Scripture reading for July 22nd: 2nd Kings 4-6, Matthew 5
Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:10-12 “”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.””
Jesus had gathered a great crowd of people and he began to teach them. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest recorded message of Jesus and one of the most famous. Jesus taught that it was a blessing to be persecuted for “righteousness sake.” He went on to elaborate what this meant. Those who followed Him would be reviled and persecuted and blasphemed against. Those who follow Jesus live righteous lives and preach repentance from evil. This brings persecution and sometimes death. Followers can rejoice because they have a great reward and they join with a long line of persecuted prophets.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I will gladly and with rejoicing take persecution because of You. Help me to stay true to You and Your Word in my actions, words and deeds.
2nd Kings 6:31 “—and he (Joram king of Israel) said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.””
Scripture reading for April 30th: 1st Samuel 18-19, 1st Chronicles 3, Psalm 59, Acts 13
Key Scriptures: Acts 13:1-3 “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.”
The early church sought the will of God by fasting, prayer and worship. In the gathering of believers, some had the gift of prophesy and spoke prophetically to the believers concerning Saul and Barnabas. God had already revealed to them a calling to preach to the Gentiles and now their calling was confirmed during a prayer meeting. The church responded by obediently commissioning them through the laying on of hands.
Psalm 59:17 “O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for You, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, You alone have prepared the good works that You want me to do. Help me daily to see each day’s portion of Your plan as I worship and pray to You alone. Thank You that You are with me always!
1st Samuel 18:14 “And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.”
Scripture reading for December 12th: Joel 3, Amos 1-3, Revelation 10
Key Scriptures: Revelation 10:4-7 “And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to His servants the prophets.”
God does nothing in judgment without revealing His plans to mankind through His servants. Prophetic vision was given to John as encouragement to God’s people and warning to all mankind. But God told John not to write down what the seven thunders said or revealed of the end-time plan. This will unfold in its time, when the seventh trumpet would sound during the great tribulation.
Amos 3:6-7 “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for revealing Your plans and the coming judgment of all mankind. Let me speak prophetically to my generation! Amen.
Scripture reading for November 14th: Ezekiel 6-9, 2nd Peter 1
Key Scriptures: 2nd Peter 1:19-21 “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter, writing his last letter to the church, encouraged the believers to pay attention to God’s Word. Holy prophets wrote down the Scriptures as they were directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. No Scripture comes from man’s own intellect or opinion. God’s Word is a bright light shining in the darkness of this world to guide His people home.
Ezekiel 10:4-5 “And the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Holy Scriptures that shine as light in our dark world. Thank You for speaking to me and guiding me through this day. Amen.
Scripture reading for October 12th: Isaiah 46-49, Hebrews 1
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 1:1-3 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, . . .”
The writer of Hebrews loves to tie Old and New Testaments together. In the past, God spoke by the prophets concerning things to come. Now, God speaks to us by His Son. The Son is the exact representation of God. The Son is the Creator and Upholder of the universe! The Son made a sacrifice of His blood to purify us from sin. The Son is now seated at God’s right hand! We must listen to the Son! His counsel will stand!
Isaiah 46:9-10 ” . . .remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose.'”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for speaking to Your people through the prophets of old concerning things coming. Thank You for speaking today through Your Son! Help me listen and obey. Amen.
Scripture reading for June 8th: Ezra 2-5, Acts 26
Key Scriptures: Acts 26:27-29 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian? And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.”
Paul made his defense before King Agrippa and appealed to the King about his knowledge of the prophets. He invited him to believe but Agrippa resisted, saying that he needed more time. Paul stated that his prayer was for him to become a believer in Jesus, whether sooner or later, as well as all who heard him.
Ezra 5:1-2 “Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the Name of the God of Israel who was over them. . . .and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for prophetic support in preaching Your Word! May prophesy flow through me as I testify of Your Gospel. Amen.
Scripture reading for January 7th: Matthew 5
Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Jesus warned and taught His disciples that they would be persecuted. He, Himself, suffered persecution because of His stand for God’s truth. Our attitude in times of persecution should not be “woe is me!” Jesus taught that His followers should rejoice and be glad because of a great reward in heaven! This takes faith and an understanding of God’s word and His precious promises. He promised great reward and that is enough! We are not the first to experience this persecution and Jesus wasn’t either. The prophets of old also suffered! It is said that Isaiah was cut in half with a saw. Jeremiah was cast into the mud of a cistern and eventually stoned in Egypt where he had warned God’s people not to go! The people wanted to kill Moses and return to Egypt. We stand in good company with God’s prophets when we are persecuted for righteousness!
