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Bethany Bible Reading

Week of January 2

 

Monday January 3    Acts 12


Acts 12 begins and ends with Herod, and this also ends the first section of Acts.  Herod was powerful, his treachery well known, but Herod could not stop the Gospel from spreading. Herod was struck dead by God, and now Luke will turn to the spread of the Gospel “to the ends of the earth,” the focus will move from the region of Herod to the land of Caesar.

Luke gives us some details that are easily skipped over, the people were praying in the home of John Mark, the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested, the young man who will travel with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, the young man who will write a Gospel as told by Peter.   An angel of God delivered Peter from prison, yet Herod was so ruthless he executed the guards.  James was already executed, note this is James the brother of John, whenever we read about James going forward it will be James the brother of Jesus, the son of Mary. 

The Gospel went forward in the power of the Holy Spirit, Herod was not able to stop it, the leaders of the Jews were not able to stop it, and we will soon see that Caesar is not able to stop it.  Take comfort in that today, live in such a way that the world will know Jesus is Lord.

 

Tuesday January 4   Acts 13

It is estimated there were at least eight cities named Antioch during Bible times, they were named after a terrible self-centered ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes.  With the first visit of Paul and Barnabas to Pisidian Antioch, in the center of modern-day Turkey, we see the pattern they used for spreading the Gospel.  They always went first to the synagogue, to the people who were looking for the coming of the Messiah.  In the synagogue Paul retold the story of Israel with the hope of the coming of the Messiah, he showed them how to read prophecies concerning Jesus and then told them of his death and resurrection.  In this chapter we see how Paul connects what is happening right there to the promise and call of Abraham, that the gospel will be spread to the Gentiles, that they were called to be a light to the Gentiles.  The Gentiles celebrated this, many of the Jews understood it, but some of the Jews rejected it.  This will be the pattern for a few chapters in Acts, the first converts were all Jews from the synagogue, the first antagonists were Jews who were unwilling to change, and the method was a teaching from what we call the Old Testament.  This was surely a time of great joy and a time of struggle, the Gospel message has some elements that challenged what the people had always believed, what they hoped for in the coming Messiah.  We can learn from that, maybe there are still things we assume we have right, but the Holy Spirit has something better for us.

 

Wednesday January 5   Acts 14

Paul and Barnabbas took the message of salvation through Jesus to the Jewish synagogues in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  Understandably, there were Jews in those synagogues who just could not believe that a man from Nazareth was really the Son of God.  These people did not believe and did not want anyone else to believe either, so they made life difficult for Paul and Barnabbas.

Something interesting happened in Lystra, after Paul healed a lame man, the people identified Paul and Barnabbas as Zeus and Hermes.  Why?  There was a well-known story from ancient Greece that took place near Lystra.  In this story, Zeus and Hermes came down from Mt. Olympus to see how the people were worshipping them.  While in the area near Lystra they were continually turned away by the people, by all except one elderly couple.  The gods where so angry with these people that they destroyed the village with a flood sparing only the elderly couple.  The elderly couple lived as caretakers of the local temple until the day they died, both at the same time, being turned into a tree.  When Paul healed the lame man, the people remembered the story and wanted to worship them as gods.  Just as interesting is that they wanted to worship Paul and Barnabbas at one point and then were convinced to try and kill them soon after.  What we will see is that Paul and Barnabbas were to change their delivery from this point on, up until Lystra they always went to the synagogue and then tried to convince the people from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.  Now in the Greek world where the people did not know Moses or the Prophets, they would begin with something more familiar to the local people.  There is a lesson here for us.  For most of our lives we were able to appeal to the Scriptures when sharing our faith with an unbeliever, that is no longer possible as most Americans do not know the Bible.  Paul often appealed to what we call General Revelation, what should we use?

 

Thursday  January 6   Acts 15

Acts 15 records the first synod of the young Christian church.  We just read how the Jews tried to counter the teachings of Paul when he was traveling through Asia Minor, when he returned to Jerusalem some of them followed him there to object to his teaching.  The question of this synod was “how Jewish does a Gentile convert need to become?  We will note that after all the discussion, James, the brother of Jesus mentions four requirements for these converts.  These were four things that were very common in the pagan temples, the question was not what were they doing, but where were they doing it?  The converts needed to leave paganism behind, fully and completely.  This is what the apostles said, what is very interesting is what they did not say.  They did not say the converts needed to be circumcised, they did not say the converts needed to follow kosher law when eating, and they did not say the converts needed to keep the Jewish Sabbath.  We will soon see that this decision was troubling for many Jews raised in the Jewish faith, these requirements that were not stipulated, had always been central to what made one a Jew.  Paul was not risking his life to make people Jewish; he was risking his life to make them disciples of Jesus.  One cannot be a disciple of Jesus and continue following pagan customs, one can become a follower of Jesus without becoming Jewish.  What requirements would you give a convert to Christianity?  Would you try to make them follow the rules of your culture or simply follow Jesus?

 

Friday January 7   Acts 16

The Jerusalem council did not require Gentile converts to be circumcised, but Paul circumcised Timothy! Why?  Paul never wanted to offend anyone needlessly, and Timothy’s mother was a Jew, so Paul circumcised this young Jew so he would not upset the Jews.  Do you ever wonder how the Holy Spirit made it clear Paul was not to continue to bring the Gospel to Asia?  I do.  He was very convinced the Holy Spirit wanted him to go to the Greek world, so Paul traveled to Philippi and attended a prayer meeting by the river.  Notice two things, first, Paul did not go to the synagogue, likely there was no synagogue, and notice the author of Acts is now using the pronouns “we” and “us” as he is writing in the first person. 

