Scripture reading for February 20th: Mark 9, Psalm 37, Proverbs 6
Key Scriptures: Mark 9:42-44 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great mill-stone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled that with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”
Jesus taught His disciples plainly about sin and its consequences. Jesus plainly believed in a literal “hell” where there was unquenchable fire. He also talked about worms eating on those who went there. Hell is the place reserved for unrepentant sinners. Sin is so serious, according to Jesus, that it would be better to surgically remove members of your body, such as limbs or eyes, causing sin to avoid it than to keep them and end up in hell eternally.
Faith’s confession: Lord, I believe Your warning about sin and its ultimate consequence: hell. I ask You to give me discernment and warning by Your Holy Spirit to keep me from sin. I heed Your Word, which is truth.
Proverbs 6:32-33 “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.”
Scripture reading for December 28th: Revelation 13-18
Key Scriptures: Revelation 18:2, 4-5 “With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, My people so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.”
Babylon, in Scripture, represents godless and humanistic government. This is a world system dominated by Satan and his fallen angels, the demons. After being cast out of heaven, the world system is completely taken over in the last part of the tribulation. God calls His people of every generation out of this system and promises to judge it, repaying all who have persecuted His people!
God calls His people out: “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; He will pay her what she deserves. Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad. Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.” (Jeremiah 51:6-8)
Scripture reading for January 27th: Matthew 19
“Some Pharisees came to Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3) Divorce was easy in the time of Jesus. If a Jewish man found disfavor with his wife for almost any reason, he could write her a certificate of divorce and send her away. The religious leaders went to test Jesus to see if He agreed with them.
“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) Jesus pointed these preachers back to God’s original design. They were made ‘male and female’. There was purpose in the physical design to enable them to come together in a unique and pleasurable way. Marriage was to be between a man and a woman made one flesh for life and procreation!
Jesus went on to say that Moses only permitted divorce because of hard hearts. God’s plan was for marriage to be for life. Jesus stated that the only exception to staying married was adultery. If a person divorced for any reason other than adultery and married another person, they were committing adultery. (Matthew 19:9)
Many in our culture and the church today have divorced their mates for many reasons and married others. There is a great need to repent of the sin of adultery and covenant breaking. This sin affects the children in cruel ways that opens the door for offense and separation from God. Covenant marriage is the foundation of the church.
Scripture reading for January 14th: Genesis 37-40
The story of Joseph is a fascinating one! He was a dreamer and the youngest of 11 brothers. He was his father’s favorite and probably a little spoiled. He had unusual dreams that caused him trouble with his brothers! Because of sharing his dreams, Joseph was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.
In his new role as servant to a wealthy Egyptian, Potiphar, he was noticed by his master’s wife. One day when Potiphar was gone, Joseph was propositioned by Potiphar’s wife: “Come to bed with me!” Joseph’s response was full of truth and godly wisdom: “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:6-9) This happened day after day and Joseph continued to refuse her advances.
Adultery is a sin! It is a sin against God and another person made in God’s image and joined as one to their spouse. God hates sin and this sin causes lying, jealousy, hatred, violence and ultimately death. Adultery sows violence in a relationship and destroys marriages and affects children. (Malachi 2:13-16)
Joseph gives us some very practical advice about how to escape temptation. Our first line of defense is our feet! If we would just quickly remove ourselves from the temptation, how much easier we can resist! When we linger and begin to reason, we will always be defeated! Running away may seem cowardly but it is better than the mess caused by sexual sin!
