Scripture reading for March 14: Luke 9, Psalm 53, Proverbs 22
Key Scriptures: Luke 9:46-48 “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My Name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Pride manifested itself among the chosen disciples of Jesus. They argued with one another about which of them was the greatest disciple! Now it’s a noble thing to want to be the best follower of Jesus, but we can make an idol of our service to Christ and miss what Jesus desires for us. Jesus used a child as an example. Our treatment of children and the least among us requires humility and taking a lower position. True greatness, says Jesus, comes from this.
Faith confession: Lord, I want to attain true greatness by humbly receiving children and those looked down on by our culture. I believe You love children and the marginalized of our world and want me to love them. Action step: Reach out today to a child or someone hurting and show the love of Jesus to them.
Proverbs 22:4 “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.”
Scripture reading for April 4th: Luke 23
Key scriptures for over-comers: Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Two criminals were crucified with Jesus. A sign had been placed over Jesus’ head which read, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One criminal mocked Jesus in unbelief: “Aren’t You the Christ?” He mockingly asked Jesus to save himself and them, never believing that anything would result. The other criminal rebuked him for not fearing God. He acknowledged his guilt and the just punishment that they were receiving and recognized that Jesus was innocent. Out of that humble spirit, he simply asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. What comforting ‘Truth’ Jesus spoke in return! A great reversal would take place that very day by faith!
Observations for over-comers: The fear of the Lord and a humble heart that simply believes brings life, salvation, and eternal reward. “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.” (Proverbs 16:6)
Scripture reading for November 4th: James 3
Another area of self deception concerned the use of our tongues. (James 1:26) Our tongues can easily get out of control. We can use them to bless and also to curse. We can boast, gossip, complain, criticize or judge others by allowing our tongues to speak what is in our unredeemed heart. James sought to warn the believers and us today about the evils of a tongue out of control.
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” . . .”Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 32, 5-6)
James did not sugar-coat the dangers of a tongue out of control. The forces of hell are behind the evil use of this small member of our body. James went on to state that no man can tame the tongue. Only under the power of the Holy Spirit can we use our tongues to be a blessing to others. Our hearts must be made new by new birth and the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit. When believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the initial sign was speaking in new tongues. ( Acts 2:4) “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” Let your tongue flow with the wisdom from heaven! (James 3:17-18)
Scripture reading for July 10th: Proverbs 22-24
The Bible teaches that we are all designed to have dominion! Adam was given dominion over creation in order to tend and care for it as God desired and instructed. (Genesis 1:27-28) Many of today’s proverbs offer wisdom to those in authority to enable them to effectively rule with the mind of God and avoid the snares of the Devil.
The first truth that stands is the need for humility. (Proverbs 22:4) When we fear the Lord, God gives us discernment into the difference between good and evil. When we choose to do good consistently we get wealth, honor and life as added benefits. We also get a good name and reputation, something that money can’t buy! (Proverbs 22:1) Keeping humility when God has blessed you can be a real test of faith. Many times prosperity causes pride and God is forgotten.
When a king rules, he acts on behalf of God. The poor are to be treated with equity and respect. (Proverbs 22:16, 22-23) When the poor are mistreated, God promises to take up their case and rule on their behalf! Rulers should guard their friendships and social contacts. They must stay away from the adulteress and the hot-tempered man for both lead to trouble. (Proverbs 22:14, 24; 23:26-28) When judging in court, the ruler must convict the guilty and never show partiality or take a bribe. God will bless righteous judgment and integrity! (Proverbs 24:23-25) Also, do not seek revenge because that is for God alone! (Proverbs 24:29)
Proverbs warns that drunkenness is dangerous for those in authority. (Proverbs 23:29-35) Drinking takes away your ability to have sound judgment and to see clearly. It causes violence and strife and quarrels. A hangover comes the next day and bloodshot eyes! It poisons our life like a snake-bite! Laziness is again brought up as a sin to avoid. (Proverbs 24:30-34) Laziness causes life to fall into ruin around you. Your life looks like a field that is not tended. Walls of protection are broken down and enemies steal the crop. Thorns are a sign that the curse is at work to destroy your crops. Laziness leads to poverty and lack and steals your authority!
“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4
“A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisers.” Proverbs 24:5-6
Scripture reading for April 26th: 2nd Chronicles 10-12
God doesn’t take rejection lightly. He is a jealous God and loves His children enough to discipline them when they need it. He allows consequences to come that He has foretold so that His people understand His Father’s heart and grace. In today’s reading, consequences of sin bring humbling and repentance.
King Rehoboam was a young son of Solomon who was given rule of Judah. He began his reign by consulting the elders who had served Solomon for some advice on how to govern the people. The people had been under a heavy load of taxation because of the requirements of King Solomon in building the Lord’s house and then his own house. The elders recommended that Rehoboam lighten their load and treat the people kindly. (2nd Chronicles 10:7)
King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and next consulted some of his younger friends. They recommended harsh treatment and a heavier yoke! This response caused division among the people instead of unity. The people grumbled against Rehoboam. Rehoboam sent Adoniram, one of his overseers of the forced labor out and the people stoned him! Rehoboam was going to muster an army and fight against his own brother, but was warned by God not to do it. He did listen.
