Scripture reading for May 5th: Acts 22
Key Scriptures: Acts 22:12-16 “”And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour, I received my sight and saw him. An he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from His mouth; for you will be a witness for Him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait: Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.'”
As Paul was brought by the Roman magistrate to stand before the Jewish council, he began to share his personal journey from a zealous Pharisee who personally rounded up followers of Jesus to a follower of Jesus. He shared how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and how he was blinded by the light. He shared how another Jewish believer, Ananias, was sent to him to pray for him and how he immediately received his sight back. He told how he was appointed to know God’s will and see Jesus and become a witness of all he saw and heard. He also shared how he was baptized and saw Jesus in a trance while praying in the temple. Jesus warned him to get out of Jerusalem quickly because the Jews would not accept his testimony. Jesus then sent him to the Gentiles. At this, the murderous spirit against Christ and His followers manifested! Sounds like the ‘cancel’ culture of our day that tries to destroy what it opposes!
Acts 22:21-22 “And He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” Up to this they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Paul’s testimony and witness to me and the world. Thank You for my personal testimony of You calling me to preach and testify. Help me to boldly share Your Gospel love, even to those who may reject You or try to cancel me.
2nd Timothy 3:12-13 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Scripture reading for July 22nd: 2nd Kings 4-6, Matthew 5
Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:10-12 “”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.””
Jesus had gathered a great crowd of people and he began to teach them. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest recorded message of Jesus and one of the most famous. Jesus taught that it was a blessing to be persecuted for “righteousness sake.” He went on to elaborate what this meant. Those who followed Him would be reviled and persecuted and blasphemed against. Those who follow Jesus live righteous lives and preach repentance from evil. This brings persecution and sometimes death. Followers can rejoice because they have a great reward and they join with a long line of persecuted prophets.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I will gladly and with rejoicing take persecution because of You. Help me to stay true to You and Your Word in my actions, words and deeds.
2nd Kings 6:31 “—and he (Joram king of Israel) said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.””
Scripture reading for December 8th: 2 Timothy 1-4
The second letter of Paul to Timothy is widely believed to be the last written by the Apostle before his execution in Rome. His final words of encouragement to this young man should also be encouraging to us.
“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 did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
Timothy came from good stock. His mother and grandmother were both Jewish believers. They had faith which was alive in them. Paul sensed the call of God on Timothy and prayed for God’s gifts to come forth in him. One gift was that of pastor and teacher which required holy boldness.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17
Paul warned Timothy of coming persecution and deception. The best defense was continuing in the word of God. This was the word that was taught him by his mother and grandmother as well as Paul.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” 2nd Timothy 4:1-2
He told Timothy to “preach the Word” of God. It should be used to correct people, to rebuke those in sin and to encourage them to prepare for Christ’s coming. Take this simple charge to your heart today and let it move you to action! It’s in season no matter what time of year!
Scripture reading for January 5th: Matthew 5:1-30, Psalm 4, Proverbs 1:22-27
Jesus Christ was at heart a teacher. His teaching was with authority that many religious people of that day lacked because He clearly understood the word of God. (Matthew 7:28-29) His longest recorded teaching is these passages we will read the next few day in Matthew 5-7 called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus climbed a mountainside or hillside to gather His disciples and teach them. Large crowds gathered to hear Him teach and marveled at what He taught them.
The introduction to this teaching is called the “beatitudes”. These short statements all begin with “blessed” and are a description of the kind of life that belongs to those who choose the kingdom of heaven revealed by Jesus. These verses all contain blessings and promises to those who meet the requirements for the blessings. According to the Amplified Bible, the term “blessed” includes in the meaning happiness and a joy and blessing that is to be envied. To be blessed is to have God’s favor and smile of pleasure. The Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:24-27 comes to mind as God’s instruction to Aaron the High Priest for blessing the Israelites. God is the great King of the Kingdom and the King’s smile is a sign of His pleasure and acceptance.
Various attributes and attitudes are considered to be blessed. If you are poor in spirit, meek, or pure in heart God’s blessing is yours. If you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness or actively a peacemaker, God is smiling on you. If you are suffering persecution because of your righteousness, that also merits God’s blessing and favor. Great reward will come to each of these who exhibit these attributes and attitudes. These people will be the salt of the earth and light of the world! (Matthew 5:11-16) They must be careful to keep their salty status and let their lights shine to bring praise to God the Father in heaven!
True blessedness and joy comes from being what God created you to be. These attributes are formed in those who humbly follow Jesus and ask to be filled with His Spirit. Jesus perfectly exhibited these attributes and will form them in us as we submit to His word! Let your light shine and flavor the world with real saltiness! All glory goes to God!