Week of February 17 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Romans 10:9

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

Day 1 Read: Romans 10:5-9

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Reflect: What was the righteousness Moses wrote about based on? What is the promise of righteousness based on faith?

Consider: The material Paul quoted in Romans 10:6–8 is taken somewhat freely from Deuteronomy 30:12–14 with clauses quoted here and there. The material in Deuteronomy was part of Moses’ charge to the generation of Israel about to enter the land of Canaan. This exhortation was the conclusion of Moses’ prophetic description of God’s dealing with Israel. Blessing was promised for faith and obedience, and chastisement would result from rejection and disobedience. If Israel forsook God, Moses said, she would face worldwide dispersion and affliction. When the people then finally do turn to God in faith, He will restore them to blessing, prosperity, and prominence among the nations (Deut. 30:1–10). The point of Moses’ exhortation (Deut. 30:11) is that the generation to whom he was speaking had the message (it was very near you and in your mouth, Deut. 30:14) and could respond by faith (in your heart, Deut. 30:14) and walk with God in obedience.[1]

Respond: Why is confessing Jesus as Lord the foundation of Christian faith? How is Jesus Lord of your life? Are there areas where you are still trying to be lord?


[1] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 480.

 

Week of February 10 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Romans 9:30-10:4

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith;31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

10 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Reflect: How did Israel miss out on righteousness? What do you think Paul means when he writes that they pursued it “by law”?

Consider: The best way to learn theology is to watch the apostle Paul in action. Did he believe only a remnant of Israel had been saved? Yes (Rom. 9:27). Did he believe that prayer for Israel’s salvation was still his responsibility? Yes (Rom. 10:1). Paul’s constant ministry for the saved, as well as the unsaved, was a ministry of prayer (Rom. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:7; Eph. 1:15–23; 3:16–17; Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:3, 9–10; 1 Thess. 1:2–3; 2 Thess. 1:3, 11–12; 2 Tim. 1:3; Phlm. 1:4, 6). Likewise, he tried to inculcate his readers with the importance and urgency of prayer for all types of needs (Rom. 15:30–31; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:18–20; Col. 4:3–4; 1 Thess. 5:17, 25; 2 Thess. 3:1–2; 1 Tim. 2:1; 5:5). There was nothing in Paul’s doctrine of sovereignty, election, or predestination that could not, and should not, be touched by prayer.5

Respond: Why is the law a stumbling stone? Why is it tempting to try and be justified by law instead of faith? Why is it bad to attempt to “establish their own righteousness”?


5 Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 308.

 

Week of February 10 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:1-10

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker,  “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it,  “He has no understanding”?  

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.”So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.

Reflect: How is God seen in these passages? What is His purpose?

Consider: In Hebrew this is literally “the two stones.” The potter’s wheel consisted of two stones in the shape of disks. The lower stone was larger than the upper one, and the potter could spin it with his feet while working the clay on top of the smaller stone. If such a potter’s wheel is not known, translators can say “the wheel the potter turns to shape the [clay into] pots.” The second part of the verse could be “I saw the potter making pots on the wheel that turns to shape them.”4

Respond: In what ways are you resistant to the molding hands of the Father? What does the Jeremiah passage teach you about God’s sovereignty? Does that comfort you or make you uneasy? Is your answer influenced primarily by Scripture or personal feelings or experiences? How do you need to reconcile?


4 Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 420.

 

Week of February 10 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Romans 9:25-29

As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
    we would have been like Sodom
    and become like Gomorrah.” 

Reflect: Who did Paul quote to support His argument about God’s sovereignty?

Consider: Here Paul quoted Old Testament verses to support the fact that God in His sovereign choice and calling always includes a Jewish segment, though it is a minority. The passages quoted (Isa. 10:22–23 and 1:9, both from the LXX) make it clear that in God’s judgment on rebellious Israel He by sovereign choice preserves and saves a remnant. Those promises were fulfilled in the Captivity and Exile of both Israel and Judah and in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and will also be fulfilled in the national end-time deliverance of Israel (Rom. 11:26–27). Even today the same principle is true. Jews who become members of the church, the body of Christ, are what Paul later called “a remnant chosen by grace” (11:5), which included himself (11:1).3

Respond: What does it mean to say that God’s love is both exclusive and inclusive? Why should God’s sovereignty lead us to be grateful and thankful for the salvation that we stand to inherit from Him? Since God is just and merciful, His people should pursue these traits in their own lives. How are you pursuing both?


