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!