Scripture reading for September 24th: 2nd Corinthians 7
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 7:8-12 “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a little while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Sin in our life or the church causes us or the church family grief. Sin, when confronted, also can cause grief to the individual who is harboring it or to the church family to whom the one caught in sin belongs. Paul had confronted the elders in Corinth of their need to discipline the man caught in sexual sin with his own mother-in-law. They had responded by putting him out of the body, as he recommended. In this letter Paul had asked them to receive back the one they had disciplined lest he be overcome with excessive grief. There are two kinds of grief–worldly grief is just sorry that they were found out. This kind of grief leads to more sin and eventually death. Godly grief leads to a deep regret that causes a change in mind, attitude and behavior and produces restoration and spiritual life. All discipline has the goal of restoration and life.
2nd Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for being our Father and calling us to repentance and a life of holy separation to you. Thank You for a Father’s discipline that leads to godly sorrow, repentance and life. Deliver me from any worldly sorrow and always lead me in true repentance. Help me as a father, pastor and Christ-follower to call those caught in sin to godly grief and true repentance.
Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Scripture reading for August 9th: Hebrews 2
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 2:14-17 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Mankind is flesh and blood, created in the image of God. Because of this, Jesus Christ came to earth and took on flesh and blood to fully identify with mankind, yet without their sin nature. He did this that He might suffer and die for our sins and lift the curse of sin and death from all who would believe in Him. He was made like the offspring of Abraham and fully identified with them, suffering temptation but remaining in obedient love of His Father and serving Him in the process of offering His body and blood as propitiation for the sins of His people. Those under the fear of death because of sin found deliverance and the one holding them in fear, the devil, was destroyed by the obedient sacrifice of the Son. Hallelujah! We are set free by the merciful and faithful Priest, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Hebrews 2:18 “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, Your amazing Son and His faithful and obedient love for You and for us brings me to my knees! What love is this? Greater love has no man than that he give his life for his friends! I am thankful that Jesus Christ understands my weakness and temptations and is able to come to my aid today! He is worthy of all worship and honor and praise!
Psalm 22:22-23 “I will tell of Your Name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You: You who fear the Lord, praise Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel.” (Hebrews 2:12)
Scripture reading for August 6th: Hebrews 1
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 1:1-4 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to the angels as the Name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
The author of Hebrews is not known for sure. Some think it was Barnabas and others possibly Apollos. It is certain he was a Jew who understood Jewish religion and culture. He wrote this letter to encourage Jewish Christians who were being persecuted for their faith and some considering going back to Judaism. The superiority of Christ is emphasized throughout the letter and pastoral encouragement to believers to hold tight to Christ is a major theme. In this first chapter, Jesus is proclaimed as the final Word from God to His people in the last days. He is the radiance of God’s glory. He is the heir of all things and creator of all things. Jesus upholds creation with His powerful Word. Jesus also has made purification for our sins and is now seated in the ultimate place of honor as God’s Son at His right hand. His Name, Jesus Christ, is superior to all names of men and angels! He alone has preeminence and an anointing of joy!
Hebrews 1:9 “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your Son, Who is preeminent over all creation and all earthly and heavenly beings. I believe He has made atonement for my sins and the sins of the world and is now seated at Your right hand, anointed with the oil of gladness as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He is the only Way, Truth, and Life for lost sinners.
Psalm 2:6-8 “”As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage and the ends of the earth Your possession.””
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)
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.”
Scripture reading for July 19th: Matthew 15
Key Scriptures: Matthew 15:27-31 “She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.”
Jesus had just healed instantly the Canaanite woman’s daughter who was oppressed by a demon. Her faith had brought Jesus’ mercy and healing power. Jesus then walked by the Sea of Galilee and went up on a hillside as great crowds of people brought to Him all manner of sick and hurting people. He healed them all and brought great awe and wonder as He performed miraculous healings and restoration. The people began to praise the God of Israel for what they were experiencing! God was in their midst as the Son of God, Jesus Christ shared the Father’s love and mercy, and had compassion on the hungry people.
