Scripture reading for November 24th: 1st John 5
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 1st John 5:2-5 “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God, over-comes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
John’s desire was that the churches he served would be over-comers. Love is the only pathway to overcoming the world, flesh, and the devil. We do this by faith in God’s Word and commands. Our faith brings loving obedience and perseverance in trials. We obtain the victory here through faith and ultimately the victory of eternal life in God’s presence! Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith!
Observations for over-comers: Faith motivated by God’s conquering love brings over-coming victory to those who believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your Presence, O Lord.” (Psalm 89:14-15)
Scripture reading for January 25th: Matthew 17
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Matthew 17:18-21 “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Jesus demonstrated the power of faith to his unbelieving disciples when He cast out the demon from the boy with severe seizures. They had tried, but had failed and Jesus had severely rebuked them, calling them an ‘unbelieving and perverse generation’. When they questioned Him as to why, He clearly told them it was a lack of faith! Jesus was hard on them because He had given them authority to cast out demons when He called them to preach. (Mark 3:14-15) They had failed to use what was given to them to advance the kingdom of heaven and spoil Satan’s hold on the lost and hurting. This walk of faith is essential for over-comers in these last days.
Observation for over-comers: All it takes, according to our Lord Jesus, is faith the size of a mustard seed and we can move mountains! “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. . .It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:28-29,32)
Scripture reading for December 3rd: Revelation 3
Not many people love to be corrected. Yet the Bible teaches that “the Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6) In “this prophecy received by John from Jesus Christ, the Lord gives strong words to His Bride, the Church. We all would be wise to listen and heed what He has to say!
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: . . “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”” (Revelation 3:1-3)
Jesus knew the true condition of the hearts of those in this church. They had reputations and an image that they were trusting in, but they had been and were asleep and dead spiritually! Jesus told them plainly, not to condemn them but to warn them to repent! A change of mind was needed and a return to the original Gospel message and passion of trusting in Christ would put them back on track! Failure to respond would bring great disappointment when Christ returned. They would not be ready and their inheritance would be in jeopardy.
But there were a few in Sardis that were not asleep or dead! “They will walk with Me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5) Spiritual ears are required to hear the loving words of Jesus!
Scripture reading for December 2nd: Revelation 2
John was told to write down what he heard and saw and to send letters to the seven churches of Asia. Jesus, Himself, dictated the letters to each church. The letters generally contain a personal revelation of Jesus, commendation for good works, corrections needed along with warnings, and promises to those who would overcome.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds. . . .” (Revelation 2:1-2) Jesus introduced Himself as the One holding all the messengers (angels or possibly pastors) in His hand. He also walked among the churches and knew about the light that was coming from their “lampstand.” He knew their deeds that were inspired by faith and commended them for them.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolatians which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” (Revelation 2:4-7) Jesus also had honest correction. This church had left its first love–a love of Christ that sparked obedience and acts of love to others. Repentance was required. Only the humble have ears that will hear and heed! Overcomers will be rewarded!
Scripture reading for December 27th: Revelation 10-13
When we look at the world we live in and the formidable troubles that face all mankind, it is easy to become fearful and worry. Demonic forces are everywhere and it appears that they are winning. Pornography is prevalent everywhere. Terrorism and bloodshed are daily news for those who anxiously watch. Economic troubles, famines, and earthquakes are regular fare. Nations are uneasy with wars, rumors of war, nuclear weapons, rockets, and armies in readiness. Into this setting Christ, the Lamb slain, leads His followers and calls them to be overcomers!
John sees a repeat of the nativity story with a cosmic setting. This sign appearing in heaven showed a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. This woman was pregnant and and in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:1-2) John then saw another sign. There appeared a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on the heads. The dragon’s tail had swept a third of the stars from the sky and flung them to earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman to devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:3-4)
The woman gave birth to a male child, who will rule all the nations! The child was snatched up to God and His throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place God prepared for them. Then there was war in heaven between Michael the Archangel and his forces and the dragon and his angels. The dragon was hurled down to earth with his angels with him. The identity of the dragon was the “ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan”. (Revelation 12:7-9)
A loud voice from heaven announced the coming of the kingdom of God and the hurling down of the accuser of the brothers. The brothers “overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Revelation 12:11) The heavens were rejoicing! All who dwelt there were encouraged to rejoice! Those on the earth, however, would have woe because the devil was enraged. He knew his time was short! (Revelation 12:12) No matter what might happen to saints on earth, the best is yet to come! Rejoice and tell someone the good news!
