Scripture reading for June 16th: Proverbs 24-25, Psalm 41, 1st Thessalonians 2
1st Thessalonians 2:3-8 “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God Who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
Paul reminds these faithful believers of how he presented his Gospel appeal. Paul and Silas had just come to them after their experience of beating and imprisonment and then God freeing them from the jail and the jailer and his family getting saved. Paul had simply and powerfully preached the Gospel to these Thessalonians, not holding back anything for fear of man but to fulfill God’s commands to him. He had been gentle among them and loved them in the short time he was there with them. He treated them with integrity and sacrificially served them. God was his witness! Paul had done his part and God had done his part and the believers there had responded in faith in the midst of affliction!
Psalm 41:12-13 “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in Your presence forever. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen!”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for calling me to preach Your Gospel of grace through Your Son Jesus Christ! Thank You for this example of grace among the Thessalonian believers through the simple and powerful preaching of Paul in the Holy Spirit. Help me to love the people deeply and share my life and Your Word with them through Your Holy Spirit. Use me to rescue those being taken away to death!
Proverbs 24:10-12 “If you falter in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not He Who weighs the heart perceive it?”
Scripture reading for September 15th: 1st Corinthians 16
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 16:1-4 “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that the will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those who you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.”
Paul gave the Corinthians instructions about receiving an offering. Giving in the church should be methodical, not just when we feel like it. The first day of the week was Sunday, the day the church gathered to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and as part of the worship gathering, offerings should be received. Each person should give according to how they had prospered. It was to be proportional according to the means and amount each had received. Paul did not want to put pressure on them when he came to give as they were to have already received the offering. He even announced his travel plans and possible need of help from them later that year. And there was to be accountability that the offering was properly handled and distributed for the intended purpose. These instructions would make giving a joyful practice and highest integrity would be maintained and God’s work would be financed!
1st Corinthians 16:5-6 “I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go.”
Faith Confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for the privilege of giving to promote Your work and workers. As a pastor, help me to never pressure or manipulate people to give and to handle all offerings with the highest integrity and a level of accountability that is above reproach. Bless Your people as they willingly support Your work with seed for the sower and bread for the eater.
2nd Corinthians 9:10-11 “He Who supplies seed for the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Scripture reading for September 6th: 2nd Corinthians 8:16-24
Paul had asked the Corinthians to prepare an offering for the needy church in Jerusalem. They were asked to do this willingly and Paul promised them that this offering would be handled with great care and integrity. He was sending a small team of respected ministers led by Titus.
“And we are sending along with him (Titus), the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the Gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” (2nd Corinthians 8:18-21) Even back in Paul’s day, financial accountability was considered to be proper. Money has a way of bringing temptations and men should not be left alone with large amounts of money. Even men of God have been tempted and led astray. At least two people were used to bring integrity to the administration and transport of their offering.
Integrity in the receiving and distribution of God’s money is important today. When there is misuse of funds or a church finds out its finances have been mishandled, great confusion and harm to the kingdom can result. Church offerings should be counted by two people who are unrelated. There should be checks and balances on spending of church money. The church board should have access to records of all income and all money spent on at least a monthly basis. Church books should be open to church members if there are questions.
Integrity is right in God’s eyes too! He is watching how we handle His money. He knows every penny that comes in and how it is spent. Are you accountable to God in handling your personal finances? Are you managing your finances in such a way that God is able to bless you? Every church member should practice integrity in their own finances each day! If we are faithful in this little thing, He will bless us with much more later. (Matthew 25:21)
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