Scripture reading for May 24th: 2nd Samuel 15-17, Psalm 3, 63, Romans 1
Romans 1:1-6 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, Who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His Name among all nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
As Paul set about to write this letter to Roman believers, He declared Jesus Christ as the prophesied Son of God, descended from David through his flesh, but declared to be God’s Son by His resurrection from the dead. The power of God raised Him up through the Spirit of Holiness–God’s Holy Spirit. Resurrection life had entered Jesus’ body and brought resurrection after three days and three nights in the grave. This same Jesus had met Paul on the Damascus road and called Paul to believe and appointed him an apostle to share the Gospel with all nations. God had done it all and was now calling all men to salvation and holiness through the powerful Holy Spirit.
Psalm 3:8 “Salvation belongs to the Lord, Your blessing be on Your people!”
Psalm 63:2-3 “So I have looked upon You in the Sanctuary, beholding Your power and glory. Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.”
Prayer: Father, Thank You for the amazing salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ, Your Son! Your power displayed in raising Jesus from the dead humbles me and makes me thankful and willing to follow You all the days of my life and for eternity. Use me to declare Your Son to all nations and call all to salvation in the power and anointing of Your Holy Spirit.
2nd Samuel 15:21 “But Ittai answered the king (David), “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.”
Scripture reading for May 20th: 2nd Samuel 11-12, 1st Chronicles 20, Psalm 51, 32, Acts 27
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 have 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.””
Paul, the prisoner, had sought to direct the crew and captain from sailing into what Paul knew was dangerous weather. They did not listen and for two weeks they had been buffeted by a storm and all hope of escaping was gone. Paul called them all together and shared what an angel of God had revealed to him. God was merciful and granted all who were on the ship their lives but the ship would be lost. God’s Word was true and it happened just as Paul foretold. But God’s mercy is not just to save our physical lives. As the Psalm and reading from Samuel tells us today, God is merciful to all who will call upon Him in repentance and faith. God forgives even murder and adultery for King David!
Psalm 51:1-2 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”
Prayer: Father, I am so thankful for Your abundant mercy and Your steadfast love of me, a sinner! Thank You for granting me life eternal through Your mercy in Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for blotting out my sins and iniquity and delivering me from death. Thank You for washing me from my sins and giving me Your righteousness. I will worship You for Your steadfast love and abundant mercy!
1st Samuel 12:13-14 “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.””
Scripture reading for May 19th: 2nd Samuel 9-10, 1st Chronicles 18-19, Psalm 89, Acts 26
Acts 26:19-23 “”Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.””
Paul, in God’s grace was given opportunity while in prison to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Roman rulers and kings. Jesus had called him out of the darkness of dead religion and showed him Who He was and gave him a mission to reach the Gentiles. Paul shared that testimony with all who would listen, including King Agrippa. He sought to bring the light of Jesus Christ into that ruler’s life by speaking the Word of God. God’s righteousness and justice gives each person the opportunity to hear and repent of sin and find peace with God and deliverance. The choice is given but the decision is up to us! Jesus’ love and justice through His cross and sacrifice can bring victory over death and the grave to all who will choose. He will judge the world from His throne based on truth and righteousness.
Psalm 89:13-14 “You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, high Your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before You.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the righteousness and justice that are the foundation of Your eternal throne! Thank You for the Gospel message that makes Your righteousness available to all men, Jew or Gentile, by faith in Your Son Jesus Christ, Who is lifted high at Your right hand. Empower me to preach this Gospel to all and bring repentance, victory, justice and equity to all who respond in faith.
1st Chronicles 18:13-14 “. . .And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people.”
Scripture reading for May 18th: 2nd Samuel 7-8, 1st Chronicles 17, Psalm 132, Acts 25
Acts 25: 8-12 “Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I hade done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against men, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.””
