September 24 Bible reading

24 09 2022

September 24  Psalm 111  Ephesians 3  Isaiah 57:14-21; 58; 59

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 24  Psalm 111  Ephesians 3  Isaiah 57:14-21; 58; 59

Psalm 111

Today I will praise God with all of my heart. Thank You, God! Join me and let us praise the living God who is our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Redeemer. God hears our worship. We have a song of profound meaning to the Israelites in Psalm 111. It is an acrostic poem (using the Hebrew alphabet) and has been memorized by millions. From it, we see that people who love God should consider God’s actions and learn from them. God always remembers His covenant agreement with His people. Later we would read in Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, and 15:33 that Solomon had learned from David and Psalm 111:10. Humility comes before honor. Fools despise this. The knowledge of God, the Holy One, results in good decision-making. What benefits are available from a relationship with God?

Ephesians 3

Paul wrote of God’s plan to offer salvation, equally to Jew and Gentile, through Jesus. Over years Paul had studied Scripture deeply. Jesus had appeared to Paul. The Holy Spirit spoke to Paul. Now Pastor Paul is constantly praying for the spiritual growth of the Ephesian Christians. Paul wanted them to have a confident hope in God’s supernatural power. It is an inner spiritual strength that God brings. The Ephesians were finding this relationship with Jesus as the shaping influence for their identity, purpose, and value. They found new strength by building their lives on this truth. In Ephesus, they saw people of varied cultures come together with a shared faith in Jesus. It is evidence of something beyond the limits of our natural world and broken cultures.

Isaiah 57:14-21; 58; 59

Through Isaiah, God promises the restoration of people who are humble. God calls for true worship and calls out the hypocrisy of bad religion. Service to the poor and help for those in trouble are the actions of people whom God will refresh and continue to guide. God is able to save us. God hears us. Often our trouble is the result of sin: either our sin or the sin of someone else. God is disappointed when people allow injustice and oppression. God will avenge it. God will be true to His covenant agreement. (Remember the people described here were guilty of human sacrifice, including their own children. They had walked away from an honest life of a loving relationship with God. As a result, their world was full of deception and murder. They didn’t know where to find peace.) The prophet sees people who reject God as being like a restless sea. He called out religious people whose “good deeds” were done to make themselves feel better. We must be careful to avoid the same trap. Why are we being generous? Is it to make us feel better about ourselves? When we delight in God and then take generous action with pure motives God will guide us and refresh us. We see God restoring His relationship agreement. Isaiah 59:17 has inspiration for the believers “armor of God”.





September 23 Bible reading

23 09 2022

September 23  Psalm 110  Ephesians 2  Isaiah 55; 56; 57:1-13

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 23  Psalm 110  Ephesians 2  Isaiah 55; 56; 57:1-13

Psalm 110

David writes a prophetic song, in Psalm 110, that describes the Lord as a priest, ruler, and a king. I can’t help but wonder if David wanted to emulate this image. In Hebrews 1:13 and 7:21 this is explained. Jesus Christ the Messiah brought fulfillment. Jesus functions in these ways. Jesus is a better version of what Abraham saw in Melchizedek. The more we read Scripture the more we will understand the awesome beauty of who Jesus is. This song also gives us a window’s view into the relationship between Father God and the Messiah Jesus Christ. This song must have been a wonderful mystery to the people living in David’s time. What have you learned here? What aspect of God is praiseworthy to you?

Ephesians 2

Unhealthy cravings, selfish tendencies, and thoughts leading us to “miss the mark” (in sinful actions) all bring us to separation from God’s love. Receiving the grace of Jesus brings us to a close personal relationship with the God of love. This is a gift we do not deserve. This does not come to us as a result of anything good we may have done, but instead because God loves us. New spiritual life is available.  Through Jesus, God makes a peaceful relationship with Him possible. The people of Ephesus saw this Good News of peace break down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile. In the same way, it can now bring us into an ability to build healthy peaceful relationships with each other regardless of old culture ways of prejudice.

