“Is it I, Lord?”
Scripture reading for May 11th: Matthew 26, Psalm 94, Proverbs 1
Matthew 26: 20-25 “When it was evening, He reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, He said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if had not been born.” Judas, who would betray Him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.””
Although I am emphasizing joy and delight in God this year in the devotions, there are some passages in Scripture that show how God’s Truth spoken to those in rebellion made no difference. Truth received and acted upon could have brought joy but when rebelled against brings bitter fruit and eternal loss. Judas, as well as all the disciples were tested by Jesus’ statement that one of them would betray Him. All became sorrowful and questioned if they were the one. Even Judas, the one who had already agreed to betray Jesus for some money, asked the question. He thought that he would not be found out. But God knows all things and desires all to repent and come to knowledge of Truth. Even fools can become wise.
Psalm 94:8-9,11 “Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He Who planted the ear, does He not hear? He Who formed the eye, does He not see?”. . .” . . The Lord–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.”
Prayer: Father God, You are all wise and all-knowing and search the hearts. You want none to perish but all to come to repentance. Help me to hear Your Word of Truth as I read Your Word and listen to Your voice in my spirit. Warn me of hidden motives and besetting sins. Turn my heart to You each time I receive Holy Communion and examine myself. I welcome Your counsel and Your loving reproof.
Proverbs 1:29-31 “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of My counsel and despised My reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.”
The ‘excellent’ wife!
Scripture reading for May 10th: Matthew 25, Psalm 93, Proverbs 31
Matthew 25:6-11 “But at midnight, there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.; The all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves. And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins in the bridal company after His initial warning to the disciples to watch and be ready. This parable describes a typical Middle East wedding of that time. The betrothal was a time for the bride to ready herself and her attendants. The bridegroom prepared the bridal chamber for his bride and gathered his attendants. At a time that no one knew, the announcement of the bridegroom’s coming would be made. The bride and her company must be ready to travel in the night to the wedding supper. In the story Jesus told, half of the bridal company was not prepared and were shut out. The point again was the need for readiness and watching! An ‘excellent wife’ is diligent to prepare!
Psalm 93:1-2 “The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this illustration of the wedding and bridal company. I want to be ready and to help others prepare! But I know I can’t supply oil for those not prepared! Have mercy on me and help me keep my lamp trimmed and ready, full of oil! Help me to be about the preparation by sharing the invitation to the wedding supper with those who do not know. I listen for Your announcement!
Proverbs 31:10-11 “An excellent wife who can find; She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”
Signs of the ‘end’!
Scripture reading for May 9th: Matthew 24, Psalm 92, Proverbs 30
Matthew 24: 6-14 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death and you will be hated by all nations for My Name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
As His disciples were marveling at the temple, Jesus told them not one stone would be left upon another. This prompted questions from them. When would this happen? What would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age? Jesus gave them a warning to be wary of deception and then spoke to them plainly about various signs of the end that are really just the beginning of the end–‘birth pains.’ Disciples are to be aware of these pains that are coming, but not fearful of them. Their focus must remain on being steadfast and true to Jesus and the sharing of the Gospel to the ends of the earth!
Psalm 92: 4-5 “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your work; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy. How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!”
Prayer: Father God, Your thoughts and plans are very deep! I am in awe of Your amazing works to bring salvation to all nations and peoples. Open my eyes each day to those You desire to reach. Protect me from deception from those who are deceived, falling away or cold in their love for You. I want to be faithful to Jesus Christ and proclaim His Gospel to all nations, hastening His return for us! Amen!
Proverbs 30:12 “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.”
The “Bridegroom’s” longing!
Scripture reading for May 8th: Matthew 23, Psalm 91, Proverbs 29
Matthew 23: 37-39 “”O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see Me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.'”
