Scripture reading for November 17th: 1st Thessalonians 4, Psalm 80, Proverbs 13
1st Thessalonians 4: 3-8 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, Who gives His Holy Spirit.”
Paul, through the Holy Spirit, lays out God’s will for believers in the area of sexual conduct. The Holy Spirit living in believers brings a sensitivity to God’s will in this area of life. Before salvation, sexual desires motivate people to take whatever their flesh dictates. But sexual immorality defiles the one involved, the partner, families and children, the body of Christ and is an offense against God. Paul warns that God will avenge such sins, as He knows everything done in darkness. He calls His children to holiness and purity in the area of sexual conduct because He desires godly offspring. When we disregard God’s clear instructions, we will fall under conviction by the Holy Spirit. Confession and repentance, turning away from the sin, is not optional to restore our relationship with God. His is watching as are our family.
Psalm 80:1,3 “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You Who lead Joseph like a flock. You Who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. . . .Restore us, O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved.”
Prayer: Father God, have mercy on our nation in this sin of sexual immorality. We confess that through the media, we have watched and listened to that which is impure and violated Your holy Word. We have taken lightly or disregarded Your clear instructions against adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and perversion of even our children. Restore us, O God, and let Your face shine on us, that we may be saved!
Proverbs 13:9 “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
Scripture reading for September 26th: Titus 2, Psalm 42, Proverbs 6
Titus 2: 11-15 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed Hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”
Human self-will cannot overcome our flesh. It is through God’s grace made visible in His Son, Jesus Christ, that we can have the power to renounce our flesh and live in self-control and holy expectation of the return of Jesus. Grace is an inside job coming through repentance and faith and it involves the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us that we are new creations, adopted into God’s family. We are now God’s own children and belong in His Household forever. We know this in the depths of our heart as the river of God’s love flows in us through the Spirit. We can sing His song of redemption and with zeal share the Good News of salvation and redemption awaiting the coming of our Savior to take us home!
Psalm 42:7-8 “Deep calls to deep at the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing grace through Jesus Christ, revealing You as our Father and us as Your children. Thank you for grace to renounce our old way of life and embrace godliness and the joy of Your love and Jesus’ return. Thank you for cleansing me from the things You hated, and commanding Your steadfast love and a continual song of redemption in my heart! Hallelujah! Amen!
Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Scripture reading for September 20th: 2nd Timothy 2, Psalm 38, Proverbs 2
2nd Timothy 2: 1-7 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
Paul is preparing to leave this earth behind and gives final instructions to his son in the faith, Timothy. He encourages Timothy to be strengthened by grace. Those who are humble and teachable receive grace. This grace is the Gospel message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul used three short statements concerning soldiers, athletes, and hard-working farmers to help Timothy understand. Soldiers often suffer because they are under discipline and in training for battle. These men must maintain their focus on the mission of their commander. Athletes compete to win by training hard and following the rules of the contest. Farmers know that hard work is required before the harvest rewards them for their work. As Timothy thinks on these, Paul knows the Lord will open his understanding further to life application.
Psalm 38:20-22 “Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation!”
Prayer: Father God, strengthen me today in grace! I need Your mercy and grace through faith to fulfill the mission You have given me as my Commander! Fill me with the Holy Spirit and write Your laws on my heart, giving me understanding to walk in paths of righteousness and to live with integrity. Open the eyes of my heart today to see how to love You fully and love my neighbors to Your glory.
Proverbs 2:20-23 “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.”
Scripture reading for May 23rd: Romans 6, Psalm 102, Proverbs 9
Romans 6:10-14 “For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.”
Sin has the power to hold all men and women in its grip. Sin uses our flesh and its passions to dominate us and hold us in slavery. Sometimes it is drugs, other times food, other times sexual desire, or a lust for money or power or control that enslaves us. Sin always leads to death and eternal separation from God. But God our loving Father sent His Son to conquer sin and defeat death on the cross. At just the right time, Jesus came to earth as a man and lived in complete obedience to His Father in order to be a Holy Sacrifice for sin. Dying on the cross, going to hell to announce His victory and strip the keys of death and hell from Satan, Jesus rose victorious. By grace through faith, we defeat sin and its power and penalty!
Psalm 102:12-13 “But You, O Lord, are enthroned forever; You are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come.”
Prayer: Father God, You have shown us favor, and in Your mercy have fulfilled Your appointed time by sending Jesus Christ. Help me today to live in resurrection power by presenting my body and its members to You for Your service. Through grace and the blood of Jesus Christ, cleanse me of all sin and its passions. Help me to lead others to leave their sinful and simple ways and live eternally with You.
Proverbs 9:23 “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.
Scripture reading for May 19th: Romans 4, Psalm 100, Proverbs 7
Romans 4: 18-22 “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.”
God’s promises are precious and should be treasured and trusted. Abraham was promised fatherhood of many nations. He was shown the stars of heaven and told that would be what his offspring would be like in number. Time and barrenness of Sarah, his wife, tested their faith in that promise. When God again reminded them of that promise, Abraham was near 100 years old and Sarah 90 years. Against human understanding, Abraham and Sarah trusted God and received the promise! His faith was counted as righteousness as a gift of grace. Their dead reproductive systems were made alive and Isaac was brought into the world. Faith in Jesus Christ brings eternal life to our dead-in-sin souls as well! Hallelujah!
Psalm 100:1-2 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He Who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.”
Prayer: Father God, Hallelujah! I shout praises to Your Name and serve You with gladness because of Your promise of righteousness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ! I am convinced that You have done and will do what You promise for me and all who believe by faith in Your Son. Fill me with your Spirit and empower me to share this Good News with those still in bondage to sin and self. Amen!
