Scripture reading for July 30th: 2nd Corinthians 2, Psalm 1, Proverbs 27 (using Psalm 1 today to switch to using odd-numbered Psalms for balance of year.)
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 2:14-17 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
Paul likened his life to that of a conquered prisoner being led by a conquering king. He was in a triumphal procession and where ever he was led, he and his fellow believers manifested the sweet fragrance of Christ Jesus. This fragrance brought salvation and life to those being saved, but it brought death to those rejecting the message. Paul and his companions did nothing for money or fame, but as those commissioned by God, they spoke in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Faith Confession: I have been conquered by Christ Jesus and He leads me each day in triumphal procession, manifesting His sweet fragrance to those around me. I pray for salvation and life as people make decisions that will affect them for eternity.
Psalm 1:5-6 “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Scripture reading for June 3rd: Acts 21, Psalm 110, Proverbs 17
Key Scriptures: Acts 21:10-13 “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus come down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.””
Paul had had many warnings of coming imprisonment. God always prepares His own for what is ahead and His Presence guides them through the storms and trouble. We naturally want to protect our loved ones from suffering or trials. God’s people count it all joy when the trials come, knowing that the testing of their faith brings endurance and helps complete Christ’s work in others and us.
Faith Confession: Lord, thank You for this record of Paul’s faith confession that encourages me to stand true to You no matter what the consequences. I trust You for grace sufficient to each trial in my life.
Psalm 110:3 “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of Your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.”
Scripture reading for August 6th: Psalm 72-75, 2nd Corinthians 7
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 7:9-11 “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Paul was rejoicing because his difficult letter of correction had resulted in a godly grief over their sin and resulted in true repentance. Sometimes, people can have worldly grief. This is usually being sorry that they were found out. This results in no change of heart or mind and eventually spiritual death and eternal separation from God. Godly sorrow brings life and restoration.
Psalm 75:1-2 “We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your Name is near. We recount Your wondrous deeds. “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.””
Prayer: Lord, correct me and convict me when I need it. Bring godly sorrow that leads me always to repentance and life. May I stand in Your grace when I face You as judge. Amen.
Scripture reading for September 26th: Hosea 10-14
Key Scriptures: Hosea 13:14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”
Hosea had a Word of God for the remnant that would trust in Him. God, who alone had the power over death, would ransom them from the grave and redeem them from death! God asked two questions of “death” and the “grave”. The answer was that “death” and the “grave” would have no plague or power to destroy God’s people or to negate God’s power over them! This verse was quoted by Paul in the New Testament and given to encourage Christ’s church about the certain victory they have in Christ!
Rejoicing in our victory through Christ: “”Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1st Corinthians 15:55-56)
Scripture reading for August 30th: Jeremiah 41-44
Key Scriptures: Jeremiah 42:19-22 “”O remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything He says and we will do it. I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all He sent me to tell you. So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle (Egypt).””
Jeremiah had been asked by the leaders of the remnant left in Jerusalem whether they should stay there under the Babylonian rule or go to Egypt. Jeremiah prayed and God answered: ‘Stay in Jerusalem.’ But the leaders knew better than God. God warned them what would happen if they went but they chose to disobey! Rebellion is stubborn and won’t listen to reason!
Lord, give me and obedient heart: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21)
Scripture reading for August 6th: 2nd Corinthians 7
God had made amazing promises to His people! He promised to be a Father to them and to adopt them as His own sons and daughters. He would be their God and they would be His people! “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2nd Corinthians 7:1)
Paul pleaded with the church in Corinth to allow the promises of God to motivate them in pursuit of holiness. They were to break off unholy alliances with unbelievers and pursue everything that would please the Lord. They were to take the Word of God seriously. Sin contaminates body and spirit and hinders our relationship with God our Father. We must respect and honor Him enough to leave sin behind and pursue holiness.
Paul wrote to them to help them see areas that needed work. “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2nd Corinthians 7:8-10) When the Holy Spirit is at work through God’s Word, it produces sorrow for disobedience in the believer. This sorrow should produce repentance, a change of mind and action, that leads to holiness and life! Paul was now happy that the church members had responded properly. Have you experienced this ‘godly sorrow’ and truly repented?
Scripture reading for January 2nd: Genesis 3-5
We are introduced to the “serpent” who was “more crafty” than any of the other animals that God had made. This “serpent” talked to the woman Eve. His words contradicted what God had told Adam and Eve. They were words designed to appeal Eve’s desire for that which was forbidden by God. The serpent had the ability to craft a plan that got around truth. Eve was taken in by it and took the forbidden fruit. She gave it to her husband who ate as well. They suddenly are aware of their nakedness and hide, covering themselves. Rather than being clothed with God’s Glory, shame now clothed them with a fig leaf!
God was walking in the garden. He reached out to those made in His image. He called out seeking to connect with those who were now lost! He knew what they had done but wanted to help them re-connect. When they emerged shaking in fear, God asked them to confess what they had done and take responsibility. They attempted to blame someone else or God himself! Neither wanted to confess or admit guilt.
