Scripture reading for September 3rd: 1st Corinthians 8
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 8:7-11 “However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”
Paul was talking to the Corinthian believers who had come out of idolatry and found new freedom in Christ. Some were freely eating meat sacrificed to idols knowing that their eating had nothing to do with their salvation. This liberty was causing some of the believers, whose consciences were still weak, to stumble in their new-found faith. We can be right in our actions, but still be wrong if we cause others to stumble. The law of love says that I temper my actions and liberty to help and encourage my weaker brothers and sisters to grow in grace. I will do nothing that knowingly causes my brothers to stumble. Love never fails! Because of Christ’s love of all people and His desire for their salvation, we who have knowledge can limit our liberty to demonstrate our sincere commitment to Christ and build up weaker believers.
Romans 14:14-15 “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for declaring all foods clean and the liberty given by grace to believers. I am thankful for knowledge through Your Word but mindful of Your great love for all. Give me grace to know when to limit my liberty to help those who are still weak in their faith and not cause them to stumble. Fill me with Your love and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17-19 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”
Scripture reading for June 28th: Titus 3
Key Scriptures: Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
All believers have a past life. Paul described it in this passage and it is not very complementary. Paul says we were foolish, slaves, full of malice and envy and specializing in hatred and headed for God’s wrath and judgment. This was all that was possible in our sinful condition that we inherited from birth. But God through His Son, Jesus Christ, showed us His own goodness and kindness, leading us to repentance and faith. Through faith, not works, we gained mercy and were washed and renewed and filled with the Holy Spirit. God Himself, through Christ’s sacrifice, justifies all who believe and adopts them into His eternal family giving them an everlasting inheritance: the sure hope of eternal life! What a miraculous turn-around in our life and destiny because of God’s mercy in Christ! In response, we offer ourselves to God for His use in good works through faith.
Titus 3:14 “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great mercy and willingness to sacrifice Your own body on my behalf. Thank You for pouring on me and all who believe the Holy Spirit and revealing the hope of eternal life. In response to your great love, I give myself to You to be used as You will to accomplish Your great plan of salvation in all who will believe! To You be all glory, now and forever!
Romans 2:4-5 “Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Scripture reading for May 31st: Ephesians 6
Key Scriptures: Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Paul is closing his short letter with words of faith and encouragement. Believers are the strongest when they simply allow Christ and His Word to indwell them. Our strength is puny and weak in ourselves, especially when it comes to fighting against the schemes of wicked forces of evil in the heavenly realm. That fight is for God and His power and He has already won! We can stand firm in God’s victory through Christ by spiritually putting on the “whole armor of God”. Each piece of armor is a reminder of Jesus Christ and the finished work He provided on the cross to defeat Satan and the hosts of evil. After clothing ourselves with Christ, our armor is complete and all we do is stand in His total victory.
Romans 13:12 “The night is far gone; the day is at hand, So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my full armor! You are the Truth, my righteousness, the Gospel of peace for my feet, the Author and Finisher of my faith, my Helmet of salvation, and the Word of God made flesh, full of Spirit and life eternal. Give me grace to honor You as I stand secure in Christ’s finished work.
Ephesians 6:23-24 “Peace to the brothers and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Scripture reading for April 26th: Acts 15
Key Scriptures: Acts 15:36-41 “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the Word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilia, strengthening the churches.”
Even among strong believers there can come some sharp disagreements on methods and outreach partners. In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas were discussing the need to revisit the churches that they had founded on their first journey together. On that journey, John Mark had initially joined with them to help with the work, (Acts 13:5) but for some unknown reason deserted the mission to return home. (Acts 13:13) When Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again, Paul was opposed, so much so that they separated into two different missions. Thank God, Spirit- filled followers of Jesus can still have disagreements and be used by God!
Growing in grace is a progressive learning experience. We are all in process and this example from the apostle Paul’s life and ministry helps us understand that some things have to be worked through over time. Disagreements and differences of opinion are going to be part of ministry. Paul was not wanting to give John Mark another chance since he failed the first time. Barnabas, a natural encourager, saw the potential in John Mark and took him under his supervision on a separate outing. The church committed them both to God’s grace and sent them out. Ministry was multiplied and John Mark was restored. He eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark and was restored to Paul’s favor.
