Scripture reading for March 19th: Deuteronomy 6-9, Luke 7
Key Scriptures: Luke 7:12-15 “As He drew near to the gate of the town, behold a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said, “Do not weep.” Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
As God had commanded His people in the Old Testament law, Jesus was caring and compassionate towards a widow. This widow had lost her only son and would be left without support. The funeral procession was passing by and Jesus reached out and touched the bier containing the body. He spoke to the body of the man and commanded him to arise. To the amazement of all (except Jesus), the young man arose and began to speak!
Faith Confession and prayer: Lord, thank You for Your demonstrated compassion for the hurting and for orphans and widows. Fill me with Your heart of love and compassion and use me to bring life and restoration. Multiply Your kingdom!
Deuteronomy 7:12-13 “And because you listen to theses rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that He swore to your fathers. He will love you and bless you, and multiply you.”
Scripture reading for June 16th: Psalms 66-69
Key Scriptures: Psalm 68:3-6 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds–His name is the Lord–and rejoice before Him. A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
God’s tender care for the weak, powerless, orphans, widows, prisoners and lonely brings a command to His people to rejoice and be glad. What an amazing Lord we have! Worship is the only fitting response.
Rejoicing in God’s heart in us: “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did to the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)
Scripture reading for March 17th: Luke 2:36-52, Psalms 60:1-12, Proverbs 11:15
The Bible tells us that by the mouth of two witnesses shall every fact be established. Luke took the testimony of the devout Simeon as one witness in the temple as Jesus was dedicated. He also made note of a devout woman who was led to the temple to see the Christ.
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)
Women play a prominent part in Luke’s record of the story of Jesus Christ. God is no respecter of persons nor does he discriminate between men or women. God cares about all, and especially tender towards those who may be hurting, lonely, or rejected.
Anna was a widow for many years. There is no record of whether or not she had children in her seven years of marriage. From the record that we have here in Luke, it appears that she spent her lifetime following marriage in prayer and fasting. She was know as a prophetess who was faithful to the temple. She prayed there day and night in a place mainly known for the Levites and priests. Anna was of the tribe of Asher, not even a Levite woman! Anna was quick to recognize Jesus as the One who would redeem Jerusalem and told others prophetically about this Child! Luke gives record of her faithful testimony, adding to the story of Jesus Christ’s supernatural entrance into the realm of men.
The story of Anna should bring encouragement. God appreciates those who are faithful and cling to a relationship with Him. He reveals Himself and His will to these faithful believers. He gives them honor and allows them insight into His plans! “Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Scripture reading for September 29th: Zechariah 7-8
“Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?'” Zechariah 7:4-6
Many times the Lord’s children go through the motions of worship or serving the Lord. We do what is expected or required, but don’t really put our hearts into it. I have done that before with fasting. As soon as I seek to fast, my flesh acts up and distractions come faster than ever before! I have a hard time focusing for prayer and thoughts of food or irritations come to distract me. My heart isn’t in it.
God used Zechariah to preach to His people on this subject as they returned to work on the temple. You see, God did not want them just to not have food, He wanted them to administer justice and show mercy to one another. He wanted them to care for the needy and poor and help the widow and orphan. He wanted their hearts to truly love each other instead of thinking evil. (Zechariah 7:8-10) It would produce positive results and progress in godliness.
But God’s people just went through the motions. He became angry with them, and scattered them among the nations. This is why the land became desolate and rested for the seventy years. Hard hearts and disobedience had brought inevitable consequences.
But now, God was again jealous for Jerusalem! He would now show good and blessing to this city. God would gather His people again back to the land and many peoples and nations would also come and join themselves to the Jew! (Zechariah 8:15-23) Fasting has always been a way for God’s people to draw closer to Him and find their true appetites satisfied. A true fast brings cleansing to body and soul. The body cleanses itself from toxins and waste as we quit eating and drink lots of water. The soul quits focusing on bodily appetites and focuses on the Lord and His will. Toxins of the soul include bitterness, depression, apathy, unforgiveness, and injustice.Take time soon for a true fast! It will work wonders for body and soul!
Scripture reading for April 8: 1st Kings 17-19
In 1975, our family went through a drought on the farm. It rained early in the year, but then quit after the crops were in. June and July had almost no rain and the corn grew and tasseled, but did not produce silks. Ears formed but no kernels were on the cobs. It looked very bleak for feeding our animals and paying the bills. The soybeans were shorter than usual, but it rained in August when they were blooming and they produced a good crop. God provided for us even in the dry year. Today we have a story from the days of the kings, when a drought was decreed by God through the prophet Elijah.
Elijah announced to King Ahab that no rain or dew would fall from the sky except at his word for the next few years. (1st Kings 17: 1) He then left in obedience to the instructions of the Lord. God promised provision to Elijah. He commanded ravens to feed him by the brook in the Kerith Ravine. After a rainless few weeks, the brook dried up and God sent Elijah to a widow’s house in Zarephath. Someone has said, if a widow was to care for them, they hoped she would be rich! However, this widow was so poor that she was gathering sticks to cook her son a last meal from a nearly empty jar of flour and oil. Elijah asked her to bring him a little water and a piece of bread. He encouraged her not to fear, that God would provide for her until the rains came again. She obeyed and God provided meals for nearly three years from that empty flour bin and oil jar.
The times we live in are also dry in many ways. Our economy is very weak, many are laid off from jobs, and it seems as if there is a judgment on the land. In times like this, we must listen to the Word of the Lord! It is imperative that each person hears the instructions God has for them. Another lesson from this passage is that we must always give to God first and God will provide for us. The widow was taken care of during the drought because she took care of the prophet. Dry times need not be a problem for those who honor the Lord first and listen to His instructions!