Scripture reading for October 13th: Matthew 3-7
Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:25-27 “”Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?””
Jesus Christ taught the crowds that followed Him and His own disciples about the Father and His loving care for them. He pointed to the birds and how they are cared for. They don’t worry or fear for their next meal. God provides for the many creatures He has made. And man, made in God’s own image is much more valuable than the birds. We can depend on God’s care for our basic needs and obey His command to seek His kingdom and righteousness first of all.
Rejoicing in Father’s Care: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (Psalm 147:7-9)
Scripture reading for October 10th: Zechariah 8-11
Key Scriptures: Zechariah 9:9-10 “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
Zechariah called God’s people to rejoice greatly! This was because of the coming King. This King would be righteous and gentle and be marked by riding on the foal of a donkey. This was a contrast to the conquering kings who rode horses of war. This King would proclaim peace and His rule would cover the entire earth! He is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ!
Rejoice in the gentle King: “The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:12-14)
Scripture reading for June 23rd: Psalms 88-92
Key Scriptures: Psalm 91:9-12 “If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
The psalmist knew true security was found in those who made the Lord their refuge. God was able and willing to protect His people from all harm and disaster. His angelic forces were on call for those who looked to God to rescue and deliver, even picking us up in their strong arms!
Rejoicing in our Refuge: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. . . .What, then, shall we say in response to this? 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 8:28, 31-32)
Scripture reading for June 22nd: Psalms 84-87
Key Scriptures: Psalm 87:5-7 “Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High Himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.””
God’s people had great joy at being registered as a citizen of Zion, God’s holy city! They believed that God kept a register of those born in Zion. They sang and worshiped God because of their names written in God’s holy Book! All who believe on Jesus Christ and are “born again” can rejoice that their names are written in that holy Book!
Rejoicing in God’s Holy Register: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot his name from the book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:5-6)
Scripture reading for May 15th: Esther 8-10, Job 1-2
Key Scriptures: Ester 8:16-17 “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many peoples of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”
God had given Queen Esther and the Jews a great victory by turning the heart of the king to spare the Jews. As the news went out by fast horses, joy broke out in every city of the land of Persia. Many people became Jews because of the fear of the king’s edict and joined the feasting and celebration!
Rejoice, feast, and celebrate: God the Father has decreed forgiveness and eternal life for all who repent and receive His Son! “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” . . .”Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:7-9)
Scripture reading for February 3rd: Leviticus 20-23
Key Scriptures: Leviticus 20:22-24 “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.””
Disobedience could cost the Israelites their inheritance. The land would ‘vomit’ them out if they did not follow God’s instructions completely! They failed! But fortunately for us, God sent His Son to perfectly obey the Law that we might have an eternal inheritance in His glorious Presence!
Cause for rejoicing: Jesus Christ is our Champion, having perfectly obeyed His Father and offered His own body and blood for our redemption! “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you. . .” (1st Peter 1:3-4)
Scripture reading for November 11th: 1st Peter 4
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 1st Peter 4:12-17 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, don not be ashamed but praise God that you bear that Name!”
Peter encouraged believers not to be shocked at the suffering that would come their way because of their faith. This is normal because Jesus Himself suffered. In fact, you are blessed if you suffer for Christ and godly living because the Holy Spirit rests on you. Believers should never be involved in sin and and then call the consequences of that persecution!
Observations for over-comers: Suffering will come to believers living dedicated lives for Christ! “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but Your commands are my delight. Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” (Psalm 119:143-144)
Scripture reading for March 24th: Luke 15
Jesus loved to tell stories that had practical basis in everyday life but spoke to the spiritual life of individuals as well. We call these ‘parables’. Luke 15 contains three ‘lost and found’ parables that Jesus used to respond to the religious leaders who mocked Him for spending time eating with ‘sinners’.
The first story Jesus told was about a shepherd with 100 sheep. One sheep was lost, so the shepherd left the 99 and searched until he found the lost sheep. He carried the sheep back and called his friends for a celebration! “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who don’t need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
The next story involved a woman who had ten silver coins and lost one in her house. She searches for the lost coin until it is located and calls her neighbors for a celebration! “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
The last story involved a man with two sons. The younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left home to end up wasting the money. The older son stayed home and worked. When all was lost, the younger son repented and decided to return to his father and ask for mercy. The father saw the boy coming, and was filled with compassion and ran to meet him. His son confessed his sin and asked for mercy. The father restored the boy and called for a feast. “For this son of mine was dead and is now alive again; he was lost and now is found.” (Luke 15:24)
Scripture reading for October 3rd: Philippians 4:1-23
Paul’s letter from prison was full of encouragement to these Philippian saints, but one of the only corrections in this letter occurs when Paul calls two ladies to come into agreement. Euodia and Syntyche were evidently at odds in some dispute. They were in need of help to settle the matter and move on. Rejoicing would be much better than to be in strife!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) A cure for strife is found in rejoicing in the Lord! When we rejoice, our attitude lightens up and the troubles seem to melt. Gentleness should mark believers when they deal with problems between each other. Prayer and petitions about the problems should be given to God. A thankful heart is full of faith and God honors that! His peace will come over you and the problems will melt away!
After praying, setting our minds of the good things of God also helps. Paul was himself rejoicing in the Philippians concern for him expressed in their gifts. Paul had learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances–rejoicing in God’s goodness! “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13) God always gave him grace to enjoy or endure!
Paul thanked the Philippians for helping him with an offering to meet his needs. Paul described their offering: “They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” God always rewards generous giving. Our offerings are like a fragrant sacrifice going up to God. God is pleased and we can be sure we will be blessed! Rejoice in the Lord! And again I say: Rejoice!
Scripture reading for October 1st: Philippians 2:19-3:3
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” Philippians 3:1
Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians from jail. He was there suffering for preaching the Gospel and was not sure whether this imprisonment would lead to his death. As he waited on the Lord, he filled his time writing to the churches he founded encouraging them to stay faithful to Christ and the Gospel. This message was a repetition of his earlier preaching and teaching.
He encouraged these saints to rejoice in the Lord! God is faithful to His word and to His people! We can count on God using everything for good to those who love Him. He started the good work in the Philippians and would continue it until the Day of Christ! (Philippians 1:6) Even in Paul’s own situation, all that happened to him was working for Christ’s glory! Even the guard in the palace had opportunity to hear the Gospel because of his imprisonment! (Philippians 1:12-14)
Paul also reminded the saints that even though false teachers had come and were preaching Christ for gain, that would still advance the cause of Christ! God’s faithfulness would promote His plans and protect Paul and they could rejoice! Even if Paul was executed, to die was gain! (Philippians 1:21, 23) Departing to be with Christ would be far better than living in this life! These were truths worth repeating to the saints who were themselves suffering.
Paul noted the attitude that marked Jesus Christ, encouraging these saints to imitate it. Jesus humbled Himself and obeyed God, even in the face of the most difficult suffering–the cross! He was willing to die that we might be saved. He saw the joy of our salvation by faith and offered His life for us! (Hebrews 12:2) Paul also demonstrated an attitude of rejoicing and encouraged the Philippians as well! (Philippians 2:17-18)
In the world we live in, Christians need repeated encouragement! Troubles, persecution, and the battle with Satan and our flesh can get us down. We gather together for the hope and encouragement of the Lord, often repeating the stories and scriptures that call us to trust, obey, and rejoice. We worship Christ and imitate His attitude of joyful obedience! Repeating the same truths brings help to stay on track!