Scripture reading for May 20th: Galatians 5
Key Scriptures: Galatians 5:13-15 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but though love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
There was conflict in the Galatian church between the Jewish false teachers and the believers. Both sides were conceited and judgmental of one another and lacked love, a basic fruit of the Holy Spirit. Paul instructed them on those attributes that were not of God, warning them that those who practiced the works of the flesh would not inherit the kingdom of God. He encouraged them to keep in step with the Holy Spirit Who lived inside them. The Spirit’s fruit would effectively deal with the flesh and those still trying to earn righteousness through law. In fact, loving your neighbor as yourself fulfils the whole law of God! The Spirit of the Lord brings God’s love and true freedom!
Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; Against such things as this there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Fill me again today with Your Spirit and let love for my neighbor and for You flow out of my life in every relationship and contact, to Your glory! I want to keep step with the Spirit today and walk in the freedom of fulfilled law.
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Scripture reading for September 18th: 2nd Kings 21, 2nd Chronicles 33, Psalm 71, 2nd Corinthians 3
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 3:15-18 “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord Who is Spirit.”
Paul explained that the Old Covenant Law came with a fading glory. Moses had to put a veil over his face so that the fading glory would not be visible to the Israelites. Their hearts were hard and the Law brought death. But now the New Covenant of eternal life through the Holy Spirit brings life and access for each believer into the Holy of Holies to behold Jesus. We have freedom to enter through the Spirit and Jesus’ blood covering our sins. The veil was torn from top to bottom when Jesus cried: “It is finished!” We are all being transformed by Jesus’ glory into His image by the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!
Psalm 71:19 “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You Who have done great things, O God, Who is like You?”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for purchasing my freedom to enter Your presence and behold Your glory. Transform me today by the Holy Spirit into Your image. Let the glory increase to Your eternal glory!
2nd Chronicles 33:12-13 “And when he (Manasseh) was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to Him and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”
Scripture reading for September 4th: 2nd Kings 18-19, 2nd Chronicles 32, Psalm 67, 1st Corinthians 9
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 9:19-22 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but being under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
Paul carefully explained his heart of serving others who were different than himself. He identified with them in their unsaved state so as to be able to share with them the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ that they might be saved. He had great freedom in Christ, but limited his own freedom to reach those lost in sin and cultural idolatry. Paul sought to imitate his Master, Jesus Christ, who came to seek and save the lost.
Psalm 67:1-2 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His Face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations.”
Faith confession and prayer: Thank You Lord for the freedom from condemnation and judgment I experience in Jesus Christ. Help me to limit my liberty as You direct to reach those still in bondage and see them saved.
2nd Chronicles 32:8 “”. . . . .with him (the king of Assyria) is the an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”
Scripture reading for July 16th: 1st Corinthians 8, Psalm 141, Proverbs 17
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 8:9-13 “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
Christ Jesus delivers us from bondage to the Law and gives us His law of love. We are to love God fully and love our neighbor as our very self. Paul taught what this looked life for him in the culture of idolatry he lived in. He was free in Christ to eat anything, but did not want to cause any new believer or potential believer to stumble and return to idolatry. He limited his ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ in Christ for the sake of the salvation of others. This is love in action as the Holy Spirit leads.
Faith Confession: I can limit my liberty in Christ as the Holy Spirit directs in order to help weaker believers or potential converts. Help me today to love others as You do in this time and culture.
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”
Scripture reading for July 15th: 1st Corinthians 7, Psalm 140, Proverbs 16
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 7: 20-24 “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bond servant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bond servant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bond servant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bond servants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”
Paul was teaching the Church concerning the culture of the society in which they lived. Slavery was common and Christ Jesus does set each person free from the bondage of sin. But Christ does not demand that we immediately change the culture we live in. He works from the inside out, freeing each person as they repent and respond to His Word and grace. Each person should remain where they are in the culture and allow God to use them to bring light and truth, always walking in the liberty Christ provides.
Faith Confession: Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the price for the true freedom given me through the sacrifice of Jesus. Help me to live in the culture of this world as salt and light to the lost and sharing the Gospel of freedom.
Psalm 140:13 “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your Name; the upright shall dwell in Your Presence.”
Scripture reading for August 1st: 2nd Corinthians 3
Key scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 3:15-18 “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
When the Jews read Moses–the Law of God in the first five books of the Old Testament–a veil covered their hearts. The law can only reveal sin, not cleanse a heart and soul from the guilt of sin and enable man to see God’s glory. But when anyone, Jew or Gentile, turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. The veil sin in the heart hides the soul from beholding God’s glory just as the temple veil shielded sinful man from being exposed to God’s glory and death. The blood of Jesus has cleansed the sinner who believes in Christ and the veil is removed and access given to behold God’s glory. This glory is revealed by the Holy Spirit–the Gift of the Father. It transforms us into God’s image and likeness with ever-increasing glory!
