I Have You in My Heart

Read: Philippians 1:4-8 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (vv. 4-5 NIV) With warmth and affection, the apostle Paul remembered his friends in Philippi. He had gone through a great deal of loneliness, suffering, persecution, and imprisonment. But as thoughts of his Christian friends in the Philippian church filled his mind, his dark days in prison were brightened. He was …

When to Pray Boldly

Harry Buis

Read: Psalm 83:1-5, 13-18 O God, do not keep silence . . . (v. 1) We often think of godly persons in Bible times as very reverent. Yet they also prayed with great boldness. In the first verses of this psalm, the author is saying essentially, “God, your enemies are busy, you had better get busy too.” The psalmist also identified himself with God (vv. 4-5). I am reminded of how the risen Jesus confronted a certain Pharisee on the …

No Shrinking

Jon Opgenorth

Read: Acts 20:17-24 If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus. (v. 24) Paul’s farewell to the Ephesians reminds us that following Jesus can be costly. He was going to Jerusalem, knowing only that prison and suffering awaited him. Yet he could not be stopped. He was “constrained” by the Holy Spirit (v. 22). As at other times, so again he refused “to shrink” (v. 20). All he counted as precious …

The First Martyr

David Bast

Read: Acts 6 They could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (v. 10) The Greek word for “witness” is martys. Originally, a martyr was someone who was able to testify to the truth about something. A Christian martyr was anyone who could witness to the meaning and reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. It was because so many of these first Christians sealed their testimony to Jesus with their blood that the word came …

Buoyed by the Stories of Faith

Bruce Menning

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (v. 7) I haven’t experienced the suffering of which Paul wrote. This suffering is not the stuff of natural disaster, war, illness, and loss, which are common to us all. The sufferings Paul has in mind are the afflictions that Christians endure because they are Christians: ostracism, discrimination, humiliation, persecution, imprisonment, and even …

Ears to Hear

David Bast

Read: Matthew 13:1-9 He who has ears, let him hear. (v. 9) Every letter in Revelation 2–3 concludes with this: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Jesus added something similar to his parable of the sower. It’s not enough simply to hear the Word of God; the Word must take root in our lives and produce lasting fruit. But doesn’t everyone with ears hear? I’ve noticed something as I have aged …