Week of June 16 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. 

Reflect: What are some worldly voices in which you tend to take delight (i.e., think about media you enjoy, cultural philosophies that pique your interest, and people you want to please)? For an effective prayer life, why is it impossible to equally treasure those worldly voices and God’s Word?

Pray:  Spend time confessing the worldly pursuits that occupy your mind and influence how you think, live and treat others. Seek God for things that would honor him in place of those worldly pursuits. Pray specifically that He would grow your desire to know Him through His Word.

Week of June 16 - Day 1

Our Devos format will change for the summer. As we study prayer, you will be encouraged to read and pray daily. You are encouraged to take notes of thoughts God brings to mind as you pray, or to write out prayers to Him.

Day 1 Read: John 15:7

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Reflect: How do you typically approach the study of God’s word? Is it something you do out of obligation? Is increasing knowledge your primary goal? Do you see it as having intimate time with the creator of the universe?

Pray: Pray that you would learn how to abide in God. Pray the promise of John 15:7 for your life today.

Week of June 9 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: James 5:17-18

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.  

Reflect: Sometimes we think those we read about in the Bible as being more superior in prayer than we are. How does this passage in James refute that idea?

What big things in your life have you failed to pray for? What big things for our church have you failed to pray for?

Pray:

  • ·         Troy is praying for 50 new families to become a part of our church family as a result of VBS. Additionally, he is praying for 50 children to come to faith in Christ along with 100 adults. Join him in that prayer.

  • ·         Clay is praying for 100% of our adults to have one or two discipleship partners. Pray for that level of involvement and for your discipling partner(s).

  • ·         Jordan is praying that at least two students from each New Student Conference he attends will invest here at FBC. Additionally, he is praying to personally connect with over 700 students who will attend Impact Camp in August. Will you pray specifically for these requests?

  • ·         Josh is praying that students who attend camp this week will have a deeper understanding of community and trust that will extend beyond church. Pray for that trust to build this week while they are at camp.

Week of June 9 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Hebrews 11       

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 

Reflect: Read the definition of faith offered in verse one, then take note of the specific actions of faith mentioned throughout the chapter that demonstrated assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.

 Pray: Consider moments in your life where you have needed to exercise faith. As you look at your life today, where do you need to demonstrate faith? Pray through each situation today in faith, believing God will hear your pray and answer.

Week of June 9 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 1 Kings 18:30-39

 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. 36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 

Reflect: What is significant to you about Elijah’s prayer?

How important was Elijah’s faith in asking God to act against Baal?

 Pray: Think back on your spiritual journey. What is one moment that stands out to you when you proclaimed with confidence, “The Lord, He is God”? Thank God for that moment and others. Identify how God has demonstrated his power in your life recently and offer thanks.

 

Week of June 9 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 1 Kings 18:22-29

Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men.23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.  

Reflect: What do you learn about Elijah from these verses? What message was God sending to the people that day on Mount Carmel?

Pray:  What are some examples of situations that may require you to stand for the Lord against opposition? What prepares you to take a courageous stand? What promises are given to the believer? Consider areas of your life where you are facing opposition. Take these to God in prayer. Ask Him for power to remain bold. Trust in His strength, and confess when you have tried to stand on your own.

 

Week of June 9 - Day 1

Our Devos format will change for the summer. As we study prayer, you will be encouraged to read and pray daily. You are encouraged to take notes of thoughts God brings to mind as you pray, or to write out prayers to Him.

Day 1 Read: 1 Kings 18:16-21

So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.” 20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 

Reflect: What was Elijah’s charge against the people? Why did the people need to decide whether the Lord or Baal was God? Why don’t the people say anything in response to Elijah (v. 21)? What attitudes could account for their silence?

Pray: Hesitating between two opinions is often a convenient way of delaying our submission to God. In what ways might our hesitation to give God our worship alert us to hidden idolatries in our life? Pray today for boldness in your life declaring He is God over:

  • ·         Thoughts

  • ·         Circumstances

  • ·         Finances

  • ·         Relationships

  • ·         Work

Week of June 2 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  

Reflect: This passage is well-known for being the “armor of God” passage, however, what is often overlooked is Paul’s exhortation at the end. What additional qualifiers does Paul add in this letter to his command to pray at all times? Why is it important for Christ followers to be alert?

Pray: Pray through the armor passage, asking God to equip you today in each of these areas. Ask God to keep you alert today in order that you might be faithful in praying for those in need. Make a list of people God brought to mind as you encountered them.

