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October 8 Read John 18 

In verse 4 of this chapter we read that Jesus, despite knowing what the future would hold for him, “went forth” when the band of soldiers sought him. Jesus went forth willingly. He was well aware of the depth of suffering that awaited him, and still he readily submitted to being arrested. Jesus also went forth authoritatively. As the Son of God, he could have easily destroyed all of the soldiers in an instant. The fact that the soldiers all fell back when he declared, “I am” (v. 6) is evidence of the unlimited power that Jesus held in restraint. At all times he was in complete control of the situation. And Jesus went forth in love. Even during his arrest he shows loving concern for his disciples’ safety by making sure that they were not arrested as well.  

Our Savior willingly went forth to the cross with love and authority to save his elect children from their sins. In doing so, he also brought glory to himself. As we go forth into this wicked world, we must endeavor to show thankfulness for our salvation by glorifying him in everything that we think, say, type, and do.  

Sing or pray Psalter #163. 

October 9Read John 19 

Human authority is temporarily granted to people by God for certain periods of time while they are on this earth. God grants this power not just to Christians, but also to the enemies of the church in order to fulfill his purposes. For example, in this text he gives Pontius Pilate the authority to sentence Jesus to death. But whether those who have been given power are using it for good or evil, to glorify God or glorify themselves, God is still sovereign over it all. In Romans 13:1 we are reminded, “There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” There is not one single molecule of the universe that is outside of his control.  

Jesus submitted to the judgment of Pontius Pilate because he recognized that it was according to God’s will. We are also called to submit to those whom God has placed in authority over us (unless they are commanding us to sin). Remember that even ungodly heads of state and employers are part of God’s perfect plan and sovereign will for our lives. 

Sing or pray Psalter #165. 

October 10Read Matthew 28 

At the very end of Matthew’s gospel account we read what is known as the “Great Commission.” After reminding his disciples of the authority that he has to make this command, Jesus instructs them to spread the message of the gospel to all nations. Was this a mandate only for Jesus’ disciples? Or does it apply to churches today as well? And do these words apply to you personally?  

The end of verse 20 shows us that this command is not just for the disciples, but for the church of all ages. And when we evaluate these verses in light of the entire Bible, it is clear that the Great Commission is a directive to each individual believer as well. This is not to say that everyone is called physical to be a missionary. But every Christian must speak the gospel locally to those with whom they come into contact as they faithfully carry out their daily calling at work, school, or home. And we must assist those whose vocation is to spread the gospel globally by keeping them in our prayers and supporting them financially. 

Sing or pray Psalter #168. 

October 11Read Mark 16 

A lack of physical baptism does not necessarily mean that a person has no salvation. But if baptism is only an outward sign of the actual reality of our salvation, why is it so important? Belgic Confession, Article 33 tells us that the sacraments (holy baptism and the Lord’s supper) are “visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God worketh in us by the power of the Holy Ghost.”  Along with the preaching of the word, God uses these sacraments as means of grace. Therefore, our churches continue to baptize infants of believers and newly converted adult believers today. 

The power is not in the actual sacraments, but in the faith that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of those who witness them. Just as children’s books have artwork that helps young children to understand the story as you read it to them, baptism served as an illustration to the new converts of the spiritual reality that was taking place. That is why it was so important for those who believed to be baptized.  

Sing or pray Psalter #174. 

October 12Read Luke 24 

In verse 27 we read about Jesus explaining to his disciples how all of scripture points to him. Do you think about Jesus when reading the Bible, even when reading the Old Testament? Too often when we read the Bible we like to make it about us, but it really is not. In order to study scripture well, we must first thoroughly understand what the passage has to do with Jesus and how it applies to him. And only after we understand that can we ask, “How does this apply to my life?” 

Jesus is central to the message of the entire Bible. He is the main character of every book. He is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. Therefore every little piece of scripture must be read in light of the big picture of the gospel. In verse 45 Jesus removes the disciples’ spiritual blindness so that they are able to understand the truth of scripture. We must pray that he will do the same for us: that he will shine in our hearts “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). 

Sing or pray Psalter #177. 