As Jesus came to the conclusion of His earthly ministry, for the last time He came to Jerusalem, the city of God. As He approached the city, He lamented over the city that had been given many opportunities to receive God’s instruction and correction from prophets, judges, and kings. Now Jesus Christ, Son of God, came personally to intercede for the city. In His foreknowledge, He knew that they would reject Him too. He would have loved to gather them under His wings. Jesus used a mother hen and chicks here. But this could likely refer to the Jewish Rabbi’s prayer shawl and the act of covering the bride during the wedding ceremony. Their unwillingness would leave them a desolate woman without a husband or inheritance or eternal provision. For those with open ears and hearts, the longing of Jesus calls out to us!
Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.””
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this insight into Your heart of gathering a willing ‘Bride’ for Your Son from among Your own people. Thank You for sheltering those who come to Your through faith in Jesus Christ under the shadow of Your wings. Thank You for eternal life and protection and the grace of having justice done through the cross of Calvary in my life. I love You and willingly come under Your authority!
Proverbs 29:25-26 “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it from the Lord that a man gets justice.”
Love is the greatest commandment!
Scripture reading for May 5th: Matthew 22, Psalm 90, Proverbs 28
Matthew 22: 34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
God is Love and to love is to be like Him! The Pharisees were seeking to trap Jesus so that they might accuse Him of blasphemy or call into question His authority and understanding of Scripture. A lawyer sought to trap Him with a question about which was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered him simply by quoting Scripture. The first and greatest commandment was to love God personally as Your Lord, and totally, with all your being. The second was like it, showing love for your neighbor, made in God’s likeness, as yourself. According to Jesus, love was the fulfilment of all the Law and Prophets! This is in fact, true as love for God and neighbor encompasses all other commandments and is God’s heart!
Psalm 90:13-14 “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on Your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days.”
Prayer: Father God, I rejoice in Your amazing love, demonstrated to me through Your Son and His willing sacrifice for the sins of the world and my own sin. Forgive me for not always allowing Your love to flow in my heart. I have not obeyed You as I should and have certainly failed to show love for my neighbors at all times. Fill me today with a fresh anointing of Your love and teach me to love like You loved me!
Proverbs 28:9 “If one turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Scripture reading for May 4th: Matthew 21, Psalm 89, Proverbs 27
Matthew 21: 42-46 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they held Him to be a prophet.”
Jesus was always using the Scriptures to help those opposing Him to understand God’s will and ways. He had just told a parable of the tenants of a vineyard owned by a master. It was leased to them and when the season of ripened grapes arrived, the master sent servants to get his portion of the fruit. They mistreated and killed the servants. After sending other servants, the master sent his son, saying that they would surely respect him. But again, the son was killed and the vineyard taken over by the tenants. The Pharisees knew that Jesus was telling this parable (and others) about them and felt threatened. But instead of repenting, they plotted to arrest Jesus and ultimately do away with Him. We are all tenants in our Master’s world. We owe Him our lives and allegiance. Let’s not reject the Son of God, owner of all!
Psalm 89:3-4 “You have said, “I have made a covenant with My chosen one; I have sworn to David My servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'”
Prayer: Father God, You alone are owner of all things and are the One that all of mankind owes honor, obedience and worship. Forgive me for not honoring You with all my life and even at times opposing You. You know my true heart and can bring about the needed transformation. I offer my whole heart, soul and body to do Your will and share Your Good News with a lost world.
Proverbs 27:19 “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”
Crying out, not silenced!
Scripture reading for May 3rd: Matthew 20, Psalm 88, Proverbs 26
Matthew 20: 29-34 “And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed Him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him.”
When people who are living in a hopeless situation have a ray of hope, they get motivated to act. Such was the case of the two beggars outside of Jericho as Jesus traveled on to Jerusalem. They heard Jesus was passing by and began to cry out loudly for mercy, addressing Jesus with a messianic title, “Son of David”. They crowd considered them nuisances and tried to silence them. But these men would not be denied and cried out persistently. Jesus heard their cry and summoned them with the question of what they wanted Him to do for them. They plainly stated their desire for healing of their sight. Jesus, moved by compassion, touched their eyes and immediately restored their sight! Humbly and persistently crying out gets God’s attention!