Week of June 2 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   

Reflect: What are Paul’s instructions for the church?

What does it mean to “rejoice”? In what situations do you find it difficult to rejoice?

How does one pray without ceasing?

What areas of your life do you take for granted and fail to give thanks to God?

Pray: As you talk with God, consider these three instructions from Paul. Consider your circumstances and how God wants you to rejoice in Him and give Him thanks.

Week of June 2 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Luke 11:1-4

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
    for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” 

Reflect: What was the disciples’ request of Jesus? How did He respond? What “elements” are found in his prayer?

Pray: Ask God to teach you over the next nine weeks how you can become a person of prayer. Ask Him to show you the changes you need to make in your life in order to grow in that area.

Week of June 2 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Mark 11:15-19; Isaiah 56:7

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.  

these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”

Reflect: How did Jesus respond to the scene when He arrived at the temple? What did he say to those with whom He was angry?

Jesus’ issue centered on priorities. The temple was intended for a certain purpose and the people had turned it into something else.

Consider what takes priority in your life. What do you do without fail day after day? How do you spend your free time? What do your priorities look like, and where does prayer fit into your schedule?

Pray:  Lay your daily routine before God. Confess where you have squeezed Him out of your life and replaced Him with something unworthy. Confess your reasons for failing to spend more time with God in prayer.

Week of June 2 - Day 1

Our Devos format will change for the next few weeks. As we study prayer, you will be encouraged to read and pray daily.

Day 1 Read: Daniel 6:1-11

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.  

Reflect: What was the goal of the high officials and satraps? How did they manage to eventually achieve their goal? What was Daniel’s response to their action?

What does it mean to be desperate? How was Daniel in a desperate situation?

Pray: Consider situations in your life that are beyond your control or leave you feeling uneasy. Take these to God. Do you feel helpless? Take that to God. Remember 1 Peter 5:7, “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

Week of May 26 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Revelation 2:5-7

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’  

Reflect: How could the church restore their love for God? What do we learn from this church’s example?

Consider: The Nicolaitans. From νικᾶν to conquer, and λαός the people. There are two principal explanations of the term. The first and better one historical. A sect springing, according to credible tradition, from Nicholas a proselyte of Antioch, one of the seven deacons of Jerusalem (Acts 6:5), who apostatized from the truth, and became the founder of an Antinomian Gnostic sect. They appear to have been characterized by sensuality, seducing Christians to participate in the idolatrous feasts of pagans, and to unchastity. Hence they are denoted by the names of Balaam and Jezebel, two leading agents of moral contamination under the Old Testament dispensation.5

Respond: Read 1 Peter 1:2-7. How does this text help us understand the seriousness of letting our love for God diminish? What instruction does Peter give that will help us know if we have lost our first love? In Revelation 2:7, Jesus calls us to hear and obey His warning to the church at Ephesus. What is the reward for those who hear and obey Him? How does this reward change the way you live today?


5 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 439.

 

Week of May 26 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Revelation 2:4

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  

Reflect: What was the church’s main problem? How might its strengths have been the cause of its failure?

Consider: The speculation of the present commentator is that the reference is probably to a loss of love for Christ. How, someone may ask, could a church as perfect as that of Ephesus possibly fail to love Christ or God appropriately? But to ask the question is almost to answer it. What is in view in the church of Ephesus is a question of motivation and priority. Certainly, one can do all the right things and yet do them for an inadequate or ignoble reason. One can even do the right things for some of the right reasons but fail in the service of the Lord in terms of the noblest reasoning. Perhaps Ephesus had succeeded well in many areas, but the maintenance of that success had become more important than the motivation for service—namely, the love for Christ.[1]

Respond: In what ways have you lost your first love for Christ? How has that loss impacted your relationship with Him? Your other relationships? Your day-to-day life? When our relationships with God and others becomes about duty, rather than love, what are some of the consequences?

[1] Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 85–86.

 

Week of May 26 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Revelation 2:1-3

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 

Reflect: What good things did Jesus say characterized the church at Ephesus in his letter? Why are each of these traits important for a church to model?[1]

Consider: These evil men include all kinds of people, men and women alike, whom the (true) believers in Ephesus could not tolerate, and of whom the “false apostles” are a specific example. It is not possible to identify them with certainty. Most commentators take them to be the same as the Nicolaitans in verse 6 (see also 2:14, and verses 20–24) and identify them as teachers, in or out of the churches, who were spreading false doctrines. Most languages are quite rich in words and expressions for “bad” people, and no particular caution is needed except to make sure that the term used refers to bad moral or spiritual qualities, not to shameful physical characteristics or disgraceful social behavior.

