Confession: I’ve always struggled with the timeline of Acts.
It’s all the moving around. Most Bible narratives take place in one corner of the Near East. But in Acts, several major characters loop-de-loop their way around the Roman empire.
The first few times I read Acts, all the new city and province names just blurred together in my mind, and that made it even harder to follow the story.
But a big-picture framework makes it easier to deal with the details. So here’s a timeline of Acts with the main things we need to know:
- Who the major characters/locations are
- Where their stories overlap
- The major events that drive those stories
Psalm 119 is the Bible-study anthem. I’m working through this psalm focusing on three things:
- Reasons to read and study the Word
- Ways to respond to the Word
- How the gospel of Jesus makes this Psalm even better (today)
We’re in the second section of the psalm: Beth.
How the gospel makes this psalm better
This portion of the psalm talks about how the Bible keeps us from sin, and how that’s cause for rejoicing in the text. Verses 9 and 10 stand out to me as especially true for those of us in the faith:
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Jesus washes us with the water of the word, and thanks to him, we’re holy and blameless when presented back to him (Eph 5:26). Jesus purifies us, taking away the sins that made us guilty before God (2 Pe 1:9).
And that’s good new for us, because we sure can’t keep ourselves pure—let alone keep our ways according the Law of Moses.
And thanks be to God, the job of seeking God and his commandments is far easier on us now. The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel that there would come a day when the Lord would make in His people a new heart, and put his Spirit in them, too (Ez 36:26–27). God tells Jeremiah that he will write the law on the people’s hearts: he will be our God, and we will be his people.
And unlike the psalmist, we have the laws of God branded on our own hearts—which puts us in a much better situation:
And that’s one way the gospel makes this part of Psalm 119 even better!
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The Bible isn’t a songbook, but did you know there are at least 185 songs in the Bible? Battles, coronations, funerals, cities being sacked, and seas splitting up—you can find songs in the Bible for all kinds of occasions.
Granted, 150 of these songs are in the book of Psalms, which actually is a songbook. But you can find 35ish more songs, chants, dirges, and hymns scattered across the Old and New Testaments. (I say 37ish because some of those songs are very similar to Psalms, and other pieces of poetry may or may not have been sung.)
I’ve pulled those non-Psalms together in one place for your reference. Your worship leader will probably give you a high five if you share this with them. =) Continue reading