I hope they are a blessing for you. Keep on reading and God bless you with every word you read.

Monday, April 29 – Colossians 1; Psalm 50

There’s a lot going on in Colossians 1. As was customary in ancient letters, Paul begins by identifying first the senders, then the recipients (vv. 1-2a). He follows with a greeting (v. 2b) and continues by listing the reasons he is thankful to God for the Colossian church (vv. 3-8). He reminds the Colossians how he prays for them, demonstrating his sensitivity to their needs (vv. 9-14). To combat teachers who were denying the deity of Christ, Paul not only declares Christ’s supremacy – he sings it in this example of early Christian hymnody (vv. 15-20). Finally, the chapter ends with a word on the reconciling work of Christ and Paul’s role in spreading the gospel (vv. 21-29). Let’s focus on Paul hymn. Drawing from vv. 15-20, make as many statements as you can about why Jesus is supreme. Begin each with “Christ is…” How should each of them affect your attitudes and actions? Choose at one or two, and write down how they are personally important to you.

In Psalm 50, the first psalm contributed to Asaph (see also Psalms 73-83), we find a picture of God seated in His heavenly throne room. He has two indictments against His people Israel (vv. 1-6). The wicked among them were hypocritical in their worship (vv. 7-15), and rebellious in their actions (vv. 16-21). The Lord ends each accusation with a warning and call to return to Him (vv. 14-15, 22-23). When do you find yourself most often going through the motions of worship? How can the Lord’s words in vv. 14-15 help you break out of a worship rut? Be honest with yourself, when do you find yourself most often rebelling against God? How can the Lord’s words in vv. 22-23 help you break a rebellious spirit?

Tuesday, April 30 – Colossians 2; Proverbs 11:24-31

With Colossians 2, Paul turns his attention to point out the flaws in the fins-sounding arguments to which the Colossians have been listening. He starts by reminding them, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (v. 6-7). According to the false teachers, believing in Christ was a good beginning, but you must do more (see vv. 8, 16, 18, 21-23). Why do such humanly conceived additions appeal to us? To protect Christians from such heresies, Paul declares in v. 10, “in [Jesus] you have been made complete.” How do you respond to the idea of being complete or having fullness in Christ?

At the heart of our reading from Proverbs today stands the call to be generous and not stingy with our resources. It is axiomatic that greedy and selfish people, epitomized in Western literature as Mr. Scrooge, are hated by the populace at large while generous people gain love and respect. What the hoarder fails to realize, however, is that in God’s economy the greedy ultimately lose even the material things they try so hard to keep while the benevolent only prosper more and more. When are you reluctant to help a person in need? Why, according to Solomon, is generosity wiser than stinginess? How do these proverbs motivate you to respond to the needs of the poor rather than pretend they don’t exist?

Wednesday, May 1 – Colossians 3; Psalm 51

By starting with “Therefore…” (v. 1), Paul is about to draw conclusions from what he has been saying. Christ is supreme; He has freed us from the dominion of darkness; He has canceled our record of sin debt and disarmed the evil powers; He has released us from their delusive and oppressive rules. We have died with Christ and been raised with Christ. In Him we are complete. What then? In Colossians 3, Paul explains how these truths should impact out day-to-day lives. What does Paul mean when he speaks of setting your mind on “things that are above” and not on “things that are on earth” (v. 2)? In what kinds of situations are you tempted to set your heart and mind on earthly things? How, according to this chapter, can you proactively set your heart and mind on things above rather than on earthly things?

According to the Psalm 51’s superscription, David offered this prayer when Nathan confronted him with his sin following the king’s affair with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11-12). To David’s credit, he recognized fully how horrendous his sin was against God, blamed no one but himself, and begged for divine forgiveness. Following the style of penitential psalm (also: Psalms 6; 38; 102; 130; 143), the psalmist confesses his sinfulness to God and begs for forgiveness and a transformation of his inner character. It seems that at the least nine months has lapsed from the time David committed his sin with Bathsheba till the time Nathan confronted him. One has to wonder how David dealt with the guilt he felt for what he had done. What is the role of guilt as an emotional response to sin? Why is guilt often seen as something to be avoided or downplayed at all cost? What God-honoring purpose can guilt fulfill? What sort of things cause you to ignore the sin-caused guilty feelings? From David’s example, in what way(s) will you address the guilt you feel because of your sin?

Thursday, May 2 – Colossians 4; Proverbs 12:1-7

The last section of Colossians illustrates the two faces of a Pauline epistle: the timeless instructions from the Spirit of God to all Christians (vv. 2-6); and the personal comments from a very human writer to a certain people on a specific occasion (vv. 7-18). But even the newsy bits of this personal letter are part of God’s Word and give us insights into living the Christian life. Let’s focus on how to reach those outside the church. It’s been said that debating whether what we say or how we live is more important in spreading the gospel is like asking which leg is more important for walking. In vv. 5-6, Paul gives instructions for how Christians are to act wisely toward outsiders – unbelievers. What’s the benefit of acting and talking this way? What do you need to do to live and speak the gospel so that others will want to know Christ? Look over the names and places mentioned in vv. 7-18 each one represents a person, or group of people, who were united by the common bond of Christ. How do you think the unity of these people Paul mentions was a testimony to outsiders of the power of the gospel? What does you fellowship of Christians need to do to live and speak the gospel so that others will want to know Christ?

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones” (v. 4). This proverb contrasts wise and foolish wives by the metaphors of a crown on the head verses decay in the bones. The former is high, outward, and visible; the latter is deep, inward, and invisible. The noble wife strengths and empowers building up her husband’s very being. On the other hand, the ignoble wife invisibly saps her husband’s strength and vitality, deconstructing him from within. When have you seen the twin truths of this proverb demonstrated? Why is the wife’s influence so powerful to either make or break her husband at home or in the community? What wisdom do you think Solomon wants to impart to wives? To husbands?

