July 12 Read Acts 10
After receiving the vision instructing him to preach to the Gentiles, Peter is sent into action immediately. Through the Holy Spirit he is sent to Caesarea. Peter must get over his shock of eating what previously had been unclean meats. Now he must go and preach to a Gentile. It is important that this is done in order that the way be paved for the work of Paul. Peter must learn the truth that we too must acknowledge. God is no respecter of persons. As we go through our daily lives, let us not respect a person for who he is other than if he is a child of God. Sing Psalter 176.
July 13 Read Acts 11
Things were happening very fast for the church of Christ. Some might say too fast and seek to slow them down. But we must never hinder the work of the Spirit. When he leads, we must follow. The church had to become comfortable with the fact that Gentiles were to be counted among their number. By his providence and sovereignty God moved some away from Jerusalem so that the gospel would spread, as Christ instructed before his ascension. Saul would be used in this process as well. Finally, the new converts also had to learn about care for fellow Christians. As we work our way through this book of scripture we must always be asking, “What is the Holy Spirit teaching us about life in Christ’s church?” Sing Psalter 287.
July 14 Read Acts 12
Reread verse 24. Notice the little word but. Throughout Holy Scripture we see that word used to emphasize some point. The point in this chapter is that in spite of all Satan could do to halt the progress of God’s word, it grew and multiplied. Of course, that is the work of the Spirit. Just as a small amount of leaven causes dough to rise, so the work of the Spirit caused the word to grow and spread in the hearts of many believers. That word must continue to grow until it is spread throughout the four corners of the world. When that happens, and the last child of God is gathered, then it will be time for Christ to return. There will be intense persecution in those days, but we know that Christ will triumphantly return to take us all to glory. Sing Psalter 407.
July 15 Read Acts 13
In this chapter we see that Paul begins the work for which he was called. He was called to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. The manner in which he was to do this was to go to the Jews first, and when they rejected the gospel, to go to the Gentiles. Notice the progression Paul makes in his sermons. He leaves no doubt that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. In rejecting Paul’s sermons, the listeners were rejecting Christ. May we never reject the true preaching of the word as we hear it from sabbath to sabbath. Sing Psalter 263.
July 16 Read Acts 14
Paul finished the work of the first missionary journey by retracing his steps. In each church he encouraged the new believers and helped them to ordain elders. These men showed the ability to use the word for the good of the new believers. Office bearers are given by God for our good. They help us in our faith and carry out the work of Christ in our midst. May we thank God for such men as they preach the gospel, oversee the church, and distribute the mercies of Christ to those who are in need. Sing Psalter 348.
July 17 Read Acts 15
The church of Christ has been given church government for its organization and care. When disagreements arise, it is imperative that we go the route of church government, acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to solve those disagreements. Church government must use Scripture, as did James, to work out problems that arise. In this way Christ’s church on earth will be preserved until he returns and takes us all to join the church triumphant. Sing Psalter 228.
July 18 Read Acts 16
After separating from Barnabas, Paul retraced his steps through Asia Minor on his way to Europe. While in Lystra he was given a new traveling companion whom he instructed in the preaching of the gospel as he made his way where the Spirit led him. Bypassing many areas where he would return, Paul crossed from Asia into Europe and brought the gospel to Lydia, the Philippian jailer, and others. In doing so Paul, Timothy, and others faced persecution from all sides. But by God’s grace the gospel was preached, the church was gathered, and the word was spread. Sing Psalter 391.
July 19 Read Acts 17
As we read through this chapter we find Paul traveling to three cities in Greece. In two of the three cities he was chased away by those who want nothing to do with the word of God. Yet in each place God had his believers. We know that in Thessalonica a church was established and was later a recipient of two of the inspired letters of Paul. In Berea there were those who “searched the Scriptures daily.” Finally, in Athens the unbelievers mocked the word of the true God of heaven and earth, but even there, a few of God’s elect resided. As we read these words of grace, may we be thankful for the grace given to us in the scriptures. May we search them daily to grow in that grace. Sing Psalter 325.
