Acrostic Bible

The Acrostic Bible

In this section I’ve written an acrostic about each book of the Bible. It has been a rewarding but challenging exercise. It is clearly impossible to do justice to monumental works in the space of a few lines, especially when faced with a long and complex book like Job! However, in each case I have tried hard to capture the essence of each book in a way that provides both a quick insight and an appetite whetter. If you are a newcomer to the bible then this collection of acrostics will hopefully give you an overview in the space of half an hour.

Unfortunately these acrostics don’t rhyme – that would just be too difficult!

In order to aid navigation, I have added ‘page jumps’ to the following sections.

THE OLD TESTAMENT

Click here to go to the Pentateuch, the first five books which deal with the origins of God’s chosen people, and the civil and religious laws given to Moses.

Click here to go to the History books, starting with the conquest of Canaan, reaching the high point of a united and peaceful Israel, before the descent to division, defeat and captivity. Some of the main books here are ‘two parters’ and in the case of I Samuel and II Samuel, and I Kings and II Kings, I have written two acrostics each because there is so much ground to cover. However, with I and II Chronicles I’ve just written one, because it provides for a 10-line acrostic and mainly recapitulates previous material.

Click here to go to the Poetry books. These books contain wisdom (much of which is attributed to Solomon) and poetry, chiefly the Psalms (many of which were composed by David).

Click here to go to the books of the Prophets. Here are collections of writings by people who were brave enough to speak out against the power-brokers of their day. Sometimes they made predictions about the future, but mainly their ‘prophecy’ entailed speaking out against manifest injustice or explaining the signs of their times. Conventionally they are divided into ‘major’ and ‘minor’ prophets according to the length of their books, but even the minor prophets pack a powerful punch.

THE NEW TESTAMENT

Click here to go to the Gospels. These are accounts of the life, teaching and works of Jesus and his disciples. The first three are ‘synoptic’ and consist mainly of factual overviews; the last (John) takes a more cosmic view of Jesus and offers a number of ‘signs’ which reveal who he truly was. Unfortunately, in three cases it is only possible to write a four-line acrostic, so I really do encourage you to read at least one gospel in its entirety to get a fuller picture.

Click here to go to the books of the Early Church. They start with a historical account of how the apostles continued after the ascension of Jesus, especially how the faith was extended to gentiles after the strict Pharisee Saul became a believer, re-named Paul. This is followed by a number of instructive letters to early churches and pastoral letters to individuals, many of them written by Paul. As with Chronicles in the Old Testament, where more than one letter has been written to a church or to/by an individual, I have just written one acrostic. The bible concludes with a prophetic revelation to John, showing apocalyptic visions of the end times and reassuring persecuted Christians that God was, at the end of the day, in control of all things.

THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

The Pentateuch

Genesis

God began everything by creating heavenly order and earthly abundance
Eden was our perfect home, but through disobedience we spoilt it
Noah alone was righteous and survived the flood of God’s wrath
Even then, men preferred Babel sounds to angel voices, until Abraham,
Sarah and their descendants heeded God’s promise to be a holy nation.
In jealousy, Jacob’s sons sold Joseph into Egyptian slavery, yet he
Saved them from famine and found them a home in Goshen.

Exodus

Egypt proved to be a cruel cradling for the Israelites
Xenophobic Pharaoh tolerated them as forced labour
Only when Moses and Aaron brought God’s wrath on Egypt’s firstborn
Did Pharaoh let them go, and then his pursuing army foundered
Under the Red Sea. In the desert God provided for Israel and on
Sinai’s heights gave them commands and laws befitting a holy people.

Leviticus

Laws given to Moses on Sinai were a blessing, not a yoke,
Establishing a way of living in safety, fairness and abundance.
Vines and fields were to be rested, and servants and property redeemed,
In Sabbath and Jubilee years. Israel was not to live according to
The customs of other nations, yet aliens in their midst were to be loved.
If laws were broken – even unintentionally – sacrifices were required;
Contamination and disease were to be carefully cleansed;
Unholy conduct would turn blessings into curses. And each year a
Scapegoat was led to a desolate place, to bear away the people’s sins.