October 13Read John 20 

Just as Thomas did, we may find it difficult sometimes to believe in something that we cannot see. It is easy to be overcome by the things we can see, such as the sin and brokenness of this world. And then the doubt begins to creep in. Is God really good? Is everything that happens really part of his perfect plan? Am I really a child of God? Thomas had been completely overwhelmed by seeing his beloved Savior crucified, and he began to doubt that Jesus could fulfill his promises and rise from the dead. 

Although experiencing periods of doubt is understandable, it is still sinful. We must repent of our unbelief and ask God to open our eyes of faith. What we see through the eyes of faith is much more important than what we see with our physical eyes. Faith gives us confidence in the knowledge of the unseen that we find in scripture. And what God reveals to us in his word does not lead to sadness and doubt, but to the assurance of our salvation and unspeakable joy. 

Sing or pray Psalter #182. 

October 14Read John 21 

When something excites us, we are eager to tell others about it. If we discover a great new restaurant, finally get that adorable puppy we always wanted, or travel to an amazing place, we do not hesitate to share it. We talk about it enthusiastically to our friends and co-workers, and we take pictures to share with our friends and family on social media. But do you have the same eagerness to share the gospel with others? 

Peter was very upset about and aware of his public denial of Jesus. His ministry was motivated by the fact that he had been forgiven so great a sin. When we spend time in the word, we are also reminded of the depth of our sin and the beauty and wonder of our salvation, a gift of God’s grace. What is more exciting than that? How can a sinner who is saved by grace not share the gospel with everyone that he meets? 

Sing or pray Psalter #186. 

October 15Read Acts 1 

The book of Acts, which was also written by Luke, picks up where his gospel account left off. It provides details of how Jesus Christ continued his ministry from heaven by means of his disciples’ response to the Great Commission. Acts is the first work of church history that was ever penned, recording the first thirty years of the early church’s existence. Why is it so important for us to learn about these early years of the church, or really any church history?  

First, we must study church history so that we do not repeat the same doctrinal errors over and over again. Learning about how our forefathers dealt with false doctrine can help us to identify and combat teachings that are contrary to the truth of scripture. Second, we must study church history to remind us of God’s continuing faithfulness to his people. Evidences of his past grace are a guarantee that he will certainly fulfill his promises in the future, because God does not change. And third, studying church history surrounds us with a “cloud of witnesses,” giving us the motivation to persevere and “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). 

Sing or pray Psalter #188. 

October 16Read Acts 2 

It is interesting to note that the very first event of church history recorded after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is Peter’s sermon. In fact, apostolic preaching is central to the entire book of Acts. It was the chief means by which new converts were called to faith. The preaching of the word also served to strengthen and mature the faith of existing believers by providing them with spiritual nourishment. 

The message of the gospel serves the same purpose in the church today as well. This is why preaching must be central to both our worship services and mission work. Many churches have greatly reduced the sermon portion of their worship service and allowed music or other things to take center stage. But God has ordained to reveal himself to his people mainly by his word. Therefore this word must be at the heart of our worship services in the form of expository gospel preaching. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). 

Sing or pray Psalter #192. 

October 17Read Acts 3 

Peter used the miraculous healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple as an opportunity to teach the people about the divinity of Jesus. He healed the man “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (v. 6) and went on to point out in his sermon that the same Jesus who walked on this earth, whom the Jews had crucified, was the resurrected Lord by whose power they could perform these miracles. Peter proclaimed to the people that even though they had rejected Jesus, there was still hope. He urged them, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (v. 19). 

Peter and John could have very easily used their God-given healing powers to gain adoration and accolades from the people. But instead they used them to glorify God and spread the gospel. Do you glorify what God has done in your life in the way that you speak and type? Or do you use your achievements as occasions to collect glory for yourself?  

Sing or pray Psalter #194. 

October 18Read Acts 4 

The message of the gospel is offensive to so many people today. The consensus of the general public is that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. Christians who claim that their religion is the only true religion are called intolerant or bigots. But the Bible makes clear that there are not many different paths to salvation. There is one right path, and if you are not on it, you are on the wrong path. The right path is faith in Jesus’ name. The wrong path is faith in anything else, whether it be Buddha, Mohammed, or yourself and your works. 

