Scripture reading for March 31st: Luke 21
Key Scriptures: Luke 21:33-36 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” And every day He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.”
Jesus was plain in warning His disciples and those who would follow their message concerning the final judgment before the Son of Man. This world has many attractions and diversions that capture men and hold them in a state of unpreparedness for this judgment. Man operates from his heart–the inner man and God sees each heart. When hearts are weighed down and hardened by sins and even the cares and troubles of life, preparations for this judgment are put off and those so burdened are lulled into a dangerous lack of perception. They neglect to remember that life here is short and that following this life, all must give an account before God. Jesus urgently pleaded with all who would listen to stay awake and guard their hearts through prayer and faith. He wanted all to stand and none to be caught in the sudden trap of a heavy heart! He was also warning these disciples of the coming battle in the Garden of Gethsemane where they would sleep while He wrestled in prayer, sweating great drops of blood.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving warning of future accounting. I want to stand without shame or condemnation. Give me wisdom today to fulfil Your Word and will and avoid the traps of this world. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit empowering me to pray and stand as evil increases in these last days.
Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Scripture reading for November 6th: Jeremiah 41-43, James 5
Key Scriptures: James 5:13-16 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess you sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
James concluded his letter to the church with practical instructions on living by faith with corresponding actions. No matter what the circumstance, prayer, praise, thanksgiving and actions prompted by faith will bring God’s response. Faith shows itself by corresponding actions! The people who came to Jeremiah for God’s direction, however, did not want to obey God!
Jeremiah 42:2-3 “. . .and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant–because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us–that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing we should do.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your promises of response to the faith of Your people. Keep me from unbelief and failing to act on Your instructions. Amen.
Scripture reading for May 28th: 2nd Chronicles 6-8, Acts 17
Key Scriptures: Acts 17:24-27 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself Gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their was toward Him and find Him.”
Paul found himself in Athens among the philosophers of the city. They loved debating the latest new ideas. Paul preached Jesus Christ to them and pointed them to the Creator of heaven and earth. He stated that this God did not live in temples and was the giver of all life. He even determined each person’s residence and length of time there. This God was worth getting to know!
2nd Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your great knowledge and understanding of all men. Give me boldness like Paul of old to share a testimony of the Creator and redeemer. Amen.
Scripture reading for November 7th: James 5
Key Scriptures for over-comers: James 5:13-16 “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Confession, prayer and praise are great responses to any of life’s ups and downs! James was known as “old camel knees” because he was such a man of prayer and love for God. He closed his letter with strong encouragement to pray. Each believer is righteous and has access to God’s throne through Christ Jesus. Our prayers are powerful and effective, able to bring help in trouble or healing in sickness. Praise to God brings joy and a thankful heart. Confession of sins brings forgiveness and healing.
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers pray with power and effectiveness through a strong relationship with Jesus Christ! “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:6-7)
Scripture reading for November 6th: James 5
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. Se how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and the spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7-9)
James, the pastor, is concerned about the Church and the ability of its members to stand before the Lord when He comes again. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that helps believers to stand firm and keep on trusting in the face of intense opposition. The flesh loves to complain and blame others, often leaders! James knew the temptations that his people faced and warned them appropriately using the example of a farmer waiting for his crop and the rains from heaven. He also reminded them of the Old Testament prophets, like Job of old, who suffered patiently and how God eventually worked out their suffering for good!
“Is anyone in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the Name of the Lord.” (James 5:13-15) Living by faith requires godly action and discipline to do what God has required. In every situation of testing or blessing, prayer, thanksgiving and praise to the Lord is appropriate and will be rewarded! “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) We must be watchful over our wandering brothers in Christ as well as our own souls! Jesus is coming!
Sunday February 23rd, 2014
Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to gather with God’s people and worship our Lord! What a privilege to call on His Name in prayer, knowing that He has told us that we can ask Him for anything and He will do it! What exciting kingdom vision and understanding we will gain by faith as we listen to God’s Word! Our world will be changed as we gather to worship, pray and listen!