Numbers

Naming and counting Israel’s tribes was in God’s plan for a promised land, but
Unless the people obeyed God’s laws they would remain in the wilderness.
Moses faced rebellions: only Caleb and Joshua believed Canaan could be won.
Balaam the prophet was prevented from cursing Israel by his donkey.
Even though food came from Heaven and water gushed from rocks, the people
Repeatedly rebelled. Israel was decimated after being seduced by Moab, and a
Second census was needed before Canaan’s lands could be allocated to tribes.

Deuteronomy

Disobeying God’s command to take possession of the promised land,
Even though their spies had found it fertile, the people remained fearful.
Unwilling to face the enemy, they rebelled and turned back towards the desert,
Therefore that generation, even Moses, was not allowed to cross the Jordan.
Exhorting Israel to be obedient, Moses urged remembrance of the LORD’s covenant,
Reminding them that no other nation had such righteous laws and decrees.
O Israel! – fear the LORD, walk in His ways, serve Him with heart and soul;
Never deprive the alien, the fatherless or widow of justice, nor neglect your tithes;
Observe the festivals, judge impartially, uproot detestable practices; choose life.
Moses set out blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience
Yet he could only gaze on Canaan from Mount Nebo, and he died in Moab.

 

The History Books

Joshua

Jordan’s waters backed up and Jericho’s wall tumbled
Over, as Joshua’s armies swept across the promised land;
Southern cities fell and northern kings conceded defeat;
Hebron was given to Caleb and the lands allotted to tribes.
United, all Israel’s people assembled to echo Joshua’s vow –
As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Judges

Joshua died, and the following generation forgot the Lord.
Unlike other nations, Israel had no king, but at times God raised a judge,
Delivering them from their foes. Deborah defeated the Canaanites;
Gideon, the Midianites; Jephthah, the Ammonites; Samson, the Philistines.
Every time, though, they reverted to idol worship and wicked ways:
Surely a lapsed nation, everyone just doing what was right in their own eyes.

Ruth

Returning from Moab with her widowed daughters-in-law, widowed Naomi
Urged them to stay in their homeland. But one, Ruth, clung to her, and
Touched the heart of Boaz in whose fields she gleaned. They married,
Had a son Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered King David.

Samuel, Kings and Chronicles are so good they named them twice! I’ve taken two bites of the cherry at Samuel and Kings because I need as many letters as possible to cover all the key events. I have only made one entry for Chronicles because it already gives me ten letters and repeats a lot of ground previously covered.

Samuel 1

Shiloh’s temple was where childless Hannah prayed for a son
And where her firstborn, Samuel, heard God calling in the night:
Mightily he led Israel, but they demanded a king and he anointed Saul.
Upset at Saul’s sins, Samuel perceived that God had now chosen David,
Even though he was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. Saul sought David’s life, yet
Lost his own, along with his sons, fighting the Philistines.

Samuel 2

Saul’s death left a power vacuum – David reigned in Judah;
Abner (Saul’s army chief) installed Ish-bosheth over Israel.
Many battles later, David brought unity and returned the ark to Jerusalem.
Uriah’s beautiful wife, Bathsheba, was David’s downfall, and thence
Everything turned to treachery and secession before re-unification. David,
Loyal servant of God, older and wiser, Israel’s singer of songs.

Kings 1

Knowledge and wisdom should have defined Solomon’s reign –
Instead, he strayed after the pagan gods of his many wives.
No stopping the rot now: the nation divided and kings forsook the Lord.
Gilead’s Elijah sent Baal’s prophets packing at Mount Carmel, but
Still Ahab, Jezebel and Ahaziah continued to sin grievously.

Kings 2

Keeping the prophetic line, Elijah passed his mantle to Elisha;
Isaiah came later, but still the people continued to worship idols;
Nefarious kings shed innocent blood, and God withdrew his protection.
Good king Josiah’s reforms proved too little, too late
So the people were taken captive – Israel to Assyria, Judah to Babylon.

