Scripture reading for January 9th: Matthew 7, Psalm 7, Prov. 7
Key Scriptures: Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Jesus taught His disciples that confession of faith was not enough in and of itself to guarantee entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Even works done in the Name of Jesus would not qualify a person for entrance. Confession and good works must be accompanied by complete submission to God and yielding to His will in every area of life. Faith confessions must be demonstrated by humble obedience to God’s will and word.
Faith’s confession: Jesus, I confess that You are Lord of my life. I pray that Your kingdom would come and Your will would be done in my life on earth as in heaven. Deliver me from pride and presumption, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may truly know You better each day.
Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep My words and treasure up My commandments with you; keep My commandments and live; keep My teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Scripture reading for September 12th: Ezekiel 25-29
Key Scriptures: Ezekiel 28:14-17 “You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.”
Ezekiel was given a prophesy for the King of Tyre. This prophesy seems to speak about a fallen created angel who became proud and was thrown out of heaven and down to earth. Ezekiel’s prophesy mirrors part of John’s vision in the 12th chapter of Revelation!
The God of Justice: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9)
Scripture reading for September 17th: Obadiah
Jacob and Esau were twin brothers. Esau was the first-born and Jacob came out holding onto his brother’s heel. A spiritual conflict ensued that caused these brothers and their descendants to be in a struggle that lasted for hundreds of years. Jacob got Esau’s birthright for a bowl of soup. (Genesis 25:32-34) Jacob stole his brother’s blessing from their father Isaac with the help of their mother Rebekah. Esau was furious and held a grudge against Jacob, plotting to kill him. (Genesis 27:41) Jacob fled to Paddan Aram, to Laban’s house to find a wife. (Genesis 28:1-3) Esau had upset his parents by marrying Hittite women who were idolaters! (Genesis 27:44) So this conflict between two brothers smoldered like a fire, particularly in the heart of Esau!
Over 500 years later, Obadiah the prophet was sent with a message for Esau’s descendants. They had become a nation that was dwelling next to Israel but still held a grudge! They had pride that their own strength would make their way. (Obadiah 3-4) They had violence in their hearts against their brother Jacob and stood aloof while Jacob was under attack. (Obadiah 10-12) They had looked down on their brothers when they were being overtaken by foreigners and rejoiced over their misfortune rather than helping defend them. (Obadiah 12-14) God’s message was that Edom would reap what they had sowed and their pride would result in the destruction of the House of Esau! (Obadiah 15-18)
We can all learn from this sad story! A grudge held can infect a family which can eventually destroy a nation of people. Esau’s grudge was never fully dealt with! Esau’s focus on his own needs, appetites, and personal pride caused his family and eventually a nation that came from him to dwell in pride. This pride and despising of their brothers resulted in God’s judgment and their destruction! Unforgiveness is just as dangerous for us today! It will isolate us from our family and open us up to the enemy of our souls. It will cut us off from God’s grace! Jesus Christ died to heal our broken family ties and restore us to God’s family! Take time today to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness! Humility always defeats pride’s death traps!
Scripture reading for May 31st: Job 35-37
“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you.” Job 36:3-4
Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything? For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for. Elihu was such a person. He boasted of his great wisdom and but was not much different from the other three friends. He talked down to Job and subtly accused Job of not knowing God, yet he claimed to know God perfectly. (Job 36:4)
Elihu stated that God commanded sinners to repent and that if they listened, they would spend the rest of their days in prosperity. (Job 36:11) This argument had already been hashed around and Job had reminded them that this was not always the case. Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth. (Job 21:7-14) We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes, but they will all be for our good if we love him. (Romans 8:28)
Elihu stated that our sin had no effect on God. (Job 35:6) Sin does have an effect on God. It provokes His anger and all sin is against God first. Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil. God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern. Job was before the Law was given but God never changes and His character was the same then as now!
Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction. (Job 36:21) When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others. Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up! (1st Corinthians 8:1b)
As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20) No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord! He is our helper and guide! In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths! (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Scripture reading for September 21st: Galatians 6:1-18
Even spiritual people get caught in sins. Spiritual people can still make wrong choices and become deceived. Pride is usually the culprit and we fall into the devil’s trap. Paul encouraged the Galatians to carry each others burdens and love others enough to seek to help them be restored. We must stay in the Spirit and not become conceited or prideful ourselves because we can fall into sin ourselves. We must be honestly checking out our own hearts for wrong attitudes and prideful judgments of those who are trapped. (Galatians 6:1-5)
Paul briefly speaks to the Galatians about their giving. They are encouraged to share their resources with those who teach them the word of God. Generosity and blessing God’s workers is the heart of the Spirit too!