Rehoboam grew strong and then lead the people in departing from the Lord. The Lord allowed Shishak, king of Egypt to attack Jerusalem. Shishak had a large army and many horse and chariots. The prophet Shemaiah gave the word to Rehoboam, “This is what the Lord says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.'” (2nd Chronicles 12:5b) Rehoboam acknowledged that the Lord was just and that he needed to humble himself. God relented from totally destroying Rehoboam but still allowed Shishak to attack and plunder the temple. The reason given was so that Israel and Rehoboam would learn the difference between serving God and foreign kings.
There are some lessons for us in this passage. First, it is good to listen to wise advice from the elders. The wisdom from above brings peace and unity, not strife and division. When we depart from the Lord, He wisely allows consequences. He warns of what is ahead and hears when we humbly ask for mercy. Living under His rule is always better than captivity! Let’s learn by reading and not by experience!
Scripture reading for December 2nd: Philippians 1-4
I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed! Sometimes my attitude stinks! I am occasionally withdrawn, grumpy, and irritable. I can be centered on myself and what I want that day. I am in need of an “attitude adjustment”! The Word of God provides that for us. As we take it into our minds and hearts, it can do surgery on us. (Hebrews 4:12) It is Spirit and life to us from the heart of God. (John 6:63) Jesus Christ, Himself, modeled for us the kind of attitude that would please God. We read about it today in Paul’s letter to the Philippians!
Paul prayed a lot for those in Philippi. There was a church there with saints, overseers, and deacons that he had helped to set in place. He was confident that God would complete the work He had begun in each of them that had believed. He prayed that the love of these believers would abound more and more. (Philippians 1:6-11) He wanted them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness so that the Lord would receive glory!
These saints and leaders were encouraged by Paul to be united in love and purpose. (Philippians 2:2-3) Unity comes from fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a humble spirit towards God and each other. We must learn to bear with one another and try and look out for others rather than focusing on ourselves. The best example of this is Jesus Christ.
Jesus had a perfect attitude. He was God and owner and ruler of the universe, but He humbled Himself and took on human likeness through the incarnation. He willingly laid down all the power and privilege of royalty to be obedient to the Father. He even obeyed the Father by laying down His life on the cross, enduring the death of the lowest criminal. Because of His obedience, God exalted Him to the highest place of all after the resurrection. His Name, Jesus Christ, is the highest name in the universe! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord! Those who bow their knees now and confess now will enjoy eternity with Him!
We are working out our salvation while God is at work in us. We humbly obey Him and do all we do without grumbling or complaining. We know that God has given us the task of sharing the Word of life in Christ. Our reward is sure! We rejoice always! (Philippians 4:4) We pray about everything and enjoy the peace of Christ! (Philippians 4:6-7) We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13) We know that our God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19) What an attitude of victory and joy when we imitate Christ!
Scripture reading for May 28: Job 25-28
Bildad opened his final argument by citing the power and dominion of God. He then questioned that in light of God’s greatness, how can man who is born of woman be right with God? (Job 25:4) This is a good question and finds the answer implied by Bildad in other writings of Scripture. Romans 3:10 says that there is none righteous, not even one (Psalm 14:1) . Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The problem with Bildad’s statement is in his understanding of God and man’s relationship. Bildad stated that man was like a maggot in God’s sight, only a worm. (Job 25:6) This view is neither encouraging or accurate!
Job refuted Bildad by asking him what spirit was speaking through him! Job’s counter-argument was that he would continue to trust God, even if he didn’t understand! (Job 27:2-6) God was his only source of hope and encouragement! God’s character and wisdom were worth more to Job than anything this earth had to offer. Finding this wisdom is not easy! (Job 28:12-13)
The bottom line for Job was that the fear of the Lord was wisdom and understanding was to depart from evil! (Job 28:28) Let’s think about this for a minute. Respecting God and His power and authority is the very core of wisdom. We can only live our life successfully if we have this wisdom in operation in our life. Respecting God is the character trait of humility. God, Himself, is humble! Jesus Christ taught his followers to come and learn from Him, because he was humble of heart! (Matthew 11:28-30) By respecting God and being humble we are able to follow God and live successfully by faith and not be destroyed by our sight! We know from God’s word and character that there is a definite “good” and a definite “evil”. We walk in understanding when we depart from evil and do good!
God is the most precious one in our life. Job came to this conclusion as he was forced by the circumstances of a trial to live by faith. He did not have all the answers, but he knew the one who did and who would help him! He steadfastly held on to what he knew and persevered! We can, too! What a precious Lord we have! Don’t let go!