Psalm 88:1-2 “O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my cry!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for another example in this story of Your heart of compassion for those blind and hurting. Thank You that you take time even for those the world tries to silence as a nuisance. Forgive me when I have foolishly considered someone not worthy of time or attention that You want to touch. Use me to be Your hand extended to those blinded by the god of this world, and all to Your glory.
Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Back to basics for marriage
Scripture reading for May 2nd: Matthew 19, Psalm 87, Proverbs 25
Matthew 19: 3-9 “And Pharisees came up to Him and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.””
Marriage and divorce issues have been a part of mankind since the fall. There has been enmity and violence sown by Satan against those called to love one another and live together in harmony. Even in the law of Moses, God made an allowance for divorce because of the hardness of heart that develops in these situations of strife. Jesus carefully explained God’s original design. God made male and female, man and woman, to live together in a holy relationship of marriage. Their union was blessed and ordained by God to become ‘one flesh’ and produce children made in God’s image. God loves children and designed a loving home with father and mother as a place to instruct the children, protect them, and provide for them until they would also marry and pass it on. Sacred marriage produces sacred children because it models Christ Jesus and His Bride.
Psalm 87:5-6 “And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High Himself will establish her. The Lord records as He registers the peoples, “This one was born there.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this clear and simple instruction about marriage and divorce. Have mercy on our nation for ignoring and twisting this instruction to mean something else. Forgive us for our own hardness of heart, broken families and hurt children. Heal our people of their rebellion against Your simple design and use Your people to model loving and sacred marriages and raise children to know You.
Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
Children are precious to our Father!
Scripture reading for May 1st: Matthew 18, Psalm 86, Proverbs 24
Matthew 18: 10-14 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of My Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Jesus made it clear to His disciples that children were precious to Him and His Father in heaven. Each child is made in God’s image and has a special place in God’s heart and kingdom. God has given each child at least one angel with access to God’s face. If a sheep is straying away from the shepherd and the safety of the flock, the shepherd goes after it. So too, are God’s shepherds to watch out for straying people who are young in the faith. Jesus emphasized that His Father’s will was that none of the little ones should perish. This teaching is like the honey from the honeycomb, sweet to the taste and like wisdom, nourishing to our souls. Take care of the children! Don’t neglect them! Don’t mistreat them!
Psalm 86:11-12 “Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your Truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name. I give thanks to You, O Lord, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your Name forever.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this strong Word from Your heart concerning children and those young in faith. As one of Your shepherds and a father and grandfather, I have sought to watch over the children. Help me in my old age to continue to value children as a heritage from You and precious in Your sight. Forgive our nation for its neglect, abuse and misuse of children for selfishness and immorality.
Proverbs 24:13-14 “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Faith will move mountains
Scripture reading for April 28th: Matthew 17, Psalm 85, Proverbs 23
Matthew 17: 14-21 “And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to Him and kneeling before Him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing shall be impossible for you.”
A man with an epileptic son brought him to the disciples for prayer while Jesus was with Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. They were unable to cast out the spirit. The man returned to find Jesus and again asked for mercy. Jesus was not happy with the disciples failure to have the faith necessary to complete the work. He rebuked the demon and the boy was instantly set free. The disciples came to Jesus afterwards for instruction. Jesus simply told them it was a lack of faith. Even a ‘mustard seed’ of faith has the power to move mountains. Jesus’ desire was that nothing would be impossible for those who believed His Word and walked in relationship with Him. He wanted them to show off God’s mercy that all might know His Father!
Psalm 85:6-7 “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your patience with me and others who follow You but walk in unbelief. I want to please You and walk in faith. Help me to grow in faith. I have only a ‘mustard seed’ of faith. Use it to move mountains and accomplish Your will to heal and deliver those needing freedom and salvation. I thank You and rejoice in You and Your great wisdom and words of knowledge and love.
Proverbs 23:12 “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”