Daily Bible Readings
Monday, April 24. Philemon 1:1-22. 1) In this one-chapter letter Paul writes to a man in Colossae about an escaped slave. What do you learn about the quality of life in this church? 2) On what basis does Paul make his appeal to Philemon?
Tuesday, April 25. Acts 4:32-37. 1) How did the early Christians view their relationships with each other? 2) What was the result of that belief?
Wednesday, April 26. Acts 5:1-11. 1) What did Ananias and Sapphira do that brought God’s disapproval? 2) How did it affect the church community?
Thursday, April 27. Acts 6:1-7. 1) What complaint arose in the Jerusalem church? 2) How did the church community respond to it and solve the complaint?
Friday, April 28. Romans 16:1-16. 1) How many house churches do you count in this passage? 2) What do you think the leaders of these house churches were like? Describe them.
Saturday, April 29. Acts 2:41-47. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear God, we thank you that you have given us this meal. How wonderfully the bread and wine transport us to your eternal love and the steadfastness of Christ enabling him to bear the cross with it’s pain and indignity. Lord, it is two thousand years since it occurred, and we re too often guilty of forgetting what it is meant to stir in us. So we ask that you prick our hearts and help us to focus on you and not ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
The Church’s one foundation
by S.J. Stone
The Church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.
Elect from ev’ry nation,
yet one o’er all the earth;
her charter of salvation:
one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with ev’ry grace endued.
Tho’ with a scornful wonder
the world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, “How long?”
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.
‘Mid toil and tribulation
and tumult of her war
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great Church victorious
shall be the Church at rest.
Devotional Article of the Week:
“Car Wash Christianity“
by Phil Ware
As I sat in the drive-through car wash, I looked at the inside of my old Plymouth. The AC didn’t work, a big oil stain covered the front floor mat, “mystery fluid” leaked out from under the hood somewhere, and there was an odd assortment of old trash in the back floorboard of the car. As I drove down the road, most folks would have seen a nice shiny red car that looked good for it’s age. I knew better. I knew it needed some serious work; a lot more than a quick trip through the car wash could perform.
“I ought to do something about this soon!” I thought to myself.
“Nope. It can wait a while longer. You don’t drive this car that much anyway.” I rationalized any sense of urgency away. I did remove the trash, but the stain, the broken AC, and the “mystery fluid” are still very much a part of the little red car driving experience. “At least it LOOKS good!” I re-assured myself.
That’s when it hit me. For the last several years, a friend has asked me to preach a sermon or write an article on what he calls car wash Christianity. My visit to the car wash with my little read car made me realize the time had come!
A lot of us, good and decent folks that we are, go to church to keep up that nice “go to church” appearance on things. Rarely do we delve into the matters that God wants to accomplish in us. That’s because this requires internal as well as external transformation. Some of us hope getting the outside clean and keeping appearances up will suffice for true spirituality. Deep down, however, we fear that if we let God in too close, if we open up our hearts and truly let him look inside us, then we will have to change significantly. Our pet hidden sins, our bits of pettiness, our grip on pride, our fits of self-centeredness suddenly are threatened. Others of us have never ever really seen God’s transformational power at work in the lives of real modern day people, so we don’t really expect that God will do that kind of transformation within us. We end up settling for the appearance of faith without sharing in the experience of faith.
We forget that God specializes in the work of transformation. In fact, the Holy Spirit’s major job description is transformation. Paul reminded the Christians in the wicked city of Corinth that they had been horrible sinners. He gives a long laundry list of sins that described their life. Then he says: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). “God has cleansed you inside and out,” Paul is telling them. In a later letter to the same church, Paul reminds them that the Holy Spirit gives them freedom to become what they couldn’t become without him; God’s children with power like Christ. He says, “We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
How do we open ourselves up to this transformational work of God’s Spirit? While whole books are written to help us better understand this subject, let’s focus on a handful key targets to get us started.
- Seek Christ’s salvation.
- Ask God to empower us with his Spirit.
- Do what God says fills us with his Spirit.
- Seek God’s will which God reveals in the Word of God.
- Pray often, trusting in the power of the Spirit.
The bottom line is that God wants us to be cleansed, re-made, and empowered inside out and out. He doesn’t want us to settle for car wash Christianity when transformational Christianity, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered Christianity are ours. Let’s not sell ourselves short on this matter. Let’s ask God to cleanse us and empower us thoroughly! Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12)