Scripture reading for February 17th: Romans 7
Key Scriptures: Romans 7:21-25 “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
Most commentators agree that Paul is here reflecting on his life as a strict Pharisee who loved God’s law and tried hard to apply it to his life. He wanted to obey and please God, but found within another law, that of sin and death, at work in his members. He ended up in a wretched condition feeling enslaved by the law of sin at work in spite of his desire to live in obedience to God. But thanks be to God Who by grace provided the remedy through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul understood at last how to be free from the condemnation that trying to keep God’s law through human effort brought. By faith through grace He was set free! Thanks be to God!
Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, . .”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of grace to me and all who will believe. Thank you for delivering me from the law of sin and death and my flesh. Help me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit today in joy and freedom.
Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Scripture reading for February 11th: Romans 3
Key Scriptures: Romans 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
God’s amazing wisdom and grace for righteousness was made available to Jew and Gentile. Although they were all sinners under God’s wrath, God provided redemption through His Son’s blood to all who would believe on Jesus Christ. God demonstrated his righteousness and divine forbearance-patience in delaying justified judgment–by justifying those who came to faith in Jesus. The Jews had the Law and Prophets that bore witness to God’s righteousness. They still could not keep it by their works. The Gentiles had their conscience where God’s Law was written and nature that declared God’s power and authority but they could not earn righteousness. But God gave freely to all who believe in Jesus the free gift of His grace!
Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. . .”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the covering of Your blood over my sins and Your patience with me and other sinners. Give me grace today to patiently declare Your righteousness and amazing grace through Jesus to those You send me to.
Romans 3:10-12 “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”” (Psalm 14:1-3)
Scripture reading for February 9th: Romans 1
Key Scriptures: Romans 1:16-20 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Paul wrote a letter to the Roman church where he laid out in terms that both Jew and Gentile could understand, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and man’s universal need for salvation and God’s righteousness. He was not ashamed of the Gospel message–Jesus Christ, Son of God, crucified for our sins, buried and raised from the dead to God’s right hand. This message, when preached and believed in faith brings salvation from God’s wrath to Jews and Gentiles. It gives right-standing with God to those once under His wrath because Jesus Christ took God’s wrath against sin on the cross. God has revealed the truth about His eternal power and divine nature to all men through creation. Man has pushed this truth out of their thinking but that will be no excuse when they stand before Him. Those without Christ will face God’s eternal wrath.
Psalm 19:1-3 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing the power of God for salvation through Your life, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. I desire to preach the Good News every day I am given on this earth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today for this task.
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””
Scripture reading for February 5th: Mark 16
Key Scriptures: Mark 16:1-7 “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back–it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”
Early on the first day of the week, the three women who loved Jesus purchased spices and went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body for burial. It had been a rushed burial because of the Passover and the Sabbath. The women wondered aloud how they might move the large stone covering the tomb, when to their surprise, it had been rolled away. Going inside, a man dressed in white greeted them with amazing good news. Jesus, Whom they sought, was not there! He had risen from death. The place where He was laid was empty, except for some folded grave clothes. The “man” gave them instructions: “Go and tell His disciples–and Peter.” Jesus would appear to them later in Galilee, just as He had told them.
Psalm 16:10-11 “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let Your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, the empty tomb speaks amazing grace to all who believe in You as the Son of God. Thank You for these women who loved Jesus and testified of the good news they received on resurrection morning! May I have opportunity to share this truth today!
Mark 16:19-20 “So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
Scripture reading for February 5th: Mark 15
Key Scriptures: Mark 15:34-39 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, He is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing Him saw that in this way he breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.””
As Mark concluded the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and suffering on the cross, he includes one of the last prayers of Jesus. It is a question for God the Father. Jesus asks the Father why He has left Him alone. Bystanders thought Jesus might have been calling for Elijah to come take Him down. Another ran and gave Jesus a sedative in a sponge filled with sour wine. At three in the afternoon on Friday before the Sabbath, Jesus cried out His last cry in a loud voice. “It is finished!” was recorded by another Gospel writer. As the tough Roman Centurion watched Jesus and heard His last words, he came to an amazing revelation of truth. “Truly this man was the Son of God.” He is near to saving faith!
Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groanings?”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for suffering shame, torture, and death and the feeling of separation from God on my behalf. Truly, You are the Son of God Who finished the work needed for the salvation of all who will believe.
