Category: Gospels

Hold tight, don’t fall away!

Scripture reading for August 13th: Hebrews 6

Key Scriptures: Hebrews 6:4-9 “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.”

The writer of Hebrews was concerned about believers that were being enticed by family and religious ties to go back to Judaism and forsake the life of faith they had experienced. He plainly laid out the end result of leaving the faith (apostasy). Although they had once repented, they would be unable to return again. Their action would hold the Savior up to contempt in the eyes of other unbelievers and hinder God’s work of salvation in their lives. Like land that was cultivated to produce a crop but only produced thorns and thistles, they would be destined to eternal destruction. Paul was warning the believers to hold fast to Christ Jesus and the grace that comes from faith. He encouraged them that they had better things ahead as they held fast. They could be eternally secure in Christ alone!

John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You that I am eternally secure in Christ Jesus and Your Almighty Hands. Help me daily to hear Your voice and follow You in the power of Your Holy Spirit. I desire to be blessed by You and bear fruit for Your glory and kingdom. Give me discernment to warn those who are in danger of falling away in these last days.

1st Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirts and teachings of demons, . .”

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Hush money!

Scripture reading for August 5th: Matthew 28

Key Scriptures: Matthew 28:10-15 “Then Jesus said to them(the women), “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”

Jesus personally appeared first to the women who had gone to the tomb in hopes of anointing His body. They were surprised by an earthquake and an angelic messenger who rolled back the stone revealing the empty tomb. The guards were immobilized temporarily. The angel encouraged them with the good news that Jesus was not there, but had risen! They were not to be afraid but to convey the news to Jesus’ disciples. The guards recovered and went and reported that Jesus’ body was missing. I am not sure how they explained the earthquake and angelic visitor and their supernatural immobilization. The elders and chief priests cooked up a plan involving ‘hush money’ for the soldiers and a way to explain this to other authorities. The world uses money to solve many problems because people love it. The blame was to be put on the disciples for stealing Jesus’ body. All agreed and the plan was circulated and became well-accepted among the Jews and authorities. However, Jesus was alive and began appearing to His followers! He had a plan that they would soon enact that would reach the world!

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for overcoming death, hell and the grave and proving Your resurrection by appearing to the women and Your disciples. I believe You are God’s Son, crucified and raised from death on the third day. I offer myself to You to fulfil Your great plan of reaching the whole world with Good News. Hallelujah! I am never alone and You meet all my needs!

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”(Joshua 1:5) So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)

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The betrayers end!

Scripture reading for August 4th: Matthew 27

Key Scriptures: Matthew 27:3-8 ‘Then when Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore, it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.”

Judas is an interesting figure in history and his life and final end stand as a warning to all who follow Jesus of the perils of intimate knowledge of Jesus without faith to believe and obey. Judas was one of the Twelve who walked with Jesus for three or more years. Judas was the trusted treasurer of the band of disciples. Judas was sent out and did miracles and preached the good news. But Judas was a thief and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. After seeing Jesus condemned to be crucified, Judas had remorse and tried to return the money to the religious leaders. He went out and hanged himself, taking his own life instead of asking Jesus and God for forgiveness. The Pharisees had no care for his soul nor remorse or repentance for their part in the scheme. Their religious minds, seeking to justify taking the ‘blood money’, used it to benevolently by a field to bury strangers. They did all this without remorse or repentance to keep a good face and reputation. Jesus was right in saying they were white-washed tombs full of dead-man’s bones!

Matthew 23:27-28 “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father, help me to heed the warning of the life and end of Judas and those who schemed with him. Keep me from hypocrisy and lead me daily by Your Holy Spirit to speak truth and live a life true to Your Word and heart for lost people. Help me to examine my own heart for idolatry and hypocrisy as I receive holy communion.

Matthew 27:9-10 “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him on Whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Zechariah 11:12-13)

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Scripture must be fulfilled

Scripture reading for August 3rd: Matthew 26

Key Scriptures: Matthew 26:49-56 “And he (Judas) came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed Him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture Me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.”

