Blessing sowed–blessings reaped!
Scripture reading for March 2nd: Acts 28, Psalm 44, Proverbs 13
Acts 28:7-10 “Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.”
Paul and the 275 on board the ship were all safe on an island and wintered there. Soon after escaping the shipwreck, the chief man of this island took Paul and several from his party into his house and showed them hospitality for three days. During this time, Paul found out Publius had a sick father. He asked to go pray for him and God healed him. This brought people from all over the island to receive prayer and God healed them. When they were ready to set sail after winter, these islanders loaded Paul and those of his party with all they needed for their journey! The law of sowing and reaping is demonstrated here! Bless and you will be blessed–abundantly! We give You thanks forever and ever!
Psalm 44:7-8 “But You have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your Name forever.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for showing such love for the lost that You would even send one of Your servants to them through such a manner as this: a prisoner on a ship that wrecked! Thank You for the healings and many who were blessed with the Gospel message in that remote place. Thank You that the law of sowing and reaping holds true. May I always sow blessings and our Lord bring in a harvest!
Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Words of wisdom and encouragement
Scripture reading for March 1st: Acts 27, Psalm 43, Proverbs 12
Acts 27:33-38 “As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten, they lightened the ship, throwing the wheat into the sea.”
Paul was a prisoner of Rome under the control of a centurion named Julius. He had favor with him and Paul was allowed to visit his friends before boarding the ship. It was nearing winter, and sailing was treacherous. Paul warned them about possible loss, but the ship’s owner and captain called the shots. During the trip, a storm arose that caused them to despair of life! For fourteen days they drifted in the gale winds. Paul spoke up as the time of approaching land drew near. He encouraged the men to take heart and eat. He told them not a hair of their head would perish. He blessed the bread and ate, along with the 275 others on this ship. He gave a word of wisdom–light and truth making souls glad.
Psalm 43:3-4 “Send out Your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to Your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding Joy, and I will praise You with the lyre, O God, my God!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for giving words of wisdom to Your servants to be a blessing and encouragement to all people and to show signs to the lost of Your love and care. Your Word brings light and truth to my soul. It leads me to Your holy dwelling and lifts anxiety from my heart replacing it with joy and gladness. Let Your Word bring hope, salvation and encouragement through my lips!
Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
Paul speaks boldly to authority!
Scripture reading for February 28th: Acts 26, Psalm 42, Proverbs 11
Acts 26: 24-29 “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 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.””
God gave Paul the opportunity, at King Agrippa’s request, to hear Paul’s defense. Paul spoke boldly to King Agrippa, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he presented the Gospel message of his own testimony and Christ’s resurrection. He directly appealed to King Agrippa, and even to Festus, the governor, to become followers of Christ. There was resistance as Festus accused Paul of being mentally unstable, and King Agrippa and his wife felt pressure and resisted action of faith. But Paul boldly proclaimed the Gospel message to those God had set before him, a prisoner of Jesus Christ!
Psalm 42:1-2 “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing care to place Your people where they may reach even those in authority with Good News. I ask for open doors today and each day to present my testimony of Your saving grace in my life and the forgiveness of sins through Your Son Jesus Christ. May my life bring glory to You and much fruit in souls partaking of Jesus Christ the Tree of Life Eternal!
Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”
The ‘religious’ Jews plot murder!
Scripture reading for February 27th: Acts 25, Psalm 41, Proverbs 10
Acts 25: 1-5 “Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem–because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.””
Paul considered himself a ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ.’ Paul knew that God had sent him to Jerusalem and that he also would go to Rome as well because the Lord Jesus had spoken to him. But the ‘religious’ leaders of the Jews had their own plots in mind. More than 40 men had pledged an oath to neither eat or drink until they had killed Paul. Religion may appear to be legitimate, but hearts that are not humble before God but proud and manipulative are being controlled by the devil. God watches over His people in every situation to work out everything for His good and His purposes. Paul’s imprisonment and this conflict enabled Him to witness to Roman authorities in Caesarea and to be taken to Rome for ministry and the government protected him and footed the bill.
Psalm 41:11-12 “By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But You have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in Your presence forever.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for delighting in Your people and protecting them from enemies bent on destruction. You are the One who spins over me in delight and brings me into the rest of Your righteousness and joy. You are my stronghold in trouble and the One who will ultimately bring justice. Use me and my humble trust in You to bring Your Word of salvation to those who are lost and dying.
Proverbs 10:28-29 “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.”
Paul’s faithful preaching!
Scripture reading for February 24th: Acts 24, Psalm 40, Proverbs 9
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 Jesus Christ. 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.”
Proverbs states that the fear of man is a snare. Worldly leaders like Felix were always looking for political advantage or personal advantage as with a bribe. They were not guided by the integrity that comes from God’s Word, but by their flesh. Godly people are sometimes, like Paul, placed by God under their authority. God loves them too and gives all people opportunity to hear the truth of Jesus and allows them freedom to chose who they will serve. God’s message of deliverance shows no partiality and He desires all to be saved an enter into His salvation. Wise people are teachable. Fools and scoffers turn sour and hateful.
Psalm 40:9-10 “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O Lord. I have not hidden Your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation.”
Prayer: Father God, Thank You for the ‘Glad News’ of salvation given to your Church to share in the great congregation of mankind. Forgive me when I have restrained my lips and not told of Your faithfulness and salvation. Use me like Paul, to faithfully and fully declare Your Son, Jesus Christ, to all You send me to. May none be lost or suffer as scoffers and fools. Help me to faithfully declare the Gospel to all nations!
Proverbs 9:8-9 “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Scripture reading for February 23rd: Acts 23, Psalm 39, Proverbs 8
Acts 23:6-10 “”Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 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 to the barracks.”
