Scripture reading for January 30th: Acts 5, Psalm 21, Proverbs 21
Acts 5:38-42 “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go. They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. And every day, in the temple and house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
The religious leaders were agitated at the apostles, who continued to draw crowds and faithfully preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They sought to take violent action against the apostles and had them thrown into jail but an angel of the Lord freed them and instructed them to continue preaching. When the religious leaders called for the apostles from their jail cell, the guards found it locked but no one there. Then they received a report of the apostles preaching again and they hurriedly brought them from there before the council. Gamaliel gave advice to the elders: let these men alone for if they are from God, you might be fighting against God! After warning them to stop, they had the apostles flogged and set free. They went on their way rejoicing in God’s salvation! Fear of man is a snare! We must, like the apostles, follow the counsel of God alone! Gamaliel also gave God’s truth.
Psalm 21:1-2 “O Lord, in Your strength the king rejoices, and in Your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.”
Prayer: O Lord, like David of old, I rejoice in Your strength and wise counsel! Thank You for Your miraculous intervention in placing the apostles and me right where I can be Your witness and reach even those hardened by sin and religion. All victory belongs to You! Success belongs to You. Use me to give wise counsel and godly wisdom to those needing salvation and those making decisions about Jesus.
Proverbs 21:30-31 “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”
Scripture reading for January 27th: Acts 4, Psalm 20, Proverbs 20
Acts 4:17-22 “”But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this Name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.”
Religious people, who are not ‘born again’, have a difficult time with Jesus Christ, miracles, and the gift of eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus. The religious people that had crucified Jesus were upset with these apostles who were preaching Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and eternal life through repentance and faith. They were even upset at a notable miracle, the healing of the forty-year-old man, lame from birth. They wanted to stop the spread of this teaching and the miracles because all the people were excited and praising God. So they forbid these apostles to speak or teach in Jesus’ Name! This would surely stop the spread! But not so fast! Should apostles obey Jesus or these religious fakes?
Psalm 20:6-7 “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for opening my ears day by day to hear Your Word and obey Your instructions, no matter what the world may demand. Protect me from the fear of man which would hinder the spread of Your Word. Use me through the authority of Jesus’ Name to show compassion on those who are hurting or bruised by life. Bring notable miracles of healing and deliverance to Your glory!
Proverbs 20: 27-28 “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts. Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.”
Scripture reading for January 26th: Acts 3, Psalm 19, Proverbs 19
Acts 3: 17-21 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, Whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.”
Peter and John had just been used by God to speak prophetically in the power of the Holy Spirit to a lame beggar. At their word, the beggar immediately received strengthening and healing. He began to walk, leap, and praise the Lord! It was truly a picture of the refreshing that comes when God intervenes in our lives and reveals our Lord and Savior, appointed to save even us! Peter called out to those who had participated in the trial of Jesus to repent, change their minds, and receive their refreshing as well! Jesus was in heaven, but was still at work through His people! Everything God had spoken by the prophets had come true or would come true at the final restoring of all things at Christ’s return!
Psalm 19:12-14 “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for keeping me from errors and presumptuous sins. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart might be Yours and thereby acceptable in Your sight. Continue to open my ears to Your instructions that I might be refreshed daily and walk, run, and leap for joy for Your amazing grace!
Proverbs 19:27 “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
Scripture reading for January 25th: Acts 2, Psalm 18, Proverbs 18
Acts 2:14-18 “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this was what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on My male servants and female servants in those days I will our out My Spirit and they shall prophesy.”
God speaks to His people and His Word never returns void. As the Jews who were present on this first Pentecost listened to the people who had received the gift of the Holy Spirit speak in other tongues, they assumed, wrongly, that they were drunk with wine. But Peter, now bold with the Holy Spirit, stands to explain and preach the Gospel to all who were present. He pointed them to Scripture in the Book of Joel. Joel had, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, foretold how in the last days God would ‘pour out’ the Holy Spirit on all flesh. Men and women, young and old, servants and slaves; all would have access and this would result in prophesy and the gift of prayer and worship in tongues. God was empowering His people to speak His Gospel Good News to the whole world.
Psalm 18:31-32 “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a Rock, except our God?–the God Who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”
Prayer: Father God, thank Your for Your gift to those who trust in Jesus of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for pouring it out generously on all those who believe, great or small, man or woman, young or old. Use me today prophetically, to speak in power Your Words of Scripture and tell forth the Good News that will bring eternal life to those who hear and receive. Let the ‘bubbling brook’ of the Holy Spirit flow in me.
Proverbs 18:4 “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Scripture reading for January 24th: Acts 1, Psalms 17, Proverbs 17
Acts 1:6-11 “So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven, as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.””
Jesus had been with HIs disciples for nearly 40 days after His resurrection. He appeared to them, allowed them to touch Him and taught them, opening their minds to the Scriptures. As He prepared to leave them and ascend into heaven, they asked Him about the time of revealing the full kingdom of heaven. Jesus told them not to be concerned about the timing. Rather, they would receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit soon to empower them in their calling and mission: reaching the lost world with the Gospel Good News. He sent two angels to assure them that He would return just as He promised and He arose with the clouds of heaven in great glory!
Psalm 17:15 “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your presence.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for clearly defining the focus and mission of Your disciples as that of witnesses of You and Your power and glory and saving message of repentance and faith. Thank You for the assurance that we will see Your face again and dwell in Your presence forever. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit in me, I set my face towards Jesus Christ, Wisdom from God, and ask to be used as a witness today.
Proverbs 17:24 “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”
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.”