Scripture reading for July 21st: Matthew 17
Key Scriptures: Matthew 17:18-23 “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.”
Jesus and Peter, James, and John had just come down from a spiritual high on the Mount of Transfiguration to find the rest of the disciples faced with a demonically possesses boy that they were unable to help. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith and cast the demon out with instant success. The puzzled disciples came privately to Jesus for an answer. Jesus plainly stated it was unbelief–a lack of faith and trust in God’s Word. Jesus further stated that it wasn’t necessary to have ‘big’ faith, but even just a small amount of faith would produce mountain-moving results. In fact, nothing would be impossible! He then shared with them again about His coming death and resurrection on the third day. This brought distress and anguish to His disciples because they struggled with unbelief here as well. Jesus also struggled with His disciples unbelief after three years of teaching and example! How slow to learn we are at times!
Matthew 17:17 “And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, forgive me for reading and hearing Your Word and yet often living like it is not true. I struggle with unbelief like the disciples but thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring boldness and Your Word to my understanding. Increase my faith as I study Your Word, trusting that all things are possible for those who believe.
Mark 9:23-24 “And Jesus said to him, “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!””
Scripture reading for February 23rd: Romans 11
Key Scriptures: Romans 11:19-23 “Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
Paul used the example of an olive tree to describe the Church and the true spiritual Israel. The Jews were natural branches that were cut off because they refused to accept Jesus the Messiah. The Gentiles who by faith received Christ were wild olive branches that were grafted into the tree that is the symbol of true believers. They stood in their place because of faith and by faith they would continue. Those natural branches were cut off because of unbelief, but God desired to graft them in again if they would believe. God’s kindness is towards believers and His severity towards those refusing to believe. He desires to show mercy to all and see them saved but they must repent and believe in Jesus.
Romans 11:30-31 “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”
Faith confession and prayer: Thank You Lord for your patience and kindness shown towards me and all the unbelievers. I stand in faith and holy fear. Use me today to share the good news of Your kindness and mercy through Jesus Christ.
Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.”
Scripture reading for January 23rd: Genesis 41-42, Mark 16
Key Scriptures: Mark 16:14-16 “Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “God into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Genesis 41:38-40 “And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house and all my people shall order themselves as you command.”
Jesus had appeared to several disciples and women who had come to the tomb. They had told the disciples they had seen Jesus alive but the disciples refused to believe. Now Jesus appeared to them all, rebuking them for their hard hearts and unbelief. They were commanded to get to work sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ–the wisest and most discerning man, full of the Spirit of God! Through resurrection from death, Jesus was declared the Ruler of God’s House!
Faith confession and Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my unbelief and at times hardness of heart. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit within me and the great commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel! Keep reminding me that faithful obedience means life to those who believe.
Scripture reading for October 16th: Hebrews 3, Psalm 57, Proverbs 22
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 3:12-14 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
This letter contains a warning against unbelief and falling away from the living God. It is possible to let go of our confidence in Christ Jesus and again be overcome by the sin of unbelief. We are charged by God’s Word to exhort one another to stand firm and watch over each other and our own hearts for hardening through the deception of sin. Today is the day to be watchful!
Faith Confession: I am watchful today for sin’s deception in my life. I do not want to be hardened by the sin of unbelief and fall away from the faith. Help me to watch over my own heart and others in my life who believe and exhort them today.
Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge, in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”
Scripture reading for January 25th: Matthew 17
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Matthew 17:18-21 “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Jesus demonstrated the power of faith to his unbelieving disciples when He cast out the demon from the boy with severe seizures. They had tried, but had failed and Jesus had severely rebuked them, calling them an ‘unbelieving and perverse generation’. When they questioned Him as to why, He clearly told them it was a lack of faith! Jesus was hard on them because He had given them authority to cast out demons when He called them to preach. (Mark 3:14-15) They had failed to use what was given to them to advance the kingdom of heaven and spoil Satan’s hold on the lost and hurting. This walk of faith is essential for over-comers in these last days.
