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Simple Bible Reading Guide

The New Testament

Jump to Book: Matthew  Mark  Luke  John  Acts of the Apostles  Romans  1 Corinthians  2 Corinthians  Galatians  Ephesians  Philippians  Colossians  1 Thessalonians  2 Thessalonians  1 Timothy  2 Timothy  Titus  Philemon  Hebrews  James  1 Peter  2 Peter  1 John  2 and 3 John  Jude  Revelation 

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INTRODUCTION

"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130

God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).

After an introduction to each Biblical book, we list the key word and a key verse of the book. Then we highlight four special types of verses. We want to be "doers of the word," so we list a "command-verse" (Jas 1:22). In the "promise-verse," we usually receive encouragement. To challenge ourselves with the full Gospel, we choose a verse that is difficult to interpret or obey. To show God's ways are not our ways, we pick out a surprise verse in each book (Is 55:8). We close with a prayer because the Bible is our prayer book, and we must ask for God's grace to read, understand, and obey it.

P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
 

MATTHEW

The Lord began the New Testament describing His plan of salvation in terms of a kingdom near at hand (3:2; 4:17). We must repent of sin and believe in Him to enter His kingdom. We constantly pray for the kingdom to come (6:10). This kingdom is immediately accessible to those who choose to be materially poor and persecuted for the gospel (5: 3, 10). Healing and deliverance are signs of the kingdom (10:7-8; 12:28). Most of Jesus' parables illustrate the kingdom. Even the Last Supper is the kingdom-meal (26:29). "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant's search for fine pearls. When he found one really valuable pearl, he went back and put up for sale all that he had and bought it" (13:45-46).

Key word    KINGDOM
 
Key verse    "Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides" (6:33).
 
Command verse    "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you" (28:19-20).
 
Promise verse    "And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!" (28:20)
 
Difficult verse    "The Son of Man is departing, as Scripture says of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. Better for him if he had never been born" (26:24).
 
Surprise verse    "Some men are incapable of sexual activity from birth; some have been deliberately made so; and some there are who have freely renounced sex for the sake of God's reign. Let him accept this teaching who can" (19:12).
 
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for rescuing me from the kingdom of darkness (Col 1:13). I give my life to You, the King of kings.
 

MARK

Who do you say Jesus is? (8:29) Mark proclaims Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. The first verse of Mark's gospel gives a two-part outline for the book. The first half of the gospel results in Peter's acknowledging Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah) (8:29). The second half climaxes in the declaration of the centurion: "Clearly this Man (Jesus) was the Son of God!" (15:39)

The purpose of Mark's gospel and of our lives is to know Jesus personally and deeply. So many people are like Philip. They don't know Jesus personally, even after years of Christian activities and services (Jn 14:9). Through Mark's gospel, the Lord can change that and draw us to Himself.

Key word    JESUS
 
Key verse    "Here begins the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (1:1).
 
Command verse    "Reform your lives and believe in the gospel" (1:15).
 
Promise verse    "I give you My word, if you are ready to believe that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer, it shall be done for you" (11:24).
 
Difficult verse    "Those times will be more distressful than any between God's work of creation and now, and for all time to come. Indeed, had the Lord not shortened the period, not a person would be saved" (13:19-20).
 
Surprise verse    "Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith: they will use My name to expel demons, they will speak entirely new languages, they will be able to handle serpents, they will be able to drink deadly poison without harm, and the sick upon whom they lay their hands will recover" (16:17-18).
 
Prayer: Father, send the Holy Spirit to motivate me to read the Bible, grow in faith, and give my life to Jesus.
 

LUKE

Many have been "born again," but how many have grown up? Churches are filled with "baby Christians," but how few are working in the great harvest? (10:2) Luke's gospel calls us to grow in holiness, evangelization, and ministry. The Father wants every person to be "complete in Christ" (Col 1:28), and "grow to the full maturity of Christ" (Eph 4:15).

Key word    DISCIPLE
 
Key verse    "Jesus said to all: 'Whoever wishes to be My follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in My steps' " (9:23).
 
Command verse    "Do not live in fear, little flock. It has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms" (12:32-33).
 
Promise verse    "You are witnesses of this. See, I send down upon you the promise of My Father. Remain here in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (24: 48-49).
 
Difficult verse    "Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth? I assure you, the contrary is true; I have come for division" (12:51).
 
