What to Expect – Week 29

chuck taylors

Last week we got a brief synopsis of salvation – the basic high points. This week we’ll get to dive into Romans and the nitty-gritty of salvation a little more. We will celebrate that God is so good and loves us so much that we can have true salvation. He sent his Son to die for us! That’s pretty incredible.

Forgive me a small tangent – when I was a kid we only got play shoes twice a year unless something crazy happened. So one summer I got new white tennis shoes. My older brother and sister told me it wasn’t cool to have white shoes and that I needed to dirty them up, so I rolled them in the dirt. My mom was understandably furious! Why? Because you don’t take something new, clean, and great and roll it in the dirt.

This week we’ll learn something new about the gospel. We weren’t given this free, wonderful gift of salvation so that we could roll it in the dirt – aka – sin a bunch. We were given the free gift so we could grow closer to Christ and know and love him more.

What to Expect – Week 28

romans

This week in the New Testament, after a shipwreck and a little more evangelism by Paul, we move to the book of Romans. Romans is our first of Paul’s letters to read but was not his first to write, in fact, it was one of his later letters, probably written during his third missionary journey.

Though this won’t all happen in this week’s reading, you will find through your reading in Romans, that it is the most complete picture of God’s desire to be in relationship with humanity. There is also a deliberate path to salvation for all people. Some people even call it “The Romans Road”.

And though we definitely want you to read the entire letter, here are the components of “The Romans Road”:

What to Expect – Week 27

dominos

This week we finish 2 Kings and begin 1 Chronicles. The end of 2 Kings is the beginning of Judah’s exile. At this point, we’ve already seen Israel enter exile, but Judah held out a little longer.

Quickly, before we jump into the historical accounts of the Chronicles, let’s recap the highlights of what got us to the point of both the northern and southern kingdoms being in exile:

  • The Israelites demand a human king and reject God as their king.
  • Rehoboam, the 4th king of united Israel is unfair and unkind to his people so they refuse to follow him. The majority of the Israelites follow Jeroboam and form the kingdom of Israel.
  • Israel as much weaker as two kingdoms.
  • Twenty kings in a row of the northern kingdom of Israel are evil.
  • Twelve of the twenty kings of the southern kingdom of Judah are evil.
  • The Israelites of both kingdoms worship other gods and forsake their part of the covenant.

So as we read, this week, about God turning away from the Israelites, remember that he is not unkind and hateful. The Israelites turn their back on God over and over until he has no choice but to allow them to face their consequences.

Reading these consequences sure makes you think about your daily decisions, doesn’t it?

What to Expect – Week 26

difficult

It’s hard to be a faithful Christian in our society. We are bombarded by temptations and our culture does not lend itself to faithfulness. We are often teased for being prudes or are simply excluded because we might judge others.

Undoubtedly, this is difficult. However, this week, we will read about Paul and several of his companions who had a truly difficult road. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and more. He frequently faced outright opposition. And yet, he was determined to spread the gospel to anyone who would listen. He would even say what an honor it was to face persecution for the sake of Christ.

This week, as you read Acts, thank God for the challenges you face in being faithful. If you continually pursue Christ these will eventually prove to be strengthening.

What to Expect – Week 25

evangelism tracts

Though there’s always a lot to look forward to in a week’s reading, this week there is a special treat on Tuesday! If you want to be converted all over again, read Paul’s sermon in Acts, which he was surprisingly allowed to give in the synagogue. The apostles were under constant scrutiny and persecution at this time, yet Paul decides to lay out the entire story of our hope for salvation.

This sermon is so powerful and convincing, it makes me think, what was it for you that convinced you to accept Christ as your Savior? Was it a lightning strike moment or a slow process where you finally made a decision? Was it a certain phrase? A song? An experience?

Read Tuesday’s Acts reading and remember your decision for Christ all over again.

What to Expect – Week 24

american dream

In this week’s 1 Kings readings, Solomon is our main character. Solomon, a son of David, was the third king of Israel. He was not David’s oldest son and his rise to power was definitely challenged, but ultimately he received the throne.

Solomon was known for his wisdom and wealth and his reign started out great! He built God’s temple, which we’ll see finished today. He made wise judgments and is credited with writing Proverbs and Song of Solomon.

Unfortunately, Solomon was a man who liked things…and money…and women…and ultimately, his desires were his downfall. This week you’ll read about Solomon’s triumphs and tragedies. Solomon, probably more than any other biblical character, depicts the tension between American values and those of God. We can learn so much from him, we just have to be open to reading and hearing it.

What to Expect – Week 23

mufasa scar

This week we start a new book: 1 Kings. In this book, we’ll learn a lot of “what not to do’s”. Unfortunately, Solomon starts a line of numerous bad kings. But don’t lose hope! There are a few good guys sprinkled in here and there. Throughout 1 & 2 Kings, be sure to note the attributes that make a good king and those that make a bad one.

We also just started another new book: Acts. Acts directly follows the gospels and is the story of what Jesus’ disciples did just after his death, resurrection, and ascension.

