Scripture reading for August 19th: Hebrews 10
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 10:21-27 “. . .And since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving a knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and the fury of fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
Pastors, like parents, instruct those under their oversight in doing the right thing. Encouraging words that include us as well in the clear instructions: “Let us . . .”. Paul pointed them to their great High Priest, Jesus Christ Who had gone before them and now, seated at God’s right hand, was interceding for them. This was a time to ‘hold fast’ and ‘stir up’ others of like faith and to ‘meet together’ regularly. Jesus could return at any time! Today was the right time to get right and be about God’s business. However, the warning was also given. Willful sinning under the Old Covenant did not have a sacrifice that would cover it. The person willfully sinning must pay the penalty. The New Covenant in Jesus also warned that willfully continuing in sin when we know Christ Jesus and His sacrifice to free us from sin’s power and penalty can only result in judgment and being counted as an enemy of God. May this never happen to any believer!
Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of Grace?”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus Christ, my great High Priest! Through Him, I draw near to you and find cleansing from sin’s power and penalty. Give me grace today to hold fast to this truth and encourage my brothers and sisters to remain faithful and steadfast, meeting together for worship, prayer, Scripture and encouragement.
Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
Scripture reading for September 11th: Isaiah 49-52, Psalm 69, 1st Corinthians 14
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 14:1-4 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.”
As Paul wrote to the church concerning spiritual gifts, he emphasized that they should seek to prophesy above all the other gifts. Tongues builds up the individual who speaks. They allow the Holy Spirit to speak to God through them in mysteries. Prophesy speaks God’s thoughts in a known language and is profitable to the church. It builds up, encourages and comforts all members of the church since what is said can be understood by all. God is a God of order, not confusion. This doesn’t mean that tongues are unimportant. If they are interpreted, they serve the Church like prophesy.
Psalm 69:35-36 “For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it: the offspring of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name shall dwell in it.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Use me to build up Your church and be an encouragement to Your people through the gift of prophesy.
Isaiah 51:15-16 “I am the Lord your God, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the Lord of Hosts is His Name. And I have put My words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of My hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth, and saying to Zion: ‘You are My people.'”
Scripture reading for June 2nd: Acts 21
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Acts 21:10-11 “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'”
Paul received a prophetic word of knowledge concerning what would happen to him when he arrived in Jerusalem. This word was not meant to frighten Paul or the church, but to strengthen them all for the persecution that would surely come to Paul and also to them in due time. The initial reaction of the church was to try and persuade Paul to avoid the journey to Jerusalem. But Paul had already heard from God about this trip. He informed them that he was ready to go and even to die for Christ if this was God’s will.
Observations for over-comers: God uses His people to bring words of knowledge and prophetic utterances to strengthen and encourage believers. Over-comers listen to what God is saying and press on to do His will! “Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:18-19)
Scripture reading for October 28th: Titus 3:1-15
Paul concluded his short letter to Titus with an encouragement to preach and live out the word of God. Jesus Christ, our blessed Hope, would suddenly appear for those who were working and watching. ” These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility to all men.” (Titus 2:15-3:2)
Jesus was Paul’s example of true humility. Jesus left the glories of heaven to take human form, even being born as a baby! He lived a normal human life as God in the flesh in order to serve all mankind by revealing the Father. He humbled Himself by completely obeying His Father and offering His body and blood as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. God exalted Him to the highest place, giving Him the Name above all names! (Philippians 2:3-11)
Paul exhorted Titus to teach Jesus’ followers to show true humility to all men as Jesus did. As Jesus gave up the glories of heaven, Jesus’ followers were to give up the glories of man ruling his own life on earth. They were to submit to all rulers and authorities and be completely obedient. They were to be ready to give aide to those in need and do good deeds with their talents and possessions. They were to live in peace, being considerate of the needs of others. This demonstration of true humility was to be a way of life marking true followers of Christ! The reward of true humility was and is sharing Christ’s glory for eternity!
Paul instructed Titus to avoid foolish controversies and arguments about the law. “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful, he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11) Those not living in true humility and claiming to be part of the church needed to be dealt with. Pastoral ministry must humbly confront those dividing the body. Christ Jesus is coming to reward those living in the grace of true humility!
Scripture reading for October 25th: 2nd Timothy 4:1-22
Paul’s closing instructions to Timothy encouraged this young pastor to use a simple strategy of ministry. “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage– with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.” (2nd Timothy 4:2-4) There is never a season when the Word of God will not be appropriate. The Word is the complete prescription for correcting and encouraging the people of God. It is full of sound doctrine and if patiently taught is able to save and equip people for works of service and prepare them for the coming of the Lord.