Surprise verse    "I tell you, there will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent" (15:7).
 
Prayer: Father, accelerate my growth in faith and discipleship. May I grow more in the next month than in the last year.
 

JOHN

John wrote his gospel to help us believe in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, so that through this faith we may have life in Jesus' name (Is 20:21). Whatever came to be in Jesus, "found life, for the light of men" (1:4). Jesus came that we may have life to the full (10:10). Otherwise, the thief will come "to steal and slaughter and destroy" (10:10). Jesus not only gives life; He is Life (14:6). "Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ" (17:3).

Key word    LIFE
 
Key verse    "Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life" (3:16).
 
Command verse    "I solemnly assure you, no one can see the reign of God unless he is begotten from above" (3:3).
 
Promise verse    "For My flesh is real food and My blood real drink. The man who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him" (6:55-56).
 
Difficult verse    "Jesus replied: 'Did I not choose the Twelve of you myself? Yet one of you is a devil' " (6:70).
 
Surprise verse    "I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these. Why? Because I go to the Father" (14:12).
 
Prayer: Jesus, "my Lord and my God!" (20:28)
 

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot please God (Rm 8:8-9). The Spirit is the Power of God by which evangelization, holiness, community, healing, and ministry are possible. The Spirit is the Sword with which we attack the evil one (Eph 6:17). It is better for us that Jesus has gone because now we have the other Paraclete, the Spirit (Jn 16:7). As we read Acts, we can experience the baptism in the Spirit (Mk 1:8) and the renewal of our Baptism and Confirmation. Come, Holy Spirit!

Key word    HOLY SPIRIT
 
Key verse    "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth" (1:8).
 
Command verse    "You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (2:38).
 
Promise verse    "They devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles" (2:42-43).
 
Difficult verse    "Thus may a season of refreshment be granted you by the Lord when He sends you Jesus, already designated as your Messiah. Jesus must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration" (3:20-21).
 
Surprise verse    "When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them." (19:12)
 
Prayer: Father, after reading Acts, may I thirst for and receive anew the Holy Spirit (see Jn 7:37).
 

ROMANS

Paul was writing to introduce himself to the Roman Christian community. He hoped to use Rome as a base for his mission to Spain (15:24). He tried to serve the Roman community by helping it work out differences between the Jewish and Gentile Christians. Paul felt the community needed a clear teaching on salvation by faith in Christ and not by the Law. In giving this teaching, Paul left posterity an incomparable revelation of justification by faith in Jesus. Romans contains some of the greatest revelations about salvation ever communicated.

Key word    FAITH
 
Key verse    "All depends on faith, everything is grace" (4:16).
 
Command verse    "I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing and perfect" (12:1-2).
 
Promise verse    "Despite the increase of sin, grace has far surpassed it" (5:20).
 
Difficult verse    "I say, from Adam to Moses death reigned, even over those who had not sinned by breaking a precept as did Adam, that type of the Man to come" (5:14).
 
Surprise verse    "Blindness has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in, and then all Israel will be saved" (11:25-26).
 
Prayer: Jesus, You alone can free my body from the power of death (7:24-25). I give my life to You.
 

1 CORINTHIANS

The church at Corinth was "richly endowed with every gift of speech and knowledge" (1:5). However, it was a church of spiritual babies because its growth in maturity had been retarded by its divisions (3:1). These divisions spawned heresy, confusion, and sexual immorality. Paul perceived the only solution to Corinth's problems was to "speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (2:2). This "message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God" (1:18).

Key word    LOVE
 
Key verse    "Now I will show you the way which surpasses all the others. If I speak with human tongues and angelic as well, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal" (13:1).
 
Command verse    "Seek eagerly after love. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts" (14:1).
 
Promise verse    "When the corruptible frame takes on incorruptibility and the mortal immortality, then will the saying of Scripture be fulfilled: 'Death is swallowed up in victory' " (15:54).
 
Difficult verse    "If the dead are not raised, what about those who have themselves baptized on behalf of the dead? If the raising of the dead is not a reality, why be baptized on their behalf?" (15:29)
 
Surprise verse    "If anyone does not love the Lord, let a curse be upon him. O Lord, come!" (16:22)
 
Prayer: Father, by the gifts of the Spirit, cultivate the fruit of crucified, unconditional love in my life.
 

