Scripture reading for May 9th: 1st Samuel 26-27, 1st Chronicles 8, Acts 18
Acts 18: 7-11 “And he (Paul) left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them.”
Paul went to Corinth and found two Jewish believers there, Pricilla and Aquila, who were tent-makers. Paul joined them to work and to teach in the synagogue and preach the Gospel. He testified that Jesus was the Christ and opposition to the Word soon arose. Paul shook out his garments and went to the Gentiles, staying in the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, who lived next door to the synagogue. God spoke to him about staying and continuing to preach in spite of the opposition and his personal fears. Crispus, the synagogue ruler was saved, and his entire household! Many came to believe and were baptized. Opposition to the message doesn’t mean we should be silent!
Acts 18:23 “After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for reassuring Your disciples when they are fearful. Thank You for the Holy Spirit Who brings boldness and gives us the words to say when we face opposition and hostile spiritual strongholds. Thank You for working with us and dwelling in us to fulfill Your plans and purposes! Strengthen me to strengthen the precious lives of others each day everywhere You send me.
1st Samuel 26:23-24 “The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may He deliver me out of all tribulation.”
Scripture reading for May 6th: 1st Samuel 25, 1st Chronicles 7, Acts 17
Acts 17:1-5 “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apolonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.”
As Paul and Silas continued their missionary journey to Thessalonica, they initially went to the Jewish synagogue. There, Paul, a Pharisee and teacher of Scripture reasoned with them from Scriptures. He took the Word of God and explained salvation and Jesus as the Christ. Many came to believe but some of the Jews became jealous and stirred up trouble in the form of a mob. They attacked Jason’s house where Paul had been staying. The brothers ended up sending Paul and Silas away to the next town, Berea. There the Jews at the synagogue searched the Scriptures to see if Paul was telling them truth. Many more believed! The Word of God is all about Jesus the Christ!
Acts 17:10-12 “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son and the Christ to reveal You to us. As I study Your Word, reveal Jesus as Christ to me in every verse and chapter. Help me to patiently teach, preach, and reason with those needing to know Jesus using Your unchanging Word. You have bound my life in the bundle of the living!
1st Samuel 25:28-29 “Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”
Scripture reading for May 5th: 1st Samuel 23-24, 1st Chronicles 6, Psalm 54, Acts 16
Acts 16:22-26 “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
Paul and Silas were following the Lord in preaching the Gospel and casting out evil spirits. They had encountered a slave girl with a spirit of divination who was tormenting them. They cast out the spirit and her owners seized Paul and Silas and had them severely beaten and imprisoned. Paul and Silas were placed in the most secure area in stocks and must have had much pain. But they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God loud enough for all the jail to hear. Suddenly, God sent an earthquake that shook the prison in an amazing way. Doors were opened and shackles were loosed! But greater doors were also opened–the jailer and his whole household were saved and delivered from Satan’s grip! God’s ‘revenge’ is to take back captives for His kingdom and glory!
Psalm 54:3-5 “For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. (Selah) Behold, God is my Helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in Your faithfulness put an end to them.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing mercy and ability to turn what is meant for evil around to bring salvation and great good! You are a good, good Father! Help me to remain faithful in each trial and to hear Your voice to bring about Your plans for deliverance and opening of prison doors! Keep me from an offended and vengeful spirit.
1st Samuel 24:12-13 “I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.”
Scripture reading for May 4th: 1st Samuel 21-22, 1st Chronicles 5, Psalm 52, Acts 15
Acts 15: 7-11 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the Word of the Gospel and believe. And God, Who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.””
Old religious habits and rituals die hard. The Jewish believers had a hard time with Gentiles now being saved. Some of them insisted that the Gentiles become circumcised. This matter was discussed in a meeting of the Apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem. Peter had listened to the testimonies of Paul and Barnabas and the arguments of those advocating circumcision. He stood up and spoke from his experience with God directing him to go to Cornelius’ home and preach the Gospel. The Holy Spirit was poured out even as he spoke. God made no distinction between Jew or Gentile, but He had saved all who believed through the grace of the Lord Jesus! Amen! God grants equal opportunity to all through grace.
Psalm 52:8-9 “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank You forever because You have done it. I will wait for Your Name, for It is good, in the presence of the godly.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your simple Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, Your Son! Help me to keep it simple and straight-forward. Alert me to any attempt by men or religion to add tradition or works as a condition. I trust in Your steadfast love demonstrated in Jesus Christ’s shed blood to keep me safe forever and ever!
1st Samuel 22:5, 23 “Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.”.. . . “Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”
Scripture reading for May 3rd: 1st Samuel 20, 1st Chronicles 4, Psalm 56-57, 142, Acts 14
Acts 14:19-23 “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had believed.”
Paul had been a persecutor of Christ’s followers in his former life as a zealous Pharisee. He had caused much tribulation and fear through his murderous crusade to eliminate believers. God told Ananias, the believer who laid hands on him to receive his sight after his encounter with Jesus, that He would show Paul how much he would suffer for His Name. Paul understood that tribulation was part of the package in preaching the Gospel. Satan did not give up territory easily! But God’s grace was greater! God would fulfill His purposes and flesh and blood could do no real harm! Those who rejected God’s Word would be put to shame! God’s love and faithfulness would protect them!
Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 57:3 “He will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me. Go will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!”
Prayer: God my Father, thank You for Your great love and faithfulness to preserve Your people and work out Your plans through Your people–even in tribulations. I put my trust in You! You will fulfill Your plans through my life through trials and tribulations. To You alone be all glory!