Friday, May 3 – Mark 1; Psalm 52

Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, the gospel of Mark doesn’t have a formal introduction or a genealogy to get our bearings, there isn’t even the familiar infancy narrative. There’s simply a two verse quote from the Old Testament, from there Mark hits the ground running. The intensity of Mark’s writing and his enthusiasm for Christ’s gospel brings us a powerful message of salvation, inspiration, and encouragement. From vv. 14-45, what does Jesus do to show that “the kingdom of God is at hand”? Summarize how the people respond to Jesus’ ministry? What’s your impression of Jesus from what you’ve read so far in Mark?

This Psalm is a poetic lesson about the futility of evil, the final triumph of righteousness, and the sovereign control of God over the events of history. According to the superscription, David wrote this psalm during the period when Saul was seeking his life. On one occasion Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s head shepherd (1 Samuel 21:7), informed Saul of David’s whereabouts (see 1 Samuel 21-22). Doeg was a horrendously evil individual. What appears to have been a desire for favor from Saul, Doeg slaughtered “eighty-five person who wore the linen ephod” (priest), additionally from the priestly city of Nob “he put to the sword both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep” (1 Samuel 22:18b, 19). David’s acceptance of the blame for this tragedy weighed heavy on his heart as he composed this psalm (see 1 Samuel 22:20-23). What words or phrases does David use to describe the rashness of the wicked in vv. 1-5? How should the righteous react to wickedness men? (vv. 6-9) Specially, in what ways would the acts of v. 9 fortify your faith to face the wickedness of the world?

Week 17 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

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It is easy to be happy when life goes well. But what would it be like to have a sense of joy that continued even in times of trouble? Paul doesn’t pen this epistle from a padded-leather office chair surrounded by books on how to be happy. On the contrary, he is a prisoner awaiting news that could result in his death. In this short letter of encouragement to his beloved brethren in Philippi (see Acts 16:6-40), Paul aims to inspire his readers to persevere in the work of Christ, and he tells them how to find peace, joy, and contentment in a perilous world. In four brief chapters, the apostle teaches us how to live joyfully in every situation. This week in New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we, too, will discover the secret of Paul’s joy and experience his triumphant confidence in Christ.

A personal note: I took two weeks off from writing in order to complete several pressing task leading up to chaperoning my oldest son’s 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C. There was too much to do and I was certainly not going to write during the five hectic days we were away from home. The trip was exciting (we were evacuated from the White House by secret service), awe inspiring, and educational. I’ll admit that after not studying and writing for a number of days it was hard to get back into the swing of it. But here we are and I’ll soldier on for the remainder of the year. Over the next month or so (or the year) I’ll go back and write questions for the two weeks I missed. I’ll let you know when they’re done.  

Lastly, I started this week’s questions on Tuesday since it was the first chapter of Philippians. May God’s blessing be upon you as you read His word.

Tuesday, Apr. 23 – Philippians 1; Proverbs 11:7-11

It is easy to be happy when life goes well. But what would it be like to have a sense of joy that continued even in times of trouble? Paul doesn’t pen this epistle from a padded-leather office chair surrounded by books on how to be happy. On the contrary, he is a prisoner awaiting news that could result in his death. Philippians is the second of Paul’s Prison Epistles (which include Ephesian, Colossians, and Philemon). In this brief letter, the apostle teaches us how to live joyfully in every situation. What things have happened to Paul that you would find discouraging? Looking back over the whole chapter, summarize the various factors which can transform difficult circumstances into a joyful, Christ-exalting situation? What are the difficult circumstances you are presently facing? How can Christ be exalted in that situation?

The main thrust Solomon presents in today’s reading from Proverbs is the social influence a person has for good or bad within his or her community. When have you seen the truth of these sayings play out on a national, state, or local stage? Think about your own community, not just your town but smaller say your neighborhood, church, your kid’s school, at work, or a social circle. When have you seen these truths demonstrated? How can you be an influencer for good in these areas of your community? Pray that God will make you an influencer for good and that He will rebuke those in your community that do evil.

Wednesday, Apr. 24 – Philippians 2; Psalm 48

Philippians 2:6-11 is perhaps the finest hymns in the New Testament and a foundational statement of the doctrine of Christ. Yet, Paul states it not to teach something new but to motivate the Philippians to action – humble service and self-sacrifice. Notice how Paul expects an understanding of doctrine to bring gladness and joy into the hearts of believers. How does Paul define humility (toward one another as typified in Christ) in vv. 1-11? To encourage you toward the humble life, Paul says you are to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (v. 12) because God “works in you” (v. 13). What difference should in make in your life to know that God works in your to “will and to work for His good pleasure” (v. 13)? In what way(s) should/does following the example of Jesus and humbly serving others through the power of God bring gladness and joy to your life?

Like Psalm 46, Psalm 48 is a hymn celebrating Zion as God’s special city, which He defends for the sake of the world. The central theme is the psalmist praising God for delivering Zion from her enemies. While the city may be heavily fortified, Jerusalem was secure and glorious because God blessed her with His favor. It is critical that God Himself be the defense of His people. I don’t see it as a stretch to think of the church (not a building but the collective body of the saved) as Zion, the place where God dwells on earth (ref. 1 Peter 2). With that in mind, how has and does God protect His church from her enemies? Are there times you, or your community of believers, are tempted to think that by your on wits and strength you have prospered as a church? Explain. In what way(s) does this Psalm call you to humbly praise God for His protection and the prospering of His people?

