Scripture reading for February 3rd: Acts 9, Psalm 25, Proverbs 25
Acts 9: 26-29 “And when he had come to Jerusalem, he (Paul) attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, Who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the Name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the Name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him.”
Paul was truly a changed man, but it took time and consistent behavior to convince even some in the church family. Barnabas, an encouraging man, took Paul aside and listened to his story. He then brought him before the apostles and explained Paul’s encounter with Jesus and how he began to boldly preach the Gospel in Damascus. This changed minds and hearts, and Paul then resumed preaching Jesus in Jerusalem among the Greek-speaking Jews. This stirred up more trouble and talk of murdering Paul. He was sent away to Tarsus and God brought a time of peace to the church in Jerusalem.
Psalm 25:8-9 “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for patiently teaching sinners who humbly repent and will listen to Your instruction. Your Word strikes our hearts and transforms us from murders to bold proclaimers of Jesus Christ. You guide our path and open doors as we patiently follow Your instruction. Use me to boldly proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and give me words in season like apple of gold in settings of silver. Amen!
Proverbs 25:11-12 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.”
Scripture reading for October 18th: Obadiah, Jeremiah 40-42, Psalm 147, 1st Peter 5
1st Peter 5: 5-10 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt you, casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter closes this short letter with a call to humility and watchfulness. We have an adversary, the devil, who seeks to destroy us and consume us. We must resist him with a firm resolve to trust God. Our Great God is mighty to save and abundant in power and He delights when His children humbly cast all their cares upon Him. Suffering may be part of the experience here on our earthly walk, but God’s grace will sustain us and in the end, He will restore us and strengthen us with the fullness of our salvation–eternal life in the presence of His glory!
Psalm 147:5-6 “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground.”
Prayer: Father God, You alone have all power, dominion and authority. I humbly submit to Your authority and to those you place over me in government and Your Church. Thank You for answering prayers and giving directions to Your people for their eternal good. Forgive those who reject Your Word, to their own destruction. Lift up Your humble people and have mercy on the proud and wicked through the Gospel.
Jeremiah 42:19-21 “The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it. And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God in anything that He sent me to tell you.”
Scripture reading for August 12th: Hosea 14, 2nd Chronicles 26-27, Psalm 61, Matthew 20
Matthew 20:20-23 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. And He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to Him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”
Jesus had just foretold His death by crucifixion and resurrection on the third day to his disciples. After this, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with a request. She, probably at her sons’ request, humbly made a plea that one son would be on Jesus’ right and the other on His left in His new kingdom. Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking! Those places of honor were not Jesus’ to give but only were reserved by the Father for those deemed worthy. All the disciples were indignant over this request. They all wanted honor! Jesus told them the secret to greatness and honor: Become a servant of all and take the last place. Allow God the Father to exalt you!
Matthew 20:23-25 “But Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Prayer: Father God, I am humbled before You and Your Son Who showed mercy to me and all who will repent and believe. You demonstrated the path of greatness, exaltation, and eternal life and rulership through complete obedience and humble service by giving even Your life blood and body. Teach me this path to greatness and lead me in Your way of taking up my cross and following You.
Psalm 61:1-3 “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for You have been my Refuge, a strong Tower against the enemy.”
Scripture reading for June 30th: 2nd Chronicles 5-7, Psalm 121, 1st Timothy 4
1st Timothy 4: 11-16 “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Paul loved Timothy as his own son and gave him fatherly advice to help him in life and ministry in the difficult culture of the early church. He told Timothy not to beat around the bush, but to command and teach all of God’s Word as truth. No fear of man or intimidation was to be allowed because of his youth. He was to set a confident example in living, speaking, acting in love and pure living. The Word of God should be read out loud, as this population did not yet have the Scriptures readily available. God’s gifts received by Timothy at ordination should be used as the Holy Spirit directed. Watchfulness was commanded and needed both in Timothy’s own life and in those he served.
Psalm 121:7-8 “The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for this instruction on boldness and practice of Your Word. I want to be a good example of godliness and loving God and my neighbor through the power of the Holy Spirit. My desire is as Yours, I humbly ask for all to be saved and come to a knowledge and practice of the Truth in Jesus Christ! Forgive our sins in our nation and heal our land.
