Scripture reading for May 23rd: 2nd Samuel 13-14, Acts 28
Acts 28: 23-26 “When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning to evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law 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: ‘God to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
Paul made it to Rome, through many trials and time passing. He was invited to stay with some Jewish brothers and Paul explained what had happened to him in Jerusalem and how he had gotten to Rome as a prisoner. He then shared, from morning until evening, the Gospel of the kingdom from the Jewish Scriptures. Some believed and received eternal life, but others refused to believe and Paul quoted Isaiah the Prophet to them. They had hardened their hearts and closed their eyes and ears, refusing to listen and receive God’s Good News. God would now send Paul to the Gentiles and they would listen!
Acts 28:27-28 “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Prayer: Father God, help me to always keep a teachable heart, eyes opened to see You and ears that will listen to Your Word of truth. Empower me to be bold like Paul to share honestly about my past testimony and my present relationship with Jesus Christ. Grant me standing before my King and Lord, in humble gratitude for Your amazing grace and love for me and all lost sinners.
2nd Samuel 14:33 “Then Joab went to the king and told him, and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.”
Scripture reading for May 20th: 2nd Samuel 11-12, 1st Chronicles 20, Psalm 51, 32, Acts 27
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 have 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.””
Paul, the prisoner, had sought to direct the crew and captain from sailing into what Paul knew was dangerous weather. They did not listen and for two weeks they had been buffeted by a storm and all hope of escaping was gone. Paul called them all together and shared what an angel of God had revealed to him. God was merciful and granted all who were on the ship their lives but the ship would be lost. God’s Word was true and it happened just as Paul foretold. But God’s mercy is not just to save our physical lives. As the Psalm and reading from Samuel tells us today, God is merciful to all who will call upon Him in repentance and faith. God forgives even murder and adultery for King David!
Psalm 51:1-2 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”
Prayer: Father, I am so thankful for Your abundant mercy and Your steadfast love of me, a sinner! Thank You for granting me life eternal through Your mercy in Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for blotting out my sins and iniquity and delivering me from death. Thank You for washing me from my sins and giving me Your righteousness. I will worship You for Your steadfast love and abundant mercy!
1st Samuel 12:13-14 “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.””
Scripture reading for May 19th: 2nd Samuel 9-10, 1st Chronicles 18-19, Psalm 89, Acts 26
Acts 26:19-23 “”Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.””
Paul, in God’s grace was given opportunity while in prison to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Roman rulers and kings. Jesus had called him out of the darkness of dead religion and showed him Who He was and gave him a mission to reach the Gentiles. Paul shared that testimony with all who would listen, including King Agrippa. He sought to bring the light of Jesus Christ into that ruler’s life by speaking the Word of God. God’s righteousness and justice gives each person the opportunity to hear and repent of sin and find peace with God and deliverance. The choice is given but the decision is up to us! Jesus’ love and justice through His cross and sacrifice can bring victory over death and the grave to all who will choose. He will judge the world from His throne based on truth and righteousness.
Psalm 89:13-14 “You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, high Your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before You.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the righteousness and justice that are the foundation of Your eternal throne! Thank You for the Gospel message that makes Your righteousness available to all men, Jew or Gentile, by faith in Your Son Jesus Christ, Who is lifted high at Your right hand. Empower me to preach this Gospel to all and bring repentance, victory, justice and equity to all who respond in faith.
1st Chronicles 18:13-14 “. . .And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people.”
Scripture reading for May 18th: 2nd Samuel 7-8, 1st Chronicles 17, Psalm 132, Acts 25
Acts 25: 8-12 “Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 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 hade 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 men, 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 prison under Roman authorities in Ceasarea for over two years. He was charged by the Jewish religious leaders for violations of their law and insurrection. Even after two years, these leaders from Jerusalem were still plotting to kill Paul or have him moved to Jerusalem. Jesus had been crucified outside Jerusalem and they wanted Paul to die there too. But God had other plans and His plans stand forever. Paul was to go to Rome and the Roman government would pay for it. God would also deal with Jerusalem, razing it to the ground in the near future. But long term, God has plans for Jerusalem and Israel. He has chosen Zion and desired it for His dwelling place forever! His blessing will rest on her and His people forever as well! Amen!