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” By the name of Jesus Christ the lame man had been healed, and his name is the only name that has the power to save us from our sins. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 

Sing or pray Psalter #201. 

October 19Read Acts 5 

In the first few chapters of Acts, we have read about how the early church dealt with persecution and it made them stronger and more unified. But now they face a threat from inside, the threat of hypocrisy. This was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira. They were motivated by the approval of man instead of the approval of God. They projected a false image of spirituality and thought they could deceive both man and God. 

The sudden deaths of these two members of the church were undoubtedly shocking to all those who heard the story. They may have wondered if it was really necessary for God to kill them for such a “small” sin. But by killing Ananias and Sapphira, God was protecting his fledgling church. He was making it clear that true holiness is a requirement for God’s people and that hypocrisy is no small matter. We can find hope in the fact that God is determined to save his people and preserve their eternal life, even if it is at the expense of their earthly lives.  

Sing or pray Psalter #205. 

October 20Read Acts 6 

As the church grew, it became clear that the apostles could no longer handle all of the duties associated with this large community of believers. They appointed several deacons to assist them in caring for the poor and widows so that the apostles could focus on their central calling—to preach the gospel. Stephen was one of these men. He is praised in scripture as having a good reputation and being full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. And Stephen was faithful to his calling even in the midst of persecution. These are all necessary characteristics for a good leader in the church. 

Being an office-bearer is not an easy task. Our elders and deacons may not currently be in danger of losing their lives like Stephen was, but they do have to make sacrifices in order to carry out their calling faithfully. We should be thankful for the godly, faithful office-bearers that God has given us and pray for them often.  

Young men, do you desire to be an office-bearer in the future? Just as we take note of Stephen, learn from the wise, older men in your church. Notice areas where you are lacking, and ask God to help you grow spiritually so that you will be able to serve the church well. 

Sing or pray Psalter #207. 

October 21Read Acts 7 

Israel was God’s chosen people. They were privileged to be able to read God’s word and learn about it from the prophets and priests. Yet in verse 51 Stephen calls them “uncircumcised in heart and ears.” The Jews prided themselves on their circumcision and obedience to the law, but inwardly they were no better than the Gentiles. Although they outwardly had the marks of God’s people, their hearts remained hard and unchanged. As their fathers before them had rejected God’s messengers and even Christ himself, they rejected Stephen’s gospel message and stoned him. 

Have you grown up in a Christian home and attended a true church from a very young age? Have you been learning about the precious truths of the gospel since childhood? You are spiritually privileged. Be thankful for your Christian heritage, but be careful not to put your trust in it. Instead, place your trust in your Savior, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11). We all need the grace of God to soften our hearts and turn them towards him.  

Sing or pray Psalter #210. 

October 22Read Acts 8 

The Holy Spirit often gave the apostles and other disciples the power to do miracles in order to authenticate them as messengers of God’s truth. When Philip went into Samaria to preach the gospel, Simon (a former sorcerer) was so impressed with his signs and miracles that he believed and was baptized. But the verses following indicate that Simon’s belief was motivated by selfish desires, not true faith. 

Simon was guilty of the sin of pride. He desired spiritual power for personal gain and admiration from the people, not for the glory of God. He thought he could purchase these spiritual gifts, but they are only given by grace. The term “simony” is still used to describe the sinful practice of buying and selling church offices or privileges. It is not clear from the text whether Simon repented or not, but if we recognize similar sins of pride and worldliness in our hearts we need to repent and seek forgiveness. The blessing of God is so much more important than money or the esteem of men. 

Sing or pray Psalter #214. 

