Week 51

Paul is not the only apostle. He is not the only one traveling from city to city, church to church. This week we will hear from several other important voices who are leading the young Church through struggle. Jesus may have taught that a prophet is without honor in his hometown, but his family knew who He really was. Mary raised Jesus to
live out His purpose from God. It is highly unlikely that she would not teach the rest of Jesus’ brothers and sisters about it, too. James is the brother of Jesus and was recognized by all the apostles as the unofficial leader of the Church of Jerusalem. He writes to the believers who are scattered throughout the empire as a result of persecution that had broken out against them several years earlier. He acknowledges that life in Christ is not easy, but faith requires actions as well as words. James’ letter is a stirring encouragement to live a life worthy of their salvation in Jesus. It is a passionate call to justice, righteousness, and good works. A life of faith is a life that makes the world better, and in the face of so much violence, the world needs all the good it can get. John and Peter were two of the original disciples who also write to strengthen the church against all challenges and threats. Peter was the first called by God to reach out to the gentiles. His letters give a haunting reminder of our
new identity in Christ and, like James, calls us to live up to it. Many of Jesus’ first disciples have already died, several at the hands of officials trying to stamp out the new movement. Regardless of who is writing, a similar message is heard from all. Jesus is the gift of God to save the world from its sins. The persecution and suffering are increasing. The anonymous letter to the Hebrews speaks to the divisions between the Church and the Synagogue. Many believers are losing their jobs and homes because of their new faith. Many have been disowned by their families. Many are being
imprisoned, beaten, and killed. They need to know that all of their struggle will be worth it. They need to know that they have chosen the right path. This journey is leading up to John’s visions of the future in Revelation. It is a strange and confusing book filled with frightening images of the end of the world. Believe it or not, Revelation is simpler than we sometimes think, but we will cross that bridge next week. In the meantime, allow the good words of these apostles speak to you as never before, and remind you of who you really are in Christ. No one ever said that being a Christian
would be easy, but it will most certainly be worth it.
It is time for all of us to decide what we will do in January. How shall you continue to read in God’s Holy Word every day? That is the goal. Some of you will join a Bible study. (I hope you all will!!!) Some of you will want to start over on January 1 and read through the Bible again. Others may want to spend the first ninety days of the new year
reading through all four Gospels one chapter at a time. Others may want to develop other plans of reading to perhaps spend more time in the New Testament. However you decide to spend he coming year, I hope you will continue to spend it in the Word. As we’ve already seen, it helps to have a plan. We did not journey through the entire Bible without a plan. You won’t drive from Coast to Coast by just meandering from town to town. Be specific. Focus on what you hope to do in the Word.
Keep reading and I’ll see you in the Bible!!

WEEK 51 Reading Schedule:
Dec 17 Titus; Philemon Sound Doctrine, Slavery and Christ
Dec 18 Hebrews 1-6 Christ as Fulfillment of Hebrew Scriptures
Dec 19 Hebrews 7-10 Universal Salvation of Christ
Dec 20 Hebrews 11-13 Faith
Dec 22 1 Peter Living Stones and a Chosen People
Dec 23 2 Peter Warnings Against False Teachers
Dec 24 1 John A New Commandment