Isaiah 55; 56; 57:1-13

There is so much to learn from Isaiah 55 alone! We can draw from God a refreshing and strength that is life-changing. This comes by way of God’s faithful love, promises, and an invitation to a relationship with Him. We are called to listen, seek, recognize, and respect God. Isaiah knew that God had revealed to David the promise of unfailing love made available through the Messiah. Our God has a purpose. His thoughts and ways are to be respected. God welcomes people who love Him with repentant humility. God will judge those who will not repent. We read that God had observed the way in which the people had forgotten about Him because He had been quiet for a season. His response? “I will expose your so-called good deeds, they will not help you.” Wow, this should serve as a cautionary tale. God is looking for a personal relationship, not hypocritical good deeds. David, Isaiah, Abraham, and Paul learned about the gracious nature of God. They came to respect God’s purpose and see the value of responding to God with faithful love.





3 rough months

22 09 2022

For 3 months now, I’ve been working through the pain, weakness, and exhaustion that covid left me with. I stopped counting the number of things I wanted to do but cannot. I have stopped counting the number of days I desperately wanted to stay in bed. Certainly, many people have experienced worse.

Every day I look to God, follow Dr’s info, and pursue natural remedies as well. My healing will come, by a miracle or other means. So far God has chosen to not heal me, and yet I believe that He may do so at any time. This ailment will leave my body one way or another, eventually. The steps I’m taking will be beneficial regardless. I’ve lost 10 pounds over the past 3 weeks by changing my diet to eliminate possible contributors to inflammation. My insurance does not cover the effective treatment available at Baltimore’s covid long haul clinic, to reset my immune system. I will pursue a request for coverage to go there.

Our family, friends, and spiritual family, City Harbor, have been wonderful despite several people facing more significant health challenges than I am.

This has been a challenge to every aspect of my health, including my mental health.

Today, I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned….some tools that have helped me experience peace.

Take a Breath
Today, I still cannot do the breathing exercise provided by my Dr. As a recovering workaholic, I have learned that powering through my physical limitations to work harder is not always a good idea. There’s a distinction between good pain and bad pain. Ignoring symptoms won’t help. I can be more effective if I will stop, take a breath, and after a moment of silence consider my current reality. What is my body saying? What can I do? What can I not do?

Relationship Time
As humans, we are wired for relationships. Over the past three months, I have received amazing benefits from the long-term relationships that have been built. My most important relationship is with God. Now I spend time breathing and thinking about WHO God is and WHAT God has done. I focus on God’s faithful love, provision, protection, and the miraculous gifts of forgiveness and new life given to me through Jesus my Savior. I focus on the positives. Then, as I continue my breathing, I say “Thank You God” over and over.

Processing Power
After the breathing time, including an awareness of my very real challenges and a focus on God…I remember that God’s love will outlast my problems and my pain. Healing will come. Now it’s time for me to use the full Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr to process. It becomes a practice of drawing spiritual strength from my relationship with God and discerning what can be done about my present reality.

Listen and Write
These practices allow me to hear from God and recognize truth. As a spiritual person, I must listen to find powerful peace. Profound truth rises from these times. I write down the truth. Then I reflect on these truths, at least once daily. This includes Scriptures I believe about God’s healing power. I have seen God provide medically documented miracles to people I’ve prayed for. These memories are an encouragement, within these practices.

Avoiding Poison
What won’t help? My past tendencies to obsess about a problem, focus on the negatives, and allow for selfishness. My past tendencies toward discouragement, depression, anxiety, or anger.

My hope is that this post is a helpful encouragement to you.

Here’s the full Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is; not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”





September 22 Bible reading

22 09 2022

September 22  Psalm 109:21-31  Ephesians 1  Isaiah 51:17-23; 52; 53; 54

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 22  Psalm 109:21-31  Ephesians 1  Isaiah 51:17-23; 52; 53; 54

Psalm 109:21-31

David is not afraid to sing to the Lord, about his blues. David turns his focus away from people who are cursing him and looks to the God of faithful love instead. An object of ridicule, David appeals to the good character of God, asking for rescue. Over the years David has seen God helping people in need. David has been fasting and in prayer through a difficult time. Regardless of God’s response, David commits to continued thanksgiving to the Lord, for the way He has stood by the poor and defended them. David is praising God before seeing an answer to the prayer. What lessons are to be learned here?

Ephesians 1

Paul writes a letter to the church in Ephesus, with whom he had previously spent at least three years. Paul is being held prisoner in Rome, and yet he writes a beautiful letter about our response to God’s love and grace. God’s plan for redemption available through Jesus was in the works before the creation of all that we see. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit loved us and planned to purchase our freedom and make forgiveness and an inheritance available to us. Paul interacted with Jesus personally. He received truth from Jesus directly. We can grow in a confident hope through this truth. One day God will bring everything we see under the authority of Jesus Christ. Like it or not, believe it or not, this is the truth. This leadership of Jesus Christ includes benefits for His faithful followers.

