Scripture reading for April 15th: Judges 19-21, Acts 2
Key Scriptures: Acts 2:36-39 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.””
Peter, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, preached to a crowd gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. He declared Jesus Christ as Lord and Christ. Those who heard him were convicted and asked what they could do. Peter gave clear instructions: “Repent and be baptized.” He also instructed them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was for all who believed in Jesus and repented of sins, even Gentiles! This was prophetic preaching and three thousand were saved and baptized that day. Doing what was right in God’s eyes brought salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, You alone are my King, Lord, and Christ! Help me today to share this good news in the power of the Holy Spirit. I trust You to bring conviction and draw people to Christ Jesus. I know obedience to the Gospel brings salvation and eternal life.
Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Scripture reading for April 5th: 1st Kings 16-19
Key Scriptures: 1st Kings 17:21-24 “Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive.”
Elijah, the prophet of God, had been staying at a Sidonian widow’s house during the famine in Israel. She had a son that became ill and died. She accused Elijah of having something against her. Elijah gathered her son in his arms and took him to his upper room. There he interceded with God for the boy’s life! God graciously answered with a type of resurrection!
Thankful for resurrection: Lazarus, Jesus’ friend had died. Jesus confronted the force of death with compassion and vision! “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies: and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes Lord,” she told Him, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:25-27)
Scripture reading for August 4th: 2nd Corinthians 5
Paul was writing to his beloved church family in Corinth. He had encouraged them to live by faith in Jesus Christ and expect some persecution and suffering, possibly even death! They were to have no fear because of the sure promises of Jesus! “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2nd Corinthians 5:1) Death is not the end, but a new beginning of our eternal dwelling that Jesus went ahead to prepare for us. We have God’s promise in the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us, preparing us for that purpose!
Because of our guaranteed future home in heaven and our coming new body, we make it our goal to please our Lord by finding out what pleases Him and doing that! Without faith, we cannot please Him! (Hebrews 11:6) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11)
God will reward each believer at the judgment seat of Christ for their works motivated by faith. This should cause each believer to have a holy fear of Christ. We are motivated by His love and Word to obey His command to reach the entire world and especially those God puts in our path! “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2nd Corinthians 5:14-15)
Scripture reading for December 19th: 1st John 1-5
John wrote this letter to the church to counter some false teachers called “gnostics” who were saying that Jesus was just a spirit. They denied that Jesus Christ came in a human body. Since they believed that the body was not “spiritual”, it didn’t matter what was done in the body. To them, there really wasn’t any sin a person could commit in the body.
But Jesus was a man and lived in obedience to the Father. Jesus calls all men to repentance. Breaking God’s law is sin and we must confess and repent. (1st John 1:8-9) If we say we have no sin, we are living in deception, just like the false teachers.
We can not separate the actions of our spirits and bodies, doing what we please here on earth and still expect God’s mercy! John used a word to describe these false teachers who worked among God’s people. He called them “antichrist”. (1st John 2:16) These teachers were proposing an alternative Christ that was simply a spirit. This false teaching took people away from Christ.
The early church knew about “the Antichrist” who was to come in the last days. He would be a world ruler who would deceive many with false signs and wonders. (2nd Thessalonians 2:8-11) Paul described him as the “man of lawlessness”. John further stated that many “antichrists” had already gone out into the world at the time of his writing. These false teachers had come from within the church but left the church.
“Antichrist” is a term that literally means “one set over against Christ”. In our language today we would likely use “counterfeit” to describe them. They use the name of Jesus Christ but live in rebellion to what Jesus actually taught and stood for. They were legalistic and manipulative and lacked the love of the Lord.
The best remedy against deception is to know the real thing and be filled with the Holy Spirit. John told his readers that they had an anointing that would teach them all things. (1st John 2:20, 27) The One who lived in them was greater than the deceiver in the world! (1st John 4:4) Take a moment today to reflect on the truths of John’s epistle. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with His anointing. Confess that the greater One lives in you!
Scripture reading for May 13th: John 7:31-53
After delaying His appearance at the Feast of Tabernacles, halfway through the celebration Jesus appeared in the Temple and began to teach there. His teaching amazed many and caused much discussion about who Jesus was. Some tried to seize Him and others put their faith in Him. (John 7:30-31)
It was during this last day of the Feast, that Jesus came to the Temple. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If any one is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to later receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39)
On the last day of this feast of Tabernacles, it was the custom to draw large jars of water from the Pool of Siloam and to pour them out before the Lord, celebrating how Moses brought water from the rock in the wilderness to refresh God’s people. This was done in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, who would take them to their ‘Promised Land” and provide food and eternal refreshing. In this context, the Jews who heard Jesus would have paid attention. Some thought that they had heard a great prophet, and others thought the He was the Christ. (John 7:40-41)
As we look at this prophetic word from Jesus, we now know that Jesus was speaking of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who would put their faith in Him as the Messiah. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church and each believer received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4) Out of their mouths flowed a new language of praise to God and power to be witnesses to all the world. This gift empowered the Church to live fruitfully and to be ready for the coming of Jesus Christ at any time.
We are all just passing through this life, the world is not our home! We have been given rivers of living water to bring refreshing to those who will hear! The King is coming soon! Let those waters flow here in this wilderness!
Scripture reading for December 11th: Hebrews 1-2
What is God like? God is a spirit and we are not equipped naturally to see or understand the character of a spirit-being. God sent His first-born Son, Jesus Christ to fully reveal His character. As we look at Jesus and His completely humble and obedient character, we can begin to know and understand God. The writer of Hebrews opens his letter with a wonderful statement about Jesus.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3
Jesus Christ is God’s last word for us. You might look at it like this. In the Old Testament times God spoke the language of “prophet” at various times and in various places. In New Testament times, God speaks “Son”. His Son is His exact representation. His Son made the universe! His Son sustains everything with His powerful word! If you really want to know about God, then look to Jesus and listen to His word. It is truth and full of power!
Not only is Jesus Christ the creator and sustainer of all that is, He also made purification for sins. His life of total obedience and reverent fear of the Lord made Him the only one capable of being a sacrifice for our sins. He willingly and obediently obeyed His Father and offered His body and blood to atone for sin. His sacrifice was sufficient and provides the only way to be cleansed from sin.
After offering Himself on the cross and tasting death for us, He was buried in a tomb. On the third day, He rose from the dead. He ministered for forty days to his amazed disciples and over 500 other followers before ascending to heaven on a cloud. Once there, He was seated at the right hand of the Majesty of God the Father. He took the place of the exalted first-b0rn Son of God. He is seated because His work is finished. He is there to intercede for us until He comes again for us.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15
This is the last word from heaven for us! We are free from the fear of death and the devil because of Christ’s death! May God have the “last word” in your life today and every day!