Thursday, Apr. 25 – Philippians 3; Proverbs 11:12-23

From all indications, the Philippians knew the gospel clearly, and so their task was to work together in accord with their identity “in Christ Jesus” (2:5). But false teachers threatened to undermine the church’s firm foundation. So, in 3:1-21 Paul reinforces key doctrines that are at the root of Christian faith and action. As you read over chapter 3, what kinds of errors do you deduce Paul was refuting? Acts 9 recorded the external facts of his conversion, while vv. 1-14 record the internal spiritual conversion he experienced. In the context of refuting false teaching, what’s the point Paul is making be recounting his conversion? How does a works-based salvation get in the way of know Christ and rejoicing in the Lord? On the flipside, how does a faith-based salvation open the way to knowing Christ and rejoicing in the Lord? Where do you find yourself today?

In this collection of Proverbs Solomon offers many insights on what happens to the righteous and the wicked alike (vv. 12-21, 23). Apart from the rest, v. 22 stands alone as a humorous, single line proverb. “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who rejects discretion.” What do you think is the warning that Solomon wants both women and men to see? Write down the name of someone you know who could benefit from this proverb. Why this person? Additionally, write a short prayer for them. For the next week continually pray for them and for yourself then go to them and lovingly share this wise saying and meaning with them. You may be rejected at first but keep praying and continue to be there for them.

Friday, Apr. 26 – Philippians 4; Psalm 49

Paul was living with many powerful stressors (he was in prison facing possible execution while defending himself against critics and heretics inside the church), yet he seems to be strangely at peace. In the closing chapter of Philippians, Paul reveals some of the secrets of his peace. What seems most significant to you of all that Paul says in this chapter? What is one implication this truth has for your life? Paul tells us to, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (v.9). In the coming week, how might you put into practice one truth he reveals in this chapter?

Often called a wisdom psalm (see vv. 3-4), Psalm 49 is an encouragement to the godly who are haunted by the power and influence of the rich. The psalmist states that he will not fear the rich enemies who threaten him, for despite their wealth, they are mere men who will die like everyone else. He is confident the righteous are better off because they have a sure hope for the future. Why is it so deeply disturbing to see arrogant, rich people thriving, especially those who exploit or hurt the little man or woman along the way? How does the psalmist contrast the state of both the rich and poor? What hope for justice does the psalm give to the one who has been taken advantage of by the rich? In what way(s) did you need this psalm today?

Week 14 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

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This week, we’re at a unique place in  New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan. We’ll be ending the letter to the Romans, transitioning to a new and challenging part of Proverbs, beginning the epistle to the Galatians, and last but not least we’ll keep plugging away through Psalms.

On Tuesday, we’ll begin the middle section of Proverbs, sometimes called proverbs proper. The first section of Proverbs 1:8-9:18 prominently featured parental praise of wisdom in the form of poetic verse. Those chapters prepare the reader for the actual proverbs for which this book is known. The second section of Proverbs, 10:1-22:16, contains 375 of Solomon’s individual proverbs, or maxims. They are based on Solomon’s inspired knowledge given to him by God (1 Kings 3; 10:1-13). There’s going to be a lot to learn.

On Thursday, we’ll complete our reading of Paul’s powerful epistle to the Romans. For me, it has been a real challenge each day to formulate introductions and three questions that captured the essence of each chapter. I hope it was profitable.

On Friday, we’ll begin our reading of Galatians. The churches in the region of Galatia had come to Christ by faith – powerless to win God’s favor apart from His mercy. Nevertheless, certain people (often called Judaizers) were saying, that in order to be saved Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. In other words, salvation comes through keeping the Law, not by faith through grace. To safeguard the essence of the gospel, the apostle Paul reaffirms that we can only live right with God by faith in His Son, and His empowering presence in us.

Last, but not least, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we’ll be challenged once again by David to take all of life’s pain and suffering (mostly due to our own sins) to the God who heals the broken.

May the God of all wisdom bless you this week as you continue to read His Word.

Monday, Apr. 1 – Romans 13; Psalm 38

Chapter 13 continues the theme of the transformed life Paul began in the previous chapter. Here Paul broadens the Christian’s sphere of responsibility by extending it to include the civil government under which he or she lives (vv. 1-7) and his or her fellow citizens (v. 8-14). In your own words, describe how Christians should be subject to governing authorities. Explain what it means for “love [to be] the fulfillment of the law” (v. 10)? Think back over this chapter. In what ways do you need to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in your relationship to the government and your fellow citizens?

Psalm 38 is another of David’s penitential psalms (also: Psalms 6; 32; 51; 102; 130; 143). This is a lament that lays a person’s troubles before God, when that person realized that his troubles result from his own sin. The psalm describes anguish of body and mind, desertion of friends, and how the singer’s folly has made him vulnerable to his enemies. Not all the troubles of life are the result from one’s sins, nevertheless this psalm is geared to those that do. Why is it not possible to have a sense of mental, physical, relational, or spiritual well-being when you’re aware of unconfessed sin? How does God use mental, physical, relational, or spiritual ailments to bring us to confession and repentance? How long are you usually willing to tolerate these ailments before you just own up to what you did? What’s causing you pain now? How can you decisively deal with the sin God is wants you to address?

Tuesday, Apr. 2 – Romans 14; Proverbs 10:1-7

The debt of love applied directly to a situation within the Roman church, knowing how to live with Christian freedoms. This section of Romans deals with Christian conduct when God does not specify exactly what we should do in every situation. In such cases some Christians will do one thing and others another, but both within God’s will. How to handle these situations is the focus of this passage. What is Paul’s overall message to “strong” Christians (those who don’t feel obliged to refrain from meat, wine, or keep holy days)? To “weak” Christians (those who feel obliged)? Someone somewhere is bound to be offended by almost anything we do! How can you practically apply the principles of this chapter?

