Scripture reading for July 6th: Matthew 6
Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:7-14 “”And when you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.””
In this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus covered many topics, but focused in on prayer. Prayer was not to be endless repetitions of empty phrases, but should be short and concise and focused on the basics of everyday life. Prayer admits dependency and begins with worship. The disciple is to know and address God as “Our Father”. They are members of a family where the Father is the provider, protector, and mediator of trouble. The Father has plans and purposes that family members know and support in agreement and unity. The Father instructs His children to forgive others their debts just as each of them has been forgiven. If there is no forgiveness, there is no understanding of God’s amazing grace and God cannot give us grace either. It is not salvation by works however, but always salvation and forgiveness by grace alone through faith in God’s mercy offered through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Asking and receiving are all by faith.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for teaching us to pray simply for our basic needs. I need Your provisions for life and ministry, protection from evil and the evil one, mercy and forgiveness for my sins on a daily basis. I pray today this simple prayer: Our Father Who is in heaven, Hallowed by Your Name! Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, power and glory! Forever and ever! Amen!
Scripture reading for November 13th: Daniel 1-3; John 17
Key Scriptures: John 17:12-15 “While I was with them, I kept them in Your Name, which You have given Me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to You, and these thing I speak in the world that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.”
Jesus prayed for Himself and then for His disciples before leaving the upper room for the Garden of Gethsemane. He proclaimed His protective love for the disciples in the giving of His Father’s Words to them. He stated that none had been lost, except Judas, the son of destruction, and that also fulfilled the prophetic Word of Scripture. As Jesus was very soon to leave His disciples, His desire was that His joy would be fulfilled in them. Jesus’ joy was seeing people saved and kept for His eternal kingdom! (Hebrews 12:2) He prayed that they be kept from the evil one, Satan. How powerful are His prayers!
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your protective prayers for us who follow You and believe. Fill me again with Your joy of seeking and saving the lost! I believe You are able to keep me in this world look forward to fullness of joy in Your presence forever and ever! May I never bow to idols!
Daniel 3:17-18 “If this be so, our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Scripture reading for June 11th: Acts 27, Psalm 116, Proverbs 23
Key Scriptures: Acts 27:34-37 “”. . .Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.)
Paul had warned the ship captain not to sail because of a coming storm. But the ship had sailed and the storm arose, threatening to sink the ship. Paul was encouraged by an angel who assured him not to be afraid because God had granted protection to Paul and all who traveled with him. He shared this message and encouraged the men to eat. He acted prophetically by faith in God’s Word!
Faith Confession: Thank You for Your Word that brings faith and encouragement of Your divine protection. Thank You for angels who serve You and us, the heirs of salvation.
Psalm 116:5-7 “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. the Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”
Scripture reading for April 18th: John 10, Psalm 78, Proverbs 16
Key Scriptures: John 10:7-11 “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus, still speaking to the Pharisees, who were struggling to believe that He was the Messiah, told them that He alone was the ‘Good Shepherd’ and also the ‘Door’ that God’s sheep may enter and find safe pasture and care. Jesus said that others had come before Him, but they were only thieves and robbers. The thief came only to steal, kill and destroy. The ‘Good Shepherd’ came to bring abundant life.
Faith Confession: Jesus, I believe that You are the Good Shepherd who laid Your life down for Your sheep. I am one of Your sheep. You are the Door that I go through to find provision and safety and eternal life abundant and free!
Psalm 78:70-73 “He chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, Israel His inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”
Scripture reading for April 27th: 1st Kings 7-10, John 17
Key Scriptures: John 17:13-15 “But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but them You keep them from the evil one.”
Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and those who would believe as a result of their message. He stated that He had given them His Father’s Word. This would result in the hatred of the world and their need of protection from the evil one, Satan. Protection would come through prayer and the Father’s power.
1st Kings 8:44-45 “If Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for Your Name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.”
Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for Your Word and answers to our prayers and the prayer of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Keep me from the world and the evil one today. Amen.
Scripture reading for January 8th: Matthew 6
Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-13 “This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. This prayer was not intended to be just some words prayed by rote memory. Jesus wanted the disciples to know God as their Father and have a relationship with others and the Father. He was to be addressed corporately as “Our Father”! We stand in relationship with others also praying to the same Father in heaven.
This Father is holy and His Name is to be reverenced. His disciples remind themselves of God’s holiness and their need of humility and reverence every time they approach God’s throne. The Father is also a King and has a kingdom. His children pray that Kingdom will come upon the earth and His will will be done here as it is done perfectly in heaven.
The disciples are also dependent on God for daily provision. We recognize God as our provider as well as the only One who can forgive us our sins. Forgiveness can only be granted to us as we release those who have offended us! God alone can protect us from our enemy, “the Evil One”, or Satan. We need this protection each day as well as provision and forgiveness.
