Scripture reading for March 8th: Luke 4
Key Scriptures: Luke 4:42-44 “And when it was day, He departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them, but He said to them, “I must preach the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.: And He was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
After returning from the 40 days of temptation by Satan, Jesus proclaimed the anointing of the Holy Spirit on His life in His home-town synagogue. He was to proclaim “Good News” to the poor, liberty to the captives and oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind, announcing the year of God’s favor. The people there tried to stone Him, but He passed by untouched. He went to Capernaum and began to teach and heal and cast out demons. He tried going to a deserted place to be alone with the Father, but the crowds found Him and pressed Him to stay. He then announced that He must go to other towns and preach the Good News. This was the purpose that God sent Him to earth for and He was set in His heart to fulfill God’s will. More preaching in other places followed!
Matthew 11:4-5 “And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John (the Baptist) what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for doing God’s will and preaching the Good News to the poor like me. I have been given liberty and sight and walk with You in sharing the “Good News” of a merciful Savior Who cares!
Psalm 136:23-24 “It is He Who remembered us in our low estate, for His steadfast love endures forever; and rescued us from our foes, for His steadfast love endures forever; . .”
Scripture reading for April 11th: Luke 14:7-35
Jesus was eating at the house of a prominent Pharisee and they were watching Him very carefully. Jesus was also watching them! He noticed how they all tried to pick places of honor at the table. He used this setting to tell them about humility and warned them not to try and take the place of honor, but to take the lowest place. Then the host could place them where he wanted. This would be less humiliating than the host removing them from their seat of honor. Jesus put it simply: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)
Jesus also told the host, this prominent Pharisee, that when he had a banquet he should invite the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. This would bring blessing to his house, because God would repay him at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:12-15) This evoked a response from one at the table, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus answered this man with another story about a certain man who was preparing a great banquet and had invited many guests. When the appointed time for this banquet came, the servant was sent out to remind the invited guests of the feast. All the invited guests had excuses! One bought a field and must go see it. Another just purchased some new oxen to work his field and must try them out. Still another just got married and must be with his wife. This angered the host of this banquet, and he ordered his servant to go out into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame. He wanted his house to be full, but none of the invited guests who made excuses would have a place at his table! (Luke 14:21-24)
As we ponder this teaching of Jesus, we sense that the “certain man” is God! He invited the Jews to His banquet first, but many made excuses! These would be shut out, and God’s servants would be sent to the Gentiles! God’s house would be filled! The humble pay attention and respond to God’s invitation while the proud are left out. Remember, the lowest seat at His table is far better than being left out!
Scripture reading for August 3rd: Isaiah 58-62
Sin is man’s terrible predicament. Sin separates us from God so that He turns His face from us and will not listen to our prayers. (Isaiah 59:2) Man is totally depraved and every part of him is tainted with the ravaging effects of this horrible malady. We tend to think that we have just a little problem and that we are not so bad, especially when compared to others who are worse! Comparing ourselves with ourselves is a worthless pursuit!
Isaiah describes man’s total separation from God. His hands are and fingers are stained with the guilt of innocent blood. His lips have spoken lies and evil. His feet have carried him down crooked paths leading to murder and violence. Man walks in total darkness and gropes along like a blind man. He growls like a bear and moans like a dove because of his predicament. There is no deliverance and his sins testify against him. Man even acknowledges his rebellion against the Lord, lies, oppression and revolt but is helpless to change or deliver himself! (Isaiah 59:3-14)
Paul the Apostle summarized this predicament in Romans 3:23; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Not a single man is free from sin and it’s separating effects. All who have ever been born of woman, except for one, have this malady called sin. The final effect of sin is death. Death separates us from God for eternity.
Isaiah also records God’s feelings about man’s predicament. “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm worked salvation for Him and His own righteousness sustained Him.” (Isaiah 59:15b-16) God undertook to help man by His own “Arm”. This “Arm” would use His own righteousness to sustain Him while He purchased salvation for man from the sentence of eternal separation from God! Isaiah concludes this chapter with the Redeemer coming to Zion to deliver all who will repent of their sins!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Jesus Christ is God’s “Arm” and He alone can deliver us from our predicament. Those who repent of their sins and turn to Jesus will find the gift of eternal life!