2 CORINTHIANS

This book is the most personal of Paul's letters. We look into Paul's heart and see his hurt, pain, and suffering. Paul said: "I was restless and exhausted. I was under all kinds of stress — quarrels with others and fears within myself" (7:5). "We were crushed beyond our strength, even to the point of despairing of life. We were left to feel like men condemned to death so that we might trust, not in ourselves, but in God Who raises the dead" (1:8-9).

Although we are earthen vessels, we contain Jesus, the ultimate Treasure (4:7). "It is true He was crucified out of weakness, but He lives by the power of God. We too are weak in Him, but we live with Him by God's power in us. Test yourselves to see whether you are living in faith; examine yourselves. Perhaps you yourselves do not realize that Christ Jesus is in you" (13:4-5).

Key word    RECONCILIATION
 
Key verse    "In Christ's name: be reconciled to God!" (5:20)
 
Command verse    "The weapons of our warfare are not merely human. They possess God's power for the destruction of strongholds. We demolish sophistries and every proud pretension that raises itself against the knowledge of God; we likewise bring every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ" (10:4-5).
 
Promise verse    "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (6:2)
 
Difficult verse    "This man — whether in or outside his body I do not know, God knows — was snatched up to Paradise to hear words which cannot be uttered, words which no man may speak" (12:3-4).
 
Surprise verse    "In order that I might not become conceited I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and keep me from getting proud" (12:7).
 
Prayer: Father, may I persevere in evangelizing despite rejection, even from other Christians.
 

GALATIANS

The Galatians had lost their freedom in the Spirit by relying on themselves rather than living by faith. After beginning in the Spirit, they were in danger of ending in the flesh (3:3).

"The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed" (5:17). "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's lead" (5:24-25).

Key word    FREEDOM
 
Key verse    "It was for liberty that Christ freed us. So stand firm, and do not take on yourselves the yoke of slavery a second time!" (5:1)
 
Command verse    "May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (6:14)
 
Promise verse    "I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me" (2:19-20).
 
Difficult verse    "Henceforth, let no man trouble me, for I bear the brand marks of Jesus in my body" (6:17).
 
Surprise verse    "You are my children, and you put me back in labor pains until Christ is formed in you" (4:19).
 
Prayer: Father, may I never depend on anything or anyone other than You. You are my Life, my All in all.
 

EPHESIANS

This book capsulizes God's plan of salvation and world evangelization. The Lord will empower and equip His Church with spiritual gifts "to build up the body of Christ" (4:10-12). The Father "has put all things under Christ's feet and has made Him, thus exalted, head of the Church" (1:22). We can win the world for Christ by making Him Lord of our marriages, families, and places of employment.

Key word    PLAN
 
Key verse    "God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship" (1:9-10).
 
Command verse    "You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day" (6:13).
 
Promise verse    "To Him Whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine — to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus" (3:20-21).
 
Difficult verse    "As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you; your holiness forbids this. Nor should there be any obscene, silly, or suggestive talk; all that is out of place" (5:3-4).
 
Surprise verse    "There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord" (5:8).
 
Prayer: "May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, grant you a spirit of wisdom and insight to know Him clearly. May He enlighten your innermost vision" (1:17-18).
 

PHILIPPIANS

The devil accuses the believers day and night (Rv 12:10). We often become very discouraged in living the Christian life. The Lord wants to give us His joy (Jn 15:11) that no one can take away (Jn 16:22). This joy in the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10). Let's encourage one another and "find joy in God my Savior" (Lk 1:47). "I give thanks to my God every time I think of you — which is constantly, in every prayer I utter — rejoicing, as I plead on your behalf, at the way you have all continually helped promote the gospel from the very first day" (1:3-5).

Key word    REJOICE
 
Key verse    "Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" (4:4)
 
Command verse    "At Jesus' name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!" (2:10-11)
 
Promise verse    "In Him Who is the Source of my strength I have strength for everything" (4:13).
 
Difficult verse    "I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death" (3:10).
 
Surprise verse    "Others promote Christ, not from pure motives but as an intrigue against me, thinking that it will make my imprisonment even harsher. What of it? All that matters is that in any and every way, whether from specious motives or genuine ones, Christ is being proclaimed!" (1:17-18)
 
Prayer: May God in turn "supply your needs fully, in a way worthy of His magnificent riches in Christ Jesus. All glory to our God and Father for unending ages! Amen" (4:19-20).
 

