Experiencing the Devotional Readings
To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.
Oct. 27, 2014 Acts 28:7-10
“They gave us many gifts, and when we sailed, they put on board what we needed for the voyage” (v. 10, GNT). Doesn’t this describe how God provides for us? He has given each of us certain gifts, talents, and abilities to be used in His Kingdom on earth to do His work and give Him glory. Then, when we have a specific job to do, He provides what we need for the task at hand. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so He can give us the gifts and provide for our needs in a way that can be used to do His will. His ultimate provision for us was giving us His Son as a sacrificial atonement for our sins. God’s timing was perfect – “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 NIV). Our God is truly called Jehovah Jireh in Hebrew – God Who Provides. He provides for us spiritually, physically, and in every way! Let’s all thank the Lord for His perfect provision for us, and pray for the willingness to give back to Him in obedience and service.
Oct. 28, 2014 Acts 28:11-16
One of the ways God provides for us is the gift of fellowship with other believers. We enjoy fellowship at Bethany when we attend a Sunday School class, when we worship together, when we greet each other after a Sunday service, when we break bread together, when we serve in ministry together, when we pray for each other…..the list goes on and on. Like Paul, we are encouraged in our faith by our brothers and sisters in Christ and give thanks to the Lord for His love. As we speak to each other with the love of Christ, we will all grow in Him, and the body of Christ at Bethany will be built up in love (see Ephesians 4:15-16). This is true fellowship, as we abide in God the Father and His Son, and as we walk in His light and have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:3-4, 7). Ask the Lord for His blessing upon you as you reach out to others in fellowship and give them the gifts of encouragement and joy.
Oct. 29, 2014 Acts 28:17-20
Paul said that he was in chains because of his belief that the Messiah had already come. Indeed, by this time in Acts, Christ had come into the world, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, rose again, and ascended into Heaven. His work of redemption was finished (John 19:30). But, He will return, according to the two white robed men who told this to the disciples after Jesus was taken up into Heaven (Acts 1:10-11). Before that happens, the church – the body of Christ – will be raptured from the earth to meet Christ in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Many Bible scholars believe that, after this event, the seven year Tribulation period will begin, when the Antichrist will rise to power. The end of the Tribulation will be marked by the battle of Armageddon, when the Antichrist will amass a great army against our Lord (Revelation 19:19). Christ Himself will return (the Second Coming – Revelation 19:11-16) and defeat the Antichrist and his army (Revelation 19:20-21)! After this, Christ will rule for a thousand years on earth (His millennial reign – Revelation 20:4-6). Because our Lord will return, we should step up our efforts to share the Gospel with anyone who will give us an ear, because we don’t know when any of these events will occur. Dear Lord, make us bold so we can willingly share Your Gospel of salvation with a lost world. We thank You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Oct. 30, 2014 Acts 28:21-27
Eyes, ears, hearts. Seeing, hearing, understanding. According to Isaiah 6:9-10, the passage which Paul quoted to the Jews who came to meet with him, they could not believe because they have unseeing eyes, inattentive ears, and misunderstanding hearts. This begs the question – in what order must seeing, hearing, and understanding be spiritually restored so that a person can believe that Jesus is the Messiah and accept His payment for his or her sins? Jesus’ words may be the key to answering that question. In Matthew 11:2-6, we’re told that John the Baptist, from his prison cell, sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the promised Messiah or should they look for someone else. Jesus answered – “Go back and report to John what you hear and see” (v. 4 NIV), referring to His healings and the Good News He preaches. A person hears and sees first and then he or she takes the leap of faith and believes in the heart. Then, in John 10:37-38, in answer to those who wanted to stone Him, Jesus said “…believe the miracles that you may learn and understand”… (v. 38a NIV). When a miracle was witnessed in Jesus’ day, folks saw the miracle unfold before their eyes and heard any words spoken at the time. Jesus was telling these people to believe in their hearts based upon what they saw and heard. Ultimately, once folks see and hear with spiritual eyes and ears and then believe in their hearts, they are able to do what the Word of God says (James 1:22)! Let’s ask the Lord to help us to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and believe in our hearts with His Spirit.
Oct. 31, 2014 Acts 28:28-31
This is the final reading and devotion for the Book of Acts in 2014. During November and December we will be reading from the Book of Psalms (106-150). Chapter 1 of Acts opened with Jesus words to His disciples about the promised Holy Spirit (vv. 4-8), who would give them the power to be effective witnesses in the world for God. The last two verses in Acts, chapter 28, tell about how the power of the Holy Spirit was upon Paul. Still a prisoner, Paul “welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 30b-31a NLT). This essentially summed up Paul’s evangelistic style – he welcomed folks of any spiritual belief or unbelief and then boldly told them the truth about the Old Testament Scriptures and how the prophets pointed to Jesus as the promised Messiah. This same Holy Spirit gives us the power and boldness to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. We may not be a Paul, or Peter, or a Timothy, Silas, or Barnabas, but we can still reach out in God’s love as we trust in Jesus, love like Jesus, grow in Jesus, and bring others to Jesus! And, if we are willing to be His ambassadors in the world, He will, as He did for Paul, give us unhindered opportunities to share His Good News. Let’s all trust the Lord for a fresh anointing of His Holy Spirit so we can spread His love and mercy more boldly and effectively.
Nov. 1, 2014 Psalm 106
This Psalm recounts the Hebrews’ rebellion against God after He led them out of slavery in Egypt. Interestingly, the last group of Psalms, 107-150, are mainly prayers of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Isn’t that what we do? We sin and rebel, then confess, and finally return to God with praise and thankfulness. Speaking of sinning, this particular Psalm is a compendium of human failure to stay on that narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14). We forget God, substitute worldly things in His place, we grumble and complain (really against Him), and we disobey Him (either not doing what He wants us to do or doing what He does not want us to do). And then we wonder why He allows us to reap what we sew – because He loves us and is trying to direct us back to that narrow path. For our sakes, it’s a good thing He’s loving, merciful, and compassionate and slow to get angry (Psalm 86:15)! The Psalm ends with the acknowledgment that God pities us and listens to our cries and He relents because of His unfailing love. So the Psalmist asks the Lord to “save us” (v. 47a NLT) and he gives praise to Him “who lives from everlasting to everlasting” (v. 48a NLT). So, we better get our act together! Let’s all thank God for His longsuffering and patience with us and let’s commit to holy living for His sake.