Scripture reading for July 5th: Matthew 5
Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:21-26 “You have heard it said, to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.‘ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court; lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Jesus was preaching to a crowd of people in what is one of the longest of His sermons in Scripture. Jesus was told His followers of the blessedness of life in the kingdom of God and explained what that life looked like. He took one of the ten commandments, “Thou shall not commit murder” and expanded on its deeper heart issue: hatred. Hatred is the root of murder in one’s heart and it must be dealt with urgently and in a timely manner or it will bring death and destruction. Hatred imprisons those who hold onto it and holds them fast. Our current culture and world is full of hatred and the resulting fruits of murder, destruction and imprisonment in bitterness and rage. Oh how we need to heed Jesus’ Word of instruction and warning! Many are locked in prisons and won’t be able to get out until they do. Some will end up in eternal suffering. Jesus paid the price to get us out if we will repent and ask forgiveness.
Matthew 6:43-45 “”You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father Who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, forgive me for harboring hatred in my heart towards those who offend me. Cleanse me from all hatred and fill me with Your love and forgiveness. Use me to bring deliverance to those imprisoned by hatred and bitterness and to overcome evil with good.
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but loves covers all offenses.”
Scripture reading for June 23rd: 2nd Thessalonians 3
Key Scriptures: 2nd Thessalonians 3:3-8 “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. Now we command you, brothers, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and burden we worked night and day that we might not be a burden to any of you.”
Paul closed this second letter with encouragement and warning to the believers. He was confident in the Lord that the believers would follow Christ Jesus and obey His Word as taught by Paul and the elders. He prayed that the Lord would direct their hearts deeper into the love of God and the steadfastness of Jesus Christ Himself. Paul had preached Christ and also set an example of faithfulness and love for these brothers and sisters. He had provided for his own needs and those of the ministry team by working and providing for their needs, even though he could have taken offerings and assistance. He asked these believers to imitate his example. Then he warned them to avoid those who were idle and living off others. This temptation came from the evil one and lead to other sins. Some of these used the pretext that Jesus was coming soon. This is not how believers are to wait for Christ’s return. We must be about the Master’s business and work to provide for our needs.
2nd Thessalonians 3:10-11 “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example of active ministry as well as this record of Paul’s life and work ethic. Help me to imitate Your example and work at providing for my needs and also having abundance to give to Your work. May my example inspire others and lead them deeper in the love of God and the steadfastness of Your Word, which will protect them from the evil one.
Proverbs 24:30-31 “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”
Scripture reading for May 12th: Acts 27
Key Scriptures: Acts 27:21-26 “Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.””
God likes to encourage His people when they are in the midst of a trial. Paul was a prisoner of Rome, being transported from Caesarea to Rome during the winter. As it got later and later, sailing became more treacherous with the stronger winter storms. Paul had advised the captain not to set sail. Of course, who was Paul to give him advice? They set sail anyway and a terrible storm caused them all to despair of life. After 14 days of constant wind and waves, Paul had an angelic visitor with a word of knowledge. He shared it with the crew and others while boasting on God and His mercy. He spoke out in faith and it happened just as he had been told. The ship was lost but all survived by God’s amazing grace!
Acts 27:43 “But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for encouraging words of knowledge when Your people are in dangerous situations. It is comforting to know that in every situation, You are with us and for us! Use me to give words of knowledge and encouragement as fearful times come.
Proverbs 4:13 “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”
Scripture reading for April 12th: Acts 5
Key Scriptures: Acts 5:27-33 “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this Name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, Whom God has given to those who obey Him.””
Obedience to God has rewards now and in eternity. The high priest was in authority over Israel and had brought the apostles in earlier and sternly commanded them to not speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. The apostles, in opposition to these instructions from spiritual authority, had continued to boldly preach repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Many signs and wonders were also being reported through the Name. Peter, when directly confronted, plainly told the high priest that they must obey God rather than men. He then accused them again of crucifying the Lord Jesus Whom the Father had raised from the dead and exalted to His right hand. This was the ultimate position of spiritual authority. Listen to the witnesses!