Observations for over-comers: Prayer is the lifeline of disciples of Jesus. “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me. .” (Psalm 55:16-18)
Scripture reading for April 20th: John 10
Tending sheep and caring for them is an occupation that is common in most places around the world. Sheep are very docile animals that cannot defend themselves and sometimes they wander off. They need someone to care for them and protect them. They will willingly follow a shepherd and get to know his voice. The shepherd also knows his sheep and calls them by name. Jesus took this very common job and applied it to His own life and ministry.
The Jews who saw the healing of the man blind from birth asked Jesus if He thought they were blind too. In response to this question, Jesus told them about sheep and shepherds and gates, making some strong statements to help them understand who He was.
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7-10)
“I am the good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me–just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
At these statements, the Jews were divided. Some said Jesus was demon-possessed or mad, but others recognized the miracle and were wondering. Jesus had said that only “His sheep” would recognize His voice and follow Him! Have you heard the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for “His sheep?”
Greeting on this day of rest in the finished work of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ! He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the punishment that brought us peace fell upon Him! By His stripes we are healed! We have a great King to worship!
As I look back over this past week, there are many passages of Scripture that we did not get to look into. One of the most encouraging chapters is the prayer of Jesus for Himself, His disciples, and all who would believe as a result of their witness. This prayer is the longest recorded of Jesus Christ in the Bible. It is given as Jesus approached the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified.
Jesus begins this prayer by looking up to heaven and addressing His Father. He is aware that, and states that, the time had come for His final work. His prayer acknowledged that God had given Him authority to give eternal life to those who believed on Him. Eternal life involved knowing the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him in His presence with the glory He had enjoyed before the world began. (John 17:1-5) Wow! What a personal request for Jesus to ask of His Father!
Jesus then prays for the disciples. He asks the Father to protect His followers who will remain in the world. This protection would come through the power of God’s name and the unity of Father and Son that they would themselves enjoy. (John 17:6-19) Jesus wanted them to be kept from the evil one, Satan, and given a full measure of His joy. He also wanted them to be sanctified in the Truth of God’s word. The reason for this was the mission that Jesus had given them to go into the world to preach and make disciples.
Finally, Jesus prays for the believers down through history until He comes again. (John 17:20-26) Jesus prayed for all to be one, brought into complete unity as He and the Father were in unity. Jesus prayed that all who would believe would be with Him where He was to behold His glory. The power of this prayer is drawing each one of us heavenward. We are being prayed for even now! The best is yet to come!
Scripture reading for June 29th: Psalms 120-127
Today’s reading is a set of psalms that were known as the “songs of ascent”. These were songs sung by pilgrims as they traveled on their three required yearly visits to the temple for the celebrations of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The pilgrims usually came up the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and experienced an elevation change from 1200 feet below sea level in the Dead Sea and Jericho area to over 2600 feet above sea level in Jerusalem. The climb was difficult for several reasons. It was a dry area with little water and the terrain was rough. It was also an area known to be inhabited by robbers and marauders who would prey on the pilgrims.
The first psalm in this series begins with the pilgrim in a place where he is in distress. He is in a place where he is living among those who hate peace. They are deceitful people and have lying tongues. The lying tongue hates those it hurts! He is far from God’s house and God’s people and realizes his need to call on the Lord and begins his journey to the city of God. This journey may be what you need today, take time to call on the Lord and decide to move towards Him!
Psalm 121 is a favorite psalm of many. I memorized it as a child in Sunday School. As the psalmist begins the journey upward to Jerusalem, his eyes see the hills and he realizes that this journey is impossible in his own strength! The climb is difficult and there are many dangers. He confesses that his help comes from the Lord, who is Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:2) The Lord will keep him safe and watch over him. God will keep him safe during the hot sun of the daytime and the treachery of the darkness! In fact, God will keep him from all and any harm, not only now but forever! What an encouragement for us today! No matter what obstacle or hazard or mountain of difficulty, God is with us to help us!
The central goal of the journey is Jerusalem, the city of God and God’s covenant community! Psalm 122 is a song that reminds the traveler of the joy that awaits him and his fellow-pilgrims when they arrive. They long to stand in the gates of that city and can actually see themselves there. It’s a city closely compacted, a tight-knit community centered around the temple and worship of the Lord, this Maker of Heaven and Earth! The tribes go up to praise the Lord according to His statutes! (Psalm 122:4) Jerusalem is the city of ‘peace’ and all are encouraged to pray for the peace of the city. In a world where war, hatred, lying and deceitful tongues form the social context of where we live every day, peace is the norm in God’s city. It comes by prayer and consistent seeking. We must maintain that peace by centering on God Himself! Take time today to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to seek it’s prosperity!