Isaiah 51:17-23; 52; 53; 54

Through the prophet, Isaiah God explains how His redemptive plan interacts with the free will decisions of people. God predicts a time when He would bring an end to the suffering of Israel. He explains that when they chose to reject Him, it meant giving over control to other people who abused them. There’s a blessing on people who are willing to share the “good news of peace and salvation” with others. In Isaiah 53, we read a specific prophecy of the coming Messiah that was fulfilled by Jesus. It is a powerful description of the suffering Jesus would endure when He would take on Himself the sins of us all. God promises the restoration of a repentant Israel. This includes restitution and a wholistic peace for all the faithful.





September 21 Bible reading

21 09 2022

September 21  Proverbs 23:10-18  Galatians 6  Isaiah 49:8-26; 50; 51:1-16

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 21  Proverbs 23:10-18  Galatians 6  Isaiah 49:8-26; 50; 51:1-16

Proverbs 23:10-18

Learning requires listening and commitment. God is aware of how we treat people, and He cares about our motives and actions. One day we will give account to God for how we live. We should live in light of this truth. Those who draw their hope from their relationship with God will not be disappointed. Providing structure for your children and bringing consequences to wrong behavior will help them avoid serious problems in the future. This is worth your time in consideration. God’s love brings guidance which helps bring good health and joy.

Galatians 6

In chapter 5, Pastor Paul taught us to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. In chapter 6, he contrasts this with the results of allowing our sinful cravings to guide our lives. He also calls local church believers to “gently and humbly” help a person who has drifted into consistently making such mistakes, guiding them back onto the right path. Paul teaches believers to find freedom in Jesus. This is connected to clear instruction to avoid comparison and maintain focus on our own personal integrity. Living to please one’s self first will bring decay. Living to please the Holy Spirit will be life-giving. It’s a critical issue. We should respond to this with deep reflection, prayer, Bible reading, and asking God to show us the state of our heart. Don’t give up. Each day is new with Jesus.

Isaiah 49:8-26; 50; 51:1-16

Through Isaiah God speaks of His plan to offer His love to people of all nations. God has seen the suffering of His people and felt their pain. He will restore them. We are called to trust in the Lord who created all that we see. God our Creator is constantly interacting with each person. We are now able to receive Jesus the Messiah. We can participate in this plan for people of all nations. Again we are called to trust the Lord has been proven to be our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Redeemer.





September 20 Bible reading

20 09 2022

September 20  Psalm 109:1-20  Galatians 5:7-26  Isaiah 47; 48; 49:1-7

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 20  Psalm 109:1-20  Galatians 5:7-26  Isaiah 47; 48; 49:1-7

Psalm 109:1-20

David is being attacked with lies, false accusations, and spiteful curses. Envious people are spewing poison at him. Despite his efforts to do good and show them, love, it is hate they are showing. In this situation, David appeals to God. Let’s learn from this. God cares about what we are going through. David communicates honestly with God. The best days of his life are made possible because he believes this truth and lives by it. David makes this decision on the worst days.

Galatians 5:7-26

Paul refutes false teaching that has a distorted focus on external behaviors. As Jesus followers, we are free from a legalistic approach to life. Paul instructs us to use our freedom to serve each other in love. This should be included in our motive to love our neighbors. It’s only possible when we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. We should see the Holy Spirit change our cravings to that which is opposite of our sinful nature. Paul has identified several sins, such as sex outside of marriage, worship of something other than God, selfishness, divisiveness, and drunkenness. In contrast, a life led by the Holy Spirit will produce: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Following Jesus compels us to walk away from selfishness. It also brings us this amazing list of character traits found as a result. Who wouldn’t want such a peaceful life?

Isaiah 47; 48; 49:1-7

Through the prophet Isaiah, God predicts the judgment on Babylon. The Babylonian nation had oppressed the Israelites. When these predictions came true it was recorded in their history and serves as another proof of God’s sovereignty. Repeatedly God outlines the contrast between the characteristics of what they had been focused on and His own character of faithful love. We also read more prophecies about the coming Messiah, who would be a light to all people offering salvation to the nations throughout the earth. One day all rulers will bow to Jesus.