Proverbs 7:24-25 “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her (the prostitute) ways; do not stray to her path, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng.”
Scripture reading for April 4th: James 4, Psalm 67, Proverbs 5
James 4: 6-10 “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.”
Our world operates on pride and is centered on getting what we want when we want it. This causes strife and quarrels, even in the church of Jesus Christ! James, as a wise pastor, was emphasizing to the church the need for God’s grace in each person and in the church family. God gives grace in abundance, but there is the requirement of humility. When we are in a prideful attitude, putting ourselves first, God actually is opposing us! Who can be blessed or find grace when God is opposing them? This pride is demonic in nature, because it is the devil’s nature. The simple solution, according to James, is to resist the devil and draw near to God. The devil will flee and God will then draw near to you. True humility brings repentance first and then exaltation and the joy of God’s grace and smile in our life.
Psalm 67:1-3 “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. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You!”
Prayer: Father God, I pray the prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 67. Be gracious to us and bless us and make Your face shine on us, that through Your smile and favor, we may reflect Your ways to those on earth and Your saving power among all peoples. I humble myself to draw nearer to You each day that I may learn Your ways and become more like You in the humility of You amazing grace.
Proverbs 5:1-2 “My son, be attentive to My wisdom; incline your ear to My understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.”
Scripture reading for March 23rd: Galatians 2, Psalm 59, Proverbs 28
Galatians 2:15-16, 20-21 “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law by through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. . . .I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
Paul had been a zealous Jew like many in the church at Galatia. He worked hard at keeping the law and had sought to imprison and harm those who preached the Gospel of God’s grace through faith. After a face to face meeting with the resurrected Jesus, Paul was converted and then spent time in the desert learning from Jesus the truths of the Gospel message. The works of the law could only expose sin, not bring the needed change and produce righteousness. Only our humble confession of our sins and appealing to Jesus Christ for mercy through His sacrifice on the cross obtains for us the gift of His righteousness. His mercy through faith produces what all our works cannot: justification and righteousness! That makes us sing for joy in true freedom!
Psalm 59: 16 “But I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for saving me through Your Son’s sacrifice! I identify with Christ and His cross as my only hope of true righteousness and eternal life. I have been born again through faith in His blood and His resurrection to life! Through confession of my sins and forsaking them I have obtained mercy and the joy of living in God’s eternal covenant of love!
Proverbs 28: 13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Scripture reading for September 15th: Isaiah 56-59, Psalm 70, 1st Corinthians 16
1st Corinthians 16: 11-12, 21 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act as men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. . . . I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord; let him be accursed. Our Lord, Come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Paul closed this letter of encouragement and teaching to this church family with simple words of truth. Watchfulness was needed because of the false teachers who sough to draw them away from the Gospel truth. They must stand firm in their faith yet show love to all–even to those who might be opposed to them and the truth of the Gospel. But loving our Lord was not an option, but an essential. Paul reminded them that anyone who did not love Jesus and claimed to be a believer was under a curse. God’s grace is a gift to be received and held on to. Paul assured them of this and of his own love for them as he wrote this letter of correction and instruction as their father in the faith.
Isaiah 59:19-21 “”So they shall fear the Name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; for He will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. “And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord; “My Spirit that is upon you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.””
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You for Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for us. Thank You for the Gift of the Holy Spirit to abide in us always and release Your love in us and through us to a lost world. I love you and pray for grace in my children and grand-children and all offspring to know You and be filled with the promised Holy Spirit. Let it not depart from them forever! Amen!
Psalm 70::4-5 “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! Your are my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.”
Scripture reading for May 31st: 1st Kings 1, 1st Chronicles 26-28, Romans 6
Romans 6:11-14 “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.”
The Old Testament Law stirred up the passions of the flesh and man’s sin nature rebelled and disobeyed. Jesus Christ fully obeyed the Law and took the penalty of death on our behalf for our law-breaking. Now that we have trusted Christ and come under the new covenant of grace through His shed blood, we count ourselves alive to God and dead to sin and its passions. A dead person cannot be influenced to sin because their passions are also dead. Since we are dead to sin and now are alive eternally in Christ, we also must daily present our bodies to God for Him to use as instruments for righteousness. Sin no longer has dominion over us for we live by God’s grace daily in thanksgiving.
1st Kings 1:5 “Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of grace and righteousness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. He took my sin and its penalty and I died with Him. I was buried with Him and rose again to the newness of life eternal as He rose from the dead. I present my body to God to be used for His glory and to share His grace to build each person who repents into a habitation of God through His Spirit.
1st Chronicles 28:9-10 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.”
Scripture reading for May 30th: 1st Chronicles 22-25, Psalm 78, Romans 5
Romans 5: 1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produced endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Paul expounded on the results and effects of our justification by God through faith. There was much cause for believers to rejoice and be filled with joy. They now enjoyed peace with God in that God’s gift of righteousness now took the place of guilt and shame and fear of judgment. Instead of God’s wrath, we now have a hope of beholding the glory of God and eternally reflecting His glory. We can even rejoice in our sufferings which were promised by Jesus for all who believe. These sufferings produce endurance, the ability to wait on God’s help and plan. They also produce character–the image of Jesus in our lives as a result of purification from sins and living in hope of eternal life.
Psalm 78:5-7 “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; . .”
Prayer: Father God, I rejoice in Your gift of righteousness and the hope of eternal life. Thank You for peace with God and rest from the striving to keep the law. Form Your character in me and give me endurance in suffering. Help me to declare this joy and peace through faith to my children, grandchildren and their children until You come again and inhabit Your royal throne here on earth and forever and ever!
2nd Samuel 22:9-10 “‘Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My Name. He shall be My son, and I will be his Father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.'”