WCC Bible Reading Plan 
 

The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible, but to know God.
― James Merritt

Reading the Bible Together
When we spend time in God’s Word, we’re getting to know Him. We’re also maturing in our faith. Regularly spending time together with God in His Word is such a beautiful, life-giving thing. And just as it benefits us as individuals, when we gather together as the church to commit to spending time reading and studying the Bible, something special happens. We’re able to encourage one another and grow together. 


5 Minutes a Day, 7 Days a Week
Commit around five minutes a day, seven days a week, to our church-wide Bible reading plan. We’ll have seven chapters to read each week – most weeks will include five chapters from one book and two Psalms. The goal of this plan is to consistently spend time in God’s Word. We’ll be reading various styles of books – gospels, epistles, history, poetry, prophecy, etc. Using this guide, you’ll easily be able to track your reading and follow along. And don’t worry if you get off track; you can just jump back in where we are. You can always go back and catch up when you have extra time.

DEVOTIONALS
Each week, devotionals will be published that correspond with what we’re reading. These devotionals will be from a variety of people participating in this church-wide reading plan. Through these devotionals, we will be encouraged and challenged as we journey through God’s Word together. 

These devotionals will be in written or video form and can be found on our website.

QUESTIONS
Do you have questions about what you’re reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.ccWe are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

Up for more of a challenge?
Don’t just read the chapters, use the following questions to study them:

Observation: This is how to learn what a passage of scripture says. Questions to ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? What does it say? What do I notice?

Interpretation: This is how to accurately interpret scripture and understand what it means in the right context. Questions to ask: What are the key themes or truths? What is the writer’s intended meaning? What is the context? What questions do I have?

Application: This is how to correctly apply the truth of the text to everyday life. Questions to ask: How do I apply it? What are the implications in my life? What does this mean for me


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of October 10, 2021

 
WEEKLY READING: GENESIS 16-20; PSALM 55-56
PASSAGES REFERENCED: GENESIS 16 & 21

I’m a bit of a reader. I love to get lost in a good story. But you don’t have to be a reader to love a good story – that can happen with movies and shows too. While there are many things to love about stories, one of the main things I like is getting to know all the characters. I enjoy the little things they add that don’t really do anything to move the plot forward. I like just getting to know them. They add such richness to the story. And you can keep all the main characters. The minor characters are where it’s at for me. You can have Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I’ll take the Weasley twins, Lupin, and Sirius. You can have Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy too. And I’ll take Mr. Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Lady Catherine.

The thing about minor characters is that they add depth to the narrative. And any time they interact with the main characters, you end up learning more about those main characters. This happens in books, movies, and tv shows. And it occurs in the Bible as well. In this week’s reading, we see this take place in the story of Hagar.

I’m not going to take the time to summarize her story much, so if you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes to do that now. You can find the first part of her story in Genesis 16. You might even want to look at the chapters before 16 to refresh yourself on Abraham’s story and how we got to the mess in chapter 16. Hagar will also show up next week in Genesis 21. But to make a long story short, we know that God promises Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abraham and Sarah struggle with infertility, Sarah gives their slave Hagar to Abraham to try to conceive a child, Hagar gets pregnant, and then things get even messier.

In verse six, we read, “‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.” Hagar encounters an angel of the Lord who tells her what will happen to her son. And in verse 13, we see Hagar’s response: “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” She names God. El Roi. The God who sees.

Based on my research (i.e., some light Googling), Hagar is the only person in scripture to give God a new name. God has many names in scripture. And lots of people called God by those names. But it was Hagar who saw a quality of God and responded by calling God El Roi. Hagar. Not a king or prophet. A foreigner, woman, and slave.

In Hagar’s story, this is a major plot point. Our exposure to Hagar is limited to Genesis 16 and 21. But in both chapters, Hagar interacts with God. We could say that God is a main character in Hagar’s story. But when we look at God’s story, the whole of scripture, Hagar is a minor character in the story. But like I mentioned at the start, it’s the minor characters that I love. It’s their interactions with the main characters that reveal so much about those main characters.

God makes promises to Abraham. That’s what’s going on between the main characters in this section of Genesis. But God also makes promises to Hagar amid the main storyline. And through this minor storyline, we learn about God. Yes, God cares about Abraham and fulfilling promises. But we see that God also cares about Hagar. God reaches through the mess that Abraham and Sarah made and sees Hagar. El Roi. The God who sees.

God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is the God of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel too. But what this story reminds us is that God is also the God of Hagar, Keturah, Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and the countless other women the text never mentions.

God sees the main characters. And God sees the minor characters too. And God sees you and me today. As you read scripture, start paying attention to the minor characters. They add depth and richness to the story. They help to reveal more of the character and qualities of God, the ultimate main character. Remember, ours is a God who sees. – Sarah Neel

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of October 3, 2021

WEEKLY READING: GENESIS 11-15; PSALM 53-54 PASSAGES REFERENCED: GENESIS 15:6; ROMANS 4; 1 THESSALONIANS 5:24

 

One of the great blessings of being part of a church body is reading through the Bible together. And what makes this a blessing is that during our Bible Reading Plan, we will come across many, if not all, of the greatest verses in the Bible at one point or another. This week is no exception. Genesis 15 contains one of those great verses: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

 

This Old Testament verse is quoted in Psalms and by the authors of the New Testament (see James 2:23, Galatians 3:6, and Romans 4). And rightly so because this verse teaches us the most important truths about salvation: it all rests on God’s promises and not on our performance. When we begin to understand what it means to be counted as or credited as righteous, we can rest in knowing that our sins have been forgiven, we are made right with God through faith, and we have a home in heaven.

 

In Romans 4, Paul reminds us that Abraham believed God and was made right before God because of his faith. Paul says that when Abram heard God say, “Look up at the sky and count the stars… So shall your offspring be,” that he looked up into the stars and saw their vastness and their multitude and “rested” his faith on the power and promises of God.

 

Earlier this month, during our time with Pastor Roger & Karen Reyes on vacation from Honduras, we were reminded what it means to rest in God’s faithfulness. In our time sitting on the back porch, we encouraged one another that God is faithful in what He promised when we rest in His Word (1 Thessalonians 5:24). In other words, we can rest in knowing that when we step out in faith, we will see God’s amazing faithfulness more and more.

 

I know it is easy to focus on the great men and women of faith in scripture. To admire the awesomeness of their great faith and how these men and women of old were bold when the odds were stacked against them. If I am honest, I too often catch myself saying, “if I only had faith like that, I could do all the things God has called me to do!” only to compare my moments of weak faith with theirs.

 

Just this past week, I found myself next to my son’s hospital bed, questioning my faith in God’s provision, His power, and His promises. I asked myself if my faith was too weak or my walk too inadequate for God to move. Was I trying to rely on my works and not on the One who works all things for good? Between constant alertness and closing my eyes as I sat next to my son’s bed, I was reminded of a devotional I read on Romans 4. While it is true that when God saw Abram’s faith, He credited it to him as righteousness. But what is more true is that when Abram saw God, he recognized Him as able to fulfill what He had promised. So he was able to rest his faith in God’s power and promises.

 

So, what was it that made Abram be able to rest in faith? His eye was not set on the problems but upon the Promiser. Pastor Ray Stedman describes this well: “When Abram saw the greatness of God, the might and majesty displayed before him on that summer’s night, he said to himself, it makes no difference how I feel or what difficulties may be involved. The Creator of that multitude of stars is quite capable of giving me an equal number of descendants.”

 

So again, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” The same way Abram believed God about the promise of a coming son and was counted as righteous; we can stop relying on our own works and rest in helpless dependence on God’s living Son and be counted righteous by faith.

 

So next time you find yourself questioning if your faith is great enough, remember that it makes no difference how you feel or what difficulties lie ahead. The Creator of that multitude of stars is more than able to make good on His promises. – Sam Pena

 

Take some time this week to reflect and pray using this guide to get started:

God and Creator of the heavenly hosts, teach me to place my faith in You and not in my inadequate strength. Help me put my sight not on the problem that lays before me, but in the Promiser that holds me in His hand. Remind me to rest in Your promise that the One who calls me is faithful.

 

And then listen to the song Promises by Maverick City Music. As you listen, pay attention to the lyrics and let God’s truth wash over you.

“Faithful through the ages

God of Abraham

You’re the God of covenant and faithful promises

Time and time again

You have proven

You’ll do just what You said”

 

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of September 26, 2021

WEEKLY READING: GENESIS 6-10; PSALM 51-52 PASSAGES REFERENCED: GENESIS 2,4, 6:5-9, 8:1-22

 

When we find ourselves in Genesis 6-10, we are introduced to one of the most famous characters in the Bible story: Noah. We can glean so much about God and His dealings with humanity through the history of this one man and his family. This section of scripture introduces us to a common and reoccurring theme weaved throughout the pages of scripture that will follow. It also introduces us to a particular sort of character that will be seen repeatedly throughout the scriptures.

The theme that repeats itself over and over again throughout the Bible goes like this: humanity, over a long period of time, sins… and sins BIG! God decides to send judgment for humanity’s sins. A “righteous one” or “deliverer” is found and called out to stand in the gap for humanity. Obviously, this sort of theme finds its ultimate end in our savior Jesus. But let’s look specifically at what the Bible tells us about Noah and how his story sets the stage for telling us about God and His dealings with people going forward.

In Genesis 6:5-8, we are told that God sees how great the wickedness of humanity has become. We are told that it is so great that the story specifically says, “that EVERY inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil ALL THE TIME.” (Genesis 6:5, emphasis mine) If we go back in the story and look at what happens after the fall (Cain and Abel and Cain’s ancestor Lamech in Genesis 4), we see that evil starts pretty quickly. Now imagine humanity as they are filling the earth for the next thousand or so years and the sorts of evil they could come up with. Scripture doesn’t go into a lot of other specifics, but the point is clear; humanity is not fulfilling the purpose God made them for. Humanity has sinned – and sinned greatly.

