Scripture reading for September 8th: 2nd Corinthians 13, Psalm 30, Proverbs 25
2nd Corinthians 13: 5-9 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong–not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”
It is a hard thing to be honest with ourselves. It has been said that the kingdom of ‘self’ is highly defended territory! But Paul encourages a healthy self examination to these Corinthian believers. They are to determine if they have truly invited Jesus Christ to live in them and are living by faith in His sacrifice on the cross for their salvation. God wants us to know that we have been forgiven and healed from the ravages of selfishness and sin. He wants us restored to humble confidence in Him and His power and ability to save us. He wants us free from self-deception and dead works based on human effort that we sometimes use instead of resting in God’s grace in Christ. That’s good news from heaven for us today!
Psalm 30:2-3 “O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”
Prayer: Father God, help me today to examine myself with honesty and Truth. Show me where I am in need of repentance and restoration. Deliver me from pride in my own abilities and the deception of trying to earn my place in Your kingdom. I choose to invite Jesus Christ to live in me today and lead me in the path of grace and eternal life. Use me to share this ‘good news’ from heaven!
Proverbs 25:25 “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”
Scripture reading for June 27th: Philemon, Psalm 127, Proverbs 3
Philemon: 12-18 “I am sending him (Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave) back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the Gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion, but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer a bondservant, but more that a bondservant, as a beloved brother–especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.”
The short letter of Paul to a friend and fellow pastor covers insight into God’s working in a culture that had human slaves. God wants all men to be free from sin and its power. Paul had met Onesimus, Philemon’s run-away slave, while in prison in Rome. He shared the Gospel with him and he became a brother in the Lord. After a time of discipleship, Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon. He asked Philemon to receive him as he would receive Paul, himself. Paul explained that nothing in God’s kingdom was to be done under compulsion, but only through faith with grace. God’s grace would cover any wrongs as we apply His law of love for our brothers. God is building His House, the Church by faith through grace! He loves a cheerful giver as He is One!
Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for building Your House through the Gospel. In Your House, all slaves of sin have been made sons, brothers and sisters with Christ Jesus! Help me to show grace to all people because of the grace and forgiveness that I have received myself. Use me to bring peace and brotherhood to all social classes or nationalities. I want to bless others and see them restored!
Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
Scripture reading for October 4th: Jeremiah 14-16, Psalm 76, 2nd Corinthians 13
2nd Corinthians 13:5-9 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong–not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”
The false teachers, some claiming to be ‘apostles of Jesus Christ’, had led some of these believers away from the truth of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone. Paul encouraged the church to do a healthy self-examination to see if they were really in the faith. “Is Jesus Christ living in you?” was the question that must be answered individually. True faith is all about a living relationship with the Living God. The Holy Spirit gives us assurance that God is our Father and that He loves us. God’s love and goodness lead us to repentance and growth in holiness and service to God and one another.
Psalm 76:1-3 “In Judah God is known; His Name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem, His dwelling place in Zion. There He broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for pastors, apostles, and prophets who call us to repentance and faith through the truth of Your Word. Fill my heart and lips with Your Truth and use me to call Your people to renewed faith and holy living. Forgive me of sins of omission and commission and may the true Gospel of grace and faith bring restoration to many.
Jeremiah 14:20-21 “We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You. Do not spurn us, for Your Name’s sake; do not dishonor Your glorious throne; remember and do not break Your covenant with us.”
Scripture reading for October 4th: 2nd Corinthians 13
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 13:2-7 “I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them–since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but in dealing with you we will live with Him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
Paul, as a pastor and apostle, was watchful over the flock of God. He warned those in the congregation on his second visit about sinning and even earlier had instructed them how discipline a sinning brother. In this letter he had instructed them on restoration of the repentant brother. Paul again warned them that if he came again a third time, he would still deal with those who were not living in holiness. Even in his weakness, they would experience the power of God flowing through him to bring order and discipline to cases established by two or more witnesses. Each person was called to examine their own hearts about their relationship with Christ Jesus. “Is Christ in you?” was the question to be answered. If indeed Christ was living in them, sin could not dwell in their midst. Paul preferred to come and build them up, not discipline them.
2nd Corinthians 13:9-10 “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these thing while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for a pastor’s heart of love and watchfulness and tenderness towards Your flock. Help me to grow in watchfulness and ability to gently instruct and correct those who are caught in webs of sin. May I never use the authority You give except under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. Let it be for building up, not tearing down.
