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Bible Reading Plan | Devotion for the week of April 11, 2021

April 12, 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 Lord, or 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 for the week of April 4, 2021

April 8, 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 you may 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 for the week of March 28, 2021

March 31, 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

These psalms draw attention to what is good in the world. They retell stories of what God has done in our lives and thank and praise Him.
They dominate Books 4-5.

Since the Psalms are poems and songs, we shouldn’t 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)

WCC Hosting Food Drop April 16

March 29, 2021

WCC is glad to partner with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana again to host another Kosciusko County Mobile Food Drop on Friday morning, April 16 in the Warsaw Community Church parking lot. An assortment of food from perishables like dairy and meat products to non-perishables are usually distributed. If you or someone you know is in need of food, please come to Warsaw Community Church on Friday, April 16, 10am-12pm.

As part of a federal grant for COVID relief, Feeding America and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana are responsible for distributing food to household’s in need throughout northern Indiana. Every week they work with organizations, non-profits, businesses, and churches to host a mobile food drop location. Assorted food items are offered free of charge through the grant. All items are pre-boxed and pre-bagged. First come, first served, while supplies last for those in need of food assistance. Distributions are drive-thru. Please remain in your vehicle and open your trunk to receive items.

Please note that volunteers are needed to help at the food distributions and are required to follow current state and county health guidelines relating to COVID-19. Bring a mask or face covering to wear while volunteering. This event will take place rain or shine, and warm dress is strongly encouraged depending on the weather.

For questions or if you’d like to volunteer, contact: Greg Demopoulos, 574-268-0188 ext.256

Easter Egg Hunt Saturday

March 29, 2021

Warsaw Community Church is proud to partner with the Kosciusko County Fair, Creighton Brother’s, and Caudill’s ATA Martial Arts to host the Warsaw Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 3, at 1pm in the south lawn at Warsaw Community Church.

To know how many kids to expect so we can follow county health guidelines, please register online for each of your children 0-12 years of age that would like to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt. We will have marked off “hunting grounds” for multiple age groups and will have multiple hunts to spread kids out.

For everyone’s safety, please bring masks when you are in line registering/checking-in, or when you cannot space out easily.

We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

Volunteers are needed for a short time with set-up, scattering eggs, managing the “hunting fields” and clean-up… if you would like to help, please email Greg Demopoulos, or call him at 574-268-0188 ext.256

Warsaw Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 3, 1pm

Warsaw Community Church south lawn

Register Online Here

Bible Reading Plan | Devotion for the week of March 21, 2021

March 23, 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

making the connection | March 14, 2021

March 18, 2021

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

6The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

7“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” – Revelation 22:1-9

Think back to one of the earlier sermons of this Paradise Lost series when we learned that we’re called to be ‘Tikkun Olam,’ repairers of creation. We have the honor and responsibility to help repair what’s broken in our world until God returns and ultimately restores it. We know we won’t fix it, but we are called to make a difference. We have an opportunity to love others and bring a little taste of heaven to our world every day.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught people how to pray by saying, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9-10)

After we pray that, we shouldn’t just sit around hoping it will happen. We have the opportunity to begin to bring heaven to earth, a new kingdom to earth. Because, as Christ-followers, we’re citizens of an eternal kingdom. We’re citizens of the city of God, not a city of man. And we should live as citizens of the city of God while we’re in the city of man. And while we won’t fully realize heaven in our lifetime, we can bring bits and pieces of it here now.

Take some time this week to reflect on both this week’s sermon and the Paradise Lost series as a whole. Use the following prompts to guide your reflection:

  • What are some things you can do to be a repairer of creation, to bring a taste of heaven to earth?
  • What have you learned about God during this series?
  • What have you learned about God’s story of redemption during this series? About Jesus?
  • What have you learned about humanity during this series? About yourself?
  • Which sermon was most challenging? Why? How are you still processing what challenged you? What are you doing to respond to it?
  • Which sermon was most encouraging? Why? How has it changed your thinking or your actions?

Praise set:

Hands to the Heavens (2013 © worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), Razor and Tie Music Publishing (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), Tofer The Musical (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), and U, performed by Kari Jobe, written by Bryan Brown, Kari Jobe, and Tofer Brown, CCLI #6460471)

He Is Faithful (© 2011 Jesus Culture, performed by Jesus Culture, written by Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt, CCLI #6087902)

Where Were You (2013 ©  E On The Eye Chart (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), It’s All About Jesus Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), Songs From The Penalty Box (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), and We Are Younger We Are Faster Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), performed by Ghost Ship, written by Cam Huxford and Brian Eichelberger, CCLI #7007932)

Is He Worthy (© 2018 Jakedog Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) and Remaining portion is unaffiliated, performed by Shane & Shane, written by Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive, CCLI #7108951)

Bible Reading Plan | Devotion for the week of March 7, 2021

March 11, 2021

Weekly reading: Revelation 18-21
Passages referenced: Romans 8:18-22; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Revelation 21:1-5; Revelation 22:1-3, 21

God’s timing is pretty impressive. We set up the Bible Reading Plan well over a year ago. Our current series, Paradise Lost, was decided a couple of months ago. And here we are this week seeing these two meet up. On Sundays, we’ve been looking at the creation of Heaven and Earth, life in the Garden of Eden, and many other details of our origin story. And this week, we’re finishing up our reading of the New Testament, which includes John’s prophecy of “a new heaven and a new earth” and Eden being restored in chapters 21 and 22, respectively. As I said, God has some pretty impressive timing.

