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 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.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.”
Scripture reading for February 23rd: Romans 11
Key Scriptures: Romans 11:19-23 “Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
Paul used the example of an olive tree to describe the Church and the true spiritual Israel. The Jews were natural branches that were cut off because they refused to accept Jesus the Messiah. The Gentiles who by faith received Christ were wild olive branches that were grafted into the tree that is the symbol of true believers. They stood in their place because of faith and by faith they would continue. Those natural branches were cut off because of unbelief, but God desired to graft them in again if they would believe. God’s kindness is towards believers and His severity towards those refusing to believe. He desires to show mercy to all and see them saved but they must repent and believe in Jesus.
Romans 11:30-31 “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”
Faith confession and prayer: Thank You Lord for your patience and kindness shown towards me and all the unbelievers. I stand in faith and holy fear. Use me today to share the good news of Your kindness and mercy through Jesus Christ.
Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.”
Scripture reading for February 22nd: Romans 10
Key Scriptures: Romans 10:8-13 “But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart? (that is, the Word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.””
Our salvation, whether Jew or Gentile, is based on faith. We believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and God gives us His righteousness. This puts everyone on the same level ground. God is not partial to a certain race or a particular group or religion. God looks at the heart of each person and can see faith or unbelief. This is not just an intellectual process where a person acknowledges with his mind. He listens to each person’s words of confession and knows if the “Jesus is Lord” comes from the heart. When faith is found, His riches are freely given to everyone who calls on His Holy Name!
Psalm 145:1-2 “I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your Name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise Your Name forever and ever.”
Faith confession and prayer: I believe with all my heart in Jesus Christ, Son of God. Jesus Christ is my Lord! Help me to clearly proclaim the way of salvation to all who You put in my path. May the Lordship of Jesus be visible in my attitudes and actions as well as my words.
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”