Scripture reading for August 23rd: Hebrews 12
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 12:12-17 “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God: that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many are defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
God promises to bless His people as they seek Him and obey His Word. Our enemy, the devil, is always seeking to block the blessings. When we join Christ’s Body, the Church, we are to help our brothers and sisters by encouraging them and helping them overcome their weaknesses. The writer of Hebrews likened these weaknesses as “drooping hands” and “weak knees”. These ‘weaknesses’ and ‘lameness’ of walk are often linked with spiritual strongholds in people’s hearts. Resentment, unforgiveness, and fleshly appetites all are like thorns which grow wild in the garden of our hearts and focus us on earthly desires instead of spiritual blessings. They limit the ‘good works’ we might do with our hands and cause ‘drooping hands.’ They ‘lameness’ in our feet so that our walk with the Lord and our brothers and sisters is affected. Weak knees also limit our ability to pray effectively. Esau is a good example of the bad attitudes we should avoid that could cost our inheritance.
Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him Who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused Him Who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject Him Who warns from heaven.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for warning us from heaven through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I received grace from faith in Jesus and healing from my ‘weak knees’ and ‘drooping hands’. Help me and others in Your family to watch and encourage our brothers and sisters to live holy lives and weed out roots of bitterness that hinder our spiritual growth and fruit.
Hebrews 12:10-11 “For they (our parents) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Scripture reading for June 17th: 1st Thessalonians 4
Key Scriptures: 1st Thessalonians 4:3-7 “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 to impurity, but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, Who gives His Holy Spirit.”
The apostle Paul loved the Thessalonian believers and because of this told them the truth in very clear terms. Sexual immorality was a problem in that culture, as in every Gentile nation. God has not called us to impurity and immorality, but to holiness and being set apart for Him. He desires godly offspring, raised in a covenant marriage between a man and a woman who know God. In fact, sexual immorality wrongs those involved and God is the Avenger of all sexual sins. Those sins include fornication (any sex outside of marriage), adultery (sex with another’s marriage partner), homosexual relationships, incest, and pornography and related sins. This is God’s instruction, not Paul’s or man’s. To disregard this will bring God’s vengeance.
1st Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, not thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me and clearly warning all Your brothers and sisters concerning sexual immorality. I believe that You are the avenger of such sins. Help me to clearly and lovingly preach the truth of the Gospel and call people to repentance from these sins and cleansing by Jesus’ blood. My greatest joy will be Your return!
1st Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Scripture reading for June 18th: Proverbs 29-31, 1st Thessalonians 4
Key Scriptures: 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 to you.”
Paul solemnly warned the Thessalonians against sexual immorality. God’s Word is very clear about what He considers “immorality”. Adultery is sexual immorality in a marriage covenant when one partner steps out on another. Fornication is any sexual acts outside of a marriage relationship. Homosexuality is any sexual acts between those of the same sex. Bestiality is sexual misconduct with animals. Pornography is lusting for sexual contact through images or imagination. These acts “transgress and wrong” those involved and they must and will answer to God. We disregard God Himself when we claim to be a believer and still continue in sexual immorality. Be warned: God will avenge!
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, have mercy on our land and its people. We have transgressed against Your Holy Word and Spirit and each other in these sins of sexual immorality. Help me to control my own body and thoughts and solemnly warn this people about Your plan for our sanctification in Jesus Christ. turning away Your wrath.
Proverbs 29:1 “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”
Proverbs 29:8 “Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.”
Scripture reading for October 9th: Isaiah 35-38, Titus 2
Key Scriptures: Titus 2:11-14 “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, and 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.”
The hope of Christ’s Church is His return in glory to bring justice to the earth and full redemption for His people. Because of His great sacrifice for us, we are taught and empowered by His grace to live righteous and holy lives and to do the good works with joy that He has called us to do. The final recorded prayer of the Church is “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
Isaiah 35:8, 10 “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;” . . .And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and signing shall flee away.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the grace that is our teacher today. May I live in Your grace and grow in holiness, awaiting Your glorious return and the everlasting joy of life in Your presence. Amen.
Scripture reading for August 15th: Psalm 98-100, Galatians 1
Key Scriptures: Psalm 99:1-5 “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! The Lord is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome Name! Holy is He! The King in His might loves justice. You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God; worship at His footstool! Holy is He!”
The psalmist calls God’s people to worship and holy awe because of Who He is. He is the Holy One. He is the Just One. He is the fair and impartial judge of all mankind whose Name and reputation is awesome. This calls for worship and reverence in contemplation of His holiness.
Galatians 1:3-5 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the grace extended to all mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ. Your grace and holiness call me to worship You–now and forever! Amen.