Matthew 15:32 “Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they gave been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to sent them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your great compassion on those wounded by sin and sickness and hunger in this fallen world. As You called Your disciples to share Your compassion, fill me with love and compassion and use me to bring healing and restoration and food to the hungry! All glory to the God of Israel!
Psalm 57:5, 11 “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!”
Scripture reading for May 19th: Galatians 4
Key Scriptures: Galatians 4:1-6 “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of this world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Paul used a natural analogy of a family in his culture. Children were eventually going to be heirs of their father and mother, but when they were young and underage, they were like slaves in that they had no access to their inheritance but were under the control of their parents or the appointed guardians until the date set to receive the inheritance. Likewise, we are like slaves before we are born again. We are in bondage to the elemental principles of this world and under the curse of the law. But at the right time, God our Father sent His only Son born under the law, to redeem us who were under the law. We were given the Holy Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of adoption, to be confirmed a son and joint heir of Jesus. In the fullness of time, we will enter our full inheritance in eternal life! Amen!
Galatians 4:7 “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for redeeming me from slavery to sin and sending the Holy Spirit of adoption into my heart. I await with patience and anticipation the full inheritance You have promised! Help me to share this beautiful inheritance with all I meet. Come, Lord Jesus!
Psalm 16:5-6 “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
Scripture reading for May 6th: Acts 23
Key Scriptures: Acts 23:9-11 “Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.””
Jesus is with His people always and in all situations. He is in charge of what His people walk through in their appointed calling. Paul was in the center of God’s will and doing what He was called to do. God was at work on those of the Jews as well as the Gentile soldiers and their handlers as well as the officials of Rome. He placed Paul where He could minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all and also had plans to reach even to Rome with Paul. Even a plot of ambush by forty Jews to kill Paul didn’t stop God’s plans. The devil is no match for God’s Spirit-filled people! Paul could rest soundly knowing Jesus was standing by him!
Daniel 3:24-25 “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for standing by Your people in every age and every mountain and valley. Thank You for vision and Words of encouragement when the going gets tough. May I testify boldly to the facts of Who You are and Your plan of salvation, knowing that You are standing by me.
Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Scripture reading for April 21st: Acts 12
Key Scriptures: Acts 12:1-5 “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”
Life in God’s kingdom is the only real life! But it is not always full of joy and delights here in this life. Those that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution and James and Peter found out personally. James, the brother of John, one of the “Sons of Thunder” was probably beheaded by King Herod. It may be he resisted. Peter, the head disciple was arrested and put in prison and guarded by 4 squads of soldiers. They did not mess around with these Christ-followers. Because of Passover week, Herod just kept him guarded in jail, waiting until after the celebration to execute him in front of the Jews, many who were pleased to get rid of these ‘false teachers’. But God’s people were praying and it is not over even when it looks like it. A miraculous deliverance was brought about by angelic intervention and a squad of soldiers lost their lives for failure to guard their prisoner!
Acts 12:6-7 “Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that life following You is never dull and boring. Help me to learn how to trust you like James and Peter in every situation. Take me by the hand and lead me step by step, and wake me up if necessary!
Psalm 34:6-7 “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
Scripture reading for April 15th: Acts 8
Key Scriptures: Acts 8:3-8 “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.”
The martyrdom of Stephen, the deacon, caused a great persecution against the church of Jesus Christ. All except the apostles were scattered out of Jerusalem to various towns, regions and villages. Another deacon, Philip relocated in Samaria and quickly began preaching Jesus there. He drew crowds of people who listened to the Gospel message and saw the signs of healing and deliverance that were done through his ministry. From the suffering and scattered church, God brought much joy to the places where they went through the Good News they brought with them. Out of difficulty and trouble came times of refreshing from God’s presence with His own. They took God’s glorious presence with them everywhere they were scattered, and like seed, they grew and produced fruit!
Acts 8:25 “Now when they had testified and spoken the Word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.“
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You worked all things for good and Your glory, even persecutions and martyrdom! Work in me and our troubled world as I share the Good News and carry the testimony and presence of Jesus Christ. Let there be much joy from healings and deliverance and salvation!
Psalm 20:5 “May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the Name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”