Scripture reading for May 14th: 2nd Samuel 6, 1st Chronicles 13, Psalm 60, Acts 23
Key Scriptures: Acts 23:8-11 “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.””
Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, testified of his hope in the resurrection. As a Pharisee, he was a believer in the supernatural but the Saducees did not believe. Paul used this to divide the Jews who had come to accuse him. The result was a great argument that brought the Roman officials to take Paul out of the courtroom. Jesus appeared again to Paul as he was under house arrest. Jesus instructed him to be courageous. He would be used to testify to the facts about Jesus in Rome as well.
Psalm 60:12 “With God we shall do valiantly; it is He Who will tread down our foes.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit and I will testify to the facts of Jesus Christ before all men. I will testify of Jesus Christ with all my might as an act of worship.
1st Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.”
Scripture reading for June 5th: Acts 23
After Paul let the commander know that he was also a Roman citizen, the commander sought to find out why the Jews were so angry with Paul. He had the Jewish leadership convene the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of 70 elders. Paul was brought before them. “”Paul looked at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!”” (Acts 23:1-3)
This group of men had already judged Paul, even before hearing him! Paul chose words similar to what Jesus used to speak to the leaders! (Matthew 23:27-28) Paul, however, apologized for his remark by citing another passage from the law, “Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.” (Exodus 22:28) Paul was confronting some of the same people that had Jesus crucified unjustly!
Paul then made a statement that set the Sanhedrin in conflict. “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in te resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) A dispute broke out in the Sanhedrin between the Sadducees and the Pharisees over this theological issue. The conflict became so violent, that the Roman commander had Paul taken from their meeting and kept in the barracks.
“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11) Paul had another personal encounter with Jesus! Jesus told him to have courage! He would also testify in Rome as he was now having opportunity to share with those in Jerusalem! Every opportunity is directed by our Lord and He stands with His own!
Scripture reading for April 16th: Luke 18:1-17
It’s easy to be self-righteous! We are prone to think very highly of ourselves and focus on the other people who are ‘worse’ sinners than we are. Church people are very often the best at this, because they think that going to church or doing something for the poor brings them into special merit with God. But God is not as impressed with our attempts to look good as we are. Jesus told a story to help His disciples better understand their need for humility.
“To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told them this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'” (Luke 18:9-13)
The Pharisee went home as he came–proud and full of himself! He was oblivious to his real need of deliverance from pride. He was eager to see the faults of others, but missed the ‘log’ of self-righteousness in his own eye! He was confident in himself and his own ability to do what God required by keeping the law and earning his standing with God and failed to ask God for mercy for this fatal sin. To the rest of the world, it probably looked like this Pharisee had it right, but Jesus saw it otherwise!
Any Jewish person who worked as a tax collector was considered a ‘sinner’ by the society of Jesus’ day. But this man was humble and recognized his need of forgiveness. He confessed that he was a sinner and took ownership of his own mistakes. He did not blame God or claim to be a victim of someone else’s sin. He humbly asked God for the mercy he knew he needed. This attitude caught Jesus’ attention and Jesus said that this man went home justified! “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14b)