Do We Get a Second Chance After Failing? (Sat. June 5)

The word of the day  is “second”  They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  But what about those who are not so resilient?  Is there a second chance for quitters?  In our reading of Acts 15:35-41, Paul and Barnabas debate whether to take John Mark with them on the “Second Missionary Journey.”  In his history of the early church, Luke writes, “Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul insisted that they should not take with them one who had departed from them in Pamphylia” (OSB vs. 37-38).  Today we consider this case of a failure to meet the challenge of service to the Lord.  And we suggest how we might…

The Unity of the Church Depends on Sameness, Not Difference (Fri. June 4)

The word of the day is “same.”   When it comes to what people believe, there are more allegations than truths, more falsehoods than realities, and more suppositions than conclusions based on evidence.  Today, in our reading of Acts 15:5-34, we hear Peter’s appeal for the inclusion of Gentiles in the church and the final decision of  the church leaders in Jerusalem on the matter.  Peter says, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they [the Gentiles]” (OSB vs. 11). To prove an assertion, we must give warrants for it.  The warrant is the connection between a truth claim and the evidence that supports it.  A close reading…

Everyday Ministries That Nurture and Sustain Us (Thurs. June 3)

The word of the day is “work .”  We often concentrate on the spectacular events of the scriptures.  We focus on the miracles, the visions, the outpourings of the Spirit.  And we highlight the disputes, the persecutions, and the trials of the faithful.  But the day-to-day work of ministry is the primary way that the Gospel reaches and nurtures  most of us. Today in our reading of Acts 14:20-28; 14:1-4, we hear of the everyday work of Paul and Barnabas in the region of Lycaonia, Galatia, and of Phrygia.  They must have carried out their missionary efforts over many months.  Immediately before today’s reading, Luke reports that Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city (Acts 14:19-20).  But rather than…

How to Respond to Opposition to the Gospel (Wed. June 2)

The word of the day is “brethren.”  We might have the impression that Paul did not want anything to do with the Jews.  After all, he was the champion of accepting Gentiles into the fellowship of faith.  But in today’s reading of Acts 13:13-24, we find an example of Paul’s practice of first going to the synagogue when he arrived at a new field of mission.  When they noticed newcomers in their midst, the leaders of the synagogue  invited Paul and his companions to address the people (vs. 13).  Paul returned the courteousness of his hosts with a gracious sermon.  Our reading stops in the middle of the speech. The next Sabbath the “whole city came together to hear the…

How the Term “Liturgy” Enriches our Understanding of Worship (Tues. June 1)

The word of the day is “liturgy.”  In our age of individualism, most of us think of worship as a private matter.  It is our choice whether to attend worship or not.  And that decision is based on what we can “get out” of our participation.  But in today’s reading of  Acts 17:1-15, we hear how the church in Antioch “set apart” Barnabas and Paul for their missionary work.  This endorsement and empowerment of their ministry was made in the context of worship, that is, “liturgy.” Luke reports, “As they [the church in Antioch] ministered to the Lord and fasted,” the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and  Saul for the work to which I have called them”…

The One Who Stands at the Door of Our Hearts (Mon. May 31)

The word of the day is “open.”  At times of excitement as well as  distress, we often fail to focus on the most important thing of all, our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Today in our reading of Acts 12:12-17, we find Peter knocking on the door of the  house where the believers are keeping a prayer vigil for him.  He has been miraculously released from prison and has made his way to where the faithful have gathered.   Luke reports, “He came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying (OSB 12). A girl answers the door and recognizes Peter’s voice.  She is so excited that she runs to tell…

God Is No Spectator (Sun. May 30)

The word of the day is “hand.”  A prevailing belief about God is that He is a kind and benevolent spectator who watches over people on earth.  He wants everyone to be good and happy.  But he does not get involved in people’s lives except in dire emergencies.  Today we hear to the contrary how the hand of the Almighty worked in Old Testament  history and the early church. In our reading of Acts 11:19-26, 29-30, we learn how Gentiles first became members of the fellowship of faith.  When persecution scattered the believers in Jerusalem, some sought refuge in distant places, preaching the Word of Christ as they went.  Some of these Hellenists, that is, Greek-speaking Jews, shared their faith…

Seeing God’s Hand in All Things—Even in Evil times (Sat. May 29)

The Word of the Day is “delivered.”  When we observe the deplorable events of our times, it is easy to be discouraged.  We lament the state of immorality, injustice, insincerity, and impiety of our nation and our world.  And we wonder what the Almighty could do to advance the Gospel, bring the lost to Christ, and preserve the church in peace and security. Unrestrained evil is what we see if we view the world through earthly eyes.  Yet, if we look at our times with eyes of faith, we see God’s hand at work in everything. Today in our reading of Acts 12:1-11, we learn of the miraculous escape of St. Peter from prison.  Luke, the historian of Acts, reports…

Beware of Withstanding the Holy Spirit (Fri. May 28)

The world of the day is “withstand .”  In every breakthrough of the new, some cling to the old.  When what seems to be right and true arises, the wisdom of the Jewish sage Gamaliel applies; you must beware “lest you be found to fight against God” (OSB Acts 5:39).  Today in our reading of Acts 10:44-11:10, Peter must defend the baptism of the Gentile centurion and his household.  Luke reports, “But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning…” (OSB vs. 4).  The apostle ended with the question, “Who am I to withstand the work of God?” (OSB 11:17).  Today, we study the example of the opposition to Peter’s action.  The instance of that resistance warns us…

Why We Should Not Take the Remission of Sins for Granted (Thurs. May 27)

The word of the day is “remission.”  One temptation of the faithful is hardly ever mentioned.  That shortcoming is to take the forgiveness of God for granted.  That is, we mistake the blessed assurance of grace with the expectation that, of course, God will forgive us.  We say to ourselves if we surrender to sin, God will surely excuse us. But that presumption of God’s mercy forgets one important article of the Creed.  In our reading of Acts 10:34-43, we hear Peter’s sermon to the Gentile Cornelius and his household.  The Apostle proclaims, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and…