The Holy Spirit and fire

Scripture reading for March 5th: Luke 3

Key Scriptures: Luke 3:15-18 “As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether He might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations He preached good news to the people.”

Many flocked to John the Baptist who was calling Israel to repentance and symbolically baptizing them in the waters of the Jordan river. The baptism was symbolic of a washing needed to prepare them for the One coming who would further baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. He would come to gather the “wheat” into God’s “barn” and then to burn up the chaff in a unquenchable fire. Those baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire would become the wheat. Those refusing would be the chaff. John preached this Good News” to the people of Israel who would listen.

Luke 3:4 “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for water baptism that allowed me to identify with You and Your work on the cross. Thank You for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, marking me as belonging to God and empowering me to live a life of following You and preaching the Good News.

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness who publishes salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””

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Jesus growing up!

Scripture reading for March 4th: Luke 2

Key Scriptures: Luke 2:46-51 “After three days they found Him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, Your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that He spoke to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them and His mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

There is not much written in the Gospels concerning Jesus’ early years. This short passage from Luke’s Gospel offers a glimpse of Jesus as a child of about twelve years of age visiting the temple during Passover week. Jesus sat with the teachers and leaders and listened and asked questions. He amazed all who heard Him in both His questions and answers. His mom and dad had already left for home when they found He was not with them. When they returned and found Him in the temple, His mother rebuked Him for causing them distress. Jesus simply stated that He must be in His Father’s house! This statement did not bring understanding and He went with them submissive and obediently.

Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being with me as I am now Your house and helping me to grow in wisdom as I walk with You. Give me favor with You and with men, that I might accomplish Your will on earth as in heaven.

Proverbs 1:6-8 For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the oaths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.”

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The Virgin and God’s Son

Scripture reading for March 3rd: Luke 1

Key Scriptures: Luke 1:34-38 “And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

A key truth of the Christian faith is the truth that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin who had never known a man. This is important for our faith because a man born the ordinary way, through human intercourse, would not be able to save us because he would still have a sin-nature. God’s plan was to form His Son in a virgin’s womb and allow Him to be born of a woman and yet be the “Son of God.” The child would be holy and set apart from all other humans from His birth. Mary, herself, when approached by the angel had trouble understanding how this would happen. The angel explained that God can do anything He wants and had already formed the fore-runner, John the Baptist, in the womb of a barren woman. Mary humbly submitted and offered her body to serve God and mankind.

Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord I believe that You were born of a virgin, and are the Son of God. Thank You for saving me and those who believe on You. Help me to say along with Mary, Your mother, “Let it be to me according to Your Word,” for all my life and service.

Genesis 18:13-14 “The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

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Avoid the divisive person

Scripture reading for March 2nd: Romans 16

Key Scriptures: Romans 16:17-20 “I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught: avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul’s final appeal to the Roman believers was a warning to watch out for people in Christ’s body who were divisive and created controversy and obstacles that would trip up others in the church. Paul warned the brothers to avoid such people. They were not serving the Lord Jesus, but using smooth talk and flattery to deceive those who were yet untaught or trained in sound doctrine. Paul desired these brothers to be wise and discerning for what was good, but to stay completely separated from those who were causing these divisions. Maintaining peace instead of constant arguing or disputing was preferred. God would take care of Satan soon as they walked with Jesus through this situation. He would be crushed under their feet!

Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothes but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

Faith Confession and prayer: Dear Lord, give me discernment, strength and wisdom for what is good and keep me innocent from evil. Help me to avoid disruptive people and controversy. I believe that You will soon crush Satan under my feet as by grace I walk with You.

Romans 16:25, 27 “Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, . . . to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

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Living in harmony!

Scripture reading for March 1st: Romans 15

Key Scriptures: Romans 15:3-7 “For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written former days was written for our instruction, that through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragements grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Life isn’t supposed to be about me or centered on my will. Jesus demonstrated His own life lived out to please God and serve others in perfect submission and obedience. This took patience and endurance and for Jesus, the ultimate in suffering and sacrifice. Paul encourages the Roman Christians to follow Jesus’ example and gain encouragement from Scripture of the blessed hope that is ours in Christ. Paul prays that the “God of endurance and encouragements” would empower and make the way for harmony and unity among God’s people, that they may glorify God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. He asked that they would speak and live the Gospel of God’s love with “one voice,” welcoming others in the unity of Christ’s body. As Christ suffered to bring us into God’s unified Body, we may also have to endure suffering for others.

