Daily Devotionals for the last week of the Church Year

Our devotions based on Acts will be completed this week on Wednesday. On Thursday we invite you to worship in-person at 10 am. The Friday and Saturday devotions will also have a Thanksgiving theme.

After this, as we enter the Advent season, I will no longer prepare daily devotions for separate distribution. Instead, I want to urge you to make use of Portals of Prayer, the devotional booklet that is available either in a paper copy from the church office (call Susan at 856-665-0116). If you prefer, you can access Portals of Prayer either on Kindle or as an app. See www.cph.org/portals or go to your apps store.


 
 
Don’t forget the video message each weekend at www.mlchapel.org. Saturday morning Zoom Bible study continues this week at 10 AM. And, of course, if you are able to come out, we continue our cautious, socially-distanced worship on Saturdays at 5 PM and Sundays at 10 AM. You can find the sign-up for worship also at www.mlchapel.org. Please contact mlcemail2019@gmail.com for the link for the Saturday study.
 
Lastly, remember that our Christmas services will be at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm on Christmas Eve
and at 10 am on Christmas morning. There will be services as usual on Saturday, December 26
at 5 pm and Sunday, December 27 at 10 am. 
 
 

                                                Suggestions for Daily Prayers in the Home

Begin, “In the name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you in this time of devotion. Then read the Scripture selection aloud slowly. Reflect on or discuss its meaning. Then close with the Lord’s Prayer and your own heartfelt prayers. As you pray, confess the sins you know, asking God’s blessing for all His people and for all the world. Remember especially those in great need. Then go about your day in peace and joy.
 
 
 

Monday, November  23, 2020                         Reading: Acts 26:1–32

                                                               Agrippa’s Judgment

Last week we ended with comments about King Agrippa, who is at the center of today’s reading. We noted already then that Agrippa judged that Paul was innocent of the charges brought by the Jerusalem authorities who hated him so much. Agrippa saw that if Paul hadn’t appealed to Rome, he would have been set free.

Today let’s look more closely at chapter 26, which is dominated by Paul’s defense. He first points out his past commitment to life as a Pharisee. He emphasizes that he, like all the Pharisees, believed in the resurrection of the body. This belief was rejected by the Sadducees. They had adopted a Greek attitude about the resurrection and denied that God would raise the bodies of those who had died when He judged all people at the end of time. The Pharisees were right to believe in the resurrection and Paul emphasizes it. But they wrongly rejected the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. So Paul also first opposed the Church and its faith in the risen Lord Jesus.

But then Paul tells of his conversion. Once again he tells about how the risen Jesus miraculously appeared to him in the middle of the Damascus journey to persecute Christians. But this time Paul adds some additional details he had not mentioned before. Jesus told him he was fighting a losing battle (“kicking against the goads”) and that the Lord appeared to appoint him to be a witness—another apostle—to the resurrection. The Lord also promised to send Paul to the Gentiles.

Festus thought Paul was crazy. But Agrippa evidently was open to this message. We don’t know for sure if he or his wife came to believe. But we do know that’s not our concern. Like Paul, our task is not to work the miracle of conversion, but to proclaim the truth so that others can hear the saving truth. Then we just pray.

 

Prayer for the day: Father, make us faithful witnesses to your Son Jesus, our risen Savior and Lord. Amen. 

 

 

Tuesday, November  24, 2020                        Reading: Acts 27:1–44

Toward Rome

Paul is placed under the guard of a Julius, a Roman centurion, for the trip to Rome for trial before Caesar. He is accompanied by at least two other men, Luke and Aristarchus. They board a ship in Caesarea to set sail. We don’t know exactly how long the time was from when Paul and his companions began their trip until they arrived, but it was between six and nine months. They left in the Autumn of 60 AD and arrived sometime in Spring 61 AD.

The small ships of that time had primitive sails and often relied on oars. They were packed tight with sailors, passengers, cargo, and food stuffs. But the food was limited—hard bread, salted meats or fish, grains, dried legumes, some pickled foods like olives, and a weak beer that didn’t grow algae like water supplies did. Imagine how grueling that would be under the best of conditions. Multiply it by months.