Romans 12:16-18 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live peaceably with all men, even in the sometimes sharp disagreement on methods and partners. May the grace of God fill my life with patience and restoration of those who have not met expectations.
2nd Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Scripture reading for March 2nd: Romans 16
Key Scriptures: Romans 16:17-20 “I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught: avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Paul’s final appeal to the Roman believers was a warning to watch out for people in Christ’s body who were divisive and created controversy and obstacles that would trip up others in the church. Paul warned the brothers to avoid such people. They were not serving the Lord Jesus, but using smooth talk and flattery to deceive those who were yet untaught or trained in sound doctrine. Paul desired these brothers to be wise and discerning for what was good, but to stay completely separated from those who were causing these divisions. Maintaining peace instead of constant arguing or disputing was preferred. God would take care of Satan soon as they walked with Jesus through this situation. He would be crushed under their feet!
Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothes but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Faith Confession and prayer: Dear Lord, give me discernment, strength and wisdom for what is good and keep me innocent from evil. Help me to avoid disruptive people and controversy. I believe that You will soon crush Satan under my feet as by grace I walk with You.
Romans 16:25, 27 “Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, . . . to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Scripture reading for March 1st: Romans 15
Key Scriptures: Romans 15:3-7 “For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written former days was written for our instruction, that through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragements grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Life isn’t supposed to be about me or centered on my will. Jesus demonstrated His own life lived out to please God and serve others in perfect submission and obedience. This took patience and endurance and for Jesus, the ultimate in suffering and sacrifice. Paul encourages the Roman Christians to follow Jesus’ example and gain encouragement from Scripture of the blessed hope that is ours in Christ. Paul prays that the “God of endurance and encouragements” would empower and make the way for harmony and unity among God’s people, that they may glorify God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. He asked that they would speak and live the Gospel of God’s love with “one voice,” welcoming others in the unity of Christ’s body. As Christ suffered to bring us into God’s unified Body, we may also have to endure suffering for others.
Psalm 69:9 “For zeal for Your house has consumed Me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Word and Holy Spirit that gives me endurance and encouragement today. Help me to live in perfect harmony with my brothers and sisters in the church. Use me to build Your Church and welcome others into fellowship and harmony.
Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.
Scripture reading for February 26th: Romans 14
Key Scriptures: Romans 14:1-4 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Judges determine guilt or innocence after hearing all the facts and witnesses. Judges pass sentence. God tells His people not to act as judges over other people in the matter of tastes or personal preferences. There were those in the church that were driving new believers out of fellowship because of their dietary standards concerning various foods. Some were strict vegetarians and others believed that they could eat anything if it was received with thanks to God. Food is not the main issue, but our hearts. Only God knows all the facts and truth in our heart. Be patient and kind, and allow God to do the judging!
Romans 14:10,12 “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; . . . . So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for being judgmental of others in trivial matters. Help me to give grace as I have received it from You. Help me to give a good account before Your judgment seat.
Romans 14:17-19 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by me. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
Scripture reading for February 24th: Romans 12
Key Scriptures: Romans 12:1-3 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God assigned.”
God’s will for each person is their transformation into the image of His Son that they might reveal His Son to the world. Our true worship of God is not just singing songs to Him. It is the dedication of our bodies as ‘living sacrifices’. It is also a decision of our will to see our minds and thought life transformed by study of God’s Word and will. This requires humility and sober thinking about what we believe and why. This worship is all by faith through God’s grace. God has given each one a measure of faith and we are to humbly offer our bodies and minds to worship Him now and forever. In doing so, we overcome evil with good–God’s ultimate will!
Romans 12:6-8 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I offer You my body to use as You will to reveal Your Son to this world. Thank You for the grace given me through faith to prophecy, serve, teach, and lead. May You be glorified!
Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”