Scripture reading for April 12th: Judges 9-11, Psalm 17, Luke 23
Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.””
Jesus was crucified, an innocent man, to pay for the sins of all mankind. On His right and left, were two guilty criminals receiving what was due them under Roman law. As they hung there knowing death was immanent, one of the criminals mocked Jesus, ridiculing His claim to be Christ. The other criminal simply called out to Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom, indicating that he believed Jesus was a king and would be receiving a kingdom. Jesus gave an amazing response: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” This response gives hope to all lost sinners. If we will come in faith believing in Jesus, He will give mercy in abundance, just for the asking!
Psalm 17:1-2 “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From Your presence let my vindication come! Let Your eyes behold the right.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your abundant mercy. We can trust You to forgive, heal, and deliver if we simply ask. You have done everything necessary for our salvation. Help me to simply ask and rest in Your provision and trust You to do whatever seems good to You. Open doors to share this simple truth and good news with those under the sentence of death.
Judges 10:13-16 “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to You. Only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and He became impatient over the misery of Israel.”
Scripture reading for March 15th: Numbers 30-33, Psalm 35, Luke 3
Luke 3:15-18 “As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.”
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, born slightly before Him. John was called by God to be a prophet and to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. In doing so, He confronted the sins of the people and called them to repentance and to baptism as an act of cleansing. This preparation was not the end, but the entrance into a new relationship with God. Jesus Christ would complete the work necessary for the cleansing of all mankind from sin and its power on the cross through offering His body and blood. He would take the keys of death and hell from Satan and open the curtain for all who would believe to be in God’s presence. He would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father, and fire to deeply cleanse and empower them. This all was amazing ‘good news!’
Numbers 31:21-23 “Then Eleazar the priest said to the men in the army who had gone to battle: “This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded Moses: only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, and everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean.”
Prayer: Father God, I thank You for preparing the way for Your Son to bring salvation to me and all mankind. I know that my faith through Your grace has brought salvation. Repentance too is a gift of grace received humbly by faith. Help me to share the ‘good news’ with those headed for the fire of Your judgment, that they might receive the gift of eternal life and be filled with the Holy Spirit and holy fire.
Psalm 35:27-28 “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, Who delights in the welfare of His servant!” Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.”
Scripture reading for September 24th: 2nd Corinthians 7
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 7:8-12 “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a little while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Sin in our life or the church causes us or the church family grief. Sin, when confronted, also can cause grief to the individual who is harboring it or to the church family to whom the one caught in sin belongs. Paul had confronted the elders in Corinth of their need to discipline the man caught in sexual sin with his own mother-in-law. They had responded by putting him out of the body, as he recommended. In this letter Paul had asked them to receive back the one they had disciplined lest he be overcome with excessive grief. There are two kinds of grief–worldly grief is just sorry that they were found out. This kind of grief leads to more sin and eventually death. Godly grief leads to a deep regret that causes a change in mind, attitude and behavior and produces restoration and spiritual life. All discipline has the goal of restoration and life.
2nd Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for being our Father and calling us to repentance and a life of holy separation to you. Thank You for a Father’s discipline that leads to godly sorrow, repentance and life. Deliver me from any worldly sorrow and always lead me in true repentance. Help me as a father, pastor and Christ-follower to call those caught in sin to godly grief and true repentance.
Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Scripture reading for August 13th: Hebrews 6
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 6:4-9 “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.”
The writer of Hebrews was concerned about believers that were being enticed by family and religious ties to go back to Judaism and forsake the life of faith they had experienced. He plainly laid out the end result of leaving the faith (apostasy). Although they had once repented, they would be unable to return again. Their action would hold the Savior up to contempt in the eyes of other unbelievers and hinder God’s work of salvation in their lives. Like land that was cultivated to produce a crop but only produced thorns and thistles, they would be destined to eternal destruction. Paul was warning the believers to hold fast to Christ Jesus and the grace that comes from faith. He encouraged them that they had better things ahead as they held fast. They could be eternally secure in Christ alone!
John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You that I am eternally secure in Christ Jesus and Your Almighty Hands. Help me daily to hear Your voice and follow You in the power of Your Holy Spirit. I desire to be blessed by You and bear fruit for Your glory and kingdom. Give me discernment to warn those who are in danger of falling away in these last days.
1st Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirts and teachings of demons, . .”
Scripture reading for July 1st: Matthew 3
Key Scriptures: Matthew 3:11-12 “”I baptize you with water for repentance, but He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.””
John the Baptist, was Jesus’ cousin and was called by God to be the prophetic forerunner of the Messiah. He lived in the desert and dressed in prophet’s garb. He called all the Jews to repentance and was noted as the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'” He was baptizing in the Jordan River all who responded to his message of repentance and preparation for the Messiah. But John never claimed to be anything but a ‘voice’ crying in the wilderness. He pointed everyone to the One that was to come, the Messiah. This Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. This Messiah would also come in judgment and reward towards His people. He would come to separate the wheat and the chaff to their eternal destinies. The ‘axe’ was laid to the roots of the trees that produced no fruit of repentance.