Judas had arranged to lead the temple guards and high priest’s servants to where he knew Jesus would be praying with His disciples. He came early in the morning and greeted Jesus with a kiss, betraying his Friend as Scripture pronounced. (Psalm 41:9) Peter drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear but Jesus quickly told him to put the sword away. Jesus had power to bring angelic help, but Scripture must be fulfilled (Isaiah 53 and many others). Jesus healed the ear and questioned the crowd about their motive for being there in the dark of night. He had publicly taught in temple each day. But again, scripture must be fulfilled through the events taking place leading up to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, Son of God and King of the Jews. At this point, all the disciples fled, following Jesus telling those laying hands on Him to let them go! Jesus was in charge and God’s Word would be fulfilled to the last letter!

Luke 22:50-51 “And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And He touched his ear and healed him.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Scripture and its sure fulfilment. Thank You that Jesus did not call to You for help, but allowed Himself to be seized and tried and crucified, according to Your Word and plan. Thank You for mercy towards Your accusers and betrayers and protection for Your faithful disciples. Help me to follow Your amazing example and be filled daily with Your Holy Spirit.

John 18:7-9 “So He asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He. So, if you seek Me, let these men go.” This was to fulfil the Word that He had spoken: “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost not one.””

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Eternal punishment

Scripture reading for August 2nd: Matthew 25

Key Scriptures: Matthew 25:41-46 “”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.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.””

Jesus was again very clear about God’s judgment of mankind. God the Father has given all judgment to His Son. When the Son of Man comes, He will gather all nations before Him and then separate people one by one into either the sheep, who will be placed on His right hand, or the goats, which will be placed on His left hand. The Son will reward the sheep with eternal life and commendation while the goats will be sent away in disgrace to face eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. This place of punishment was prepared by God for the devil and his angels but will also be the lot of those who refused Christ’s mercy and went their own way, rebellious as a goat. From Christ’s description, there will be many surprises on that day among both the sheep and the goats. These surprises will be eternal life and blessing or eternal damnation. No intermediate place is ever mentioned!

Matthew 25:30 “‘And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, You are loving and good in all that You do and Your Word is flawless and true. Help me to listen carefully and obediently and share it as clearly as Jesus did that none might suffer eternal fire. May Your sheepfold be full of those brought to safety through the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:11-12 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when is is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out My sheep, and I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

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The sign of the Son of Man

Scripture reading for July 30th: Matthew 24

Key Scriptures: Matthew 24:27-31 “”For as lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, an the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.””

Matthew 24 records one of Jesus’ last teaching concerning what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age. The disciples had asked Him specifically about the sign and the end and Jesus described coming events leading up to the end. A great tribulation with many falling away and increased wickedness would occur first. Those days would be cut short for the sake of the elect and with great suddenness and publicly displayed glory, the Son of Man would come to earth and gather His elect. This is not the rapture, which occurs before the great time of tribulation and happens discretely, taking believers like a thief in the night. These are those saved during the tribulation and immediately following there will be great signs in the heavens and on earth. The final sign is the appearance of Jesus Christ seen by all earths inhabitants. Those unsaved will mourn as they bow to the King. The elect will be reaped by chosen angels. This is the ultimate sign of the end of the age!

Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, I trust You to bring this evil age to an end at the time You have chosen. I thank You for mercy and encouragement for those who are truly saved and part of Your eternal family. Help me today to share the sign of the Son of Man and His return to earth with those in need of Your grace and salvation. May no one I know or love have to mourn at Christ’s return.

Matthew 24:44-46 “”Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom His Master has set over His household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom His Master will find so doing when He comes.””

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Woe to the hypocrite!

Scripture reading for July 29th: Matthew 23

Key Scriptures: Matthew 23:25-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

In His last week on earth, Jesus talked plainly to the religious leaders about their personal hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is related to play-acting. They outwardly professed to be holy and righteous and law-abiding. In fact, others couldn’t measure up to their standards of keeping the law but what they did was done for show, not because of a pure heart or faith in the grace of God. Jesus plainly rebuked them, speaking ‘woe’ over their lives because inside they were full of greed, evil, covetousness, malice and lawlessness. They kept their appearance looking tidy, but inside they were a terrible mess. Jesus likened them to white-washed tombs that were full of dead man’s bones and all manner of decaying flesh and corruption. Jesus wasn’t trying to be mean. In fact, He was calling them to repent! God would clean the inside of the tomb if only they would humbly confess and turn to Jesus for cleansing. Each person chooses whether to continue the show or to come clean.