July 20 Read Acts 18
Paul continues his journey through Greece and comes to the city of Corinth. This was an important city in the Greco-Roman world, and one that was very wicked. However, here too God was pleased to establish a church. Paul preaches, and those who are moved by the Holy Spirit cleave to that preaching. Once again, however, the Spirit has more work for Paul, and he travels to Asia Minor to the city of Ephesus. After giving to them a taste of the gospel, Paul leaves to return to Jerusalem. But out of that preaching comes Apollos, who is convicted by the Spirit to preach. He then goes to Corinth and fills the need for the word of God there. May all of God’s young men listen for the call to preach, and hearing that call, obey. Sing Psalter 428.
July 21 Read Acts 19
On his third missionary journey Paul returns to Ephesus and spends a long period of time among the saints there. We know little about the work, but what we know shows to us Paul’s zeal for and love of God’s word. This is the zeal and love that we must have where God has placed us. We may not be ministers, missionaries, elders, or deacons, but each of us has a calling concerning the word of God. We must learn it and use it in our daily lives. While we may not be called into an amphitheater to defend the word, we must defend it in whatever place God puts us. Even as Paul learned to follow the Spirit in his work, so we must follow the Spirit as expressed in scripture in our lives. In this way we will be used to further the cause of God and to hasten the day of Christ’s return. Sing Psalter 389.
July 22 Read Acts 20
Among the many circumstances of Paul in these chapters, two of them stand out in this chapter. First, we see the zeal of believers as is expressed in the church at Troas as they listened to Paul preach all night. They soaked up those truths as a sponge soaks up water in a drought. Second, we see a good description of the work of ministers, elders, and congregations in Paul’s farewell address to the elders of Ephesus. Reread that speech. See where you as an individual fit into that speech. We all have a calling in the church of Christ. Are we living out of that calling? Sing Psalter 350.
July 23 Read Acts 21
As Paul made his journey toward Jerusalem, we see a parallel to the journey our Lord made. Both were journeying toward the end of their lives. Paul had taken up Christ’s cross, had fought the good fight, and was ready to be offered for the cause of the gospel. What about us? Are we willing to undergo persecution for the cause of the gospel? Do we endure scorn from neighbors, co-workers, and others around us? The day is coming when that will be more and more a normal way of life. We, like Paul, must not shrink from that situation. Let us be ready to face opposition, knowing that the Spirit will help us in whatever difficulty we may face. Sing Psalter205.
July 24 Read Acts 22
Young people, when you make confession of faith, sometimes the minister or elders reassure you not to be frightened as you face the consistory. Those men are your friends in Christ. Could you make a confession of faith as Paul did? Could any of us who are members of Christ’s church face an audience as Paul did and confess our faith even when we know it will bring a firestorm of hatred upon our heads? We can, if we rest assured that Christ by his Spirit is with us. We need to immerse ourselves in the word of God, knowing that the Spirit will guide us in that word. Let us do that daily, never knowing the hour in which we will be called to give an account for our faith. Sing Psalter 204.
July 25 Read Acts 23
While Christ was on earth, he told his disciples that they would be brought before councils. These councils might even be acting in the name of God. But he also told them that they did not have to be concerned about what they would say, since the Holy Spirit would put the proper words in their hearts and mouths. Paul experienced this. He was visited by Christ at night with the most comforting words, “Be of good cheer.” Paul was reassured that he would carry out Christ’s calling to go to Rome. We too can know that the Holy Spirit will aid us when we are called to defend the truth. Let us learn that truth and be ready to use it when necessary. Sing Psalter 91.
July 26 Read Acts 24
For two years Paul was kept in custody by Festus. What does Paul do during that time? He does what he has been called to do. He preaches the gospel. He knows that God is no respecter of persons and has his people among all kinds of people on this earth. Paul has instructed Timothy and us to pray for those in authority, as God will bring to salvation some of those people. God uses means, and Paul knew that he could be the means to bring some of Festus’s court to salvation. May we be ever bold to speak the wonderful words of life to any with whom we come into contact. Sing Psalter 310.