The first section of Proverbs 1:8-9:18 prominently featured parental praise of wisdom in the form of poetic verse. Those chapters prepare the reader for the actual proverbs for which this book is known. The second section of Proverbs, 10:1-22:16, contains 375 of Solomon’s individual proverbs, or maxims. They are based on Solomon’s inspired knowledge given to him by God (1 Kings 3; 10:1-13). Generally there appears to be no apparent order. However, at closer examination it’s often the case that individual proverbs are grouped together into small collections which, taken together, give the reader a more complete understanding of a given topic. Finally, one last note about the types of proverbs we will encounter in our readings. The parallel, two line proverbs of chapters 10-15 are mostly contrast or opposites (antithetical), while those of chapters 16-22 are mostly similarities or comparisons (synthetical). In what ways have you seen a wise child, make his or her parents proud (v. 1)? Gain life through righteousness (v. 2)? Protection from God (v. 3)? Become a diligent worker (vv. 4-5)? And receive blessings from others (vv. 6-7)? Of these proverbs, select the one that spoke to you the most and post it on social media or share with a friend. For extra credit explain why you needed this word of wisdom.

Wednesday, Apr. 3 – Romans 15; Psalm 39

Paul now develops the key concept to which he referred to in chapter 14, namely putting the welfare of others before that of self. This is love. To solidify his argument he cites the example of Christ who lived free of taboos and unnecessary inhibitions but was always careful to bear with the weaknesses of others. Focusing on vv. 1-13, how is Christ the supreme example of what Paul commands? If you follow Christ’s example in this and other areas of your life why will you need “endurance… encouragement… and hope” (vv. 4-5)? Why are Bible study and prayer essential if you are to maintain these attitudes as you serve/yield to others?

Psalm 39 is an exceptionally heavy lament, which compares with Job 7 and much of Ecclesiastes. With these words, David allows those who are suffering (especially at the hand of God see vv. 10, 13) to express the pain of their anguish. The circumstances of the suffering are left vague, although there is acknowledgment of sin (vv. 8, 11); the focus is on how suffering is a reminder of the fleeting nature of human life. What images does David use to describe the brevity of life? From your perspective, why is brevity of life both a bitter curse and a blessing? How do these twin perspectives, bitter curse and blessing, affect the way you live your short life here on Earth?

Thursday, Apr. 4 – Romans 16; Proverbs 10:8-14

In Jesus, believers have a bond that is stronger than flesh and blood. We are now and will always be brothers and sisters in Christ, members of God’s family. In this, the last chapter of Romans, Paul introduces us to some of his spiritual family. Men and women of faith who have aided and helped him along his ministry journey. Paul praises several people in vv. 1-15 for things they have done. What deeds and qualities does he commend? Think about how these Christians are models for you to follow. Write down several ideas on how you can help a minister, your pastors, a missionary, etc. in their work and service to God’s people. Lastly, how has Romans helped you to understand your salvation more completely?

Here Solomon contrast the actions of the “righteous” and the “wicked.” These contrast began in v. 6 and will go throughout the rest of chapter 10. How does Solomon describe the actions and blessings of a “righteous” person? In contrast, how does he describe the actions and curses of a “wicked” person? Applying these wise words to yourself, in what ways can you strengthen your “righteous” behaviors and correct your “wicked” deeds?

Friday, Apr. 5 – Galatians 1; Psalm 40

The churches in the region of Galatia had come to Christ by faith – powerless to win God’s favor apart from His mercy. Nevertheless, certain people (often called Judaizers) were saying, that in order to be saved Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. In other words, salvation comes through keeping the Law, not by faith through grace. To safeguard the essence of the gospel, the apostle Paul reaffirms that we can only live right with God by faith in His Son Jesus, and His empowering presence in us. Paul abruptly begins his letter to the Galatians. Omitting his customary expression of thanksgiving, he plunges immediately into an impassioned discussion of their accepting a new, so-called gospel and his call by God to preach the true gospel of Christ. As you read this opening chapter how would you describe the mood of this passage? How do you think Paul would respond to the claim there are many roads that lead to heaven? Why? What aspect(s) of the gospel do you need more grace and faith right now to believe and practice? Pray to God about this and seek the help of a trusted believer.

Psalm 40 is a combination of both thanksgiving for God’s past aid (vv. 1-11) and a lament/prayer for continued deliverance (vv. 12-17). Unlike investment institutions, perhaps David would say that with God, past performance is indicative of future results. Why does the power of God seem more obvious after a relatively long period of waiting for Him to act? Why should this encourage us all the more to hang in there while we’re waiting on God’s timing? Make a list of the prayers you’re waiting for God to answer. Go through your list and ask God to remember your plea and for patience to wait on Him.

Week 13 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

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This week in our New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we encounter Romans 9-11. These three chapters are, by far, the most controversial section in this epistle, if not the whole of the New Testament. Nevertheless, we must remember that the Spirit of God did not inspire this text to confuse or divide us. The teachings in this passage of Romans is vital to the gospel and to our own spiritual walk. I’ve done my best to capture the essence of each chapter with the goal to inform and inspire our faith. Let’s keep reading together and may God’s rich blessing be upon us as we continue to read His word.

