Scripture reading for August 23rd: Isaiah 11-13, Psalm 118, Matthew 27
Matthew 27: 22-26 “And he said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus Who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let Him be crucified!” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified.”
Early on the day of His betrayal, Jesus was taken bound before Caiaphas, the high priest. John’s Gospel records that Caiaphas had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. (John 18:14) He unknowingly was prophesying what Jesus would ultimately do. At Pilate’s judgment, it was customary for the crowd to ask for one prisoner to be released. When Pilate asked about releasing Jesus, the Jews had stirred the crowd to demand His crucifixion. Pilate was distraught, because he had been warned by his wife not to have anything to do with Jesus and he had found nothing evil. He washed his hands as the crowd declared that they wanted Jesus’ blood on them and their children!
Psalm 118:26-27 “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord! We bless You from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God and He has made His light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with chords up to the altar!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son that You bound to the altar of the Cross that we might have salvation through Jesus’ precious blood. Forgive us for our rebellious spirits of violence and murder. Thank You for taking our place and paying for our sins and bringing us the Light of heaven! We now draw water from Your well of salvation and proclaim Your deeds to all peoples! Amen!
Isaiah 13:3-5 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His Name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His Name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.”
Scripture reading for August 22nd: Isaiah 7-10, Psalm 22, Matthew 26
Matthew 26: 36-41 “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here , and watch with Me.” And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and prepare for the cross. He had already been betrayed by Judas and Judas was going to escort the Jews to where Jesus was. He took His disciples with Him and instructed them to watch and pray. Jesus then went alone to implore the Father for a way of escape as His own flesh was weak. But angels strengthened Him and He committed Himself to do His Father’s will by offering Himself as the sacrifice for our sins on Calvary’s cross. The disciples fell asleep for their flesh was weak as well, but in God’s plan Jesus must finish the work of salvation alone through suffering and death on our behalf.
Psalm 22:14-15 “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; You lay me in the dust of death.” (Psalm of the cross)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your strength and faithfulness to the Father to complete the work necessary for our salvation by tasting death on our behalf. Forgive me for being weak in my flesh and failing to watch and pray as I ought. Give me grace each day to accomplish Your will of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with all You send me to.
Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end. . .”
Scripture reading for August 19th: Micah 5-7, Matthew 25
Matthew 25: 31-34 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on HIs glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Jesus finished His last teaching before going to the cross by telling His disciples of His glorious return with all the angels. He told them how all nations would be gathered before His glorious throne and He would separate people, one from another into two groups. One group was the ‘sheep’ and was placed on His right hand. They were welcomed into the kingdom and blessed. The other group was the ‘goats’. They were placed on His left hand and then sent away into eternal punishment of fire along with the devil and his rebellious angels. The basis of this judgment was faith applied in obedience to God towards the sick, the imprisoned, and the poor and needy. Helping these is helping Christ the King!
Matthew 25:41-43 “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”
Prayer: Father God, without Your Word and Your Son, I would have no hope or understanding of Your desire to show compassion and kindness to lost mankind. I want to be in the ‘sheep’ group at the gathering of the nations. Help me to so live and follow You each day as to live by faith and fulfill Your will to show mercy and bring Good News to the lost.
Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Scripture reading for August 18th: Micah 1-4, Psalm 10, Matthew 24
Matthew 24: 40-44 “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Jesus was responding to the questions of His disciples following the last supper and on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. They had wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the signs of His return and the end of the age. Jesus warned them that His return would be sudden and unexpected by most people. It would come like a thief in the night. It would be like a bolt of lightning that would light up the sky from east to west! They must stay alert and watchful. No one would know so all would be called to live by faith.
Psalm 10:16-18 “The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations perish from His land. O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”
Prayer: Father God, Thank You for the warnings and promises of Scripture. Help me to stay alert and awake so that the ‘thief’ does not plunder my household, my children and grandchildren. Give me power in prayer and holy living to help them and all you send me to prepare for Your soon and sure return and the final judgment. Have mercy on the unbeliever through Your Gospel message.
Micah 4:6-7 “In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forever more.”
Scripture reading for August 17th: Isaiah 4-6, Matthew 23
Matthew 23: 1-7 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feast and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.”
Religion can easily turn into hypocrisy. Jesus’ pointed out how the religious leaders of that day were in positions of authority and knew and taught God’s Word as truth, but did not put it into practice in their own lives. They demanded others strictly obey their teaching and judged those who failed. They did their religious duties just for show, playing to the audience of others. They loved titles and recognition from men, but neglected to please God by living by faith in humble obedience. It is easy to slip into the performance mode in today’s culture as well. Ask God to mercifully show you where this is happening.