“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants were inside. She caught him by the cloak and said, “come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” (Genesis 39:11-12)
“Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed should be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)
Scripture reading for December 26th: Revelation 17:1-18
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”” (Revelation 17:1-2) John was carried away in the Spirit to a desert where he saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. She held a golden cup full of “abominable things and the filth of her adulteries”. This woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and had a name on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:4-5)
This woman and beast were a picture of something God wanted to share with John and the Bride of Christ, the Church. The many waters that the prostitute was sitting on represented peoples and multitudes and nations that would not repent but followed the beast and received his mark. This beast would come up from the Abyss and go to his destruction. He was the one with seven heads and ten horns. The angel told John that the seven heads were seven hills where the woman sat. The ten horns were ten kings who would rule with the beast for a short time: one hour. These ten kings would give their power to the beast to make war against the Lamb. The Lamb would defeat them with His faithful followers! (Revelation 17:8-14)
“The beast and ten horns (kings) you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” The woman (great prostitute) was the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. The readers of John’s day would have understood Rome as the city of ‘seven hills’. This ‘city’ is a picture of a humanistic world system that hates God and rules the world in the last days. God will fulfill His Word!
Scripture reading for August 22nd: Ezekiel 20-23
Confronting sin in lost people was the job of the prophet and preacher. They faithfully declared what God had spoken plainly to those whose souls were in danger of His eternal wrath. That wrath is happening continually and it is also an eternal thing that will happen to all who die in their sins on the day of judgment. (Romans 1:18-19) (Romans 2:5) God loves each lost person enough to confront him before He judges him. In fact, He has stated that He will not send His wrath without revealing his plan to the prophets. (Amos 3:7) This is part of God’s great mercy that seeks to draw people to repentance.
Ezekiel was told to confront the people of Jerusalem with all of their sins. (Ezekiel 22:1) Sacrificing their children in the fire to the false idols was bringing God’s wrath! Ezekiel pointed out mistreatment of fathers and mothers by children and mistreatment of the alien and orphan as reasons for the coming destruction. The people had despised the holy things and desecrated the Sabbath as a day of worship and rest. (Ezekiel 22:7-8) Adultery, incest, and lewd sexual conduct were hastening the day of wrath! Excessive interest was being charged and people were extorting money from the weak and powerless.
God also confronted the priests who were doing violence to God’s law. They were calling evil, good and good, evil. They did not help people to discern between what was holy and profane. They whitewashed their evil deeds by giving the people false visions and lying divinations. They claimed the the Lord had spoken when He had said nothing of the sort! (Ezekiel 22:26-28) God looked for one man to stand in the gap on behalf of the land so He would not have to destroy it, but found none! (Ezekiel 22:30-31)
In these last days, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to stand in the gap for all lost men and women! God confronted sin on the cross by laying all sin on Jesus Christ, who was the offering for our sins! He now gives all people opportunity to repent and be delivered. His love through the Gospel of Christ brings conviction and salvation to those who will humbly receive it. If you have received God’s grace through Christ, stand in the gap for someone who is in need of His grace! The rewards are eternal!
Scripture Reading for February 8th: Leviticus 18-20
God talks about sex and all it’s perverted variations in these chapters of Leviticus. He tells His people that they are not to have sexual relations like the nation of Egypt where they were enslaved. God’s people are to live differently from the world. God’s laws about sexual conduct are designed to bring about a holy people who have children who will be blessed by God with His presence and power through a relationship with Him.
Honor is important in sexual relations. Incest dishonors your father or mother and you if you initiate it. God also states that it is wickedness. (Leviticus 18:17) Sex with another man’s wife (adultery) defiles you! (Leviticus 18:20) Sex with the same sex, homosexuality or lesbianism, is “detestable” to God. (Leviticus 18:22) Sex with an animal (bestiality) is perverted! (Leviticus 18:23)
When you commit any of these sins, God says that you defile the land where you live. God states that this defilement causes that land to “vomit” out people who do these sins! (Leviticus 18:24-28) In fact, this is why God has destroyed all of the great civilizations up to this point in history! This makes me afraid for the land we live in today. When will our land begin to “puke” out those who are committing sins of incest, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and bestiality? We may appear to get by but the consequences of sin always find us out. (Numbers 32:23)
God’s people are to be markedly different! They are to be holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) This holiness is to be walked out in love and respect for God’s laws and in our conduct towards others. Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments! (John 15:10) The other laws of Leviticus 19-20 give details about our conduct that could be summarized as “love your neighbor as yourself”. (Leviticus 19:34) The two great commandments taught by Jesus are: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself!” (Matthew 22:37-39) We find their basis here in the book of Leviticus among the laws for sexual purity for the nation of Israel!
