Category: Gospels

Living in perfect harmony

Scripture reading for June 9th: Colossians 3

Key Scriptures: Colossians 3:12-16 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Paul simply stated that God’s love flowing through His Body, the Church, would bind together the various members of His Church in “perfect harmony.” It is the character of Jesus Christ that embodies ‘perfect love.’ When we repent, we ‘take off’ the old man and ‘put on’ the new man. This includes forgiving one another of past issues. We must forgive as the Lord Jesus has forgiven us. We replace our complaining with thankfulness for God’s mercy toward us and for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are also being transformed into Christ’s likeness. There is no room for offense and bitterness where the peace of Christ and Word of Christ dwells in our hearts. Instead we sing psalms and spiritual songs of worship to our Lord.

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I sometimes struggle with forgiving others in Your body who have wronged me or the church. Fill me with Your love and Word and thankfulness for Your mercy so I might live fully in Your perfect harmony with all believers. Let the world believe the Father has sent Jesus through my life of unity and practicing harmony.

John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

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Standing before kings

Scripture reading for May 10th: Acts 25

Key Scriptures: Acts 25:9-12 “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 have 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 me, 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 Roman custody for over two years. A new governor, Festus, came into power and wanted to get on the good side of the Jews and sought to arrange a trial for Paul in Jerusalem. The Jews there were still wanting to kill Paul and had plotted how they would if he came back to Jerusalem. Paul was a Roman citizen and when asked where he wanted tried, asked to continue his trial under Roman jurisdiction, even appealing to Caesar himself. This was all part of God’s plan to have Paul stand before Roman authorities and to preach in Rome, transported there at government expense. It is not always our way of accomplishing God’s will, like Paul, we must be open to unusual routes and ways to witness of Jesus before those God is desiring to reach!

Mark 13:9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, to bear witness before them.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, Your ways are above our ways. You always prepare Your followers for what will come and make a way for them to accomplish Your work of witness to all the lost. Make me bold today and attentive to Your thoughts and ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

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The will of the Lord be done

Scripture reading for May 4th: Acts 21

Key Scriptures: 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 set on going to Jerusalem and on the way, stopped by Philip the evangelist’s home and stayed there many days. A known prophet from Judea came by and in a prophetic act and word, told Paul what was coming as he would reach Jerusalem. The disciples and Philip tried to talk Paul into avoiding Jerusalem. Paul, although moved by their concern, knew the will of the Lord. He was ready to face whatever lie ahead for the Name of Jesus, even death as a martyr. Those there recognized that God’s will must be done, no matter how they felt emotionally about Paul or how much Paul loved them.

Mark 14:36 “And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being with us and strengthening us for coming times of trial. Thank You for prophetic words and warnings. May I always follow Your will, no matter what my personal feelings or even urgings of my own family and friends.

Matthew 16:21-22 “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall never happen to You.””

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Preaching, faith, baptism!

Scripture reading for April 29th: Acts 18

Key Scriptures: Acts 18:5-8 “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the Word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he 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.”

The apostles were always sowing God’s Word to those who would hear. God never forces anyone to believe, but gives opportunity through testimony, preaching and teaching. People are responsible for the condition of their hearts to receive. When the Jews opposed Paul and his workers, they shook out the dust and moved on, just as Jesus had instructed. Here we have them moving right next door to the local Corinthian synagogue in the house of a “God-fearing” Gentile, Titius Justice. Then the synagogue ruler believed and he and his whole household were saved and baptized! The Word and the dust are powerful witnesses! Household salvation strikes again!

Acts 18:9-10 “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.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I hear Your encouragement to preach Your Word. Our call is to be faithful and trust You to bring forth those with faith. Deliver me from fear of rejection and concern of acceptance. Teach me to fish for men and let me see household salvation in my own house!

Mark 6:11 “And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

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“Hearing something new!”

Scripture reading for April 28th: Acts 17

Key Scriptures: Acts 17:16-21 “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean. Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”

Driven to Athens by the persecution and death threats, Paul was vexed in his spirit as he saw that this city was full of idols. His remedy was to present the truth of Jesus Christ to whoever would hear him. He first went to the Jews in the local synagogue. He started there because they were his own people and the Old Testament Scriptures were a great opening to preach from. He then went to the marketplace and shared with whoever God put in his path. There he ran into the intellectuals of the city who invited him to come to what was the town square or people’s university and to share his new teaching. This group was always out for something new, just for the sake of being “woke” in their day. Oh that God’s people today would engage with our time and culture with Christ’s Gospel and reveal the true and living God Who supplies all our needs!

Acts 17:29-30 “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, fill me with the Holy Spirit and boldness to confront in love the idolatry of our time and culture with the truth of Your Gospel of Jesus death and resurrection. May all people everywhere repent as You have commanded and avoid eternal death!

Luke 13:3 “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

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Through many tribulations!

Scripture reading for April 23rd: Acts 14

Key Scriptures: Acts 14:19-22 “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.”