Next, we see God’s reaction to humanity’s sin: remorse, regret, and judgment. A holy and righteous God can have no other reaction. In Genesis 2, Adam was given the result of rebellion, death. Here we are told God has decided to wipe all of creation from the face of the earth because of humanity’s sin. (Genesis 6:6-7) Yet there is hope.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8) Noah, we are told, “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9) So God decides to take this one man who has been set apart in his time and start over. He gives Noah a directive to build an ark, gather animals, and, with his family, begin again. God is going to flood the earth to wipe away the creation that has grieved His heart. But with Noah and his family, God is going to establish His covenant. And in response to what God said, Noah obeys.

The ark is built. The animals and family are gathered and enter the ark. Seven days later, the floodgates are opened. God does what He has said He would do. All of creation, except those sealed in, is destroyed. This seems a bit bleak (I know, understatement of all time). And yet, there is TREMENDOUS hope. God remembers… and the rains stop. God calls out… and a new creation begins. Humanity gives back in thanks, and God is pleased. (Genesis 8:1-22)

As I stated at the beginning, this theme repeats itself throughout the scriptures and points us toward Jesus. Noah is what theologians would label a “type.” He represents traits or characteristics that we will ultimately find in “the one.” This theme is why we see those who lived during Jesus’ time looking for “the one.” Every story they grew up hearing and reading has been pointing to Him. From the very beginning, God has been telling people His plan to save them.

Based on this theme, let me challenge you with a question to consider as you read character stories in scripture: what does this story say about Jesus? I think so much of our understandings of God’s Word would be shaped differently if we just asked what it told us about Him.

If you want to dig more into this theme of “people sin, God judges, and a deliverer comes to save,” check out any of the great character stories in the scriptures. Moses and David are the two most obvious. A great place to see it played out multiple times back-to-back is the book of Judges. Wherever you choose, I pray the God reveals something new about Jesus that brings you a deeper hope in who He is. – James Randall

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of September 19, 2021

WEEKLY READING: GENESIS 1-5; PSALM 49-50
PASSAGES REFERENCED: GENESIS 1-2; PSALM 19:1-4; ROMANS 1:20

During the pandemic, life seemed to shut down and the world felt chaotic, unsettled, and out of order. I retreated daily to our family farm of 80 acres, where I have always enjoyed the outdoors. Nature became a huge place of refuge and solace. Somewhere deep inside, my soul became refreshed and filled with comfort as I walked the trails and woods. In nature, God revealed Himself to me. Creation was reminding me of the Creator. 

It doesn’t take a pandemic for God to reveal Himself to us. He has been revealing Himself since the beginning of creation. In Genesis 1 and 2, not only do we see the process of creation, but more importantly, the Creator is being revealed. We see God’s personality, character, and magnitude. 

General revelation is when we gain knowledge of the Creator through creation. All people, at all times and in all places, have the ability to see God revealed through nature. God communicates to us through His creation.

When I see the magnitude of the stars in the night sky, I am reassured that the Creator is bigger than my circumstances.
When I respond to a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan, I know the Creator is personal.
When I see the majestic bald eagle, I sense the power and strength of the Creator.
When I witness a caterpillar transform into a beautiful butterfly, I value that the Creator has an order to life.
When I am amazed at the uniqueness in the trunk of a Northern Cyprus tree, I treasure the creativeness of the Creator. – Bonnie Swanson 

Here are some verses, thought & prayer prompts, and a song to help you continue to meditate on God the Creator:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. – Psalm 19:1-4

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

Finish these statements:

I see evidence of God when… 
God reveals Himself to me in nature when I see…

Prayer prompts:

Pray that your heart and mind would be open to when God speaks to you through nature.
Thank God for how He personally reveals His magnitude and beauty to you.
Praise God for creation and how He uses is to draw us closer to Him.

Hillsong’s So Will I (100 Billion X) is a beautiful song that focuses on the superiority of our Creator. You can find it on YouTube or Spotify.

Check out The Bible Project’s overview videos of the book of Genesis. Part One covers chapters 1-11 and Part Two covers chapters 12-50. They are an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. They can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of September 12, 2021

Weekly reading: Philippians 1-4; Psalm 46-48
Passages referenced: 2 Kings 6; Psalm 9:9; 46:1-3, 7, 10-11; 61:3;
Proverbs 18:10; Philippians 4:5-6

 

Psalm 46:10 is quite well known. It reads as follows, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” What are perhaps not as well known are some of the preceding verses. Verses 1-3 state, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Verses 7 & 11 are identical choruses at the end of each stanza: “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

It wasn’t too long ago that I read Psalm 46 and realized that it is because God is our refuge and strength that we can rest in Him. It is because He is an Almighty fortress that we can be still and know that He is God.

Shortly after I graduated college, my family took a trip westward. Our first overnight stay was in Kansas, which lived up to its stormy reputation. A severe thunderstorm arose, and hail pelted our camper, cracking our plastic skylight and bouncing noisily off the camper’s thin metal sides. We prayed a tornado wouldn’t follow the hail. It was frightening and felt less than safe.

Thankfully, the Lord Almighty is no aluminum camper. He is our fortress. When the world is falling apart around us, He is our strong tower and stronghold (see Psalm 61:3, Proverbs 18:10, Psalm 9:9). We are safe in Him. We are secure in Him.

Perhaps you feel as though the world is crumbling. It is full of uncertainty, fear, and heartbreak. But in His Almighty state, the Lord is so much more than we can see or imagine. There is a passage in 2 Kings 6 where Elisha’s servant looks out and sees their city surrounded by an enemy army with horses and chariots. The servant becomes afraid. Elisha prays that the Lord “open his eyes, so he may see.” The servant is then able to see the Lord’s horses and chariots of fire filling the hills around them. We sometimes forget that not only is God Almighty, but He is our “ever-present help” even though we can’t see Him (see Psalm 46:1). God is omnipresent. He is Almighty, and He is with us.

Philippians 4:6 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” But you know what’s helpful about Philippians 4:6 that many people fail to notice? The sentence immediately prior in Philippians 4:5b, “The Lord is near.” Why do we not have to be anxious? Because the Lord—our Almighty Lord—is near.

We have been given this wonderful, miraculous book, the Bible, to show us who God is. He is Almighty. He is our ever-present help. He is King. He is worthy of praise. He has unfailing love. When you read the passages assigned for this week, try to note the characteristics of God you see. What is God like? What does He possess? What does He give? May you delight in all God is this week, and may you be able to “be still” in Him. – Kacie Langeland

 

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of September 5, 2021

Weekly reading: Galatians 1-6; Psalm 45
Passage referenced: Psalm 45:2,13-17; Galatians 1:10, 2:12, 3:2, 4:5,5:16-17, 6:14

No person apart from Jesus himself shaped the history of Christianity like the Apostle Paul. His encounter with Jesus changed his life and subsequently changed the lives of many others. Our God who loves, forgives, and performs miracles, changes lives and draws us to Him.

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he admonished them for having lost their way in a short time. He accused them of being fooled by those twisting the truth of the Good News. It’s easy to compare our world today with its twisted truths, immorality, and lack of God in people’s lives, to Paul’s fight to regain the Good News for the people of Galatia. We must stay unified in our love of Jesus Christ and always remember what He did for us.

Paul worked hard to convince the Jews that Gentiles were acceptable to God. And he spent even more time convincing the Gentiles that they were acceptable to God. Paul spent much of his time teaching the Gentiles about the difference between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit. He taught the Gentiles that their previous sinful nature produced idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, division, and envy while having the Holy Spirit in their lives produced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!

Paul completed three missionary journeys during his lifetime. He spent countless days in prison, even while continuing his letters to the churches he had visited. He traveled to Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, Colosse, Ephesus, and Galatia.

Here are a few observations from each of this week’s chapters:

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. – Galatians 1:10
Today, it feels like far too many Christians are not speaking out for fear they might offend someone, when in fact, Jesus wants us to be bold!

When [Peter] first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. – Galatians 2:12
This is another example for us today of caving to peer pressure, being afraid to offend others. We must remember we answer to God alone, not man.

Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. – Galatians 3:2
We must remember that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit back to all of us after he ascended to Heaven to be with the Father! He is with us always - to teach us, guide us, show us the way to heavenly life.

God sent [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. – Galatians 4:5
How full our lives would be to remember this each and every day! A child of God!

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. – Galatians 5:16-17a
There are millions of Christians in the world today, but so many people find it easy to live sinful lives – some without realizing it. Those are the people we much reach to tell of the Good News!

Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. – Galatians 6:14b
The cross! His blood! He, not the world, died for us!

Psalm 45 describes the Messiah’s future relationship with the church, His body of believers. Verse 2 says, “Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever.” And verses 13-17 depict Christ’s bride, the church, with the richest blessings as she unites forever with him.
Imagine! Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, these words were scrolled as a prophecy about Christ! – Chip Wallstead

 

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of August 29, 2021

WEEKLY READING: PROVERBS 29-31; PSALM 41-44
PASSAGE REFERENCED: PSALM 41:9-12; 42:11; 43:2; 44:8; PROVERBS 29:11,22; 30:15; 31

This week's devotional writer is Rachel Luce. Rachel is a Junior at Tippecanoe Valley High School. In this devotional, Rachel provides some reflection on each of the week’s seven chapters. As such, you might consider waiting to read this until you've finished all the week's reading or read one reflection per day.

Proverbs 29
Have you lost your temper this year? Month? Or even week? Proverbs 29:11 & 22 say, "Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end... An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins." As easy as it is to lose your temper, these verses warn us against that behavior. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. We should not be adding to the flames, but instead, we should work on putting them out.

Proverbs 30
"The grass is always greener" is a phrase most people have heard and many believe to be true. The Bible even speaks about it. Proverbs 30:15 talks about two daughters who are always wanting more. They say, "Give! Give!" but are never satisfied. As Christians, we know in our heads that God will always be enough, but we need to learn that in our hearts.

