Scripture reading for May 4th: Acts 21
Key Scriptures: Acts 21:10-14 “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.””
Paul was set on going to Jerusalem and on the way, stopped by Philip the evangelist’s home and stayed there many days. A known prophet from Judea came by and in a prophetic act and word, told Paul what was coming as he would reach Jerusalem. The disciples and Philip tried to talk Paul into avoiding Jerusalem. Paul, although moved by their concern, knew the will of the Lord. He was ready to face whatever lie ahead for the Name of Jesus, even death as a martyr. Those there recognized that God’s will must be done, no matter how they felt emotionally about Paul or how much Paul loved them.
Mark 14:36 “And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being with us and strengthening us for coming times of trial. Thank You for prophetic words and warnings. May I always follow Your will, no matter what my personal feelings or even urgings of my own family and friends.
Matthew 16:21-22 “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall never happen to You.””
Scripture reading for April 22nd: Acts 13
Key Scriptures: Acts 13:1-4 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When the arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.”
The Book of Acts switches here from the ministry of Peter to the ministry of Paul and his missionary calling to the Gentiles. In this passage, we have the leaders of the church in Antioch worshiping the Lord and fasting when, through one of the prophets present, a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit came forth. We note that this was a word of confirmation, not initial direction. The Holy Spirit had already spoken the Barnabas and Saul about their ministry personally. It was now confirmed through the prophesy given during worship. The leaders were obedient and laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them off. As they went on their way, it is emphasized that they were sent off by the Holy Spirit and they preached the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews first, as God’s chosen people to bring Jesus into the world. They hardened their hearts and Paul and Barnabas turned to reach the Gentiles, also God’s plan!
Acts 13:44-46 “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly saying, “It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the message of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Thank You for the gift of prophecy in Your church. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and use me to speak Your Word boldly to those in need of confirmation and salvation.
Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
Scripture reading for September 11th: Isaiah 49-52, Psalm 69, 1st Corinthians 14
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 14:1-4 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.”
As Paul wrote to the church concerning spiritual gifts, he emphasized that they should seek to prophesy above all the other gifts. Tongues builds up the individual who speaks. They allow the Holy Spirit to speak to God through them in mysteries. Prophesy speaks God’s thoughts in a known language and is profitable to the church. It builds up, encourages and comforts all members of the church since what is said can be understood by all. God is a God of order, not confusion. This doesn’t mean that tongues are unimportant. If they are interpreted, they serve the Church like prophesy.
Psalm 69:35-36 “For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it: the offspring of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name shall dwell in it.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Use me to build up Your church and be an encouragement to Your people through the gift of prophesy.
Isaiah 51:15-16 “I am the Lord your God, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the Lord of Hosts is His Name. And I have put My words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of My hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth, and saying to Zion: ‘You are My people.'”
Scripture reading for July 24th: 1st Corinthians 14, Psalm 147, Proverbs 23
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 14:1-4 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.”
Paul encouraged the church to pursue love and to seek diligently the spiritual gifts, especially prophesy. Speaking in tongues is wonderful, but it is speaking to God and builds up the individual. It is an equivalent to prophesy if it is interpreted. But prophesy in a known tongue edifies the church and encourages and consoles it. Prophesy tells forth the mind of God through a gifting of the Holy Spirit.
Faith Confession: Lord, thank You for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I pursue love and desire the gifts, especially prophesy that I might be used to build up and encourage Your body, the Church.
Proverbs 23:23-24 “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of a righteous man will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.”
Scripture reading for May 31st: Acts 19
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Acts 19:1-2,5-7 “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” . . .”On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.”
Nearly twenty years after Pentecost, Paul encountered some disciples of John who had believed in Jesus. They had only received John’s baptism of repentance so Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ and then placed his hands on them. As he did this, the Holy Spirit fell on them and they began to speak in tongues and prophesy in the same manner as the original day of Pentecost. Later in this chapter, Paul preached boldly and a revival of repentance broke out where many came and confessed their evil deeds and burned their occult and sorcery paraphernalia. Power was needed to confront the darkness in that city!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers are filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to confront the forces of evil. They seek to help other believers walk in God’s power and anointing as well. “You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.” (Psalm 92:10-11)
Scripture reading for July 24th: 1st Corinthians 14
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” (1st Corinthians 14:1-3) Paul encouraged the church members to follow the excellent way of love and to eagerly desire spiritual gifts. The one gift to be especially sought was prophesy.
Prophesy was not just a foretelling of the future. Prophesy was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in a known language to strengthen and encourage others in the faith. God knows each individual and group of believers and wants to communicate with them to help them in their walk and mission. God uses people who are willing to share His word and speak by the Spirit’s inspiration.