As Paul was brought before the religious Jews who were seeking to kill him, God gave him insight into the division of these leaders. They were divided into sects, Sadducees and Pharisees, according to what they believed about the supernatural world. One group, the Sadducees, were anti-supernatural, doubting in what was not visible. The Pharisees, of which Paul was a part, believed in the resurrection of he dead and angels and spirits. Paul wisely chose to identify with those believing the supernatural. God’s message of grace and mercy towards sinners involved resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Sharp and violent disagreement took place around these issues. This also happens today when the Gospel is preached.
Psalm 39:7-8 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!”
Prayer: Father God, deliver me from religious divisions around traditions of men. Help me to discern, like Paul, how to answer and to rightly and kindly confront those in error. You have promised us Your wisdom and deliverance by faith and trusting in You to help us. Thank You for always being true to Your Word! Help me to wait on You for direction in each circumstance of persecution or misunderstanding.
Proverbs 8:8-9 “All the Words of My mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.”
Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus.
Scripture reading for February 22nd: Acts 22, Psalm 38, Proverbs 7
Acts 22:6-11 “”As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the One Who was speaking to me. And I said ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and come into Damascus.”
The fierce Pharisee and persecutor of followers of Jesus was on his own way to Damascus with letters of authority to round up followers of Christ. God knew Paul’s heart and had plans to him. On the road in broad daylight, a great light shone around Paul and he was knocked off his horse to the ground. A voice, the Lord Jesus, spoke a question to him, speaking his name twice for emphasis. Paul responded with a question: “Who are Your, Lord?” Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and told him he was really persecuting Him. Paul’s next question: “What shall I do?” Jesus’ instructions were to go into Damascus and wait for further instructions. Paul was led by the hand because the bright light had left him without sight. God was revealing to Paul the darkness of sin in his life and the path of ‘Light’ in Jesus.
Psalm 38:9-10 “O Lord, all my longing is before You; my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your patience with those who are sincerely misguided and under the control of darkness. Use me to help people in that state to find answers to “Who are You, Lord?” and “What shall I do?” Thank You for revealing Your Son’s identity, Jesus the Christ, to me and calling me to follow Jesus and shepherd Your people under Your master leadership. Let Your light shine brightly in me.
Proverbs 7:1 “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; . . “
The will of the Lord be done!
Scripture reading for February 21st: Acts 21, Psalm 37, Proverbs 6
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 traveling with companions and heading for Jerusalem. At yet another stop in Caesarea, the prophet Agabus gave Paul and the church there about the coming arrest and binding of Paul. Those present, and Luke, urged Paul not to go. It is natural to want to avoid trials, but in this case Paul had been instructed to go to Jerusalem. He must obey even though he might have wanted to stay. Finishing God’s work must come first, even if it resulted in imprisonment or even death. Paul was choosing to ‘delight himself’ in the Lord and trusted that he was given the desires of God’s heart. He was lead by the Holy Spirit to fulfil God’s will.
Psalm 37:4-5 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.”
Prayer: Father God, help me to delight myself in You each day and open my heart to Your will and desires. I sometimes would rather follow the easy path that my flesh or even my wife or family think best. Help me to encourage others wrestling with God’s will to follow Him obediently and with faith. I hide Your Word in my heart that I might be lead by it, instructed in the night hours and spoken to in decision time.
Proverbs 6:20-22 “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”
Living well–finishing well!
Scripture reading for February 20th: Acts 20, Psalm 36, Proverbs 5
Acts 20: 18-24 “And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day 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 count 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 had called together the Ephesian Church elders that he had lived among for nearly two years. His time to depart had come and he reminded them of how to live by recounting his own life experience of trials, testing, suffering and humble proclamation of the Gospel. He had fully declared the truth to all in Asia, through public meetings and in small groups from house to house. He was leaving for Jerusalem, knowing through the Spirit that trials and afflictions were in his future. But his own life or circumstances was not his major concern. His focus was on completing the course of ministry laid out for him by God, testifying to the grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! He played for an audience of One!
Psalm 36:10-11 “Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.”
Prayer: Father God, You are the great Watcher of all mankind. Your eyes watch each person run their race of faith here on earth. You lay out a course for Your people and take them through trials, tests, and ministry opportunities. Help me through the Holy Spirit to stay humbly focused on the tasks You provide each day and today. Let not pride or arrogance lead me astray. Let me finish my course with Your grace!
Proverbs 5:21 “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.”
“Who are you?”
Scripture reading for February 17th: Acts 19, Psalm 35, Proverbs 4
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 upon them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.”
This amazing story took place over twenty years after Pentecost. Earlier, Paul had lead twelve disciples who were only familiar with John’s baptism of repentance into the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues and prophesy. Miracles were being done with just aprons from Paul’s clothing being placed on the sick and infirmed and healing taking place. Some sons of the Jewish high priest had evidently observed Paul and other believers invoking the Name of Jesus. They tried to use the same formula, but the demon addressed them with a question: “Who are you?” These exorcists knew about Jesus that Paul preached, but they did not know Jesus! The evil spirit did know Jesus and Paul, but did not see Jesus in them! The result was a bad beating and humiliation but growth for Christ’s Church!
Psalm 35:27-28 “Let those who delight in My righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord Who delights in the welfare of His servant!” Then my tongue shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.”
Prayer: Thank You Father, for the amazing stories of the Gospel spreading and the gradual unfolding of Your plan among Jew and Gentiles. The joy and delight of people healed of sickness and infirmity and delivered from evil spirits brings joy to our hearts as Your children. May evil spirits not ask the question “Who are you?” of us as we confront them in faith and the wisdom and insight of Your Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 4:7-9 “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”