Paul had been in prison under Roman authorities in Ceasarea for over two years. He was charged by the Jewish religious leaders for violations of their law and insurrection. Even after two years, these leaders from Jerusalem were still plotting to kill Paul or have him moved to Jerusalem. Jesus had been crucified outside Jerusalem and they wanted Paul to die there too. But God had other plans and His plans stand forever. Paul was to go to Rome and the Roman government would pay for it. God would also deal with Jerusalem, razing it to the ground in the near future. But long term, God has plans for Jerusalem and Israel. He has chosen Zion and desired it for His dwelling place forever! His blessing will rest on her and His people forever as well! Amen!
Psalm 132:13-16 “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place; “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for confounding the schemes of those opposing Your plans and for fulfilling Your will. Thank You for Your abundant blessings of salvation, clothing of Your people in righteousness and filling them with peace and joy through the Holy Spirit–Who finds His resting place inside Your people! This is the greatest blessing! May it continue forever and ever!
1st Chronicles 17:27 “Now You have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before You, for it is You, O Lord, Who have blessed and it is blessed forever.”
Scripture reading for May 16th: 2nd Samuel 6, 1st Chronicles 13, Psalm 60, Acts 23
Acts 23:11-15 “The following night the Lord stood by him (Paul) and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.””
Paul went to Jerusalem under the leading of the Holy Spirit and was arrested by the religious leaders and brought before the council. As promised by God, he was given words to say and insight. Paul declared that he was a Pharisee himself, and was on trial because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. This triggered a dispute between the members of the council, Sadducee and Pharisee. It became so violent that soldiers rescued Paul and put him in the barracks. Jesus met him there that night and encouraged Paul that God’s plans would take him to Rome to testify as well. Well planned schemes and oaths of Paul’s enemies to kill him came to nothing. Jesus stands by His people against all foes! Amen!
Psalm 60:11-12 “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is He Who will tread down our foes.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for bringing courage to Your servants when they face trials and opposition. Help us, like King David, to worship You with all our strength each day as we bear Your presence in us by the Holy Spirit! We know You indwell us and support us and give us words for those who oppose! Stand close by me today!
2nd Samuel 6:14-16 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.” As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.”
Scripture reading for May 13th: 2nd Samuel 3-5, 1st Chronicles 12, Psalm 122, Acts 22
Acts 22: 17-21 “”When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You. And when the blood of Stephen Your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ And He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
Paul had been a devout Pharisee and orthodox Jew. He had persecuted Christians and had them imprisoned and put to death. He was zealous for the temple and Jerusalem as the place of God’s House and presence in the midst of His people. But when Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road, Paul was confronted with his own blindness and need to repent. After his sight was restored, he returned to Jerusalem and was warned by Jesus to leave there. The Jews would not receive his testimony. God would be with Him as he now was sent to the Gentiles. He could still pray for the peace of Jerusalem as Scripture commanded. Jesus Christ, King David’s offspring, would be with him on this new mission to tell the Good News to the world! The promised New Jerusalem would be the ultimate ‘City of Peace’!
Psalm 122:6-7 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within you towers!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for sending the Prince of Peace to Jerusalem! He, too, was rejected there and not received by His own people. He sent His disciples into the whole world with the Good News and promised that He would be with them forever! Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and power to declare the message of peace to Jew and Gentile. Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
2nd Samuel 5:9-10 “And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him.”
Scripture reading for May 12th: 2nd Samuel 1-2, 1st Chronicles 11, Psalm 96, 106, Acts 21
Acts 21: 8-13 “On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.””
As Paul and his companions journeyed to Jerusalem, they stayed with believers and encouraged them whenever they could. At Caesarea, they stayed with Philip, the evangelist, who was one of the original seven men chosen as deacons to serve the church. Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses and another man named Agabus who was a prophet visited his home and gave a message to Paul. This message confirmed what Paul already understood. The message brought sorrow to all who knew Paul and they urged him not to proceed to Jerusalem. Paul stated that this broke his heart because he did care for them. But God’s calling was first and Paul was ready to go and even give his life in Jerusalem for Jesus Christ his Lord.
