Scripture reading for October 7th: James 3
Key Scriptures: James 3:5-8 “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
James understood the power of the tongue. He instructed the church in helping to bring the tongue under God’s control. Just as a bit is placed in the horse’s mouth to bring the beast under control of the rider, so we need a bridle on our tongues. A ship is a large vessel but it is guided through the waters by a small rudder. Our tongues can only successfully guide us if they are under the control of the Holy Spirit. But the untamed tongue is like a fire that can quickly spread to set on fire a whole forest or a deadly poison that poisons all it touches. Behind this untamed tongue is the fire of hell itself, says James. The deadly poison is hatred, envy, jealousy, partiality, cursing and strife. Human effort has tamed every bird and beast, but not this small entity called the tongue. Only God can bring it under control and use it to bless others and guide us through life.
James 3:9-10 “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, forgive me for the fires I have ignited by speaking unadvisedly and hastily. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and use me to be a blessing in my worship of You and my ministry of teaching Your Word to others. I realize the great responsibility and stricter judgment that comes from teaching Your Word.
James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Scripture reading for August 27th: 1st Corinthians 3
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid–which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
The Corinthians were very spiritually minded in some ways, but were carnally minded in others. Paul pointed out the divisions in the church body around certain teachers. He pointed out that this was worldly thinking for each person has an assignment from God and works to do. God is looking for those who are faithful in obedience. The Church is like a house with one foundation and cornerstone–Jesus Christ! Each person must be careful to follow Christ alone, and not idolize church leaders or any man. Our works will all be judged one day–on the Day of Christ at the judgment seat of Christ, where each person will receive reward (or suffer loss) for the deeds done in the body. This is not to determine salvation, but eternal reward in God’s Presence.
1st Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, forgive me for any division or harm I may have caused Your Body by exalting men or criticizing those in leadership. Give me grace each day to accomplish Your prepared works in a spirit of humility and grace. Help me to build with gold, silver or precious stones!
2nd Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
Scripture reading for October 7th: Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45, Psalm 133, James 3
Key Scriptures: James 3:6-10 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
James knew the power of the small tongue. He likened it to a fire, starting small but soon spreading to cover a whole life. He told how this fire was started in hell and by Satan. This fire is also like a beast that cannot be tamed. All creatures have been put under man’s dominion, but the tongue cannot be tamed. Evidence of this is that we can use our tongue to bless God and then in the same breath curse people made in God’s image. Only yielding our tongues to the Holy Spirit will tame the beast and put out the fire bringing peace and unity.
Psalm 133:1-2 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!”
Faith confession and prayer: I thank You that I can give my tongue to You as an instrument of unity and worship. Fill me with the Holy Spirit to bless Your Name and those made in Your image!
Jeremiah 35:13 “”Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction and listen to My Words? declares the Lord.””
Scripture reading for July 20th: 2nd Chronicles 19-20, 2nd Kings 1, Psalm 20, Matthew 3
Key Scriptures: Matthew 3:11-12 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was called by God to a prophetic ministry in Israel similar to that of Elijah. John, dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt, called all people to repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah. The repentance was acted out through water baptism by all who received his message. But John spoke of the One coming after him, Who would be greater than him. This One would baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire! He would gather His wheat into the barn but burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. The Messiah would be judge of all!
Psalm 20:6 “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer Him from His holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Purify my heart and life today and empower me to proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
1st Kings 1:8 “They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.””
Scripture reading for May 24th: Acts 15, Psalm 104, Proverbs 11
Key Scriptures: Acts 15:7-11 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.””
Jewish believers in Jesus wanted to demand that all Gentiles be circumcised in addition to faith in Jesus. Peter refuted them with the fact that God shows no favoritism in giving the Holy Spirit to Jew and Gentile who believed by His sovereign grace. Salvation is by grace through faith for all who believe with no strings attached.
Faith Confession: Lord, Thank You for Your saving Gospel and the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit. Empower me with the ‘wind’ and ‘fire’ of Your Holy Spirit to reach out to the lost today.
Psalm 104:4 “. . He makes His messengers winds, and His ministers a flaming fire.”