Proverbs 31
Most Christian girls have read Proverbs 31 at least once during their walk with God. It can be a guide on how to be a strong Christian woman. If we know this to be true, why don't we just do want it says? We live in a fast-paced world where we barely have time to stop and provide food for our family or help the poor and needy. As Christian women, we need to step up at follow the guide that God has given us.

Psalm 41
As I have gone through my school career, my friends have changed every year. It always made me feel like something was wrong with me, or I wasn't a good friend. The older I got, the better I understood myself and realized nothing was wrong with me. All the friends I had lost were just because the timing wasn't right, or we weren't a good fit. Psalm 41:9-12 teaches us that although friends may turn their backs on us, God has mercy on us. He has seen our integrity and will lift us up! Our enemies will not triumphant over us because we have the power of God living inside of us.

Psalm 42
Psalm 42:11 says, "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." To break all of that down, you need to think of a time when your soul was so dark, and you felt like you couldn't see the end. It was probably a very sad time, and you felt hopeless. Then think about once you got through the pain and the hurt. You probably praised and worshiped the King. While that is so important, we need to remember to praise Him through the hurt and the pain. When we feel broken, that is when God draws near. He uses those times to strengthen us and build our endurance for the kingdom. We must remember to worship even through the hard times.

Psalm 43
When you are going through hard times, does it feel like you are alone? Do you feel hopeless? Does it feel like no one understands you? While you may feel that way, you are not alone! God is always there by your side. Psalm 43:2 states, <"You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me?" Often, we feel rejected by God when we can't feel Him close. But this is far from true. God actually draws closer to the broken-hearted. He is there to dry our tears. Just remember that even when we feel alone, God won't leave us alone.

Psalm 44
Humans love recognition. It is just how most of us are. We enjoy being glorified for the good deeds we do. Psalm 44:8 shows us that although we may boast about our lives, the only one who deserves glory is God. He should receive all the praise because without Him we would have nothing. – Rachel Luce

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at . We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of August 22, 2021

WEEKLY READING: PROVERBS 22-28
PASSAGES REFERENCED: PSALM 1:1-2; PROVERBS 22:4,9,11, 24:14; ISAIAH 9:6

Since we’re halfway through the book of Proverbs, you know by now that the value of wisdom is the main theme throughout this book. Wisdom comes to life as a character in Proverbs 8 and 9 and continues to develop many characteristics throughout the rest of the book.

As you read through this week’s chapters, take some time to write down the traits of wisdom that stand out to you.

Chapter 22 alone describes several characteristics of the wise:

Proverbs 22:4 considers humility:
Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 22:9 mentions generosity:
The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.

Proverbs 22:11 might be my favorite and says:
One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
will have the king for a friend.

Are there any people in your life who display these qualities? Add a list of their names to your notes from above.

I’m fortunate to have parents and grandparents who I could turn to for wisdom. My mother specifically taught me that standing strong in my faith meant knowing God’s Word and seeking wise counsel. Not only does Proverbs speak to this, but it is emphasized throughout the Bible as well.

Psalm 1:1-2 says: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

It’s very clear in verses like this that in order to gain wisdom, you have to spend time with and seek advice from wise people and straight from the Bible. In our modern world, there are so many channels and outlets to receive information, but these verses are a good reminder to take stock in who and where we seek wisdom and advice.

Go back to your list of qualities and the people who display them. Are these the same people you turn to when you need advice? If not, why do you think that is? And what changes could you make to better align these?

Of course, these verses were written well before Jesus was born and came to Earth as our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) But isn’t it beautiful how King Solomon and the other authors of Proverbs are preparing us to seek wisdom? Once Jesus comes to Earth, we have a perfect example of knowledge and truth.

Proverbs 24:14 says: “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” As we navigate the rest of this week, let’s pray that we embody that truth. – Laura Long

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of August 15, 2021

Weekly reading: Proverbs 15-21
Passages referenced: Proverbs 15:32, 16:2, 17:12, 18:9, 19:29, 20:23; 21:31; Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 7:6-23; Luke 6:43-45; John 3:16-17, 6:25-27; Romans 7:15-18; James 1:23-25

"Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding."– Proverbs 15:32

The word "disregard" here sticks out to me. To disregard means to ignore. To disregard is not just a thought but an action. The mere idea that discipline is a good thing can pass through my head, and I can even convince myself that I think discipline is good. Yet, if I live out the act of disregarding discipline, this says everything anyone needs to know of my stance on the goodness of discipline. Did you catch that? The ACT of disregarding discipline SAYS everything anyone needs to know of MY stance on the goodness of discipline. MY STANCE is personified, not in my thoughts of the good thing or even my conversations lifting up the good thing, but the action of DISREGARDING the good thing. Thus "the one who heeds correction gains understanding."

"All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord." – Proverbs 16:2

Even so, with the weight of our actions heavy on our mind, we can see in Proverbs 16:2 that our thoughts are just as important. The importance of motives are laid out almost incessantly by Jesus throughout the Gospels: the parable of the True and False Disciples in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus's declaration that what defiles a person comes from within in Mark 7:6-23, Jesus's explanation of good and bad fruit in Luke 6:43-45, and Jesus's rebuke of the crowd after he fed them in John 6:25-27. Clearly, our motives are important.

"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool BENT on folly." – Proverbs 17:12

"One who IS SLACK in his work is brother to one who destroys."– Proverbs 18:9

"Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools." – Proverbs 19:29

"The Lord detests different weights, and dishonest scales do not please him." – Proverbs 20:23

Proverbs is telling us something. Our actions matter. Our thoughts matter. James 1:23-25 says that "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do." Yet, so often, I find myself allowing negative thoughts and a lack of action to persist in my life. Why is this still a struggle when we see clearly the call and advantage of following the Word? Paul addresses this in Romans 7:15-18: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."

So, where do we go from here? We see there is a call to know and uphold the Word of God and, just as plainly, an acceptance that we can never live up to the calling.

*Insert Jesus*

"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord." – Proverbs 21:31

Poetically, the last verse of the final Proverb from this week's reading points us straight to THE answer. This is why we have a savior. This is why the most famous passage in all the land – "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son in the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17) – is so darn important to have seared on our hearts.

Yes, we are called to prepare. We are called to stand firm. We are called to risk. But when all else fails, Jesus saves. – Cole Baker

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of August 8, 2021

Weekly reading: Proverbs 8-14
Passages referenced: Proverbs 8:6, 9:9, 10:19, 11:13, 12:15, 13:3, 14:3; 2 Timothy 3:16

 

I love Proverbs! It is an amazing book. Of course, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) But whenever I need a good dose of practical everyday living, I find myself gravitating toward Proverbs. Sometimes it reminds me of things I already know, but it always challenges me. And these are things I can put into daily practice right away.

As I have been reading through these chapters, I see something over and over that relates to our mouths: our talking, or better yet, not talking! Listening is stated or implied over and over. Here are just a few examples from each chapter:

Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. – Proverbs 8:6

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. – Proverbs 9:9

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. – Proverbs 10:19

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. – Proverbs 11:13

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. – Proverbs 12:15

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin – Proverbs 13:3

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. – Proverbs 14:3

Talk about practical everyday living! We can apply this immediately. The theme repeatedly is that we need to listen. Listen to God first and then to others.

So many times over the years, I have regretted something I have said and had to go back and apologize simply because I didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit’s warnings. When we listen to God, He prompts us. When we read God’s Word and meditate (listen), we hear from God. He gives us wisdom. When we pause in conversations and listen to God, only good will come out of that!

A great way to do ministry is to listen to people with interest. It gives them value. It not only shows we care but also as God’s representatives that He cares. It opens the door to spiritual conversations. Especially since COVID, people are lonely. They need a friend, someone who will listen.

In these trying times, with all these complex moral dilemmas thrown at us and our families, we need wisdom. Wisdom and understanding. We need the wisdom of the Bible. Not the kind the world offers but the kind of wisdom Proverbs talks about. Let’s listen to God and others for God’s glory and our good. – Jeff Pfeifer

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of August 1, 2021

WEEKLY READING: PROVERBS 1-7
PASSAGES REFERENCED: PSALM 1:7, 90:12; PROVERBS 2:6, 4:7; LUKE 2:52

The book of Proverbs could be described as a playbook for life. We could read everything in this brilliantly written book and gain knowledge. The word “proverb” comes from a Hebrew word that means “to rule or govern.” This book is not meant to teach doctrine. It is a book that teaches people how to attain wisdom, discipline, and a prudent life, and how to do what is right, just, and fair - in short, to apply Godly (divine) wisdom to daily life and provide moral instruction. It relates to our work - when we apply the concepts, it causes our work to stabilize. It is a very practical workshop in wise living.

The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve come to realize that I oftentimes don’t need more knowledge. Knowledge is very good - but there is a huge difference between knowledge (having the facts for a given situation) and wisdom (applying those facts to our lives). We can gain more knowledge, but without wisdom, knowledge is useless. We must learn how to live out what we know. Again, we often don’t need more information; we need to apply what we’ve already learned.

And here is what I’ve finally realized - God longs to impart wisdom to us. His desire is for us to grow up. Wisdom is an attribute of God. Our journey has to begin with our relationship with Christ. Psalm 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” We can get hung up on this term “fear of the Lord,” but I have come to see it as knowing my place before God in the universe and living accordingly; to honor and respect God, live in awe of His power, and obey His Word; to live in a way that points others to Christ.

We oftentimes overcomplicate this. Proverbs 2:6 tells us, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” As you read the book of Proverbs, ask yourself: is God’s wisdom worth whatever it takes for me to know it and live by it? Wisdom comes in two ways - it is God’s gift, and it is also the result of our earnestly searching for it.

When my sons were younger, I started asking God every night when I prayed with them that they would grow in wisdom and stature. (I was inspired by Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”) As my boys have continued to grow taller, I haven’t stopped praying this exact prayer over them. More than anything, I want them to understand that wisdom comes from God and that they will become wiser as their love for God increases and as they seek knowledge out of their love. As I’ve prayed this, I’ve sensed God answering this prayer for my own life as well. My Father in Heaven is parenting me through parenting my sons. Through my life experiences, I have gained wisdom.

