Scripture reading for August 13th: 2nd Kings 15-16, Matthew 21
Key Scriptures: Matthew 21:42-46 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priest and the Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they held Him to be a prophet.”
Jesus ended His ministry telling some parables that revealed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They had been entrusted with the Word of God and should have been listening and applying God’s Word as spoken by the prophets and by Jesus, Whom the people understood was a prophet. Jesus warned that God would take the kingdom of God away from them and give it to those people producing the fruit of an obedient life of faith. Jesus was the “Stone” that the builders rejected. Those who fell upon Him would be broken, but those He fell upon in the final judgment would be crushed.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone are the Cornerstone of my life and I want to follow You and produce fruit. Help me to keep others from calamity at the final judgment by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, my Cornerstone!
2nd Kings 16:2 “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, . . .”
Scripture reading for August 25th: Ephesians 2
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Ephesians 2:19-22 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”
Because of God’s amazing grace extended to Jew and Gentile through His Son, Jesus Christ, we Gentiles have been brought into citizenship with God’s people, the Jews, and made a part of His household or family. Jesus, Himself, is the cornerstone of this new temple. The new temple is not a building, but a family of those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. Each believer is marked with the Holy Spirit as belonging God’s family and God lives in them through the Spirit.
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers live by faith that they are in God’s family and are the current dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. His perfect love casts out all fear of punishment or being left out! “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Scripture reading for November 10th: 1st Peter 2
As Peter, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote to persecuted and suffering Jewish Christians, he encouraged them with language that would speak to them from their heritage. He used the prophet Isaiah and the Psalms to paint a word picture that showed them God’s plan and their identity and purpose!
“As you come to Him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him–you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:4-6)(Isaiah 28:16)
God had given the nation of Israel a pattern for the temple. This temple was a shadow of the new “Temple” that He would build using “living stones”. The temple had a “cornerstone” that began the foundation of the building, insuring it was solid and true, horizontally and vertically. Jesus Christ was the “living Stone” of the spiritual “house” that God was building. He was rejected by men, specifically the Jews. However, He was precious to God, as His only and First-born Son. He, alone is the Cornerstone that is firm, straight, and true! All who trust in Him become “living stones” laid on the cornerstone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1st Peter 2:9) What encouraging words bringing identity and purpose to those suffering persecution!
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
Scripture reading for July 25th: Isaiah 28-30
Beer and alcoholic beverages have been a source of trouble from ancient times. Noah planted a vineyard after the flood and then proceeded to get drunk and exposed his nakedness. (Genesis 9:20-24) In today’s reading, the officials of Ephraim and Israel had a drinking problem. (Isaiah 28:1, 7) They were proud and thought they knew more than God. They were under a delusion and lie of the devil, which was likened to drunkenness. (Isaiah 28:15) They thought that their “religion” had made them immune to any foreign invasion or even correction and teaching from God. They were “good people” who were a part of “God’s chosen” and they had Abraham as their father! What more could God want?
Part of the delusion was false religion. The priest and prophets were “blinded” and “drunken” by their refusal to truly love and obey God from their hearts. They were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him! (Isaiah 29:13) Their worship of Him was merely rules taught by men, not in Spirit and truth! When we engage in false religion, we become drunk and delusional, but not with wine or beer! They thought that they were doing fine but were really lost and heading for judgment! (Isaiah 29:9-10) They could not understand God’s Word and His commands because their attitude of pride and self-sufficiency made their hearts hard! What a terrible condition to be in! In this state, they were worse off than an unbeliever because they were deceived!
God has strength for His people who are by faith trusting in Him. He has a solid Cornerstone that He has placed in Zion. It is a tested Stone that is precious and those who trust in this Stone will never be deceived or dismayed! (Isaiah 28:16) This Stone is a living Stone. (1st Peter 2:4) This Stone is none other than Jesus Christ who has become the living Cornerstone of the New Temple. We who trust and believe are resting on this Cornerstone and become living stones in His temple! Those who reject this Stone and stumble over Him do so because they disobey the message of God because of their pride and arrogance and hard hearts! (1st Peter 2:7, Isaiah 8:14) In repentance and rest on this Stone will be salvation for all who will trust in Him! (Isaiah 30:15)
The only sure foundation for our life today is to repent and rest on Jesus Christ and His finished work! False religion keeps us doing and trying to work our way into God’s favor. This is a lie and delusion that results in drunken deception! When we rest in Christ’s sacrifice, by faith through grace we are saved from false religion and the lie of trusting in our own work. What a place of quietness and confidence we have in Christ! Take time today and thank Him for His gift to you! (1st Peter 2:9-11)
Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ! Wow, another day of rest in a long week of activities! We so need the reminder to rest and be refreshed! I pray that you enjoy the best day of the week today!
As I reflect on the readings of this past week, one of the psalms comes immediately to mind. I wanted to write on it, but found nuggets in two other psalms for that day’s reading. The psalm is 118. The very center of the Bible, as far as number of verses, is Psalm 118:8: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man”. This really mirrors the theme of the entire Bible. This chapter occurs between the shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 117, and the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119.
This chapter is also the last of a series of psalms called the “Hallel”, which is the Hebrew word for “praise the Lord”! This series from Psalm 111-118 was read during Passover week and Psalm 118 concluded the Passover meal as the final cup was taken and the coming Messiah was anticipated. Jesus most likely would have read this psalm at the last supper with His disciples before He led them out to the Garden of Gethsemane. Let’s think about the words of this prophetic psalm in light of where Jesus would have read it.
The psalm begins with thanks to the Lord for His goodness and love. The psalmist records his anguish of crying out to the Lord and the Lord setting him free. (Psalm 118:5-6) He was convinced that the Lord was with him and that was all the help he would need in this painful situation. The psalmist is surrounded by the nations on every side, but in the name of the Lord he cuts them off. They swarmed around him like bees, but he cut them off again. (Psalm 118:10-12) He was about to fall, but the Lord helped him. He became his strength and song, and ultimately his salvation. The Lord’s right hand is lifted high and does mighty things! (Psalm 118:15-16)
The psalmist next proclaims that he will live and not die, but proclaim what the Lord has done! God had chastened him severely, but not given him over to death. He would proclaim what the Lord had done for him! He cries out to open the gates of righteousness which the righteous may enter and thank the Lord for His goodness and salvation. God, Himself, had become his salvation! The Lord, Himself had done this–what a marvelous sight! (Psalm 118:17-23) The cornerstone that the builders had rejected had become the chief cornerstone!
Psalm 118:24 declares that: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” The day was that day, beginning with sundown passover until the next evening. That day was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for our sins! He was not given over to death, only chastened severely by the Lord! The gate of righteousness was opened for all who would believe! The Lord did it all! It is marvelous in our eyes! Hallelujah!