The Cross in Front

Sundays: The Gospels from the Lectionary
Matthew 16:21—28

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Peter has just been given revelation knowledge about who Jesus is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Now for the first time, Jesus predicts his suffering and death at the hands of the religious authorities. Feel the contrast of Peter’s former confession of faith with the rebuke that he now gives Jesus.

As Peter participates in the pride of Jesus’ adversaries, the heart of the Savior begins to be in passion already. Peter must be shaken by “tough love.” The Lord looks through Peter’s eyes into his soul—the place where war is waged between Peter and the Enemy. “Get behind me, Satan!”

The only way for Satan to get behind you is if you let Jesus take the lead. Let the cross be in front of you today. Greater than the struggle is the victory that Jesus has won. He holds the war prize—your own soul! Do not let pride, unforgiveness and other unrepented sin wrench it from his hand.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Following You with the cross v. 24
Losing life to saving life v. 25
Nothing more precious than life v. 26
Final payment for my deeds v. 27

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for the version for children and families.

This is the first week in Kingdomtide, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.

Image courtesy of http://hopechurchsussex.net

The Bible Close to You

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Deuteronomy 16:18—18:5

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Kings and priests are mentioned in today’s reading. Along with being prophets, in Christ, you participate in all three classes, because you are en-grafted onto his body. Therefore, read this passage by listening to the instructions directed to you in a special way. If the future kings need to read the law every day, how much more must we read, pray, and respond to the Holy Spirit who sets fire in our hearts from the words of Scripture! Is your Bible always close to you?

17:16 is a strong command: “You must never return to Egypt.” It was tempting for the wandering Israelites to forget the slavery in Egypt when they were hungry and thirsty in the desert. So too will you be tempted at times to return to previous forms of slavery and addiction instead of following the inner call of the Spirit to an evermore complete possession of “The Promised Land.”

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Pursuing only justice 16:20
Cleansing my heart with Thy grace 17:7
My inheritance is Thee. 18:2
Placing Thee first before all 18:4

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for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.tumblr.com


Fire in Forgiveness

Fridays: The Gospels
Matthew 18:21-35

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Parts of words have fire in them. The key to today’s reading comes from the word “forgive.” The word has the root, “give” and the prefix, “for.” The prefix comes from the Latin foris meaning “outside.” Those who speak Spanish will recognize the word fuera, which has the same meaning.

What does “forgive,”mean? Simply this. Take the feelings of pain, resentment, frustration, sadness, fear, etc., which are associated with what someone did to you, and “give them outside yourself.” This is a slightly more complicated way of saying, “Let go.” It means that I will no longer allow the other to have power over me by the resentment that lingers all too long in my heart. In this sense, forgiveness has nothing to do with whether the other has apologized or not; that too makes my serenity depend upon the other. Forgiveness is up to you, prompted by the grace of God.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Always open to forgive v. 22
You forgiving all my sins v. 32
From my heart, forgiving all v. 35
Letting go and letting God

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for the version for children and families.

This is the thirteenth and last week in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We continue reading the Gospel of Matthew.

Image courtesy of http://craigconsidinetcd.com

To God Be the Glory

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 16

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

This is the close to what is acclaimed as the greatest treatise on Christianity in the New Testament. You are reading what moved the “greats”—Martin Luther and John Wesley, just to name a few.

Most of the passage is Paul’s commendation to those especially endeared to him. The woman’s name, Phoebe, in verse 1, means “The Radiant One.” By the way in which you are, you radiate or obscure the goodness and acceptance of God through yourself to others. Your radiance of God’s unfailing love is what people need to find the peace for which they long. Recall verse 5 from Psalm 34 of yesterday.

The center of the chapter contains Paul’s final appeal to unity. When you discuss issues, beware of self-interest, which fosters division.

As you see the sun setting on the day and the season, lift your voice in prayer and praise of God in the final verse of this great letter.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Sending out kisses of peace v. 16
Being wise in what is good v. 19
Strengthened by Thy Gospel, Lord v. 25
To God: glory forever v. 27

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the thirteenth and last week in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.


Today’s Image courtesy of http://www.groupon.sg

An Alphabyte of David

Wednesdays: The Psalms
Psalm 34

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Here is another Psalm among David’s “alphabytes.” Each of the twenty-two verses begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. What is more, we could single out every one of these verses as a verse for the day. Your spiritual “metal detector” will find gold in every one. Verse 18 I often find on my lips as I seek to bring comfort to those in great suffering.

This is the psalm most often quoted in the New Testament. A familiarity with it over this center day of the last week of the season will show you why. It takes its place along with Isaiah, Paul, and Matthew, who are especially uplifting to the spirit. Linger on verse 5 at the end of the day, as it will link beautifully with the name, Phoebe, that Paul will mention in the last chapter in Romans.

Can you find words from A to Z that would summarize each verse?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Blessing Thee, Lord, at all times v. 1
I sought You and You answered v. 4
Seeking and pursuing peace v. 14
You save the crushed in spirit. v. 18

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the thirteenth and last week in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
one each week over the three-year cycle.

Today’s image courtesy of http://christianquotesforyou.tumblr.com

Victories and a Tragic End

Tuesdays: The Hebrew “Writings”

1 Samuel 29—31

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Again a comparison between Saul and Judas, David and Peter…David’s seeking favor from the Philistines is over, similar to Peter wanting to be on the side of Jesus’ adversaries in the courtyard with the servant girl. Both Saul and Judas ended their lives by committing suicide.

Peter and Judas both sinned. While Peter quickly repented, Judas sank deeper and deeper into guilt. David and Saul sinned, but David, like Peter, had a heart quick to return to God. Saul, on the other hand, went deeper into infidelity, and into that vice that ends so many relationships, and even lives—jealousy.

Here they are: the first and second kings of Israel. The stage is set for a long history of kings—most of them unfaithful as Saul, ending their lives in disgrace, just as he. Reflect upon yourself.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Being blameless in Thy sight 29:9
Strengthening myself in Thee 30:6
My heart returning to Thee
You alone, my God, are King

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the thirteenth and last week in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Tuesdays are dedicated the Hebrew “Writings.”

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.kjaggers.com

 

Restoration

Mondays: The Prophets
Isaiah 27

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

As we enter the final week of the season I refer to as “Pentecost,” feel an inward lift in this glorious chapter of Isaiah. If you had a chance to have vacation by the sea, picture the vast expanse of ocean with all its mysterious depths as you hear about the end of ancient sea monsters—symbols of all the chaotic energies of water first subdued in the creation story in Genesis. God will triumph over all enemies. You can be part of that restored people of which Isaiah speaks. If your vacation has been to the mountains, let that place be a symbol of the spiritual mountain where the New Jerusalem rests.

With your spiritual “metal detector,”scan the verses of this chapter of strength and renewal before the next section of Isaiah to come in Kingdomtide. There will be more challenges for you not to fall into the woes predicted for those who are obtuse to God.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
You watering Your vineyard v. 3
Clinging to Thee for safety v. 5
All the world gathered as one v. 12
All coming to worship Thee v. 13

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the thirteenth and last week in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Image courtesy of http://beyondthepoint.co.uk