Scripture reading for July 3rd: Romans 15, Psalm 132, Proverbs 8
Key Scriptures: Romans 15:4-6 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul knew that the Roman believers needed endurance and encouragement to live by faith in the grace of Jesus Christ. The God of endurance and encouragement is Jesus Christ! This amazing Savior gives us the encouragement and endurance we need through His unchanging and true Word, also a source of fulfillment for our deepest need.
Faith Confession: I believe that Jesus Christ is the God of endurance and encouragement and that His Word gives me hope as well. I shout for joy at the gifts of hope, endurance and encouragement!
Psalm 132:8-9 “Arise, O Lord, and go to Your resting place, Your and the ark of Your might. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness and let Your saints shout for joy.”
Scripture reading for July 3rd: Romans 15
Paul identified himself with those who were ‘strong’ in their faith. He understood the liberty that believers have in Jesus Christ. He also knew that strong believers might become prideful and judgmental, as he had been towards followers of Christ before he was saved. In order to encourage the strong believers, he asked them to bear with the failings of the weaker believers. “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:2-4)
Christ, our example, always sought to please the Father and as a result suffered for it. He was insulted and ridiculed as a ‘friend of tax collectors and sinners‘! Those insults were directed towards Christ and the Father! But Christ was on a mission to save the lost, not condemn them! The Scriptures record the endurance and message of hope that Christ proclaimed in order to help us follow His example. So must we be kind, patient, and encouraging to those who are weaker in their faith. We must accept them as Christ accepted us and cultivate unity and love.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are filled with joy and peace through faith in Christ! The Holy Spirit brings a hope that ‘overflows’ into the lives believers encouraging all!
Sunday September 28th, 2014
Dear Friends of Jesus,
How comforting are the words of these prophets! God is a God of hope and encouragement! Through Haggai, we learned the righteous must live by faith in the face of difficult times. Through Zechariah, we learned that God would be a wall of fire around His people and that their enemies would be defeated! We are the “apple of His eye”!
With these encouragements, we gather to worship on the Lord’s Day! Today is a day of celebration and focus on the mission at hand: reaching the nations with the message of a coming Savior! Join us today for a mission’s banquet and a powerful message from missionary Bill McDonald! You will be encouraged at what God is doing!
In His Love, Pastor John and Mary
Scripture reading for September 27th: Zechariah 1-2
God’s prophets used different styles to get the message to God’s people. The prophet Zechariah prophesied during the time of the first return to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon. Zechariah is one of the longest of the minor prophets and he employed a very encouraging style of message designed to motivate the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem.
Zechariah began his message with a word from the Lord to Israel. The Lord had been angry with their forefathers because they would not respond to His call for them to return to Him. God’s word had promised consequences and curses for disobedience and these promises overtook them! (Deuteronomy 28:15) People just can’t outrun the word of the Lord! (Zechariah 1:6)
Zechariah was given a night vision of a man riding a red horse, followed by riders on red, brown and white horses. As he asked the Lord for understanding, an angel answered him. These horses and riders were ones that the Lord had sent throughout the whole earth and they reported back that the world was at rest and peace. The angel then turned to the Lord and asked Him a question: “How long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem?” (Zechariah 1:12-13) (Revelation 6:1-7)
The Lord answered with encouraging words about Jerusalem. He was jealous for Jerusalem and would return with mercy. The temple would be rebuilt and the measuring line again stretched over the city in order to build the wall and keep it secure. Prosperity would again flow to God’s people and God, Himself, would comfort them. (Zechariah 1:14-17) (Revelation 11:1-2)
Zechariah had another vision of four horns. He was told they represented the nations that had lifted their power against Israel and scattered them. (Zechariah 1:18-21) They would be thrown down by spiritual forces of the Lord in the heavenly realm. A spiritual conflict would go on as the temple was rebuilt, but God’s people would succeed!
Jerusalem would be a city without walls! God, Himself, would be a “wall of fire” around the city and its Glory! (Zechariah 2:4-5) What a glorious vision of encouragement to those who had by faith come to rebuild the city! God further stated that His people were the “apple of His eye” and that He would deal with anyone who would oppose them! Let these promises encourage you today as you are the “apple of His eye”!
Scripture Reading for March 3rd: Joshua 1-5
Walking with God is not for wimps! God leads His people in paths of righteousness and truth. He is a mighty warrior and a conqueror! His reputation for war is known far and wide! He often employs some very unconventional battle strategy (Joshua 6:2-5) and uses only those willing to follow His leadership.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9)
Possessing your inheritance requires strength! The ground you cover will have both mountains and valleys. You must have strength of mind to keep your thoughts focused on God’s promises. You must possess strength of character and soul to keep from falling for the temptations of the enemy and the flesh that would trip you up.
Courage is the ability to face tough situations with confidence. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to face fear with truth and keep moving toward the goal. Confidence must not to be in your own strength, mind or ability, but comes from a relationship with God. Joshua was told not to let God’s Law and Word depart from his mouth or mind. He was guaranteed prosperity and success as he meditated on the Word and was careful to obey. (Romans 10:17) (Hebrews 11:6)
Let Joshua’s call to strength and courage become personal. Jesus Christ is our “Joshua” and has blazed a trail of perfect obedience to God’s Word. His leadership in our lives today will give us the strength and courage to conquer the obstacles in our path! “Be strong and very courageous!”