Psalm 132:13-16 “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place; “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for confounding the schemes of those opposing Your plans and for fulfilling Your will. Thank You for Your abundant blessings of salvation, clothing of Your people in righteousness and filling them with peace and joy through the Holy Spirit–Who finds His resting place inside Your people! This is the greatest blessing! May it continue forever and ever!
1st Chronicles 17:27 “Now You have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before You, for it is You, O Lord, Who have blessed and it is blessed forever.”
Scripture reading for May 17th: 1st Chronicles 14-16, Acts 24
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 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.”
God’s ways are often beyond our ways! In this chapter of Acts, Paul was taken down to Ceasarea and placed in custody that lasted over two years. He had been told by Jesus that he would testify in Rome, but the journey took longer than he probably anticipated. Paul did testify before Felix and his Jewish wife about Jesus, righteousness and the coming judgment. As Paul talked, Felix was alarmed! The conviction of the Holy Spirit was resisted and Paul was sent away. But other opportunities to testify came regularly for Paul. Felix had a motive of obtaining a bribe. The love of money is a root of evil and unbelief. God used Paul to accomplish His purposes in His time and provided for him and protected him!
2nd Chronicles 16:21-24 “. . He (God) allowed no one to oppress them (Israel); He rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm!” Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your plans and purposes! I am sometimes concerned by how slowly Your plans unfold and I get impatient. Help me to patiently preach and teach Your Word and the Gospel to all You bring in my path and to leave the timing to You. Thank You for Your provision and protection! I declare Your glory among the nations and Your marvelous works of salvation day after day!
2nd Chronicles 16:36 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.”
Scripture reading for May 16th: 2nd Samuel 6, 1st Chronicles 13, Psalm 60, Acts 23
Acts 23:11-15 “The following night the Lord stood by him (Paul) and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.””
Paul went to Jerusalem under the leading of the Holy Spirit and was arrested by the religious leaders and brought before the council. As promised by God, he was given words to say and insight. Paul declared that he was a Pharisee himself, and was on trial because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. This triggered a dispute between the members of the council, Sadducee and Pharisee. It became so violent that soldiers rescued Paul and put him in the barracks. Jesus met him there that night and encouraged Paul that God’s plans would take him to Rome to testify as well. Well planned schemes and oaths of Paul’s enemies to kill him came to nothing. Jesus stands by His people against all foes! Amen!
Psalm 60:11-12 “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is He Who will tread down our foes.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for bringing courage to Your servants when they face trials and opposition. Help us, like King David, to worship You with all our strength each day as we bear Your presence in us by the Holy Spirit! We know You indwell us and support us and give us words for those who oppose! Stand close by me today!
2nd Samuel 6:14-16 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.” As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.”
Scripture reading for May 13th: 2nd Samuel 3-5, 1st Chronicles 12, Psalm 122, Acts 22
Acts 22: 17-21 “”When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You. And when the blood of Stephen Your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ And He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
Paul had been a devout Pharisee and orthodox Jew. He had persecuted Christians and had them imprisoned and put to death. He was zealous for the temple and Jerusalem as the place of God’s House and presence in the midst of His people. But when Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road, Paul was confronted with his own blindness and need to repent. After his sight was restored, he returned to Jerusalem and was warned by Jesus to leave there. The Jews would not receive his testimony. God would be with Him as he now was sent to the Gentiles. He could still pray for the peace of Jerusalem as Scripture commanded. Jesus Christ, King David’s offspring, would be with him on this new mission to tell the Good News to the world! The promised New Jerusalem would be the ultimate ‘City of Peace’!