2nd Chronicles 7:13-15 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will b e open and My ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. (The temple)
Scripture reading for October 8th: James 4
Key Scriptures: James 4:1-5 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us”?
James addressed the church with several questions. He used the rabbinic method of that day, perfected by Jesus Christ, to cause God’s people to think deeply about their own lives and also about their relationship with God and the world they lived in. There were some who had more friendship with the world than love and commitment to God. They had made a commitment, but were now acting in an adulterous manner towards their Savior by following their own passions instead of Christ’s love and obedience. The result was quarreling and fights among believers. There was internal strife and divided loyalty and hatred which was equal to murder. James asked them to consider that God jealously yearned over them and had given them His Holy Spirit as a down-payment on the future eternal life together. Grace was needed and humbly asking God in faith was the first step.
James 4:6-8 “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, purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, forgive your people for their adulterous ways and divided loyalty. Forgive us of the quarreling and fighting and passion for things over our relationship with You. Fill us afresh with You Holy Spirit and give us grace to resist the devil and draw nearer to You with clean hands and a pure heart.
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Scripture reading for September 3rd: Psalm 143-145, Philippians 2
Key Scriptures: Philippians 4:5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Paul urged the Corinthians to put on the mind of Christ, which was available to them. This “Christ mind” was humble and serving and put God’s will and others before self. This way of thinking and living brings ultimate reward and glory to Christ and God our Father. This way pleases God and requires faith.
Psalm 145:2-4 “Every day I will bless You and praise Your Name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the mind of Christ and His example of humility and serving. Fill me with His ways. I will praise You and declare Your mighty acts! Amen.
Scripture reading for May 28th: 2nd Chronicles 6-8, Acts 17
Key Scriptures: Acts 17:24-27 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself Gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their was toward Him and find Him.”
Paul found himself in Athens among the philosophers of the city. They loved debating the latest new ideas. Paul preached Jesus Christ to them and pointed them to the Creator of heaven and earth. He stated that this God did not live in temples and was the giver of all life. He even determined each person’s residence and length of time there. This God was worth getting to know!
2nd Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your great knowledge and understanding of all men. Give me boldness like Paul of old to share a testimony of the Creator and redeemer. Amen.
Scripture reading for March 21st: 1st Samuel 16-19
Our culture prizes youth, beauty, intelligence, power, and money! We tend to judge people by what we see or know about their life. Where do they live? What kind of car do they drive? Are they handsome or beautiful? What position do they hold? Who are their friends? I don’t believe it has been much different since the fall of man. We are very driven by our senses and peer pressure. But God sees things differently!
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance, or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1st Samuel 16:7)
What does God see in our heart? What is he looking for? He is looking at the things we truly value. He is looking for a heart after God, a heart that will trust God and live by faith in His Word! (2nd Chronicles 16:9) When we put God first, and not our “self”, He is pleased! He is looking for a “humble and contrite” heart. (Isaiah 66:2) He needs a heart that can be taught, corrected, and shaped for His habitation. If a mere man is going to walk with God, he certainly must be humble and willing to learn. I believe God is looking for a pure heart too. Only those who are pure in heart can see God. (Matthew 5:8)
How does a mere man measure up? God Himself provided the way through a descendant of David, the man after God’s heart! Jesus Christ had the perfect heart! He was fully sold out to God, his Father. He did only what he saw His Father do and said only what He heard His father say!(John 5:19-20) Jesus was humble of heart–and wants to teach us the same! (Matthew 11:28-32) Jesus was pure of heart–completely without sin! He offered His own life on our behalf! If we confess our sins to Him, He will cleanse us of our sins and all unrighteousness! (1st John 1:9) We can have a pure heart too! We can learn from Him by receiving the Holy Spirit of Truth. We can live by faith in His Word! The just shall live by faith!
Praise the Lord, God still looks at the heart! Does He see Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart today? If He is not your King, why not humble yourself and invite Him to live in your heart today! You will be eternally grateful!
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:35-36)