October 23Read Acts 9 

There was nothing in Paul, no redeeming characteristics, that would give God a reason to choose him. Not only was he not seeking Jesus; he was actively trying to destroy the church. Yet in God’s divine providence he was using this experience to prepare this “chosen vessel” (v. 15) for his calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles. John Newton, who penned the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace,” had a similar experience to Paul. He went from being a slave trader to being a clergyman. He wrote, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” 

Unconditional election is not just an abstract doctrine, but the experience of the apostle Paul, John Newton, and every single believer. God does not recognize any good in his people that persuades him to save them. Rather, he chooses them based on his perfect will and good pleasure. To claim any responsibility for our election for ourselves is to rob God of his full glory. What a comfort that our salvation does not depend on us, but solely on the gracious, sovereign decision of God! 

Sing or pray Psalter #217. 

October 24Read Acts 10 

 

It was always God’s plan to call his people from all the nations of the world. It was not simply a “Plan B” after the Jews rejected him. Passages from the Old Testament such as Genesis 12:3, Exodus 19:6, and Isaiah 49:6 make that clear. But here in Acts 10 the first act of the gospel being brought to the Gentiles is recorded after God sends Peter a vision that directs him to share the gospel with Cornelius, a Roman centurion. 

Peter preaches that “God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (vv. 34–35). And if God does not show partiality, then we should not either. John 17:21 reminds us that we are all one in Christ. The body of Christ is made up of people from all cultures, all skin colors, all social ranks, and all income levels. How can you cross-cultural barriers and fight against any subconscious prejudices that you have in order to share the gospel with others? 

Sing or pray Psalter #220. 

October 25Read Acts 11 

Have you ever wondered where the name “Christian” came from? Acts 11 gives us a direct answer to that question. According to verse 26, the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch while Paul and Barnabas were preaching and teaching there. The name “Christian” means “like Christ.” While it was originally meant as a derogatory term, to be told that you are living like Christ is actually high praise for a believer. To share in the reproach of Christ on this earth is a badge of honor. 

The term “Christian” is only mentioned two other times in the Bible (Acts 26:28 and 1 Pet. 4:16). Although the early church did not choose this name for themselves or use it widely, as time went on it was embraced. A willingness to be called a Christian shows a willingness to say along with Paul and Timothy, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). The name “Christian” expresses the privileged relationship of a child of God to our Savior—we are his. 

Sing or pray Psalter #222. 

October 26Read Acts 12 

James, the brother of John, was the first one of the apostles to be martyred. We read in Acts 12 that he was imprisoned and killed by Herod Agrippa. Although James was in earthly prison and died a humble death by the sword, we know that he was immediately taken up into heavenly glory. Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” 

In contrast, Herod lived a very desirable life on this earth. As a king he had power, authority, and great wealth. He enjoyed feasts and being clothed in royal apparel. The people treated him like a god. But as soon as God decided that it was time for Herod to die, all this earthly glory did him no good. He was eaten by worms and doomed to spend eternity in hell.  

Which of these scenarios sounds better to you? Would you rather have earthly glory or glory in heaven for eternity? Does the way that you live your life reflect your answer? 

Sing or pray Psalter #223. 

October 27Read Acts 13 

Although it was ultimately successful because many Jews and Gentiles were converted, Paul’s first missionary journey was met with fierce opposition. Verse 50 tells us, “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” However, that is to be expected, because the gospel is always very divisive. It separates the righteous from the reprobate. If the gospel message was simply a tolerable opinion that everyone could be okay with, it would not be the true gospel. 

The world is full of opposition to the church. Psalm 2 says that “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed” (v. 2). But no opposition can ever hinder God’s divine purposes. Therefore, we must not let it affect our zeal to spread the gospel. We must be bold despite the consequences, because “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps. 2:12). 

Sing or pray Psalter #224. 

October 28Read Acts 14 

Paul and Barnabas showed appropriate horror when they realized that the people of Lycaonia thought they were gods who had come to visit the earth. They literally tore their clothes at the blasphemy of the situation and pleaded with the people to understand that they were merely men. Rather than accept the worship of these people (which I am sure was tempting to do after all of the opposition they faced), their sole purpose was to point them to God. 

Any pastor or church leader today should have a similar reaction to parishioners who try to show honor to them that should only belong to God. Some examples of this would be following a pastor from church to church or listening to his opinion even if it is contrary to scripture. Can you think of any other examples? There is only one God, and only he deserves our worship and allegiance. No mere man is worthy of these things. 

