Scripture reading for September 6th: 2nd Kings 18-19, 2nd Chronicles 32, Psalm 67, 1st Corinthians 9
1st Corinthians 9: 20-24 “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
Paul was countering false teachers who offered flashy credentials and were eager to get money from the people. Paul wanted to serve His Lord Jesus by offering the Gospel free of charge, although he had the right to get sustenance from preaching and teaching God’s Word. He wanted to have no one stumble or reject the message because they thought he was doing his ministry for money. Paul set his heart to win as many as possible to Christ by identifying with them in their cultural situation. To Jews, he spoke from the Law of God and went to the synagogue and temple. He related to the Gentiles with God’s truth in a way that they could receive it. He wasn’t a con artist or a play actor, but he sincerely tried to relate so that he could present the Gospel and bring the opportunity for eternal life. He preached to win the lost!
Psalm 67:1-2 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; leat all the peoples praise You!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the privilege of sharing the Gospel message with lost people and encouraging Your people with the Truth of Your eternal Word. You have shined Your face on us and been gracious to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I may be focused on winning the lost each day as You lead and direct me. I want others to share the blessings of the Gospel.
2nd Chronicles 32:7-8 “”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”
Scripture reading for January 14th: Genesis 26-27, Mark 10
Mark 10:13-16 “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.”
Everyone wants the blessing of God and longs for His approval and loving touch! In Jesus’ day, the disciples argued who was the greatest and Jesus took a child and held it in His arms. In this passage, the disciples were discouraging people from bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. They rebuked them for wasting Jesus’ time on those who they deemed ‘unimportant’. This aroused Jesus and He rebuked the disciples for their hindrance of the children. Jesus explained that the attitude of children and their parents to seek God’s blessing and touch was what the kingdom of heaven was all about. He took them in His arms and blessed them by placing His hands on them! The touch of God is the greatest blessing! God wants to bless His children with His indwelling presence, of much more value than the world’s treasures!
Mark 10:23 “And Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at His Words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.””
Faith confession: Father God, as a child myself, I desire Your blessing and Your touch on my children and grandchildren. Help me to bring them to You in prayer and to instruct them on the importance of Your blessing through Jesus Christ our Lord. Draw my children and grandchildren to desire and personally lay hold of Your blessing of eternal salvation through faith. Reveal to me any way that I may be hindering them.
Genesis 27:26-29 “Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you.”
Scripture reading for September 6th: 1st Corinthians 9
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 9:19-23 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
Paul went into detail concerning his own life of serving all people for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul clearly understood the importance of winning souls for Christ as his priority. He had a right to receive offerings and get support from the church, but limited his right and worked with his own hands to provide for his needs that he might not cause any to stumble. He lived under the law although freed from law-keeping that he might win Jews. He did not keep the Jewish law around Gentiles but lived under the law of Christ (love God and love people) in order to win them. Around those with weak consciences he became weak (although strong) to win them. He desired all men to be saved and share in the blessings of eternal life in Christ. He did this out of love and Christ’s call on his life to preach.
1st Corinthians 9:16-17 “For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your call to me to preach the Gospel. I willingly accept that call and want to freely share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Help me through the Holy Spirit to be a servant to all people that I might win some and enjoy sharing with them the blessings of eternal life with You forever and ever. As a steward, may I be found faithful.
1st Corinthians 9:26-27 “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Scripture reading for March 26th: Deuteronomy 27-31, Luke 12
Key Scriptures: Luke 12:27-31 “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat, and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Jesus called His disciples attention to the birds and the lilies of the field. God takes care of each of these, clothing them and feeding them. Man is much more valuable than these! God’s people should not worry about their daily needs, God knows about them and promises to supply! God’s people should seek His kingdom and all their needs will be met! God’s provision will run after them and overtake them!
Faith confession and prayer: Father, I trust You to meet all my needs for food, clothing and shelter as I pass through this life. I have set my heart to seek first Your kingdom, knowing Your blessing will follow after me! Give me open doors today to share Your kingdom and righteousness.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
Scripture reading for January 17th: Genesis 48-50
Have you ever been at the bedside of a loved one who was soon to enter eternity? Joseph or someone in the family took down Jacob’s last words to each family member. He gave a special blessing to Joseph’s two sons, Ephriam and Manasseh. He then spoke prophetic words over the other sons. (Genesis 49:9-20)
The blessing of Joseph’s sons effectively made Joseph the first-born. Israel blessed Joseph and adopted the boys. In this way, Joseph would get the double portion. ( The first-born was to get a double portion of the inheritance.) The other brothers had tried to kill Joseph and cut him out, but God re-established his place and doubled the inheritance! Israel also chose Ephraim over Manasseh. The younger over the older. All blessing and God’s reward comes not from birth order but Divine order!