Chronicles 1 & 2

Consider a nation’s remembrance of its identity:
Histories of tribes and clans and their land allotments,
Records of priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, musicians,
Overseers, treasurers, army commanders and, of course, kings.
Not willing to risk Philistine capture, Saul fell on his sword;
Israel then crowned David, popular victor, ark-returner, flawed but faithful.
Celebrate Solomon’s wisdom, temple and prayers, but rue his backsliding;
Learn of the wars and divisions consequent on successive kings’ sins;
Examine how reforms by Asa, Hezekiah, Uzziah and Josiah brought peace;
See how sin led to enslavement, leaving the land to recover for seventy years.

Ezra

Exiled, the people of Judah were allowed by King Cyrus to return to their homeland;
Zion lay desolate so the re-settlers rebuilt the altar and the temple;
Royal decree authorised the work to continue after it had been thwarted by opponents;
Artaxerxes resourced its completion, whilst Ezra led a repentance of the people.

Nehemiah

Not only was Jerusalem’s temple in ruins, but also its wall and gates.
Exiles sent a message of distress to Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes.
His face was sad as he approached the King, but the King was gracious,
Expressing concern that he should return to restore Jerusalem’s defences.
Many resources were availed to Nehemiah and many men supported him.
In the face of opposition, he provided armed guards for the builders.
After the works were completed, he proclaimed the law and organised celebrations.
He became governor and sought God’s favour for his many reforms.

Esther

Enraged when Queen Vashti snubbed her husband’s lavish party, King Xerxes
Selected beautiful Esther, adoptive daughter of Mordecai, to be his new queen.
The king’s favourite, Haman, sought the life of Mordecai and his fellow Jews.
Have you become queen for such a time as this?” Mordecai asked his ward;
Esther persuaded Xerxes to reverse the decree and execute Haman instead.
Rescued from genocide, the exultant Jews instituted the festival of Purim.

 

Books of Poetry and Wisdom

Job

Justice seemed in short supply when virtuous Job met such dire misfortune,
Otiose friends comforted him, then judged him as self-righteous
But when God showed up, Job learned that redemption lay in worship and surrender.

Psalms

Praise and adoration for God’s righteousness and goodness
Singing, rejoicing and thanksgiving for what God has done
Asking for guidance on living a life of Godly wisdom
Laments for times of crisis, grief and suffering
Mercy and restoration sought for sins committed
Supplication for our needs, desires, healing and wholeness.

Proverbs

Prudence, insight, instruction, discernment,
Righteousness and justice are proclaimed by Lady Wisdom.
Oppression, sloth, adultery, vanity – like a dog returning to its
Vomit – are the ways of Dame Folly.
Exemplary behaviour, fairness and a heart for the poor
Reveal the wise person and will lead to honour.
Bear with the strange culture and didactic style of Proverbs:
Search these sayings and you will encounter the mind of God.

Ecclesiastes

Everything is meaningless” proclaims the preacher –
Chasing the wind is how we spend our time on earth.
Cultivating knowledge, seeking pleasure, gaining wealth
Lead equally to the same fate for all, both good and bad.
Eat, drink and find satisfaction in labour all your days,
Seasons come round for every activity under heaven;
In truth, we will not understand what happens “under the sun”.
As a man comes so he departs, and in the end gains nothing,
Seek wisdom, cast your bread upon the waters,
Turn away from evil, value friends and family.
Eternal mysteries are beyond us and are known only to God
So fear God and keep his commandments: this is our whole duty.

Song of Songs

See how the beloved yearns for her lover;
O daughters of Jerusalem, rejoice and delight in them.
Nightly she searched the city and finally found him –
Glancing at him, she stole his heart.

Over her he spread a banner, his banner of love.
Friends of the bride and groom,

See the beloved and her lover
Overwhelmed with passion one for another.
No ordinary love story is this, but
God yearning for his beloved Israel,
Shepherd and flock trysting in the garden.

Books of Prophecy

Isaiah

In the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision of God
Send me” he said, and he prophesied to Israel and her enemies.
A virgin will bear a son as a sign of God’s judgment and favour,
Israel will suffer for her sins but be restored, and her enemies subdued:
Arise, shine! God will lead you through the waters and send His Holy One:
He will be despised, rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

Jeremiah

Justice was in short supply in Jerusalem, and God was angry:
Evil practices and false prophets had brought the nation low,
Reigned by stiff-necked kings, Judah was about to fall to Babylon.
Egypt looked like a safe haven but was a fickle and idolatrous ally.
Mercy is on offer from God in return for repentance, Jeremiah prophesied;
Instead, they threw him in a well, burned his writings and plotted his death.
Accept Babylonian rule and God will ultimately redeem you, he counselled,
However they fought Babylon, Jerusalem was sacked, and they were led captive.

