Scripture reading for January 7th: Genesis 9-11, Mark 4
Key Scriptures: Genesis 9:11-13 “”I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.””
Mark 4:37-40 “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why were you afraid? Have you still no faith?””
When we deal with creation’s awesome power and our human weakness, fear often results. Because of sin, we fear God’s wrath and coming judgment. We know death will bring us before God. But God is merciful and gives us signs of His great mercy and calls us to trust in Him. To Noah and his family, He provided an ark and gave them the rainbow. To His disciples, Jesus calmed the storm and called them to faith in His saving grace.
Faith Confession and Prayer: Lord, a fear of death has been replaced by faith in Your great mercy and saving ability. You spoke “Peace! Be still!” to the storms that threatened me. Help me to rest today on the cushion of Your grace!
Scripture reading for February 14th: Numbers 25-29
Key Scriptures: Numbers 25:10-13 “The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the Priest, has turned My anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for My honor among them, so that in My zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making My covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
It has been said that zeal is love in action. Eleazar was zealous for God’s honor and thrust his spear into a sinning Israelite who was having idolatrous and immoral sexual relations with a woman not his wife. In doing so, God gave him a covenant of peace and exaltation to a lasting priesthood.
Joyful thanksgiving: Jesus Christ was zealous for God’s honor and took a spear for the sins and immorality of mankind! He received everlasting honor and an eternal Priesthood as reward! “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.” (Hebrews 1:8-9)
Scripture reading for January 27th: Matthew 19, Psalm 18:30-42, Proverbs 5:1-6
Marriage is an institution that God created with a purpose. A marriage between a man and a woman was to provide companionship for both the man and woman throughout their lives. God determined that it was not good for Adam to be alone and that he needed a suitable helpmate. (Genesis 2:18-25) Marriage was also for procreation and the raising of godly children who would know and serve God. (Malachi 2:15-16) God knew that this could best be done by a man and a woman in a covenant relationship. Their love for each other and God would provide an environment that the children could learn about His love for them.
But sin entered the world through the first couple, Adam and Eve. They decided that they could do life by being like God themselves and disobeying His one command to them. This brought death to their relationship with God and strife to their own relationship. Work had sweat and toil and childbirth had pain. There was tension between them because they both wanted to be in control and God had set an order in the home. The man was to be a priest and protector but sin marred his ability to do that right. The result was broken families, multiple marriages, fighting and bickering and children who were not raised to fear God! God’s heart was broken for the children that should be His and take His glory to the world!
Jesus was asked a question to trap Him concerning divorce! “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that God made them male and female,” and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)
Jesus Christ strongly advocated marriage between a man and woman (not two men or two women!) as God’s plan. God joined them together and man should not separate what He has joined. Jesus went on to teach that Moses allowed divorce because of hard hearts, not God’s design. The only exception where divorce was allowed was adultery. If we desire God’s blessing, we must pay attention to God’s design!
Scripture reading for March 22nd: 1st Samuel 20-23
I had a best friend named Kendal. We were in the same class at the same school from kindergarten until our junior year of high school. We camped out during the summer and loved to hunt birds and fish. We often shared our hearts with each other. Kendal was drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam. I went to college and enlisted in the Iowa National Guard. Kendal gave his life serving our country and I served as a pall-bearer at his funeral! Best friends are hard to find but even harder to loose!
David and Jonathan were best friends. The Scripture records their love for each other and how their hearts were knit together. (1st Samuel 18:1-4) Jonathan was King Saul’s son and the probable heir to the throne of Israel. David was a shepherd whom God had selected to be the next king of Israel. God placed David in Saul’s court to prepare him for his kingship. Jonathan recognized the favor of the Lord on David and they became best friends. They made a covenant that would bind them to help each other and their families.
King Saul was jealous of David’s reputation and was afraid of David’s anointing. Scripture says he was tormented by an “evil spirit from the Lord”. (1st Samuel 17:14, 23) David played his harp for Saul to comfort him. Saul tried to kill him on several occasions and David was forced to flee. Jonathan always tried to patch things up. Real friends are there through thick and thin!
