Only faith and grace can truly justify!
Scripture reading for March 23rd: Galatians 2, Psalm 59, Proverbs 28
Galatians 2:15-16, 20-21 “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law by through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. . . .I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
Paul had been a zealous Jew like many in the church at Galatia. He worked hard at keeping the law and had sought to imprison and harm those who preached the Gospel of God’s grace through faith. After a face to face meeting with the resurrected Jesus, Paul was converted and then spent time in the desert learning from Jesus the truths of the Gospel message. The works of the law could only expose sin, not bring the needed change and produce righteousness. Only our humble confession of our sins and appealing to Jesus Christ for mercy through His sacrifice on the cross obtains for us the gift of His righteousness. His mercy through faith produces what all our works cannot: justification and righteousness! That makes us sing for joy in true freedom!
Psalm 59: 16 “But I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for saving me through Your Son’s sacrifice! I identify with Christ and His cross as my only hope of true righteousness and eternal life. I have been born again through faith in His blood and His resurrection to life! Through confession of my sins and forsaking them I have obtained mercy and the joy of living in God’s eternal covenant of love!
Proverbs 28: 13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Set apart to preach!
Scripture reading for March 22nd: Galatians 1, Psalm 58, Proverbs 27
Galatians 1: 11-16 “For I would have you know, brothers, that the Gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when He Who had set me apart before I was born, and Who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, . . .”
Paul had a unique encounter with the risen Christ. He learned the Gospel, not from men, but from Christ Himself. He described it as a ‘revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Paul had persecuted the church, imprisoning those who followed Jesus and he even stood in agreement with their death in the case of Stephen. He felt that he was doing God a favor in his zeal for the traditions of Judaism. But Jesus appeared to him, and revealed His calling and the purpose of his life. Jesus set him apart–before birth! Jesus called him by His amazing grace, offering him forgiveness of sins and showing him eternal life. Jesus sent Paul to preach to the Gentiles and confirmed the Word with signs and power. Ask our Lord to confirm your calling and His plan for your life today. Jesus is our great reward!
Psalm 58:10-11 “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God Who judges on earth.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your calling and setting me apart to preach Your Gospel. Thank You for those, like Paul, that spoke truth into my life and lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for the trials and testing that have deepened my faith and trust in Your love and goodness. Empower me today to fulfill Your will and purposes for my life and in those to whom you send me.
Proverbs 27:21 “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.”
The sacrifices of praise and generosity
Scripture reading for March 21st: Hebrews 13, Psalm 57, Proverbs 26
Hebrews 13: 13-17 “Therefore let us go to Him, outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
In Jesus Christ, all blood sacrifice is fully complete to atone or cover all our sins and that of all sinners. But those who are redeemed have other sacrifices that we can make. These include the continuously thankful heart that flows out of our lips with praise for our generous God in providing Jesus Christ. God has prepared good works and told us to be generous and kind, reflecting His heart of love and compassion to all mankind. These should be given like a sacrifice with joy and thankfulness to God, Who is to receive all glory in the earth and in heaven. When we live a life of worship and praise, it brings us joy and God pleasure because His covenant love is reflected to a lost world and wins souls. Leaders in the church watch over each believer to encourage them in these sacrifices and will give account.
Psalm 57:10-11 “For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!”
Prayer: Father God, I thank You and praise You today for Your steadfast love and faithfulness to me and all peoples. Thank You for the leaders in Your family that watch over me and those that I have been privileged to watch over. Help me to be continually joyful and thankful, reflecting Your great love and faithfulness to those I serve and walk through this wilderness with. Let Your glory be over all the earth.
Proverbs 26:27 “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.”
Joy and endurance!
Scripture reading for March 20th: Hebrews 12, Psalm 56, Proverbs 25
Hebrews 12:1-4 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
Jesus on the cross was the example used by the writer of Hebrews for the believers he was writing to encourage. Many were discouraged because of opposition and persecution and were thinking about going back to Judaism. Jesus’ was motivated by His joy. It was a vision of God’s plan to save sinners through His obedience and willingness to freely give His life and blood to purchase freedom. This joy helped Jesus to endure the cross and suffer through the mockery and shame of crucifixion, a truly painful and humiliating experience. He trusted in God the Father and obeyed, even through his excruciating suffering. He triumphed over death and the grave and lives in eternal joy!
Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
Prayer: Father God, today I consider Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith. As I ponder the suffering He endured for me, I am ashamed of my own weariness and failure to successfully struggle against sin. Fill me with the joy of our Lord, Who is my strength. His joy is to see all sinners saved from sin’s penalty and power and enjoying a place in God’s forever family! Empower me to spread the Word!
Proverbs 25:23 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
Faith pleases God!
Scripture reading for March 17th: Hebrews 11, Psalm 55, Proverbs 24
Hebrews 11:4-6 “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
The most basic element of faith is to believe that God is real and exists. The second element, is to believe that God is good and desires our attention. In today’s culture, God is marginalized or blocked out as irrelevant. Humanism teaches that man is the center of all things and that he can rise to new heights with his own efforts and thinking. God’s Word declares that it is faith that endures and speaks throughout man’s history. God is pleased when man humbly acknowledges His eternal existence and creative power. He is pleased when man seeks Him out, looking to Him for answers to prayers and for eternal reward. To live a life of joy, we must live by faith, humbly listening to God’s Word and seeking His pleasure.
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, ad He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
Prayer: Father God, my prayer today is motivated by faith that You are real, You are good, and You receive pleasure from my humble trust. I am sustained today by casting all my cares and burdens on You. I have joy today because You have said that my faith pleases You and Your pleasure brings me great joy and peace. I draw near to You, and declare that You are my eternal reward, riches, joy, and delight.
Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
“Let us draw near to Jesus!”
Scripture reading for March 16th: Hebrews 10, Psalm 54, Proverbs 23
Hebrews 10: 19-25 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living Way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The writer of Hebrews believed that the Day of Christ’s return was drawing near. This is a central truth of Scripture, especially for those living in the last days. Faith in this truth should call all believers to respond by their willful choice to draw near to Jesus now, in this time, to find grace and cleansing and deliverance from all sin and bondage. Christ’s blood washes our consciences clean and our baptism symbolizes the cleansing of body, soul and spirit in preparation to meet Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom. We gather together regularly to confess our faith and hope and to encourage one another to love Jesus through holy obedience. He is coming for a ‘holy bride.’
Psalm 54:6-7 “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your Name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness in fulfilling every promise You have made to us. I trust today in the promise that Jesus Christ is coming again to bring full salvation and a glorified body for each believer. Help me to draw nearer to You each day and find the grace to walk in purity and faith. Wash me with Your Son’s blood from all sin. Fill my heart with wisdom to speak boldly the Good News of Jesus!
Proverbs 23:15-16 “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right.”
Once! For all!
Scripture reading for March 15th: Hebrews 9, Psalm 53, Proverbs 22
Hebrews 9:24-28 “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”
The Old Covenant high priest would have to go into the Most Holy Place in the temple once a year on the Day of Atonement with blood sacrifice for himself and the people. The Law of Moses laid it out in detail. But when Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life in a human body, He then offered His own body and blood as the perfect sacrifice. He presented His blood in Heaven on the true mercy seat. He did this once, for all time and all people. He took His seat at God’s right hand to intercede for those who would come to Him by faith. He is coming again to bring full salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him! The “Desired One” is coming soon! Rejoice and be glad!
Psalm 53:6 “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for providing purity of heart to all who by faith trust in Your Son, Jesus Christ! I put my trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ today afresh and anew! I set my eyes on Christ Who is coming again for those eagerly awaiting His return as King. Fill me again with power through the Holy Spirit to proclaim the salvation that purchased freedom from sin and its penalty for all mankind.
Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.”
A new and better covenant!
Scripture reading for March 14th: Hebrews 8, Psalm 52, Proverbs 21
Hebrews 8:10-13 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days declares the Lord. I will put My laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
God deals justly and righteously with His people through covenant relationship. Covenants spell out clearly the responsibilities of each party. There are blessings for those who joyfully fulfill their responsibilities and curses for those who willfully disregard their obligations. Under the Old Covenant of Law, God’s mercy and instruction offered through His laws brought resistance and rebellion in the human heart. The law was written on tablets of stone, reflecting the unredeemed human heart. But in the New Covenant, made through the Son of God and His sacrifice of blood and body, God made new promises to write His law on the tables of our hearts and give us understanding in our minds by grace through faith. He would forgive our sins and be our God, taking us as His own people! God is faithful to His Covenant!
Psalm 52:8-9 “For I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank You forever, for You have done it. I will wait for Your Name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I have come to trust in Your steadfast love and grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I now have Your laws of love written on my heart and mind and delight to do Your will. I will praise Your Name forever and ever, and live as a green olive tree, full of sap and life through Your Holy Spirit!
Proverbs 21:21 “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor.”
God’s Holy Oath: “You are a Priest forever.”
Scripture reading for March13th: Hebrews 7, Psalm 51, Proverbs 20
Hebrews 7:21-22; 26-28 “. . but this One was made a Priest with an oath by the One Who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a Priest forever.'”. . .“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a High Priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the Word of oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son Who has been made perfect forever.”
The Old Testament Aaronic priesthood was formed around a designated person, Aaron, and a tribe of Israel, the Levites. Those priests served under the rules of God’s Law, as laid out in Leviticus. They were men who served while they lived and offered sacrifices for themselves as well as the people. But God made an oath, swearing by Himself, that His Son, Jesus Christ, would be a priest forever. This priesthood would not be Levitical and flow from Aaron but would be like that of Melchizedek. Jesus becomes the perfected High Priest through His own sacrifice of His body and blood. He died to cleanse us from our sins and rose again to live forever seated at God’s right hand as our eternal and final Priest and King!
Psalm 51:6 “Behold, You delight in Truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
Prayer: Father God, Your plans and purposes are amazing and complete. I am thankful for Jesus Christ, my High Priest and the only Sacrifice I will ever need for my sins. You have given me the Holy Spirit of God to bring Truth to my inward being and teach me wisdom and integrity. I am made righteous by Christ Jesus! Use me to proclaim these blessings that my children and friends might also be so blessed!
Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity–blessed are his children after him.”
Steadfast love brings reward!
Scripture reading for March 10th: Hebrews 6, Psalm 50, Proverbs 19
Hebrews 6: 9-12 “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His Name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
The writer of Hebrews had issued a warning against those who fall away in the early verses of this passage. But he was encouraging in this passage that commended the believers for their continuing work on behalf of the saints and their steadfast love. He encouraged them to follow the path of the patriarchs of the faith like Abraham, who through faith and patience inherited the promises of God for fruitfulness and blessing. Like Abraham, they may have to go through times of testing when the promises looked out of reach. But through steadfast love in covenant with God, God always comes through and brings glory to Himself by blessing HIs people and fulfilling HIs Word.
Psalm 50:14-15 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for all Your faithfulness to those who have gone before me. Your divine and precious promises have proven true again and again in my life. Help me to continue in the works You have prepared for me with steadfastness and faithfulness to the covenant of love You have made with me through Jesus Christ. I want to inherit all Your promises and lead my family and others to their reward!
Proverbs 19:22-23 “What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied, he will not be visited by harm.”