Deserting Christ

Scripture reading for May 14th: Galatians 1

Key Scriptures: Galatians 1:3-8 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him Who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a Gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

Paul was writing to the Galatian church concerning a troubling development that came to his attention. There were false teachers there who were distorting the Gospel of Christ Jesus. This was causing believers to desert Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation and begin to seek to find salvation through works of the Law in addition to faith in Jesus. This was troubling because there was only one Gospel and one Savior, Jesus Christ! Paul had received this Gospel by a revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul called down a curse on anyone, including angels in heaven or himself, who would preach another gospel. He repeated this for emphasis because this was a life and death matter.

Galatians 1:11-12 “For I would have you know, brothers, that the Gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Your Gospel of repentance and faith in Your sacrifice on Calvary’s cross. Thank You for revealing this Gospel to Your apostles and disciples, to Paul, and to me and all who have believed. Help me to preach the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2nd Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

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Sowing the Gospel seed!

Scripture reading for May 13th: Acts 28

Key Scriptures: Acts 28:23-26 “When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Low of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

After wintering on the island that they shipwrecked on, Paul continued on to Rome as a prisoner on another ship with the Roman soldier assigned to guard him. At Rome he was given the privilege of a private rented residence and a soldier to guard him but was otherwise free to meet with believers and others seeking God. Paul got together with the local Jewish leaders and shared the Gospel with them from the Old Testament Scriptures. Some believed and some did not but disagreed. Paul separated from them and announced a mission to the Gentiles and preached the Gospel with boldness for over two years as a prisoner but free. God’s provision and directions were received and followed.

Acts 28:30-31 “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, it is amazing that Paul, a prisoner, is given such freedom and provision to do Your work. His bold preaching and steady witness is an encouragement to me. Let Your Word ring out from my lips each day no matter the circumstances.

2nd Timothy 4:1-2 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

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“Do not be afraid!”

Scripture reading for May 12th: Acts 27

Key Scriptures: Acts 27:21-26 “Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.””

God likes to encourage His people when they are in the midst of a trial. Paul was a prisoner of Rome, being transported from Caesarea to Rome during the winter. As it got later and later, sailing became more treacherous with the stronger winter storms. Paul had advised the captain not to set sail. Of course, who was Paul to give him advice? They set sail anyway and a terrible storm caused them all to despair of life. After 14 days of constant wind and waves, Paul had an angelic visitor with a word of knowledge. He shared it with the crew and others while boasting on God and His mercy. He spoke out in faith and it happened just as he had been told. The ship was lost but all survived by God’s amazing grace!

Acts 27:43 “But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for encouraging words of knowledge when Your people are in dangerous situations. It is comforting to know that in every situation, You are with us and for us! Use me to give words of knowledge and encouragement as fearful times come.

Proverbs 4:13 “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”

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Following orders!

Scripture reading for May 11th: Acts 26

Key

0000 Scriptures: Acts 26:15-18 “And I said, ‘Who are You Lord?‘ And the Lord Said, ‘I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen Me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Paul shared his testimony again. This time before King Agrippa and Festus the governor. Paul told of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He quoted to them the appointment he received from the risen Jesus to appear before Gentiles. His assignment was to open their eyes that were in darkness and to bring them light. He was to deliver them from the power of Satan and return them to the power of God. By repentance and faith they would receive forgiveness of sins and righteousness before God. In the testimony of his encounter with Jesus, he effectively preached the Gospel and then specifically called them to repentance and faith. Like Paul, we should waste no opportunity to share our testimony and the Gospel!

Acts 26:27-29 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the clear appointment and mission You gave to Paul and all who follow You. Give me open doors to share my testimony and the Gospel today as I seek Your will.

Acts 16:30-31 “Then he brought them (Paul and Silas) out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

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Standing before kings

Scripture reading for May 10th: Acts 25

Key Scriptures: Acts 25:9-12 “But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.””

Paul had been in Roman custody for over two years. A new governor, Festus, came into power and wanted to get on the good side of the Jews and sought to arrange a trial for Paul in Jerusalem. The Jews there were still wanting to kill Paul and had plotted how they would if he came back to Jerusalem. Paul was a Roman citizen and when asked where he wanted tried, asked to continue his trial under Roman jurisdiction, even appealing to Caesar himself. This was all part of God’s plan to have Paul stand before Roman authorities and to preach in Rome, transported there at government expense. It is not always our way of accomplishing God’s will, like Paul, we must be open to unusual routes and ways to witness of Jesus before those God is desiring to reach!