These first chapters of Proverbs are rich with advice for young people. If we base our lives on Godly decisions, which does NOT come easily, we will grow in wisdom. God will guide our steps; He will lead us. But we MUST participate with Him.

We either learn through life experience (my husband has taught me the phrase “experience is the best teacher” as I would grieve difficult experiences our sons would go through), or we learn through earnestly studying God’s Word. We grow in a crisis or in the classroom of God’s Word. We cannot and will not go through life unscathed. But we can allow life’s experiences to teach us about God’s love, His steadfast faithfulness, and how much we can trust Him. Our Father in Heaven can be trusted. Take a few minutes to think about a time when God grew you through a difficult life experience. And then praise Him for the wisdom you attained.

While I’ve been writing this, a song has been going through my head based on Psalms 90:12: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” And as I also look at Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding,” I am praying for all of us as we read the Proverbs - that we would remember to ask God to reveal Himself through His Word. Let’s not just read to become knowledgeable; let’s ask God to grow us in wisdom. We are His children, and He wants nothing more than to answer that prayer. – Michelle Yeager

  • Check out The Bible Project’s overview video of the book of Proverbs. It is an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. It can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.

 

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion and Video Devotion
week of July 25, 2021

Weekly reading: 2 Timothy 1-4; Psalm 38-40
Passages referenced: 2 Timothy 1:7

Our 5th, 6th, and 7th graders are at Camp with an Impact (CWAI) this week. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use that as an excuse to talk about camp in this devotional. When I was in college, I worked at Camp Adventure (the location of many years of CWAI). I loved (just about) every minute of it. And I collected quite a few stories through the years. From messy games that were so messy we had to throw out our clothes to nocturnal weeks of camp that meant archery and high ropes by lanterns and tiki torches to officially meeting Denny & Cookie Wilson the night I let their son Nate ride his bike off the high dive (shh, don’t tell my old boss about that) to watching hundreds of students worship and connect with God like never before week after week.

I was reminded of another story this week during our reading. One day while working the high ropes course, we had an interaction with a counselor that has stuck with me all these years. We had gotten all of the students through the course or up the climbing wall, so we were just down to the counselors. One of my coworkers was leading a counselor through the ropes course but facing a bit of a challenge because the counselor was pretty nervous. My coworker started using some of the tricks we had to help people through the course. One thing we often did was share scripture with stalled people. So my coworker began quoting 2 Timothy 1:7, saying, “remember, God has not given you a spirit of fear!” To which the counselor shouted down, “yeah, but He’s also given me a sound mind! And my sound mind is telling me that this is not a good thing to be doing right now!

Touché, camp counselor. Touché. Now, we could just write that off as another funny little camp story, but I think it’s a great opportunity for us to study, consider, and apply the truth of that verse. So first, we should look at the entire verse: for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV) Now let’s focus on a few of the key words in the verse:

Spirit – pνεμα
The Holy Spirit; the spirit, i.e., the vital principal by which the body is animated; the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides; the soul; a spirit

Note: the reference to the Holy Spirit at the end of this section (v14) makes it likely that the section also begins this way here.

Fear – δειλας
Fear, timidity, fearfulness, cowardice, lack of mental or moral strength, spirit of cowardice, through cowardice, in fear & terror

Power – δυνμεως
Power, potential for functioning in some way, inherent power, might, strength, force, capability, ability

Love – γpης
Love, affection, goodwill, brotherly love, benevolence

Sound mind – σωφρονισμο
Sound mind; an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control; the teaching of prudence, advice, improvement; exercise of prudence, moderation, self-discipline, prudence; self-control, moderation

Sources: netbible.org & A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature

The counselor stuck on the high ropes course at Camp Adventure didn’t appreciate the reminder of this verse, but I hope we do today. Whenever we’re feeling anxious or fearful, we can cling to its truth. We have the Spirit of God in us. And that Spirit is always at work – encouraging, guiding, loving, and empowering us. And God’s Spirit doesn’t produce fear, timidity, or cowardice. No, God’s Spirit produces power, strength, might, love, affection, goodwill, sound-mindedness, self-control, and prudence. I hope that we find rest and reassurance in this truth today and always.

If you regularly struggle with fear and anxiety, here are a few more verses you could check out that you might find encouraging: Psalm 46:1, 55:22, 121:1-2; Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31; John 14:27, 16:33; Romans 8:38-39; Philippians 4:6-9; and 1 Peter 5:7.

And one last note: don’t forget to be praying for all the campers, counselors, and staff at Camp with an Impact this week. – Sarah Neel



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of July 11, 2021

WEEKLY READING: JONAH 1-4; PSALM 34-36
PASSAGES REFERENCED: JONAH 4; LUKE 15:28-32; JOHN 21:20-22

From Sunday school flannelgraphs to Veggie Tales, the story of Jonah is one many of us are fairly familiar with. But just focusing on the big fish is missing the point of the story. When I read the story now, I am pushed beyond the fantastic nature of it. What I get out of it now isn’t a lesson on obeying God, rather a reminder of God’s mercy and grace and a lot of conviction on my judgmental ways.

We’re pretty familiar with the first three chapters: God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and proclaim a warning from God, Jonah goes the opposite direction, God sends a storm and a big fish, God gives Jonah a second chance, Jonah goes to Nineveh and shares God’s message, and the people of the city listen and repent.

Picking up the story in chapter four: But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4)

In the next few verses, there’s some Jonah sitting, plant growing, plant dying, sun shining, and some more Jonah complaining and wishing he was dead. (4:5-10) And then the book ends with God asking Jonah, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (4:11)

Hopefully, you’re starting to see how this story is a reminder of God’s mercy and grace and can convict us of our judgmental ways. To put it plainly, the story of Jonah reminds me of what a jerk I am sometimes. I judge others, I think I know best, and I feel like I know who deserves a second chance. A lot like our pal Jonah, right? He didn’t want to go to Nineveh and share God’s message because he didn’t like the idea of God extending grace to people he didn’t think deserved it. Right there in verse two, Jonah basically says, ‘I knew you would show them mercy, and I didn’t think they deserved it. So I ran in the opposite direction. And then, when I finally did what you asked, I did it with a bad attitude. And now I’m so upset about everything that I think I’d just rather die.’

Now, I’d apricate if Jonah calmed down a couple of notches, wouldn’t you? He’s being a bit dramatic. But if we push the ‘I’m so upset, I wish I were dead’ attitude aside for a minute, I think we can see ourselves in Jonah and hopefully be open to hearing God’s warning to us in his story. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria – Israel’s enemy. So you can see why Jonah might struggle with the concept of God extending them grace. Our first reaction to God extending mercy to our enemies might not be the best either. But we should remember that we did nothing to earn God’s grace. And we should thank God for the beautiful gift of His mercy and love towards us.

This lesson from Jonah reminds me of two different teachings of Jesus, one parable and one interaction with a disciple. First, the ending of the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15: “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:28-32)

And then the final chunk of Jesus’ interaction with Peter in John 21: Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-22)

So what should we do with what we’ve learned from our reading of Jonah and these words of Jesus? You should take some time this week to ask the Lord exactly what He wants to teach you. But I know for me, there are a few things that come to mind:

  • We don’t get to decide who should receive God’s mercy, love, and grace.
  • We don’t deserve the gifts of God, but we’ve still received them. We should be thankful and want those blessings for others as well.
  • God loves our enemies. Are we ok with that? And what will it take for us to love our enemies as well?
  • And, ultimately, maybe we need to mind our own business and worry about our own relationship with God rather than how He works in the lives of our friends and enemies alike.

So, are we going to be like Jonah, the older brother, and Peter? Or are we going rejoice when God extends mercy, grace, and love to others, regardless of our opinion of them? Are we going to respond in anger, disappointment, or maybe even nosiness? Or are we going to celebrate in thanksgiving – for God working in their lives as we remember how He’s blessed us as well? The choice is ours. I just hope we don’t pull a Jonah. – Sarah Neel

  • Check out The Bible Project’s overview video of the book of Jonah. It is an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. It can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.
  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing, you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of July 4, 2021

WEEKLY READING: ROMANS 11-16; PSALM 33
PASSAGES REFERENCED: ROMANS 11:5, 23

“It is the same today, for a few people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them.”– Romans 11:5

“And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree.” – Romans 11:23

Undeserved kindness. When I think of what has actually been a force of change in my 36 years, it boils down to a few major acts of kindness extended to me when I didn’t earn it. They were transformational and humbling. The Bible has so many stories of God acting this way to people. There are the people of Nineveh—He changed His mind and extended them mercy instead of destruction. In Exodus, God states He will “lavishly love” those who love and obey Him for 1,000 generations—but He only carries the ill effects of sin for 3 to 4 generations of those who reject Him. The woman at the well—Jesus didn’t cast judgment on her promiscuity; He took her shame and encouraged her to go and live differently. Just flip through the book, and you’ll see acts of undeserved kindness demonstrated throughout.

It has the power to diffuse some of the uglies of life, to bring peace and a new beginning.

Picture this scene: after a busy workday with a hungry and tired body, you journey through the grocery store to grab just two items needed at home. You round the corner to see lines of stuffed grocery carts sitting stagnant. Let’s also say one of the only two cashiers open has his blinking light on for help. And just for fun, everyone has a handful of coupons, a slew of kids all under the age of 5, and (bonus) each one is finishing a sugary red sucker. (I’m feeling the panic!)

Then, a kind someone up ahead waves to you to cut in front of him in line. Just grafts you right in there. In all reality, you should have had to wait behind all of those overflowing carts amidst all the chaos. What an act of undeserved kindness! Your feelings of frustration and powerlessness melt, and you walk out of the store thankful and calm.