Monday, Mar. 25 – Romans 8; Psalm 35

The struggle described in Romans 7 doesn’t end when we become Christians. But there is a new dimension to that struggle which completely changes its outcome… the Spirit of God. This chapter contains the greatest concentration of references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, an average of one almost every two verses. Whereas there are 31 occurrences of “I” in chapter 7, there are 17± references to the “Spirit” in chapter 8. Here Paul explains the benefits of sanctification made available through the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. Make a quick list of everything Paul says in chapter 8 that the Spirit does in the life of a believer? What evidence do you see of your life being controlled by the Spirit? Meditate on the blessing of God’s Spirit from vv. 1-30 and Paul’s poetic praise of God’s love in vv. 31-39. How do these two teachings affect your attitude toward the God of your salvation, your struggles with sin and the current circumstances you face as a Christian?

With Psalm 35, David laments the unjustified opposition of his enemies as he calls on God to deliver him. With language that alternates between legal and military terminology, David cycles between exasperation and expectation. In vv. 1-10, he asks God to deliver him from enemies who were trying to kill him without cause. With vv. 11-18, he laments that “they repay me evil for good”. Lastly, in vv. 19-28, David petitions God on his behalf. Describe a time when you were betrayed by someone close to you. When they hurt you, did you seek your own vengeance or did you give it to God? If you sought your own vengeance in light of David’s plea in vv. 19-28 do you think God was pleased with your actions? Why or why not? If you allowed God to vindicate you then what was that experience like for you? For the other person? Praise God for His wisdom and mercy.

Tuesday, Mar. 26 – Romans 9; Proverbs 9:7-12

Coming off the uplifting stanzas of chapter 8, Paul writes, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsman according to the flesh” (vv. 2b-3). Paul writes this section of Romans with tears in his eyes because of Israel’s unbelief. Their Messiah had come and they had rejected Him. In chapters 9-11 Paul wrestles with the problem of Israel’s faithlessness. These three chapters are, by far, the most controversial section in this epistle. Nevertheless, we must remember that the Spirit of God did not inspire this text to confuse or divide us. The teachings in this passage of Romans is vital to the gospel and to our own spiritual walk. In this chapter Paul focuses on the difficult question of God’s sovereignty. What all can you learn from Romans 9 about God’s character and His treatment of Abraham’s decedents? Are you ever tempted to regard God as unfair or arbitrary in His dealings with people? If so, in what ways? How does the illustration of the potter and clay help you gain a proper perspective on your relationship with the sovereign God? Talk to God about your feelings.

In our last reading from Proverbs (March 21st) we noted Proverbs 9 presents the dilemma of deciding between two dinner invitations, one from Lady Wisdom the other from Lady Folly. Which one you attend will largely determine your health, your wealth, and your happiness for the rest of your life. With vv. 1-6, Solomon has Lady Wisdom describe her feast. Next, in vv. 7-12 we learn her dinner conversation will not consist of merely idle chatter. What do vv. 7-12 tell you about how Lady Wisdom imparts benefits to her guest? How do you generally respond when people correct you? Why do you think you act this way? What specific actions can you take to more humbly and wisely receive correct?

Wednesday, Mar. 27 – Romans 10; Psalm 36

Again, Paul begins this section with a note of lament, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (10:1). As previously stated, over the course of three chapters, Paul grapples with Israel’s faithlessness in light of the promises of God. Chapter 9 discussed God’s choice of the Jews for the purpose of choosing the gentile world as well but the Jews refused to embrace His choice. Now in chapter 10, Paul focuses on Israel’s opportunities to respond to the Lord’s gracious offer of salvation in Christ. He explains the Jew’s pursuit of righteousness is good, but their method is not (see 9:31-32). Likewise, their zeal for God is good, but its basis is not (see 10:2-3). What is wrong with the attitude behind their zeal to be close to God? What, according to Paul, does a Jew, or any person, need to do to be saved? Why can’t the Jews blame their unbelief on the fact that they can’t, or didn’t, understand the word of Christ? Why can’t you? Think about the lost in your orbit of acquaintances. Pray persistently that God will send them messengers with the good news. Pray with the attitude that if God think it best then you will go to them with the gospel.

With Psalm 36, David presents a powerful contrast between human wickedness at its most malevolent and divine goodness in its many-sided fullness. Meanwhile, the singer is menaced by the one and assured of victory by the other. Few psalms cover so great a range in so short a space. This psalm is unique in that some translations describe it as an “oracle,” or in other words, a message from God (v. 1 NKJV; see also 2 Samuel 23:1). How does David describe the wicked? In contrast, how does David describe God? David relied on the character of God to strengthen his faith in the face of an evil world. In what ways will you find hope in God’s character as you face the evil world around you?

Thursday, Mar. 28 – Romans 11; Proverbs 9:13-18

Let’s start by looking back over the last couple of readings from Romans. In chapter 9, Paul explored God’s divine choice of Israel and the Jews rejection of God. Then with chapter 10, he focused on Israel’s unheeded opportunities to respond to the Lord’s gracious offer of salvation in Christ. Finally, in chapter 11, Paul answers the question that logically arises from the previous two chapters, “Has God rejected his people?” (11:1). Ultimately, what’s at stake in this discussion is whether God can be trusted to keep His promises. In your own words, how does Paul explain Israel’s unbelief as being partial (vv. 1-10)? Purposeful (vv. 11-16)? And temporary (vv. 25-32)? The mechanics behind all that Paul says in chapters 9-11 is boggling to our mortal minds. So then, focusing in on Paul’s description of God in vv. 33-36, how does this passage affect your willingness to trust God to work out the fulfillment of all His promises?