Matthew 3:10 “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for preparing the way for me and all who will hear Your Word and repent. Thank You for Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, my Savior Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. Fill me again with the Holy Spirit and the fire of Your passion and love for the lost and hurting. May I proclaim Your Word boldly and clearly in a manner pleasing to You as Your Son.
Matthew 3:16-17 “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a Voice from heaven said, “This is My Beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.””
Scripture reading for June 28th: Titus 3
Key Scriptures: Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
All believers have a past life. Paul described it in this passage and it is not very complementary. Paul says we were foolish, slaves, full of malice and envy and specializing in hatred and headed for God’s wrath and judgment. This was all that was possible in our sinful condition that we inherited from birth. But God through His Son, Jesus Christ, showed us His own goodness and kindness, leading us to repentance and faith. Through faith, not works, we gained mercy and were washed and renewed and filled with the Holy Spirit. God Himself, through Christ’s sacrifice, justifies all who believe and adopts them into His eternal family giving them an everlasting inheritance: the sure hope of eternal life! What a miraculous turn-around in our life and destiny because of God’s mercy in Christ! In response, we offer ourselves to God for His use in good works through faith.
Titus 3:14 “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great mercy and willingness to sacrifice Your own body on my behalf. Thank You for pouring on me and all who believe the Holy Spirit and revealing the hope of eternal life. In response to your great love, I give myself to You to be used as You will to accomplish Your great plan of salvation in all who will believe! To You be all glory, now and forever!
Romans 2:4-5 “Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Scripture reading for March 9th: Luke 5
Key Scriptures: Luke 5:27-31 “After this He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.””
Jesus prayerfully and carefully selected those He wanted to follow Him as disciples and whom He would appoint as apostles. His selections were not popular with the local religious folks. They particularly held their nose up at the call of Levi, a tax collector and the dinner party Jesus attended at his house afterwards. They asked His disciples why they were eating with the “deplorable” sinners like these tax collectors were judged by them to be. Jesus answered them Himself. He came to call sinners to repentance. Only those who are sick will admit their need of a “Physician”.
Psalm 14:2-3 “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for healing my sinful heart and inviting me to Your table for fellowship. Give me grace to call others in need of healing from the devastation caused by sin into fellowship with You.
Psalm 51:10, 12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. . . .Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Scripture reading for February 10th: Romans 2
Key Scriptures: Romans 2:1-5 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
How easy it is to become judgmental of others and condemn bad behavior and ungodly attitudes! Paul warned the Jewish believers against judging the Gentiles or others while still doing the same things themselves. This is hypocrisy and is spotted and ridiculed by others on a regular basis. But even worse, this behavior is sinful and unless repented of will bring God’s wrath on those practicing it. Just because God’s wrath is not evident today does not mean that God has overlooked it. Without our repentance, He stores it up for the day of wrath. He is kind and patient with all sinners, giving time to repent. It is His goodness that leads us to repentance–a change of mind and behavior. There will be no excuses when we stand before God.
Genesis 3:12 “The man said, “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your amazing kindness and patience with me, a sinner. Thank you for sending Gospel messengers to lead me to repentance and faith. I ask the Lord Jesus to defend me on the day of wrath, not my worthless excuses.
Romans 2:15-16 “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my Gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”
Scripture reading for January 25th: Mark 6
Key Scriptures: Mark 6:7-13 “And He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belts–but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And He said to them, Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.”
Jesus had taught His disciples and modeled for them ministry by preaching repentance, healing the sick, and casting out evil spirits. He now sent them out two by two with careful instructions to live by faith and follow the Holy Spirit in ministry. They were to go where people would listen and receive them. If they were rejected, the act of shaking dust would be a witness against them. They were given authority to heal the sick and cast out demons and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. This simple ministry assignment was embraced with obedience. They preached, they anointed sick people and they were healed and they cast out unclean spirits. All ministry is by faith in simple obedience to Christ’s commands. The results are up to Him and He receives all glory!
Psalm 119:112 “I incline my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the end.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord, I thank You for the simple instructions You give Your disciples concerning ministry. Help me to listen, heed and obey each time You give me opportunity to minister to those You send me to. To You be all glory, honor and power, now and forever! Amen!
Mark 16:20 “And the went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
Scripture reading for September 24th: Habakkuk; 2nd Corinthians 7
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 7:8-11 “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Paul had written plainly to the Corinthians this second time to appeal to them to forgive a brother who had been disciplined for sexual sins. He had some regrets at first, that he might offend them, but he ended up rejoicing when their godly grief over this brother’s sin caused him and them to repent and do the right thing. Worldly grief leads only to death–sorrow for sin alone won’t bring forgiveness and life. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and true transformation.
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to receive correction with grace and humility and true repentance. May I not shrink from godly correction of one who may need to experience mercy by repentance.
Habakkuk 3:12-13 “You marched through the earth in fury; You threshed the nations in anger. You went out for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed.”