Scripture reading for May 14th: Acts 7, Psalm 96, Proverbs 3
Key Scriptures: Acts 7:51-55 “”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Now when they heard these things, they were enraged and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the God.”
Stephen had the privilege of preaching the Gospel and declaring truth to some of the same crowd who had demanded Jesus be crucified. He did not back off, but was full of boldness by the Holy Spirit. But truth is not received by the proud and arrogant and they quickly became an angry mob with murder in their hearts again. In contrast, Stephen saw a vision of an open heaven and Jesus Christ standing beside the Father’s throne. As Stephen died, he prayed for their forgiveness as did His Lord Jesus.
Faith Confession: Lord, give me the kind of boldness and grace that Stephen had by filling me with the Holy Spirit. Help me to clearly preach and live by truth even in the face of unrepentant lost religious people.
Psalm 96:2-3 “Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”
Scripture reading for August 30th: Psalms 136-139 and Ephesians 6
Key Scriptures: Ephesians 6:23-24 “Peace be to the brothers and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Paul closed his letter to the Ephesians with a blessing. He gave them a blessing of peace. Our Lord Jesus promised His disciples that “in Me you may have peace.” (John 16:33) He gave them the blessing of “love with faith.” Love never fails and faith works by love. He blessed them with grace–grace that would cover all those who loved Jesus Christ, the loving and faithful Son of God.
Psalm 138:1-2 “I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise; I bow down toward Your Holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your love and faithfulness! I receive the blessing of Your peace, love, faithfulness, and amazing grace! Amen.
Scripture reading for August 15th: Psalm 98-100, Galatians 1
Key Scriptures: Psalm 99:1-5 “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! The Lord is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome Name! Holy is He! The King in His might loves justice. You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God; worship at His footstool! Holy is He!”
The psalmist calls God’s people to worship and holy awe because of Who He is. He is the Holy One. He is the Just One. He is the fair and impartial judge of all mankind whose Name and reputation is awesome. This calls for worship and reverence in contemplation of His holiness.
Galatians 1:3-5 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the grace extended to all mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ. Your grace and holiness call me to worship You–now and forever! Amen.
Scripture reading for July 26th: Psalm 48-50, 1st Corinthians 16
Key Scriptures: Psalm 50:14-15, 23 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” . . .”The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God!”
Thanksgiving to God brings God glory. Sometimes it is a sacrifice to offer thanksgiving in the midst of troubling times or circumstances. It is an act of faith to give thanks. It is also an act of faith to call upon the Lord in the trouble and trust Him for deliverance. He also says that this glorifies Him and He will deliver us! Amen!
1st Corinthians 16:13-14, 23 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” . . . .”The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your precious Word and promises. Thank You for being faithful to answer prayers. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and faith to live as a strong man, glorifying You. Amen.
Scripture reading for July 18th: Psalm 27-29, 1st Corinthians 10
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 10:8-11 “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
Paul reminded the Corinthians that God had clearly judged His people for their past sins. This included sexual immorality, testing or tempting God, and grumbling against God and His appointed leaders. Their history was recorded in God’s Word as examples for us living in the last days under the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. Grace is not a license to sin. Christ is coming soon for a holy Bride!
Psalm 29:1-2 “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”
Prayer: Lord, keep me from besetting sins of flesh and spirit. Thank You for the examples written down for me and all who love You. We want to worship You in the splendor of holiness. Amen.
Scripture reading for June 18th: Nehemiah 13, Esther 1-3, Romans 4
Key Scriptures: Romans 4:19-22 “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about 100 years old) or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. Now unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Paul used the example of Abraham to drive home his argument of justification by faith. Abraham was not declared righteous by keeping the Law. The Law had not yet been given. But Abraham was given a promise that he would become the father of many nations and through his “Seed” all nations would be blessed. He believed God, even when it looked impossible in the natural!