Lamentations

Look upon the deserted city and wail over her distress
All the splendour has departed from the daughter of Zion
Mourn for her exiled youths and maidens, her starving priests and elders
Enemies gloat over her, her prophets are exposed as false and worthless
Nothing and no-one has escaped God’s anger.
The prophet (Jeremiah) bemoans his disgrace
And yet he knows the Lord’s compassions never fail
They are new every morning, and great is his faithfulness
I will say to myself (says Jeremiah) the Lord is my portion, I will wait for Him.
Once worth their weight in gold, the precious sons of Zion are like clay
Needful of restoration, Jeremiah pleads with God, saying
Save us, unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry beyond measure.

Ezekiel

Eagle, lion, ox and man – manifestation of God calling Ezekiel to be watchman-prophet.
Zion would be punished for her sins and the glory would depart from her temple;
Each would be judged for their own deeds and could not blame their forebears;
Kingdoms would fall – first, idolatrous Israel, then her arrogant neighbours.
Israel, long exiled, would be restored, a valley of dry bones receiving flesh and breath;
Elevated miraculously, Ezekiel gazed on a rebuilt temple to which God’s glory returned,
Living waters flowed from it, as lands were restored to the tribes of Israel.

Daniel

Dreams tormented Babylon’s rulers during the years they held Judah captive,
Astrologers from their own courts were unable to interpret these strange visions,
Nebuchadnezzar and his successor Belshazzar turned to Daniel for explanations:
In God’s power, he explained a statue with feet of clay and writing on the wall.
Envious of Daniel, Babylonian governors provoked Darius to throw him in a lions’ den.
Later, Daniel dreamed of end-times, the rise and fall of kingdoms, and God’s Anointed.

Hosea

Hearing the Lord’s command, Hosea took an adulterous wife
Only to love her, as God loved Israel, despite her infidelity.
Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind, Israel lusted after false Gods:
Ephraim, so unfaithful, might once again sow righteousness
And reap the fruit of God’s unfailing love.

Joel

Judah, facing God’s judgement for her sins, is laid waste by swarms of locusts,
Omen of armies sweeping from the north to conquer and debase her,
Except if the people repent, so the Lord may pour out his spirit and blessing –
Let the weak say ‘I am strong’, dream dreams, see visions and reclaim the land.

Amos

A humble shepherd, Amos had a prophetic vision of God’s anger for Israel
Many were her sins of violence, injustice, idolatry and complacency
Only if justice and righteousness flowed like rivers would God show mercy
Sin would bring destruction, yet a remnant would live and ruins be restored.

Obadiah

Obstinate Edom, the Sovereign Lord will debase and destroy you
Because of your violence and contempt towards your brother Jacob,
Allies and friends will deceive and desert you,
Destruction awaits you – for you gloated over Judah’s misfortune.
Israelite exiles in Canaan will occupy your land
And exiles from Jerusalem will possess the towns,
Holiness will return to Zion and the kingdom will be the Lord’s.

Jonah

Joppa, a good port to sail west and defy God’s call to head east to Nineveh:
Overboard the crew threw Jonah when his disobedience caused a raging storm.
Next, a great fish swallowed him, spewing him on the shore after three days.
And then Jonah went to Nineveh, told that sinful city to repent, which they did.
However, God didn’t punish them, and Jonah slowly grasped the wideness of His mercy.

Micah

Mountains will melt as God, in His fury, strips Israel of her blessings;
In the last days, though, the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be restored;
Coming from Bethlehem will be a ruler over Israel, of ancient origin;
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God and you will be forgiven;
Humbled for a season, Israel will rise, and her enemies will fear the LORD.

Nahum

Nineveh’s cruelty and wickedness have provoked the LORD’s wrath –
Anger which afflicts the guilty with whirlwind, earthquake, fire and drought.
Healing is impossible, for Nineveh’s injury is fatal and her friends fickle.
Until now she has enslaved Israel, but the LORD is a refuge: His
Messenger will arrive and will restore the splendour of Judah.