Mark 13:9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, to bear witness before them.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, Your ways are above our ways. You always prepare Your followers for what will come and make a way for them to accomplish Your work of witness to all the lost. Make me bold today and attentive to Your thoughts and ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

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Alarmed but no repentance

Scripture reading for May 7th: Acts 24

Key Scriptures: Acts 24:24-27 “After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”

For two years, Paul was under house arrest in Caesarea, the Roman government center of Israel and safe from the murderous Jews. There he had opportunity to share Jesus with guards and the head of the Roman government, Felix and his Jewish wife. Paul shared the Gospel message and warned them of God’s judgment on sin and His requirement and provision for righteousness through faith in Jesus. This alarmed Felix and he sent Paul away for a time. He kept calling him back, under the guise of hearing more but all he really wanted was a bribe of money. Hard soil finds no room for the Word of God and love of money is a snare of the soul. God’s mercy waits a long time that repentance will break the hardness.

Mark 4:3-4 “”Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to remember that Your timing is not always mine. Help me to patiently sow Your Word and water it with prayer, seeking You for repentance and a harvest.

1st Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

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Jesus standing by!

Scripture reading for May 6th: Acts 23

Key Scriptures: Acts 23:9-11 “Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.””

Jesus is with His people always and in all situations. He is in charge of what His people walk through in their appointed calling. Paul was in the center of God’s will and doing what He was called to do. God was at work on those of the Jews as well as the Gentile soldiers and their handlers as well as the officials of Rome. He placed Paul where He could minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all and also had plans to reach even to Rome with Paul. Even a plot of ambush by forty Jews to kill Paul didn’t stop God’s plans. The devil is no match for God’s Spirit-filled people! Paul could rest soundly knowing Jesus was standing by him!

Daniel 3:24-25 “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for standing by Your people in every age and every mountain and valley. Thank You for vision and Words of encouragement when the going gets tough. May I testify boldly to the facts of Who You are and Your plan of salvation, knowing that You are standing by me.

Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

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Paul’s testimony of Jesus

Scripture reading for May 5th: Acts 22

Key Scriptures: Acts 22:12-16 “”And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour, I received my sight and saw him. An he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from His mouth; for you will be a witness for Him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait: Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.'”

As Paul was brought by the Roman magistrate to stand before the Jewish council, he began to share his personal journey from a zealous Pharisee who personally rounded up followers of Jesus to a follower of Jesus. He shared how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and how he was blinded by the light. He shared how another Jewish believer, Ananias, was sent to him to pray for him and how he immediately received his sight back. He told how he was appointed to know God’s will and see Jesus and become a witness of all he saw and heard. He also shared how he was baptized and saw Jesus in a trance while praying in the temple. Jesus warned him to get out of Jerusalem quickly because the Jews would not accept his testimony. Jesus then sent him to the Gentiles. At this, the murderous spirit against Christ and His followers manifested! Sounds like the ‘cancel’ culture of our day that tries to destroy what it opposes!

Acts 22:21-22 “And He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” Up to this they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Paul’s testimony and witness to me and the world. Thank You for my personal testimony of You calling me to preach and testify. Help me to boldly share Your Gospel love, even to those who may reject You or try to cancel me.

2nd Timothy 3:12-13 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

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The will of the Lord be done

Scripture reading for May 4th: Acts 21

Key Scriptures: Acts 21:10-14 “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.””

Paul was set on going to Jerusalem and on the way, stopped by Philip the evangelist’s home and stayed there many days. A known prophet from Judea came by and in a prophetic act and word, told Paul what was coming as he would reach Jerusalem. The disciples and Philip tried to talk Paul into avoiding Jerusalem. Paul, although moved by their concern, knew the will of the Lord. He was ready to face whatever lie ahead for the Name of Jesus, even death as a martyr. Those there recognized that God’s will must be done, no matter how they felt emotionally about Paul or how much Paul loved them.

Mark 14:36 “And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being with us and strengthening us for coming times of trial. Thank You for prophetic words and warnings. May I always follow Your will, no matter what my personal feelings or even urgings of my own family and friends.

Matthew 16:21-22 “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall never happen to You.””

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Watchful and thorough!

Scripture reading for May 3rd: Acts 20

Key Scriptures: Acts 20:24-28 “But I do not account my life of any value no as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained by His own blood.”

Paul was on a mission to Jerusalem and he had been warned prophetically of coming dangers awaiting there. As he traveled by ship in order to arrive there, he avoided a stop at Ephesus where he had spent three years. He called those in leadership at Ephesus to meet him a short distance away at Miletus where he shared words of encouragement and warning. His main focus was to finish the course and ministry laid out for him by Jesus Christ. This involved testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace. Paul had fully declared this message to the Ephesians and the responsibility to believe and act in faith in Jesus Christ rested on them. The leaders must be watchful over their own lives as examples and the church there belonging to Jesus. Ferocious wolves (false teachers) would try to tear the church apart!

Acts 20:29-30 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Faith confession and prayer: Jesus, thank You for the Gospel message of salvation by faith through grace. Help me to fully preach the whole counsel of God. Give me watchful eyes over my life and those under my care.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

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