In our last two readings from Proverbs (March 21st and 26th) we noted Proverbs 9 presents the dilemma of deciding between two dinner invitations, one from Lady Wisdom the other from Lady Folly. Which one you attend will largely determine your health, your wealth, and your happiness for the rest of your life. We’ve examined Lady Wisdom’s feast and table talk now we’ll turn our attention to Lady Folly. Describe Lady Folly’s house, invitation, and feast. What similarities and differences to you see with Lady Wisdom’s house, invitation, and feast? No matter which invitation you accept, your decision will result in both pleasure and pain. How do the pleasure and pain from dining at Lady Wisdom’s house differ from the pleasure and pain one finds at Lady Folly’s house? What will help you to reject Folly and embrace Wisdom?


Friday, Mar. 29 – Romans 12; Psalm 37

After the song of praise in 11:33-36, what more is there to be said? Nothing but the practical implications of what has gone before. “Therefore” (v. 1) ties the rest of the letter to the first eleven chapters. Up to this point, Paul has described God’s gift of righteousness. In Christ we who were condemned are justified. We who were sinners are sanctified. And we who had no hope will be glorified. For the rest of his epistle, Paul explains how Christians should live in view of God’s grace, love, and mercy. Explain what you think Paul means when says we “should present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (v. 1). According to 12:2, what must happen in order for you to discern and agree with God’s will? How does this happen? Name an area of your life where you are tempted “to conform to this world.” Write down specific ways in which you can put into practice vv. 1-2 with regard to the temptation you are facing.

Here in Psalm 37, David urges the righteous not to let the prosperity of the wicked upset them but to continue to trust in God’s justice. Through an irregular acrostic form, David answers that age-old question, “Why do the ungodly prosper while the godly painfully struggle through life?” In the old gospel song, Father Along we still lyrically wonder the same question; “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder Why it should be thus all the day long, While there are others living about us, Never molested tho’ in the wrong.” When have you wondered why the wicked prosper while believers suffer? In those times what did (or do) you think about the wicked person? Yourself? God? How can hymns like Psalm 37 and Father Along help you sort through your feelings?

Week 12 Question for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

teen girls enjoying the bible

As Christians, we have a life long goal: to become more like Christ. This involves change, and change isn’t always easy. But the more you know of God’s gracious salvation, His wisdom for living, and His purposes for you, the more you can experience His joy, hope and love. That’s the whole purpose of the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan, to know more about God and His son Jesus Christ and to reflect Their glory in this sin filled world. We’re now a quarter of the way through 2019 and our reading plan. It’s my prayer that the Lord is blessing you in your efforts.

I apologize for being late getting the questions completed. My family and I spent a lot of time last week traveling to Middle Tennessee State University to watch our Columbia Academy Bulldogs compete in and win the TSSAA Class A Boy’s basketball title. We couldn’t be prouder of our boys. With apologizes offered, here are the questions for this week’s reading.

Monday, Mar. 18 – Romans 3; Psalm 32

Like prisoners on death row, people are guilty, condemned and awaiting execution of God’s wrath. They sit silently in the miserable darkness of their cell, all hope extinguished. Then abruptly, the door swings open and darkness becomes light, death becomes life, and bondage becomes freedom. That’s what God has done for us. In the vv. 21-31 Paul describes how righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ upholds both God’s justice and His grace. In your own words, explain how Jesus has enables believers to become righteous if they put their faith in Him. How does this way of righteousness make it impossible for anyone to boast about his or her own actions? In what way(s) might you feel or act differently if you more fully grasped what Jesus has done for you?

Psalm 32 is often classified as one of the seven penitential psalms (also: Psalms 6; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143). Among these Psalms 32 and 51 stand out as confessional giants. The overall thrust, intent and development of Psalm 32 may be summarized as follows: We must not forget the lessons learned through sin, confession, and forgiveness. And we must relay these lessons to others. From your perspective, is it possible to have a sense of well-being when you’re aware of unconfessed sin in your life? Why is it important to be specific about what one has done that was wrong and about the damage it caused to yourself and others? How can telling others your sin, confession, and forgiveness story help them and you avoid the same pitfalls and heartache?

Tuesday, Mar. 19 – Romans 4; Proverbs 8:32-36

Paul’s readers could have understood faith as being a new method of salvation since he contrasted faith with the Law. Yet, justification by faith was not a uniquely Christian revelation contrasted with Jewish doctrine. In Romans 4 the apostle shows his readers that God has always justified people by faith. In particular, he emphasizes that God declared Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, righteous because of his faith, not ritual. What themes do you see running through this passage? God’s promise is worthless if the only people who can inherit it are those who live up to it by perfect obedience. Why would this requirement make the promise worthless? It’s easy to feel that God fully accepts us only when we’re good and perfect. When you feel this way, how can the examples of Abraham and David give you hope?

As previously stated, we have four readings from Proverbs 8. This chapter is an apology, or defense, of wisdom. We’ve seen that wisdom would be every person’s guide (vv. 1-11), that it is the key success (vv. 12-21) and we’ve noted its role in the creation (vv. 22-31). Finally, let’s consider that wisdom is the one essential necessity of life (vv. 32-36). On the basis of all that has been said in this chapter, Wisdom exhorts us to live by her words, and thereby “find life and obtains favor from the Lord” (v. 35). However, the one who spurns her “injures himself” and he who hates her “loves death” (v. 36). Write down the name of a person who you know loves wisdom, then someone who hates wisdom. Describe how these two people illustrate the truths of vv. 35 and 36. Look at the trajectory of your life, which of these two people are you most like? Why? What will you need to do make wisdom the one necessity of your life’s journey?

