Scripture reading for January 31st: Exodus 28-30, Matthew 23
Key Scriptures: Matthew 23:1-5 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but no the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their fingers. They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”
Jesus was preparing to return to heaven and was giving His final instructions. He warned the disciples about imitating the current religious leaders of the day. Their example was not one to follow in that they preached one thing and did another. They also performed religious works to be seen by others, not focusing on pleasing God. We must walk in obedience to please our Father!
Exodus 28:1-2 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve Me as priests–Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.”
Prayer: Lord, Help me to wear the holy garment of Your righteousness in all that I do. May I please you and not perform for men. Amen
Scripture reading for February 2nd: Matthew 23
Jesus had the hardest words for religious leaders who taught the Law of God. His principle was that those that had received much were responsible for much. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: . . .” (Matthew 23:1-5a)
Jesus taught the people to obey their religious authorities. When we disrespect authority, we disrespect God Himself. (Romans 13:1-2) These authorities were bad examples! They did not live what they taught and their deeds were done to impress men and not God! This would bring “woe” upon them! They liked the titles and positions of authority, but were not humble before God or man. (Matthew 23:8-12)
They tithed religiously even down to every tenth leaf of their spices, but neglected the more important matters of justice and mercy and faithfulness. Jesus warned them that they ought to tithe, but not neglect the more important matters of treating people with dignity. They washed their hands and dishes religiously, but inside they were full of hypocrisy and wickedness! (Matthew 23:25-28) Jesus even went so far as to call them snakes and vipers for killing the prophets that God had sent to warn them and turn them back! He, the Christ, was doing so right then! When we read these woes, we must open our own lives to the Word! Hypocrisy is a deadly sin!
Scripture reading for February 1st: Matthew 22:23-46, Psalm 21, Proverbs 6:1-19
Today’s reading tells of a group of Sadducees who came to Jesus to test Him. The Sadducees were what we might describe as non-charismatic Jews of Jesus’ day. They did not believe in miracles and especially the resurrection of the dead. For them, this was not reasonable and was just superstitious. They contrasted with the Pharisees who did believe in miracles and the resurrection of the dead. These Sadducees had what they thought was an question that would prove Jesus was not the Messiah.
Their question concerned the teaching of Moses where if a man died without having children, his brother was to marry his widow and have children for his brother. They proposed that this happened to a widow who had been married to seven brothers who had all died without producing children. (Matthew 22:23-32) (Deuteronomy 25:5-6) Their question for Jesus was, “Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew 22:27)
“Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead–have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” ” (Matthew 22:29-32) Jesus turned their question into a time of teaching for them. He gave them truth to help their understanding but did not fall into the trap that they had designed. He took the Scripture and clearly showed that God viewed the patriarchs as alive. The greater need was not to argue about issues of heaven, but to believe in resurrection and eternal life!
God’s power is sufficient to meet our every need. If we have honest questions, God can help us with answers. He has given us His Word to know truth and to bring faith alive in our hearts. We must take Him at His word and believe! All who come to God must believe that He is alive and rewards those who seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6) Many are like the Sadducee s, sad because they don’t believe the Scriptures or the power of God!
Scripture reading for July 4th: Acts 22:17-23:10
The next day, Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin. Their attitudes had not been changed. When Paul told them that he had fulfilled his duty to God with a good conscience, the High Priest order Paul struck in the mouth! This body of elders were so prejudiced against Paul that they would not let him explain. To them, he was speaking blasphemy and deserved death!
“Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others were Pharisees called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.” (Acts 23:6-7) Paul knew these rulers and how they thought. He knew how to bring about a division over religious issues. The Pharisees had a strong belief in the supernatural and resurrection and the Sadducees were skeptical about anything they could not understand, especially the resurrection.
The dispute and arguments between Pharisee and Sadducee became so violent that the commander was again afraid for Paul. He ordered Paul taken back to 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) God again stood by His servant and strengthened him with a word of knowledge that would help Paul endure imprisonment and persecution.
The divide between those who believe in the supernatural and those who are skeptical is still in the church today! Many who claim to believe in Jesus Christ and His resurrection argue vehemently that the miracles of Jesus ceased with the early church and apostles. Those who do believe are looked on as crazy or fanatical. Sometimes there is even heated arguments and division of entire churches! But God is not shaken by this and doesn’t want His servants to lose their courage to declare truth and be used in the supernatural! He comes supernaturally to strengthen and encourage! Take time today and thank Him that He is the God of resurrection and miracles!