July 27 Read Acts 25
God’s ways toward his people are mysterious. They are not a mystery like a suspense novel, but they are mysterious according to our way of thinking. For more than two years a dynamic preacher and faithful servant was kept from spreading the gospel. But this was God’s way. We will never know on this side of the grave what God’s purposes are for much in our lives, but like the experience of Paul, that they are for our good and for God’s glory. When we have the opportunity to spread the gospel, let us make use of it just as Paul did in Festus’ court. Above all let us know “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Sing Psalter 319.
July 28 Read Acts 26
In this chapter we have Paul’s sermon to Festus’ court. We do not know the outcome of that sermon for everyone who heard it. We do know that God’s word never returns to him void. We also know that that word is a savor of life unto life and death unto death. Any elect in the audience that day who believed received life through grace. Any reprobate who was hardened received the judgment that they deserved without any excuse. May we attend to the preaching of the word faithfully from week to week. May we preach where we have an open door, knowing that salvation is of God and from God alone. Sing Psalter 223.
July 29 Read Acts 27
People of God and especially our young people, do you take the opportunity to spread the gospel by praying in the presence of strangers? Do you pray in a restaurant before you eat? For fourteen days Paul and his shipmates had been tossed by a storm sent by God. Now as their ship is about to be broken by the storm, Paul persuades the people to eat, and before they eat, Paul gives thanks for the bread that they will eat. We can imagine that he also prays for their safety. This should give us the impetus to pray before anyone for the food that God has given to us. In that prayer we should pray for the salvation of any who are seated around us. In that way we can be used as instruments for the salvation of one of God’s own. Sing Psalter 272.
July 30 Read Acts 28
Paul had been assured by God that he would reach Rome. Now he is there. On the way to Rome and in Rome itself, Paul continues the work to which he has been called. He seeks to gather the elect through the means of preaching. The final historical book of the Bible ends with that action. That is the work with which the church is to be busy with. If a church is not preaching, it is likely that it is no church at all. May we never give up that precious heritage that God has given to us. Let us preach the gospel and let us preach it in the confidence that God will use it to hasten the day of the coming of Christ. Sing Psalter 263.
July 31 Read Romans 1
Martin Luther drew from this chapter for his defense of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Paul begins the letter with the usual salutations found in his epistles. Then in verse 16 he begins a section about the deplorable spiritual state of the Gentile world and the only escape from it, as found in verse 17. In verse 20 we find a summary of much of what goes on in the world. People throughout history have seen in creation the necessity of God. However, because they were not given to know the one true God, they could not worship him as he should be worshiped. They also live in opposition to what they see in the world around them. What about us? Do we live as we should? Do we acknowledge the one true God, the creator of heaven and earth? Sing Psalter 86.
August 1 Read Romans 2
Paul does not only shows the evils found in the Gentile world, but he also shows that those who had grown up in the church had fallen far short of the glory of God in their lives and worship. Again we must ask the question, “What about us?” Do we glorify God in thought, word, and deed? Do we take the treasure that we have been given in the word and use it properly throughout our lives? We must know the truth as found in verse 6 to be true. God will render to every man, without exception, according to his works in this life. How will we measure in the final judgement? Sing Psalter 162.
August 2 Read Romans 3
In this chapter the apostle Paul continues an argument about salvation for Jews and Gentiles. Some would argue that the Jews and anyone born in the sphere of the church has a right to salvation. Paul, however, using the doctrine of total depravity, shows that it is only by grace that anyone is saved. From total depravity, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” Paul moves to justification by faith alone. Is this doctrine precious to us? Do we try to thwart it by introducing even a small bit of works righteousness into it? We cannot and we must not. If we do, we remove from God his glory, and that cannot happen. Sing Psalter 253.
August 3 Read Romans 4
Paul continues with the argument of justification by faith alone. He introduces two Old Testament figures, Abraham and David, into the argument. He shows that Abraham was justified before the law was written. It becomes obvious that his justification was without the law and only by grace. From David the apostle quotes from Psalm 32 concerning righteousness being imputed only by God through Christ. In order to combat the errors found in today’s church world, we need to study Romans. Paul’s approach is useful today, even as it was in the early church of the new dispensation. Sing Psalter 83.