Please pray for our nation! If God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, He will surely judge us! The earth may be ready to vomit! “And if you defile the land,(with these sexual sins) it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” Leviticus 18:28
Scripture reading for January 27th: Matthew 19, Psalm 18:30-42, Proverbs 5:1-6
Marriage is an institution that God created Himself with a purpose. A marriage between a man and a woman was to provide companionship for both the man and woman throughout their lives. God determined that it was not good for Adam to be alone and that he needed a suitable helpmate. (Genesis 2:18-25) Marriage was also for procreation and the raising of godly children who would know and serve God. (Malachi 2:15-16) God knew that this could best be done by a man and a woman in a covenant relationship. Their love for each other and God would provide an environment that the children could learn about His love for them.
But sin entered the world through the first couple, Adam and Eve. They decided that they could do life by being like God themselves and disobeying His one command to them. This brought death to their relationship with God and strife to their own relationship. Work had sweat and toil and childbirth had pain. There was tension between them because they both wanted to be in control and God had set an order in the home. The man was to be a priest and protector but sin marred his ability to do that right. The result was broken families, multiple marriages, fighting and bickering and children who were not raised to fear God! God’s heart was broken for the children that should be His and take His glory to the world!
Jesus was asked a question to trap Him concerning divorce! “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that God made them male and female,” and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)
God’s design was clearly stated by Jesus Christ. He strongly advocated marriage, between a man and woman (not two men or two women!) God joins them together and man should not separate what He has joined. Jesus went on to teach that Moses allowed divorce because of hard hearts, not God’s design. The only exception given where divorce was allowed was adultery. Let’s pay attention to God’s design!
Scripture reading for October 5th: Malachi 1-4
Malachi was the final voice of a prophet in the era of the Old Covenant. After him, God was silent for 400 years until John the Baptist came on the scene. Malachi was like a street preacher of his day. He would go out where the people were and ask questions of them. He loved to pose questions and then answer them. With this style he sought to provoke God’s people to repent and do what God had commanded and required.
There were several issues that Malachi hit hard in his preaching. One issue concerned the priests who were sacrificing blind, crippled and diseased animals. God was and is holy and He demands pure sacrifices; His priests were dishonoring Him. (Malachi 1:6-14) God is a great king who is worthy of our best!
Another issue was priests who were breaking their covenant vows with their wives and also with God, Himself. They were sacrificing to God on the Sabbath, but then going up to idol temples, sacrificing to idol gods and having sex with the temple prostitutes. God was watching and angry! He warned them through Malachi that this practice would defile them and sow violence and divorce into their homes. (Malachi 2: 11-16) This also dishonored God and broke their vows to Him as well! This behavior hinders the development of godly offspring, God’s plan for covenant marriage.
God warned them as well of another evil practice. The law of God strictly forbids stealing but these people were stealing from God. They were not giving God their tithes, bringing them under a curse. The devourer was eating their crops and taking away their sustenance. (Malachi 3:8-12) The remedy was simple–return to God by bringing Him His tithe! God tells them that they can test Him in this, the only place in Scripture where testing God is allowed or encouraged! God promises to open the windows of heaven for those who honor Him with the tithe! He will also rebuke the devourer and bless their provisions.
God was going to send His messenger of the covenant to His temple. He would be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap, purifying the Levites. This process would bring about righteous obedience in the offerings and personal behavior. Who could stand when this “messenger” comes? God was going to be quick to testify against those involved in sins of adultery, perjury, sorcery, and oppression of orphans and widows! (Malachi 3:1-8) The people better prepare for this messenger and the refining fire! This fire would reduce those who opposed the Lord to ashes but the righteous would go free! (Malachi 4:1-3)
Malachi had a message that still rings true today for us. Jesus is coming! He is coming with fire this next time. Those who believe in Him will have their works tested by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Those who oppose Him will be defeated by fire and eternally judged by fire! We need to heed the time and return to the Lord before time runs out!