Psalm 69:9 “For zeal for Your house has consumed Me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Word and Holy Spirit that gives me endurance and encouragement today. Help me to live in perfect harmony with my brothers and sisters in the church. Use me to build Your Church and welcome others into fellowship and harmony.

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.

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Don’t become a judge!

Scripture reading for February 26th: Romans 14

Key Scriptures: Romans 14:1-4 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Judges determine guilt or innocence after hearing all the facts and witnesses. Judges pass sentence. God tells His people not to act as judges over other people in the matter of tastes or personal preferences. There were those in the church that were driving new believers out of fellowship because of their dietary standards concerning various foods. Some were strict vegetarians and others believed that they could eat anything if it was received with thanks to God. Food is not the main issue, but our hearts. Only God knows all the facts and truth in our heart. Be patient and kind, and allow God to do the judging!

Romans 14:10,12 “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; . . . . So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for being judgmental of others in trivial matters. Help me to give grace as I have received it from You. Help me to give a good account before Your judgment seat.

Romans 14:17-19 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by me. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

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Authorities are God’s

Scripture reading for February 25th: Romans 13

Key Scriptures: Romans 13:1-5 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who caries out God’s wrath on the wrong-doer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

This excellent teaching on our relationship with governing authorities is one that has need of emphasis in our time and day. God is over all authority, secular or religious, from the home to the government to the church. Believers are to submit or be subject to authority because God is over them. Rules are to be obeyed, unless they violate God’s Word. Those who disobey will be subject to punishment by the authorities and those who obey will have no need to worry or fear. It is God we are obeying and serving and we are to honor and submit to Him and His established authorities.

Romans 13:8, 10 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” . . . “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to understand and apply these truths on authority in my life as one under authority and one in authority. May Your law of love be fulfilled in and through me.

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

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Discerning God’s will

Scripture reading for February 24th: Romans 12

Key Scriptures: Romans 12:1-3 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God assigned.”

God’s will for each person is their transformation into the image of His Son that they might reveal His Son to the world. Our true worship of God is not just singing songs to Him. It is the dedication of our bodies as ‘living sacrifices’. It is also a decision of our will to see our minds and thought life transformed by study of God’s Word and will. This requires humility and sober thinking about what we believe and why. This worship is all by faith through God’s grace. God has given each one a measure of faith and we are to humbly offer our bodies and minds to worship Him now and forever. In doing so, we overcome evil with good–God’s ultimate will!

Romans 12:6-8 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I offer You my body to use as You will to reveal Your Son to this world. Thank You for the grace given me through faith to prophecy, serve, teach, and lead. May You be glorified!

Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”

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By faith we stand!

Scripture reading for February 23rd: Romans 11

Key Scriptures: Romans 11:19-23 “Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”

Paul used the example of an olive tree to describe the Church and the true spiritual Israel. The Jews were natural branches that were cut off because they refused to accept Jesus the Messiah. The Gentiles who by faith received Christ were wild olive branches that were grafted into the tree that is the symbol of true believers. They stood in their place because of faith and by faith they would continue. Those natural branches were cut off because of unbelief, but God desired to graft them in again if they would believe. God’s kindness is towards believers and His severity towards those refusing to believe. He desires to show mercy to all and see them saved but they must repent and believe in Jesus.

Romans 11:30-31 “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”

Faith confession and prayer: Thank You Lord for your patience and kindness shown towards me and all the unbelievers. I stand in faith and holy fear. Use me today to share the good news of Your kindness and mercy through Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.”

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Believe and confess!

Scripture reading for February 22nd: Romans 10

Key Scriptures: Romans 10:8-13 “But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart? (that is, the Word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.””

Our salvation, whether Jew or Gentile, is based on faith. We believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and God gives us His righteousness. This puts everyone on the same level ground. God is not partial to a certain race or a particular group or religion. God looks at the heart of each person and can see faith or unbelief. This is not just an intellectual process where a person acknowledges with his mind. He listens to each person’s words of confession and knows if the “Jesus is Lord” comes from the heart. When faith is found, His riches are freely given to everyone who calls on His Holy Name!

Psalm 145:1-2 “I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your Name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise Your Name forever and ever.”

Faith confession and prayer: I believe with all my heart in Jesus Christ, Son of God. Jesus Christ is my Lord! Help me to clearly proclaim the way of salvation to all who You put in my path. May the Lordship of Jesus be visible in my attitudes and actions as well as my words.

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

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