God’s ways are not always our ways. Saul, when first converted on the Damascus road, was confronted by Jesus and repented and followed Him. He was told how much he would suffer for Christ’s Name, as he himself had caused suffering among God’s people. Now Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit on a mission to reach lost souls. They preached and Jews, zealous for God, brought persecution and even now stoned Paul (Saul) to the point they though he was dead. The disciples gathered around his lifeless body, and Paul was raised up and continued preaching and even returning to the place where he was so stoned! He learned personally the truth that “through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:23 “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.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this record of the tribulations of those beginning the mission of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Strengthen me and Your people to stand firm and boldly proclaim Your Good News! Help us to rejoice in tribulations and trials, knowing that the testing of our faith brings patience.

Mark 10:29-30 “Jesus said, “Truly, I say unto you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.””

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Discipleship at Antioch

/Scripture reading for April 20th: Acts 11

Key Scriptures: Acts 11:19-25 “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the Word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord, So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.

Luke now tells the story of how the Church spread out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The persecution after Stephen drove disciples outward, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit they preached the Word to Jews and increasingly to Gentiles. The Jerusalem church heard about the salvations and sent a trusted leader, Barnabas, to check it out. Barnabas was an encourager and was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He exhorted the new believers to stay faithful but then went and found Saul (Paul) and brought him there to help disciple these Jew and Gentile converts. For a year they met together and taught the Word of God. It was here that disciples were first call “Christians.” Paul got experience teaching the new Gentile converts that he would be increasingly involved with as God had commissioned him.

Acts 11:26 “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, making disciples of all men and teaching them to observe all that You taught is the mission of the church. Help Your church to keep the main thing the main thing. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and faith to fulfill Your mission.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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Promise, power, preaching!

Scripture reading for April 5th: Luke 24

Key Scriptures: Luke 24: 44-49 “Then He said to them, “These are My Words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the Promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

While He was with His disciples, Jesus Christ had repeatedly explained the Scriptures and plainly told them of His coming death, burial, and resurrection on the third day. Now, after the resurrection, on the evening of the third day, Jesus met with His disciples and showed them His glorified body of flesh and bones. They were full of joy and amazement but struggled to believe it was really Him. Jesus then again explained everything about Himself from the Law and Prophets, opening their minds to understand. He explained the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins that was for all nations and peoples, beginning with the Jews in Jerusalem. He declared them “witnesses” and told them to wait in Jerusalem until the “Promise of My Father” came upon them. This would clothe them with the power needed to fulfill His mission of reaching the lost world.

Acts 1:8 “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 ends of the earth.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for fulfilling all the Scriptures, which are Truth. Thank You for Your amazing plan to reach the whole world with Your appointed “witnesses”. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit and power to do Your will on earth as in heaven! I open my mind and heart today to better know You through the Scriptures.

Acts 2:38-39 “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.””

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“Today, in Paradise!”

Scripture reading for April 2nd: Luke 23

Key Scriptures: Luke 23:38-43 “There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

In our calendar, today, this Friday, is “Good Friday.” We call it that because our “Good” Savior and King, Jesus Christ, willingly gave His life on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all mankind. He was crucified between two known criminals. His “crime” was claiming to be God’s Son and a King with a kingdom. Pilate had placed on His cross, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals, along with the crowd and the soldiers, mocked Jesus for His claims. The other criminal had heard the same taunts but evidently had heard Jesus’ prayer for those who were crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He rebuked the first criminal and asked Jesus humbly for mercy, confessing that he believed Jesus was innocent and a King with a kingdom. Jesus’ response brought joy to the suffering sinner and brings joy to all in desperate need of God’s grace! “Today, with Me, in Paradise!” Make that your daily prayer, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

1st Timothy 1:15 “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.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, my Savior and King, thank You for Your amazing gift of salvation for sinners like me. What “Good News” for the hopelessly lost that You hear the faintest of cry from the dying and condemned. May You empower me and others to proclaim this powerful truth! Today, with Jesus in Paradise!

Luke 23:50-53 “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone where no one had yet been laid.”

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Serve now, recline later!

Scripture reading for April 1st: Luke 22

Key Scriptures: Luke 22:24-30 “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the One who serves. You are those who have stayed with Me in My trials, and I assign to you, as My Father assigned to Me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Jesus’ disciples argued with each other about who would have the greatest honor and place of authority in the coming kingdom of God. They assumed a soon-to-be revealed physical kingdom. Jesus admonished them that although greatness in this world is associated with being served, it is those who serve now who will enjoy the greatest honor in the coming kingdom. By humbly serving God and other, we gain opportunity to share the Gospel and kingdom of God with them. Jesus Himself set an example of serving and those following Him must have that attitude. The greatest honor in future kingdom of God will be for those serving Jesus in this life with zeal and humility. It’s God’s Word!

Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great example of serving others by giving Your time on earth and life to obeying the Father and serving others. Help me learn from You daily that greatness in Your kingdom is serving God and others. As we give service to others, Lord, open their hearts to Jesus Christ, our Master Servant!

Proverbs 21:25-26 “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.”

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