Day 335 – December 1, 2021
Scripture: Nehemiah 7, Acts 20
Acts 20:32 (TNIV)
32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Nehemiah 7:5 (TNIV)
5So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:
As we reflect on today’s reading, let us be built up and gathered in the name of Christ. We are unified in the word of Grace from God. It is his gift that unites us together.
Day 334 – November 30, 2021
Scripture: Nehemiah 6, Acts 19, Psalm 59
The wall project continues in Nehemiah, despite incredible opposition.
The tearing down of the wall between Jews and Gentiles continues in Acts, despite incredible opposition.
Nehemiah and Paul could both perhaps be heard saying, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”
Day 332-333 – November 28-29, 2021
Scriptures: Nehemiah 3-5, Psalm 122, Acts 17-18
We see God at work in both the Old and New Testament story. In Nehemiah, the wall is being built under duress. But Nehemiah is a man of great character, with great generosity. God protects and helps his people in the restoration of the wall surrounding Jerusalem. All credit and glory is given to God in this endeavor.
Paul’s mission goes well beyond the walls of Jerusalem, and now crosses into brand new territory. God’s message of Christ is going to places where they sense there is a god they are missing, but they are uncertain.
Paul masterfully teaches them that this God is in fact Jesus Christ. He is the risen Savior of the world.
The message continues to spread, and lives are transformed at the message of Christ as Lord and King.
Let’s have ears to hear this good news today.
And share it with others!
Scriptures: Nehemiah 1-2, Acts 16, Psalms 66
Nehemiah 2:4–5 (ESV)
4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.”
Acts 16:25 (ESV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
Psalm 66:20 (ESV)
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
God has not rejected our prayers. He did not reject the prayer of Nehemiah before the king. He heard the prayers and worship of Paul and Silas while they were in prison.
God is faithful.
Be encouraged today, to pray before speaking. Pray before singing! Pray before sleeping!
His love is true. He hears your prayers.
Day 330 – November 26, 2021
Scriptures: Amos 8-9, Acts 15
Amos 9:15 (ESV)
15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.
Acts 15:11 (ESV)
11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Acts 15:19–21 (ESV)
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
The judgement against Israel will eventually lead to their restoration. The vineyards will be restored. This is a symbolic reminder that God will continue his faithful relationship towards Israel.
When we read the New Testament, we are made aware that the Gospel is spreading far beyond Jerusalem, and Judea, but into surrounding regions. In Antioch, Gentiles are coming to believe in Jesus.
The struggle is now, how do these two distinctly different people live? Their guidance is that they ought to stay away from idols and sexual immorality. The instructions are a call to holiness for the new Gentile believers.
The good news is spreading for all. The glimmer of hope at the end of Amos is growing to a vineyard well beyond the walls of Jerusalem, and into the world over.
Day 329 – November 25, 2021
Scriptures: Amos 5-7, Acts 14
Amos 5:15 (ESV)
15 Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
In Amos, the hope is that the people of God will repent after hearing the word from Amos. There is an opportunity for them to still repent and God relent his punishment.
It’s a bit of an uphill battle as the hearts of the people have turned from God.
In the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, they witness to the people in Antioch. They have been surrounded by foreign gods, but God is calling them out of this. God has been at work in their life, whether they realized it or not. The rain fell and God has provided for them, despite their idolatry.
Today though, they will hear of the saving love of God in Jesus Christ. Will they turn?
In Amos, will the people of God turn?
In Acts, will those who are hearing the saving message of God, will they repent and turn toward life?
As we look at our own life, will we also turn back to our God?
Blessings, Happy Thanksgiving!
Day 328 – November 24, 2021
Scriptures: Amos 3-4, Acts 13
Amos 3:8 (ESV)
8 The lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken;
who can but prophesy?”
Acts 13:44 (ESV)
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Amos says to the Israelites, “God has spoken, so I must also speak.”
It is quite clearly the heart of Paul and Barnabas that have received a word from the Lord, and they too must speak. No matter the cost. And if the Jews reject it (which many of them have), they must take it to the gentiles.
When we hear from the Lord, we must also share it.
The Lord has spoken through his son, you must also share!
Day 327 – November 23, 2021
Scriptures; Amos 1-2, Psalm 142, Acts 12
Amos 2:3–4 (ESV)
3 I will cut off the ruler from its midst,
and will kill all its princes with him,”
says the Lord.
Judgment on Judah
4 Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Judah,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they have rejected the law of the Lord,
and have not kept his statutes,
but their lies have led them astray,
those after which their fathers walked.
Amos 1:3 (ESV)
3 Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Damascus,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they have threshed Gilead
with threshing sledges of iron.
Acts 12:24 (ESV)
24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.
Amos uses his opening rebuke of neighboring nations to get at the heart of the sin for the people of Israel. He uses a masterful trick in gaining hearers and sympathizers with anger over neighbors, only to turn the attention towards their own hearts.
They have not kept the law of the Lord.
Israel isn’t much better off in the days of Acts. But there is an incredible shift happening, obviously in light of Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. The Spirit of God is leading the church, and as a result, “the word of God increased and multiplied.”
Under the threat of death, God’s missionaries continue to take the word of God throughout the world.
May the word of God multiply today as well.
Day 326 – November 22, 2021
Scriptures: Joel 2-3, Acts 11
Acts 11:18 (ESV)
18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Joel looks forward to the Day of the Lord. It wasn’t too long ago in the book of Acts that Peter was preaching of the day that the Spirit of the Lord would come at Pentecost.
17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams; (Acts 2:17)
As the disciples are fleshing out the reality of the Spirit in their life,, they are discovering further the hope of the spread of this gospel to hurting world. God is doing something about the evil that has wreaked havoc on it since the Fall. God’s good news is spreading.
Gentiles, as a whole, were far from God. But now through the power of the Spirit, they are repenting and turning towards God. Greeks are being saved, through faith in Jesus Christ.
God has granted repentance that leads to life.
That’s our hope. Life in Jesus.
Day 325 – November 21, 2021
Scriptures: Joel 1, Acts 10
Lament and Joy.
There are two contrasting messages in our reading today. Joel laments the loss of crops and the trouble of exile. Joel will look forward to a better day, but as of this moment, there is grief and sorrow over the destruction of crops. They won’t be able to offer grain offerings and function properly in the temple or worship of God.
As we continue in the story of the book of Acts, the grain offering seems like a distant memory of function. There is no lament, rather joy appears as the message and hope of the Gospel continues to spread.
Cornelius, a God-fearing gentile, is welcomed into the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit. A vision of everything being made clean sets the trajectory of the church and message of the good news – this is for all people.
The good news is for you, me, and everyone. Let’s continue to share it and be encouraged to take it to those who may not feel like they have a place with us.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.