Wednesday, Mar. 20 – Romans 5; Psalm 33

We now have reached a bridge chapter in Paul’s letter. Some commentators group chapter 5 with 1:18-4:25 because it summarizes justification by faith. Other people group chapter 5 with 6:1-8:39 because it begins to describe the life that justified people live by faith. Personally, I prefer the latter. From vv. 1-11, list as many benefits as you can find of justification by faith and its corresponding peace. How does Paul’s comparison of Jesus and Adam in vv. 12-21 give you another reason to rejoice because of the power of God’s grace toward you through Jesus? We all long to live with a sense of peaceful joy. Yet it can, at times, seem so elusive. What keeps you from letting the Lord’s grace fill your heart with joy of salvation by faith? Pray about this.

Psalm 33 is a general hymn of praise. It is one of fifty psalms that is not attributed to an author. Its two primary themes are: 1) God is the Lord of nature, and 2) He is Lord of the nations. These two realms are always related; the Creator sovereignly rules over the totality of His creation. What is the relationship between hope in God, trust in Him, and His love in Psalm 33? What is it about God’s love that you can count on, no matter how you’re feeling? How do see God’s love for His creation expanding your hope and trust in Him?

Thursday, Mar. 21 – Romans 6; Proverbs 9:1-6

Paul has shown that all of us are guilty before God. All of us – even Abraham – are acquitted of guilt and reconciled with God by the gracious gift of Jesus. This free gift of grace, received by faith, unearned by any obedience to the law, raises serious questions which Paul answers through the diatribe format of his letter. We’ve all been there, the subtle allure, the persistent urges, and the passionate desires; sin entices us in many ways. Then a thought enters our mind which we dare not acknowledge: “If I give in, I can always be forgiven.” Sound familiar? According to Paul, how does this way of thinking betray a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s grace in our lives? In your own words, explain how Paul illustrates the differences between our old life and new life using baptism, slavery, and marriage. In what ways do these three illustrations assure and encourage you in your struggle against sin?

An invitation to dinner is always welcomed in our house, until we get invitations to two different dinners, held at the same time. Then we have to decide which one to accept and which one to decline. With four kids, several factors influence our decision. Proverbs 9 presents the dilemma of deciding between two dinner invitations. But these are no ordinary dinners, nor ordinary hostesses. Which one you attend will largely determine your health, your wealth, and your happiness for the rest of your life. With the next three readings from Proverbs we’ll examine Lady Wisdom’s feast (vv. 1-6), along with the dinner conversation (vv. 7-12), then we’ll contrast this with Lady Folly’s feast (vv. 13-18). Briefly describe Lady Wisdom’s feast, invitation, guest, and benefits for sitting at her table. Do you think you’re among those specifically invited to Lady Wisdom’s dinner? Explain. Reflect on v. 6, what attitudes or habits do you have that might be classified as “simple”? Make this a matter of prayer and reflection, asking God to reveal godly wisdom to you that you might leave your simple ways.

Friday, Mar. 22 – Romans 7; Psalm 34

Romans 7 is an eye opening, behind the scenes exploration of Paul’s inner struggles to do good and avoid evil. For dramatic effect let’s repeat that; in vv. 14-25 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit in ways that only you and I could imagine, chronicles his inner conflict with sin. There is some debate about whether or not Paul is describing his life before becoming a believer in Christ, or after. For me it simply doesn’t matter, the struggle against sin is real. According to vv. 14-24a, overall why does Paul feel so wretched? Do you experience the struggle Paul discusses? If so, describe one specific experience you have had with this struggle. If not, explain why you think you do not experience it. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul ask. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” he exclaims. (vv. 24b-25a). Why is it important to realize that only Christ can rescue you from the power of sin?

From the superscription of Psalm 34, we learn this hymn originates from one of the darkest hours in David’s life when he, in desperation, feigned insanity (1 Samuel 21:10-22:5). When the details of David’s dire situation are compared to the jubilant praise of Psalm 34, its clear David found comfort from God’s presence in the midst of his personal struggle. Over and over again in Psalm 34, David invites people to experience and praise God’s goodness. As you read through these calls to praise God, select one or two that really speak to you today. Write them on a piece of paper and put them in a conspicuous place to remind you to seek after God in times of struggle. Additionally, share your findings with a friend either in person, in a card, a text, or share it with all on social media. Share what you read in Psalm 34 and how it helped you.

Week 11 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

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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?

Week 10 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan

ladies bible study

P. T. Barnum was fond of saying, “A sucker is born every minute.” From Solomon’s point of view, every one of us was born “simple,” that is gullible, credulous, naive. But while Barnum saw human’s gullibility as an opportunity for profit, the proverbs see the condition as a character weakness to be corrected. As we continue to work through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we’ll change things up a bit this week. Instead of only two readings from Proverbs we’ll have three. As you read through Proverbs 7 and the first part of 8, think about how the proverbs are a mirror that lets us see where and how we are naive but more than that, how they will set us on the road to wisdom. May God show you the way as your read His word this week.

Monday, Mar. 4 – Acts 21; Proverbs 7:1-5

Just as Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing He would die there (ref. Luke 9:21-22, 44, 51), so Paul went resolutely to the Holy City, prepared for the same fate (vv. 4, 13). His sole frame of mind was to deliver a financial gift for the Jerusalem church; the fruit of the genuine love and gratitude from Greek Gentile brethren to help solidify the bond of Christian love between Jews and Gentiles (ref. Romans 15:22-33). However, James and the elders want Paul to do more by participating in the Jewish rites of the Nazarite vow. Why did the James and the elders want Paul to share in the rights of the Nazarite vow? In their eyes, how would this act serve the furtherance of the gospel? What might have been some of Paul’s reasons for doing as these believers asked? (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 and Romans 14:13-15:3 may help shed some light on his possible motives.) What lessons does vv. 17-26 teach you about dealing with differences within the church and even the broader religious world today?