Acts 5:38-39 “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, . . “
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the Holy Spirit and the boldness of Your witnesses recorded for us in Scripture. Deliver me from the snare of fearing men and empower me to obey You alone.
Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
Scripture reading for April 9th: Acts 4
Key Scriptures: Acts 4:27-31 “. . for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, Whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant Your servants to continue to speak Your Word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the Name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness.”
Peter and John had just been before the Sanhedrin and were warned to never again speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. They told the Sanhedrin that they must listen to God and speak what they saw and heard from Him. After more severe warnings, they were let go for the man that was healed of his lameness from birth was over 40 years old. They went back to the gathering of disciples and shared what had happened. They all began to lift their voices in prayer and thanksgiving to God, declaring God’s plans and asking protection and power to speak His Word even more boldly! In answer, God shook the gathering place and they went out in great power.
Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, shake my house and my church house as Your people gather to praise You and ask for more boldness! Work with us in signs and wonders to draw sinners to Jesus and heal broken people. Make me bold as the Lion of Judah! Amen! Let it be so!
Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
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.”
Scripture reading for March 31st: Luke 21
Key Scriptures: Luke 21:33-36 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” And every day He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.”
Jesus was plain in warning His disciples and those who would follow their message concerning the final judgment before the Son of Man. This world has many attractions and diversions that capture men and hold them in a state of unpreparedness for this judgment. Man operates from his heart–the inner man and God sees each heart. When hearts are weighed down and hardened by sins and even the cares and troubles of life, preparations for this judgment are put off and those so burdened are lulled into a dangerous lack of perception. They neglect to remember that life here is short and that following this life, all must give an account before God. Jesus urgently pleaded with all who would listen to stay awake and guard their hearts through prayer and faith. He wanted all to stand and none to be caught in the sudden trap of a heavy heart! He was also warning these disciples of the coming battle in the Garden of Gethsemane where they would sleep while He wrestled in prayer, sweating great drops of blood.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving warning of future accounting. I want to stand without shame or condemnation. Give me wisdom today to fulfil Your Word and will and avoid the traps of this world. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit empowering me to pray and stand as evil increases in these last days.
Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Scripture reading for March 26th: Luke 18
Key Scriptures: Luke 18:18-24 “And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments? ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow Me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mankind is always looking for a formula or some form of human effort that they can use to earn favor with God. The rich ruler flattered Jesus, calling Him ‘good’ and appeared sincere in his quest for eternal life. Jesus called his attention to the revealed Word of God, the ten commandments, quoting five of them. The ruler sincerely stated that he had kept them from his youth. Knowing his love of money, Jesus went deeper to expose a breaking of the first commandment–idolatry. When asked to give up all his possessions and follow Jesus, he became sad and could not freely comply. He was wrestling in his heart with the cost of obtaining what he had stated he wanted and giving up the money now. Jesus told His disciples that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom–not impossible! With God’s grace and our humility to listen and receive, all things are possible.
Luke 18:29-30 “And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your grace, enabling my salvation! I wanted this world’s riches, but was bankrupt until You revealed the Way of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Help me to clearly present the Good News of laying my desires down and following You to eternal riches.
Proverbs 11:28 “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”
Scripture reading for March 24th: Luke 16
Key Scriptures: Luke 16:10-14 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed Him.”
Jesus had just told his disciples and those listening, including some Pharisees, the parable of the dishonest manager. The Pharisees who were given management in God’s house were lovers of money. They made fun of Jesus because He was not rich and had no possessions. They viewed money as a measure of God’s blessing for obedience. Jesus spoke plainly of our stewardship of money and possessions as “very little” that demanded faithfulness. How we manage the little determines if we can be given more. All we have here belongs to God and He is keeping an account. He is our Master, not the money! We serve Him alone in how we steward His money.
Luke 16:15 “And He said to them, “You (Pharisees) are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone are my Lord and Master, not the money or possessions You have blessed me with. Help me to be the faithful steward of “very little” so that I can bless You and Your kingdom.
Proverbs 28:20 “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.”