If God’s grand act of undeserved kindness in grafting us in through Jesus wasn’t enough, Romans 11:23 shows us He is willing to do it repeatedly. We have an opportunity to come back to Him when we stray in disobedience. He always has His grafting tools ready.

When in your life did someone extend kindness to you that you didn’t earn? How did it move you? How have you shown someone undeserved kindness this week

Ask God to let you be part of His work in this way—ask Him to give you an opportunity to show His transformational kindness. These genuine acts will draw others to Him and bring glory to His name.

Just a note of clarification: some of us are working on building healthy, God-intended boundaries. Undeserved kindness is not the same as ‘doormat’ kindness—extending grace like a revolving door without healthy self-protection. If this strikes a chord, please pursue finding someone with a heart and training to help you navigate establishing those good and necessary limits. – Brandy Carman

As we’re finishing our reading of Romans this week, you may want to check out The Bible Project’s overview videos of the book of Romans again. Part One covers chapters 1-4 and Part Two covers chapters 5-16. It is an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. It can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of June 27, 2021

Weekly reading: Romans 6-10; Psalm 31-32
Passages referenced: Psalm 31:3-4; Romans 8:26-28

Take a minute to think and write down the words or phrases that come to mind when you hear the word: refuge.

Now take 5 to 10 minutes to sit and listen to God. If a word or phrase comes to mind, write it down. Do not debate it. Just write it down.

Psalm 31:3-4 teaches us, “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.” (ESV)

ESV Study notes use two words to describe when we take refuge in Him:

Dependence

Humbly (meaning: genuine gratitude) coming before Him and emptying ourselves (with good or bad things) in desperate need of His guidance, strength, understanding, and encouragement.

 

Take a minute to read, reflect, and respond to Romans 6:1-14.

 

The price God paid by sending His Son to the cross to die for all our sins leads us to come humbly, with genuine gratitude, before Him to empty ourselves and receive His loving grace and mercy.

 

Trust

As we humbly come before Him, seeking His refuge, with genuine gratitude, we have to trust in His provision, i.e., next steps.

 

Romans 8:26-28 teaches us, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV)

 

If we love Him, then we trust Him. We came to Him in our weakness depending on His provision; therefore, we must rejoice and trust in His plan for the next step.

 

Don’t seek refuge only in times of distress. Refuge in Him should be a daily routine. God wants us to seek Him daily to be renewed in Him. Intimacy (dependence and trust) with God is life’s highest priority! – David Wildman

 

Some questions for further reflection:

  • In what ways do you seek His refuge? What rhythms do you put in place to seek His refuge daily?
  • What things or people keep you from His refuge? How can you set boundaries so these things or people do not rob you from this time of refuge? What people can you let in that help encourage and support your dependence and trust in God?
  • How are you listening to, speaking with, and learning from God daily?

 

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of June 20, 2021
2nd Quarter Plan

Weekly reading: Romans 1-5; Psalm 29-30
Passages referenced: Romans 1:16-17; 3:23-24

Romans was a book that, for me, was hard to understand. I kept reading it over and over again; it just did not make sense. Now I look back and see that the church I went to at the time did not teach much on grace, more on the law. After reading a book on Romans and growing in my understanding of grace, I was set free.

Now I’d like to share just a few things about this marvelous book of Romans and our reading of chapters 1-5 this week:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

These two verses show us the main theme of the book. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Both Jew and Gentile. It is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. The righteous person shall live by faith.

From verses 1:18 to the end of chapter 2, God condemns the unsaved person, the good person, and the Jew.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

In chapter 3, God condemns the whole world. Verse 23 sums up the first three chapters by saying we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And verse 24 then tells us Jesus Christ has redeemed us through grace which is a gift from God.

Chapter 4 tells us that when we decided to believe God about His son Jesus, God counted us as righteous. Another way of saying it is that we are saved by faith alone.

Chapter 5 goes on to say we have peace with God through faith. We are no longer enemies of God. We have received this through faith only by the grace of God and not by anything we have done or will do.

My thoughts above are just a short summary of the first five chapters of Romans. So I recommend you study it very slowly to learn more about God’s grace. This book is probably the greatest book on grace in the Bible. Every time I go through this book, I get more out of it. I hope it does the same for you. – Norm Earlywine

  • The Bible Project’s overview videos of the book of Romans. Part One covers chapters 1-4 and Part Twocovers chapters 5-16. It is an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. It can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.
  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of June 13, 2021

Weekly reading: Ruth 1-4; Psalm 26-28
Passages referenced: Ruth 4:21-22; 1 Samuel 13:14;
Psalm 27:11; Psalm 119:105

I am sure I cannot be the only person who looks back on life decisions and plays out the “what ifs?” What if I would have gone to a different college? What if I wouldn’t have married my spouse? What if I had never met this particular person in my life? After reading the book of Ruth, I feel reminded of these thought processes.

Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi’s lives would have looked much different if Ruth had listened to Naomi and gone back home. David was a result of that decision. (see Ruth 4:21-22) I think about Ruth’s decision to stay loyal to Naomi. Was that a hard or easy decision to make? Was it easier for her to stay with her mother-in-law in that time of grief and uncertainty? Or was it actually a hard choice because going home would have felt safer?

Life is full of choices like this; some may be simpler and smaller compared to others. But each choice we make could lead to different results and paths. I sometimes question myself on how much thought I put into some decisions. Did I take the time to pray over it? Did I seek wise counsel beforehand? Or did I find it to be a thoughtless decision, too easy to even consider the consequences of my actions?

It is super easy in our culture to just float through life, making all of these choices without a real thought process. We can go with what we know, what feels safer or just easier. But could we possibly be altering our journey or even our destination and not even know it? Consider this concept when it comes to our relationship with others. We all have people in our lives who are not on the same path as us, maybe even a more destructive path. Are we being intentional with the decision to continue that relationship? Is that relationship starting to change our path in a negative direction? Or are we being called to be the light of Christ in their life?

Ruth married Boaz and gave birth to Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David. David, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) and an ancestor to Jesus, lived a life that had a major impact on the world, and his words are still read in the Bible today. The ripple effects of his life are not just from his story but his words as well, “Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.” (Psalms 27:11)

May our life decisions be bathed in prayer and may God’s word be “a lamp to guide [our] feet and a light for [our] path.” (Psalm 119:105) – Stephanie Cloud

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of June 6, 2021

Weekly reading: Ephesians 1-6; Psalm 25
Passages referenced: Ephesians 2:4-6; 4:4-6; 6:12, 18

Have you ever watched a food documentary and immediately wanted to make changes to your diet? Or listened to a podcast that finally motivated you to make your dreams a reality? Have you ever had an experience that inspired you to live life a little differently?

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds us of the transforming power of the Gospel. It’s no food documentary, but inspiring to say the least.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6)

This verse illustrates such a beautiful picture of the Gospel. How incredible is it that we can be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms through God’s grace alone? We were dead, and He made us alive. Because of this story of grace, our story is reshaped in every way.

In fact, Paul describes us as being one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. (see Ephesians 4:4-6) Our gifts and differences contribute to the diversity and impact of the church, but ultimately we are unified by Christ. How much better does a body function when all the parts work together? Jesus came to unite us and reshape us to live more fruitful lives not only for ourselves but for the good of the entire family of God.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

God desires for us to be unified, working together to build the church with Jesus as the cornerstone. Although it often feels like we’re at odds with each other, or even ourselves, we’re actually battling spiritual forces of evil. Paul tells us to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18) because we’re all united against the same thing.

After reading Ephesians, I felt inspired not only by the Gospel, but by the desire God has for us to be one. United in Christ, united in our new story, and united against evil. – Kelsey Swanson

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 30, 2021

Weekly reading: Esther 6-10; Psalm 23-24
Passages referenced: Psalm 23; John 16:33

In case you missed Sarah’s great introduction to the book of the psalms, you can find it here. Psalm 23 falls into the first book of the Jewish hymnal (what we call the book of Psalms). This first section has been called by many Bible scholars the book of personal experience. This means that the psalms of this first section are meant to teach us to worship in the midst of real human experience. As such, many of the psalms in the first 42 chapters are psalms of lamentation (heart-cries of pain and sadness). These lamentations express pain and fear but almost always return to the Truth of who God is in spite of the circumstance. This is worship – returning to God in the midst of painful and scary circumstances.

Most of us, as humans, are really bad at centering our worship on God. We put all kinds of things in His place. We worship people and things that make us feel powerful and, most especially, people and things that make us feel safe. Depending on how one translates the Greek and Hebrew, some variation of the phrase ‘do not be afraid’ appears between 100 and 140 times throughout the Bible. [1] Fear is obviously something that scripture takes very seriously because it is one of the things that leads us most quickly into faith. For me, it’s pretty convicting to look honestly at the places my faith goes when I am afraid. Usually, it is to myself, my resources, and my allies. And on rare occasions, I just decide it’s not something I can fight, and I hide.

David reminds us in Psalm 23 that fear is meant to lead us to God. This psalm is a short and powerful reminder of why we ought to worship God when we are afraid.

For those who are tempted to fear that God is not paying attention to your personal life:
“The Lord is my Shepherd.” (v1)

For those who are tempted to fear that material needs will not be met:
“I shall not want.” (v1)

For those who are tempted to fear that there is not enough energy to finish the day:
“He restores my soul.” (v3)

For those who are tempted to fear that God has abandoned you to human opponents:
“He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (v5)

For those who are tempted to fear that there is no hope left in life:
“Surely goodness and covenant love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (v6)

Fear is a real part of the human experience. It is something we all face to varying degrees at different times in our lives. David’s hymn reminds us to worship God, who is greater than all of our fears. Jesus reminded His disciples of this very thing when He told them, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take courage! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Friends, we can worship God in the face of every one of our fears because He provides. His promise is that there will be tribulation (pain, fear, suffering), but we worship with courage because He has already triumphed.