In the last few weeks, we’ve looked at God’s perfect creation and the perfect life He created in the garden. But then we’ve also looked at how we now live outside that perfection because of free will and bad choices. But thankfully, we know the story doesn’t end there. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Think back to high school English class. Is that when we learned about story structure? Or maybe middle school? I can’t remember anymore – it was too long ago. Anyway, at some point in our education, we learned about story structure. Here’s a little refresher for you:

Introduction – background information that establishes the setting, mood, and characters; it describes the situation and may provide some backstory

Rising action – exciting forces or inciting events begin to occur; often, characters face or try to solve a problem which results in conflicts within themselves or with other

Climax –the turning point; the crucial moment; the point where the building tension reaches a peak

Falling action – the part of the story that explores the consequences of the climax; the tension in the story begins to ease

Resolution – the story’s central problem is finally solved, leaving the reader with a sense of completion

Many stories follow this structure, especially ones that are short and simple. But the Bible is far from simple and short. And it is both one story and many stories. It has many sets of rising and falling action. But if we look at it as one large narrative, we see a beautiful story of redemption. The introduction is what we’ve been covering on Sundays. The rising action is what takes place between the Fall and the arrival of Jesus. The climax is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The falling action is the establishment of the church up to our point in time and beyond. And then the resolution will be what we in Revelation 21 & 22:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:1-5)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse… (Revelation 22:1-3)

As we find ourselves in the falling action of this great story of redemption, at times, it can be difficult to know what to do as we long for the resolution. First, we can take comfort in knowing that isn’t a unique feeling. Paul discussed this in his letter to the Romans:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:18-22)

We wait here in the falling action, in ‘eager expectation’ of what is to come. But we can rest in the knowledge that all things will be made new, death will be replaced with life, and God’s presence will permeate every bit of His new creation. And there’s plenty for us to do while we wait. We can get busy joining God in His redemptive work by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with those that don’t yet know Him.

And as we wrap up our year in the New Testament, it feels fitting to have the last words of the Bible be the last words I leave you with. So, as we long for the resolution of this story and share the truth of God’s redemptive story with those around us, I pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21)
– Sarah Neel

making the connection | March 7, 2021

March 9, 2021

Your blood speaks a better word / Than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth / Speaks righteousness for me / And stands in my defense / Jesus it’s Your blood

What can wash away our sins? / What can make us whole again? / Nothing but the blood / Nothing but the blood of Jesus / What can wash us pure as snow? / Welcomed as the friends of God / Nothing but Your blood / Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

Your cross testifies in grace / Tells of the Father’s heart to make a way for us / Now boldly we approach / Not by earthly confidence / It’s only Your blood

Nothing But The Blood, Matt Redman

We are so blessed to know more of God’s story than what we’ve been reading in Genesis. We know that Cain and Abel’s story and its lessons don’t end in Genesis 4. We are blessed to know the Savior who finishes the story.

We see this in Hebrews: “You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:23-24, NLT)

While Abel’s blood cried out for justice and vengeance, Christ’s blood cries out for righteousness on our behalf. As Sam explained on Sunday, Christ’s blood cries out, “Father, your law demands justice. These people have sinned and gone their own way. And the penalty for that is death. But for all who believe in me, their sins (past, present, and future) have been paid fully in my blood. So here is my blood crying out for righteousness for those who are found in me.”

God has provided a path to approach Him. And it is through faith in the finished work of Christ. And in that, we have victory over the curse of sin and the potency of sin. And as Romans 8 reminds us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NLT)

Praise set:

God So Loved (© 2019 Andrew Bergthold Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), We The Kingdom ASCAP Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), and We The Kingdom Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), performed by We the Kingdom, written by Andrew Bergthold, Ed Cash, Franni Cash, Martin Cash, and Scott Cash, CCLI #7138599)

We Praise You (© 2019 Maverick City Publishing Worldwide (Admin. by Heritage Worship Publishing), Bethel Music Publishing, and Remaining portion is unaffiliated, performed by Bethel Music, written by Brandon Lake, Brian Johnson, Matt Redman, and Phil Wickham, CCLI #7130961)

Jesus You Alone (© 2018 Highlands Creative Publishing (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.), performed by Highlands Worship, written by John Larson, Nicole McLean, and Jesse Reeves, CCLI #7120418)

Nothing But The Blood (© B2004 Thankyou Music, performed by The Worship Initiative, written by Matt Redman, CCLI #4329411)

Bible Reading Plan | Devotion for the week of February 21, 2021

March 1, 2021

Weekly reading: Revelation 8-12
Passages referenced: Revelation 8:3-4

Revelation is a very complex book. One that some people dedicate their entire lives to studying and interpreting. For us, average readers doing a casual reading of the book rather than a dedicated study of it, Revelation can be confusing and frustrating. It’s full of detailed imagery of perplexing things. But that isn’t a reason to avoid it altogether nor dedicate our entire lives to studying it.

So what does that middle ground look like? Well, we need to understand that John’s revelation speaks of things to come, both in his time and ours. But it also includes lessons for us today. Knowing that something is coming is different than knowing there’s something we can do now.

One such lesson is in Revelation 8:3-4. After the seals and before the trumpets, we find a good reminder for us today:

Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. – Revelation 8:3-4, NLT

This passage shows us that God hears our prayers. We also see that prayer is part of worship, of praising Him. We often think about prayer as our requests, what we want to happen, and what we want from God. Does He hear those prayers? Yes. Does He answer them? Yes. But prayer is so much more than that. It plays a bigger part in our own spiritual lives. Prayer is pleasing to God because we’re showing dependence on Him, and we’re seeing Him more for who He is.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the future or understand about the book of Revelation. But there is something we do know and should understand: prayer matters. Our prayers are pleasing to God. And prayer is a vital part of our relationship with Him. So remember to pray. And remember to look at prayer correctly, maybe differently than you have before. – Todd Gerst