Observations for over-comers: Salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit open the spirit of man to the glory of God. This brings continuous transformation into Christ’s likeness and glory! “Then the Lord said(to Moses), “There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23)
Scripture reading for October 22nd: Luke 3-6
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” “Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21
Not much is recorded about the life of Jesus from the time He was twelve until He was baptized by John at the age of thirty. We know that He worked with Joseph for part of that time in their carpenter shop. He took part in normal family life and community life in the town of Nazareth. Can you imagine eating off of a table that Jesus had made? Or using an ox yoke that He had crafted?
At the proper time, Jesus went down to the Jordan River to where John was baptizing. When John saw Jesus, he immediately knew that He was the coming Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world! (John 1:29) As Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven (The Father) declared: “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22) This was Jesus’ anointing from the Father for His ministry on earth to redeem men.
The Spirit immediately led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted during 40 days. When he arrived back in Nazareth, He went to the synagogue. He was invited to read from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus applied these verses to Himself, declaring His ministry and mission! (Luke 4 :21) Jesus completely fulfilled His mission in the anointing of the Spirit! He obeyed His Father and overcame all Satan’s traps! We have the same Spirit to enable us each day as the gift of our Father!
Scripture reading for September 19th: Galatians 5:1-12
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you. Again, I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ: you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-4)
Paul’s heart for this church was their freedom from the false doctrine of the legalistic teachers. They were teaching that in order to be saved, people needed to be circumcised and keep certain of the Jewish laws. Paul likened this to slavery. The law was a yoke that the Jews could never keep. But Paul was a Jew and knew the futility of trying to become righteous by keeping that law. He knew the freedom of faith in Christ’s righteousness and for him, going back was no option for him or these Galatians!
Some churches today are much like the Galatians. They have customs or rules that they use to try and determine if you are a Christian or not. Some like to legislate dress codes and hairstyles and make-up. Others say that unless you speak in tongues, you cannot be saved. Others try to say that you must be baptized in a certain way to be saved. Like the Galatians, they were adding some law or customs to salvation by faith in Christ. Paul stated that in doing that, they had fallen from grace. They were no longer living by faith, but trusting in their own human effort.
“But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:5-6) True Christians live by faith, not by trying to keep the law. We are in Christ Jesus and live a life of faith expressed by loving others. When we go back to the law, we no longer trust in Christ. It is about us and our efforts, not about what Christ did for us. Paul warns we can fall from grace! Be sure that you live by faith!
Scripture reading for December 12th: Hebrews 1-2
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3a) The letter to the Hebrews was written to Jews who had been saved and became followers of Jesus Christ. They suffered intense persecution, some had their own families disown them, and some were being put to death. The persecution caused some to begin to question their salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ. The writer encouraged these Jews to pay careful attention to the word of God and the truth that had been preached to them. Careful attention would keep them on the narrow path of life.
The writer of Hebrews reminded these believers that the the Son of God had brought the message of salvation to the Jews first. He confirmed it with signs and wonders and miracles. (Hebrews 2:3-4) Jesus was raised to a position of glory and honor after suffering death for everyone. God made the author of their salvation perfect through suffering and He is in the process of perfecting those who follow Jesus as well.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) As Christians, we now have no more fear of death. Christ has freed us from that fear by conquering death and the grave. He destroyed the devil and took the keys of death and hell away from him. (Revelation 1:18)
All men have been held by the fear of death because all have sinned and know that death is the penalty for sin. The second death is the real fear because it is appointed to men once to die and then comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Christ took our sins and paid the penalty of death for all who believe on Him. He can help us now because He is our faithful high priest, having offered His own blood for our sins! (Hebrews 2:17-18) What a blessing to be freed from this enslaving fear!
Greetings and hope today in Jesus Christ, our wonderful Lord and Savior. He has rescued us from eternal damnation and darkness and transferred us into eternal blessedness and light! As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, we Christians have much to thank God for. Every day is a day of thanksgiving and rest in God’s great love! Every day is a feast of His blessings and provision. Take time today to gather with God’s people and to give Him thanks and worship!
One of the most encouraging passages in this past week’s reading comes from Romans 8:1-4. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering, and so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”
We are free from condemnation that comes upon all who are under the law of God. The ten commandments bring a knowledge of sin to those under the law. (Jews) (Romans 3:20) The Gentiles are also under a law written on their consciences that also brings a knowledge of sin and results in condemnation. (Romans 2:12-16) Therefore, all Jews and Gentiles alike have sinned and are under condemnation.
Because God is just, sin must be paid for by death. God provided a way to remove the condemnation through sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be a sin offering. He met the righteous requirements of the law as a sin offering by offering Himself on our behalf. After His resurrection from death, He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live in obedience to God and live victoriously as witnesses.
We have great joy and freedom as people bought back from eternal condemnation. What a blessing it is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all who will listen! Every Sunday is a celebration of resurrection and a coming Savior!
In His Love, Pastor John