2nd Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Scripture reading for May 8th: 2nd Kings 10-12, Acts 3
Key Scriptures: Acts 3:19-21 “”Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.””
Peter called on the Jews to repent and turn to Jesus Christ, the One spoken of by the prophets. Jesus, alone could restore all things and bring times of refreshing that would follow repentance and turning of hearts to Him.
2nd Kings 12:4-6 “Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the Lord, . . .and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the Lord, . .and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.”. . . “But by the 23rd year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house (of the Lord).”
Prayer: Lord, my heart is moved to see Your Holy Temple restored and cleansed. Cleanse me and Your Church and bring times of refreshing as we obey You. Amen.
Scripture reading for June 12th: Psalm 48-51
Key Scriptures: Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take you Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
King David had sinned greatly by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah taken out. He was confronted by Nathan the prophet of God and he humbly confessed his need for cleansing in his heart and restoration. He even asked for a willing spirit and a continuation of God’s Spirit dwelling in him. God graciously answered this prayer and all who come to Him for mercy through Jesus Christ!
Rejoicing in restoration: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That Go was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17-19)
Scripture reading for May 26th: Job 39-42, Psalm 1
Key Scriptures: Job 42:1-6 “Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
When God came and confronted Job in answer to his request, God’s questions for Job caused him to humble himself and repent of his own questions and lack of understanding. Job took responsibility for his own sins and recognized that his nature was dust and ashes!
Thankful for conviction: The Gospel confronts us with knowledge of God and conviction of our own sinful ways, providing Christ’s mercy as the way of escape! “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” (2nd Corinthians 7:10-11)
Scripture reading for March 14th: Ruth 1-4, 1st Samuel 1
Key Scriptures: Ruth 4:13-15 “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.”
The hand of our Lord directed Naomi, an Israelite, and her Moabite daughter-in-law to return to Israel after tragically losing their mates. God raised up a close relative (Boaz) to provide redemption and continue the family line. God also by grace made this Moabite widow the great grandmother of King David in the line of Jesus Christ!
Rejoicing in Redemption: God used Naomi’s and Ruth’s faith to further His purposes for bringing about the redemption of mankind through our Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus Christ! (Mary) “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His Name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
Scripture reading for August 12th: 2nd Corinthians 12
Key scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 12:19-21 “We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.”
The pastor’s heart of the Apostle Paul was concerned about the spiritual state of the members of the church at Corinth. He earnestly desired their strengthening in Christ and spiritual health so he wrote to them concerning sins that he knew were still prevalent there. This list could still fit many or most church families today! The sins he listed caused division and strife and would ultimately bring God’s judgment if not repented of! The only way to deal with any sin is to turn from it, confessing responsibility for the sin and asking Christ for mercy through faith in His sacrifice. Without repentance sinners will perish! (Luke 13:3,5)
Observations for over-comers: Self-examination and regular repentance when the Holy Spirit convicts us keeps our souls healthy and strong! “Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve Me; if you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be My spokesman. . . .”” (Jeremiah 15:19)
Scripture reading for February 10: Leviticus 24-27
In our culture, golden anniversaries are special. When a couple has been together 50 years there is always a celebration! God also uses the 50th year as a special year. He called it the year of Jubilee! It was a year of freedom and restoration for all of God’s people. On the 50th year, debts were to be forgiven and property that was taken or bought from the original owner was restored. No one was to work the land and whatever grew without any human effort was to be used for food for the people. It was a blessed time that the people looked forward to. It pictured the reign of Messiah, when he would come and restore the fortunes and possessions of his people and vanquish their enemies.
The Jubilee was the culmination of 7 periods of 7 years. After 6 years, the Israelites were to rest their land for a year. God promised to provide enough for them in the 6th year to carry them through until the harvest of the 8th year. There were to be 7 cycles of 7 years and following the 49th year, on the Day of Atonement, the priests were to sound the trumpet and announce the beginning of the Year of Jubilee! (Leviticus 25:8-10) What a joyous occasion! God giving us a picture of his amazing restoration and rule of grace!
In the New Testament we find the Jubilee in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, verses 18-19. Jesus announces his calling and ministry by reading from Isaiah 61:1-2. The proclamation of the “year of the Lord’s favor” was a reference to “Jubilee”! Jesus is our Jubilee! He died to bring us into God’s family and restore our inheritance. One day the trumpet will sound, and the restoration will be completed at the final “Jubilee”! “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)