The Corinthians were often speaking in tongues in their meetings. Paul stated that this gift was good, but in order to help others, tongues must be interpreted and put into a language that all could understand and benefit. (1st Corinthians 14:13-17) When a person speaks in tongues by the Spirit, he is speaking directly to God and speaks ‘mysteries’. When someone who is gifted to interpret gives the understanding, then all are edified.
Paul did want all church members to eagerly desire the spiritual gifts. He also wanted the gifts to be used to build up the church. “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1st Corinthians 14:26) Are you eagerly seeking spiritual gifts?
Scripture reading for June 3rd: Acts 21
After leaving the elders of Ephesus, Paul went on towards Jerusalem. Disembarking from the ship he was traveling on, they stopped at Tyre. They found some disciples there and stayed with them while the ship was unloading cargo. “Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:4) Paul listened but felt compelled to go on towards Jerusalem. These believers were hearing what the Spirit was saying about the suffering that Paul would endure and sought to warn him. But Paul felt directed to go, even if there was suffering involved!
At another stop, Paul reached Caesarea and stayed with Philip the evangelist who was one of the first seven deacons. (Acts 6:5) There a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea and came over to Paul, ” . . .he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will had him over to the Gentiles.'” (Acts 21:11) When all who were with Paul heard this, they pleaded with Paul not to go.
Notice that the warning given here by Agabus did not forbid Paul to go, but only told what would happen to him. His friends did not want him to suffer. But Paul had already heard from God himself and knew he was supposed to go. “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (Acts 21:13-14) Prophesy in the New Testament is not directive, but used to confirm God’s will.
Scripture reading for May 7th: Acts 2
The disciples obeyed their ascended Lord Jesus and waited in Jerusalem. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4) Ten days after the ascension, on Pentecost morning, the promise was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind with tongues of fire and touched each person of the 120 who were waiting there. The immediate initial effect was speaking in other tongues.
When the sound came, a crowd gathered. Many were there in Jerusalem for the celebration from around the known world. They were perplexed when they heard these disciples speaking in their own languages and declaring the wonders of God! They asked “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12) Some thought they were drunk!
“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “. . .these men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.”” (Acts 2:14-18) The ‘last days’ had arrived! Peter boldly declared the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy! It was for all Jesus’ followers then and now!
Greetings! Today is another day of rest and reflection about what God has been saying to us. Have you enjoyed Numbers? What have you learned about Jesus Christ through this book? Do you sense God speaking to you about Christ as you read the stories about Moses and the people of God as they learn to walk with God in their midst?
A story I did not write on comes to mind today. It’s the story of Balaam. Balaam was a prophet for hire who was hired by Balak, King of the Moabites. Balak was afraid of the Israelites and had heard the reports of how they had completely destroyed Sihon and Og, two other kings that opposed them. God had given them this victory and led them in this conquest. Balak was trying to get advantage the only way he knew how. He sent a delegation to hire Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. Balaam, to his credit, sought God as to what he should do. God told him not to go and not to curse Israel. (Numbers 22:12)
A short time later, Balak sent more distinguished men and more money to try and entice Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. Balaam was tempted, but he sought God again on this matter. Money and men have a way of clouding God’s instructions. God told him to go, but do only what He instructed him. This led to the incident where Balaam’s donkey talked to him and warned him about the Angel of the Lord who was waiting on the way to kill him! God’s mercy and justice are evident here in this tension.
Balaam goes to curse the Israelites and as he stands to act, a spirit of prophesy comes on him. Each time, he blesses God’s people instead. These blessings speak of Jesus Christ and God’s desire to bless his people. Numbers 23:6-10 records the first blessing and verses 18-24 the second blessing. God has blessed his people, who can curse them? When God speaks a promise, no one can change it by sorcery! (Numbers 23:20,23)
The final prophesy of Balaam is recorded in Numbers 25: 14-24. In this prophesy, Balaam warns Balak of what the Israelites would do to his people in the days to come. He sees a vision of the Almighty. This vision is of a star coming out of Jacob and a scepter out of Israel. It was not now and not near, but would surely come. He would crush the head of Moab and conquer Edom. This ruler is Jesus Christ, the star out of Jacob and the one who holds the ruler’s septer! Jesus would crush the head of the serpent as prophesied in Genesis 3:15!
The tradgedy of Balaam is what he did later. He evidently figured out a way to help out Balak. He told them to send in the women and seduce the Israelites and get them into idolatry. That would bring a curse from God on the Israelites as a consequence of their own sins. (Numbers 31:15-16) Balaam was a false prophet who met a tragic end! (Numbers 31:8) We must be on our guard! Our enemy Satan is always trying to seduce us! (Revelation 2:14-16)