COLOSSIANS

Christ is not a way to the Father; He is the Way, Truth, and Life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus (Jn 14:6). His is the only name by which we are saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ is "our only Master and Lord" (Jude 4). The Colossians had taken their eyes off of Jesus. Paul commanded them to "be slaves of Christ the Lord" (3:24).

Key word    CHRIST
 
Key verse    "In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, principalities or powers; all were created through Him, and for Him. He is before all else that is. In Him everything continues in being" (1:16-17).
 
Command verse    "Since you have been raised up in company with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God's right hand. Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth" (3:1-2).
 
Promise verse    "This is the Christ we proclaim while we admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom, hoping to make every man complete in Christ" (1:28).
 
Difficult verse    "Thus did God disarm the principalities and powers. He made a public show of them and, leading them off captive, triumphed in the person of Christ" (2:15).
 
Surprise verse    "After all, you have died! Your life is hidden now with Christ in God (3:3).
 
Prayer: "In Christ the fullness of deity resides in bodily form." By faith may I receive my "share of this fullness" (2:9).
 

1 THESSALONIANS

The Thessalonians were newborn Christians. They had received "the word, despite great trials, with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit" (1:6). They "took it, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God at work within you who believe" (2:13). However, they needed to make "still greater progress" (4:1, 10), especially in sexual purity. The Thessalonians were also confused about Jesus' second coming and were struggling to understand the persecution they were suffering.

Key word    GROWTH
 
Key verse    "You must learn to make still greater progress. You know the instructions we gave you in the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you grow in holiness" (4:1-3).
 
Command verse    "God has not called us to immorality but to holiness; hence, whoever rejects these instructions rejects not man, but God Who sends His Holy Spirit upon you" (4:7-8).
 
Promise verse    "Then we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thenceforth we shall be with the Lord unceasingly" (4:17).
 
Difficult verse    "Abstain from immorality, each of you guarding his member in sanctity and honor, not in passionate desire as do the Gentiles who know not God" (4:3-4).
 
Surprise verse    "Just when people are saying, 'Peace and security, ruin will fall on them with the suddenness of pains overtaking a woman in labor, and there will be no escape" (5:3).
 
Prayer: "May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May He preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He Who calls us is trustworthy, therefore He will do it" (5:23-24).
 

2 THESSALONIANS

The newborn Christians of Thessalonica were agitated and terrified by rumors that the end of the world was near (2:1). Many of them quit their jobs, because they believed there wasn't much time left. Paul commanded them to get back to work, or they wouldn't get to eat (3:10). He also explained that the end of the world would not happen very soon because a mass apostasy would occur first (2:3).

Key word    COMING
 
Key verse    "On the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we beg you, brothers, not to be so easily agitated or terrified, whether by an oracular utterance, or rumor, or a letter alleged to be ours, into believing that the day of the Lord is here" (2:1-2).
 
Command verse    "Indeed, when we were with you we used to lay down the rule that anyone who would not work should not eat" (3:10).
 
Promise verse    "Thereupon the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and annihilate him by manifesting His own presence" (2:8).
 
Difficult verse    "The secret force of lawlessness is already at work, mind you, but there is One who holds him back until that restrainer shall be taken from the scene" (2:7).
 
Surprise verse    "Let no one seduce you, no matter how. Since the mass apostasy has not yet occurred nor the man of lawlessness been revealed. . ." (2:3).
 
Prayer: Jesus, when You come back, may You find me working for love of You.
 

1 TIMOTHY

After beginning in the power of the Spirit (Acts 19:6-7), the Ephesian church became weak. Because of this, it caught all kinds of spiritual diseases, confusions, and heresies. Therefore, pastoring this church was anything but joyful, and Timothy wanted to quit. But Paul charged him to stay and build up the church through intercession, the ministry of the word, and the development of leadership.

Key word    GUARD
 
Key verse    "O Timothy, guard what has been committed to you. Stay clear of worldly, idle talk and the contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge. In laying claim to such knowledge, some men have missed the goal of faith" (6:20-21).
 
Command verse    "First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority" (2:1-2).
 
Promise verse    "He wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth" (2:4).
 
Difficult verse    "A woman must learn in silence and be completely submissive. I do not permit a woman to act as teacher, or in any way to have authority over a man; she must be quiet" (2:11-12).
 