God bless you and your family! May the blessings of our Lord make you rich in faith to do His will on earth as it is in Heaven! In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for August 2nd: Romans 15:23-16:7
Paul explained to the Roman church his calling to reach the Gentiles and to preach to those who had never heard about Christ. He had been hindered from coming to visit them. He wanted to have their fellowship and invite them to assist him in going to Spain to preach the Gospel there. This would be new territory.
Paul explained where he was headed now. He was going to Jerusalem to bless the church there. Paul had received offerings from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to help the poor among the church in Jerusalem. Many of the Jews who had believed in Christ were cut off from their families and often lost their jobs. They were persecuted for their faith and this resulted in poverty and need. Because the Gentiles had shared in the Jew’s spiritual blessings through Christ, Paul told them that they had an obligation to share with these Jews their material blessings. Paul stated that these Gentile churches had given generously and with joy! (Romans 15:26-27)
“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 15:30-33) Paul’s great need as a missionary and apostle was prayer from the church. Prayer is as important as giving finances in accomplishing the work of God. Paul asked for protection from the unbelievers in Judea. He was aware of the potential danger to his own life and knew prayer would make a difference. He asked that God to enable him to serve the church in Jerusalem with excellence through his offerings and ministry. Paul also anticipated coming to the Roman church and having a time of refreshing with them as well. What great insight into the heart of the apostle Paul and his ministry through these last chapters of Romans!
Scripture reading for January 11th: Matthew 9:18-38
Farmers know the pressure when the crops are ripe and the weather is just right for harvesting. I speak from years of experience in raising grain on an Iowa farm. Farmers know that the window of opportunity is narrow and they must make haste before the storm comes and ruins the ripe grain. An urgency and focus comes upon them that even deprives them of their desire to eat until their task is finished and the precious grain is in the barn.
“Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. As the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
Jesus came to earth with a mission to seek and save lost sinners. He likened them to ripe grain, ready to harvest. He quickly went into the harvest field healing the sick and delivering those who were demon possessed. His compassion and power drew large crowds of hurting and hungry people. Jesus was moved by their needs like a shepherd would care for his own sheep. He spoke to His disciples about the harvest and the need for more workers. Prayer for workers must be made to the Lord of the harvest in order to solve this problem.
Prayer is conversation with God and listening to God for an answer. When we ask, then we wait for instructions or the answer. As these disciples asked for the laborers, Jesus was sending them out as the answer to that prayer! “He called the twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” “Go to the lost sheep of Israel”. (Matthew 10:1, 6) This specific prayer for laborers is often neglected by the followers of Jesus. We have now been sent into the whole world to every nation. Today there is a ripe harvest and a time of opportunity and workers are needed to gather it in with urgency! Will you pray and respond to the Master?
Scripture reading for December 16th: James 1-5
James was the half-brother of Jesus Christ. He was known to be the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and full of practical wisdom. One of his nicknames was “camel knees” because of time spent in prayer.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) Not many people like trials. But James says we should embrace trials with joy, because we know they develop perseverance. We need perseverance to grow and mature.
“Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he waits for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:7-9) We need mature faith and patience because Jesus is coming. Farmers regularly wait upon God for the needed rains to grow and mature their crops. Grumbling is a sign of impatience. God will judge those who are impatient and fail to wait.
“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11) James is always addressing the “brothers” in an encouraging way, appealing to their past knowledge and understanding as Jewish believers. They were familiar with the prophets and their suffering–especially Job, the oldest book of the Bible. Job suffered patiently and God restored him completely at the end of his trial.
“Is anyone in trouble? He should pray.” (James 5:13a) James ends his letter with an encouragement to pray when in trials or trouble. Prayer helps us to persevere and develops patience. Elijah of old prayed and waited on God. God answered him. He will answer us today as well! We must persevere and watch and pray! Jesus is coming! The rains mean harvest! The trials mean more maturity and joy!