Sing or pray Psalter #228. 

October 29Read James 1 

Psalm 34:19 reminds us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” But how are we supposed to deal with these afflictions? We may be tempted to complain about our problems or try to escape them by immersing ourselves in the distractions of earthly entertainment or mood-enhancing substances. But James 1:2–4 calls us to take a different approach, to see our trials as reasons for joy. 

How can we be joyful even when we are experiencing difficult things? It is only possible by God’s grace. He understands that trials give us great hardship, but his promises are even greater. Our heavenly Father promises that all of our earthly afflictions are for our profit. Our troubles are not random, but purposeful. 

He also promises that our suffering will bring us closer to Christ and strengthen our faith. And he promises that if we suffer with Christ on this earth, we will most certainly be glorified with him for eternity in heaven (Rom. 8:17). When we think about our afflictions in the context of eternity, we realize that they are momentary and light, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment. 

Sing or pray Psalter #230. 

October 30Read James 2 

The book of James contains many sharp admonitions against those who desired to live an ungodly life despite claiming to be Christians. In the first section of chapter 2, the admonition is against discrimination, referring to those who allow a person’s outward appearance to govern the way that they treat them. Those who show this type of favoritism are more interested in maintaining their own reputation and gaining the approval of others than actually spreading the gospel. 

Have you ever hesitated to approach a visitor to your worship service because they were not dressed in a way that you would consider “normal” for church attendance? Or can you think of another example of a time when you allowed a person’s appearance to direct your actions? God does not choose his people based on their outward appearance, so we must not judge people based on the way that they look or dress either. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). 

Sing or pray Psalter #233. 

October 31Read James 3 

Our words are very powerful. They can be used to show kindness, sympathy, and encouragement to our fellow saints. Or one moment of slander can destroy someone’s life, especially on the internet. Our words are also very difficult to control because they reflect our inward moral state, which is by nature sinful. Regulating our tongues requires so much self-control that if we were able to master it, keeping our entire body from sin would be relatively easy. 

In the age in which we live, we must extend sins of the tongue to include our digital words as well. It is not just our tongues that we need to worry about, but our thumbs. Pause and ask yourself these questions before you open your mouth or unlock your phone: Does what you are about to say or type build up others or tear them down? Does it promote unity or cause unnecessary division? Does it glorify God or glorify you? Pray earnestly for the ability to control the mighty power of your tongue and thumbs. 

Sing or pray Psalter #237. 

November 1Read James 4 

James 4 calls the believer to be humble in all aspects of his life on this earth, but verses 11 and 12 focus specifically on humility in regards to our fellow believer. They warn about the sin of slander, which is to speak against and damage the reputation of another Christian. It is easy to convince ourselves that it is okay to share negative information about people with others as long as we know it is true. The entire culture of the internet with things like Wikileaks, Peeple, and even just social media in general reaffirms this belief. But even though we may be exposing the truth, if it affects other people’s love and respect for a fellow believer we should not be sharing it. 

As Christians, we are called to deal with the faults of others in a very counter-cultural manner. We must follow the pattern of Matthew 18 by confronting others in private and letting the church handle the situation when necessary. “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). 

Sing or pray Psalter #240. 

November 2Read James 5 

“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray” (v. 13). Prayer is the one and only solution to all of life’s problems. Prayer enables us to cast our cares on God and gives us peace. It leads us to God’s word and helps us to put our problems in perspective. Our prayers have power because they are in the name of Christ and show our reliance on him. God works our prayers in us and uses them as a means to bless his people and carry out his sovereign will. 

Are you feeling too overwhelmed or spiritually weak to pray? Ask others to pray for you. Do you see a fellow saint struggling? Offer to pray for them. We must not use the phrase “you are in my prayers” lightly or say it without actually following through. Pray for God to give his strength and Spirit to your fellow saint who is suffering. Since Jesus is interceding for us in heaven, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). 

Sing or pray Psalter #242. 

