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 April 29th: John 17, Psalm 85, Proverbs 23
Key Scriptures: John 17:24-26 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know You, I know You, and these know that You have sent Me. I made known to them Your Name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
As we listen to Jesus’ prayer to His Father for us and His disciples, we note that He desired that they would be with Him in the Father’s presence. There the disciples would be able to behold Christ’s glory and experience ultimate joy and fullness of life in God’s love. Christ’s prayer is pulling all believers towards the throne of God and the fullness of our joy, glory, and eternal life.
Faith Confession: Amen! Let it be according to Your prayer for me and all disciples! I desire to be with You where You are and see Your glory! Thank You for the Holy Spirit that is a down payment on the fullness to come!
Proverbs 23:17-18 “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Scripture reading for March 26th: Luke 17, Psalm 61, Proverbs 30
Key Scriptures: Luke 17:20-21 “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!” or ‘There!” for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.””
Jesus preached the Gospel of the kingdom, proclaiming that it was near. The Pharisees asked Him when it would actually come. He answered them by telling them that it would come in ways that were not openly visible or able to be observed. The kingdom of God would come inside of each person through the key of repentance and faith. God’s kingdom would not be political or material in its initial appearance, but it would bring righteousness, peace and joy.
Faith Confession: I believe that Christ’s kingdom rule is in my heart through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I experience this kingdom rule through understanding righteousness by faith, peace with God, and joy of hope in all His promises. Jesus is Lord of my life!
Proverbs 30:5 “Every Word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
Key Scriptures for December 13th: 2nd Timothy 4, Titus 1-3
Key Scriptures: Titus 3:4-7 “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Paul, writing to Titus, emphasized the basic truth of salvation by grace through faith. Because of Jesus Christ, our Savior, we have obtained mercy, washing from sin and renewal by the Holy Spirit in new birth. We stand justified before a Holy God because of what He did for us, not anything we did or can do for Him. We not rejoice in our promised inheritance in God’s household–eternal life! What amazing hope we eagerly expect!
Rejoicing in hope and a future: “”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. The you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Scripture reading for November 10th: 1st Peter 3
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 1st Peter 3:13-16 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Believers are always being watched by the worldly people around them. We must seek to represent Christ Jesus in all we do, even if people of the world judge us harshly or even persecute us for our stands of faith or good works. We must also be ready to share our testimony and reason that we live such different lives marked by joy and good works. This sharing must be done with great respect and gentleness, seeking to win them over to the Blessed Hope we personally know!
Observations for over-comers: Our lives should be marked by joy and hope and faith in God’s Word. We must be prepared and ready to share our reasons for this joy! “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)
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!
Scripture reading for July 16th: Isaiah 1-4
The book of Isaiah is a rich resource of prophesy and New Testament truth. Jesus Christ said of Isaiah that he “saw My glory and spoke about it.” (John 12:41) Jesus began His ministry quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 (Luke 4:18-19). His book is considered by some to be a miniature of the Bible as a whole. The first 39 chapters record Isaiah’s messages of judgment. Like the New Testament, the last 27 chapters contain messages of hope!
In the first chapter Isaiah had a four-point sermon outline that went something like this: (A) Charges of sins, (B) Threats of coming judgment, (C) Call to repent, and (D), Promises of restoration if they repented.
Isaiah’s charges against Judah and warnings of judgment could apply to us in the American church today! The people of Judah were delivered from bondage by God himself, but they willfully forgot God. They had turned their backs on God and rebelled against their own Maker! (Isaiah 1:2-9) The consequences were physical afflictions, a land under a drought, and cities burned with fire through war! God likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities He had destroyed by fire because of their gross wickedness.
God was fed up with their hollow religious meetings and meaningless offerings. He hated their festivals and was burdened by their shows with no substance. He promised to hide his face from them and would not respond to their prayers. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
God called them to repent while there was still time. Their hands were full of blood and needed washing. God was concerned with the needy and weak who were being exploited. (Isaiah 1:16-17) He tried to reason with them about the stain of their sins. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. . .” (Isaiah 1:18) This may be a strong warning that their sin, like leprosy, was quickly taking them towards death. Leprosy turns the skin white and it loses all feeling. Their king, Uzziah, had died of leprosy because of pride and rebellion. (2nd Chronicles 26:16-21)
The fourth point of God’s message promised that if they were willing and obedient, they would eat the best of the land, but if they refused and rebelled against His advice they would be devoured by the sword. The choice we make determines the consequences and future reward or judgment! If we listen closely, God’s reasoning is easy to follow!