Psalm 96:2-3 “Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”
Psalm 106:47 “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in Your praise.”
Prayer: Father God, it is hard in the natural to follow You into places of danger and possible death. We love our brothers and sisters in the Lord and our own families. But not our will but Yours must be done for we are not our own, but owe all to Jesus Christ Who gave His life for us. Grant me grace to follow You wherever You lead and to declare Your glory among all peoples.
2nd Samuel 1:26-27 “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
Scripture reading for May 5th: 1st Samuel 23-24, 1st Chronicles 6, Psalm 54, Acts 16
Acts 16:22-26 “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
Paul and Silas were following the Lord in preaching the Gospel and casting out evil spirits. They had encountered a slave girl with a spirit of divination who was tormenting them. They cast out the spirit and her owners seized Paul and Silas and had them severely beaten and imprisoned. Paul and Silas were placed in the most secure area in stocks and must have had much pain. But they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God loud enough for all the jail to hear. Suddenly, God sent an earthquake that shook the prison in an amazing way. Doors were opened and shackles were loosed! But greater doors were also opened–the jailer and his whole household were saved and delivered from Satan’s grip! God’s ‘revenge’ is to take back captives for His kingdom and glory!
Psalm 54:3-5 “For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. (Selah) Behold, God is my Helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in Your faithfulness put an end to them.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing mercy and ability to turn what is meant for evil around to bring salvation and great good! You are a good, good Father! Help me to remain faithful in each trial and to hear Your voice to bring about Your plans for deliverance and opening of prison doors! Keep me from an offended and vengeful spirit.
1st Samuel 24:12-13 “I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.”
Scripture reading for May 4th: 1st Samuel 21-22, 1st Chronicles 5, Psalm 52, Acts 15
Acts 15: 7-11 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the Word of the Gospel and believe. And God, Who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.””
Old religious habits and rituals die hard. The Jewish believers had a hard time with Gentiles now being saved. Some of them insisted that the Gentiles become circumcised. This matter was discussed in a meeting of the Apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem. Peter had listened to the testimonies of Paul and Barnabas and the arguments of those advocating circumcision. He stood up and spoke from his experience with God directing him to go to Cornelius’ home and preach the Gospel. The Holy Spirit was poured out even as he spoke. God made no distinction between Jew or Gentile, but He had saved all who believed through the grace of the Lord Jesus! Amen! God grants equal opportunity to all through grace.
Psalm 52:8-9 “But 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 because 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 Your simple Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, Your Son! Help me to keep it simple and straight-forward. Alert me to any attempt by men or religion to add tradition or works as a condition. I trust in Your steadfast love demonstrated in Jesus Christ’s shed blood to keep me safe forever and ever!
1st Samuel 22:5, 23 “Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.”.. . . “Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”
Scripture reading for May 3rd: 1st Samuel 20, 1st Chronicles 4, Psalm 56-57, 142, Acts 14
Acts 14:19-23 “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had believed.”
Paul had been a persecutor of Christ’s followers in his former life as a zealous Pharisee. He had caused much tribulation and fear through his murderous crusade to eliminate believers. God told Ananias, the believer who laid hands on him to receive his sight after his encounter with Jesus, that He would show Paul how much he would suffer for His Name. Paul understood that tribulation was part of the package in preaching the Gospel. Satan did not give up territory easily! But God’s grace was greater! God would fulfill His purposes and flesh and blood could do no real harm! Those who rejected God’s Word would be put to shame! God’s love and faithfulness would protect them!
Psalm 56:3 “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?”
Psalm 57:3 “He will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me. Go will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!”
Prayer: God my Father, thank You for Your great love and faithfulness to preserve Your people and work out Your plans through Your people–even in tribulations. I put my trust in You! You will fulfill Your plans through my life through trials and tribulations. To You alone be all glory!
1st Samuel 20:42 “Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the Name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And He rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”