A note on the end of Esther this week: Esther chose to act boldly and rely on God for the outcome. Her courage has echoed down through millennia. Last week we saw her fear; this week, we get to see God use her as a tool for the salvation of His people because she was faithful and courageous in spite of her fear. Based on the timeline, it is possible that she was being encouraged by this same psalm 2500 years ago. Indeed, the Lord literally prepared a table in the presence of her enemy.

God bless you all as you explore God’s Word this week. – Zach Tingle

  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

[1] A search using Accordance Bible Software for the 17 Hebrew words for fear and the 4 Greek words with each of their negations yields 133 results with anywhere between the numbers in the range above being translated as ‘fear not’ or ‘do not be afraid’ depending on translation.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 23, 2021

WEEKLY READING: ESTHER 1-5; PSALM 21-22
PASSAGES REFERENCED: ESTHER 4:14; PSALM 22:9-10;
ROMANS 8:28; PHILIPPIANS 1:6; 2:13

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
 –Philippians1:6
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
– Philippians 2:13

What’s my purpose in this life? How many of us have asked that question, either to ourselves or to God? I know I have many times. We know we’re each given special gifts and talents to use for the Lord’s purposes, but discovering what those are and what to do with them can be difficult.

Esther was a woman of great outward beauty, which helped her seal the role as queen to King Xerxes, but her inward strength and faith in God were what helped truly set her apart. The Lord established Queen Esther on her throne for more than just looking beautiful next to King Xerxes. He had a very real and purposeful plan for her.

Esther had the esteemed title of queen and access to so much, but she still had doubts and discouragements like any of us. When she heard of Haman’s plan to annihilate the Jews (Esther’s people), her cousin Mordecai helped convince her to take a stand against his evil plan. He reminded her of her current role as queen and the standing she had with King Xerxes. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Mordecai also made it clear in his message to Esther that God’s plan would prevail, whether or not she decided to participate in it.

This is such an important and timely reminder for us as well. We are called to be a part of God’s great plans, and they will be fulfilled even if we choose to sit on the sidelines. God, however, wants us to participate fully. We are given our positions in life “for such a time as this,” and it’s up to us to trust God to help us use them wisely.

David reminds us in the Psalms that God sets us apart, and we can trust in Him and His purpose for our lives. “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:9-10)

God is good, and His purposes for each of us are good. God’s plans will always prevail; we just need to trust in Him above all else. The things God chooses for us are ALWAYS for our benefit and to fulfill His kingdom purposes. We can have faith in that, even when we question and doubt what God’s purpose for our life really is. As Paul teaches in Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Brooke Price

  • Check out The Bible Project’s overview video of the book of Esther. It is an excellent source for background information and context that walks through the book’s sections and themes. It can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning.
     
  • Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 16, 2021

WEEKLY READING: ACTS 26-28; PSALM 17-20
PASSAGE REFERENCED: PSALM 17-20; ISAIAH 6:9-10; 55:10-11;
ACTS 21-28; HEBREWS 12:4

This week's devotional writer is Mark Swinger. Mark has attended WCC for many years, served as an Elder, and currently leads one of the men's Bible studies. Because of Mark's experience with Bible studies, you'll find this devotional has a bit of a study flavor compared to the devotional flavor of previous weeks. As it covers each of this week's chapters, you might consider waiting to read this until you've finished the week's reading.

Acts 26-28
When we come to Acts 26, we should recall some of the events that brought Paul to this point. He had already been confronted by a murderous Jewish mob (Acts 21:7), a Roman commander named Claudius Lysias (21:37-40), the Jewish high council or Sanhedrin, including the high priest Ananias (22:30-23:2), Governor Felix (23:33), and then Felix with his Jewish wife, Drusilla (24:24). In chapter 25, Paul appealed to Caesar to save himself from the murdering Jews, then was brought before King Agrippa and his sister Bernice (25:23). King Agrippa was an expert on Jewish customs and controversies (26:3).
Try to imagine the number of Jews and Gentiles who heard Paul's story and the Gospel, then believed in Jesus because of Paul's testimony. Even though some didn't agree with his beliefs, they could not refute his witness. When we tell our own story, though some might not believe it, hopefully, our lives and the changes in us will bear witness to the truth. In Isaiah 55:10-11, God declares that when He sends out His Word, it always produces what He wants. In Hebrews 12:4, we read that "the Word of God is full of living power." Wow! What an impact His Word can have in our lives and in the lives of others. We may never know the impact even a few kind words coupled with a loving attitude might have in someone's life. We can only imagine, as the song goes!
Some who hear us may say we're insane, having too much "study" (Acts 26:24). Some may study just for knowledge, which isn't totally wrong. But we grow as Christ-followers when we prayerfully study with the purpose and desire to grow ever closer and more intimate with God.

In Acts 27, God speaks to Paul, informing him about some of what lies ahead. God doesn't include all the details. Paul will need to trust God despite all the hardships, as well as life-threatening experiences he and many others will have to endure.

In Acts 28, the most impact is in verses 26-28, as Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9-10. The very thought of God including Gentiles in His plan of salvation was diametrically opposed to the Jewish mindset, which excluded anyone who wasn't of Jewish descent. They considered Gentiles the same way the rest of the world viewed the Jews. They were God's chosen people, and therefore better than everyone else. Do we ever consider ourselves better than others?

Psalms 17-20
In Psalm 17, notice the worship and trust in verses 6-9.

Psalm 18 contains worship and some remarkable imagery.

Verses 1-6 of Psalm 19 tell of the evidence of God's existence and great power. Verses 7-11 speak of God's word and commandments. And verses 12-14 contain a well-known prayer, especially verse 14.

In Psalm 20, verses 1-5 provide a prayer for others. Verse 6 is a testimony, while verses 7-9 declare that the LORD is our real salvation, not weapons, but God's power! That's something to consider and believe! – Mark Swinger

Do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc. We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 9, 2021

WEEKLY READING: ACTS 21-25; PSALM 15-16
PASSAGE REFERENCED: PSALM 16; PHILIPPIANS 4:6-9

 

Many people struggle with anxiety and stress. You might be one of those people. I know I am. And when I find myself amid a bunch of anxious thoughts, I’d love nothing more than to pull a Bob Newhart in that MadTV psychologist sketch and just tell myself to “Stop it… S-T-O-P, new word, I-T!” But that’s not how it works. When I try to tell myself to stop feeling anxious, I just become anxious about my anxiety. It’s a real mess. But I’ll let you know what does work: reminding myself of Paul’s advice to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9, NIV)

And after I think about those verses, I try to listen to Paul’s advice. I pray and then remind myself what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Do you know what fits all those categories and more? God. And there are two ways that I can remind (sometimes convince) myself of the truth about God: the Bible and my past.

Let me explain. We can use our past to remind ourselves of the truth about God by looking back on our lives and recalling all the times that God was at work, guiding and comforting us. God is always at work in and around us. We just have to open our eyes to look for God’s presence. The longer we’ve known the Lord, the longer that list of the ways He’s been at work will be.

The other way we can shift our thinking is by reminding ourselves what we’ve learned about God from the Bible. The more we read God’s Word, the more we get to know God’s character. As we read, we see over and over again the ways that God works in the lives of the people of the Bible. We also read promises of God working in our lives as well. God doesn’t change. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So when we get to know God in scripture, we can trust that that same God is at work in our lives today as well.

Psalm 16 is a great example of scripture that helps us remember God’s character. The verses that stick out to me are: “Every good thing I have comes from you…, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing… I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me… You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:2b, 5a, 8, 11, NLT)

In verse 8, David says that he knows that the Lord is always with him. “I know” is a really strong statement. David doesn’t say “I hope” or “I wish” or “if only.” No. David knows that God is always with him. But how? How did David know that? Those two things again: God’s Word and his past. Those are the two ways to consistently remind ourselves that God is always with us – guiding, directing, comforting, supporting, and encouraging us. This truth about God’s character is found beyond Psalm 16. We see it throughout scripture, from the stories of Genesis to the Psalms to the Gospels to the letters of Paul. And we can see it in our past as well. We just have to look for it. – Sarah Neel

  • Do you struggle with anxiety? How can you use God’s Word and your past to help change your thinking and shift your focus away from anxious thoughts onto the truth about God?
  • Consider making a list of God’s qualities that comfort and encourage you that you can look at when you need help with your anxiety. You can include qualities from scripture as well as examples of God’s faithfulness in your own life.
  • An interesting resource you can check out as we slowly work through the Psalms is the work of the band Sons of Korah. According to their website, “Sons of Korah is an Australian based band devoted to giving a fresh voice to the biblical psalms… They endeavor to lead their listeners into an impacting encounter with this book that is often described as the ‘heart’ of the Bible. From lamentation to songs of jubilant praise, from battle cry to benediction, from exclamation of awe and wonder to reflections of tranquility and perfect wisdom, Sons of Korah provide a compelling portrait of the world and experience of the psalms.” They’ve recorded a version of Psalm 16 that you can check out on YouTube & Spotify.


Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 2, 2021

WEEKLY READING: ACTS 16-20; PSALM 13-14
PASSAGE REFERENCED: ACTS 14:21-28
OTHER PASSAGES TO READ: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12;
EPHESIANS 4:11-13, 16; PHILIPPIANS 2:25

 

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. 23Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia.25They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia.

Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. 28And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.– Acts 14:21-28, NLT

We can learn quite a bit from this passage about the life-cycle of missionaries. They preached the Good News and strengthened the disciples – encouraging them to remain true to the faith. Then they appointed elders in each church, committing them to the Lord.

Here in Papua New Guinea, that’s what our church planters do as well. First, they have to learn the language and culture of the tribal people group they’ll be working with to be able to preach the Good News to them effectively. They then preach through the entirety of scripture, establishing a firm foundation and guiding the tribal people to understand that they’re sinners in need of a Savior and must rely on Jesus and not their own work to be part of God’s family. Once there are believers who are truly putting their faith in Jesus’ blood alone to save them, the missionaries strengthen the new disciples in their faith and encourage them in the hardships they will go through. In this process, the missionaries move out of the tribal location but continue to go back to the tribe to continue discipling and encouraging the church as they grow into maturity. Leaders develop within the church and are eventually nurtured into elders. Then the work of the missionary is complete. But it takes 12-18 years to get there. They must commit the church to the Lord and trust Him to continue the work He started there. Our missionaries will still go back to visit and encourage the tribal church, and so did Paul. But, at this point, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, considering their work “complete.”

