Scripture reading for December 29th: Revelation 18-22
Key Scriptures: Revelation 22:12-15 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of Life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
The last words of Jesus Christ recorded by John, the beloved disciple are “I am coming soon!” Jesus promises that His reward is with him. He will justly reward all who are His through the washing of their robes in His blood. Those who overcome will have access to the Tree of Life and freely go in and out of the New Jerusalem. Those who will be shut out are those who have not repented of sins and have garments stained by them!
Rejoicing in our Reward: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and His Arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11)
Scripture reading for December 18th: Hebrews 10-13, James 1
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 12:25-26 “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptable with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.””
At the giving of the Law under the Old Covenant, God’s voice shook the earth and the people were terrified. Now, Jesus Christ, Son of God has come to earth and given His life blood as a ransom for all men. He rose again, commissioning the Church to go forth with the Gospel. He promises to shake the earth one more time at the end of time. The kingdom of God through Christ is the only unshakable thing that will survive!
Thankful to overcome: “”This is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations and the Desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory” says the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:6-7)
Scripture reading for December 15th: Hebrews 5-9
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 9:22-24 “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (the blood of bulls and goats). . . . But now He (Christ) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
The writer of Hebrews was showing Jewish believers how Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements of Scripture. Because the law required blood sacrifice for atonement for sins, blood must be shed and presented before God at the place and in the manner He commanded. But in Jesus Christ, we have something better than a copy, we have the actual sinless Son of God offering Himself–body and blood–as a covering for the sins of man. He presented His own blood on the altar of Heaven, not a copy on earth. This satisfied God’s justice once for all who by faith believe!
Thankful for the blood of atonement: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
Scripture reading for December 14th: Philemon, Hebrews 1-4
Key Scriptures: Hebrews 1:8-9 “But about the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy.“ (a quote from Psalm 45:6-7)
The writer to the Hebrews pointed out that God spoke prophetically through the sons of Korah concerning Jesus Christ. Christ would be God’s Son and rule on an eternal throne. Righteousness would be the scepter of His kingdom and rule. The Son, like God the Father, loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Because of this integrity of character, God anointed Jesus with the oil of joy! Hallelujah for a joy-anointed Savior who anoints His people with the Holy Spirit and joy!
Rejoicing in the anointed Jesus: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, . .” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Scripture reading for October 28th: Hebrews 12
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 12:14-16 “Make every effort to live at peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”
Being a Christ-follower in a hostile world requires effort and focus. The enemy of our soul, Satan, is always at work to distract or destroy believers. A common tactic is through conflict and the failure to forgive others. Unforgiveness can lead to a bitter root that divides people from each other and ultimately from God. Sexual immorality is another common trap of the flesh that leads to defilement and possible loss of inheritance in God’s kingdom. Esau is mentioned because of his failure to value spiritual inheritance. He lost it through his careless appetite!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers are focused on seeing the Lord when He comes and rely on God’s grace to keep them in holiness. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure hear, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. . . .Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.” (Psalm 24:4,6)
Scripture reading for October 27th: Hebrews 11
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 11:1-3,6 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. . . . And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
God is invisible to sinful man. Because of sin, mankind has been cut off from beholding God for his own good and well-being. Sin cannot exist in the holiness of God’s glorious presence. But those who have had a relationship with God since Adam have come to Him by faith. They trust and are certain of God’s person and goodness. They believe that God created the visible world out of nothing at His own command. They understand that God is good and will reward those that believe although they cannot visibly see Him.
Observations for over-comers: Our faith will be rewarded eternal life and beholding God face to face in His glory! “Then Moses said, “Now show me Your glory.” . . . “But,” He said, “you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.” (Exodus 33:18, 20)
Scripture reading for October 26th: Hebrews 10
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 10:26-30 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
It is a dangerous thing to sin willfully after you know God’s will and and have the Holy Spirit living in you. Under the old covenant, there was no sacrifice that could be made for willfully breaking God’s law. Several of the laws had the penalty of death–idolatry, murder and adultery. Under the New Covenant with grace through faith, the writer of Hebrews warns of more severe punishment for those the trample on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and insult the Spirit of grace. This warning was meant to help believers maintain a holy fear and respect for God’s amazing grace!
Observations for over-comers: Knowledge brings responsibility to fear God and appreciate the Spirit of Grace! “But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken His commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.” (Numbers 15:30-31)
Scripture reading for October 25th: Hebrews 9
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 9:22, 26-29 “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. . . . . . But now He (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation of those who are waiting for Him.”
The Old Testament picture of an innocent animal being sacrificed and the blood sprinkled on the altar or mercy seat was meant to illustrate the need for cleansing sinners with blood. The soul that sins must die because the penalty for sin–breaking God’s law–is death. All sin leads to death. But God, rich in mercy, chose to send His only begotten Son to live as a perfect man and offer His own body and blood–once for all! Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again for those who have trusted in Him.
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His final sacrifice for the sins of those who repent and believe! “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. . . . .He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.” (Leviticus 16:11, 15)
Scripture reading for October 24th: Hebrews 8
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Hebrews 8: 6, 10-12 “But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. . . . This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, is also mediator of a new and better covenant. The Old Covenant was written on tablets of stone and brought revelation of man’s sinfulness. This new covenant is written on the hearts of His people. They are adopted in to God’s family! All sin and wickedness is forgiven and on top of that, God will not even remember those sins!
Observations for over-comers: Believers are new creations, adopted into God’s family and freed from condemnation, sin, and guilt through faith in Jesus Christ! What Good News we have to share! “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on You!” Psalm 86:5