Category Archives: Connect the Testaments

December 31: From Beginning to End

Lamentations 4:1–5:22; Romans 16:1–27; Proverbs 31:10–31

Endings are always difficult. But when they’re new beginnings, they’re revitalizing.

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we not only see Paul the apostle, but Paul the empathetic and concerned pastor. Paul knows that if dissension or temptation rules over the Roman church, they will fail in their ministry, so he warns them (Rom 16:17–19) and offers them a word of hope: “And in a short time the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (Rom 16:20). Here, Paul is echoing God’s words to Adam, Eve, and the serpent after the fall, when, instead of carrying out God’s request to bring order to creation (as He had done in the beginning), humanity turned from Him, defacing His image (Gen 1:1–2, 27–28; 3:14–20). But while Gen 3:15 merely depicts Satan biting the heel of humanity and being struck on the head in return (Gen 3:15), Paul depicts Satan as being crushed under the heel of the Church. Through Christ, people will be victorious over Satan. Christ did use, is using, and will continue to use people to restore order to the world.

Paul sees the end as a time when Satan will no longer have control and Christians will be victorious through Christ. Satan is fighting a losing battle. His ravaging of humanity is temporary; likewise, in the ot, the prophet Jeremiah saw the other nations’ ravaging of God’s people as temporary. Jeremiah remarks: “You, O Yahweh, will sit forever on your throne for generation to generation.… Restore us to you, O Yahweh, that we will be restored; renew our days as of old” (Lam 5:19, 21). Yet Jeremiah must qualify his statement—he adds: “Unless you [Yahweh] have utterly rejected us, unless you are angry with us beyond measure” (Lam 5:22).

Today, there is no qualification. Christ loves us beyond all measure. Satan has lost this battle. The ravaging of God’s people will come to an end when Jesus ultimately returns (Rev 22). The end is full of hope. The end is a new beginning.

How can hope restore and revitalize your life?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 30: The Proverbs 31 Woman

Lamentations 3:1–66; Romans 15:22–33; Proverbs 31:1–19

A Proverbs 31 woman is hard to find, but it isn’t for lack of effort. She’s been the topic of more than a few Bible studies. She can be recognized by her many positive traits—strong, courageous, and trustworthy. She is hardworking, discerning, giving, dignified, business savvy, wise, and kind. If we’re looking for a vice or an Achilles heel, we’ll have to turn to another passage in the ot (we’re sure to find more failures than achievers within its pages).

As we look through the list of qualities, though, it’s hard to check them all off, even for Type-A personalities. But the key to understanding the list of characteristics isn’t found in what we can attain. It’s found in the last verse—the crux of the poem. The crown of the woman’s wisdom isn’t her charm or her beauty or even her ability to “get things done.” It is her fear of Yahweh. This relationship with God guides all of her actions.

If we’re trying to earn favor with God by being “the best version of myself” or “being the best me,” we’ll fail miserably. If we live to define ourselves by a task, or even a role, we’ll fall short every time. It’s God’s work in us—through Christ—that defines us.

As redeemed people, we can strive to be wise and discerning thanks to the work of the Spirit. We can strive to be stewards of the time He’s given us. We can strive to live unselfishly in all of our relationships. When we fail, or when we fall short, we can trust that it’s not on our own merit that we find favor with Him. His favor extends from His enduring faithfulness to us.

How do you rest in the “fear of the Lord”? How do all of your actions proceed from your relationship with Him?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 29: The Grace of God Shines Through

Lamentations 1:1–2:22; Romans 15:8–21; Proverbs 30:1–33

I was once asked why the Bible is so brutal—why it depicts things like babies being killed and war. It’s true, the Bible has many moments of darkness and violence. But these depictions of the rawness of humanity—in all its ungratefulness and depravity—demonstrate how much people need God. And more than that, through these moments, the Bible shows how much people need a savior.

