Scripture reading for November 29th: Jude, Psalm 88, Proverbs 21
Jude: 20-25 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus Christ and a follower of Jesus as his Messiah. He wrote to the early church, encouraging them to contend for the faith once delivered to them. False teachers and false prophets were seeking to devour and draw away Christ’s followers. Jude had simple instructions and a benediction that has been used by many church leaders to encourage Christ’s followers. Jude recognized the need for faith. Faith comes by hearing and applying God’s Word. Prayer is an act of faith. The Father’s Gift, the Holy Spirit, enables us to pray effectively. When we pray in the Holy Spirit, we build ourselves up in holy faith. Through faith and prayer, patience to wait for and anticipate the coming of Jesus is a glorious by-product! All glory to Jesus Christ, the Faithful One, Who is praying for us as we wait in His Love!
Psalm 88:13 “But I, O Lord, cry to You; in the morning my prayer comes before You.”
Prayer: Father God, I cry to You each morning, responding to Your Word that tells me to ask You for my daily bread and protection from the evil one. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in my life and those of my brothers and sisters and children. Your Word is a precious Treasure and the Holy Spirit is Oil of Joy in my heart as I keep my heart in Christ’s love, seek His kingdom, pray, and wait for His return.
Proverbs 21:20-21 “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
Scripture reading for November 9th: John 19, Psalm 74, Proverbs 7
John 19: 23-27 “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took HIs garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” and from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was keenly focused on His Father’s Word and the complete fulfilment of it. Even on the cross, Jesus was mindful of what was going on around Him. As He hung naked on the cross, the soldiers gambled for who would get His garments. As Jesus observed His mother nearby, the Word of God concerning God’s care for orphans and widows flowed through Jesus’ heart for His Mother. As His earthly care of His mother would soon be ending, He assigned to John this sacred task. John took Jesus’ mother into his own home and cared for her. In spite of the scoffing of the crowds, the mocking of the soldiers, and their worldly gambling for the clothes of His crucified Son, God was at work fulfilling His unchangeable Word as a witness to His love and care for those created in His image!
Psalm 74:22-23 “Arise, O God, defend Your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at You all the day! Do not forget the clamor of Your foes, the uproar of those who rise up against You, which goes up continually!”
Prayer: Father God, Your amazing love for us shines forth from the cross of Jesus as He fulfills Your Word and shows compassion for His own mother and His faithful disciples. Thank You for fulfilled Scripture as an eternal witness of Your love and Truth. Through the Holy Spirit, keep this Truth flowing through me as Your adopted son to those still mocking and scoffing that they might be saved and live eternally with You!
Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep My Words and treasure up My commandments with you; keep My commandments and live; keep My teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Scripture reading for May 5th: Matthew 22, Psalm 90, Proverbs 28
Matthew 22: 34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
God is Love and to love is to be like Him! The Pharisees were seeking to trap Jesus so that they might accuse Him of blasphemy or call into question His authority and understanding of Scripture. A lawyer sought to trap Him with a question about which was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered him simply by quoting Scripture. The first and greatest commandment was to love God personally as Your Lord, and totally, with all your being. The second was like it, showing love for your neighbor, made in God’s likeness, as yourself. According to Jesus, love was the fulfilment of all the Law and Prophets! This is in fact, true as love for God and neighbor encompasses all other commandments and is God’s heart!
Psalm 90:13-14 “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on Your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days.”
Prayer: Father God, I rejoice in Your amazing love, demonstrated to me through Your Son and His willing sacrifice for the sins of the world and my own sin. Forgive me for not always allowing Your love to flow in my heart. I have not obeyed You as I should and have certainly failed to show love for my neighbors at all times. Fill me today with a fresh anointing of Your love and teach me to love like You loved me!
Proverbs 28:9 “If one turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Scripture reading for November 21st: Ezra 1-2, John 21
John 21: 15-17 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord you know everything; You know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. . . .”
Peter had been an impetuous disciple known for rash outbursts and impulsive responses. When Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray Him, Peter swore He would remain faithful, even to death. Jesus responded: “before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” This indeed was what happened. Now, as Jesus set about restoring Peter, He asked him three times, “Do you love Me?”. Peter responded simply with “Yes Lord” two times then declared that Jesus knew everything. Jesus’ response to Peter was a reiteration of His mission to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep and follow Him.
John 21:20-22 “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against Him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “What about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for restoring those who slip up in following You. Your mercy and kindness lead Peter to repentance and many others, including myself. Thank You that You alone know everything and see every heart and restore and stir up Your people to accomplish the mission You give of reaching the lost and building up Your house with living stones out of the rubble of sin and death. I will follow You.
Ezra 1:5 “Then rose up the heads of the father’s houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.”
Scripture reading for September 15th: Isaiah 56-59, Psalm 70, 1st Corinthians 16
1st Corinthians 16: 11-12, 21 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act as men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. . . . I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord; let him be accursed. Our Lord, Come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Paul closed this letter of encouragement and teaching to this church family with simple words of truth. Watchfulness was needed because of the false teachers who sough to draw them away from the Gospel truth. They must stand firm in their faith yet show love to all–even to those who might be opposed to them and the truth of the Gospel. But loving our Lord was not an option, but an essential. Paul reminded them that anyone who did not love Jesus and claimed to be a believer was under a curse. God’s grace is a gift to be received and held on to. Paul assured them of this and of his own love for them as he wrote this letter of correction and instruction as their father in the faith.
Isaiah 59:19-21 “”So they shall fear the Name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; for He will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. “And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord; “My Spirit that is upon you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.””