Surprise verse    "Stop drinking water only. Take a little wine for the good of your stomach" (5:23).
 
Prayer: Father, as I read the letters of Timothy, may I come to love the Church, even in her weakness and sin (Eph 5:25).
 

2 TIMOTHY

Christian life is a war, and the members of the Church are not only fightting the evil one but also among themselves. This makes us all feel like escaping from the "hardship which the gospel entails" (1:8). Paul charged Timothy to hold his ground, fight "the good fight," and finish the race (4:7). Timothy didn't need to quit but to "stir into flame the gift of God" (1:6). "The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly Spirit, but rather One That makes us strong, loving, and wise" (1:7). In summary, Paul commanded: "Bear hardship along with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2:3).

Key word    GUARD
 
Key verse    "Guard the rich deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us" (1:14).
 
Command verse    "I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient — correcting, reproving, appealing — constantly teaching and never losing patience" (4:2).
 
Promise verse    "There is no chaining the word of God!" (2:9)
 
Difficult verse    "They will be treacherous, reckless, pompous, lovers of pleasure rather than of God as they make a pretense of religion but negate its power. Stay clear of them" (3:4-5).
 
Surprise verse    "You know that all in Asia, including even Phygelus and Hermogenes, have turned their backs on me" (1:15).
 
Prayer: Father, may I fight for Jesus till the glorious end.
 

TITUS

Paul left Titus in Crete to develop leadership for the small Christian communities. Titus didn't have much to work with because the Cretans had several severe cultural and spiritual problems. Paul counseled Titus to work with four groups — old men, old women, young women, and young men (2:1-6). Titus' job was to lead these people out of worldliness and rebelliousness. He was to call the members of the Church to be submissive to each other (3:2), the government (3:1), and their employers (2:9).

Key word    GUARD
 
Key verse    "In his teaching he must hold fast to the authentic message, so that he will be able both to encourage men to follow sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it" (1:9).
 
Command verse    "The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus" (2:11-13).
 
Promise verse    "He saved us; not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior" (3:5-6).
 
Difficult verse    "Warn a heretic once and then a second time; after that, have nothing to do with him" (3:10).
 
Surprise verse    " 'Cretans have ever been liars, beasts, and lazy gluttons,' and that is the simple truth!" (1:12)
 
Prayer: Father, may I be a leader and develop other leaders for Your kingdom.
 

PHILEMON

Onesimus (whose name means "useful") was a runaway slave whom Paul converted while they both were in prison. Paul wrote to Philemon, the slave owner and a Christian, to tell him that his slave was now his brother. Therefore, Philemon must welcome back Onesimus as a brother in the Lord. Paul agreed to make restitution for any injuries and pay any debts incurred by Onesimus. The early church changed unjust social structures by leading people to Christ and calling them to live as brothers and sisters.

Key word    SLAVERY
 
Key verse    "Perhaps he was separated from you for a while for this reason: that you might possess him forever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially dear to me; and how much more than a brother to you, since now you will know him both as a man and in the Lord" (15-16).
 
Command verse    "Confident of your compliance, I write you, knowing that you will do more than I say" (21).
 
Promise verse    "I find great through you the hearts of God's people have been refreshed" (7).
 
Difficult verse    "If he has done you an injury or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this is my own hand: I agree to pay — not to mention that you owe me your very self!" (18-19)
 
Surprise verse    "Yes, I, Paul, ambassador of Christ and now a prisoner for Him, appeal to you for my child, whom I have begotten during my imprisonment" (9-10).
 
Prayer: Father, may I place Christian brotherhood and sisterhood above nationality and denomination.
 

HEBREWS

It was a time of persecution and the Christians needed encouragement to persevere. They needed encouragement which was not just words but founded on eternal realities. The encouragement of Hebrews is based on Jesus' eternal priesthood and place at the right hand of the Father. "He is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He forever lives to make intercession for them" (7:25). Therefore, "let us hold unswervingly to our profession which gives us hope, for He Who made the promise deserves our trust. We must consider how to rouse each other to love and good deeds. We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another; and this all the more because you see that the Day draws near" (10:23-25).

Key word    PRIESTHOOD
 
Key verse    "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest Whom we acknowledge in faith" (3:1).
 
Command verse    "Do not, then, surrender your confidence; it will have great reward" (10:35).
 
Promise verse    "We do not have a High Priest Who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but One Who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need" (4:15-16).
 