The church at Antioch was the church that sent them out, their sending church, and now they return to gather the church together to report all that God had done through them. Imagine that gathering – the report that Paul and Barnabas were able to give of the ways God was opening a door of faith among the Gentiles. I’m sure the church in Antioch came away amazed and encouraged, uplifted by this God-glorifying report. This could happen for WCC as well, as you take time to hear from missionaries and how God is working through them and through this church to reach the nations.

As part of the church body at WCC, both you and the church’s missionaries are part of the same body working together to build and uplift the church. Not only are missionaries part of planting and building up a church where they have gone to serve, they’re also still part of building up their sending church. You are working in partnership with each of the church’s missionaries to grow your church to maturity in Christ. Are you acting as effective hands and feet? Or are you hanging limply alongside your mission partners, failing to play your vital role in supporting them practically, relationally, and through prayer?

Verse 28 says that Paul and Barnabas stayed a long time in Antioch with their sending church. Imagine that time. What do you think it was like to hear all the stories of Acts in person from the missionaries that experienced it? Did the church cherish every opportunity they had to hear more about God’s glory, His mighty acts, His faithful provision? Or do you think they stood at a distance and missed out as the missionaries left on another journey?

Our yearly Missions emphasis just concluded, but you can get more involved with Missions at any time. So make a point to connect with one of WCC’s Mission Partners that joined us in person this past Sunday. Or reach out to a missionary who wasn’t able to come to the Missions Celebration to hear more of their story and what God is doing. You can also sign-up for our mission partners’ email updates and take the time to get to know them and cheer them on as fellow workers in the Lord. And be sure to visit https://warsaw.cc/missions to find out more about our partners, Pit Crews, 3rd Thursday Missions Nights, and other ways you can become more involved with Missions. – Summer Zimmer



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of April 25, 2021

Weekly reading: Acts 11-15; Psalm 11-12
Passages referenced: Acts 1:8; 9:16; 13:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16

The Book of Acts is rich with riveting accounts of how God began to fulfill the Great Commission through Jesus’ disciples. Before His ascension, Jesus commanded His followers to be [his] witnesses, telling people about [him] everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT) Despite this directive, the young church of Jerusalem focused on its own flock. Very few ventured outside the city walls to share their newfound faith.

Our reading this week is a turning point in the story. Here the Gospel jumps from being shared primarily with the Jews in and around Jerusalem to become the Good News for the Gentiles (all other people groups) as well. Through this shift, God provided the way to take His Gospel to the ends of the earth.

After Stephen’s death, persecution scattered the believers of Jerusalem in every direction, some fleeing as far north as Antioch in Syria. Antioch was a thriving commercial center, attracting merchants and tradespeople from distant lands and diverse cultures. The Jewish believers interacted with shopkeepers and neighbors along the narrow, bustling streets. Believers shared their faith in Christ. Relationships grew. God touched peoples’ hearts, and many responded to the Gospel, Jew and Gentile alike. Soon, a thriving church community was born!

There is much to admire about this remarkable church. The Antioch church leadership team in Acts 13 is an inspiring example of inclusion and harmony, listing men of wide-ranging cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The church was bold and welcoming in its community by pioneering open outreach to the Gentiles. And it was compassionate and generous by sending relief to their sister church in Jerusalem. The people of the church were first called “Christians” there. Perhaps this nickname was a testament to their Christ-like character and love.

The church of Antioch is also a model of how the church is involved in sending out missionaries. The church leaders, led by the Holy Spirit, gathered together to fast and pray. Little is written about that meeting except that they prayed until they had an answer. The Holy Spirit clearly led the men to commission Saul (also known as Paul) and Barnabas for His “special work.” They prayed again, laying their hands on the two, dedicating the men to God. Then the church leaders sent them out on their first mission—to bring the light of God’s grace to a vast and spiritually dark world to the west.

In a time of intense growth, the church of Antioch chose to obey the Spirit and gave two of their best teachers to this venture. The implication in Acts 13:1-3 is that there was unity amongst the leaders about the goal and target of the mission. They were going to preach the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches where God’s saving story had never been heard. And later in the book, when their challenging journey was complete, the Church of Antioch welcomed the missionaries home, listened to their report, and celebrated God’s work through them. Then Paul and Barnabas returned to their roles in the church body, leading, teaching, and discipling until God called them to their next outreach. These qualities are valuable to emulate in a mission-oriented church, even today.

If one considers his history, Paul was absolutely the least logical choice to lead this mission. He later referred to himself as“a prime example of [God’s] great patience with even the worst sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:16, NLT) This violent terrorizer of the early church became the caring planter of at least 14 vibrant churches. He did this knowing full well how he would suffer (see Acts 9:16). Be encouraged that God uses us, in spite of us, if we will submit to His direction. In the end, the work is unmistakably God’s and can only be credited to His glory.

The Book of Acts is a story of God using flawed but willing followers to advance His Kingdom. It is a story of faith, grit, and deep dependence on His Spirit. It is the story of the birth and beauty of the church. But it is more than a narrative. It is God’s Word, “useful to teach us what is true.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT) So, as we read, know that God is revealing these scenes to us, twenty centuries later, to help us continue His story. His Great Commission is not yet complete. We have our chapter to write, and the pen is in our hands. – Mike Boze

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of April 18, 2021

Weekly reading: Acts 6-10; Psalm 9-10
Passages referenced: Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 6:1-14; 7; 8:1-3, 26-40; 9; 10:23-48

The book of Acts has a lot of action and growth of the Church. This book shows what the First Church looked like - outside of an actual church building. And it follows the lives of several disciples as they preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers – an astonishing number of which became followers of Christ and were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 6:4, we see the main focus of the disciples is to spend time in prayer and teach the Word of God. We see this lived out throughout the book of Acts. Not only do we see several examples of how disciples maintained this focus, but we also see examples of how we should live our lives. We see the importance of a focus of prayer, connection to God through the Holy Spirit, and sharing the hope of the Gospel within our daily lives, regardless of job, age, gender, socio-economic status, etc. We are all called to live this way (see Matthew 28:18-20). Stephen is a great first example of this. He was one of seven men chosen to oversee daily food distribution (see Acts 6:1-6). As he carried out the task he was given, he continually honored God and performed miracles before being arrested for false accusations (see Acts 6:7-14). Stephen used the opportunity before the high council to preach the Gospel as a way to defend himself before being stoned to death (see Acts 7:1-60).

Within this passage, we are introduced to Paul (see Acts 7:58), who wrote the majority of the New Testament letters. At the time, he was actively persecuting the Church at large (see Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-2) before his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:3-18). Paul began preaching the Gospel immediately to all who would hear it (see Acts 9:19-31).

Tabitha made coats and clothes for the poor and widowed as a way to share the Gospel. Her story became even more impactful when she died and was raised to life again by Peter, which caused several more people to believe in Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:36-43).

Philip followed the guidance he received from the Holy Spirit and found himself in a position to preach the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah but didn’t understand the meaning of what he was reading. Philip explained the text and the Gospel to the eunuch and baptized him (see Acts 8:26-40).

Peter was called to do something unheard of at the time; he started socializing and eating with Gentiles, which was against Jewish law (see Acts 10:28). Not only did he associate with them, but he preached the Gospel message to them and then baptized them (see Acts 10:23-48).

All of these instances were disciples stepping out in faith to share the hope of the Gospel with others. They were able to create more disciple-making disciples connected to God through prayer and the Holy Spirit, following His promptings, and teaching the Word of God to others. – Abby Sroufe

  • How are you inspired and challenged by the example set by these New Testament believers?
  • How are you being a disciple today?
  • How are you being a disciple-maker today?

Note: do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at biblequestions@warsaw.cc We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of April 11, 2021

Weekly reading: Acts 1-5; Psalm 7-8
Passages referenced: Psalm 8:1,3; 139:7-10; 147:5; 
Isaiah 40:12-14; Romans 6:9, 8:37-39


In Psalm 8:1, David sings, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (ESV)

The dictionary says that majestic means to have or show impressive beauty or dignity. When I think of impressive beauty, I tend to think of nature. Last year my husband and I took a road trip down to the Great Smoky Mountains. One of my favorite spots was Abram Falls: a 4-mile hike to see a rushing waterfall in the forefront of brilliant fall-colored trees. It was breathtaking, even somewhat majestic, and one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

I think many of us have no issue appreciating the majestic nature of material things – exotic travels, successful relationships, attractive appearances, and more. Yet, we struggle to appreciate and understand the majestic nature of our God. So who exactly is our God, and why does He deserve the attribute of majestic?

Our God is the creator of the universe. Psalm 8:3 says, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” (ESV)

Our God is omnipotent – He can do anything (see Matthew 19:26),

Omniscient – He knows everything (see Psalm 147:5),

And omnipresent – He is everywhere (see Psalm 139:7-10)!

 

Our God unconditionally loves those He calls His children (see Romans 8:37-39).

 

Our God has dominion over everything, including death (see Romans 6:9).

 

Sometimes we hear these attributes of God repeatedly and forget just how impressive our God actually is. We even may tend to limit God, His character, and His capabilities. However, Isaiah 40:12-14 paints a perfect picture of our God’s limitless, majestic character:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lordor what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:12-14, ESV)

Wow, what a contrast between what God can do and what we cannot do. Our God can do anything, and He does not need anyone’s counsel, understanding, or knowledge. In scripture, God is sometimes called Naddir Kavod (in Hebrew), meaning Majestic Glory. God is the most impressive beauty. We should be in constant awe over our God Himself and all that He can do. Not even Abram Falls can compare to the majestic glory of our God. So now I ask you, does God take your breath away? – Madison Murphy

Reflection Question

  • What are some things in your life that take your breath away? Is there something or someone that is taking precedence over your awe with God?

