Scripture reading for October 6th: Jeremiah 22, 23, 26, Psalm 77, James 2
Key Scriptures: James 2:18-23 “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is One; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God.”
James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church and half-brother of Jesus, was writing to help Jewish believers understand the relationship of faith and works. He carefully explained that true faith will show itself by corresponding works. He used Abraham as an example. Abraham believed God’s promise for a son who would become a nation of people. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham believed the promise, and obeyed God by taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him. He showed his trust by obedience! He was called a ‘friend of God’.
Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I want an active faith that produces good works and pleases You. Thank You for godly examples in Scripture for me to meditate on. Thank You for Your example of perfect obedience, giving Your life for sinners like me!
Jeremiah 23:18 “For who among them (the prophets) has stood in the council of the Lord to see and hear His Word, or who has paid attention to His Word and listened?”
Scripture reading for June 24th: Romans 9
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Romans 9:30-33 “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled over the “Stumbling Stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”
Many people are like the Jews of the time of Jesus and Paul. They in their human pride think that by their own works and keeping God’s Law that they can assure themselves salvation. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God by perfectly obeying it and all His Father’s decrees. Jesus was and is the only way to find true righteousness but the Jews rejected Him, stumbling by trying to find it through works–the keeping of the Law. But those who trust in Jesus Christ will never be put to shame or stumble into judgment!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers avoid the trap of human works or religious rules to obtain right standing with God. They fully trust in Jesus Christ and stand firm on the Rock of their salvation! “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior–from violent men you save me.” (2nd Samuel 22:2-3)
Scripture reading for May 26th: Acts 15
The doctrines of the early church had to be worked out through the leadership of the apostles and elders. An early conflict concerned the requirements for Gentiles coming into the fellowship. The first believers were all Jews, some from the sect of the Pharisees who were brought up in the strictest practice and traditions of Judaism. This group insisted that the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. (Acts 15:5) The leaders gathered at Jerusalem to discuss this issue and come to a decision.
“After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the Gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe that it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:6-11)
The early church leaders discussed the issue thoroughly and came to a conclusion based on God’s Word, Jesus’ teaching, and practical experience of God’s working among them as they ministered. Although circumcision was required of true Jews, God did not require this under the New Covenant of grace! Keeping the Law of Moses was never possible for even the most devoted Jews, this would not be required either. It was by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ that Jew and Gentile would be saved!