Scripture reading for January 22nd: Mark 5
Key Scriptures: Mark 5:21-24; 35-36 “And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him, and He was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And He went with him.” . . .”While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.””
Jesus was approached by a synagogue ruler, Jairus, with a desperate request. He had a little daughter who was near death. He approached Jesus with great humility and asked for a personal visit by Jesus and the laying on of His hands. As they went, Jesus was interrupted by a woman with an issue of blood. He took time to minister to her and free her from her long infirmity. As Jesus was speaking to her, He overheard some messengers from Jairus’s house tell him not to bother the Teacher, as the little girl was dead. Jesus spoke authoritatively, “Do not fear, only believe.” The result was an amazing raising of the 12 year old girl from sickness and death. All were amazed at the immediate miracle!
Jeremiah 32:26-27 “The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?”‘
Faith confession and prayer: You are the Lord of all and nothing is too hard for You! Lord Jesus, help me to defeat all fear and hold fast to You and Your unfailing Word. Use me to speak Your Word and live by faith, inspiring others to trust You and Your eternal Word.
John 11:40 “Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
Scripture reading for January 21st: Mark 4
Key Scriptures: Mark 4:3-8 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on the rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty-fold, and sixty-fold and a hundred-fold.” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.””
An old joke when I was growing up in Iowa, the land of corn, cautioned everyone to be careful what they said when in the cornfield. There are lots of ears! Jesus called on His disciples and those listening to His teaching in parables to listen. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus knew that although most people were born with ears, not everyone desires to hear what is being said. The parable of the seed and sower illustrates that it is really the soil of the heart that determines our ability to hear. Some is rocky, with the seed of God’s Word finding no place to even sprout. Others are shallow soil over rocks, causing a quick sprouting but no follow-through in growth. Others have thorny or weed-infested ground and the weeds choke out the Word with no fruit. But some have good soil and the Word of God finds a place to germinate, grow, and produce abundant fruit! “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me ears to hear Your Word and listen to Your teaching with understanding. Break up any hardness or shallowness and remove all thorns that my heart might bring forth a crop to Your glory! May I sow Your Word as precious Seed finding good soil!
Psalm 126:6 “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Scripture reading for January 20th: Mark 3
Key Scriptures: Mark 3:22-27 “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and” by the prince of demons He casts out demons.” And He called them to Him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.”“
A big part of Jesus’ ministry was casting out demons and healing those oppressed by Satan. So much so, that even His own family thought Jesus to be “out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21) The scribes came down from the religious rulers in Jerusalem and accused Jesus of using demonic power to cast out the devils. Jesus patiently called them to listen to Him and in a rabbinic posture, asked them a question: “How can Satan cast out Satan? . . .” He pointed out that a house divided against itself would not stand. He stated that in order to cast out demons (the strongman), they must be bound first. The rope or chain Jesus had used was His authority–authority from God the Father in the kingdom of heaven. He went on to warn these religious people about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the unforgivable sin!
Luke 11:19-20 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for demonstrating Your authority over the devil and demons, binding them with Your powerful Word. Give me greater discernment when I confront the forces of darkness and patience with those who lack understanding about spiritual authority.
2nd Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Scripture reading for January 19th: Mark 2
Key Scriptures: Mark 2:14-17 “And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow Me.” And he rose and followed Him. And as He reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
Jesus knew all men and saw potential that the world and religious community missed. As He passed by the tax station of Levi (Matthew), Jesus called out to him to follow as a disciple. Levi was quick to obey and invited Jesus to a party as his house with other tax collectors. These tax collectors were considered the “unredeemable” of Jesus time in the Jewish culture and Jesus was questioned about why He would stoop to eat with them. Jesus explained that He came for those who were sick with sin and would recognize their need of healing and forgiveness. Those who judged themselves to be righteous would miss His call and judged those who did respond.
Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Selah
Faith confession and prayer: Thank You for calling me. Lord, keep me from self-righteousness. I confess my need for Your forgiveness and healing as a sinner. Use me to bring others to You who need healing from their brokenness.
Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; . . .”
Scripture reading for January 18th: Mark 1
Key Scriptures: Mark 1:9-11, 14-15 “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.”. . . .”Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.””
Mark wrote this Gospel account of Jesus’ life with much of the eye-witness information gotten from the Apostle Peter, one of the original twelve disciples. He wrote this for the believers in Rome, many who were Gentiles and not acquainted with Jewish history or customs. He records the story of Jesus beginning with John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism. John baptized in water and called all Jews to repent for the forgiveness of their sins in preparation for the kingdom of God. Jesus was baptized, not because He had sin, but to identify with all sinful men that He might offer Himself on their behalf. Jesus was baptized and heaven opened with God’s voice declaring, “You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.” God confirmed Jesus’ Sonship with the Holy Spirit descending and resting on Him! After this, Jesus was tempted for forty days and then after the temptation and John the Baptist’s arrest, He began His ministry with John’s message of repentance and a call to believe the Gospel. The kingdom of heaven was at hand and the King was inviting all!