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, will from that nature reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Sowing is always a choice of our free will. We are not victims or creatures caught in our circumstances. We make choices each day to either follow the Spirit or our sinful nature. The easy path naturally is the way of the sinful nature. However, it is in truth the hard path because it always leads to destruction and death. When we choose the way of the Spirit, the trials come and the enemy opposes us. However, this path always leads to eternal life and blessing!
The false teachers were trying to get the Galatians to follow the law. In that way they could boast in their flesh and avoid persecution from the religious Jews. Paul’s word to them was, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Our good works, however religious they may be, can never produce righteousness in us before God. Our only hope is faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. This faith brings the Holy Spirit into our life to make us a new creation of God. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
Scripture reading for March 25th: Luke 6:39-7:10
It is always easy to see the faults in others and to miss your own. We tend to be willfully blind to any problems we may have. It is not easy to change ourselves and impossible unless we acknowledge that there is a problem. This first step is hard because of pride. Admitting weakness or sin makes us feel ashamed or worthless. Often we really don’t want to change either. We may use our weakness or our sin as a crutch to help us get by or give us an excuse as to why we are like we are.
Jesus told the people a parable to help them see their trouble. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above His teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like His teacher. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:39-42)
The Pharisees had been deriding Jesus and His disciples for various small issues. They didn’t like them eating with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ whom they considered ‘unclean’. This was a ‘speck’ they were trying to remove from Jesus’ eye while Jesus was showing them the plank in their eye! (Luke 5:31) The Pharisees condemned Jesus for healing the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, thus doing work on a day of rest. Jesus tried to help them with their ‘plank’–missing the mercy and love of God towards hurting people, even on the Sabbath. (Luke 6:9-11)
Christians must guard against the ‘planks’ that come to block our vision and cause us to judge others. With the judgment we give, it will be measured back to us! (Luke 6:37-28) What ‘planks’ are sticking out of your eye today? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Scripture reading for November 6th: Acts 5-7
Lying is a sin and one God’s ten commandments. (Exodus 20:16) God hates a lying tongue! (Proverbs 6:17-19) Lying breaks relationships, marriages, homes, and even churches! A lying tongue hates the one it hurts! (Proverbs 26:28) A false witness will not go unpunished and he who pours out lies will perish! (Proverbs 19:9) The devil is a liar and can speak only one language: “LIE!” (John 8:44)
The Book of Acts records the history of the early church from just before the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul in Rome. Very early in the history of the new church, Luke writes to tell us the story of a couple who told a lie that cost them very dearly. This is the story of Ananias and Sapphira found in Acts 5:1-16.
The lie that this couple told was a lie of omission. They sold some of their property and made an offering to the Apostles for the use of the church. The price of the property was more than what they gave, but they told the Apostles that they gave all the money to the Lord when they had kept some back for themselves. Now it wasn’t wrong not to give it all. It was only wrong to lie about what they had given. Scripture doesn’t say why they did this. Whatever the reason, we only have the startling results!
“Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men, but to God.”” “When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what happened.” (Acts 5:3-5)
This should make each one of us think and evaluate our own hearts and giving. We need mercy more than ever! This is a New Testament story to warn God’s people that dealing with God is serious business! Amazingly, the church grew and many souls were added after this judgment! The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth!
Scripture reading for September 8th: Hosea 12-14
“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but Me, no Savior except Me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me. Hosea 13:4-5
For people who have been saved from sin, God’s love initially seems so good. God is good and moves us from darkness and slavery into a new realm of abundance and true soul satisfaction. It would appear that such a people would love and follow God forever, enjoying the abundant life. (John 10:10) Hosea tells how God’s once faithful people became satisfied and promptly forgot Him. The source of this forgetfulness was pride, which became their downfall! (Hosea 13:6, 14:1)
Pride is the sin that caused Satan’s downfall from the highest heavens. Satan desired to be like the Most High and to sit on the throne of God. God’s abundant blessing on his life in making him beautiful and giving him a place of honor brought out iniquity hidden there. (Ezekiel 28:1, 14-17) He was cast down from heaven’s glory to earth. We must be vigilant for this subtle sin that can creep into those who bear God’s image and carry His glory!