The book of Lamentations is brimming with sorrow and gnashing of teeth. Little hope can be found in this book. The prophet weeps and moans over his fallen nation, over watching Jerusalem crumble. In this poetic work, we see people who don’t follow the God who loves them dearly and so badly yearns to see them return to Him.

“How desolate the city sits that was full of people! She has become like a widow, once great among the nations! Like a woman of nobility in the provinces, she has become a forced laborer. She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; she has no comforter among all her lovers. All her friends have been unfaithful to her; they have become her enemies” (Lam 1:1–2). How can we process a passage like this? How can we handle this kind of depression?

The first time I read the book of Lamentations, I wept. I had grasped a bit of what the prophet felt, and weeping was the only natural response. But it wasn’t just that. I saw myself as Jerusalem. I was her. I had walked away from God’s desire for my life, and I deserved destruction.

Sometimes we must break before we can be rebuilt. Sometimes we must fall before we can rise to the greatness God has called us to. Are you Jerusalem? Call out to God like the prophet did. Tell God how you feel. Be honest with your mourning and your sadness. It may not make the fall easier, but it will surely make you more eager to accept the grace that God has offered. God wants you to experience His grace, including salvation in Christ. He wants you to live it.

Are you in need of a savior? What are you requesting of God today? What grace do you need to receive?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 28: Unity

Jeremiah 52:1–34; Romans 14:13–15:7; Proverbs 29:1–27

Paul calls us to refrain from judging others (Rom 14:3). That’s easy enough to do when the people in our communities are the people we’d want to have over for dinner. What happens when those in our community don’t value (or disvalue) the things we value (or disvalue)?

“Now may the God of patient endurance and of encouragement grant you to be in agreement with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one mind you may glorify with one mouth the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also has accepted you, to the glory of God” (Rom 15:5–7).

In this portion of his letter, Paul asks the Roman believers to stretch themselves. For the Roman believers, judgment might have centered on the issue of eating the meat of unclean animals or the observance of Jewish holidays. Paul asks them to withhold judgment of one another because only God has that right (Rom 14:10). He also asks them not to “be a cause for stumbling or a temptation” for people who genuinely struggle with things from which others feel free.

It’s easy to be in agreement when we’re in community with people of similar personalities, hobbies, and backgrounds. But when we need to be in agreement with someone who disagrees with the way we work out our faith, we feel inconvenienced. Here, Paul states that we not only need to be mindful; we need to be accepting. We can do so for one reason: “Christ also has accepted you” (Rom 15:7). We were reconciled to God while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:10). The great Peacemaker calls us to seek relationship with others because of His work. And His love puts our inconvenience in a whole new light.

How are you seeking unity in Christ with those who don’t reflect the things you do (or don’t) value?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 27: Love Is Good News

Jeremiah 51:1–64; Romans 13:8–14:12; Proverbs 28:1–28

Love is good news for those seeking guidance. Love is the guide we need.

Many first-century Jewish Christians faced the question of what to do with the Law (the first five books of the Bible), by which they had lived previously. Now that they had Jesus, what would they do with their traditions? Paul’s answer is based on love: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, for the one who loves someone else has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). He goes on: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are summed up in this statement: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not commit evil against a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:9–10). These are beautiful words, and I’m not saying that because they let me off the hook for keeping the law; they also answer the problem that the ot prophets addressed.

The prophet Jeremiah, commenting on the sin of Babylon, notes: “All humankind turns out to be stupid, without knowledge. Every goldsmith is put to shame by the divine image. For his cast image is a lie, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery. At the time of their punishment, they will perish. The portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the creator of everything, and the tribe of his inheritance. Yahweh of hosts is his name” (Jer 51:17–19).

Jeremiah’s words teach us that we are lost without Yahweh as our guide. Without Him, we will, like Babylon, seek things as dumb as golden images. Yahweh, in His great love for us, guides us to Himself. In Him, we see love; in Jesus, we see His loving image made visible. In Yahweh, we see the way we should go; in Jesus, we see the way back to Yahweh.

Are you seeking love or golden images? What law do you need to be free from? Are you fully living the good news?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.