3 John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 479.

Week of February 10 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 2 Peter 3:8-10   

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  

Reflect: How can we reconcile the God we read about in this verse with the God Paul wrote about in Romans 9?

Consider: God delays the coming of Christ and the great day of fiery judgment because He is long-suffering and wants to give lost sinners the opportunity to be saved. “And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). God’s “delay” is actually an indication that He has a plan for this world and that He is working His plan. There should be no question in anybody’s mind whether God wants sinners to be saved. God “is not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).2

Respond: Why has God delayed Christ’s return even to this day? Why do you think some people refuse to repent and be saved in spite of God’s patience in delaying Christ’s return?


2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 465.

Week of February 10 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 

Day 1 Read: Romans 9:19-24

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Reflect: What is Paul addressing here? How does Paul answer his own question?

Consider: Human logic cannot harmonize divine sovereignty and human freedom, but both are clearly taught in Scripture. God’s sovereignty does not reduce humans to helpless automatons.[1]

Respond: What analogy did Paul use to explain God’s sovereignty over human lives and over salvation? What is the big point Paul is making with this analogy? How is God glorified both in salvation and in judgment? What do you learn about God through His sovereignty and justice that you don’t learn from other aspects of His character?


[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 202.

Week of February 3 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Genesis 15:18; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 31:31-34

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”  

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Reflect: What is the significance of each of these passages? What excuse could the Jews have, then, for missing Jesus as the Messiah?

Consider: The Old Testament covenant, as contrasted with our gospel covenant (Heb 8:8–12, where this prophecy is quoted to prove the abrogation of the law by the gospel), of which the distinguishing features are its securing by an adequate atonement the forgiveness of sins, and by the inworking of effectual grace ensuring permanent obedience. An earnest of this is given partially in the present eclectic or elect Church gathered out of Jews and Gentiles. But the promise here to Israel in the last days is national and universal, and effected by an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit (Je 31:33, 34; Ez 11:17–20), independent of any merit on their part (Ez 36:25–32; 37:1–28; 39:29; Joe 2:23–28; Zec 12:10; 2 Co 3:16).5

Respond: In what ways do we tend to miss the message of grace? Of the cross? Of God’s mercy? How does our missing the mark impact those around us?


5 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 539.

 

Week of February 3 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Exodus 19:6; Matthew 27:1

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”  

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.

Reflect: What was God’s original plan for Israel? What was the result? What happened during that time?

Consider: This proposal made by God (My covenant) would give Israel an exalted position among the nations in view of their acceptance of God’s righteous standards. If they accepted and obeyed the covenant stipulations, God promised to make them His treasured possession (cf. Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps. 135:4; Mal. 3:17). They would be His own people, highly valued by and related to Him. Also, they would become a kingdom of priests, that is, each member of the nation with God as his King would know and have access to Him and mediate on behalf of each other as did priests. Also, they would be a holy nation, a nation morally pure and dedicated entirely to the service of God. God redeemed Israel so that she might be in touch with and separated to Him.4

Respond: What can we as a church learn from this example? Individually? How do we guard against a similar plight?

4 John D. Hannah, “Exodus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 138.

Week of February 3 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Romans 9:4-5

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.  

Reflect: What advantages did the Jews have? What blessings are listed?

Consider: As Israelites, Paul’s ethnic forbearers had a heritage rich with spiritual blessings (v. 4). Paul listed seven historic prerogatives that God had given to Israel. The privileges of sonship belonged to them. God commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh that Israel was his “firstborn son” (Exod 4:22; cf. Hos 11:1). The splendor of the divine presence (the “shekinah of God”) accompanied them throughout their desert journeys (Exod 13:21; 16:7, 10). God had established covenants with them (Gen 15:18; Exod 19:5) and given them the law (Ps 147:19). The regulations for worship in the temple had been entrusted to them (Heb 9:1). Their sacred literature was rich with the promises of God (e.g., Gen 12:7; Isa 9:6–7). They were descendants of the great patriarchs whose moral authority and influence provided leadership for the Jewish tribes before they became a nation (Rom 9:5). And what’s more, it is from them that the human ancestry of Christ is traced (1:3).3

Respond: What similar blessings do we experience as the church? How should this impact who we are and how we function as a local body? What changes need to be made? How do you need to be a part of that change? In other words, what do you need to do beyond contemplating it during this time of devotion with God?


3 Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 196.