We will also notice that opposition to the Gospel is now coming from people other than Jews, in Philippi it was people who lost their means of making money.  Paul will learn quickly that one line he should not cross is the line into someone’s economic gain.  Some things just do not change, that is still a line that is dangerous to cross.

 

Saturday January 8   Acts 17

There was a synagogue in Thessalonica, far away from the land of Israel.  Why?  Remember when Israel fell to the Assyrians, they spread the Jews all over the known world.  Many of them stayed in their new homes, building houses and synagogues, and continuing to worship God.  Paul and Silas did not fair well in Thessalonica so they escaped to Berea.  We cannot help but smile when Luke added “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Jews in Thessalonica.”  The people from Thessalonica were serious in trying to disrupt the spread of the Gospel, they even followed Paul to Berea making is necessary for him to leave there.

In Athens we see that Paul now knew how to relate to his audience, rather than quote from the prophets he mentioned the Greek poets, rather than appeal to the Jewish Scriptures he appealed to creation.  Paul noted the altar to the unknown god and used this to get the attention of the people and bring them the Gospel.  At the end of the chapter we see the reaction of the people to the story of the resurrection, this caused some to believe and some to turn away.  That is how it always is with the resurrection of Jesus, it is either a stumbling block to faith or a stepping stone to belief.


PS:  Tomorrow Pastor Walcott will be retiring from Bethany CRC and no longer posting devotions to the Bethany website.  If you would like to continue to receive these devotions as we work through the Bible send an email to:  danwalcott@gmail.com  asking to be added to the e-mail list.

 

Bethany Bible Reading Plan (year three)

Beginning September 6, 2021

 

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9/5

Matthew 1

Matthew 2

Matthew 3

Matthew 4

Matthew 5:1-16

Matthew 5:17-48

9/12

Matthew 6:1-18

Matthew 6:19-34

Matthew 7

Matthew 8

Matthew 9

Matthew 10

9/19

Matthew 11

Matthew 12

Matthew 13

Matthew 14

Matthew 15

Matthew 16

9/26

Matthew 17

Matthew 18

Matthew 19

Matthew 20

Matthew 21

Matthew 22

10/3

Matthew 23

Matthew 24

Matthew 25

Matthew 26

Matthew 27

Matthew 28

10/10

Mark 1

Mark 2

Mark 3

Mark 4

Mark 5

Mark 6

10/17

Mark 7

Mark 8

Mark 9

Mark 10

Mark 11

Mark 12

10/24

Mark 13

Mark 14

Mark 15

Mark 16

Luke 1

Luke 2

10/31

Luke 3

Luke 4

Luke 5

Luke 6

Luke 7

Luke 8

11/7

Luke 9

Luke 10

Luke 11

Luke 12

Luke 13

Luke 14

11/14

Luke 15

Luke 16

Luke 17

Luke 18

Luke 19

Luke 20

11/21

Luke 21

Luke 22

Luke 23

Luke 24

John 1

John 2

11/28

John 3

John 4

John 5

John 6

John 7

John 8

12/5

John 9

John 10

John 11

John 12

John 13

John 14

12/12

John 15

John 16

John 17

John 18

John 19

John 20

12/19

John 21

Acts 1

Acts 2

Acts 3

Acts 4

Acts 5

12/26

Acts 6

Acts 7

Acts 8

Acts 9

Acts 10

Acts 11

1/2

Acts 12

Acts 13

Acts 14

Acts 15

Acts 16

Acts 17

1/9

Acts 18

Acts 19

Acts 20

Acts 21

Acts 22

Acts 23

1/16

Acts 24

Acts 25

Acts 26

Acts 27

Acts 28

Romans 1

1/23

Romans 2

Romans 3

Romans 4

Romans 5

Romans 6

Romans 7

1/30

Romans 8

Romans 9

Romans 10

Romans 11

Romans 12

Romans 13

2/6

Romans 14

Romans 15

Romans 16

1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 3

2/13

1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 7

1 Corinthians 8

1 Corinthians 9

2/20

1 Corinthians 10

1 Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 15

2/27

1 Corinthians 16

2 Corinthians 1

2 Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 5

3/6

2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 8

2 Corinthians 9

2 Corinthians 10

2 Corinthians 11

3/13

2 Corinthians 12

2 Corinthians 13

Galatians 1

Galatians 2

Galatians 3

Galatians 4

3/20

Galatians 5

Galatians 6

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 4

3/27

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 6

Philippians 1

Philippians 2

Philippians 3

Philippians 4

4/3

Colossians 1

Colossians 2

Colossians 3

Colossians 4

I Thessalonians 1

I Thessalonians 2

4/10

I Thessalonians 3

I Thessalonians 4

I Thessalonians 5

2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 3

4/17

1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 5

1 Timothy 6

4/24

2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 2

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 4

Titus 1

Titus 2

5/1

Titus 3

Philemon

Hebrews 1

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 3

Hebrews 4

5/8

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 8

Hebrews 9

Hebrews 10

5/15

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 13

James 1

James 2

James 3

5/22

James 4

James 5

1 Peter 1

1 Peter 2

1 Peter 3

1 Peter 4

5/29

1 Peter 5

2 Peter 1

2 Peter 2

2 Peter 3

1 John 1

1 John 2

6/5

1 John 3

1 John 4

1 John 5

2 John

3 John

Jude

6/12

Revelation 1

Revelation 2

Revelation 3

Revelation 4

Revelation 5

Revelation 6

6/19

Revelation 7

Revelation 8

Revelation 9

Revelation 10

Revelation 11

Revelation 12

6/26

Revelation 13

Revelation 14

Revelation 15

Revelation 16

Revelation 17

Revelation 18

7/3

Revelation 19

Revelation 20

Revelation 21

Revelation 22