Matthew 23:33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, have mercy on me and speak plainly to my heart concerning hypocrisy. It is easy to judge and blame others, but harder to apply Your Word to my own heart and life. I want to be clean on the inside as only You can cleanse me. This is my only escape from the woe of hell. Thank You for Your great mercy and the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ!

1st Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, or revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

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Speechless before the King

Scripture reading for July 28th: Matthew 22

Key Scriptures: Matthew 22:8-14 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 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 his 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.'”

Are you clothed in ‘wedding garments’ and ready to attend the King’s wedding feast? Jesus told this parable to speak to the chief priests and Pharisees who were seeking a way to arrest Him and kill Him. He told this parable to challenge each person to examine their own lives and walk with God and relationship with His Son. Many professed to be part of the ‘chosen’ people who would be in the wedding feast of the kingdom. But profession must also be true possession of salvation and the righteousness that comes by true faith in Jesus Christ. All other ‘garments’ will be examined and rejected by the king as illegitimate. When questioned about how the man without the garment got in, he had no answer. The king’s instructions were quick and final: “Bind him hand and foot and cast him out into the outer darkness.” Weeping and gnashing of teeth is the lot of those without excuse. The invitation was sent to everyone and all had opportunity but only a few were humble enough to repent and believe and receive the King’s pure white wedding garment!

Matthew 22:2-3 “”The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. I am trusting in Him alone for my wedding garment and I have accepted with humble thanks the invitation to come and humbly seek to wear the garment of His righteousness in readiness for the King’s announcement. Let none You invited be speechless when You appear!

Psalm 45:13-15 “All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.”

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Power in prayer and declaration

Scripture reading for July 27th: Matthew 21

Key Scriptures: Matthew 21:18-22 “In the morning, as He was returning to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.””

Jesus was spending His last days on earth before the crucifixion teaching His disciples and imparting truth that would help them be overcomers and fulfil their mission on earth. On this particular morning, Jesus was returning to Jerusalem from Bethany and came to a fig tree that was covered with leaves, but upon inspection had no fruit. Jesus spoke to the tree with a declaration: “May no fruit ever come from you again!” Matthew records that the tree withered at once at Jesus’ Word. The disciples were mystified and asked Jesus how this happened. Jesus gave them clear instructions about their authority through faith to speak to whatever ‘mountain’ or problem and see it removed. He put it simply: “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Take a moment and let that truth sink into your soul and ask God to increase your faith to act on His Word. This is the fruit that Jesus is looking for.

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for this powerful truth about faith in Your Word and producing fruit of answered prayer. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and faith today and bring this truth to my remembrance every time I face a situation that looks impossible. May You receive all glory and a harvest of souls as I produce fruit!

Proverbs 18:20-21 “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

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Are You able?

Scripture reading for July 26th: Matthew 20

Key Scriptures: Matthew 20:17-22 “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way He said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.” 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 your are asking. Are you able to drink the cup I am to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.””

Jesus was leading His disciples to Jerusalem for His final Passover with them. While on the way, He again took them aside and carefully explained in even more detail His coming betrayal, trial, flogging, and death by crucifixion to be followed in three days by resurrection. It is not clear if the mother of James and John overheard this conversation, but clearly she suspected the coming kingdom of heaven and asked Jesus a favor for her boys. She asked for positions of honor in the kingdom. Jesus did not deny this request, but stated that she did not know what she was asking! There would be a cost involved, the drinking of a cup! What was in this cup required God’s grace and empowerment. They replied, “We are able!” Jesus stated that they would indeed drink His cup but the honor of seating belonged to the ones chosen by His Father alone. Their boldness was not condemned by Jesus, but it aggravated the other disciples. Jesus admonished them all to not seek greatness but to become slaves to God, chief servants.

Matthew 20:23 “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.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father, all reward and glory belongs to You alone! I am blessed to be Your son and a servant of others for Jesus’ sake. Give me grace to drink Your cup and enjoy the fellowship of Your sufferings with a grateful heart. Being with You for eternity is my most amazing gift!

Matthew 20:26-28 “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.””

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