Observation for over-comers: Our attitude reflects the faith and rest we have in God’s promises in times of persecution that are already here! “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Scripture reading for May 22nd: Acts 13
I have been a pastor for many years and know that calling a prayer meeting with fasting was not something that most people liked to do. Attendance at prayer meetings was usually very low. Could this be part of the reason for a lack of power and workers in the church?
But the early church met often for prayer and fasting. As the church at Antioch gathered worship, “the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Prophets in the early church would be moved on by the Holy Spirit as the church worshiped. In this case, a word of knowledge confirmed what the Holy Spirit had already told Barnabas and Saul. After the word was given, the church continued in prayer and fasting until the leaders felt directed to lay hands on them and send them off.
There is great power when the church gathers for prayer. Through the various gifts given by the Holy Spirit, the work of God is confirmed and the backing of others in Christ’s body is arranged. When hands are laid on, anointing of the Holy Spirit is given and identification and confirmation of God’s will through His body brings greater faith and boldness on the part of those sent. God wants to reach the lost of the world and has told His Church to go! How beautiful when the Church works together through worship, prophesy, prayer and fasting and the laying on of hands!
Scripture reading for September 25th: Ephesians 4:1-16
It was God’s amazing love that birthed the church from both Jew and Gentile. Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus might be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit and that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith. He prayed that this amazing love would establish them and unify them in spite of any previous differences. As he prayed, he knew and confessed that Christ was able to do more than he could even ask or think about! (Ephesians 3:20-21)
God’s plan to save Jew and Gentile through the Gospel was made known to the church. God then raised up an army of those who would equip the church for the works of service that God required to advance His plan. These gift-people included apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The purpose of these gifts to the church was to equip the body of Christ. God wanted each member of His body to come into unity of purpose and have a full understanding of the Son of God.
When a person is first born again, that person is like an infant baby. They must be fed and cared for so that they can grow properly. Good food with a balance of proper nutrition must be given the infant. They need milk in order to grow. (1st Peter 2:2) In the church at Ephesus, as in other churches, there were some false teachers who might try to persuade these new infants to eat from junk food that they were serving. These false doctrines would toss them about and prevent them from growing up as mature believers in the faith. (Ephesians 4:14) As each appointed part of Christ’s body did their part, the church would grow up to be like their head, Christ.
The church today needs God’s gift people more than ever. There are many opportunities for infants in Christ to be tossed about by winds of doctrine and deceitful counterfeits. Church leaders must use discernment and preach the Word. Evangelists must preach the Gospel of Christ and birth infants. Apostles must plant churches and take the Gospel where it has not be preached. Prophets must expound the Word of God, keeping the church in God’s grace. Pastors and teachers must make disciples and care for Christ’s sheep by feeding and shepherding them. When all work together, Godly growth into the fullness of Christ results!
Scripture reading for December 11th: Hebrews 1-2
The writer of Hebrews opens his letter with a wonderful statement about Jesus. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3
Jesus Christ is God’s last word for us. We might look at it like this. In the Old Testament times God spoke the language of “prophet” at various times and in various places. In New Testament times, God speaks “Son”. His Son is His exact representation. His Son made the universe! His Son sustains everything with His powerful word! If you really want to know about God, then look to Jesus and listen to His word. It is truth and full of power!
Not only is Jesus Christ the creator and sustainer of all that is, He also made purification for our sins. His life of total obedience and reverent fear of the Lord made Him the only one capable of being a sacrifice for sin. He willingly obeyed His Father and offered His body and blood to atone for sin. His sacrifice was sufficient and provides the only way for any human to be cleansed from sin and freed from the power and fear of death. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
After offering Himself on the cross and tasting death for us, He was buried in a tomb. On the third day, He rose from the dead. He ministered for forty days to His disciples and over 500 other followers before ascending to heaven on a cloud. He was seated at the right hand of the Majesty of God the Father. He is seated because His work is finished and He now intercedes for us. Jesus Christ is the last Word from the Father: “I Love You!”