Difficult verse    "When they have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to make them repent again, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves" (6:5-6).
 
Surprise verse    "Women received back their dead through resurrection" (11:35).
 
Prayer: "May the God of peace. . .furnish you with all that is good, that you may do His will. Through Jesus Christ may He carry out in you all that is pleasing to Him. To Christ be glory forever! Amen" (13:20-21).
 

JAMES

Things were not going well for the church. And it was time (in fact, overtime) to do something about it. The problems were once again due to worldliness, giving in to the "inner cravings that make war" within our members (4:1). The believers needed to become enemies of the world (4:4), control their tongues (1:26; 3:2), and treat the poor with justice (2:1; 5:4). Although things looked bad, they could be confident because of the power of prayer (5:16). "Remember this: the person who brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul from death and cancel a multitude of sins" (5:20).

Key word    WORKS
 
Key verse    "Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath" (2:26).
 
Command verse    "Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves" (1:22).
 
Promise verse    "If any of you is without wisdom let him; ask it from the God Who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him. Yet he must ask in faith, never doubting" (1:5-6).
 
Difficult verse    "Whoever falls into sin on one point of the law, even though he keeps the entire remainder, has become guilty on all counts" (2:10).
 
Surprise verse    "The tongue is such a flame. It exists among our members as a whole universe of malice. The tongue defiles the entire body. Its flames encircle our course from birth, and its fire is kindled by hell" (3:6).
 
Prayer:  Father, by the power of Christ crucified may I be crucified to the world and the world to me (Gal 6:14).
 

1 PETER

Many Christians stay spiritual babies and never grow in the Spirit. But if we obey the Lord, especially in suffering for His sake, we will grow in faith and become holy as the Lord is holy. Even under bad circumstances we are called to obey the Lord, the government (2:13), employers (2:18), even unbelieving husbands (3:1), and our elders (5:5). Then "the God of all grace, Who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while" (5:10).

Key word    OBEDIENCE
 
Key verse    "By obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brothers" (1:22).
 
Command verse    "Rather, become holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, after the likeness of the Holy One Who called you; remember, Scripture says, 'Be holy, for I am holy' " (1:15-16).
 
Promise verse    "You, however, are 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people He claims for His own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you from darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God's people; once there was no mercy for you, but now you have found mercy" (2:9-10).
 
Difficult verse    "Rejoice instead, in the measure that you share Christ's sufferings" (4:13).
 
Surprise verse    "The reason the gospel was preached even to the dead was that, although condemned in the flesh in the eyes of men, they might live in the spirit in the eyes of God" (4:6).
 
Prayer: Father, may I obey Your callings to redemptive suffering and thereby be purified and holy in Your sight.
 

2 PETER

Thousands of people have predicted the time of the end of the world. They've all been wrong. Consequently, many people — even Christians — deny, doubt, or ignore the end of the world and Christ's final coming. But He will surely come. After waiting almost 2000 years for the second coming, is the Church ready or asleep? In 2 Peter, the Lord tells us how to speed up the end of earth and the beginning of our time in heaven (3:12).

Key word    COMING
 
Key verse    "Since everything is to be destroyed in this way, what sort of men must you not be! How holy in your conduct and devotion, looking for the coming of the day of God and trying to hasten it!" (3:11-12)
 
Command verse    "Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers; surely those who do so will never be lost." (1:10).
 
Promise verse    "By virtue of them He has bestowed on us the great and precious things He promised, so that through these you who have fled a world corrupted by lust might become sharers of the divine nature" (1:4).
 
Difficult verse    "Did God spare even the angels who sinned? He did not! He held them captive in Tartarus — consigned them to pits of darkness, to be guarded until judgment." (2:4).
 
Surprise verse    "Constantly on the lookout for a woman, theirs is a never-ending search for sin. They lure the weaker types. Their hearts are trained in greed. An accursed lot are they!" (2:14)
 
Prayer: Jesus, come as soon as possible. May I be always ready.
 

1 JOHN

"Many such Antichrists have appeared" (2:18). Within the church there is great confusion (2:19). "Many false prophets have appeared" (4:1). There is self-deception, downright lying, and refusal to admit sin (1:8,10).

The only solution to this chaos is love. We must receive the Father's unconditional love (4:19). To make room for this love, we must "have no love for the world" (2:15). "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pt 4:8).