Habakkuk

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help?
Answer me, why do you tolerate treachery?
Be patient – though it linger, judgement will come.
As the waters cover the sea, so will
Knowledge of the glory of the LORD fill the earth;
Keep silence, O Creation, for the LORD is in his holy temple.
Unbowed, even when crops fail and livestock are barren,
Know that I will still rejoice in the LORD and be joyful in my Saviour.

Zephaniah

Zeal for righteousness consumes the LORD
Everything will be swept away from earth, air and sea
Punishment will befall the idolatrous and complacent
Houses will fall and vineyards wither on the great day of the LORD.
Against proud Philistia, and insolent Moab and Ammon, He will rise;
Nineveh will be left desolate, Cush will fall by the sword;
Israel, arrogant and profane, will find her streets deserted.
A faithful remnant will be gathered to a safe, secure Jerusalem;
Humble and meek, living in peace, their fortunes will be restored.

Haggai

High priest Joshua and governor Zerubbabel, listen up!
A prophecy has come to Haggai telling you to restore the temple:
God sees you living in plush houses while His house remains a ruin.
Gather the remnant of the people in Judah (this was during the exile)
And rebuild the temple, so that you may prosper and be blessed;
In peace you shall live and Zerubbabel will be as God’s signet ring.

Zechariah

Zion will be restored by the LORD’s mercy, spoke an angel to the prophet –
Even though ruinous, God will stretch out a measuring line and rebuild it.
Coming through strange visions, the LORD showed Zechariah many things:
Horns of proud nations, a crown and clean garments for the High Priest,
A stone with eyes, a gold lampstand, a flying scroll, a woman in a basket,
Running oil from two olive trees, chariots. What did these mean? –
Israel’s enemies being defeated, evil driven out, a remnant returning:
And not by might, nor by power, but by the spirit of the LORD Almighty.
Hope would come through a king, righteous, gentle and riding on a donkey.

Malachi

Maimed animals and defiled food are what you sacrifice to the LORD;
An awesome God deserves awe, but you defile His table;
Levi’s priesthood has caused you to stumble with false teaching.
Almighty God will return to the temple like a refiner’s fire, so repent:
Come with your full tithe, so you may be named in the Book of Remembrance.
His chosen one will rise like the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings –
I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day.

THE NEW TESTAMENT

The Gospels

Matthew

Many flocked to John the Baptist (who was in fact ‘Elijah’), by the Jordan,
And when Jesus was baptised the Spirit descended on him like a dove.
Tempted for forty days in the wilderness, Jesus resisted Satan and began His ministry.
Then He chose twelve disciples, preached the Sermon on the Mount, taught about prayer,
Healed many, spoke in parables, warned of judgement and boldly entered Jerusalem.
Eventually the authorities bribed Judas to betray Him after a last supper with the disciples.
Walking the way of the cross, He rose from the grave and commissioned his followers.

Mark

Minimum detail, but maximum urgency, Mark tells a gripping narrative of Jesus:
Appointing disciples, healing many, forgiving sins, teaching in parables,
Refuting legalistic doctrine, commanding the weather, betrayed by a kiss.
King of the Jews was the charge for which He was executed, yet mockery gave way to victory.

Luke

Light of the World, announced by Gabriel; Mary’s soul magnified The LORD.
Unsettling traditions, Jesus ate with sinners, exalted the lowly, humbled the vain;
Kingdom values broke out wherever He went, culminating on the cross.
Emmaus-bound, the risen Lord explained all that had happened to two travellers.

John

Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, inextinguishable light
Only begotten son of God, preparing a room for us in Heaven
He is the door, the bread of life, the good shepherd, the resurrection
No-one comes to the Father except by Jesus – the way, the truth, the life.

The Early Church

Acts of the Apostles

After Jesus had ascended, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem,
Chose Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot who had taken his life.
Tongues of fire descended as they prayed on the day of Pentecost;
Speaking ecstatically, they realised the Holy Spirit had been poured out.

