1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

Insight

As with any large group of people coming together, it can be easy to focus on how we are different than on what unites us. As a church, what unites us is Jesus and sharing him with the World. We should not focus on politics and preferences but we should always focus on Jesus. That will bring us together and helps us to accomplish everything God wants for us as individuals and corporately as God’s church.

Prayer

God, thank you for sending your son Jesus to this earth. Thank you for creating your church. Help us, help me, as part of your church to not lose sight of the main thing and focus on my preferences or convictions and instead to focus on the absolute most important thing which is to go into the world sharing the love of Jesus with others so that they can find salvation in you. Amen!

Jeremy

Galatians 5:14-15

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Insight

I think as Christ followers we need to remember that God did not call us to shout at the world and tell them what they are doing wrong but to express God’s love for them. We need to treat people well and show them God’s love through our lives. The message we communicate with love will always be much louder than one of condemnation. We don’t shrink back from the truth but we lead with grace.

Prayer

God, help me to show love to those around me. In doing so, help me to point others towards you both in words and in my actions towards them.

Jeremy

Deuteronomy 26:2

put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.

Insight

The principle of tithing and giving back to God a first portion of what he blesses us with was foundational in the Old Testament. God blessed his people with land and the fruit from that land. As a result the people would give back to God as a way of saying thank you and to live in the promise of his continued blessing. We don’t typically work the land and produce crops in this day but God is still blessing us with that we have - we need to remember to thank him and to live in his blessing.

Prayer

God, Thank you for all you have blessed me with - a family, a job, a house, food in my fridge, and so much. Help me to live in generosity. Help me to give back to you with a cheerful heart. Help me to not take for granted what you have blessed me with. As I live in obedience to your instruction to tithe back to your church I pray that you would continue to bless my family as you have promised in your word. Amen

Jeremy

Galatians 3:4

How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Insight

It is comforting to recognize that the standard of perfection that we try to attain is not possible through our own strength or will. We must rely on the Spirit. So this verse also serves a reminder that we need to live in and with the Spirit or we will fail to live the lives God has called us to. When I struggle I need to ask the question - am I working in my own effort or through the Spirit.

Prayer

God, once again I invite your Spirit to dwell in me. To be a part of my everyday life. To direct my path. It is only through your Spirit that I will live the life you have called me to. Thank you for sending your Spirit to us and for promising to always be with us. Amen.

Jeremy

Galatians 2:16

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.

Insight

Through Christ’s sacrifice we are put into right relationship with God. Although we strive to act in accordance with God’s direction for our lives it is not our right action or following of rules that brings us salvation, it is only Jesus.

Prayer

Jesus, without you I am nothing. Through you I am made right with God. Thank you for your sacrifice you made on my behalf. Thank you that it is not through my actions but yours through which I am saved.

Jeremy

Galatians 1:6-7

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Insight

This is a great reminder that we need to be in the word reading our Bible. In order for us to discern God’s truth from something that just sounds good we have to be familiar with the word of God to begin with.

Prayer

Lord, I want to be close to you. I know you have my best in mind. As I draw closer to you in prayer and reading your word help me to discern truth from lies, and to live a life the life you have called me to.

Jeremy

Mark 15:34

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Insight

For the first time in eternity theres is separation between God the father and God the son. This is the true weight of sin, a broken fellowship with God. This is the first time that Jesus does not refer to God as father. We get a glimpse of how damaging sin can be in our relationship with God. But the good news is this; the story continues…and Jesus has victory over sin. The power of sin is broken by the forgiveness that Jesus offers me and you. We not longer have to have a broken relationship with God, but we can come to Him as sons and daughters.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for taking on the sin of the whole world, so that one day I could be forgiven. Help me to understand the weight and destruction of sin, and the freedom of your love and mercy we now have. Help me to never take for granted what you did on that cross for me. Amen.

Matt

Psalms‬ ‭43:5‬

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”

Insight

What have you placed your hope in? Do your circumstances steal your joy and happiness? The psalmist shares a look into his heart when he asks himself these two questions. In difficult circumstances, if we have placed our hope in Jesus, we can still praise Him. He is our source of hope! Jesus is how we will be able to ride out the storms in life. Place your hope in him today. 