Key word    LOVE
 
Key verse    "God is Love, and he who abides in Love abides in God, and God in him" (4:16).
 
Command verse    "I ask you, how can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need? Little, children, let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it" (3:17-18).
 
Promise verse    There is One greater in you than there is in the world" (4:4).
 
Difficult verse    "There is such a thing as a deadly sin; I do not say that one should pray about that" (5:16).
 
Surprise verse    "No one begotten of God acts sinfully because he remains of God's stock; he cannot sin because he is begotten of God" (3:9).
 
Prayer: Father, even under the worst circumstances, may I receive and give Your unconditional love as Jesus did on the cross.
 

2 AND 3 JOHN

Two groups in the Church — the "progressives" and the orthodox — were fighting one another (2 Jn 9). The "progressives" did "not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" (2 Jn 7). Therefore, all fellowship with them was stopped, since unity depends on all parties remaining rooted in the teaching of Christ (2 Jn 9).

Key word    TRUTH
 
Key verse    "For it has given me great joy to have the brothers bear witness to how truly you walk in the path of truth. Nothing delights me more than to hear that my children are walking in this path" (3 Jn 3-4).
 
Command verse    "Look out that you yourselves do not lose what you have worked for; you must receive your reward in full" (2 Jn 8).
 
Promise verse    "Beloved, I hope you are in good health — may you thrive in all other ways as you do in the Spirit" (3 Jn 2).
 
Difficult verse    "If anyone comes to you who does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house; do not even greet him, for whoever greets him shares in the evil he does" (2 Jn 10-11).
 
Surprise verse    "It was for the sake of the Name that they set out, and they are accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore, we owe it to such men to support them and thus to have our share in the work of truth." (3 Jn: 7-8).
 
Prayer: Father, give me "tough love." May I speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).
 

JUDE

This book sounds as if it were written last week rather than almost 2000 years ago. It encourages the church to fight hard against certain individuals who have recently "wormed their way" into its midst. These people "pervert the gracious gift of our God to sexual excess and deny Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord" (4). "These men are blotches on your Christian banquets. They join your solemn feasts without shame and only look after themselves" (12). They are "imposters living by their godless passions" and "sensualists, devoid of the Spirit" (18-19).

In our secular humanistic church, increasingly infiltrated with the sexual impurity of the world, we need to know the truth God has revealed in the book of Jude.

Key word    FIGHT
 
Key verse    "Grow strong in your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit" (20).
 
Command verse    "Be on your guard; abhor so much as their flesh-stained clothing" (23).
 
Promise verse    "There is One Who can protect you from a fall and make you stand unblemished and exultant in the presence of His glory" (24).
 
Difficult verse    "Sodom, Gomorrah, and the towns thereabout indulged in lust, just as those angels did; they practiced unnatural vice. They are set before us to dissuade us, as they undergo a punishment of eternal fire" (7).
 
Surprise verse    "Even the archangel Michael, when his case with the devil was being judged — a dispute over Moses' body — did not venture to charge him with blasphemy. He simply said, 'May the Lord punish you' " (9).
 
Prayer: Father, protect me from falling into sexual sin and secular humanism. I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my only
 

REVELATION

This last book of the Bible is addressed to servants, that is, slaves of Jesus Christ (1:1). Only those totally committed to the Lord will receive the blessedness and encouragement that this book is intended to convey (1:3). The book of Revelation is focused on Jesus Christ exalted at the right hand of the Father. His heavenly glory overshadows even the fiercest persecutions on the earth. When we read Revelation, we "consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us" (Rm 8:18). This last book of the Bible makes us happy as we eagerly await the end of the world and Jesus' final coming (22:17, 20).

Key word    BLESSED
 
Key verse    "Happy is the man who reads this prophetic message, and happy are those who hear it and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near!" (1:3)
 
Command verse    "Let him who is thirsty come forward; let all who desire it accept the gift of life-giving water" (22:17).
 
Promise verse    "For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before our God. They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. So rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell therein!" (12:10-12)
 
Difficult verse    "Let the wicked continue in their wicked ways, the depraved in their depravity! The virtuous must live on in their virtue and the holy ones in their holiness!" (22:11)
 
Surprise verse    "But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth!" (3:16)
 
Prayer: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.
 

CONCLUSION

When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Presentation Ministries
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Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com

 

 

 
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