Scripture reading for October 28th: Hebrews 12
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 12:14-16 “Make every effort to live at peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”
Being a Christ-follower in a hostile world requires effort and focus. The enemy of our soul, Satan, is always at work to distract or destroy believers. A common tactic is through conflict and the failure to forgive others. Unforgiveness can lead to a bitter root that divides people from each other and ultimately from God. Sexual immorality is another common trap of the flesh that leads to defilement and possible loss of inheritance in God’s kingdom. Esau is mentioned because of his failure to value spiritual inheritance. He lost it through his careless appetite!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers are focused on seeing the Lord when He comes and rely on God’s grace to keep them in holiness. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure hear, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. . . .Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.” (Psalm 24:4,6)
Scripture reading for July 6th: 1st Corinthians 1
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written; “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.””
God loves to work with those men and women that the world looks at as weak and worthless. That’s because many of the ‘beautiful’ and ‘successful’ people of the world are so caught up by the world’s system and their own human pride that God can’t use them or get their attention! The world’s own boast of their wisdom, talent, strength, possessions, and position. But God’s ‘weak’ people boast in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is their wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption! We owe it all to Him!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers love Jesus Christ and boast of His goodness and blessing and thank Him for redeeming them. “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boast boast about this: that he knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Scripture reading for February 2nd: Leviticus 1-3
Do you like spinach? What about brussel sprouts? How about Leviticus? It has lots of strange offerings and laws written in it. Much of it is foreign to our culture and our way of thinking and it’s sometimes hard to see how it is relevant to our lives today. But as spinach and brussel sprouts contain essential nutrients for our body’s growth and maintenance, so Leviticus contains some spiritual truths that can nourish our souls!
Leviticus was written by Moses as instructions for the Levites who would serve the Lord in the tabernacle. They were chosen by God to do the job of caring for the tabernacle and helping the Israelites with worship and prayer. Moses and Aaron were Levites. This book details what was required for those who served and how a sinful people must approach God in order to have fellowship with Him.
There were three voluntary offerings that could be brought by an Israelite in order to approach God. The first was the burnt offering which was to be an animal from the flock or herd. This animal must be perfect and must be slaughtered at the door of the Tent of Meeting. The sons of Aaron were to take blood and sprinkle it on the altar and then arrange the wood and the pieces of the animal on the altar to be burned. (Leviticus 1:3-8) All of it was to be burned as an offering to the Lord.
The second offering was the grain offering. It was to be offered with oil and incense and burned on the altar before the Lord by the priests. It must be without any yeast or honey and was seasoned with salt. (Leviticus 2:11-13) The third offering was the fellowship offering. This offering was for anyone who just wanted to have fellowship with the Lord. This was to be an animal without defect, offered in sacrifice. Here the fat, kidneys, and choice parts were burned and then some of the meat could be eaten in God’s presence in fellowship with Him.
God desires fellowship with each of His people. We can now approach God through Christ’s blood, which was the final offering needed for us. (Hebrews 10:19-23) He is pictured in each of these voluntary offerings as giving his blood (burnt offering) and body (meal offering) so that we might have fellowship with God.
Scripture reading for January27: Exodus 21-24
Is there any such thing as a “harmless sin”? We sometimes laugh when our young children defiantly disobey. When our adopted daughters were first released from the orphanage to come with us, they were so cute! Both my wife and I and the girls had a short time of mutual admiration. But on one of our first outings, we were waiting to cross the street and cars were speeding by. One of them (name withheld to protect the innocent!) stuck her foot out towards the street and looked up mischievously to see what we might do! Mary and I had a good laugh but realized that we had a job ahead of us and had a late start!
Sin entered mankind through Eve’s deception by the serpent and through the disobedience of Adam. God’s commands aren’t suggestions. What He says will happen and He has the authority and power to bring it to pass. Sin has consequences. We can choose to sin, but we get the consequences for free! The law that God gave Moses on the mountain included Exodus 21-24. These were practical explanations of the ten commands that helped work out how these laws would play out in the community of Israel. A holy God lived in their midst. He demanded that the people He lived with would be holy too! (1st Peter 1:15-16)
Some of the laws and their that struck me as I read this passage remind me of the “deadliness” of sin! In Exodus 21:15 and 17, the penalty for attacking father or mother or even cursing them was death. If a man owned a bull that was known to gore others and he did not restrain this animal and a person was killed, the bull and the owner would die! (Exodus 21:28-29) A sorceress must be put to death! (Exodus 22:18) Anyone having sexual relations with an animal must die! (Exodus 22:19) Another law in Exodus 22:22-23 was shocking to me; I had never remembered reading that one who takes advantage of an orphan or a widow would die if that orphan or widow cried out to the Lord! God gets angry when we mess with those who are hurting! He is compassionate and protective! (Exodus 22:26-27)
God is compassionate and loves us enough to confront sin. He knows it’s deadly–it cost Him the life of His Firstborn Son! We need to be serious when it comes to sin. In our children, it is not just funny. It will be deadly if not properly addressed. As parents, we need to love our children enough to discipline them and teach them that sin is nothing to mess with. May the Lord continue to love us enough to discipline us so that sin is not our downfall!
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we might share in His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10