Esther 2:16 “And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the other virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head. . .”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the grace and favor showed to all men through faith in Jesus Christ. Help me to believe Your word and receive all Your promises! Amen.
Scripture reading for March 29th: 2nd Samuel 16-20
Key Scriptures: 2nd Samuel 18:32-33 “The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.” The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!”
King David cried out in mourning at the news of the death of his rebellious son Absalom. As he sobbed, he stated that he wished it would have been him that had died instead. This is the heart of a father and our Father God over His rebellions sons and daughters!
Thankful for God’s heart: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, actually died in our place to pay for our rebellion! ” . . for all had sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.” (Romans 3:23-25)
Scripture reading for February 9th: Numbers 11-14
Key Scriptures: Numbers 14:17-19 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations.’ In accordance with Your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as You have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The Israelites were in rebellion against the Lord’s command to go in and take their promised land. Moses prayed after God spoke of destroying them and making another people through Moses. He prayed that the Lord’s ‘strength’ would be displayed! This ‘strength’ was forgiveness of sin and rebellion and continued patience with His people!
Overflowing Thanksgiving: Thank God for His Strength that makes sinners alive from death! “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved!” (Ephesians 2:5)
Scripture reading for November 30th: Galatians 1-6
Some people, calling themselves Christians, make rules to define holiness and judge others by how they keep their rules. Some are condemned for the length of their hair, their make up, or certain types of clothes. Some judge people having tattoos or body piercing. Other groups of Christians claim a person must be baptized in a certain way or worship on a certain day to be right with God. These rules become a perversion of the true Gospel.
The Apostle Paul dealt with some people who tried to add the Old Testament Law to faith in Christ. Paul taught that any addition to the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith was no Gospel at all! (Galatians 1:6-7) Paul warned these believers that anyone, even an angel from heaven, who tried to preach another Gospel should be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8-9) It is very serious business to pervert the Gospel!
This mixing of law and grace affected Peter and Barnabas some 14 years after Paul’s conversion. Paul found Peter withdrawing from the Gentiles and eating only with the Jewish believers who were teaching circumcision. (Galatians 2:11-16) Paul rebuked Peter in front of them for their hypocrisy! They had given in to peer pressure and moved away from the Gospel given them by the Lord Jesus. If it could happen to Peter, it could happen to us!
Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” (Galatians 2:20-21)
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not earthly things. for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-3
Our new identity is found in Christ! We were crucified with Him and raised with Him to a new life! No set of rules or regulations can make us holy.
Scripture reading for June 23rd: Acts 15:1-31
The church today is sometimes affected by legalism. Well-meaning Christians, pastors, and leaders try to define holiness by developing rules or traditions that help them summarize what pleases God. In early days, this confused people and often caused conflict and division. Most of the early church members were Jews and had a history of keeping the Law of God. These new believers struggled to know how to balance keeping the law with salvation by faith through grace!
“Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1) This teaching brought sharp debate in the early church and Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders to discuss this question. They had seen God pour out His Spirit on uncircumcised Gentiles in many places where they were sent by the Holy Spirit to preach and disagreed with this teaching.
At Jerusalem, this conflict was found to be simmering as well. There were believers who came from the party of the Pharisees who agreed that the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Law of Moses. (Acts 15:5) The apostles and elders gathered for discussion and Paul got up and addressed them. He noted that God accepted the Gentiles and poured out the Holy Spirit on them without their keeping of the Law. God purified their hearts by faith, not by law-keeping! In fact, no Jew was ever able to keep the Law and be justified by that work! (Acts 15:8-12)
James spoke up in agreement, citing the Old Testament prophet Amos as confirming Paul’s word to them. “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20) This seemed good to the elders and apostles and the Holy Spirit, so they sent Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch to share the ruling.
Salvation by grace alone was then taught by the early church. Adding law would not be allowed to hinder people from coming to Christ from a Gentile background. Are you trusting in Christ alone for salvation?