Prayer

Jesus, today let me find my hope in you. Not matter what’s happening around me, let me find my joy and happiness in praising you! Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, and find my strength to keep going, from you! Amen. 

Matt

Psalms‬ ‭36:5-6‬

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.”

Insight

In Psalm 36 David paints an amazing picture of just how BIG and powerful God is. After talking about how wicked and dark our hearts and actions can be, David reminds us that God’s love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice are greater. No matter what our past looks like, God is writing an amazing story in your life. He is more powerful than our mistakes, and he invites us to experience how big he really is. 

Prayer

Jesus, don’t ever let me forget the amazing freedom we have because of your ability to forgive us of our sins. Help me to walk in your powerful love and faithfulness. Show me how I can extend that kind of grace towards others to be salt and light in this world. Amen. 

Matt 

Mark 12:29-31

“Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.””

Insight

There are times in life when I feel like there is too much to do, and to little time to do it. That leads to feeling overwhelmed, and unsure of what I should do in the moment. Sometimes our faith journey can feel that way. There is so much in the Bible and many different views and opinions on what’s most important that it can be overwhelming. I love that Jesus in many ways has simplified “what’s most important”. Love God. Love People. When you are unsure of what to do in your faith journey, this is a good place to start. 

Prayer

Jesus, in the busyness of life help me to always remember what’s most important; to love you, and love people. In the times of uncertainty help me to remember what’s most important; to love you, and love people. Amen. 

Matt

Mark 8:34-35

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for the sake of the good news, you will save it.”

Insight

To take up your cross and follow me. This sentence is not one that seems profound because we know the end of the story, Jesus dies on a cross for our sins. But the readers here originally didn’t know what would happen. Jesus wanted people to know then that the cost is great to follow him. When we think of our own lives, what is the “cross” that Jesus is asking us to carry in our own lives? That could possibly be sickness at times, discouragement, financial stress, or some other burden. Whatever it is, we can walk knowing that Jesus walked before us and that this burden will be worth it in the end!

Prayer

Lord, sometimes the burdens we carry in this life are extremely heavy. It can sometimes be difficult to understand why things work out the way they do, why there is death, and why there is heartache. But we can take faith in knowing that this was also promised. Your freedom, your grace, and your love is sufficient and well worth any cost. But help us Lord to carry our cross well. In Jesus name, amen.

Josh

1 Corinthians 13:13

Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Insight

I recently had the privilege of sharing the gospel at a funeral for a woman named Jean who loved Jesus. For her, the last few weeks of her life were very simple. It was all about love. She shared with me her love for Jesus and the sweet moments she had with him, she couldn’t wait to spend eternity in heaven. She also described her love for her family, she cherished those last few weeks with those she loved because she knew they were to be her last here on earth. It reminded me how lucky I am and how loved I am by Jesus, my family, and friends. I want to be marked by this same intentional love daily that Jean had in her last few weeks.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for your perfect love in our lives. You never grow tired or weary of us. Your love doesn’t keep a record of previous mistakes or of where we fell short. Thank you for the opportunity to share this love with our world. Help us to love you well through our family, our friends, and through everyone we come in contact with. Love and selfishness are both contagious, help us to be people marked by your perfect love.

Josh

Mark 6:5-6

And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.” Mark 6:5-6

Insight

Their unbelief stopped the hand of God from doing the miraculous. What a sad and powerful moment. I wonder what else Jesus had in mind to do at this moment? It makes me stop and think for a moment on my life. There are so many times where I doubted that God would come through and do what only he could do. I want to be one that believes that God is a God of miracles and is still doing them today!

Prayer

Lord, help my unbelief. The normal in this life is hurt, brokenness, and confusion. But you offer so much more, and I want to believe that you will come through in every moment. God when life is tough or when life seems to be a bit more smooth, help me to keep my faith and believe that you are a God of miracles and you aren’t finished with my story yet!

Josh

Mark 2:1-5

Verse(s) Jesus again entered Capernaum (returning home).  They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Insight: The truest expression of friendship is bringing others to Jesus. The four guys who rolled their buddy up like a human burrito in order to get him to Jesus didn’t let the fact that there was no room detour them from their mission. They recognized that obstacles are also opportunities. The result was miraculous - their friends healing and their faith ignited. Jesus didn’t just deal with his most obvious need (being paralyzed) but his most important need (forgiveness from sins). What are you doing to bring your friends to Jesus and Jesus to your friends?

