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)
Scripture reading for January 5th: Matthew 3
John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, came on the scene when Jesus was nearly 30 years old. He preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and that all men needed to repent. John wore the clothes of a prophet and lived in the lonely places of the Judean wilderness. Matthew records that he was the one spoken of by Isaiah, “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.'” (Isaiah 40:3) Many people came and confessed their sins and were baptized by John in the Jordan River.
When the Saducees and Pharisees came to observe, John warned them of their need to repent and be baptized. He told them that having a genetic tie to Abraham was not enough with God. God was looking for fruit of obedience in each life and would judge all who had none! He also warned them that there was one coming after him who would be more powerful and honored. The “Coming One” would baptize men with the Holy Spirit and with fire, not just water! This One would gather in the faithful, but punish the wicked! (Matthew 3:11-12)
Jesus then appeared to be baptized by John. John recognized Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus was insistent and John baptized Him. As Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Him like a dove, and a Voice from heaven stated: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Water baptism is a step of obedience that all disciples should follow. But Jesus also is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit and Fire! Go after all He has for you!
Scripture reading for November 6th: Acts 1-4
I was saved as a young teenager in a little country Methodist Church in rural Iowa. I gave my life to Jesus but did not know about the Holy Spirit or His work on my behalf. I grew up, went to college, got married and began to build a family and farming business, still unaware of His presence and power. I rededicated my life and my wife got saved in our late twenty’s and we began to hear about the Holy Spirit. The people we were studying the Bible with were different. They had power in their lives and were full of joy. The talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit and we heard some of them praying in a different language. When we visited their church, we heard a message in a different language and then an interpretation! This was fascinating! We even heard them singing in other languages and it sounded like heaven!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
This experience began with a promise and command from Jesus right before He ascended into heaven. He ascended into heaven and two men dressed in white told the disciples that this same Jesus would come back in the same manner as He left them. They were to wait for the promise of the father as Jesus had told them! (Luke 24:49-53) This power from on high was sent from the Father to bless the disciples and enable them to do the work of God.
We all know what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The disciples were all together in the upper room and suddenly, the wind began to blow inside their room! Tongues of fire entered and rested on each one and they all began to speak with other tongues and glorify God. They went out from that room speaking in other languages telling the wonderful works of God. Peter stood up and preached and 3000 repented, were saved, baptized and told to receive this gift of the Father for power! (Acts 2:38-41) The church was born and powerful witnesses spread the Gospel throughout the world!
Let me encourage you to seek the Lord for this power. Simply ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:9-13) The Holy Spirit is our “helper” sent from the Father to live in those who believe on Jesus Christ. (John 16:7-15) He takes the Word of God and reveals it to us. He is our Counselor. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is with us to strengthen us and enable to be a witness. We receive Him when we repent and are born again. We are filled with Him when we seek the Lord Jesus for that power. May God fill you with His Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 5:18)