Scripture reading for April 29th: 1st Samuel 17, 1st Chronicles 2, Acts 12
Acts 12:20-24 “Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the Word of God increased and multiplied.”
God loves all people and seeks to see them saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. However, God is Holy and He alone can see the hearts of all men, Jew or Gentile! In this account in Acts, God sent His angel to strike down Herod when he failed to give glory to God, but took it for himself. Herod was eaten by worms! In the account of the lineage of King David, we find that one of the leaders of the twelve tribes, Judah, married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. The first-born, Er, did evil in God’s sight and God put him to death. God would rather save than judge, but He is also the righteous Judge of all men. Holy fear is required no matter our lineage or political power!
1st Chronicles 2:1-3 “These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan and Shelah; these three Bath-shua the Canaanite bore to him. Now Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, and He put him to death.”
Prayer: Father God, You alone have the wisdom and power to know all things and to judge righteously. You see all hearts of men and will not tolerate those who are full of pride and fail to give You glory. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and fear of the Lord, keeping me from pride or foolishly betraying Jesus or God’s anointed leadership like Ahithophel (and Judas). This can only lead to destruction and death.
1st Samuel 17:23 “When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.”
Scripture reading for December 24th: Job 28-30, Revelation 18
Key Scriptures: Revelation 18:4-8 “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, My people lest your take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit like a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God Who has judged her.””
John hears another angelic voice from heaven calling out to the people still on earth who belong to Jesus Christ. The call is for a holy separation to God and His kingdom. They are warned that the sins of this corrupt world system of humanism and false religion have risen to the point of judgment. That judgment will come in a single day from the Lord God Almighty through the fire of His wrath. The people living in the world system of “Babylon” are living in greed and luxury, thinking proudly of themselves and their great accomplishments. They are deceived by their own pride and do not realize that their destruction will come suddenly.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for sending someone to warn me of my need to repent and come out of the man-centered world system of ‘Babylon’. Keep me in the fear of the Lord and use me to warn others of the coming judgment and way of escape through Jesus Christ.
Job 28:20, 28 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?” . . .”And He said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”
Scripture reading for October 1st: Jeremiah 11-13, 2nd Corinthians 12
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
Paul carefully explained how God had given him great revelations, even catching him up to the third heaven. He heard things that he could not reveal or explain. God allowed a thorn in Paul’s flesh from Satan, to keep him from conceit. Conceit is pride that puffs up a person and allows deception. Paul sought God for deliverance, but God assured him that His power would be made perfect in weakness and His grace would be sufficient to keep him. Paul’s boast now was in his weakness so Christ’s power would flow through him.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your amazing grace that can keep me from pride and deception. Help me to boast only in You and my many weaknesses that Your power may work through me to accomplish Your will.
Jeremiah 13:15-17 “Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before He brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light He turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness. But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.”
Scripture reading for January 9th: Matthew 7, Psalm 7, Prov. 7
Key Scriptures: Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Jesus taught His disciples that confession of faith was not enough in and of itself to guarantee entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Even works done in the Name of Jesus would not qualify a person for entrance. Confession and good works must be accompanied by complete submission to God and yielding to His will in every area of life. Faith confessions must be demonstrated by humble obedience to God’s will and word.
Faith’s confession: Jesus, I confess that You are Lord of my life. I pray that Your kingdom would come and Your will would be done in my life on earth as in heaven. Deliver me from pride and presumption, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may truly know You better each day.
Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep My words and treasure up My commandments with you; keep My commandments and live; keep My teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Scripture reading for September 12th: Ezekiel 25-29
Key Scriptures: Ezekiel 28:14-17 “You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.”
Ezekiel was given a prophesy for the King of Tyre. This prophesy seems to speak about a fallen created angel who became proud and was thrown out of heaven and down to earth. Ezekiel’s prophesy mirrors part of John’s vision in the 12th chapter of Revelation!
The God of Justice: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9)
Scripture reading for September 17th: Obadiah
Jacob and Esau were twin brothers. Esau was the first-born and Jacob came out holding onto his brother’s heel. A spiritual conflict ensued that caused these brothers and their descendants to be in a struggle that lasted for hundreds of years. Jacob got Esau’s birthright for a bowl of soup. (Genesis 25:32-34) Jacob stole his brother’s blessing from their father Isaac with the help of their mother Rebekah. Esau was furious and held a grudge against Jacob, plotting to kill him. (Genesis 27:41) Jacob fled to Paddan Aram, to Laban’s house to find a wife. (Genesis 28:1-3) Esau had upset his parents by marrying Hittite women who were idolaters! (Genesis 27:44) So this conflict between two brothers smoldered like a fire, particularly in the heart of Esau!
Over 500 years later, Obadiah the prophet was sent with a message for Esau’s descendants. They had become a nation that was dwelling next to Israel but still held a grudge! They had pride that their own strength would make their way. (Obadiah 3-4) They had violence in their hearts against their brother Jacob and stood aloof while Jacob was under attack. (Obadiah 10-12) They had looked down on their brothers when they were being overtaken by foreigners and rejoiced over their misfortune rather than helping defend them. (Obadiah 12-14) God’s message was that Edom would reap what they had sowed and their pride would result in the destruction of the House of Esau! (Obadiah 15-18)
We can all learn from this sad story! A grudge held can infect a family which can eventually destroy a nation of people. Esau’s grudge was never fully dealt with! Esau’s focus on his own needs, appetites, and personal pride caused his family and eventually a nation that came from him to dwell in pride. This pride and despising of their brothers resulted in God’s judgment and their destruction! Unforgiveness is just as dangerous for us today! It will isolate us from our family and open us up to the enemy of our souls. It will cut us off from God’s grace! Jesus Christ died to heal our broken family ties and restore us to God’s family! Take time today to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness! Humility always defeats pride’s death traps!