However, in the last days, many will not receive sound doctrine. They want to design their own god and make their own spiritual program. People will find teachers that will tickle their ears with things that sound good to them, but are really false doctrines of demons. This teaching will only lead to bondage and death. Timothy was to keep his eyes on the Lord and the Word and fully preach the Word.
Paul, knew that his departure was near. He was ready to meet the Lord. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 4:7-8) Paul was soon to face the guillotine. He spoke of being poured out like a drink offering! Yet he also knew by faith that his head would wear a crown in glory! His journey through life was a fight of faith. He had finished well and was expecting a reward from his Lord!
Paul’s attitude and final instructions to Timothy model the way to victory for those still fighting the good fight. Death brings reward, and is nothing for the Christian to fear. We must continue to preach the Word and live by faith! The best is yet to come!
Scripture reading for August 21st: 1st Corinthians 14:1-17
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” (1st Corinthians 14:1-3)
As we seek to live in love, we can eagerly desire spiritual gifts. The one gift that Paul commends to these believers is the gift of prophecy. The gift of prophecy that Paul talked about was not the giving of personal words of knowledge or wisdom to individuals, but the gift of expounding God’s will and word in a manner that the church could understand. Prophecy always is in line with the word of God. It is intended by God to comfort or encourage the recipients and strengthen them for God’s service.
The Corinthians were evidently fascinated by speaking in other tongues. They were all speaking in tongues at once and people visiting their meetings were confused. Not all the tongues were being interpreted and this left the church without understanding of what was God was saying. This was not acting in the way of love! Paul told them to continue to speak in tongues for their own edification, but in the church to prophesy so that all might be edified.
According to Paul, we can and should pray and sing in other tongues. When a person prays or sings in another tongue, they are speaking by the Holy Spirit directly to God. This is a good thing. But in the church, people who do not have the gifts will not understand what you are saying. “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1st Corinthians 14:12)
If pubic tongues were given, they must be interpreted. Two or three could speak, one at a time and then one must interpret. In this way, all could be edified. When tongues were used with interpretation, the same effect as prophecy would occur. God would use that combination to give a sign to unbelievers and to edify believers. All could profit and order would confirm God’s presence to all. (1st Corinthians 14:13-17) Are you seeking the spiritual gifts? Do you seek be used to build up the body of Christ?
Scripture Reading for February 13: Numbers 9-12
In today’s reading, the Israelites are ready to move out from Mt. Sinai after receiving the ten big ones. They have just eaten the Passover meal on the first anniversary of leaving Egypt. They have been traveling and camping in the wilderness for a year now and are ready to go to the land of promise. What excitement must have filled their hearts as they prepared to follow the cloud of God to their new home! The tribes were set in order and the trumpets were ready to sound and call the people to move out. (Numbers 10:1-7) The Ark of God was carried by the Levites and went in the lead with the cloud overshadowing them. What a sight! Nearly 3 million people and animals moving through the desert!
Shortly after moving out from Mt. Sinai, the rabble began to cause trouble by murmuring and complaining. The rabble were people who lived on the fringes of the camp. They were often not true Israelites and were of mixed descent. They followed God’s people, but really did not have a relationship with this God of Israel. They experienced the miracles and deliverance, but weren’t really believers. When the manna got old, the wilderness got hot and dry, and the journey got long and tiring, these “rabble-rousers” began to cause trouble. They began craving the foods of Egypt, remembering that the food there was “free”. (Numbers 11:4-6) They were tired of the manna and let God and Moses know about it!
God sent fire, burning up some of this group and Moses prayed for them. (Numbers 11:1-3) The people began wailing and complaining and Moses became distraught with God for all the trouble. Rabble-rousers have a tendency to stir up a stink!
Life is no different today. There are those in the church who like to complain and belly-ache! They are not happy unless they stir up some trouble. Their pastor never does anything right. God has brought them to this point to let them die. They don’t like the music. They don’t like the youth pastor. The pastor’s wife is cold and aloof! Nothing is as good as it used to be with the last pastor! The sermons are too long, the drums are too loud, and the pastor walked right by me and didn’t say hello or shake my hand!
When we complain, we are actually accusing God of failure to take care of us and do right by us. This complaint makes God angry! (Numbers 11:10) The leader usually feels bad too. When things don’t go as you expect or desire, avoid the temptation to complain. Instead, pray for your leadership. Ask them how you might help them. Look for something good to say and encourage them. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Remember that rabble-rousers always end up taking the heat! (fire from God!)