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You for Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for us. Thank You for the Gift of the Holy Spirit to abide in us always and release Your love in us and through us to a lost world. I love you and pray for grace in my children and grand-children and all offspring to know You and be filled with the promised Holy Spirit. Let it not depart from them forever! Amen!
Psalm 70::4-5 “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! Your are my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.”
Scripture reading for September 12th: Isaiah 45-48, 1st Corinthians 13
1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, endures all things.”
As Paul explained the work and gift of the Holy Spirit among the members of the church, he stopped to emphasize something greater and longer-lasting than the gifts. He emphasized God’s love as the greatest gift or fruit of the Spirit. God Himself is love. God’s love seeks what is best for those who are its object, regardless of cost or personal sacrifice. Love is patient and kind, and God’s patience allows people time to repent and His goodness and kindness draws them to repentance and faith. God is Truth and rejoices in what is right and true. He waits for His Truth to come to pass as it works through love. God’s love never ends and it is His greatest Gift in Jesus Christ our Lord.
1st Corinthians 13:8-13 “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then is shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your gift of loving me and demonstrating that love in Your Son dying on the cross for me. As wonderful as the gifts of the Holy Spirit are, this fruit of love is the greatest gift that is not just temporal, but abides forever. My faith works by love and Your love is poured out into my heart by the Holy Spirit. Your love gives me eternal hope and anticipation that the best is yet to come.
Isaiah 45: 22-23 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By Myself I have sworn; from My mouth has gone out in righteousness a Word that shall not return: ‘To Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance'”
Scripture reading for February 4th: Exodus 13-15, Psalm 114, Ephesians 3
Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Paul again breaks into prayer for the Church, God’s chosen vessel to manifest His glory and mercy to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. Paul humbly bows his knees before the Father God, and asks that the saints would be strengthened with power in their inner man to allow Christ to dwell within them and manifest the fullness of His life and love. God’s amazing love and limitless power are beyond natural human comprehension. Paul admitted that God could do far more than whatever he or we could ask or think. We are limited in our flesh. But through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can have revelation knowledge and be filled with the fullness of God–beyond what we could knowingly ask for. Our God is amazing and there is none like Him!
Exodus 15:11-12 “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.”
Prayer: Father God, I bow my knees before You, the Holy, Holy, Holy Father Who is Love Himself. I don’t know how to ask for all that I need or what You want me to have. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and reveal to me how to pray and by faith be filled with the fullness of God. I believe that nothing is impossible with You. Do in me exceedingly abundant revelations of Your love and mercy.
Psalm 114:7-8 “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.”
Scripture reading for September 10th: 1st Corinthians 13
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 12:31; 13:1-3 “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Paul understood God’s amazing love and knew that no human could love like God unless God had first revealed His love to them in Christ Jesus. The Corinthians were zealous for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and according to Paul, that was proper to desire them, especially the ‘higher’ gifts. (prophesy?) But there was the ‘more excellent way’ that Paul wanted to emphasize. Love must be pursued first in all things and must flow to empower the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God’s love is “agape” love, a love that always seeks the best for those it loves. God’s Love stands above every form of worldly love and love is God and God is love! Through the Holy Spirit, a river of God’s love is released into our hearts when we repent and place our trust in Jesus. (Romans 5:5) All gifts and service to God must flow with His heart of love!
1st Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never ends. . .”
Faith confession and prayer: Loving Father, thank You for the river of love given me by the Holy Spirit that flows from Your heart to this world of lost people. Fill me afresh today with Your love and remind me of it in every conversation, encounter, and activity. May I always use the gifts You have given me in the ‘more excellent way,’ pursuing love first!
1st Corinthians 13:13; 14:1 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”
Scripture reading for June 22nd: 2nd Thessalonians 2
Key Scriptures: 2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17 “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
It is not our works that save us, but our good works and words are the fruit that come from a life of faith. Our very lives in Christ are fruit to God, as He sets us apart by the Holy Spirit after we believe the Truth of the Gospel. Through faith and grace we become heirs of eternal comfort and good hope of eternal life in God’s presence. Our only ‘work’ is to stand firm in the Gospel truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and hold onto the traditions laid out in God’s Word. As we stand firm, we share by word and example the grace of God that saved us and call others to eternal hope and comfort in Christ Jesus the Lord. God’s great love for all sinners is demonstrated by His grace in Christ made available to all through the cross by faith.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–“
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us by Your eternal love and grace to a place of comfort and hope. Help me to stand firm in Your grace and hold to the traditions taught in Your word by faith. May Your love flow towards others through my life and testimony. I have good hope knowing all Your promises are true and will not be disappointed!
Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Scripture reading for June 11th: Philemon
Key Scriptures: Philemon 8-14 “Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you–I. Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus–I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the Gospel but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.”
Paul was not into authoritarian leadership. He was a servant leader who acted in respect towards others in the Church. He had the opportunity while in jail in Rome to lead Onesimus, Philemon’s run-away slave, to Christ. Under Roman law, slaves who ran away could be put to death. But Paul appealed to Philemon to treat him now as a brother in Christ. As a run-away slave, Onesimus would have not been at all profitable to Philemon, but now as a brother, he would serve him as a brother and was also valuable in the Church as a member of Christ’s body. Paul could have ordered the proper treatment, but he knew that allowing Philemon to choose freely to do the right thing was by far the best for all involved.
Philemon 15-16 “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother--especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.“
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this amazing story of a run-away slave who was saved and restored to his master. Thank You that we are all like this slave, running from You. Thank You that You received us back and made us profitable again! Help me to never forget! Give me opportunity to share Your great mercy today!
1st Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”