Scripture reading for October 10th: Jeremiah 27, 28, 29, 24, James 4
James 4: 4-8 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of 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”? 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.”
James passionately warned the believers about their need for holy separation from the world around them. God is a jealous Lover and wants our full devotion. This requires us to humbly submit to God and draw near to Him as an act of our will. We must resist the devil and his attempts to tempt and seduce us. James promises that as we humbly draw near to God that God will come nearer to us as well. God will give us all the grace we need to stand firm and to live a life bringing glory to Him and adding souls to His kingdom. As we pray and seek His will and the welfare of those around us, we find our needs met as well.
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for grace to live effectively and with holy separation in a hostile world. Help me to remember that You place me where You desire and use me as You will to accomplish Your purposes. I humbly pray daily, “Not my will, but Yours be done!” Grant me opportunities to share the Gospel and seek the welfare of those needing Your grace. Yours is the kingdom and glory forever!
Jeremiah 29:4-7 “”Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.””
Scripture reading for February 11th: Exodus 28-31, Philippians 2
Philippians 2:1-7 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. 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.”
Jesus Christ was the Exalted Son of God, ruling over the universe He created. In the counsel of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Jesus humbled Himself and took the form of a servant in human flesh, becoming obedient even to death on a cross for the sake of all other human beings under the penalty of death for their sins. Jesus counted us of more value than His own comfort and position. He accomplished our salvation by His own complete obedience to God’s eternal Word in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Father God has gifted each believer with His Holy Spirit, calling us by name out of the darkness of sin and this world. He has given us the mind and heart of His Son to care for His interests–the souls of all men!
Philippians 2:8-10 “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.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Jesus Christ! Fill me with the power of the Spirit in wisdom, ability, and knowledge and craftsmanship to do Your work in Your way according to Your instructions. You are building Your Church, a habitation of God by the Spirit. Help me to put Your will and others before my comfort and selfishness.
Exodus 31:1-3 “The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, . .”
Scripture reading for September 29th: 2nd Corinthians 10
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 10:1-6 “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ–I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!--I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
Paul entreated the Corinthians to receive him and his message of the Gospel of Christ. God had assigned to Paul the mission to the Gentiles. False teachers had tried to undermine Paul’s authority and credibility and to undermine the message of salvation by grace through faith. Paul planned on boldly confronting them and had powerful weapons to do that with. It was not flesh and blood he was dealing with, but demonic strongholds of false religion and false doctrines being argued by those in opposition. He came with humility and gentleness in the spirit of Jesus Christ to them, appealing to them to lay hold of the truth and obey it fully. The powerful spiritual weapons that Paul referred to were the Word of God, passionate prayer, holy living, humility and the power of the Holy Spirit to act boldly. These weapons destroy strongholds and bring confrontation to those opposing.
2nd Corinthians 10:13 “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even you.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, I humbly thank You for the assignment you have given me to be a pastor and teacher in Your Church. I rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal Your Word to me and empower me with boldness to use the spiritual weapons that are mighty through God to destroy strongholds, refute arguments, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. My boast is in Jesus Christ, the only wise God and Savior.
2nd Corinthians 10:17-18 “”Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
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!