In today’s reading, we find out what the earliest church looked like. When you look at the way they served and interacted with the church, how similarly does it look to your church participation? How could you better emulate the way they lived out their faith?

It’s also amazing how active and effective their faith was. People are coming to faith left and right. Healings are happening where previously the disciples’ faith wasn’t strong enough. Overall, it’s a faith extravaganza!

Use this week to be inspired and moved by the faith and action of the disciples. What’s one thing you could do this week to connect your faith to that of a first century believer?

What to Expect – Week 22

cast of characters

Some of the stories in this week’s reading from 2 Samuel can be a little confusing. There are a lot of names and many of them are somewhat similar. To help the story move along so you can understand the meaning a little bit better, here’s a bit of a cheat sheet:

  • Abiathar – high priest and the last of Eli’s line
  • Abishai – one of David’s most fearsome warriors
  • Absalom – David’s son
  • Ahithophel – a well respected, though not particularly loyal, counselor to David and others
  • Amnon – David’s first son, Tamar’s half-brother
  • Hushai – one of David’s workers pretending to work for Absalom
  • Ittai – a leader of the Gittite people; fairly inconsequential over all
  • Joab – an official close to David; he is hasty and violent
  • Jonadab – Amnon’s friend and advisor, a sneaky guy; David’s nephew
  • Mephibosheth – Saul’s grandson
  • Shimei – a member of Saul’s house who originally curses David but eventually returns to him
  • Tamar – David’s daughter; Amnon’s half-sister
  • Zadok – a priest who assisted David in Absalom’s revolt
  • Ziba – originally a servant of Mephibosheth but moves to David’s side and is handsomely rewarded

As we closeout John and begin Acts, note the differences of what John includes. For instance, John includes Jesus’ powerful prayers for his disciples and even future believers. Pilate’s character has a different feel in John’s account. He seems much more pained and tormented to convict Jesus. And an additional disciple attends the trial with Peter unlike in any other gospel. What do you think John is trying to emphasize with the way he shares his account?

This week we’ll also finish Psalm 119! Be sure to note the Amy Grant reference – and don’t by shy. Go ahead and jam out to her tunes.

Happy reading! 5 months in the books! Incredible!!

What to Expect – Week 21

Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” should be David’s theme song. He was the 8th son, Saul tried to kill him multiple times, and this week, we’ll read about Saul’s death, which should have meant David’s reign would start without a hitch. But it didn’t. Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, causes a serious disruption, which almost leads to an early split of Israel.

It makes you wonder, what trials and difficulties you would face to fulfill what God had called you to?

Then, in our reading in John, we find one of Jesus’ most bold yet simple statements. In 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a statement that has been white-washed, sanitized, and shape-shifted in our culture until it has no meaning. For some reason, it has even become offensive. But why? It is not as if it is secretive. It’s not even exclusive. Instead, it is a clear if/then statement. If you want to get to the Father, you need to do so by way of Christ. If you don’t, that’s your choice. The context doesn’t suggest that he’s joking or speaking in hyperbole. Instead, it is clear and decisive. But don’t miss verses 1-3 just above it. They remind us that there’s plenty of room in God’s house. He wants us to take the way through Jesus, there’s space for you and me too.

This week, you can also look forward to spending most of your time in Psalm 119. It is the longest psalm, by far, but it is packed to the gills with great pieces of truth. Take, for instance, Thursday’s reading. Verse 37 asks God to turn our eyes from worthless things. Ugh, couldn’t we all stand to ask that!?!

So, now that you’re about to start your 6th month of reading, what have you enjoyed most? What’s one thing you learned for the first time?

We’ve already gotten through so much of the Bible and there’s so much great stuff left to go. Let’s keep moving towards the finish line. It’s well worth it!

What to Expect – Week 20

power transition

Transitions of power are often difficult. No one wants to lose power. Saul was no exception. He was God’s first chosen king to lead His people. He was anointed and appointed and blessed to do the job. He was also given specific instructions…and then disobeyed them. As we know, when God gives specific instructions, he expects people to follow them, specifically. For the rest of the week in 1 Samuel, we will read about the slow, painful, violent transition of power from Saul to David. Don’t worry though, the transition will take much longer than a week’s worth of reading – it’s that good and that intricate.

As you read, make notes of the contrasts between Saul and David. Saul looked much more royal on paper, but, as we’ll read, God doesn’t look at outward appearances. He looks at the heart.

This week, in John, we’ll read a few more of Jesus’ “I am” statements that we wanted to watch out for in John. A couple of them come in a description of Jesus and people compared to sheep and a shepherd. He makes so many comparisons and pulls out so many details, that you might get lost, but I encourage you to focus in on at least one. I suggest thinking a lot about how sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Do you know God’s voice? If not, how can you get to know it? If so, are you listening?

The Psalms and Proverbs continue to run us through a range of emotions and opportunities to gain wisdom. You won’t want to miss them. Don’t worry, the ever-popular theme of Proverbs to take your time on actions and decisions pops up again. I think God means it.

So, happy reading! Take time to learn God’s voice through Scripture. You’re doing great! Keep it up!!