Thankful for the Gospel!

Scripture reading for November 17th:  Romans 1-4

Key Scriptures:  Romans 1:16-17  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written; “The righteous will live by faith.”

Paul was proud to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ because through the simple message of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection, the power of God for salvation was released to all who would believe.  This included Jew and Gentile as well as every race, social status, gender and people group!  The gospel was inclusive because it was by faith that righteousness was granted as a gift!  Faith is the great equalizer, available to all!

The simplicity of faith:  Then the Lord replied:  “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.  “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright--but the righteous will live by his faith–”  (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

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Thankful for Persuasive Witnesses!

Scripture reading for November 16th:  Acts 24-28

Key Scriptures:  Acts 26:28-29  “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long,–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” 

Paul was kept in prison for his faith for over two years while political wrangling was going on.  Officials were hoping for bribes and kept Paul in prison for a favor to the ruling Jews.  But Paul was a persistent and persuasive witness who always viewed his plight from God’s perspective!  He was there to witness to the officials and the whole prison guard.  God always has those who are sold out to Him who will witness and pray, no matter what, confronting sinners with their need for Jesus Christ!  Thank the Lord Jesus!

A bold Old Testament witness:  “So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets (of Baal) on Mount Carmel.  Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”  But the people said nothing.”  1st Kings 18:20-21

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Thankful for God’s Assignments!

Scripture reading for November 15th:  Acts 20-23

Key Scriptures: Acts 22:6-10  “”About noon as I (Paul) came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.  I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, “Saul! Saul!  Why do you persecute Me?’  “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.  “‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ He replied.  My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of Him who was speaking to me.  “”What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked?  “‘Get up’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus.  There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'”

Paul shared his testimony of his own personal encounter with Jesus Christ.  Paul was on his way to Damascus with warrants to arrest followers of Jesus.  Jesus confronted him, and Paul was struck with blindness from the light of Christ’s glory.  Paul was told to go into Damascus and there he would be told what God had assigned him to do!  After his healing and conversion, Paul had his work laid out for him!  God has plans for all His people!

God’s amazing plans:  “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

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Thankful for Encouragement!

Scripture reading for November 14th:  Acts 15-19

Key Scriptures:  Acts 18:9-11  “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision:  “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking; do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”  So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”

Paul was a missionary who went to places where the Gospel had not yet been preached or the way of God taught.  Sometimes he faced hostilities, persecution, and threats of death.  But God gave him a vision and words of encouragement.  He told Paul to keep on speaking and not to be afraid!  There was a great harvest to be gained from this city where he was then ministering.  God was with him to empower and protect him as he fearlessly preached and taught!

God’s word to Jeremiah–“Get yourself ready!  Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.  Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.  Today I have made you a fortified city, and iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land–against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.  They will fight against you but will not overcome you  for I am with you and will rescue you,” declared the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

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Rejoicing in God’s Big Heart!

Scripture reading for November 13th:  Acts 10-14

Key Scriptures:  Acts 13: 47-49, 52  “For this is what the Lord has commanded us:  “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”  When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.  The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.  . . . And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the church in Antioch on their first missionary journey specifically to the Gentiles.  They went to the Jews first and were opposed so they then preached Christ to the Gentiles.  They reaped a harvest of Gentiles among those who believed!  God’s big heart desired something big–the ends of the earth finding salvation!   The word of Christ spread rapidly and this brought great joy and an new infilling of the Holy Spirit to the disciples!

Rejoicing in God’s Big Heart:  “He (the Lord) says:  “It is too small a thing for You to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make You a light for the Gentiles, that You may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”    (Isaiah 49:6)

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Rejoicing in His Presence!

Scripture reading for November 9th:  Acts 1-4
Key Scriptures:  Acts 2:24-28 “But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.  David said about Him, “I saw the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because You will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let Your Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”” 

Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted from Psalm 16 to illustrate God’s foreknowledge of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  It was impossible for death to hold Him because He was walking in the path of Life–total obedience to His Father!  David had written of this over 1000 years earlier and it now had come to pass!  David held the hope of resurrection for his body as well and all Christians now share this same blessed Hope!

Rejoicing in God’s Promised Presence:  “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”  (Psalm 16:11)

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Thankful for fulfilled Scripture!

Scripture reading for November 8th:  John 17-21

Key Scriptures:  John 18:34-37  “Instead (of breaking the leg bones), one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it had given testimony, and his testimony is true.  He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled:  “Not one of His bones will be broken.”  and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the One they have pierced.”  

John recounts his eye-witness account of Jesus’ sufferings during the crucifixion and the events that followed.  The things John saw were fulfillment of holy Scriptures.  None of Jesus’ bones were broken, He was pierced with a spear and blood and water released.  Both events help all who read this account to believe and trust in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior, the Messiah!

Thankful for fulfilled Scripture:   “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”  (Zechariah 12:10)

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Thankful for no surprises!

Scripture reading for November 7th:  John 13-16

Key Scriptures:  John 13:18-21  “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen.  But this is to fulfill the scripture:  ‘He who shares My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.”  “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.  I tell you the truth whoever accepts anyone I send accepts Me; and whoever accepts Me accepts the One who sent me.  After He had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray Me.”  

Jesus revealed to the disciples at the Last Supper the truth that one of their own number would betray Him.  It would be a fulfillment of Scripture and also noted that Jesus had warned them ahead of time so that they would believe more fully on Him.  We can be thankful for a God that is not surprised or caught off guard.  Jesus knows everything:  past, present, and future!

Thankful for no surprises:  “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, He who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.  But You, O Lord, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them.”  (Psalm 41:9-10)

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Thankful for One Shepherd!

Scripture reading for November 6th:  John 8-12

Key Scriptures:  John 10:14-16  “I am the  Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me–just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down My life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.  I must bring them also.  They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.”

Jesus took the Book of Ezekiel and used an analogy there applying it to Himself.  He told the people that He was the good Shepherd who would lay His life down for them, the sheep.  He was talking to the Jews but also told them of other ‘sheep’, not of the Jewish fold who also belonged to Him as the good Shepherd.  Gentiles would also be included in the Good Shepherd’s flock!  In the end there would be one flock and one Shepherd!  Praise our Lord one and all!

Thankful for Jesus our Shepherd:  “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them:  See, I Myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.  Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save My flock and they will no longer be plundered.  I will judge between one sheep and another.  I will place over them One Shepherd, My servant David, and He will tend them; He will tend them and be their Shepherd.””  (Ezekiel 34:20-23)

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