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for dealing with our most important needs, not just our most obvious. Healing this mans body as well as his soul is a powerful reminder of your desire and ability to set us from from the inside out. Help us to recognize our role in brining others to you. In your Name Dear Lord, Amen.

Jeffery Portmann

Mark 1:9-11

Verse(s) At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son,whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Insight: Jesus models water baptism for every believer. For us, it’s an outward expression of the inward transformation that Jesus makes possible through His life, death and resurrection. Water baptism is symbolic of dying (being buried) to our old selves, and rising from the dead (spiritually). When Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him and God the Father spoke his blessing over Jesus. If you have not been baptized in water - publicly declaring your commitment to Christ, it is an important next step modeled by Jesus himself. (You can learn more about water baptism go to newhopech.com Spiritual Development tab.)

Prayer: What a beautiful model you’ve provided for us Jesus. May we know the same blessing of God over our lives. That you love us. That you speak to us like a loving Heavenly Father who has our best in mind. Thank you for the gift of Water Baptism and the bold message of hope and promise that is represents! In your precious name, Amen.

Jeffery Portmann

Acts 28:1-6

Verse(s): Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Insight: On his way to stand trial in Rome, the ship Paul was on ran aground and broke apart. Everyone survived and once they got ashore something miraculous happened. Paul surviving the snake bite caused the people of Malta to want to worship him rather than God. He would have none of that. It can be easy for something amazing or even miraculous to happen and for us to want to take the credit. Only God is worthy of worship. There is one God and we’re not Him.

Prayer: Lord, please forgive us/me for any time that I have taken credit for something that only you could do. You alone are God. You alone are worthy of worship and praise. I stand in awe of you today and will point people to You not me. Amen.

Jeffery Portmann

Psalm 23:1-3,6

Verse(s): The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Insight: This short Psalm paints one of the clearest pictures of God’s unwavering love for us as well as His role in our lives. A Shepherds primary roles is leading the flock through each season and ensuring their safety. What’s interesting is that like sheep, we tend to wander off and get distracted. These verses are such a beautiful reminder of how God cares for and promises to provide goodness and love for us culminating with His Very Presence.

Prayer: Your unfailing love for us - like a shepherd caring for his flock brings such great peace and hope for both today and every day following. I choose today to stay close to you and thank you for leading me to places of refreshing and nourishment. I love you Lord.

Jeffery Portmann

Psalm 22:11

Verse: Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Insight: Some days we feel alone despite having people near us: friends, family, even our spouse. But God is always near. He will not renege on his promise to be close to the brokenhearted. If you find yourself feeling alone, you’re not the first to wrestle with these thoughts, as we read from King David’s cry above. Cling to the promise that God will never leave you nor forsake you today.

Prayer: Sometimes, I think no one can relate to my pain and discouragement. When things go bad or my heart gets wounded help me not to forget that you are near. Help me to hold firmly to the promise that you will never leave me. Thanks for the reminder that i’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. I love you Lord, Amen.

Jeffery Portmann

Acts 25:24-25

Verse(s): Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.  found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.

Insight: Imprisoned in Caesarea, Paul wanted to have his case heard in Rome which was his right as a Roman Citizen. Festus appealing to King Agrippa, who would then send Paul to Rome provided a platform for Christianity on a much broader scale. Prior to Paul being tried in Rome Christianity was considered a sect which somewhat slowed it’s spread. (Paul’s Roman prison is a place that can be visited still today among the ruins near the Senate and Colosseum ruins.)

Prayer: Lord, you want all people to come to relationship with you and will utilize any and all opportunities to make that possible. Help me today to recognize the privilege I have in sharing the good news of the gospel whether in prison or as a free person. In your Name. Amen

Jeffery Portmann

Acts 24:27

Verse: When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Insight: After accepting Christ as Lord of our lives we can begin to think that that life will be free from pain, loss, and disappointment. That is not true and we have numerous examples of how God allows us to “stay in the middle of a storm” but promises to “be with us.” Paul being left in prison is just one example of this. God uses every situation, even our heartache and disappointment for his glory and our development.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your promise of being “with us” regardless of the season or setting. Help us to learn to trust your plan when we don’t see the outcome we’re praying for. In your Name, Amen.

Jeffery Portmann