Matthew 23:37-38 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your loving rebuke of religious hypocrisy. Search my heart and reveal any area of my life that is governed by pride and pleasing men rather than by humble faith and pleasing You. Gather me and my family under the protection of Your Presence and Word. We are willing to go for You and proclaim the Gospel and rest in Your provision and care.
Isaiah 6:8-10 “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And He said, “Go and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be healed.””
Scripture reading for August 16th: Isaiah 1-3, Psalm 9, Matthew 22
Matthew 22: 11-14 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Jesus told the parable of the great king’s wedding feast. This parable was a parable of the kingdom of heaven. The king sent out his servants to invite the guests to his son’s wedding. The guests made excuses so the king sent the servants to gather up any who would willingly attend. As the king viewed the wedding guests, a man without proper wedding garments stood out and he questioned how he was admitted. The man had no excuse as he knew it was the king’s son’s wedding. The consequences were dire–cast out into outer darkness with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. This indicated remorse and an eternally missed opportunity. God sees each person and their heart and will judge with justice!
Psalm 9:7-8 “But the Lord sits enthroned forever; He has established His throne for justice, and He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the people with uprightness.”
Prayer: Father God, we love you and thank You for the invitation to the wedding of Your Son, Jesus Christ! I have put on the wedding garment You provided–the righteousness of Christ Himself through His total obedience and sacrifice. As Your betrothed, use me to invite all nations to this great event and to receive the gift of Christ’s righteousness as their wedding garment.
Isaiah 1:18-20 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Scripture reading for August 15th: 2nd Kings 15-16, Matthew 21
Matthew 21:12-16 “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes, have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise’?”
After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem for His last Passover week, Jesus went to the temple and found corruption and idolatry there. Jesus drove out the money-changers and those selling sacrifices decreeing what Scripture had decreed: God’s House would be a ‘House of Prayer’. Those in charge of the temple were indignant! Their source of income was being disrupted by someone outside their ranks! Jesus then did many miracles of healing in the temple but these religious leaders were offended and sought to eliminate Jesus. Hardened hearts and offense go hand in hand and close the door to Heaven’s message of grace!
Matthew 21:43-44 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Prayer: Father God, Thank You for making Your House a House of prayer for all nations. Thank You for cleansing my heart from idolatry, and making me a person of prayer for all people. I desire to see fruit from Your indwelling me and my abiding in You. Use me to fulfill Your plans and purposes in my time and generation to pass the torch of faith to those still to come.
2nd Kings 16:2-5 “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and the hills and under every green tree.”
Scripture reading for August 12th: Hosea 14, 2nd Chronicles 26-27, Psalm 61, Matthew 20
Matthew 20:20-23 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. And He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to Him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”
Jesus had just foretold His death by crucifixion and resurrection on the third day to his disciples. After this, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with a request. She, probably at her sons’ request, humbly made a plea that one son would be on Jesus’ right and the other on His left in His new kingdom. Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking! Those places of honor were not Jesus’ to give but only were reserved by the Father for those deemed worthy. All the disciples were indignant over this request. They all wanted honor! Jesus told them the secret to greatness and honor: Become a servant of all and take the last place. Allow God the Father to exalt you!
Matthew 20:23-25 “But Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Prayer: Father God, I am humbled before You and Your Son Who showed mercy to me and all who will repent and believe. You demonstrated the path of greatness, exaltation, and eternal life and rulership through complete obedience and humble service by giving even Your life blood and body. Teach me this path to greatness and lead me in Your way of taking up my cross and following You.
Psalm 61:1-3 “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for You have been my Refuge, a strong Tower against the enemy.”
Scripture reading for August 11th: Hosea 11-13, Matthew 19
Matthew 19:16-22 “And behold; a man came up to Him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you as me about what is good? There is only One Who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Jesus was approached by a rich, young man who was very religious and seemed intent on finding the path to eternal life. He asked Jesus what deed would assure him of eternal life. Jesus pointed the man to God, Who alone is good, and to God’s commandments as a starting place. The man asked Jesus what commandments were important. Jesus responded with the prohibitions against murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and dishonoring your father and mother. He threw in the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. This young man said he had kept these but felt something missing. Jesus then advised him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor and follow Him. This exposed his sin of idolatry. He left in sadness–and our Lord was also sad for him!
Matthew 19:28-29 “Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne; you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My Name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
Prayer: Father God, You are Good and Your goodness had led me to repentance and life through Jesus Christ. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit to write Your Word on my heart that I might love God alone and love my neighbors as myself, fulfilling Your commandments. Thank You for Truth that leads to life eternal. Use me today to share the Good News of a merciful Savior Who promises such great reward!
Hosea 13:5-6 “It was I Who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot Me.”