September 19 Bible reading

19 09 2022

September 19  Psalm 108:6-13  Galatians 4:21-31; 5:1-6  Isaiah 44:23-28; 45; 46

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 19  Psalm 108:6-13  Galatians 4:21-31; 5:1-6  Isaiah 44:23-28; 45; 46

Psalm 108:6-13

David starts early with praise for God’s faithful love. David sings about the powerful majesty of our sovereign God. Then he calls for God’s help with their enemies. This request is consistent with the character and plan of God. The people needed help with enemies who are too much for them. Despite facing serious challenges, David begins the day with a focus on God’s love. This should be a life-changing lesson for us.

Galatians 4:21-31; 5:1-6

False teachers with bad motives were working to pull people away from following Jesus in their Christian church fellowship. Such teachers were twisting the truth to gain influence among people. As “spiritual influencers” they were saying that a person does not need to look to Jesus for salvation, but instead that a person could earn God’s favor (and a place in Heaven) by simply being a good person. They included a requirement of following all of their spiritual laws.

Paul writes, “what is important is faith expressing itself in love.” We cannot make ourselves right with God by obeying the rules. As we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we can receive the grace of God coming to us by what Jesus has already done for us. We are free! Now we can express our faith in Jesus by loving God with all we’ve got. We can live our days as a “Thank You” to God. We can live out of love.

Isaiah 44:23-28; 45; 46

God will do what He said He would do. God predicts the future salvation of people from Africa. We read a clear contrast between the One True Living God and the false gods of Babylon. Incomparable! It is foolish to worship anything that has been created as being more valuable than God. In Isaiah 46:4 God says, “I made you. I will care for you. I will save you.” This is the Who that we should be responding to.

Our God Yahweh speaks through Isaiah to the Israelites, reminding them of His faithful love for them, in creating them, providing for them, rescuing them, and taking care of them in a way that other gods had not. Around 12 years ago, a prophet named Dick Mills picked me out of a crowd, not knowing me, and quoted Revelation 3:8; Isaiah 30:21; 43:2-3 speaking over me. This word about God opening doors was the first confirmation I received of having heard from God about moving to Baltimore to pioneer a new church. In Isaiah 44-46, God predicts freedom for His people and the future salvation of Gentile believers. God says, “Let all the world look to me for salvation!” For I am God: there is no other.” 45:22 We should recognize God as a source of strength, giving the ability for healthy relationships. In this way, we will realize the truth and receive God’s guidance.





September 18 Bible reading

18 09 2022

September 18  Psalm 108:1-5  Galatians 3:26-29; 4:1-20  Isaiah 43; 44:1-23

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 18  Psalm 108:1-5  Galatians 3:26-29; 4:1-20  Isaiah 43; 44:1-23

Psalm 108:1-5

David is completely reliant on God. There is hopeful confidence and peace in this song. David believes that God is more powerful than the challenges he is facing. Things that are beyond David’s control are not too great for God. Having considered his life experiences, David sings about the faithful love of God early in the morning. Your own outlook on life will change when you recognize God’s love and sing your personal praise to God.

Galatians 3:26-29; 4:1-20

Who are we? Paul writes about this. Who Jesus is…that is the starting point. Jesus Christ is the foundation. We should find our personal identity in Jesus first. Everything else follows. Paul writes of personal identity starting with our place as children of God (by faith in Jesus as Savior). This identity is more important than our gender, our ethnicity, or our status in society/vocation. Because of Jesus we are also heirs to the promise of blessing that God gave Abraham, salvation through the Messiah. Through Jesus, we can also be “blessed to be a blessing” to others. We are no longer compelled to repeat our mistakes. We now have freedom.

Isaiah 43; 44:1-23

God speaks powerfully about His protection for people who claim Him, as their God. In Isaiah 43, God reminds the Israelites of the ways that He has fulfilled the promises He made to them in bringing them to freedom (because He loves them). God also promises to walk with them through difficulty. God says that He would do something new. God will cleanse them from sin and make a path to freedom for them, bringing refreshing in a dry place. May you experience peace today, as you trust in your Creator. God revealed Himself to us through Jesus, “God with us”. Whatever you are going through, God is walking with you through it.