Week of February 3 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Romans 9:1-5 (focus on 3)

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that 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 kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.  

Reflect: What was Paul willing to sacrifice to see the Jewish people come to faith in Christ?

Consider: By repetition in positive and negative terms (internally attested by the witness of his own conscience [cf. comments on 2:15] in the presence of the Holy Spirit) Paul affirmed his deep anguish of heart over the rejection of the gospel by the vast majority of Jews. His desire for their salvation was so strong that he was at the point of wishing (imperf. tense, I could wish) that he were cursed and cut off from Christ for his kinsmen, the Israelites. 2

Respond: What would you be willing to sacrifice to see people come to know Jesus? What have you sacrificed in the past?


2 John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 476.

 

Week of February 3 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Exodus 19:6

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Day 1 Read: Romans 9:1-5

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that 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 kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Reflect: What is the source of Paul’s anguish? How does he express his deep concern for the people of Israel?

Consider: Paul is so struck at the end of chapter 8 with the powerful and protecting love of God—and the fact that most of Israel has not experienced that love making it seem as if God had not kept his promises to Israel—that his love for his nation bursts out in a display of brokenness that would shame most who claim to have a “burden for the lost.” Fearing it may appear that he has no concern for the lost condition of most Jews in light of God’s sovereign oversight of salvation, he confesses his sorrow and unceasing anguish over Israel’s spiritual condition. His concern is not sentimental, traditional, or fleshly—rather, it is a concern validated by the Holy Spirit. Paul demonstrates the valid role that the conscience can play in the spiritual life when it has been shaped and disciplined in spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:14).1

Respond: Who have you known who shared a similar anguish for a specific people group? How did that shape their life?


1 Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 278.

Week of January 27 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. 

Reflect: Why is it important that we examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s Supper? Read verse 29. What is the result of not taking the time to look at your own life before taking communion?

Consider: To avoid such serious offenses, every believer ought to examine himself. Christians must scrutinize their motives and actions to see that they match the significance of the Lord’s Supper. This self-examination is to take place before eating and drinking. The reason for taking time for self-examination is evident: He who participates without recognizing the body of the Lord brings divine judgment on himself. This verse does not say that the Lord’s Supper should be observed introspectively, with participants focusing mainly on their own hearts. Rather, Paul offered this instruction as a corrective for a specific problem. In general, the Lord’s Supper should be a time of celebration in which Christians focus on Christ’s honor, the church’s unity, and the proclamation of the gospel. The focus should be on others, not on oneself. It is only in the preparation for the Lord’s Supper that individuals must turn their attention inward. 5

Respond: Why do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a church family, and not as individuals? How does the Lord’s Supper encourage biblical community? Have you experienced this?


5 Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 202.

Week of January 27 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Matthew 26:26-28

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  

Reflect: What instructions does Jesus leave with his disciples? What does He declare about himself?

Consider: Verse 29 anticipates both Jesus’ departure and his return. He warns the disciples that he will not again be drinking (or eating or performing any other part of this Passover liturgy) in the immediate future, but he looks forward to rejoining them for the messianic banquet (recall the imagery of 22:1–14, and cf. Rev 19). The kingdom which is now inaugurated will then be consummated in all its fullness. Jesus’ words may suggest that he refused to drink the fourth and final cup of this particular meal. 4

Respond: Why did Jesus choose to institute this meal for believers during Passover? How is the Lord’s Supper different from the Passover? What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples?


4 Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 391.

Week of January 27 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  

Reflect: What do the bread and wine represent? What is their significance?

Consider: “You do show the Lord’s death” -- The word literally means, ye announce, or proclaim, with reference to the repetition of the actual words used by our Lord. It will be seen that St. Paul does not lend the smallest sanction to the “unfathomable superstition” of a material transubstantiation. “Till he come” --Accordingly the antiquity and unbroken continuance of this holy rite is one of the many strong external evidences of the truth of the gospel history. The ἂν is omitted in the Greek, to indicate the certainty of Christ’s coming. The same Greek idiom is hopefully and tenderly used in Gal. 4:19.3

Respond:  What do relationships with other believers communicate to the world about our relationships with Christ? Paul mentions that when we partake in the Lord’s Supper we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (v. 26). What do you think Paul meant by this?


3 H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., 1 Corinthians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 365.

Week of January 27 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:20-22

When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Reflect: According to Paul, in what ways were the Corinthians missing the mark when they observed the Lord’s Supper? What effect did this have on the unity of the church?