Today, do a quick survey of your life. Ask the Holy Spirit if there are things you are doing that you need to take responsibility for. Confess them to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and cleansing. It’s the only way I know to get rid of sin and reconnect with God!
The blame game: The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12
Truth: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
Scripture reading for July 23rd: Isaiah 24-27
Isaiah broke forth in a dissertation about the coming “day of the Lord”. God’s people will not experience this day of wrath but welcome it with singing and joy. (Isaiah 24:14-16) (1st Thessalonians 5:9) The people of earth, those without a knowledge of the Lord and faith in Him, are filled with mourning and terror at this day! (Isaiah 24:11-13)
Out of this vivid description of this day of wrath comes bright rays of joy for those of faith! Isaiah heard shouts of joy and acclaim arising from the East and West. He heard singing coming from the islands of the sea and the ends of the earth! (Isaiah 24:14-16) God would reign their midst on Mt. Zion among His people! (Isaiah 24:23)
In Isaiah 25:1-4, Isaiah broke into praise for fulfillment of His Word! God spoke of His plans from ancient days and then brought them to pass! He cared for the poor and needy and defeated all their enemies! The Lord prepared a banquet of rich foods for all peoples! On the mountain of the Lord, Mt. Zion, God would destroy the shroud that enfolded all peoples! Death would be defeated and tears will be wiped away! No wonder His people are singing from the ends of the earth!
These verses were used by the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:50-57 to describe the resurrection body that would be given to each believer at the coming of Jesus Christ! They were also referred to by the Apostle John in his vision from the island of Patmos in Revelation 21:1-5 as he described the new heavens and new earth where believers would dwell with the Lord forever! There is also a reference to the great banquet in Revelation 19:6-9 as John describes the wedding supper of the Lamb! Whenever we receive Holy Communion, we are proclaiming Jesus’ destruction of the shroud of death and our hope of eating at that great banquet!
One last nugget from these chapters of Isaiah comes in Isaiah 26:3-4. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Put your trust in Jesus Christ again today! He is our Rock eternal! From your end of the earth, sing songs of worship without ceasing as you rest in His love!
Scripture reading for March 29th: 2nd Samuel 11-14
In my years in the church, I have witnessed a number of moral failures. Many of these have been in ministry and were men and women of God who had powerful ministries and were great people of influence in the church and community. Those in ministry have caring hearts and are often the target of Satan. Satan knows that if he can get a man or woman of God to compromise, he has an opportunity to trip up many in the church. These moral failures were often a result of pride, success, and lack of accountability.
In today’s reading, King David decided to stay home from the battlefield and take a break. He was about 50 years old at this time, has had great success. While resting at home, he saw his neighbor’s wife bathing and sent for her. They have a sexual encounter and a child was conceived. (2nd Samuel 11:4-5) When David was notified, he sent for her husband, Uriah. David hoped to have Uriah spend time with his wife but Uriah had made a vow of abstinence while fighting. King David sent Uriah back with orders for his army commander Joab to have Uriah killed in battle.
Sin always takes one farther than they want to go! David’s failure to restrain his passions brought an unwanted pregnancy. David essentially had Bathsheba’s husband murdered. (2nd Samuel 11:25-27) David then married Bathsheba. This turn of events displeased the Lord!
What lessons are here for us today? First, sexual sins are always deadly! God’s Word warns us that we must not commit adultery! God has joined the man and woman together as one. They are a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church! (Ephesians 5: 31-32) When we separate what God has joined together, we open the door to violence between the parties involved. (Malachi 2:15-16) David was moved on by Satan to have Bathsheba’s husband murdered and the child that was conceived died as well.
It has been said that we often overestimate our ability to resist temptation. Have you been looking at things you should not be looking at? Have you entertained temptation rather than resisting it? Are you emotionally involved with someone who is not your mate? Flee temptation today and turn to the Lord for forgiveness and help! King David’s own advice can be found in Psalm 32: 1-6!
Scripture Reading for February 29: Deuteronomy 27-30
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord Your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
God so clearly spelled out His desire for His people’s blessing and life. He had redeemed them and shown them His love by the signs and wonders and continuous provisions. Their clothes and shoes had not worn out. They ate the manna each day for forty years and had meat too. They drank the water from the rock. (Deuteronomy 29:2-6) Their enemies had been defeated and God had cared for them. (Deuteronomy 29:7-8) Moses asked them to make a choice. Did they want “life and blessing”? Or would they prefer “death and curses”? He even gave them the answer if they were having trouble figuring out the right choice: “choose life”!
There is something about sinful human nature that is blind to simple truth. We are taken captive by the lies of the flesh that tell us that our own way is the best. God’s way is too narrow and life like He wants for us is too restrictive. It’s too difficult to try! (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
Moses told the people it wasn’t too hard for them and the Apostle Paul quoted him in Romans 10:6-12. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we can be saved from the curses of the Law and the penalty of death. We believe in our heart that Christ died for us and was raised from the dead. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
“But what does it say? “The word is near you: it is in your mouth and in your heart”, that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10