John 19:30 “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Scripture reading for February 4th: Mark 14
Key Scriptures: Mark 14:60-65 “And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You? But He remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him as deserving death. And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received Him with blows. ”
Mark used Peter as one of his sources of the details of passion week events. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the subsequent denial of Peter and all the disciples was a shameful part of the story. This record of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin shows how Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses and remained silent before His accusers. When asked directly if He was the “Christ”, Jesus spoke the truth very plainly and simply. This declaration of Messiahship and prophetic announcement to those sitting in judgment brought immediate condemnation for blasphemy and acts of disrespect. They spit upon Him and covered His face and turned Him over to abusive Roman guards. All this was in the plan of God to bring about salvation for all who would humbly repent and believe!
Psalm 22:6-7 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads: . . .”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I am humbled by the scorn and harsh treatment You received. Even Judas betrayed You and the other disciples denied knowing you. This was all before the crucifixion. Thank You for Your sacrifice. Use Me however You want to proclaim Your love and mercy.
Isaiah 53:3, 7 “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces.” . . . .”He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth.”
Scripture reading for February 1st: Mark 11
Key Scriptures: Mark 11:20-25 “As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also Who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Earlier in the week Jesus had cursed the fig tree for having no fruit. Peter saw the fig tree now withered and dead from the roots, and called it to Jesus’ attention. Jesus responded with a short but powerful exhortation concerning prayer and its power. Through faith in God, powerful declarations can be made and miracles would come to pass. We must ask and believe in faith that God hears and will answer. It will be ours by faith in God and His Word. However, unforgiveness is a possible hinderance to our own forgiveness and clear access to the Father. We must forgive–let go of offenses and stand on faith for God’s grace. This mountain is one of the hardest to see cast into the sea!
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your amazing grace in forgiving me of my sins and helping me find repentance. I want to walk in mountain-moving faith and believe Your Word. Help me to maintain forgiveness towards all others and myself.
Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Scripture reading for January 29th: Mark 10
Key Scriptures: Mark 10:41-44 “And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.””
James and John had approached Jesus about positions of honor when Jesus came into His kingdom. They wanted to sit at His right hand and His left and asked shamelessly for this honor. Jesus never rebuked them for asking, but told them that they did not know what they were asking for. But Jesus did ask them if they could drink the cup He would drink and be baptized with the baptism He was soon to undergo. They responded affirmatively, “We are able.” Jesus affirmed that they would indeed drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism. But the positions of honor belonged to those the Father would choose as worthy. This aggravated the other disciples and Jesus called them all together for instruction. Greatness and honor in Christ’s kingdom would come from service, not seeking position or honor. Jesus set the example by serving us all through giving His life blood as sin’s ransom payment.
Psalm 49:7-9 “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving Your life as a ransom for my life, serving me and all mankind. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Reward and alone receives honor.
Joshua 24:15 “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Scripture reading for January 25th: Mark 6
Key Scriptures: Mark 6:7-13 “And He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belts–but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And He said to them, Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 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.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.”
Jesus had taught His disciples and modeled for them ministry by preaching repentance, healing the sick, and casting out evil spirits. He now sent them out two by two with careful instructions to live by faith and follow the Holy Spirit in ministry. They were to go where people would listen and receive them. If they were rejected, the act of shaking dust would be a witness against them. They were given authority to heal the sick and cast out demons and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. This simple ministry assignment was embraced with obedience. They preached, they anointed sick people and they were healed and they cast out unclean spirits. All ministry is by faith in simple obedience to Christ’s commands. The results are up to Him and He receives all glory!
Psalm 119:112 “I incline my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the end.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, I thank You for the simple instructions You give Your disciples concerning ministry. Help me to listen, heed and obey each time You give me opportunity to minister to those You send me to. To You be all glory, honor and power, now and forever! Amen!
Mark 16:20 “And the went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
Scripture reading for January 21st: Mark 4
Key Scriptures: Mark 4:3-8 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on the rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty-fold, and sixty-fold and a hundred-fold.” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.””
An old joke when I was growing up in Iowa, the land of corn, cautioned everyone to be careful what they said when in the cornfield. There are lots of ears! Jesus called on His disciples and those listening to His teaching in parables to listen. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus knew that although most people were born with ears, not everyone desires to hear what is being said. The parable of the seed and sower illustrates that it is really the soil of the heart that determines our ability to hear. Some is rocky, with the seed of God’s Word finding no place to even sprout. Others are shallow soil over rocks, causing a quick sprouting but no follow-through in growth. Others have thorny or weed-infested ground and the weeds choke out the Word with no fruit. But some have good soil and the Word of God finds a place to germinate, grow, and produce abundant fruit! “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me ears to hear Your Word and listen to Your teaching with understanding. Break up any hardness or shallowness and remove all thorns that my heart might bring forth a crop to Your glory! May I sow Your Word as precious Seed finding good soil!
Psalm 126:6 “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”