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.”
Scripture reading for March 11th: Luke 7
Key Scriptures: Luke 7:44-48 “Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.””
Jesus was always teaching those He loved and came to save. The setting was the home of a Pharisee that had invited Him to dinner. At the meal, a woman came and anointed His feet with expensive ointment and washed them with her tears, wiping them off with her locks of hair. Simon, the Pharisee, was wondering if Jesus understood what kind of a person this woman was. He had judged her a “sinner”. Jesus addressed his thoughts with a parable of two debtors asking mercy from the lender and asking Simon which debtor would love the lender more? The bottom line was correctly reached by Simon–the one forgiven the most money. Does my love for Jesus match His great mercy for me a sinner?
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; . . .”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank You for forgiving my sins and transgressions. Forgive me for often taking this lightly and not showing love to You by obedience, worship and service. Increase my love level by revealing Your great mercy to me.
Psalm 103:11-12 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”
Scripture reading for February 2nd: Mark 12
Key Scriptures: Mark 12:28-31 “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He answered them well asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important commandment is ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.””
Jesus had been disputing with the scribes and Pharisees concerning different current religious and political issues. They were trying to trap Jesus by their questions but were not successful. One scribe asked about the greatest commandment and Jesus gave a simple answer, quoted from the Scriptures of Moses. The greatest commandment was to love God fully and completely and the second greatest was to love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments summed up the whole law of God. It was all about love and love drew obedience from the heart. The scribe had to agree with Jesus and Jesus told him he was not far from the kingdom!
Deuteronomy 6:3 “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I love You will all my heart, soul, mind and strength through the Holy Spirit You gave me. I desire to love my neighbor as myself. Help me daily to walk in Your love and let Your love flow through me.
Romans 5:5 “. . .and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”
Scripture reading for January 12th: 2nd Timothy 1
Key Scriptures: 2nd Timothy 1:6-10 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in the suffering for the Gospel by the power of God, Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the world began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, . . .”
In his last letter before leaving this world, Paul affectionately addressed his son in the faith, Timothy with a reminder. Timothy had come from a line of people who were marked by their faith in God. Timothy also had come to faith and had been ordained by Paul through the laying on of his hands and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit and a holy calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit enabled Timothy to be bold and powerful in loving God and sharing God’s love with a hurting and sometimes hateful world. Paul reminded him of this Gift and encouraged him to fan the flames of God’s passionate love and power through the exercise of this Gift. Suffering would result, but life and immortality would flow for Timothy and those who received the Gospel message and God’s purpose would be fulfilled.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank You for the Gift of Your Holy Spirit to give me boldness, power, and passionate love for You and for Your people. I want to fan into flames the Gift You have provided and that is in me. Give me more grace and power to live a holy life and reach the lost!
Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Scripture reading for January 4th: 1st Timothy 1
Key Scriptures: 1st Timothy 1:5, 12-14 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. . . I thank Him Who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, through formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s letter to Timothy, a young pastor who Paul considered his “son” in the faith, was written to encourage Timothy to preach God’s Word and live it out as an example to those he ministered to. Paul testified of his own call and appointment to ministry by Jesus Christ, in spite of his egregious lifestyle of a blasphemer and persecutor of God’s people. Paul had been ignorant and had acted in unbelief and when he repented, Jesus gave him overflowing grace and new faith and a river of His love for the lost. No one is too hardened that God’s grace cannot save and bring needed transformation. Paul had a clear conscience and a pure heart through faith in Jesus Christ!
Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank You for calling me to salvation and to preach Your Word. This was in spite of my own sinful and selfish lifestyle. Help me to maintain a clear conscience and pure heart as I learn to fulfill Your calling and raise up others to serve You.
Matthew 4:19-20 “And He said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”