Scripture reading for August 20th: 1st Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Each person has been placed in Christ’s body by God as it pleased Him! (1st Corinthians 12:18) We are all arranged and joined together in such a way to function as a unit to accomplish God’s purposes. God appointed some ‘gift people’ to help with the teaching, equipping, and administration of His body. But no matter what gift you may have, God has encouraged all to desire the greater gifts and to pursue the most excellent way: the way of love!
Paul gives us one of the best descriptions of what love looks like that was ever penned! “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1st Corinthians 13:4-8a)
We can have all the gifts and be filled with faith, but without love we amount to nothing. Pentecostal and charismatic Christians have to be careful in this regard. The church at Corinth was flowing with gifts of the Spirit, but lack of love caused divisions and many other problems. Our flesh can easily get in the way and cause the love of God to cease flowing in our life. Faith works by love. (Galatians 5:5-6)
The proper exercise of the gifts also requires faith and love working together. The gifts are for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of the body. Christ loves His church and all is to be done through love. Love is not rude, boastful, or self-seeking. Love is humble and seeks the best for the other person. Pride and envy are not part of God’s kind of love! His love doesn’t keep record of wrongs and doesn’t remain angry with another person. His love trusts and protects and hangs in there for the long haul. In the end, love like this never fails to produce God’s highest good for the other person and for the Church of Jesus Christ!
“Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1st Corinthians 13:13) When all else fades away, love remains the greatest gift of all! Will you ask God for a fresh revelation of His love today?
Scripture reading for August 1st: Romans 15:1-22
Paul concludes this letter with another admonition to the strong in faith. They are to bear with the failings of the weak and not just seek to please themselves. Our goal should be to build up our neighbors, not judge them! (Romans 15:1-2) Jesus set the example for us by offering Himself in our place to take the penalty of our sins! What we deserved fell on Him.
God wants His people to dwell together in unity and hope as they follow Christ! (Romans 15:5-6) The Scriptures teach us how to have hope by the stories of God’s miraculous power and by the record of Christ’s example. Jesus prayed for His disciples and those who would follow Him from their ministry. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.” (John 17:20-21) Unity is maintained as we walk in the Spirit and allow the Word to dwell in us. We have hope for the future because of the promises of God for those who believe. The best is yet to come!
Both Jew and Gentile must accept one another because Christ accepted them both! “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) This is the practical benediction to Paul’s letter to this group of Roman believers. What an encouragement it is to them to hear from the Apostle Paul that God is a God of hope! He wants all believers to be filled with joy and peace as they trust in Christ for their every need. As they are filled with the Holy Spirit, the power of God’s hope will bring them encouragement and perseverance through any and all trials.
As you think about this passage today, remind yourself that God is the God of all hope! Hope is not found in our world or it’s leaders. Their promises may or may not come true. But God has the power and ability to make good on His every word! Hope abounds in Our Lord forever!
Scripture reading for July 24th: Romans 8:24-39
Winning teams are composed of outstanding individual players who work well together. Paul describes our winning team that will enable us to be more than conquerors! We know about this team by faith in what God has told us! As we read about this team, let new faith arise in God’s wonderful care for you.
We have been adopted into God’s family and now are waiting in hope for the redemption of our bodies. All of creation is awaiting this glorious change. God has given us the Spirit to help us through this waiting time and the sufferings that we go through here on earth. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit is on our winning team! He is helping us through prayer to see all things work for our good and God’s purposes!
Also on our winning team is God the Father. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) God is on our side, providing for all our needs. Our greatest need was forgiveness of sins and God supplied this at the cost of His own Son! We can trust Him to provide whatever we need and give us an eternal inheritance that He has promised as well!
We have not only the Father and Spirit on our winning team, but also the Son of God! Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven and is at the Father’s right hand. There He is praying for us and showering us with love! What an amazing team we are a part of! The Holy Trinity insures that we are more than conquerors in any battle we will face! There is no trouble, persecution, sickness or demon from hell who can separate us from our winning team! That should give us hope and make us shout!