Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, July 11. Read Romans 15:30-33. 1) What is Paul asking the church to do for him? 2) How do you think Paul is feeling at this moment and why?
Tuesday, July 12. Read Romans 16:17-20. 1) What was Paul asking the church to do in this text, and why? 2) What did Paul want for the Rome church?
Wednesday, July 13. Read 2 Corinthians 2:1-4. 1) Why do you think Paul refrained from making “another painful visit”? 2) How do you think the troubles at Corinth were personally affecting him?
Thursday, July 14. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. 1) How did Paul regard himself in comparison to the task he had been given? 2) What was the cost to Paul for carrying the message to Corinth?
Friday, July 15. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. 1) Paul is plagued by what he calls a thorn in the flesh. What effect does that have on Paul’s life? 2) Paul doesn’t say what it is. What do you think it might be? 3) What do you think is to be learned about yourself and others?
Saturday, July 16. Read 2 Timothy 4:9-18. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God, as LifeSpring enters a new stage to which you led us, I ask for you to tenderly watch over her. May LifeSpring become a strong beacon of your presence, more so than she’s ever been. Help her to be propelled from the effects of Covid and indolence and be energetic for you. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen
Hymn of the Week:
O God of Bethel
by Philip Doddridge, 1736
O God of Bethel, by whose hand
thy people still are fed,
who through this weary pilgrimage
hast all our fathers led;
Our vows, our prayers, we now present
before thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
of their succeeding race.
Through each perplexing path of life
our wandering footsteps guide;
give us each day our daily bread,
and raiment fit provide.
O spread thy covering wings around
till all our wanderings cease,
and at our Father’s loved abode
our souls arrive in peace.
Devotional Article of the Week:
As Each Part Does Its Work
How in the world could they do such a herculean task in less than eight weeks?
by Phil Ware
We are swamped with names. Our name fatigue impacts us when we come to certain portions of Scripture. Even the most dedicated Bible readers are tempted to speed read through parts of Numbers, Judges, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. In these books we find long sections of Scripture filled with names. At first glance these names are just hard to pronounce hurdles to get to the good stuff in God’s story of grace as he works through history to bring grace in the lives of his people.
Yet tucked away in these biblical lists are the same kinds of things we find in the lists of names of those on buildings or lists of disaster victims. We find ordinary people who did extraordinary things when they were caught up in some heroic or disastrously awful moment. Many of the Bible’s numerous lists of names provide us some of the most precious gems of Scripture. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we find buried in several lists of names is one of the Old Testament’s greatest accomplishments: the people of devastated Israel rebuilding the walls of the city under the leadership of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah’s triumphant work in doing what others couldn’t do for decades is told very simply and matter-of-factly:
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work (Nehemiah 2:17-18 emphasis added).
The list of names that follow (Nehemiah 3:1-32) this simple statement provide us a remarkable story of unity, perseverance, faith, and leadership. Person after person, family after family, priest and pauper, man and woman, parent and child, all followed Nehemiah into the hard work of rebuilding a wall out of piles of rubble. Before long in their arduous work, the progress could be summarized with these simple words:
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart(Nehemiah 4:6 emphasis added).
More than a list of names, Nehemiah gave us the people behind the blood, sweat, and tears it took to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. These people worked night and day under constant threat of attack, working with one hand and holding a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:16-23). Plot after plot to stop them was derailed by Nehemiah’s faithful leadership and their faithful work. In a beautiful summary of their conviction and dedication, we find these words:
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work(Nehemiah 4:15).
Finally, all these “names” pushed forward to accomplish their herculean task described by these words:
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God(Nehemiah 6:15-16).
Incredible! Nehemiah, a wine taster for the King of Persia went home to Israel and led God’s people to do what they couldn’t do for over a hundred years. How? What was his special secret?
Each person did his or her work. The same principle behind what enables God’s family today to do great things and function as the bodily presence of Jesus. The secret is not a great pastor, minister, or teacher. As in Nehemiah’s day, the success of God’s work depended upon leaders calling and equipping God’s people to serve “as each part does its work”! Regular folks doing God’s work and not caring who gets the credit just as long as God is honored and Jesus’ work is continued.
Jesus promised that if we would allow him to be the head of his church and look to him for power and guidance, we would do even greater things than he did (John 14:12). For that to happen, each part must do its work. Then, more than a wall gets built; Jesus becomes real to the lost world in need of grace.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. …speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work(Ephesians 4:11-16).