Observation for over-comers: All it takes, according to our Lord Jesus, is faith the size of a mustard seed and we can move mountains! “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. . .It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:28-29,32)
Scripture reading for April 29th: Luke 24:13-53
The resurrection brought fear, doubt, and amazement to the disciples of Jesus. On resurrection day, two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus, talking about what had happened in Jerusalem. As they walked along, Jesus began to walk with them. They did not recognize Him as He questioned them about the experiences they were discussing. They shared their hopes of redemption through Jesus and how He was crucified. Then they told Him how some of the women had told them that Jesus was alive and how others had found the tomb empty. They weren’t sure what to believe!
After listening to them, “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning at the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Jesus was instructing His disciples and correcting their unbelief and they did not recognize Him! These two disciples asked Jesus to stay with them that evening and as He broke bread with them, they did recognize Him. He then disappeared from their sight!
They quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the others! As they were telling their story, Jesus appeared to them saying “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36) They were frightened and thought it might be a ghost! He showed them His hands and feet and invited them to touch Him. He even ate some fish with them. He was a real man with flesh and bones.
The real task for these disciples lay ahead. “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised: but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49) Jesus was still seeking out lost people and calling them to repent. These disciples would now be the witnesses who would share this truth. They would begin in Jerusalem and go to the nations! The gift of the Father would clothe them with power! His mission was their great commission!
Scripture reading for March 12th: Mark 16:1-20, Psalms 55:1-23, Proverbs 11:7
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just as He said He would. Death could not hold Him and He showed Himself alive to the women, the disciples, and others. The eleven remaining disciples had a hard time believing the reports of those who had seen Him. “Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14) These men should have been expecting the resurrection because Jesus had repeatedly told them about the crucifixion and coming resurrection. To whom much is given, much is required. A rebuke is a sign of love to those who can be corrected by it. (Proverbs 13:1) (Revelation 3:19)
Jesus had final instructions for these disciples. They were not to sit around feeling sorry for themselves and thinking of the good old days when Jesus was with them. They must now go into all the world with the good news of Jesus Christ and preach to every creature. Some would believe and be baptized unto salvation and others would refuse the good news and be eternally condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
Those who believed had Jesus’ promise to confirm the good news with signs that would follow them and the preaching of the Gospel. They would drive out demonic forces as they spoke in His name. They would lay hands on the sick and see people healed in His name. If they were poisoned or ran into satanic opposition, God promised to protect them. Jesus would give them support.
Jesus was then taken up into heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19) Acts records that Jesus was taken up into heaven on a cloud and would return the same way as He left. (Acts 1:9-11) Jesus had told the high priest and elders that they would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Might One and coming on clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:62) From that position of power and authority, Jesus prays for us and watches over us as we preach the Gospel to every creature. This is His plan to reach the entire world! When this command is fulfilled, Jesus will come again on the clouds for His Bride, the church! What exciting days we live in!
Scripture reading for December 12th: Hebrews 3-4
“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor that Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” Hebrews 3:1-3
How we need to fix our thoughts today! There is so much confusion from this world bombarding us with it’s worries, demands, and fears. The Bible is clear about where to fix our thoughts–on Jesus Christ! By focusing on Jesus we can have rest from worry, fear, and religious works that try to gain God’s favor. We can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ to bring us into God’s glorious rest!
Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest that we confess. Jesus is the one sent by God to this earth to bring good news. He is the good news from the Father! He rose from the dead and became a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10) His perfect obedience enabled Him to be made perfect through suffering death on a cross for our sins. He is a great High Priest who knows what we are going through and how to come to our aid! (Hebrews 4:14-16) He lives forever and never sleeps. He can intercede for us day or night. His priestly ministry is always available and we have access by His own blood!
Jesus is greater than Moses, who led the people out of Egypt and gave them the law of God. Moses was supposed to lead the people into the promised land, but the people rebelled. They would not listen to God’s Word and rebelled. Their unbelief kept them from their inheritance! (Hebrews 3:19)
Jesus is greater than Joshua who also failed to lead God’s people to the full conquest of the promised land. Jesus ushers each of us into a new day–today! (Hebrews 4:6-7) We can enter the rest by faith in Him! As we hear His voice and respond in faith to His word, we rest from our religious works and place our full trust on God’s provision through Jesus Christ!
This theme of rest is one of my favorites! I have been programmed to work for everything all my life. I must be diligent to enter this rest by placing my faith in Christ’s work for me. It takes humility and respect for God’s sovereign plan to enter in. What a glorious rest! Today is the day if you need real rest! Share this rest with someone close to you!