Consider: The Corinthians thought they were advanced believers, when in reality they were but little children. Paul did not suggest that they abandon the feast, but rather that they restore its proper meaning. “Let the rich eat at home if they are hungry. When you abuse believers who are less fortunate than you are, then you are actually despising the church!” The “agape feast” should have been an opportunity for edification, but they were using it as a time for embarrassment. 2

Respond: As followers of Jesus, why is our unity and commitment to the body so important? How have you experienced this personally?


2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 605.

Week of January 27 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: 1 Corinthians 11:26

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Day 1 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:17-19

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Reflect: What issue does Paul address in these verses? How is he certain of his accusation?

Consider: The church was divided at a celebration which was meant to express unity (cf. 10:17). If these divisions (schismata; 1:10; 12:25) were related to those noted earlier (1:10–4:21), then one factor contributing to those divisions is evident here, namely, economic differences in the church (11:21). Paul did not want to believe the report about their divisions (v. 18b), but he knew that sin was inevitable and would not pass unnoticed by God. God’s approval (dokimoi) resumed a point Paul had discussed earlier (1 Cor. 9:27–10:10), where he used in 9:27 the contrasting word “disqualified” (adokimos).1

Respond: What divisions are present in our church today? On what are those divisions based? In what ways do you contribute to those divisions? In what ways do you help break down division?


1 David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 530–531.

Week of January 20 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Acts 2:42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reflect: What do these verses about the health of the early church teach you about the idea, “People Matter”? How should that be expressed within the church?

Consider: The believers continued to use the temple for their place of assembly and ministry, but they also met in various homes. The 3,000 new converts needed instruction in the Word and fellowship with God’s people if they were to grow and become effective witnesses. The early church did more than make converts; they also made disciples (Matt. 28:19–20).5

Respond: In what ways have you been challenged to demonstrate “People Matter” in your own life? What plans are you making to carry that out? Share your thoughts with someone this week so that you will have accountability.


5 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 410–411.

 

Week of January 20 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Colossians 1:15-23

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Reflect: What do you learn about Jesus in this passage? How do you fit in to the story of Jesus?

Consider: Jesus is the image of God. The word for image was used in Paul’s time for likenesses placed on coins, portraits, and for statues. It carries the idea of correspondence to the original. It is the nearest equivalent in ancient Greek to our modern photograph. Jesus is the perfect representation of God. This verse and others (John 1:18; 1 Tim. 1:17) tell us that God is invisible. J. B. Phillips translates verse 15, “Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.4

Respond: How does Jesus’ being before, being in, and being first bear significance upon your life? What does it mean for Jesus to have first place in your life?


4 Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 283.

 

Week of January 20 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Jeremiah 1:4-10

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Reflect: What do we learn about “calling” from this verse? What impact do you think this verse had in Jeremiah’s life personally?

Consider: His protest against God’s call reminds of Moses’ (Exod. 4:1–17) and Gideon’s (Judg. 6:15), though they all give different reasons. The objection of his youth is overruled by God’s reply that he has intended to call him since before he was born. Jeremiah’s life from the beginning is bound up with God’s plan for many nations (vv. 4–8). God assures Jeremiah that he has given him authority to declare what God plans to do.3

Respond: When has it been clear in your own life that God was calling you to a task? What are some of the obstacles that get in the way of believers living out their calling? How does this all mesh with the knowledge that you are fearfully and wonderfully made?


3 Gordon McConville, Exploring the Old Testament: The Prophets, vol. 4 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2002), 52.

Week of January 20 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Reflect: Look at verses 13-16. What does it mean to be “fearfully and wonderfully made?” How do these verses confirm the linking of our identity to God as Creator?

Consider: The theme of verses 13–18 is announced here: the Lord (You is emphatic in Heb.; cf. v. 2) created him in his mother’s womb. The language is figurative in that creating and knitting describe God’s sovereign superintendence over the natural process of reproduction (on knitting; cf. Job 10:11). This fact prompted the psalmist to break forth in praise over the thought of how marvelously he had been made. Even David’s rudimentary knowledge of the marvels of the human body led him to be in awe and wonder. The words wonderfully and wonderful are mindful of God’s marvelous knowledge (Ps. 139:6).2

Respond: Read Genesis 1:27. How does being fearfully and wonderfully made relate to being made in the image of God? What does this verse along with Psalm 139 teach us about the value of human life?


2 Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 892.