The worst of the problems they faced was not ship-board conditions, it was shipwreck after a wild storm that tossed them about helplessly after two weeks. Chapter 27 tells that those on board had given up hope (verse 20), but Paul had not. The Lord himself had assured Paul that all would be safe. So he tells everyone to take heart “because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me” (v. 26). So Paul led a little thanksgiving day on the drifting disabled ship at night with all 276 shipmates, giving thanks to God, assuring them they would be spared, and urging them to eat.

I wonder how thankful they felt. Especially when they wrecked the next morning. Yet, all were spared. They had been blown off course by hundreds of miles and has struggled ashore at the island of Malta. They were closer to Africa than to Rome. But they were safe. Did they see how good God had been to them? Do we?

 

Prayer for the day: O Savior, give us thankful hearts. Amen.
 

 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020                    Reading: Acts 28:1–31

Malta to Rome

On the little island of Malta the survivors were treated with a compassion that must have surprised them. They warmed up the soaked and freezing men and women—after all, it was winter! And the people of Malta saw immediately that Paul was no ordinary sailor when a poisoned snake’s bite did not hurt him in any way.

Paul didn’t sit around resting after this ordeal. He did what he always did—he shared the great love of God in Christ. Many were healed and God was glorified.   

After a three month respite on Malta, the journey then continued with provisions that were supplied by the people of the island and their governor, Publius, whose father Paul had healed. Now their further travels were without incident. You have to see that God wanted the Gospel to come to Malta at this time, even if that would mean a challenging journey. He is always working good!

Luke brings the book of Acts to a close rather quickly in chapter 28, verses 11-31. He points out the stops between Malta and Rome and describes the welcome they received by believers. Then he gives attention to a pattern that had been developing in the whole book. Although some of those from a Jewish background that he tells about Christ Jesus believe, many others are increasingly hostile to the Gospel. Yet, even this is something that will further the work of salvation through Jesus Christ for “this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

So the book of Acts comes to a close with Paul telling those who have not heard about Jesus. It is what Jesus promised in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In that we see that the story of Acts continues.

Prayer for the day: O Lord, we praise you for your great love, since you preserved the Gospel of Christ so that we too might believe. Amen.
 

 

Thursday, November 26, 2020                          Thanksgiving Day 2020

Psalm 145:1  A Song of Praise. Of David.

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. 14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

 

Prayer for the day: Lord God, you are great, you works are wondrous, you are good to all and you are faithful—thank you! Amen.
 

 

Friday, November  27, 2020                           The Day after Thanksgiving

1 Chronicles 8

8 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, 13 O offspring of Israel his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! 14 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 15 Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 16 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 17 which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to Israel, 18 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.” 19 When you were few in number, and of little account, and sojourners in it, 20 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, 21 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, 22 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” 23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

 31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” 32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! 33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Prayer for the day: O Lord, we thank you for all your mighty works, but especially for the salvation you have given us in Christ your Son. Amen.

 

 

Saturday, November 28, 2020                      Advent I – Eve

The Great Visits

You probably remember that advent simply means “coming.” We use the word to designate the great and majestic time when God comes to us in this world. A synonym for advent would be visit, for that specifically designates someone from one place coming to be with those in another place.

I miss visits. Right now, I am especially missing the annual visits we have enjoyed when Betsy and I have gone to Taiwan nearly every January for the past decade to see Michael, Sally, and their three children and then, in turn, their annual visits to us each summer. Our hearts are longing for those visits.

In our Advent weekend worship we will consider four even more wonderful visits. These were not expected visits, but unexpected.

Tonight as Advent begins at dusk and again on the first Sunday morning in Advent we will have a chance to hear about the shocking visit of an angel to Zechariah. Each of the following Advent weekends we’ll have another visit to consider: the Angel visit to Mary, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, and an Angel visit to Joseph.

Here is what ties them all together. These visits are all inspired by great love. How dear to God is the old couple Zechariah and Elizabeth. How dear to God is young Mary. How dear to one another are Mary and Elizabeth her cousin. How dear to God is poor, confused Joseph. How strong is the love that compels these visits!

That is the kind of love that leads to the greatest visit of all: our Lord’s visit to us—to this world! He comes to be our Savior! What joy! And He will come again—soon and very soon—and all will be made right as His saving work is brought to perfect completion.

 

Prayer for the day: Lord, you have visited your people because your love knows no bounds. By your Spirit, help us always to welcome you. Amen.