Scripture reading for April 17th: Ruth 3-4, Psalm 37, Acts 4
Key Scriptures: Acts 4:32-35 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”
The early church brought many diverse people together in unity around Jesus Christ and His vision to reach the world and make disciples. Material things took a lower priority and believers shared their goods. Great power and grace rested on the apostles and their preaching brought new souls into the kingdom. Believers’ hearts were filled with generosity and love for each other.
Faith Confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this amazing revelation of the early church and its love and generosity. Help me to be powerful in Your grace through the Gospel message and generous to those in need.
Ruth 4:13-14 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, . . .”
Psalm 37:4 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
Scripture reading for August 29th: Psalm 133-135 and Ephesians 5
Key Scriptures: Ephesians 5:18-21 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ.”
Hearts that are filled with the Holy Spirit flow with heavenly words and music. There is thankfulness flowing to God and others for what Christ Jesus has done, is doing and will do. There is respect and honor for other members of Christ’s Body, the Church. Saints don’t need wine to give them joy! The Holy Spirit overflows them with His provision!
Psalm 133:1,3 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! . . . .It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forever more.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and songs of joy in my heart. Let that river flow in love and unity for the brothers and sisters and let it reach out to the lost to show them Your glory. Amen.
Scripture reading for July 6th: Psalm 130-134
Key Scriptures: Psalm 133:1-3 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”
As the twelve tribes assembled, they became one family before the Lord. This psalm decreed the blessing of unity upon the brothers as they gathered to worship in God’s presence. The ultimate blessing that the Lord bestowed was eternal life in His presence! Sounds like what Jesus Christ prayed in his final High Priestly prayer before the cross!
The blessing of unity: “For Your granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” . . . “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them even as you have loved Me.” (John 17:2-3, 20-23)
Scripture reading for February 7th: Numbers 2-5
Key Scriptures: Numbers 2:1-2, 34 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.” “So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each with his clan and family.””
God is a God of order. He had specific instruction for His leaders to set each person in a proper job and place. Each was assigned a location in relation to the Tent of Meeting, the place where God’s Presence lived in their midst. Each was to be with their family or clan and move in a particular order when God moved out ahead of them.
Thankful for order: God’s order brings peace and unity to His people. “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1st Corinthians 14:31-33)
Scripture reading for April 28th: John 17
Key Scriptures for over-comers: John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
Jesus Christ prayed for Himself, His immediate disciples, and then for all who would believe on Him as a result of their preaching the message of Christ! He prayed for us and it is written down! The central focus of that prayer is that we would be in unity with the Father and Jesus and each other! This unity would be a witness to the world enabling many to believe that the Father sent Jesus Christ to save them. We must do our part to maintain the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace with our brothers and with the Lord and our Father!
Observations for over-comers: Disciples who over-come the world maintain a close bond with the Trinity and seek unity with the Body of Christ, His Church. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! . . .It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.” (Psalm 133, 1, 3)
Scripture reading for December 2nd: Philippians 1-4
Have you ever needed an “attitude adjustment”! The Word of God provides help for us when our attitudes take us down. Christ modeled the kind of attitude that pleased God and Paul reminded the Philippians of His example.
Paul prayed for those in the church at Philippi. There were saints, overseers, and deacons that he had helped to set in place. He was confident that God would complete the work He had begun in each of them. He prayed that the love of these believers would abound more and more. (Philippians 1:6-11) He wanted them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness so that the Lord would receive glory!
These saints and leaders were encouraged by Paul to be united in love and purpose. (Philippians 2:2-3) Unity comes from fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a humble spirit towards God and each other. We must learn to bear with one another and try and look out for others rather than focusing on ourselves. The best example of this is Jesus Christ.
Jesus had a perfect attitude. He was God and owner and ruler of the universe, but He humbled Himself and took on human likeness through the incarnation. He willingly laid down all the power and privilege of royalty to be obedient to the Father. He obeyed the Father by laying down His life on the cross, enduring the death of the lowest criminal. Because of His obedience, God exalted Him to the highest place. His Name, Jesus Christ, is the highest name in the universe! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord! Those who bow their knees now and confess now will enjoy eternity with Him!
We are working out our salvation while God is at work in us. We obey Him without grumbling or complaining, rejoicing in the task of sharing the Word of Christ. (Philippians 4:4) We pray about everything and enjoy the peace of Christ! (Philippians 4:6-7) We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13) We know that our God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19) What an attitude of victory and joy when we imitate Christ!