Scripture reading for May 31st: Job 35-37
“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you.” Job 36:3-4
Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything? For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for. Elihu was such a person. He boasted of his great wisdom and but was not much different from the other three friends. He talked down to Job and subtly accused Job of not knowing God, yet he claimed to know God perfectly. (Job 36:4)
Elihu stated that God commanded sinners to repent and that if they listened, they would spend the rest of their days in prosperity. (Job 36:11) This argument had already been hashed around and Job had reminded them that this was not always the case. Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth. (Job 21:7-14) We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes, but they will all be for our good if we love him. (Romans 8:28)
Elihu stated that our sin had no effect on God. (Job 35:6) Sin does have an effect on God. It provokes His anger and all sin is against God first. Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil. God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern. Job was before the Law was given but God never changes and His character was the same then as now!
Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction. (Job 36:21) When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others. Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up! (1st Corinthians 8:1b)
As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20) No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord! He is our helper and guide! In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths! (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Scripture reading for September 21st: Galatians 6:1-18
Even spiritual people get caught in sins. Spiritual people can still make wrong choices and become deceived. Pride is usually the culprit and we fall into the devil’s trap. Paul encouraged the Galatians to carry each others burdens and love others enough to seek to help them be restored. We must stay in the Spirit and not become conceited or prideful ourselves because we can fall into sin ourselves. We must be honestly checking out our own hearts for wrong attitudes and prideful judgments of those who are trapped. (Galatians 6:1-5)
Paul briefly speaks to the Galatians about their giving. They are encouraged to share their resources with those who teach them the word of God. Generosity and blessing God’s workers is the heart of the Spirit too!
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, will from that nature reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Sowing is always a choice of our free will. We are not victims or creatures caught in our circumstances. We make choices each day to either follow the Spirit or our sinful nature. The easy path naturally is the way of the sinful nature. However, it is in truth the hard path because it always leads to destruction and death. When we choose the way of the Spirit, the trials come and the enemy opposes us. However, this path always leads to eternal life and blessing!
The false teachers were trying to get the Galatians to follow the law. In that way they could boast in their flesh and avoid persecution from the religious Jews. Paul’s word to them was, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Our good works, however religious they may be, can never produce righteousness in us before God. Our only hope is faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. This faith brings the Holy Spirit into our life to make us a new creation of God. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
Scripture reading for March 25th: Luke 6:39-7:10
It is always easy to see the faults in others and to miss your own. We tend to be willfully blind to any problems we may have. It is not easy to change ourselves and impossible unless we acknowledge that there is a problem. This first step is hard because of pride. Admitting weakness or sin makes us feel ashamed or worthless. Often we really don’t want to change either. We may use our weakness or our sin as a crutch to help us get by or give us an excuse as to why we are like we are.
Jesus told the people a parable to help them see their trouble. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above His teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like His teacher. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:39-42)
The Pharisees had been deriding Jesus and His disciples for various small issues. They didn’t like them eating with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ whom they considered ‘unclean’. This was a ‘speck’ they were trying to remove from Jesus’ eye while Jesus was showing them the plank in their eye! (Luke 5:31) The Pharisees condemned Jesus for healing the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, thus doing work on a day of rest. Jesus tried to help them with their ‘plank’–missing the mercy and love of God towards hurting people, even on the Sabbath. (Luke 6:9-11)
Christians must guard against the ‘planks’ that come to block our vision and cause us to judge others. With the judgment we give, it will be measured back to us! (Luke 6:37-28) What ‘planks’ are sticking out of your eye today? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Scripture reading for November 6th: Acts 5-7
Lying is a sin and one God’s ten commandments. (Exodus 20:16) God hates a lying tongue! (Proverbs 6:17-19) Lying breaks relationships, marriages, homes, and even churches! A lying tongue hates the one it hurts! (Proverbs 26:28) A false witness will not go unpunished and he who pours out lies will perish! (Proverbs 19:9) The devil is a liar and can speak only one language: “LIE!” (John 8:44)
The Book of Acts records the history of the early church from just before the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul in Rome. Very early in the history of the new church, Luke writes to tell us the story of a couple who told a lie that cost them very dearly. This is the story of Ananias and Sapphira found in Acts 5:1-16.
The lie that this couple told was a lie of omission. They sold some of their property and made an offering to the Apostles for the use of the church. The price of the property was more than what they gave, but they told the Apostles that they gave all the money to the Lord when they had kept some back for themselves. Now it wasn’t wrong not to give it all. It was only wrong to lie about what they had given. Scripture doesn’t say why they did this. Whatever the reason, we only have the startling results!
“Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men, but to God.”” “When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what happened.” (Acts 5:3-5)
This should make each one of us think and evaluate our own hearts and giving. We need mercy more than ever! This is a New Testament story to warn God’s people that dealing with God is serious business! Amazingly, the church grew and many souls were added after this judgment! The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth!