Scripture reading for May 11th: Acts 26
0000 Scriptures: Acts 26:15-18 “And I said, ‘Who are You Lord?‘ And the Lord Said, ‘I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen Me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
Paul shared his testimony again. This time before King Agrippa and Festus the governor. Paul told of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He quoted to them the appointment he received from the risen Jesus to appear before Gentiles. His assignment was to open their eyes that were in darkness and to bring them light. He was to deliver them from the power of Satan and return them to the power of God. By repentance and faith they would receive forgiveness of sins and righteousness before God. In the testimony of his encounter with Jesus, he effectively preached the Gospel and then specifically called them to repentance and faith. Like Paul, we should waste no opportunity to share our testimony and the Gospel!
Acts 26:27-29 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the clear appointment and mission You gave to Paul and all who follow You. Give me open doors to share my testimony and the Gospel today as I seek Your will.
Acts 16:30-31 “Then he brought them (Paul and Silas) out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Scripture reading for May 5th: Acts 22
Key Scriptures: Acts 22:12-16 “”And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour, I received my sight and saw him. An he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from His mouth; for you will be a witness for Him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait: Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.'”
As Paul was brought by the Roman magistrate to stand before the Jewish council, he began to share his personal journey from a zealous Pharisee who personally rounded up followers of Jesus to a follower of Jesus. He shared how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and how he was blinded by the light. He shared how another Jewish believer, Ananias, was sent to him to pray for him and how he immediately received his sight back. He told how he was appointed to know God’s will and see Jesus and become a witness of all he saw and heard. He also shared how he was baptized and saw Jesus in a trance while praying in the temple. Jesus warned him to get out of Jerusalem quickly because the Jews would not accept his testimony. Jesus then sent him to the Gentiles. At this, the murderous spirit against Christ and His followers manifested! Sounds like the ‘cancel’ culture of our day that tries to destroy what it opposes!
Acts 22:21-22 “And He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” Up to this they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Paul’s testimony and witness to me and the world. Thank You for my personal testimony of You calling me to preach and testify. Help me to boldly share Your Gospel love, even to those who may reject You or try to cancel me.
2nd Timothy 3:12-13 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Scripture reading for April 19th: Acts 10
Key Scriptures: Acts 10:30-33 “And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter, He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Peter was the chief of the apostles of Jesus Christ and he was a devout Jew. Jews must never go to the house of a Gentile, or so Peter was taught. However, God gave him a dream of a sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of unclean foods. He was commanded to arise, kill and eat. This happened three times and Peter was struggling to understand when the three men sent by Cornelius arrived at Peter’s lodging. The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter that he should go with them to Cornelius’ home. As he arrived, Cornelius shared his side of God’s directions and asked him to share what God had given him! Now that is a preachers dream come true! Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God gave them salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit!
Acts 10:44-46 “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for preparing hearts of seekers to hear the Gospel message. Thank You for sending Your people to preach that salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit would be poured out through their obedience. Open doors for me today to share Your Word with seekers who are ready to receive Your Word.
Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
Scripture reading for November 30th: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 95, 3rd John
Key Scriptures: 3rd John 4-8 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”
The Apostle John wrote his third epistle to an elder named Gaius. John was overjoyed that this leader in the church was walking in the truth and leading others in the church to walk that way as well. The believers there were also supportive of other Gospel workers who went out from the church to the Gentiles. They gave towards the work and John commended them. When believers give to support God’s workers, they become fellow workers with them, sharing in the reward.
Psalm 95:6-7 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and the One worthy of worship. Lead me to work for You each day reaching the lost and help me to support workers who are also working in the harvest of souls.
Ezra 6:22 “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the King of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
Scripture reading for April 28th: 1st Samuel 15-16, 1 Chronicles 1, Psalm 39, Acts 11
Key Scriptures: Acts 11:15-18 “As I (Peter) began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us as the beginning. And I remembered the Word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.””
Peter recounted his visit to the Gentile Cornelius’ home and how God used his message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring repentance and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to these Gentiles. He had remembered the Word of Jesus concerning how Jesus would baptized with the Holy Spirit and understood that God was giving that same Gift to these who were not Jews. God’s ways are above our ways. We must not stand in His way!
Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.”
Faith Confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great plan of salvation and Your gift of the Holy Spirit given to all who believe in their heart. May the Holy Spirit fall on all those hearing the Gospel message from my lips.
1st Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Scripture reading for June 4th: Acts 22
Paul arrived in Jerusalem and shared the results of his ministry to the Gentiles. At the advice of the church leadership there, he began a purification ritual to prove his faithfulness to the laws of the temple so as not to give the Jews cause to harm him. However, Jews from Asia ( probably Ephesus) recognized him and seized Paul and dragged him from the temple and began beating him. (Acts 21:30-32) The Roman troop commander rescued Paul from the angry crowd of Jews and certain death. Religious people can be mean!
Paul asked the Roman commander if he could address the crowd and was granted permission. Paul again has opportunity to share his testimony of his personal encounter with Jesus. He told how he was zealous for God just like they were and persecuted the believers in Jesus, having them imprisoned and put to death. On his way to Damascus with letters to arrest believers, Paul encountered Jesus! “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “Who are you Lord?”, I asked. “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting, He replied.” (Acts 22:6-8)
Paul then told of his blindness and then visit by Ananias, a devout Jew who was also a believer who brought healing. He told how he was baptized and returned to Jerusalem. He was warned by Jesus to leave town and preach to the Gentiles. When Paul mentioned this, the crowd again turned on him, demanding his death! (Acts 22:22)
Paul seized every opportunity to tell people about Jesus! He was willing to die that others might hear. Oh that the church might live that way today!
Scripture reading for May 26th: Acts 15
The doctrines of the early church had to be worked out through the leadership of the apostles and elders. An early conflict concerned the requirements for Gentiles coming into the fellowship. The first believers were all Jews, some from the sect of the Pharisees who were brought up in the strictest practice and traditions of Judaism. This group insisted that the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. (Acts 15:5) The leaders gathered at Jerusalem to discuss this issue and come to a decision.
“After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the Gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe that it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:6-11)
The early church leaders discussed the issue thoroughly and came to a conclusion based on God’s Word, Jesus’ teaching, and practical experience of God’s working among them as they ministered. Although circumcision was required of true Jews, God did not require this under the New Covenant of grace! Keeping the Law of Moses was never possible for even the most devoted Jews, this would not be required either. It was by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ that Jew and Gentile would be saved!
Scripture reading for June 15th: Acts 10:1-23
Has God ever asked you to do something that was beyond your ‘comfort zone’? Did you struggle to really know that it was God speaking? In today’s reading, we see how God speaks to believers and Gentiles to bring them together so that His will and purposes will be established. God is not so concerned with our comfort as with our obedience!
At Caesarea, a Roman Centurion named Cornelius was know as a God-fearing man who gave generously to the poor. One afternoon, he had a vision in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him and called his name. He responded and the angel spoke to him: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” (Acts 10:4b-6) It is interesting to note that our giving comes before the Lord and gets His attention. God misses nothing. Because of his giving, God instructed the angel to go and have Cornelius send for the apostle Peter. He told him exactly where to go. God also knows right where we live! He doesn’t need a GPS!
As the men went to get Peter, he was on his roof praying as he awaited his meal. He experienced a vision from God. “He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” (Acts 10:11-15) Peter initial refused because he believed that these foods were unclean. The voice spoke again, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Peter saw and heard this three times before the vision ended.
As the men arrived at Peter’s house and the Spirit spoke to Peter telling him to go down and greet them and go with them. Peter’s comfort zone had been enlarged by God to enable him to go and share the Gospel with these Gentiles! Are you open to have God enlarge you ‘comfort zone’? He wants to take you to some new places of witness! Pray and wait for the vision!