Onlookers thought they were drunk but Peter explained everything;
Fearing God, thousands believed, joined them, and the Church was born.

Then the apostles preached, sold their wealth and performed miracles;
Hauled before the temple authorities they were jailed and flogged;
Enraged, the temple leaders stoned Stephen – the first Christian martyr.

A Pharisee called Saul approved of this killing and set off to Damascus
Persecuting the church, but on his way was blinded by a vision of Jesus.
Once he regained his sight, he became an apostle, re-named as Paul.
Setting off from Antioch, Paul led three missionary journeys,
Teaching and planting churches throughout Asia Minor and Greece,
Living a dangerous life to proclaim that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Eventually he was arrested on trumped-up charges and sent to Rome,
Shipwrecked on Malta, he minstered before continuing to his trial.

Romans

Righteousness is reckoned to us (as it was to Abraham) by faith alone;
Observation of the law, by itself, is worthless because everyone falls short;
More than conquerors, Jew and Gentile alike can defeat sin through God’s grace;
Abba Father we cry, for the Holy Spirit makes us co-heirs with Christ;
No longer are we under condemnation and nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Sacrifice your lives as a Godly offering, and overcome evil with good.

Corinthians I and II

Church divided – by doctrine, disputes and disreputable behaviour,
Only some salutary letters from Paul would suffice to set them straight –
Right ways of settling disputes, exercising self-discipline, conducting worship,
Inspired use of spiritual gifts to build up the church into a single body,
Never failing to love with persistence, kindness, forgiveness and perseverance,
Trusting in Christ’s resurrection and looking beyond the grave to imperishability,
Hardships endured for the treasure and hope stored in our bodily ‘jars of clay’,
In an unveiled face-to-face relationship with God, reconciled to Christ,
A new creation, repentant and forgiving, living by faith and not by sight,
Not grudging in generosity and eager to support the wider church with gifts,
Shunning false ‘super-apostles’ and sharing in the suffering of true apostles.

Galatians

Gullible people! – being led astray by preachers of a different gospel
After I (Paul) had confronted Peter over the very same hypocrisy:
Live by faith alone, and don’t heed preachers who tell you to adopt Jewish laws.
Abraham had faith in God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness;
True heirs of Abraham become righteous by faith, not by lifeless laws.
In Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave nor free, male nor female –
All are God’s children, and His Spirit makes us cry out Abba Father.
Now use your freedom from the law, not for sin, but to yield fruit of the Spirit:
Self-control, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness.

Ephesians

Experience God’s grace – you were dead in sin but are now alive in Christ.
Peace should abound in you, for there is one faith, one baptism, one Lord:
He himself is our peace, destroying the barrier between Jew and gentile.
Eradicate the deeds of darkness in your midst and be children of light,
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
In your families and well as in the church.
Against the spiritual forces of evil, put on the full armour of God,
Namely the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation;
Shield yourself with faith and pray in the Spirit constantly.

Philippians

Prisoner behind bars, Paul writes to reassure the church at Philippi;
Happen what may, his privations would help to advance the gospel.
In everything, he rejoiced over the Philippian church and prayed they may:
Live a life worthy of the gospel, stand firm fearlessly,
Imitate Christ’s humility and look to the interests of others,
Press on towards the goal of the prize awaiting in Heaven,
Purify their lives like stars in the sky among a crooked generation,
In every situation, by prayer and petition, present requests to God,
Ask for God’s peace which passes all understanding, and seek to be
Noble and admirable and true and right and pure in every thought,
Supporting others, just as they had aided Paul in his hour of need.

Colossians

Continually praying for you, we ask God to fill you with the Spirit’s wisdom;
Once you were alienated from God, but now are without blemish in his sight.
Lord Jesus, through whom you are reconciled, is the image of the invisible God;
Over all creation, he is the firstborn and in him all things were created,
Supreme over everything and in whom all heaven and earth hold together.
Since you have been raised with Christ, focus on things above;
Ignore those who judge you by what you eat or drink
And put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature;
Newness of life requires compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,
So praise God gratefully with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