August 4 Read Romans 5
Like the good preacher he was, Paul now turns to the application part of his sermon. After establishing the doctrine of justification by faith, he shows us the benefits of that doctrine for us. Being justified gives us peace with God. What a blessing that is! When we are at peace with our covenant heavenly Father, we can rest assured that no storms on this earth can reach us. We can be at peace because our sins have been removed by Christ through his sacrifice, and not even a stain remains on us. We also have as a benefit the hope of what lies ahead. All of our life here on this earth gives us a blessed hope. We go through all kinds of tribulation knowing that there is something much more glorious ahead. Thanks be to God for the gift of his Son who has given to us hope and peace. Sing Psalter 24.
August 5 Read Romans 6
Once again we have Paul answering those who would argue. The next argument is that if a Christian is justified by faith only, then he can live however he wants on this earth. This idea is called licentiousness. Paul quickly forbids that thought and tells us that the next logical step after justification is sanctification. God’s people are called to live a holy life on this earth. Because we are saved, we will want to live a life that is pleasing to God. This is the last part of the Heidelberg Catechism. Young people, you are called to live in a holy manner. You cannot sow wild oats, as some say, because it is a truth that what you sow, you will reap. A life of thankfulness is required of the Christian as a result of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Sing Psalter 217.
August 6 Read Romans 7
Since Christ has fulfilled the law, are we free from obeying the law? Paul answers that question with a resounding No! If that were the case, then his call to sanctification in the previous chapter would be for naught. We need the law to help us walk as sanctified children of God. That is why the law is found in the third part of the Heidelberg Catechism. That is why for us the law is read each Sunday morning. It shows us our need for a savior, and it shows us how to walk in gratitude for that savior. We need that law because as Paul states in verse 19, we are prone to sin in whatever we do. Sing Psalter 42.
August 7 Read Romans 8
In this chapter there are many thoughts that the child of God can cling to in living his life in this world. Look at verse 28. Can there be any more comfort than in knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God? The next verses show to us the golden chain of salvation. That too is a comfort, as it shows to us that the work of salvation is all God’s; nothing from us sinners is required. Finally, reread verses 31 to the end of the chapter. What a comfort! Thanks be to God! Sing Psalter 204.
August 8 Read Romans 9
Once again Paul answers an objection. Was God unrighteous in condemning some, especially Jews? By using the beautiful doctrine of election and reprobation, as well as the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, Paul shows that God is not unrighteous. Many in today’s world do not want a sovereign God. They do not want a God in control of all things. What is your conception of God? Is it a god who loves all men, or is it the God who loves those whom he has chosen from the foundation of the earth. Our God is truly gracious, as the apostle Paul demonstrates. Let us never take away from his grace to exalt man’s works. Sing Psalter 187.
August 9 Read Romans 10
The crux of Paul’s dissertation in this portion of the epistle to Rome is whether righteousness comes by faith or by the deeds of the law. Once again there can be no doubt in the reader’s mind that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. People of God, do you confess with your mouth this truth? Do you do this not only before the church as you make your public confession of faith, but do you do this every day in whatever situation God leads you? This we must do. We are led to such a confession by the preaching of the word. That preaching is God’s way of bringing his people to salvation. Do we listen attentively from Sabbath to Sabbath? Sing Psalter 191.
August 10 Read Romans 11
Another objection is raised from those to whom Paul is writing. In the Old Testament God had called the Jews his precious treasure; has he cast them away? Paul uses himself as an example to show that he had not. While doing so he uses the doctrine of election to show that salvation is not man’s work but God’s alone. To make the Gentiles, to whom he is writing, understand this truth, Paul shows that this truth is also from a God whose ways are past finding out from man’s perspective. Read the grand doxology in verses 33–36 once more. Has not God been merciful in our lives? We do not deserve what we have been given, but it is ours nonetheless. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. Sing Psalter 271.