/Scripture reading for April 20th: Acts 11
Key Scriptures: Acts 11:19-25 “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the Word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord, So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.”
Luke now tells the story of how the Church spread out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The persecution after Stephen drove disciples outward, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit they preached the Word to Jews and increasingly to Gentiles. The Jerusalem church heard about the salvations and sent a trusted leader, Barnabas, to check it out. Barnabas was an encourager and was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He exhorted the new believers to stay faithful but then went and found Saul (Paul) and brought him there to help disciple these Jew and Gentile converts. For a year they met together and taught the Word of God. It was here that disciples were first call “Christians.” Paul got experience teaching the new Gentile converts that he would be increasingly involved with as God had commissioned him.
Acts 11:26 “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, making disciples of all men and teaching them to observe all that You taught is the mission of the church. Help Your church to keep the main thing the main thing. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and faith to fulfill Your mission.
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Scripture reading for November 9th: Ezekiel 37-39; Psalm 87; John 13
Key Scriptures: John 13:31-35 “When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Judas had just left the upper room to betray Jesus. Jesus announced His soon coming glory: His crucifixion death, burial and resurrection. By this, the Father would receive glory and the Father would glorify His Son–at once! Jesus told His disciples that where He was going they could not come. No other man could go through the experience that Jesus would go through for all mankind. He demonstrated the greatest love mankind would ever know and commanded His disciples to love one another. Love would be the most genuine proof to the world and the Church of discipleship.
Psalm 87:3 “Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.” Selah (pause and think about that)
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I give You glory for Your great sacrifice for me, a sinner and for all sinners. Out of thankfulness and the infilling of Your Holy Spirit, I will love my brothers and sisters and share Your glorious Gospel.
Ezekiel 37:24 “”My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one Shepherd. They shall walk in My rules and be careful to obey My statutes.””
Scripture reading for May 1st: 1st Samuel 20, 1st Chronicles 4, Psalm 56, 57, 142, Acts 14
Key Scriptures: Acts 14:19-22 “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”
Paul was stoned for preaching the Gospel at Lystra and left for dead. The other disciples gathered around him and prayed and he arose and entered the city. The crowd that stoned him had been stirred up by Jews from Antioch, their home mission base. This did not stop them from their mission! They continued to preach in Lystra and made many disciples there and even went back to Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the church members. They understood that persecution and tribulation was a part of kingdom opposition.
Psalm 57:2-3 “I cry out to God Most High, to God Who fulfills His purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege of preaching the Gospel and for persecution for the kingdom’s sake. Help me to boldly trust You each day for strength and help.
1st Samuel 20:3 “. . . But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”
Scripture reading for January 6th: Genesis 6-8, Mark 3, Psalm 104
Key Scriptures: Genesis 6:17-19 “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your son’s wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you.”
As God chose Noah and his family to make a covenant with and to bring into the ark for their salvation, so Jesus chose those who He desired to be with Him and to be sent out to preach and cast out demons. Our Lord is all-powerful and all-knowing. He has a plan to bring life and relationship with those who will respond to His invitation. He has a grand plan to save all those who will believe from eternal destruction. He calls disciples and sends them out.
Faith Confession and Prayer: Lord God, thank You for choosing to spare Noah and his family and the animals from destruction. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ to spare all mankind from eternal destruction and to call disciples to be with You–for eternity. Here I am Lord, send me!
Mark 3:13-15 “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles) so that they might be with Him and He might sent them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.”
Psalm 104:4 “He makes His messengers winds, His ministers a flaming fire.”
Scripture reading for June 1st: John 20:1-31
After witnessing the mockery of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion the disciples were filled with grief. They had left everything to follow Jesus and had been so full of joy at what they learned in His presence. They had heard Him tell them about going away and then they would see Him again, but they really did not understand. Now they felt hopeless, not knowing what to do next. But they had not seen the last of Jesus! He was not dead, but alive!
The women who were close to Jesus were the first to see Jesus alive. John tells about Mary Magdalene who had gone to the garden tomb while it was still dark. (Luke mentions “women”.) When she arrived, the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Mary Magdalene ran and told Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” (John 20:2) John records that he outran Peter, but Peter arrived and went in first to examine the tomb. There were the strips of cloth that had been used to wrap the body lying there. The burial cloth that had covered His head was neatly folded, separate from the linen. The body was gone. John records that he saw and believed. (John 20:8-9) They did not understand from Scripture about the resurrection, however. Jesus would later show them this!
After the disciples went back home, Mary stood there by the tomb, weeping. She looked back into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had laid. They asked her, “Woman why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put Him. At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.” Jesus spoke to her and she thought it was the gardener until He spoke her name, “Mary”. She was told to go and tell “My brothers” that Jesus was alive! (John 20:15-18)
Finally, Jesus showed Himself to the brothers, coming into a locked room without assistance. He showed them his hands and side. He spoke peace to their troubled souls and gave them a gift, breathing on them! “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (John 20:22) The second Adam was a life-giving Spirit!
Scripture reading for May 28th: John 17:1-26
John records Jesus’ longest prayer that was written in Scripture. This prayer is a wonderful example of the heart of the Son of God. It is very instructive for us and shows how thoughtful Jesus was and how He prayed His way through the cross and for those who followed Him.
First, Jesus prayed for Himself and declared victory by faith in a full completion of the work that the Father had given Him to do. “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.”. . . “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.” (John 17:1, 4-5) Jesus desired to be back in the holy presence of His Father. He asked His Father to glorify Him with the glory He possessed before the world was formed. He understood that the time had come to finish the work and through prayer, declared it done!
Next Jesus prayed for His own disciples. He had been given these by the Father and had systematically revealed the Father and His word to them. Jesus declared to His Father that these disciples had accepted His word and believed that Jesus came from the Father. (John 17:6-19) “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name–the Name you gave Me–so that they may be one as We are One.” (John17:11) Jesus cared for His disciples and asked specifically for their protection while they were in the world. Jesus had sent them into the world as He had been sent by His Father. The world would hate them and the ‘evil one’ would persecute them.
“My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.” (John 17:20-21) Jesus specifically mentioned all who would come to faith, including us! He prayed for our unity in relationship with the Holy Trinity. His ultimate request was that we would be in His presence for all eternity to behold His glory! (John 17:34) Wow! What a Savior!