1st Samuel 20:42 “Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the Name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And He rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”
Scripture reading for May 2nd: 1st Samuel 18-19, 1st Chronicles 3, Psalm 59, Acts 13
Acts 13:1-4 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
The early church had certain gift people who were listed by name and called prophets and teachers. In this passage of Acts, Luke lists two of these men, Barnabas and Saul, who were prophetically called out during a time of worship and fasting and set apart for a mission. This mission had already been revealed by the Holy Spirit to both Saul and Barnabas but was now confirmed to them and the entire church body at Antioch. The church then prayed and fasted and then laid their hands on these men and sent them off on their assignment to reach lost people in places where the Gospel had not yet been preached. The Holy Spirit is Who is really speaking the Word of God to those who need it through those He chooses. God’s work is accomplished in God’s time and way in spite of opposition or dangers for God is with them.
Psalm 59:16-17 “But I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a Fortress and a Refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for You, O God, are my Fortress, the God Who shows me steadfast love.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophesy and prophets. I offer my mind, body and tongue to be used by You to speak Your Truth and fulfill Your sacred work. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and wisdom today to speak Truth even in the face of persecution or rejection. I worship You and honor Your Holy Name!
1st Samuel 19:23-24 “And he (King Saul) went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?””
Scripture reading for April 29th: 1st Samuel 17, 1st Chronicles 2, Acts 12
Acts 12:20-24 “Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the Word of God increased and multiplied.”
God loves all people and seeks to see them saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. However, God is Holy and He alone can see the hearts of all men, Jew or Gentile! In this account in Acts, God sent His angel to strike down Herod when he failed to give glory to God, but took it for himself. Herod was eaten by worms! In the account of the lineage of King David, we find that one of the leaders of the twelve tribes, Judah, married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. The first-born, Er, did evil in God’s sight and God put him to death. God would rather save than judge, but He is also the righteous Judge of all men. Holy fear is required no matter our lineage or political power!
1st Chronicles 2:1-3 “These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan and Shelah; these three Bath-shua the Canaanite bore to him. Now Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, and He put him to death.”
Prayer: Father God, You alone have the wisdom and power to know all things and to judge righteously. You see all hearts of men and will not tolerate those who are full of pride and fail to give You glory. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and fear of the Lord, keeping me from pride or foolishly betraying Jesus or God’s anointed leadership like Ahithophel (and Judas). This can only lead to destruction and death.
1st Samuel 17:23 “When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.”
Scripture reading for April 28th: 1st Samuel 15-16, 1st Chronicles 1, Psalm 39, Acts 11
Acts 11: 13-18 “And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter: he will declare to you a message by with you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the Word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same Gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.””
The early church leaders, being trained as Jews, often had trouble grasping God’s plan to save Gentiles. They had been taught that they must avoid the Gentiles because they were ‘uncircumcised’ and ‘unclean’. God had to give Peter a vision of a sheet with unclean foods on it coming down from heaven with the command to eat. He then instructed Peter to go to Cornelius’ house and Peter obeyed, taking other Jewish believers with him. When Peter shared the Gospel there, God poured the Holy Spirit out with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This silenced the resistance and broadened the Jewish believers understanding of God’s heart to reach both Jew and Gentile! He hears all cries for help and salvation!
Psalm 39:12-13 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not Your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your patience and care for all people, regardless of nationality or social status. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, empowering us to pray and praise Your Name and share the Gospel message. Thank You for bringing repentance leading to eternal life to me and all who will receive the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!
1st Samuel 16:6-7 “When they came, he looked on Eliab and though, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””
Scripture reading for April 27th: 1st Samuel 14, Psalm 124, Acts 10
Acts 10: 30-34 “And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.””
Cornelius was a Roman centurion and commanded a hundred soldiers. He feared God and prayed and gave alms. God was watching and listening, even to this Gentile. He instructed Cornelius to go to Joppa and ask Simon Peter to come to his house. God even gave him the address! Cornelius followed the instructions, and Peter, also, was instructed by God to go to the house of a Gentile, something Peter was reluctant to do as a Jew. God was at work and Cornelius and his household were saved that day after listening to the Gospel that Peter presented. Not only that, the Holy Spirit fell upon them and they were baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues as well as baptized in water.
Psalm 124:7-8 “We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the Name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for listening to our prayers and even making note of our giving by faith. Thank You for saving us from the snares of the Devil and working in our lives to transform us into Your image through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I give my heart to the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to use me to preach the Gospel and bring freedom to those lost in darkness!
1st Samuel 14:6-7 “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.””
Scripture reading for April 26th: 1st Samuel 11-13, Psalm 38, Acts 9
Acts 9:13-17 “But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to Your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My Name. So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, The Lord Jesus Who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.”
God knows all people and the plans He has for them. He often uses stubborn and contrary people and specializes in transformation. Saul, the strict Pharisee, was such a person. He was zealous for the law and justified having followers of Christ imprisoned and even killed, thinking that they were blasphemers. But Jesus confronted Saul and struck him blind. He gave instructions to him to wait for a man named Ananias to come and pray for him. Ananias was reluctant to go, knowing the evil that Saul had done to believers. But God gave clear instructions and Ananias obeyed. Immediately Saul was healed and God began the work of transformation! Amazingly, God uses our prayers to accomplish some of His work.
Psalm 38:15 “But for You, O Lord, do I wait; it is You, O Lord my God, Who will answer.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the prayers of God’s people for those needing transformation. It is wonderful that You include us in Your amazing work of salvation and transformation! Help me to pray effectively for those who oppose Your people and even Your plans. Speak to me through the Holy Spirit and I will obey even if I may fear those involved in evil. I have confidence in Your answers and Your powerful Name!
1st Samuel 12:22-24 “For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great Name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”