Respond: How well does our church exhibit the traits Jesus noted about the church at Ephesus? In what areas can we improve? How can you be involved in that change?


[1] Robert G. Bratcher and Howard Hatton, A Handbook on the Revelation to John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 40.

 

Week of May 26 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Ephesians 1:15-16

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,  

Reflect: What two things were the Ephesians commended for?

Consider: The complexity and magnitude of these truths is beyond the ability of us to comprehend or appreciate fully. Therefore, Paul follows the presentation of these truths with a prayer for our enlightenment. He prays generally that the believers might have a Spirit of wisdom and of revelation, so that [they] may know him better. Wisdom involves the practical ability to act on what one knows and believes. Revelation is God letting you experience himself and his truth. Paul referred to it here as guiding one into God’s truth and God’s way of life. For us it also involves God’s authoritative revelation in Scripture. Wisdom then becomes the practical ability to understand Scripture and apply its truth to daily living.[1]

Respond: How would you be commended for your faith? What evidence would others cite when commending you?

 


[1] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 93–94.

Week of May 26 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Revelation 2:4-5

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.   

Day 1 Read: Acts 19

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. 21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” 28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. 

Reflect: Where is Paul? What significant events take place while Paul is here?

Consider: Ephesus became Paul’s base of operation during his third missionary journey. Ephesus was the home of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple, according to its ruins, was 239’ wide and 418’ long, four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens! As a commercial center, Ephesus was the leading city of the province of Asia. Its present-day extensive ruins reveal the glory of its past. However, the Caÿster River silted its harbor full and the site was later abandoned. During Paul’s time the city was approaching its zenith.[1]

Respond: What cultural practices were uprooted by the newfound love and appreciation of the gospel Paul preached? What cultural practices seem to be out of reach today? What encouragement can be drawn from what we read in Acts 19 that can be applied today?


[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” 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), 409.

 

Week of May 19 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Luke 8:25-26

He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.  

Reflect: How did Jesus’ actions in this passage give further evidence that He was actually God? How did Jesus challenge the disciples in verse 25 to reconsider their conceptions about who He is?

Consider: Jesus rebuked the storm, and chided them for their fear and their lack of faith in Him. He had already told them they would be crossing over to the other side of the lake (v. 22). This was an excellent opportunity for them to act on God’s Word that Jesus had been teaching (vv. 1–21). When Jesus rebuked the storm, the lake calmed immediately (which normally does not occur after a storm). The disciples were in fear and amazement (cf. vv. 35, 37).5

 Respond: What does verse 26 reveal about the destination Jesus intended for Him and the disciples in first getting into the boat (v. 22)? What events would happen that would further reveal who Jesus is? How do examples of Jesus power over nature and all other things remind you that He has the power to calm the storms in your life? How are you encouraged by His listening to the plea of the disciples?


5 John A. Martin, “Luke,” 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), 226.

 

Week of May 19 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Luke 8:22-24

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.   

Reflect: What stands out to you the most about this scene? What does the disciples’ use of the title “Master” (v. 24) to refer to Jesus reveal what they believed about Him at this point?

Consider: Came down (katabe). More vivid than either Matthew or Mark, who have there arose. The word describes the action of the sudden storms which literally come down from the heights surrounding the lake. See on Matt. 8:24. Storm (lailaps). A squall.4

Respond: What is odd about using the word rebuke (v. 24) with respect to the elements of nature, such as wind and waves? How does the event confirm Jesus’ power and authority? How can you relate to the desperation of the disciples in these verses? Where are you currently questioning Jesus’ care for the things you are worried about?


4 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 332.

Week of May 19 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Matthew 8:27

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”  

Reflect: What was the result of going through the storm with Jesus?

Consider: Contemporary applications of this miracle almost universally “demythologize” the narrative (deriving a naturalistic lesson from a supernatural event), so that it becomes a lesson about Jesus “stilling the storms” of our lives. Matthew did not likely have such an application in mind. There are implications for discipleship here, to be sure; we must turn to Jesus as the one to trust in all circumstances of life. But the focus of this passage remains squarely Christological—on who Christ is, not on what he will do for us.3

Respond: Why might a storm at sea have been of particular impact to the disciples? How do we know when we need a life course correction? How can we help one another if our life requires a course correction?


3 Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 150.