Finally, David realized that King Saul meant to kill him. Jonathan tried one more time sooth his father, but was himself attacked with a spear! Jonathan sent David away with tears and reaffirmation of their friendship. (1st Samuel 20:41-42) When he could, Jonathan would slip away and meet with David. He always encouraged him in the Lord! (1st Samuel 23:15-18)
We have a friend like Jonathan in our Lord Jesus Christ! He is faithful and true to us, even when the going gets rough! We can call on him at any time and he will come. He will warn us of danger and help us to either face it or escape. He is a friend by covenant and promises to help our descendants as well! Praise the Lord–He has called us friends! (John 15:15-17)
Scripture reading for January 6th: Genesis 15-17
A great deal has happened in the lives of Abram and Sarai in the last three chapters. They have been to Egypt and back. They have rescued Lot from invaders. They gave the first tithes to Melchizedek, an unusual man who was a king of Salem (Jerusalem) and a priest of “The Most High God”.
Next, since she was still barren Sarai suggested to Abram that he have a child by her maid Hagar in order to fulfill God’s promise. Hagar bore him a son and now felt superior. Sarai became jealous and mistreated her. The child Ishmael, became a source of trouble in the house. (Genesis 16:12). (In fact, we are today experiencing trouble in the Middle East and a war on terror from Ismael’s offspring!)
Genesis 17 recorded another visit by God to Abram and Sarai. Abram was then 99 years old and Sarai was 90. God confirmed His promise to them by covenant. Part of a covenant is a change of names. Abram means “Exalted Father” and Abraham meant “Father of a multitude”. Sarah’s new name meant “Princess”. God took Abraham’s name too! He became know as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God also gave them a physical sign of the covenant, circumcision. This mark in the male organ carrying the “seed”, would remind Abraham of God’s promise and mark his offspring as special. This sign also helped keep the line pure and free from venereal disease, thus protecting the offspring.
Faith simply says “yes” to God and obeys! Abraham is known as the father of faith because he believed God and God credited him with being righteous! (Genesis 15:6) We are made right with God exactly the same way! By faith in Jesus we are credited with righteousness too. Our sign of covenant is that we get the Name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who circumcises our hearts and marks us as belonging to God. God writes our name in the Book of Life and we have an eternal inheritance in Him! We are truly blessed through Abraham and Sarah and their seed, Jesus Christ!
“Having believed, you were marked in Him (Christ) 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.” Ephesians 1:13-14
Scripture reading for March 23: 1st Samuel 20-23
When I was in school, I had a “best friend” named Kendal. He and I were in the same class at the same school from kindergarten until our junior year of high school. We tried to sit together and play together at recess. His father was a farmer, like mine, and we had a lot in common. We camped out during the summer and loved to hunt birds and fish. We had a great time, and often shared our hearts with each other. Kendal was drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam. I had gone to college and had enlisted in the Iowa National Guard. Kendal gave his life serving our country. I had the privilege of being a pall-bearer at his funeral! Best friends are hard to find, and even harder to loose!
David and Jonathan were best friends. The Scripture records their love for each other and how their hearts were knit together. (1st Samuel 18:1-4) Jonathan was Saul’s son and the probable heir to the throne of Israel. David was a shepherd and musician who God had selected to be the next king of Israel. God placed David in Saul’s court to prepare him for his kingship. Jonathan recognized the favor of the Lord on David and was drawn to him in a covenant love. They became best friends and shared their hearts with each other. They made a covenant that would bind them to help each other and even their extended families.
David’s anointing and the favor of the Lord did not bring love for him from King Saul, however. King Saul was jealous of David’s reputation and was afraid of David’s anointing. He was insecure and tormented by an “evil spirit from the Lord”. (1st Samuel 17:14, 23) David played his harp and the evil spirit would leave for a time. The evil spirit would return and sometimes turn murderous towards David. Saul tried to kill him on several occasions and David was forced to flee. Jonathan always tried to patch things up or help his friend. Real friends are there through thick and thin!
Finally, David realized that King Saul was going to kill him. Jonathan tried one more time to patch things up, but was himself attacked with a spear by his own father! Jonathan sent David away with tears and reaffirmation of their friendship. (1st Samuel 20:41-42) When he could, Jonathan would slip away and meet with David. He always encouraged him in the Lord! (1st Samuel 23:15-18) Jonathan maintained friendship even when he knew his own father was out to kill his best friend.
We have such a friend as Jonathan in our Lord Jesus Christ! He is faithful and true to us, even when the going gets rough! He provides encouragement and shares his armaments with us! We can call on him at any time and he will come. He will warn us of danger and help us to either face it or escape. He is a friend by covenant and promises to help our descendants as well! He is benevolent and can be trusted to do us good all of our lives! Praise the Lord–He has called us friends! (John 15:15-17)