Thessalonians  I and II

The Lord’s message rang true from the church in Thessalonica,
Hallmark of a gospel received not just with words but also with power.
Ever since first hearing the gospel, they had imitated the churches in Judea,
Sharing in their trials and persecutions.
Suggestions that their faith was under attack had reached the apostles
And Paul was greatly relieved when Timothy sent report of their steadfast love.
Longing to see them again, Paul wrote, urging them to love one another,
Observe a quiet life, and pray, rejoice and give thanks continually.
Nevertheless, the church would have to be vigilant:
Idle and disrputive individuals were failing to pull their weight
And some were spreading false teaching about the day of the Lord,
Needing to be reminded that they had been among the firstfruits,
Saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Timothy  I and II

Teach with diligence and trustworthinewss, despite your youth;
Intercede for all in authority and make sure church leaders are beyond reproach;
Money – or at least the love of it – is the root of all evil and leads many astray;
Oppose hypocrisy, false doctrine, idle gossip and quarrelsome teachers;
Terrible times will come, but fight the good fight and keep the faith;
Heed all Scripture, for it is God-breathed and in every way useful.
Young Timothy, help old Paul, for he is being abandoned and his life drained.

Titus

To Titus, the leader of the church in Crete –
Instruct the elders so that they set a blameless example,
Teach sound docrtine and rebuke those who perpetuate myths,
Uphold reverent conduct in families and towards authorities.
Saved by grace, you must avoid foolish arguments about Jewish rules.

Philemon

Paul, now very old, imprisoned and chained, writes to Philemon:
Help has reached him in the form of Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave.
Instead of being angry with Onesimus, Paul prays for leniency;
Loth to order Philemon to forgive Onesimus, Paul appeals to his love and faith,
Even offering to recompense any debt or default Onesimum owes.
Moreover, Paul hopes to be freed and asks Philemon to prepare a guest room.
Onesimus’ escapade gives us a poignant and personal insight into
Networks of support, prayer, worship and collaboration in the early church.

Hebrews

Heir of all things, radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of his being,
Excelling the angels – Jesus has latterly spoken God’s message to us.
Becoming fully human, He was able to bring many sons and daughters to glory.
Receive rest and mercy from the great high priest of the new covenant;
Enter the most holy place through the curtain (that is, Jesus’ body);
Whilst there is much we do not yet see, we maintain confidence through faith;
Set your eyes upon Jesus, show hospitality to strangers, offer a sacrifice of praise.

James

Joy is what you should feel if your faith is tested, for you are learning to persevere;
Act justly, show no favouritism, and let your faith be revealed through deeds;
Muzzle your tongue, for it can corrupt the whole body with gossip and boasting;
Earthly wisdom is selfish, so seek the wisdom that comes from heaven;
Sin, trouble and illness can be overcome by prayer, especially that of a righteous person.

Peter I and II

Precious blood of Jesus, spotless lamb, has redeemed you as imperishable seed;
Empty yourselves of malice, love one another, glorify God among the pagans;
Trust in Christ the cornerstone, be a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a living sacrifice;
Everywhere, the devil prowls for victims, so be on your guard against false teachers;
Rest assured that God’s day of reckoning will come, though he works to his own timescale.

John I, II and III

Jesus purifies us from sin, so we can walk in the light, without darkness.
Obey the command to walk in truth and love, for God has made us his children;
However, if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, an atoning sacrifice;
No-one who hates a brother or sister, or who denies Christ, is walking in the light.

Jude

Jesus-deniers have already infiltrated your love feasts,
Ungodly people who boast and flatter, shepherds who feed only themselves –
Darkness and destruction await them. So persevere dear friends:
Eternal life is yours if you build up your faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Revelation

Revealed to John, exiled on Patmos, a message from Jesus for seven churches –
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea –
Victory awaits their faithful, but suffering awaits their backsliders.
Enraptured in the Spirit, John looked through an open door into Heaven:
Living creatures glorified, and elders bowed down to, one who sat on a throne
As he held out a seven-sealed scroll which only the lamb was worthy to open.
Terrors erupted as the seals were broken – four horsemen unleashed turmoil
In heaven and earth, until the beast and those whom he had marked were defeated.
Once the final judgement had passed, an angel led John to view the heavenly city,
New Jerusalem, reserved for those whose names were in the Lamb’s book of life.

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