Scripture reading for June 29th: Psalms 128-134
“How good and pleasant it is when brother live together in unity! It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalm 133:1-3
Psalm 133 is one of the next to the last of the songs of ascents and speaks of an important aspect of life in the family and city of God. Living together with others in harmony is not something that comes naturally. Each person has different desires, likes, attitudes, and temperaments. Selfishness often causes fighting, strife and complaining. Unity is an elusive quality in most homes, churches, and nations.
Jesus picked twelve disciples and they struggled with unity. They argued and disputed among themselves about who would be the greatest. Two of them got their mother to intercede for them! (Matthew 20:20-23) Jesus taught them that the way to unity was to take the lowest place and serve. At the Last Supper, He took a towel and washed their feet, teaching them by example. (John 13:12-17) Later that same night, Jesus prayed that they would be kept in complete unity so the world might believe that Jesus was sent by the Father! (John 17:20-23) Unity was an essential quality to spreading the Gospel in Christ’s Church!
The unity of brothers was likened to the anointing of the High Priest. Oil was poured on his head as a symbol of special blessing from above. The oil would flow from the head down to beard and drip onto the collar of the robe. This anointing brought the enablement of the Spirit of God to pray and intercede on behalf of the people. Jesus Christ is our High Priest! He was anointed by the Father and has prayed for us. That anointing to pray and walk in peace flows from our High Priest to us today!
The last analogy is that of dew on Mt. Hermon. Dew comes in the cool of the evening on grass, rocks, and trees. It brings refreshing and helps the plant life prepare for another day. Salvation brings us into God’s community of unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Their perfect unity permeates our souls and brings blessing–life forever more!
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!
Today we have news that our new President-elect trying to bring unity to our nation by asking an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church, to pray. He has been openly critical of Mr. Obama for asking Rick Warren, an evangelical minister who has spoken out openly against the gay agenda, to pray at the inagural ceremony. Bishop Robinson says he will not pray a “Christian” prayer or use the Bible because not all Americans like the Bible. How should we as Christians look at these events and discern God’s will for our actions and response?
Unity is a good thing. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays that his followers will be brought to complete unity to let the world know that the Father had sent Jesus and that God the Father loves them. Does this prayer mean that we should just let this issue of gay sex and gay marriage be a personal preference and try to be one? What about our nation? Should we, for the sake of unity, make this issue another preference? There is a worldview battle going on now to try and decide these issues!
God’s original plan from Genesis is that a man and a woman would be joined together in a covenant relationship. God blessed their relationship and the offspring that would come. These offspring would be raised to know, love, and obey God, their creator and the giver of life. Genesis 1 and 2 detail the creation of man and woman and their God-given purpose. Satan and sin entered the human race in Genesis 3. The temptation Satan offered to woman was to have a personal knowledge of good and evil and become like God. She and her husband fell for it. The results are still being experienced.
Gay and lesbian sexual relationships are a rebellion against God’s stated design and purpose. No children can come from these unions and God commanded fruitfulness. Gay and lesbian lifestyles are not new. They were one of the underlying reasons for God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Lot tried to warn the men of the city who were seeking his visitors (men who were angels) for gay sex. “Don’t do this wicked thing” was the warning that went unheeded. Numbers 18 warns against gay sex and says that the land will vomit out those who engage in it. In the New Testament, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 states that no homosexual offender will inherit the kingdom of God. It is plain that Christians who serve the one and only true God should not do anything to promote or sanction anything that God hates and is going to judge. The most loving thing we can do is confront them with truth and pray for God’s mercy leading to repentance.
Our President-elect may mean well and claims to be a practicing Christian. Bishop Robinson may be trying to bring unity and is sincere. But sincerity is not a test of truth! Their worldview is out of line with the Bible and God’s revealed will. Scripture says that will bring judgment, not blessing!
Our nation and new leadership need our prayers. We must pray to the one true God in order to be heard. We support them but do not agree with their worldview or choices. We voice our opinions with respect, but cannot change our belief for the sake of unity. We must live out our faith in our world in truth. We love those involved enough to confront with truth in love with prayer and tears for their repentance! When offered the choice, we vote for those who will stand for God’s will in this area. May God have mercy on our nation!