Scripture reading for December 11th: Hosea 14, Joel 1-2, Revelation 9
Key Scriptures: Revelation 9:18, 20-21 “By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths”. . . . “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
In John’s vision, the sixth angel blew his trumpet and four bound angels were released near the great Euphrates river. The fact that they were bound implies that they were under God’s judgment and control. Their task was to initiate a judgment on earth that would kill a third of earth’s population. This was done by fire, smoke and sulfur. After a third were killed, the rest of earth’s inhabitants still did not repent of idolatry or immorality and other terrible sins against God and man.
Joel 2:1-2 “Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!”
Prayer: Lord Almighty, help me to sound the alarm and share the good news of a way of salvation for all mankind who will repent. I know that this day is coming, for Your word is true! Amen.
Scripture reading for November 2nd: Jeremiah 34-36, James 3
Key Scriptures: James 3:6-9 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”
James, pastor of the Jerusalem church and half-brother of Jesus Christ, loved to give practical wisdom to God’s people. He cautioned them concerning the tongue. Our speech gets us into trouble with God and others. We cannot tame the tongue ourselves. Only God by His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit can enable us to speak righteously and obey Him.
Jeremiah 35: 15 “I (God) have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying “Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers. But you did not incline your ear or listen to Me.”
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for using my tongue to do evil and harm others. Help me to listen to You and live by faith in every Word. Amen.
Scripture reading for January 3rd: Genesis 8-10, Matthew 3
Key Scriptures: Genesis 8:14-17,20 “In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh–birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” . . . “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
The Lord gave Noah instructions upon entering and now upon leaving the ark. God’s Word was critical to success in escaping the destruction of the flood and now in entering a new world, washed from violence by the flood. Noah and his family built an altar to worship God and offer acceptable sacrifices. When God smelled the offerings, He was pleased and made a covenant with Noah, promising blessing and no more water judgment! Baptism is a symbol of water judgment on sins!
Matthew 3:1, 11-12 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”. . . “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His and, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for clear instructions to our forefathers warning of coming judgment and taking them through. Cleanse my heart, by Your Holy Spirit, and make it an altar where You dwell and we meet each day. Amen.
Scripture reading for December 19th: Revelation 14
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Revelation 14:14-16 “I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a Son of Man,” with a crown of gold on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. The another angel came out of the Temple and called in a loud voice to Him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take Your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who was seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested.”
Revelation 14 ends with a description of two harvests. These Scriptures describe the first harvest and apparently Jesus Christ as the One with the sickle who is told by an angelic messenger to “reap”. With that command, the earth will be harvested! But this chapter continues with the description of another angel who also has a sickle and a companion in charge of the fire. This angel is commanded to reap the clusters of grapes from earth’s vine, which were ripe, and throw them into the wine-press of God’s wrath! The righteous are gathered to God and the wicked will go to judgment!
Observations for over-comers: There are only two possibilities for each person after life on earth is over: eternal life in God’s presence through Jesus Christ or eternal wrath in the Lake of Fire. “Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the wine-press is full and the vats overflow–so great is their wickedness!” (Joel 3:13)
Scripture reading for March 9th: Luke 4
Key scriptures for over-comers: Luke 4:42-43 “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them. But He said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.“”
Jesus based all His ministry on prayer. He often withdrew from the crowd and His own disciples to seek the Father’s will and direction. People were motivated by His ministry to seek Jesus out. They tried to keep Him with them and begged Him to stay with them longer.
But Jesus had a good grasp on the mission given Him by the Father. He must seek out and save lost people and give all a chance to see and hear about the kingdom of God and the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins. (Luke 19:10) He did not let crowd pressure determine His agenda, but followed the Father’s plan to reach out to all men. He set an example for all His followers and for us today! God chose the foolishness of preaching to save those who would believe! (1st Corinthians 1:21)
Observations for over-comers: We must be careful of crowd pressure and the desire to please men. Prayer and obedience to God’s call to preach the good news must always take precedence! “”. . .but let the one who has My word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. “Is not My word like a fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29)