Scripture reading for June 27th: Acts 18:1-21
The apostle Paul always seemed to get in trouble as he preached about Jesus Christ in the synagogues. After leaving Athens and the confrontation with the intellectuals on Mars Hill, Paul went to Corinth and again went to the synagogue. There he encountered some interest at first, but soon was being opposed by some abusive Jews. Paul did as Jesus instructed, shaking out his clothes and stating, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles!” (Acts 18:6)
He went next door to the house of a man named Titius Justice, who was a worshiper of God. This means that he was a Gentile seeker who had attended the synagogue. Paul used his house to preach and the synagogue ruler Crispus and his entire household was saved! Many others were saved and baptized! (Acts 18:7-8)
Sometimes leaders need fresh vision and encouragement. Even though we are living life one day at a time, we need to know that we are in line with where God wants us. Sometimes we can feel His pleasure, but other times we feel opposition and even fear. God knew that Paul needed encouragement to stay in Corinth for a more extended period of time so He gave him a vision. “Don’t be afraid; keep on speaking, don’t 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.” (Acts 18:10) Many of God’s mighty saints struggled with fear. The Holy Spirit gave them great boldness and vision and words of encouragement to keep them on track. Paul stayed in Corinth teaching for a year and a half.
As Paul left there, he went back to many of the churches he had started and encouraged them. He had a ministry of encouragement and disciple making that was ordered by his commitment to listen to the Holy Spirit. When asked by some Jews at Ephesus to stay and spend more time, he declined. He told them that he would come back if it was the Lord’s will. (Acts 18:21) God knows how to direct His disciples. We are all on a directed journey to accomplish God’s will and must finish our course! Are you listening to the Holy Spirit today?
Scripture reading for September 27th: Zechariah 3-4
God’s people and their leaders faced a task that looked impossible: the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem! God sent visions to Zechariah to bring encouragement and give them hope!
The second of eight visions pictured Joshua, the high priest, standing before the Lord, and Satan there accusing him. The Lord rebuked Satan and described Joshua as a burning stick snatched from the fire! (Zechariah 3:2; Jude 22,23) He then ordered Joshua’s filthy clothes to be removed and clothed him in clean garments. Joshua was told that if he walked in the Lord’s ways and kept His requirements, he would govern God’s house and have a place among those standing there by the throne of God.
Joshua the high priest was symbolic of things to come. God would send His servant, the Branch to remove the sin of Israel in a single day. Jesus Christ was the servant of the Lord who was sent by God. He was and is the Son of God. He fully obeyed all of God’s requirements and walked in His ways. He became sin and was made like the burning stick, under the fires of God’s judgment for us. God raised Him from the dead, snatching Him from the fire, and seated Him at His right hand! In obeying His Father, Jesus Christ removed the sin from the land and from all people in one day!
Zechariah also saw a golden lamp stand with a bowl at the top and seven lights. There were two olive trees standing on either side of the bowl. Zechariah again asked for understanding. “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6) It was not their might, power, or ability that would accomplish the task. God would bless their efforts and see it through by His Spirit!
The Church is the lamp stand and the saints are lights in the world. The Spirit is the oil that brings the energy for the light. God’s anointed leaders help with the dispensing of the anointing oil as they live by faith and do their assigned jobs! Their lives of faith reflect God’s Glory and the work goes forward! It may seem like our work is small but don’t despise it– live by faith in the power of His Spirit!
Scripture reading for April 21: 1st Chronicles 22-27
As I have attended and worked in different church families, one of the things that is often done poorly is the transition of leadership. Often the pastor resigns or sometimes is forced to leave because of some problem. No preparation or thinking has been done by the deacons or core leadership of the church and a crisis is at hand. People have different ideas and pastors are invited to come share their ministry and it becomes a popularity contest. It sometimes divides the church and there is great turmoil. Many people forget that God is a God of order and He has a plan of succession and a plan for success! We see such a plan in action in today’s reading!
David was old and “full of years”. (1st Chronicles 23:1) He made Solomon king over Israel. David’s son Adonijah had tried to make himself king and Bathsheba and Nathan worked together to redirect the situation according to the will of the Lord. (1st Kings 1:1-5) There was a power struggle here as well. People often want to be in charge and often seek to take power or to control the one who is in power. It is one of the strategies of Satan to bring division and confusion in a family, church, or nation. After installing Solomon, David wisely tried to help his son succeed in the tasks that he knew were important. One of these was the building of the temple for the Lord.
First David encouraged Solomon that it was God’s will that he build the Lord’s house. David had heard from the Lord! He knew the will of God and passed this on to Solomon. He was positive and encouraging and prayed for God’s wisdom and discretion that his son might keep the Law of God and have success! A father’s blessing and God’s blessing go a long way toward success! (1st Chronicles 22:11-13)
Next, David assembled materials for the Temple. He generously provided from his own treasury for God’s house! He set a good example for his son and the nation of generosity and focus on what was important. When God’s house was cared for, God would bless and the people would be focused on what should be central. (1st Chronicles 22:14-16)
The last thing David did was to gather the key leaders of Israel together and encourage them to support Solomon. David cited the Lord’s victories and how God had given the people rest. He encouraged the leaders to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul and to begin building. This transition would continue the vision of the Lord through David and insure the accomplishment of God’s will and purposes. (1st Chronicles 22:17-19)
I believe God wants thoughtful and peaceful transition of leadership. Pray for your family, church family and nation for the leaders and those in authority that they would be thoughtful and purposeful in this area. God’s purposes are eternal! We should keep them in focus!