Scripture reading for July 15th: 1st Kings 17-18, Psalm 119, Jude
Jude 18-23 “They (the Apostles) said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus and wrote this letter to remind believers about the difficult times of the last days before Christ Jesus would return. Jude quoted the Apostle’s warning about scoffers in the last days being numerous and causing division in the church. God’s antidote was for believers to build themselves up through praying in the Holy Spirit and keeping in the love of God. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray when we don’t even know how to pray. God’s Spirit brings a river of God’s love into our inner man and clothes us with an anointing of fresh oil to empower us to love and reach out to those who doubt and even to those in danger of the fires of hell. Love never fails!
Jude 24-25 “Now to Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help me to pray and stay on course in these perilous last days. Help me to show mercy to those who doubt and to reach out to those in danger of Hell’s fires with the message of Christ’s salvation. It is comforting to know that You will keep me from falling and present me before Your Presence with great joy! Praise Your Name forever and ever!
Psalm 119:114-115 “You are my Hiding Place and my Shield; I hope in Your Word. Depart from me, you evildoers, that I my keep the commandments of My God.”
Scripture reading for October 21st: 2nd Peter 3
Key Scriptures: 2nd Peter 3:1-4 “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Peter’s final warning in this second letter and last chapter was an appeal to remember the prophetic predictions of God’s holy prophets and His apostles. If we don’t stay focused on God’s Word and the truth He revealed in Jesus Christ, it will be easy to be led astray. Unbelief will be encouraged by the scoffers in the church of the end times. They will ask mockingly about Christ’s promised return and then point to all those men and women who have died already in faith. To their natural mind, it looks like nothing has changed–or will change! They neglect the warning of the whole counsel of God. The flood of Noah’s day stands as a clear warning that God’s Word is true and things can change in a single day! God’s promised final judgment of the earth and the wicked will be by fire. Don’t scoff!
2nd Peter 3:5-7 “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the Word of God, and by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same Word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father God, give me discernment for the voices that are speaking today, even in the church. Lead me in truth daily by Your Word and the Holy Spirit, recognizing the late hour we are living in and Your sure promises to judge the wicked and the earth by fire. Deliver me from the scoffer and the false prophets!
2nd Peter 3:11-12 “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the Day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!”
Scripture reading for October 4th: Nahum 1-3, Habakkuk 1
Key Scriptures: Habakkuk 1:5 “”Look at the nations and watch–and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if your were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth. . . .””
Habakkuk had questions for God. It appeared that God was allowing injustice in the land of His people. It appeared that God was tolerating evil and wrong-doing. But God answered him by telling him to look at what He planned to do: use a wicked and ruthless nation to judge His people! This was a hard concept to grasp. A good and holy God who used even the wicked for His good purposes. God’s people would have a hard time believing in God’s plans to save them too, when His Son Jesus Christ revealed the way of salvation!
God’s amazing salvation: “”Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, if if someone told you.'” (Acts 13:38-41)
Scripture reading for September 7th: Ezekiel 12-15
Key Scriptures: Ezekiel 12:21-25 “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, “The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay.”
Ezekiel was told to tell God’s people that they had a proverb that was mocking God’s ability to fulfill His Word. He was not going to delay any longer out of mercy and patience. Soon, there would be a quick fulfillment with no more delay! That is prophetic for us in these last days as we are again warned by Peter, the Apostle!
Thankful for speedy fulfillment: “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our fathers died everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” “. . . ./but the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2nd Peter 3:2-4, 10)
Scripture reading for November 30th: Jude
Jude was a half-brother to Jesus Christ and the brother of James. His short letter mirrors some of the same issues that Peter dealt with in his second letter: false teachers and apostasy. His letter speaks to the church of today.
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 3-4)
The main issue that Jude felt compelled to address was the infiltration of false teachers into the church. These men were slipping in and teaching destructive doctrines. They believed in a cheap grace that taught that believers could keep on living in sin and Jesus would forgive them. In doing so, they were denying the true work of Jesus Christ to do away with sin and deliver the sinner from its power. This cheap grace is also in the church today! It is a false doctrine that divides the church and is devoid of the Holy Spirit. (vs. 19)
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 20-22) The best defense is a good offense of actively doing God’s will!
Scripture reading for November 29th: 2nd Peter 3:1-18
The last days, according to Peter, will bring scoffers and mockers of God and His truth. Peter continued to remind the church about their need to stay close to God’s word and apply it to their lives. Knowledge would be of no value if not applied! A day of judgment was coming that would reveal the truth about our faith and Peter wanted his flock to be prepared and ready. It would require some diligent effort on their part!
The mockers of the last days will use the failure of Jesus to come back again as He promised as a reason to leave the faith. Peter pointed out that those of Noah’s day mocked Noah as he built the ark and warned of the coming judgment. But there was a day when the earth was destroyed by water, just as God promised! Peter also stated: “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2nd Peter 3:7)
Why was God so slow in bringing about His promises then? Peter stated God’s heart to the church so that they might have an answer for the scoffers. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:8-9) God’s heart is merciful to those who are slow to believe and even to the mockers. He is allowing them time to repent before the final judgment!
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people out you to be?” (2nd Peter 3:10-11)
Peter encouraged these believers to ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” (2nd Peter 3:14) Truth from God’s word calls for diligent action! Every effort must be made to come to Christ and cling to His Gospel. This truth is to be shared! Jesus will come suddenly!
Scripture reading for December 23rd: Jude
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude3-4)
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus. He became a follower and disciple of Christ and understood the salvation that Jesus bought and paid for. It was not the cheap grace that was being peddled by some of the false teachers of his day and ours! Jude wanted the church to contend earnestly for the faith that brought true repentance and a changed life. This was the only kind of faith that could save and deliver a person from eternal condemnation.
The false teachers had come from the ranks of the church. They were evidently taking the wonderful message of God’s grace and forgiveness of sins and making that a license to continue living in sin. In doing so, they were actually denying Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of His own body and blood to deliver us from the power of sin. (Romans 6:11-14) Sin is no longer our master, but by His Spirit we can overcome sin’s grip! These false teachers were teaching believers that they could continue to live in sin and that God’s grace would cover their sins, thus dividing the church. Jude wrote that this lie would lead to eternal condemnation and separation from God!
Jude had a remedy: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 20-23) The fight of faith requires Spirit inspired prayer! This builds us up and keeps us in God’s river of love. It enables us to reach out to those who struggle and snatch them from the fire! Fight the good fight of faith!