Psalm 122:6-7 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within you towers!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for sending the Prince of Peace to Jerusalem! He, too, was rejected there and not received by His own people. He sent His disciples into the whole world with the Good News and promised that He would be with them forever! Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and power to declare the message of peace to Jew and Gentile. Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
2nd Samuel 5:9-10 “And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him.”
Scripture reading for May 12th: 2nd Samuel 1-2, 1st Chronicles 11, Psalm 96, 106, Acts 21
Acts 21: 8-13 “On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. 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.””
As Paul and his companions journeyed to Jerusalem, they stayed with believers and encouraged them whenever they could. At Caesarea, they stayed with Philip, the evangelist, who was one of the original seven men chosen as deacons to serve the church. Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses and another man named Agabus who was a prophet visited his home and gave a message to Paul. This message confirmed what Paul already understood. The message brought sorrow to all who knew Paul and they urged him not to proceed to Jerusalem. Paul stated that this broke his heart because he did care for them. But God’s calling was first and Paul was ready to go and even give his life in Jerusalem for Jesus Christ his Lord.
Psalm 96:2-3 “Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”
Psalm 106:47 “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in Your praise.”
Prayer: Father God, it is hard in the natural to follow You into places of danger and possible death. We love our brothers and sisters in the Lord and our own families. But not our will but Yours must be done for we are not our own, but owe all to Jesus Christ Who gave His life for us. Grant me grace to follow You wherever You lead and to declare Your glory among all peoples.
2nd Samuel 1:26-27 “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
Scripture reading for May 11th: 1st Samuel 30-31, 1st Chronicles 10, Acts 20
Acts 20: 18-24 “”You know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor 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””
Paul, whose Jewish name was “Saul”, sought to live fully for our Lord Jesus after an early life of opposing God. He did not value his own life as precious, but his only desire and focus was to finish the course of ministry and testify to the Gospel of God’s grace. He admonished the elders at Ephesus to live in a like manner and to watch over God’s flock. He warned them of vicious wolves, some coming from their own congregation and leadership, who would have selfish motives and seek to tear apart God’s church. In contrast, King Saul, whose life is chronicled in 1st Samuel and Chronicles, died because he failed to trust God and obey Him and he also went to a medium to seek guidance instead of God. His finish was a disaster and bad example.
Acts 20:26-30 “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 with His own blood. 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.”
Prayer: Father God, I desire to finish my course well and bring glory to Your Name. Help me, as an elder, to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ, being unselfish and fully preaching the whole counsel of God. Make me alert to my own soul and alert me to dangers and forces of darkness that would hinder my finish or destroy members of Your blood-bought Body, the Church.
1st Chronicles 10:13-14 “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”
Scripture reading for May 10th: 1st Samuel 28-29, 1st Chronicles 9, Acts 19
Acts 19: 13-17 “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the Name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus Whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell on them all and the Name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.”
God was doing extraordinary miracles through Paul in Ephesus, many were being healed and delivered from evil spirits just through contact with aprons or handkerchiefs that had touched Paul’s body. Some sons of a chief priest named Sceva observed Paul’s use of the Name of Jesus and the resulting miracles. They tried to imitate Paul’s “formula” for success. The demonic spirit spoke to them in rebuke, the spirit knew Jesus, and recognized Paul the Apostle, but who were they? It is one thing to know about the Name of Jesus, but another to have authority to use Jesus’ Name in ministry to the afflicted and demonically oppressed! These impostors paid a price for their failure to know Jesus and received a beating to remember! Do the forces of Satan know who you are?
Acts 19:18-20 “Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the Word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for adopting me into Your forever family and granting me the authority to ask in the Name of Jesus for needs of ministry and miraculous deliverance. I receive this authority by Your grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Use me as You will to see Your Word increase and prevail mightily in this time to Your glory!
1st Samuel 28:5-7 “When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”