“My son, keep my words…” (v. 1). Growing up in the South it wasn’t too uncommon for my dad to say to me, “Now boy, you better listen to me.” While my father’s warning was not as eloquent as Solomon’s it got the point across; I better heed what I’m being told. Proverbs 7 is Solomon’s third warning against the temptation of adultery (ref. 5:1-23; 6:20-35) and it begins with the familiar refrain for the son the pay attention to the father’s wisdom. Think of a time when you didn’t listen to your parents warnings. How did that turn out? Why is it that teens and/or younger adults have such a hard time listening to wise counsel? As an older (and hopefully wiser) adult what can you do to better help a younger person avoid the temptations and pitfalls of life? Think of someone in your orbit whom you can help. Pray for them consistently and also pray for God to give you the right words to share with them.

Tuesday, Mar. 5 – Acts 22; Psalm 27

Paul’s attempt to smooth relations over between himself and fellow Jews in chapter 21 dramatically backfires when his detractors accuse him of defiling the temple. Enraged, an angry mob attacks and nearly kills Paul. Remarkably, he was able to quiet down the throng and give a defense of his conversion and mission to the Gentiles for Christ. Why did Paul’s statement in v. 21 make the Jews interrupt with rage? What might make people of your community, or country, react with fury to an evangelist or the gospel? What would you say in your country if you had a chance to give a defense as Paul did? What’s keeping you from saying them? Pray about it.

Many of the psalms begin with a lament and end in trust. However, Psalm 27 begins with trust, then sinks into a lament, and finally rises again to confidence in God. “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (vv. 13-14). Why does waiting for anything seem so unnatural in our on-demand, high–speed society? Explain if waiting on God is necessarily a passive thing, where we’re doing nothing? OR, what do you think God expects us to do while we wait for His perfect timing?

Wednesday, Mar. 6 – Acts 23; Proverbs 7:6-27

“The following night the Lord stood by [Paul] and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome” (v. 11). This is the fifth of six visions/appearances by the Lord Jesus that Paul receives in Acts (ref. 9:3-6; 16:9-10; 18:9-10; 22:17-18; 27:23-24), all coming at crucial points in his ministry. In this vision, the Lord encourages Paul (in spite of all that he’s endured and will endure) to live with confidence knowing that He will fulfill His purpose for Paul’s life. Think about God’s hand in your life. How have you seen Him work to protect and direct you toward His will? In what way(s) do you need to grow in humbly acknowledging God’s hand in your life? Share with a struggling friend how God has helped you. Pray with them for God’s blessings and direction in their life as well.

As previously stated, Proverbs 7 dramatizes the arguments against adultery Solomon advanced in two previous section (5:1-23; 6:20-35). Here he tells a story that vividly illustrates his point. In the margins of my wife’s Bible she has written, “You can substitute any sinful behavior into this passage.” Her statement is so true; men and women can be persuaded to do foolish things other than adultery. Following the logic of the seductress, give other examples of how someone could be persuaded to do something foolishly sinful. What can one do to avoid such temptations? What should one do if he/she falls into such folly? Are you afraid to face any sin in your life because you believe that God can’t or won’t forgive you? Enlist the aid of a spiritually minded friend to help you see God’s amazing grace for you. Pray about it.

Thursday, Mar. 7 – Acts 24; Psalm 28

For a tireless traveler like Paul being in custody must have been difficult. Even though he had some liberties and his friends could attend to his needs (ref. v. 23) Paul was on a mission to spread the good news of Jesus Christ; sitting still must have been excruciatingly hard. However on occasion, Felix the governor would discuss the gospel with Paul. What do you think were the truths about “righteousness, self-control, and judgment” (v. 25a) that Paul discoursed upon? Why do you think Felix responds to the gospel as he did (ref. v. 25b)? How should these truths affect your attitudes and actions? How are these relevant to the decisions currently facing you?

In Psalm 28, David cries for help amid the imminent treat of an evildoer. In the first five verses David prays for God’s aid. Then, without regard for his unchanged circumstances, shows his confidence in crisis by thanking God for His protection. “The Lord… is my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped” (v. 7a). What types of things do you need to be shielded from during a difficult trial? What difference(s) does it make to your situation when God acts as this shield? In what way(s) does the Lord’s shielding you engender trust?

Friday, Mar. 8 – Acts 25; Proverbs 8:1-11

“I appeal to Caesar!” (v. 11). One of the sacred rights of a Roman citizen was his ability to appeal his case to Caesar himself. For a third time in Acts we see Paul asserting the rights and privileges his Roman citizenship (ref. 16:37-38; 22:25-29; 23:27). Clearly, he uses his rights and privileges to protect himself and thus further the gospel. In America, we have tremendous freedoms not enjoyed by other believers around the world. Make a detailed list the various rights, privileges, and liberties you enjoy politically and socially as a Christian. In what ways are you using these blessings of freedom to further the cause of Christ? Research the political and social conditions other believers live under around the world. Record your findings. Take some time this weekend to specifically pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who live under difficult or oppressive political circumstances.

The next four readings from Proverbs all come from chapter 8. This chapter is an apology, or defense, of wisdom. The arguments of this section develops as follows. Wisdom would be every person’s guide (vv. 1-11). She is the key to success (vv. 12-21), the principle of creation (vv. 22-31), and the one essential necessity of life (vv. 32-36). In your own words, describe how wisdom is open to all any person willing to accept it. In what ways is instruction, knowledge and wisdom more precious than silver, gold, or jewels? Write vv. 10-11 on a note card and keep it for yourself as a reminder or mail it to a young person as encouragement to study the wisdom of God.