Judah also received a word in Genesis 49:8-12. Judah was told that his brothers would praise him. (His name means “praise”.) His hand would be on the neck of his enemies and his father’s sons would bow down to him. He was called a “lion’s cub”. Jesus was the offspring of Judah in the genealogy of Matthew 1:3. He is known as the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) He triumphed over all God’s enemies! (Colossians 3:15) He is King of Kings and rules over nations! (Revelation 15:3-4)
Israel made Joseph swear to take his bones back to the promised land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). He believed in God returning to that land. He wanted to be buried there in order to receive his future inheritance. Israel got his wish and awaits the resurrection in the near future
“You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness–who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” Genesis 49:9-10.
Scripture reading for March 1st: Deuteronomy 31-34
I have often told the Lord that I would like to leave this world like Moses, strong and vigorous to the last! I am a person who likes action and wants to be busy doing God’s will. When my time comes to leave earth, I want to take one last look, and be gone! I want to have a successor who will carry on the work. I want to fight one last battle, give one last prophetic word, bless my church and family, and check out! That’s how Moses, the man of God ended his time on earth!
In Deuteronomy 31, we have the transfer of power and anointing from Moses to Joshua. Joshua had been faithful as a helper to Moses. He was by his side continuously. He went up on the mountain with Moses. He was one of the twelve spies and had a “good report” as a man of faith. Joshua was picked by the Lord to succeed Moses. (Deuteronomy 31:14, 23)
In Deuteronomy 32, Moses composed a song that would be a witness for the people. God revealed to Moses that the people would rebel and suffer God’s punishment. This song commends the greatness of God, as the Rock of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:3-4) It spells out again the curses that would come when they disobeyed the covenant. (Deuteronomy 32:20-26) The song promised compassion and healing for those who returned to the Lord and those who remain faithful. (Deuteronomy 32:36-43) Music has a way of getting into hearts and helping memory.
Deuteronomy 33 recorded the prophetic blessings on Israel and the tribes by Moses. These blessing tell of God’s love for His people. (Deuteronomy 33:3-5) The blessings in this chapter are filled with imagery from the recent wanderings. There is one that I regularly claim: “Most blessed of sons is Asher: let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.” (Deuteronomy 33:24-25) May that be true of you and me!
Moses ended his journey by climbing Mt. Nebo and getting a look at the promised land. After that, God buried him! (Deuteronomy 34:1-7) He was strong and vigorous and full of life to the last and he ever lives in God’s presence! In Scripture, he is last seen here on earth talking to Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration! (Matthew 17:1-3) I can’t wait to meet him someday!
Dear “People of Zion”,
As I look back on the week’s reading in Isaiah, God’s great understanding of individuals and nations and His control of history amazes me! God is on a throne, high and lifted up! He is worthy of worship and adoration! He has plans that He has brought to pass and others that await fulfillment. He raises up nations and leaders and brings them down just as easily. He is just and righteous in all He does and is always merciful to those who trust in Him and walk by faith.
Those who trust in Him are often call by the name: “People of Zion”. (Isaiah 12:6) Mt. Zion was the city stronghold of the Jebusites that was captured by King David. It became the “city of David”. It was here that God had His Temple built by Solomon and had His dwelling place among the Israelites in the promised land. Zion was a place that the Lord loved. (Psalm 78:68) It is the city chosen by God to install His King! (Psalm 2:6) The Lord’s blessing flows out of Zion to His people. (Psalm 128:5) God is laying a cornerstone in Zion that will be precious for His people! (Isaiah 28:16) It is a place that is loved by those who love the Lord! He is there and His presence makes that place more special than any other on earth!
In Isaiah 12, God is telling His people that they will be comforted from all their troubles and afflictions one day. They can trust in God and not be afraid. He is their strength and song, and has become their salvation. (Isaiah 12:2-3) With joy they will draw water from the wells of salvation in Zion. From Zion, they will make known what The Lord has done to save them. They will exalt His name among the nations. God’s program has always been world-wide in scope. They can sing and shout for joy because of God in their midst.
Wow! We are now people of Zion too! We can publish to the nations that our God saves. He is our strength and song. We have drunk the water from the well that never runs dry. God has done glorious things for us! He is great among the “people of Zion” because He lives in us today and forever!
Take time to reflect on Isaiah 12 and this city of Zion. What a way to find rest and confidence in our great God and the Cornerstone He has laid for us in Zion! (Isaiah 28:16)
In His Love, Pastor John