Scripture reading for December 4th: Galatians 5-6, Ephesians 1-3
Key Scriptures: Ephesians 1:13-14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory.”
The gospel is powerful and effective in bringing salvation. A preacher preaches the word of truth and God gives grace to repent, believe and receive the promise of eternal life. This salvation includes a mark of God’s ownership, the gift of the Father–the precious Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a deposit of God’s grace and glory that marks us a belonging to God as a member of His family and declared righteous. We are saved and await the full redemption at Christ’s return!
Thankful for promised inheritance: “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.” (Psalm 37:18) Amen!
Scripture reading for October 11th: Zechariah 12-14, Malachi 1-2
Key Scriptures: Zechariah 12:10, 13:1 “”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 on grieves for a firstborn son.” . . .”On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.””
Zechariah foresaw by the Spirit the pouring out of God’s grace through the piercing of Messiah and His ensuing death. This death would cause great grieving and bitter mourning, but it would open up a fountain for God’s people that could cleanse them from sins! The blood of Jesus Christ was this fountain, flowing from the pierced Savior’s side! Oh that all may believe and be cleansed!
Thankful for the Blood: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has 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 19:34-37)
Scripture reading for January 12th: Matthew 9
Key Scriptures: Matthew 9:27-30 “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When He had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him, and He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.”
Blindness is a horrible affliction that cuts us off from many of the pleasures of our world. Darkness is the companion of the blind and they need assistance to get around. In this story, two blind men call out to Jesus for mercy! They address Him as the “Son of David”, a messianic title. Jesus went inside, apparently not interested in addressing these requests, but the blind men follow Him. We are not sure how they found their way, but they were persistent and Jesus questioned them about their faith: “Do you believe I am able to do this?” They answered with an affirmative, “Yes, Lord!” Jesus then simply touched their eyes and told them that they would receive what they believed! Immediately their sight was restored!
Observations for over-comers: Persistence in prayer–calling out to Jesus–is essential in overcoming “impossible” situations. We will receive what we believe! “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
Scripture reading for April 23rd: John 13
Loyalty is a valued trait in friendship or marriage. We like to know that those we are closely associated with will be faithful to us and have our back. The Bible states that those who have been given a trust must be faithful. (1st Corinthians 4:2) Jesus chose twelve disciples to share the ministry and become His apostles. One of them proved unfaithful!
Jesus had gathered His disciples together in the upper room for the Passover meal. To set an example of servant-leadership, Jesus had washed each of His followers’ feet. He showed them that the path to greatness was through serving. After He had done this, Jesus became troubled in His spirit saying, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray Me.” (John 13:21) This surprised the disciples and wondered which one of them it might be who would do such a thing. Peter boldly had John ask Jesus which one it was. “Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”” (John 13:26) John records that Jesus gave the bread to Judas Iscariot and immediately Satan entered into him. He took the bread and went out into the night to quickly do what he had planned–betray Jesus for some money!
None of the disciples even suspected Judas and examined their own hearts. Judas had been seated close to Jesus in a position of honor. He was the treasurer of the group and was entrusted with their ministry funds. But Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart and to help the others believe, identified Him before the betrayal. We must all search our hearts and allow Jesus to speak to us about our own loyalty!
Scripture reading for April 30th: John 1:1-28
John was the disciple whom Jesus loved and the youngest of the apostles. John was the brother of James and together they were known as the ‘Sons of Thunder’. John was pictured in all pictures of the Last Supper with his head on Jesus’ breast. Jesus assigned responsibility for His mother to John in His final statements from the cross. John knew Jesus from being in the inner circle of the apostolic band.
John’s clear purpose in writing his Gospel is stated in John 20:31, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” John uses many different descriptive words, personal encounters and miracles to prove his point. He wanted everyone who read his account to believe! He knew that in believing, they would find eternal life and the salvation that Jesus made available to whosoever would believe!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4) This introduction identifies Jesus as the ‘Word’ that spoke creation into being from nothing! (Genesis 1:1-3) This ‘Word’ was with God at the beginning of creation. In Him was life and light for men. Apart from God’s Word, man cannot know or understand where he came from or why he is here. The eternal ‘Word’ reveals all that is hidden in darkness.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus Christ is the ‘Word’ of God that was made flesh. He is the incarnate Word, existing from before the foundations of the world. He is the truth in living form and came to reveal that truth to mankind. When He was revealed, He showed forth the glory of His Father. There is none like Jesus! He alone is the unique ‘Son of God’. He was begotten by the Father supernaturally in the womb of Mary. He is the Truth and the Life! (John 14:6) He is the only way to God. He alone could bear our sins and save us!
Scripture reading for May 27th: John 16:1-33
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you; Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:20-22)
Jesus spoke plainly about His coming departure and the grief that would come over the disciples as they witnessed the unfolding of events. They did not fully understand what He was saying, but He knew that the Holy Spirit would help them understand fully and remember what He taught them. He encouraged them to be patient and look for the joy that would follow.
Jesus likened the disciples joy at His resurrection to that of a mother who had just had a child. The time immediately preceding the birth would be filled with pain and anguish. The birth pains had to come before the baby was introduced to the world. So Jesus had to go through the battle with the ‘prince of this world’ and face the last enemy, ‘death’! But the ‘prince of this world’ had no hold on Him. (John 14:30) The ‘prince of this world’ must be driven out! (John 12:31) This battle would involve the cross for Jesus and the ‘prince of darkness’ would attempt to hold Him in death. However, Jesus would be victorious and emerge from the grave with the keys of death and hell! (Revelation 1:18) He would spoil the principalities and powers of darkness, and make a public show of them openly by the cross! (Colossians 2:15)
When these disciples experienced Jesus in resurrection, their grief would be turned to a joy that no one could take away! They would know God the Father was true and the Gift of the Father would teach them all things. They would understand that death had no hold on them either and live with a new boldness to share the love of God in Christ Jesus! Christ’s victory would assure them of their victory! Are you living in this joy? Why not put your faith in Jesus Christ and experience it for yourself?
Scripture reading for October 17th: Mark 8-10
As a Christian, have you ever faced a situation that was beyond your spiritual ability to know what to do? In today’s reading, we have the story of a man with a son who has an evil spirit that was always trying to kill the boy. This boy was often thrown to the ground, into the fire, and foamed at the mouth and became rigid. The father had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples for deliverance, but they could do nothing. This problem was not responding to what they knew and where they were spiritually. They needed help from their Master!
“O, unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” Mark 9:19 Jesus cried out from the depths of His being! He had spent many hours with these men and showed them the power of faith and of words. They were being ruled by sight! As the boy was brought before Him, the spirit caused another seizure to occur. Jesus asked the boy’s father how long he had been like this and he replied that his son had been that way from childhood. The man asked Jesus to help, if He could do anything at all. “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23 “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”” Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, it left the boy and he was healed!
The disciples were perplexed as to why they had failed. Jesus explained to them that this kind of demonic activity can only be defeated by prayer. (Mark 9:29) At this point, we should stop and think about what has happened and look at our lives as disciples. Jesus called His followers to take up their cross and follow Him. He lived a life of prayer and of complete submission to God as Father. He left these records for us to know that by faith, all things are possible. When we are faced with an impossible situation, prayer (and fasting) often is the only way to victory. God has answers if we won’t give up or quit too soon! If we lack faith, we need to get into God’s word and seek to find His word on whatever obstacle we face.
A scriptural prayer is found on the lips of the boy’s father! Jesus’ answer to him had brought faith but he needed to drive out the unbelief! He saw the salvation of God because of his faith and Jesus’ mercy. May we enjoy growing in faith and experience His mercy in our lives today!