Isaiah 40:3 “A voice cries; “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe You are God’s beloved Son and I have repented of my sins. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the mission to testify and preach the Gospel of the King Jesus to the world. Let Your voice be heard through me today!
Matthew 24:14 “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Scripture reading for January 14th: 2nd Timothy 3
Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 3:12-17 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Paul reminded Timothy over and over that those following Jesus and applying God’s Word to their lives would not be universally loved and accepted. The world was full of evil and people under evil’s influence and deception. This would increase as the world population increased but should not affect how believers lived. They must hold on firmly to the basic truths of Scripture. God breathed out the Scriptures and through them man can become wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture is profitable for reproof–addressing wrong-doing and sin, for correction–changing course, and for illumination of our path through this increasingly evil world. God’s Word will equip believers for every good work and brings eternal profit!
Psalm 119:14-15 “In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for enduring suffering and teaching Your followers that suffering would come to them in an increasingly evil world. I will study Your Word and faithfully remind my brothers and sisters how profitable it is to become equipped and complete. Help me to rejoice when persecutions come.
Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Scripture reading for January 8th: 1st Timothy 5
Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 5:17-22 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudicing, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.”
Paul gave instructions to the Church concerning the care and discipline of their elders. Elders were charged with teaching and preaching God’s Word and prayer. Those who labored–worked hard and consistently–were to be taken care of financially from the offerings brought in. If there was any charge of sin in an elder’s life, it must be brought by two or three witnesses and all facts established. The offender was to be publicly rebuked if they persisted in sin. Those who repented would humbly ask for forgiveness and mercy. These things were to be done without respect for persons or any partiality. A warning was given to be careful in ordaining elders or laying hands on them prematurely. Careful inquiry and purity of life must be ascertained before setting them in leadership.
Deuteronomy 19:15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for clearly giving care to elders through instructions to Your people. Thank you for financial care and spiritual care and discipline. Help Your Church to do these things without partiality or prejudice.
Matthew 10:9-10 “Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”
Scripture reading for January 4th: 1st Timothy 1
Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 1:5, 12-14 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. . . I thank Him Who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, through formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s letter to Timothy, a young pastor who Paul considered his “son” in the faith, was written to encourage Timothy to preach God’s Word and live it out as an example to those he ministered to. Paul testified of his own call and appointment to ministry by Jesus Christ, in spite of his egregious lifestyle of a blasphemer and persecutor of God’s people. Paul had been ignorant and had acted in unbelief and when he repented, Jesus gave him overflowing grace and new faith and a river of His love for the lost. No one is too hardened that God’s grace cannot save and bring needed transformation. Paul had a clear conscience and a pure heart through faith in Jesus Christ!
Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank You for calling me to salvation and to preach Your Word. This was in spite of my own sinful and selfish lifestyle. Help me to maintain a clear conscience and pure heart as I learn to fulfill Your calling and raise up others to serve You.
Matthew 4:19-20 “And He said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”
Scripture reading for January 1st: 1st Timothy 1, Luke 19
Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 1:15-17 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
We begin this new year with a declaration by the Apostle Paul of the mission of Jesus Christ: to save sinners. We also hear afresh and anew Paul’s confession of his great sinfulness and need of Christ’s mercy. Paul praised Jesus’ perfect patience with his own sinfulness and how now, in his saved and transformed life, he was to become an example to all sinners of Christ’s patience and mercy. All Paul could do was worship and give all honor and glory to God and Jesus Christ! We begin our year declaring these truths for our own lives. We are sinners saved by Christ’s great mercy! Christ’s mission and now ours is to declare Christ’s saving mercy for sinners through the Gospel and through our own transformed lives. We declare Christ Jesus and God the Father as eternally worthy of our praise! We declare this to be a year of worship and salvation!
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the King Eternal and the only God my Savior! Thank you for showing mercy to me, a foremost sinner and blasphemer. Help me to declare Your mission of mercy through my daily walk, words and service in 2021. I will do all as daily worship to the King Eternal!
Luke 19:9-10 “And Jesus said to him (Zacchaeus the tax collector), “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Scripture reading for November 19: Ezra 1-2; John 21
Key Scriptures: John 21: 17-19 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything: You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.” And after this He said to him, “Follow Me.””
The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus persistently asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter had denied Jesus three times and now Jesus was restoring him by asking him to affirm his love. Love is the basis for all ministry. Love for Jesus is the foundation of His Church and disciples would be known by their love for Jesus and one another. It would be for love of Jesus that Peter would die a martyr’s death, choosing to be crucified upside down. Jesus spoke prophetically about this and emphasized to Peter his need to lovingly follow the Master, even unto death.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, You alone know what is ahead in my life and I ask You to help me each day to follow You, even if it leads to persecution or death. Your unrelenting love draws me to love You more each day and love people into Your eternal kingdom.
Ezra 1:1-2 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”“