November 3Read Acts 15 

Acts 15 records the events of the Jerusalem Council. The Jerusalem Council was an assembly of apostles and elders who were meeting together to discuss a pressing issue in the church at this time—whether or not Gentile believers needed to be circumcised. Looking back, we can recognize the two-pronged attack that Satan was launching on the early church. The false doctrine of the Judaizers was causing people to doubt their salvation, as well as producing strife and division in the church. 

Satan is also on the attack in our churches today as we deal with doctrinal differences and conflict among believers. But we can take some lessons from how the early church leaders handled themselves. They met together to search the scriptures and kept their discussions centered on God and his will. And no one man decided what was right, but rather the group came to a decision and everyone abided by that decision, whether it was their idea or not. Pray that God will give wisdom and humility to the leaders of your church so that they are able to handle controversy in the right way. 

Sing or pray Psalter #247. 

November 4Read Acts 16 

In this chapter we are introduced to Lydia, a successful businesswoman from Thyatira. She is an outstanding example of someone making use of her gifts and talents for the good of the church. After she was converted as a result of hearing Paul’s preaching, she used her gift of hospitality, as well as her financial resources, to support those who were doing God’s work by offering them food and lodging. 

Often we are tempted to focus on or envy the talents of others, and we fail to see the unique gifts that God has given us. Think about what you are good at. (If you are not sure, ask someone who knows you well.) What are you doing with these skills? The same God who has given you these gifts and talents will also equip you to use them properly. If you seek him daily through prayer and reading his word, he will direct you on how to use your unique abilities in the service of the body of Christ for his glory. 

Sing or pray Psalter #248. 

November 5Read Galatians 1 

Paul’s authority as an apostle was under attack by the Judaizers. He writes to the churches in Galatia in order to defend his authority as an apostle and to refute the error of justification by the law that the Judaizers were teaching. You will notice in these first chapters of Galatians how Paul defends his apostleship in various ways and begins to warn them against this apostasy. 

False teachers can be very deceptive! Instead of directly attacking the truth, they may try to undermine the authority or character of those who teach the truth. We must be on our guard against this kind of deceitful behavior. False doctrine can enter a church very rapidly. It is important for us to know the gospel well (vv. 8–9) so that we are able to recognize false doctrine and stamp it out quickly. It should not be taken lightly! God has severe and eternal punishment reserved for those who try to lead his people away from the truth. 

Sing or pray Psalter #251. 

November 6Read Galatians 2 

In verse 20 we read Paul’s triumphant doxology. He declares that Jesus Christ is his entire identity. He does not define himself by what other people think about him or by his own personal achievements. Rather, he defines himself by his union with Christ. This freed Paul from self-consciousness or feeling like he was not good enough. His identity was not defined by the sins that he had committed against God’s people in the past, but by what Christ had done for him on the cross. 

When we are united by faith to Christ, he becomes our identity. Where do you find your identity? Is it in yourself or in Christ? Do you find yourself frequently caught up in the bondage of self-consciousness? Finding your identity in Christ as Paul did requires the death of the idol of yourself. It can be difficult for our naturally self-centered hearts to comprehend this idea. Freedom from self-consciousness does not come from finally achieving your goals and becoming perfect, but from being united with Christ in his death and raised with him to a new life of reliance on God. 

Sing or pray Psalter #252. 

November 7Read Galatians 3 

The language that Paul uses in verses 22 and 23 serves to emphasize the very real bondage that comes from trying to keep the law in order to earn our salvation. “Concluded” means to be shut up or enclosed, and “kept” refers to the idea of being under a military guard. Sin is our jailor. By nature we are all prisoners to sin because we cannot stop sinning. We cannot look to the law to save us, because the law is what put us in prison in the first place by pointing out our sin and the punishment that we deserve because of it. 

The only one who can save us from the bondage and penalty of sin is Jesus Christ. When we are blinded by our pride it can seem appealing to be able to do something to “get right with God” rather than helplessly relying on him for our salvation. But when we study the law and the rest of scripture and realize just how impossible that is, we clearly see that true liberty comes only by faith in our Savior. 

Sing or pray Psalter #253.