Note

This week kicks off our reading of the book of Acts. This 28-chapter book was written by Luke, the same author of the Gospel of Luke. It is a continuation of his account of what Jesus did and taught, first in person (in Luke) and then through the Holy Spirit in the Early Church (Acts).

A great resource whenever starting to read and study a new book is The Bible Project – especially their overview videos. They are an excellent source for background information and context as they walk through the book’s sections and themes. And they can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning. Here’s their video for Acts 1-12: https://youtu.be/CGbNw855ksw.

 

 



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of April 4, 2021

Weekly reading: John 17-21; Psalm 5-6
Passages referenced: John 16-20

“He is risen.” – All Christians everywhere

 

Easter is the defining celebration of our faith. This is the point where we most clearly focus on what makes us distinct—Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. We thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ through His death on the cross and the promise of life everlasting with Him thanks to His resurrection from the dead. Woven throughout the final chapter of John, we see this Easter story played out. God’s Word is a rich tapestry, and the main thread is His redemptive plan. Criss-crossing that pinnacle moment in the latter part of John is another important thread, God’s plan for followers of Christ. Let’s spend some time tracing several significant passages from John 16 to John 20 where we can begin to discern our role as followers of Jesus Christ, now that Easter has come. – Nate Metler

 

Invited In (John 16:28) – Jesus is very clear with the disciples that He will not be physically present with them much longer. In John 16:28, He sums things up, saying, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jesus is making it plain that the disciples need to be prepared to step into a larger role, with the help of the Holy Spirit, when He returns to His Father in heaven. This is the role we are invited into as well. (Fun fact: this verse can be seen as an outline for the entire Gospel of John: “came from the Father” 1:1-18, “entered the world” 1:19-12:50, “leaving the world” 13:1-19:42, and “going to the Father” 20:1-21:25.)

 

Knowing Him (John 17:3) – In John 17, Jesus begins a rich, lengthy prayer where He lifts to His Father what is on His heart as He prepares for the cross and returning to God in heaven. In verse 3, Jesus prays, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Here we are given a paradigm-shifting truth. Knowing God, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is where we can experience the reality of eternal life. Being a disciple is fundamentally this.

 

Increasing Joy (John 17:13) – A few verses later in the prayer, Jesus prays, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus’ heart for us is that we would experience His joy more completely as we go about our lives. One mark of a disciple is greater and greater joy in Christ.

 

In the World (John 17:15) – Jesus’ groundbreaking prayer continues, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” While we may wonder why we are here in this fallen world, Jesus is clear that there is a reason. Our purpose on Earth is fulfilled when we are in the midst of this world and trust Him to protect us.

 

United in Him (John 17:22) – As much as we are in the midst of a world that loves to divide and be divided, we are called to unity. Jesus tells the Father, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” We are reflecting His purpose for us to the extent that we embrace unity with our fellow Christians.

 

Defined by Love (John 17:26) – Here in verse 26 and several other key passages, Jesus makes it clear that we are defined and known by God’s love and the love we have for each other. Jesus prays, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” This, again, is countercultural. You probably know some Christians that live this out well. They’re the ones that leave you with the impression that God’s love is more real than you ever imagined.

 

People of Truth (John 18:37) – Jesus has been arrested by John 18, and he is being questioned by the governor. Verse 37 picks up with Pilate saying, “‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” Jesus defines the kingdom where His authority reigns as the kingdom of truth. To be disciples, we must be committed to seeking and listening to the truth (see also John 16:13).

 

Sent Out (John 20:21) – Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Maybe the lesser-known “Great Commission,” John’s Gospel includes the resurrected Jesus telling His disciples to go out in His name. One hallmark trait of a follower of Christ is a commitment to this commission. We are compelled to go out into the world in His name as ambassadors of the hope we have in Him.

 

Believing and Secure (John 20:31) – Toward the end of John, the purpose for the whole book is spelled out. John says, “But these are written that youmay believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John rounds out this picture of a disciple as one who believes and has security that their life is entirely caught up in Christ for all eternity.



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of March 28, 2021

Weekly reading: Mark 16; Luke 22-24; John 13; Psalm 3-4

I treated last week’s devotion as a bit of an intro to this year’s Bible Reading Plan and stressed the importance of getting a good study Bible. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to continue that introductory nature with this week’s devotional. This year we’ll be reading quite a few Psalms, and I want to make sure we have some good background info as we get started.

And just a note before we begin: starting next week, these devotionals will be actual devotionals. Ones that are connected to the weekly reading, that you hopefully find encouraging, challenging, and personal, and that are written by a variety of individuals: staff, elders, members of the congregation, men & women, young & old, etc.

Now, let’s get to know the book of Psalms. Here’s some general info to get us started:

Number of psalms:150

Definition of a psalm: a sacred song or poem used in worship

Especially: one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms

Authors:

David – 73 psalms

Asaph – 12 psalms

Sons of Korah – 11 psalms

Heman & Ethan – 2 psalms

Solomon & Moses – 3 psalms

Anonymous – 49 psalms

Organization of the collection:

Book 1 – Psalms 1-41

Book 2 – Psalms 42-72

Book 3 – Psalms 73-89

Book 4 – Psalms 90-106

Book 5 – Psalms 107-150

Main styles of psalms: lament & praise

Psalms of lament = prayers of pain, confusion, and anger

These psalms draw attention to what’s wrong in the world and ask God to do something about it. They show us that lament is an appropriate response to the evil and injustice we see in our world and that acknowledging our pain can be a healthy and healing experience.

They dominate Books 1-3.

Psalms of praise = prayers of joy & celebration

Since the Psalms are poems and songs, we shouldn’ approach them in the same way we do prose and the narratives and letters we find in other books of the Bible. When we read the Psalms, we should expect to find vivid imagery, lots of emotions, and figures of speech like similes and metaphors.

In The Case for the Psalms N.T. Wright says, “The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul—anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”

Throughout the next year, we will typically read two psalms a week, and we will most likely get through around 100 psalms. That will carry us through Books 1-3 and into Book 4, as explained above. Which means we will see more psalms of lament rather than praise. But maybe that’s a good thing considering the last year we’ve experienced.

I am excited about this year’s Bible Reading Plan, especially that we’ll slowly be working our way through the Psalms. I’m looking forward to the ways I’ll be encouraged, comforted, and challenged by these poems of lament and praise. And I hope you are as well. – Sarah Neel

Sources: The Bible Project: Psalms https://bibleproject.com/learn/psalms/ & A Psalm for All Seasons: Studies in the Books of Psalms by Bob Deffinbaugh https://bible.org/series/psalm-all-seasons-studies-book-psalms



Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of March 21, 2021

Weekly reading: Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-15; Psalm 1-2
Passages referenced: James 1:22

As I was doing this week’s reading, I was reminded of how helpful a good study Bible can be. They are a great tool that can enrich your reading of God’s Word. Sure, there are countless resources out there, especially on the internet. But it’s just so handy to have additional resources included right next to the text you’re reading. And that’s what you get with a study Bible.

My study Bible provides a timeline of the life of Christ, with a special section on His last week, within the Matthew chapters we’re reading. This is helpful because it takes events from all four gospels and puts together the whole picture of the week. Sometimes it can be tricky to remember where each event is found within the four accounts, so this is super helpful. Because it was useful for me, I thought I’d copy it here for you too:

THE LAST WEEK

The Triumphal Entry, JERUSALEM, Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19

Jesus curses the fig tree, Monday
Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14

Jesus clears the temple, Monday
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18

The authority of Jesus questioned, Tuesday
Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8

Jesus teaches in the temple, Tuesday
Matthew 21:28-23:39; Mark 12:1-44; Luke 20:9-21:4

Jesus anointed, BETHANY, Tuesday
Matthew 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; John 12:2-11

The plot against Jesus, Wednesday
Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6

The Last Supper, Thursday
Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-38

Jesus comforts the disciples, Thursday
John 14:1-16:33

Gethsemane, Thursday
Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46

Jesus’ arrest and trial, Thursday night and Friday
Matthew 26:47-27:26; Mark 14:43-15:15; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:2-19:16

Jesus’ crucifixion and death, GOLGOTHA, Friday
Matthew 27:27-56; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

The burial of Jesus, JOSEPH’S TOMB, Friday
Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42

And in my reading of our Mark chapters for the week, I found another interesting resource: a map of Bethany, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem with all the passion week events noted by location. Again, this type of resource adds another layer to our understanding of the narrative. Another great tool that you’ll find in every study Bible is a collection of notes below the text. They can be notes on translation, cultural context, or links to other verses. And some study Bibles even have devotional elements and reflection or discussion included.

So I guess this brings me to the point of all this: get a study Bible and use it. I love the Bible App just as much as the next person because it means I always have a Bible with me, and I can easily switch between translations. But when it comes to daily reading God’s Word and really digging it and studying it, a physical study Bible can’t be beaten. So I hope you’ll get one if you don’t have one yet. And then really use it – feel free to highlight, underline, jot down notes, and add a bunch of sticky tabs. And if you don’t have one yet and aren’t sure how to pick one out, I’d love to help. Shoot me an email (sneel@warsaw.cc), and we can figure out the right one for you.

And as you’re following along with the WCC Bible Reading Plan, be sure to use the Observation, Interpretation, Application guide on the handout. It’s a simple tool that helps you engage with the text and better understand what you’re reading. And be sure to read through the notes in your study Bible, talk through what you’re reading with others using this plan, and encourage your family and friends to join you if they haven’t yet.

I’d like to leave you with one last thing – a challenge I grew up hearing from my pastor that I think is a great reminder as we kick off another year of reading God’s Word together: as we get into God’s Word, may it get into us. May we not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. (ref. James 1:22) – Sarah Neel