Scripture reading for December 24th: Revelation 15:1-8
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt about 1500 years before Christ. After ten plagues that brought judgment on the gods of Egypt and those that followed them, the Egyptian army and Pharaoh decided to attack the unarmed Israelites as they faced the Red Sea. God, through Moses, opened the Red Sea and delivered His people. When they were safely on the other side and the Egyptian army was crossing, Moses held up his rod and the sea drowned all those in pursuit. Moses and Miriam led the people in a song of worship to God for His amazing deliverance! (Exodus 14-15)(Exodus 15:11)
“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are Your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, King of the Ages. who will not fear You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your Name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”” (Revelation 15:2-4)
John saw a company of people who had been victorious over the beast and had not taken his mark. These had been given harps by God and were singing the song of Moses. They had overcome by faith, many having been martyred for their refusal to accept his mark. They sang this song now to God and to the Lamb, worshiping Him for His justice and righteousness in judging the beast and those who refused to repent. God alone was holy and worthy of worship!
As they worshiped, the tabernacle of the Testimony was opened and the seven angels with the seven bowls of the wrath of God appeared. The heavenly temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and His power! As these faithful servants worshiped, God ordered the final seven plagues to be poured on the earth. God’s plan to eliminate evil and rebellion would take place suddenly and swiftly. Patient endurance had paid a big reward for those now in heaven. The worst was ahead for those in rebellion on earth!
Scripture reading for December 21st: Revelation 12:1-17
A great drama with interesting characters was the next sign seen in heaven by John on his tour of the throne room. Images have powerful ability in the hearts of men to convey truth or to deceive. Those who have been redeemed now have hearts that are teachable and open to truth. John wrote of these characters to describe the things God showed him that were yet to come.
“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a Son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her Child was snatched up to God and to His throne. (Revelation 12:1-5)
The Jewish believers of that day would recognize the character of the pregnant woman as the nation of Israel. The twelve stars were the twelve sons of Jacob. The child was the promised ruler from the line of Judah. Psalm 2:9 described this ruler as One with an ‘iron scepter’ to rule the nations of the earth. Believers would recognize in the description of this child being ‘snatched up’ to God and His throne, a picture of Jesus Christ who is ruling in heaven until all his enemies be put under his feet. (Psalm 110:1-2, 5-6)
The dragon is the old serpent from the Garden of Eden, Satan. He was kicked out of heaven and a third of the angels who rebelled with him fell also. (Ezekiel 28:12-18) The dragon has been at war with the seed of woman since the Garden of Eden where God told him of his end. (Genesis 3:15) In this cosmic contest, devouring mankind is now the dragon’s interest. Believers overcome him by their confession of trust in the blood of the Lamb! (Revelation 12:11-12) All heaven rejoices because the dragon’s time is short!
Scripture reading for December 10th: Revelation 2:1-17
As John has been assured by Jesus Christ not to fear, but to write what he heard and saw, John was given a word for each of the seven churches under his oversight. We read, listen, and prepare to heed the words John wrote!
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: . . .”You have persevered and have endured hardships for My Name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”” (Revelation 2:1a, 3-5) This first prophetic word was written to a church founded by the apostle Paul. (Acts 19-20) Paul had left this church warning them about an invasion of false teachers that would try and destroy them. John received this warning from Jesus Christ to further remind this church of their need to keep love for God and Jesus Christ foremost in their agenda. They had stood against false teachers, but loving Jesus was their primary duty and that was being neglected! Jesus would remove them from their place of bearing His light if they failed to repent!
To the church at Smyrna, Jesus gave a word of encouragement. He told them of a time of suffering and testing that would come through Satan. They were to remain faithful, even to the point of death, and Jesus would reward them with the crown of life! How thoughtful of our Lord to remind suffering believers of their reward!
The church at Pergamum existed in a dangerous place. This was a city where Satan had his throne and believers were maintaining their faith. Yet Jesus gave them a warning because He loved them and wanted them to overcome! “You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” (Revelation 2:14b-16a) These false teachers were going to lead this church astray. They must take action immediately to avoid Christ’s intervention! These words are life-giving rebukes to those with ears to hear!