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously; that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” ” Hosea 14:1-2
God’s mercy is also toward those whose sins have taken them down! Hosea gives a wonderful altar call. Repentance is an act of faith in the patience, kindness, love and mercy of our Lord. We can offer Him nothing but ourselves and our words. God desires to heal us and love us. Check your heart and attitude today and ask God to expose any pride that could be your downfall.
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely; for my anger has turned away from them.” Hosea 14:4
“Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9
Scripture reading for August 31st: Daniel 4-6
Alcohol has been around for many years and impairs judgment and often brings delusional thinking. (Proverbs 23:29-35) The effects of alcohol are also a picture of the effect of sin on the body, soul, and mind of a person made in God’s image for His glory!
King Belshazzar of Babylon had a party for a thousand of his nobles. After drinking for a while, the king ordered that the golden goblets that his grandfather had taken from the Temple of God in Israel be brought out. They were filled with wine and toasts were offered to the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. As they were toasting, boasting and celebrating, there appeared what looked like human fingers that wrote upon the wall. (Daniel 5:1-6) This sight was deeply sobering to the king and all present!
The king called all his wise men to read the writing but no one could tell him what it said. Then the queen, very possibly his own mother or grandmother, told him about Daniel. Daniel was now an old man, probably in his 80’s. He was not among those drinking in the palace because of his godly character and life of prayer and consecration to the one true God. (Daniel 5:10-12)
Daniel spoke plainly to Belshazzar about God’s dealings with his father Nebuchadnezzar. He then told Belshazzar that he had failed to honor the God who held his life in His hands. (Daniel 5:22-24) Belshazzar had mocked God and angered Him by his refusal to humble himself and by drinking wine from the sacred goblets. Now the decree on the wall stated that God was sending judgment and Belshazzar’s kingdom would fall and be given to the Medes and Persians. (Daniel 5:25-28) That very night it came to pass! (Daniel 5:30-31)
What can we learn from this incident? It is easy to become drunk on the wine of this world and put what is profane in our holy goblets (our bodies and souls). Pride makes us drunk and delusional about who we are and the real source of our life. Those who are consecrated to God have insight and ability to read the handwriting on the wall because they truly know God and His Word! Daniel had read God’s Word in Jeremiah 51:39 and could understand what was happening. Fill your vessel with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit!
Scripture reading for April 5th: 1st Kings 9-11
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” Proverbs 27:21
Fame and fortune bring lots of praise from the lips of men. These blessings can easily lead our hearts away from faith in the Lord. God warned the Israelites that when they entered the promised land and settled down and became prosperous, they would be tempted to forget God. (Deuteronomy 8:10-13) In a sense, prosperity and fame can be a more difficult test than sexual lust. Solomon found this to be true.
After Solomon finished dedicating the temple and achieving all he had desired to do, God appeared to him a second time. God promised that He would hear the prayers said at the temple and watch over it. God then warned Solomon against turning away from Him and going after other gods. (1st Kings 9:6-9) God understood the test that Solomon would face as his fame and fortune grew.
Solomon was soon headed down a wrong path. His heart was not obedient to the Lord. He left the Caanites in the land and put them in forced labor. Solomon married foreign women and took 700 wives and 300 concubines from among the nations. God had warned that their hearts would be led astray to idolatry. (1st Kings 11:1-6) Solomon’s heart was not fully committed to the Lord and he did evil in God’s sight! He built high places for these gods of his foreign wives and they offered sacrifices, further angering God.
God raised up adversaries against Israel. Hadad the Edomite and Rezon from Aram (Syria) were both hostile towards Israel. One of Solomon’s own officials, Jeroboam, son of Nebat, also rebelled against the king. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to Egypt.
We all think that it would be wonderful to have what Solomon enjoyed, but we must be reminded of how our hearts are tested by this. The pride and power of prosperity can make one as drunk as wine! God is jealous (Exodus 34:14) and will not tolerate idolatry. Many mighty have fallen through pride and idolatry!
Pray today for someone who has fame or fortune, who is in a position of authority and influence. Pray for God’s grace to protect and keep that person from falling away and leading others astray.