September 17 Bible reading

17 09 2022

September 17  Proverbs 22:28-29; 23:1-9  Galatians 3:10-25  Isaiah 41; 42

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 17  Proverbs 22:28-29; 23:1-9  Galatians 3:10-25  Isaiah 41; 42

Proverbs 22:28-29; 23:1-9

A lifestyle of honest hard work is a sign of wisdom. A God-informed value system will provide healthy guidelines for this. Further, there’s a benefit to good stewardship of resources (including money earned). Proverbs 23:4-5 reminds us that money is a tool that will not last forever. We should think through our value-based approach to it. It is possible to be a good steward of money without being a miserable companion. Receiving God’s love and provision brings joy. We can love God with our best and love our neighbors in the same way we care for ourselves.

Galatians 3:10-25

When Jesus was crucified, He took on Himself the curse that came from the sin of all humanity. Jesus rescued all who would receive Him as Savior. Paul writes about this truth. He is dispelling the myth that simply obeying all of God’s commandments would ensure your place in heaven. By faith, we can receive the grace of Jesus. God made a promise of blessing to people from all nations in His covenant agreement with Abraham. God gave laws to Moses to show people how their sin breaks this agreement and brings consequences (instead of the fulfillment of the promise). We receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus. As we receive this salvation, it can be a community-forming event.

Isaiah 41; 42

Constantly turning ourselves to the guidance of God is the right thing to do. It is also what is best for us. In Isaiah 41 God refers to the benefits of this relationship: courage, strength, comfort, companionship, direction, identity, purpose, redemption. In Isaiah 42 we read that freedom, mercy, and justice are signs God’s Kingdom. Regarding the Messiah, Isaiah 42:4 reads as follows in the Greek, “His name will be the hope of all the world.” Jesus and therefore His followers are to be the “light to guide” all. Through Isaiah God promises to be their Redeemer, a present help and strength. This help doesn’t come from idols. In Isaiah 42 we read a powerful and beautiful promise of the Messiah, a future blessing to people, from all nations, who would receive Him. We are called to sing new songs of praise to God for this Messiah.





September 16 Bible reading

16 09 2022

September 16  Psalm 107:33-43  Galatians 2:11-21; 3:1-9  Isaiah 38; 39; 40

Please read the suggested passages, prayerfully consider them, and the questions below. My comments here may be helpful after those moments. The suggested daily reading is for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible within a year.

Reading the Bible is helpful in taking the next steps to follow Jesus. It may not be easy and yet it can be rewarding. Digging into Scripture alongside people you know is a life-giving way to pursue answers together. We discover the love that God has for us has been expressed through Jesus.

  • What’s the plain simple truth of the verses you read?
  • Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
  • What should you do about that truth?

September 16  Psalm 107:33-43  Galatians 2:11-21; 3:1-9  Isaiah 38; 39; 40

Psalm 107:33-43

Our God brings refreshing, good health, and productivity out of situations that seem impossible. People with wisdom will recognize God at work in these stories and learn from it. Today we can look to God in this same way. Where people choose rebellious darkness God allows destruction. Where people choose the faithful love of God there is peace and healthy living. As we grow in wisdom we are able to see the faithful love of God at work throughout the events of our history. We should “take all this to heart”.

Galatians 2:11-21; 3:1-9

When Peter visited Paul (and the Antioch church, a primarily Gentile, thriving, influential church) a fear of criticism from Jewish believers caused Peter to withdraw from eating with the Gentile believers. Prioritizing the opinion of influential people, ethnic pride, and a wrong-headed church culture, brought about Peter’s mistake. Paul’s correction of Peter clarifies an essential teaching of Jesus’ Good News: we can be made right with God by faith in Jesus, not obeying the Old Testament law. We receive new spiritual life in our relationship with Jesus. This is not determined by our heritage of ancestry, ethnicity, race, or our own good deeds (they had people trying to get into heaven by being good people without a personal relationship with God). Instead, we read here that we should be drawn into a new focus on the spiritual life from Jesus Christ! Now my old life is gone. Now I have new life in Jesus. Now this salvation is available, by faith, to people of all nations.

Isaiah 38; 39; 40

Among the lessons learned from King Hezekiah, we should grow in our faith that God can change the worst circumstances of our lives. Looking to God for guidance is life-giving. Even when God says things that we may not want to hear there is truth that will prove to be what is best. We should learn humility from King Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38:16-17. There’s wisdom in considering the brevity of human life, as seen in 40:6-11. We should take comfort from the truth that God’s faithful love will last forever. With great care, God will always be leading us. God has wisdom and strength beyond anyone else. Considering God’s generous nature can bring you strength, Isaiah 40:25-31. As we trust God we will find new strength.