Scripture reading for March 28th: Judges 9-12, Luke 19
Key Scriptures: Luke 18:13-14 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus told the story of two men who went to the temple to pray. The first, a Pharisee, prayed arrogantly, exalting his own goodness in keeping the law. The second, a tax collector, asked God for mercy and confessed his sins. Jesus plainly stated that the one who humbled himself was justified by God.
Judges 10:14-16 “”Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord and He became impatient over the misery of Israel.”
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me today for my sins and poor choices. I humble myself before You and ask for Your deliverance. Amen.
Scripture reading for October 2nd: Jonah 3-4, Micah 1-2
Key Scriptures: Jonah 4:4-5, 10 “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. . . . When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”
Jonah had vowed to preach whatever message God gave him for the wicked city of Nineveh. He began a walk across the huge city that would take three full days announcing God’s plan to judge them in just 40 days. This brought holy fear and faith to the whole wicked city and they repented! When God saw their faith and deeds of repentance, He had compassion on them! He would much rather save people than bring judgment. What an awesome God of compassion we serve!
God’s great compassion: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
Scripture reading for September 25th: Hosea 6-9
Key Scriptures: Hosea 6:1-3 “”Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us, on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rise, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.””
Hosea called out to God’s people to return to the Lord with humility and repentance. Their sins had torn them apart and caused great injury and many wounds. God promised to revive them and restore them. They must press in and press on to acknowledge the Lord. He would soon come, bringing the rains of heaven and granting His holy Presence to all who believe through the Holy Spirit!
The blessing of repentance: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” (Acts 3:19-21)
Scripture reading for May 8th: Ezra 8-10, Nehemiah 1-2
Key Scriptures: Nehemiah 1:3-4 “They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I (Nehemiah) heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah was a servant (cup-bearer) to the king of Persia. He heard a report from Jerusalem that the rebuilding of the city and its walls had stopped and the people there were demoralized and in trouble. This caused him to weep and fast before the Lord. He repented of sin and confessed wickedness. He poured out his heart in prayer and opened his life for God’s purposes.
Thankful for men who weep: Jesus Christ, too, wept, over Jerusalem and then offered Himself as the One who would give His life to save His people! “As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)
Scripture reading for August 12th: 2nd Corinthians 12
Key scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 12:19-21 “We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.”
The pastor’s heart of the Apostle Paul was concerned about the spiritual state of the members of the church at Corinth. He earnestly desired their strengthening in Christ and spiritual health so he wrote to them concerning sins that he knew were still prevalent there. This list could still fit many or most church families today! The sins he listed caused division and strife and would ultimately bring God’s judgment if not repented of! The only way to deal with any sin is to turn from it, confessing responsibility for the sin and asking Christ for mercy through faith in His sacrifice. Without repentance sinners will perish! (Luke 13:3,5)
Observations for over-comers: Self-examination and regular repentance when the Holy Spirit convicts us keeps our souls healthy and strong! “Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve Me; if you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be My spokesman. . . .”” (Jeremiah 15:19)
Scripture reading for August 5th: 2nd Corinthians 7
Key scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 7:9-11 “. . .yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”
Repentance is a word that is not always understood in the Christian community. It is often associated with sorrow and sadness concerning something that has caused brokenness or harm to another or to us. Sometimes, we feel that the sorrow is what God wants and continue to live under a spirit of oppression or depression because of what we have done. But God wants to set us free from condemnation through conviction of sin which brings the ‘godly sorrow’ that leads us to Christ for His mercy and cleansing. This delivers us from guilt and shame and enables us to change our action, attitudes and character to be more like Christ!
Observations for over-comers: Repentance and cleansing are a part of normal growth in the lives of over-comers as we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and separate us from sin and its grip on our lives. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your Presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
Scripture reading for June 9th: Acts 26
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Acts 26:20-23 “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. This why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to His own people and to the Gentiles.”
Paul next stood before King Agrippa and gave his testimony of encountering Jesus. He shared how he was compelled to share this testimony and the Gospel message of Christ’s suffering and resurrection to all who would listen, small or great! His message demanded repentance that was demonstrated by deeds. This message had so affected the Jews that they had tried to kill him and he was no imprisoned. This message was one that Paul shared even with King Agrippa, in hopes that he would repent as well!
Observations for over-comers: The Gospel cannot be preached without conviction of sin and a call to repent! Repentance is always demonstrated by corresponding actions! Over-comers preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ! “Against You, and You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved right when You speak and Justified when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4)
Scripture reading for January 5th: Matthew 3
Key Scriptures: Matthew 3:1-2, 8 “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” . . .”Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves ‘We have Abraham as our father.'”
Overcomers in the last days must understand repentance. Repentance is more than just being sorry for you sins or sorry that you were found out. Our God knows everything! He is not a God that is far away and aloof from His people. He is near! And His kingdom is near as well! This kingdom is not visible to the human eye, but His people know the King Himself and He knows them. True repentance is a change of mind that leads to a changed life! When we repent of sexual immorality, for example, we turn from all forms of immorality and no longer live in rebellion to God’s commands and our conscience.
The human mind is always devising ways to justify our sinful actions or to find an alternative to repentance! We often speak to ourselves about our own righteousness and justify ourselves. God knows exactly where we are! If we are to overcome, we must speak honestly to ourselves, accept responsibility and change!
Observations for over-comers: True repentance brings forgiveness of sin and life! Overcomers are quick to repent and walk in victory over sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and the victory of Christ through the cross! “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Scripture reading for August 6th: 2nd Corinthians 7
God had made amazing promises to His people! He promised to be a Father to them and to adopt them as His own sons and daughters. He would be their God and they would be His people! “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2nd Corinthians 7:1)
Paul pleaded with the church in Corinth to allow the promises of God to motivate them in pursuit of holiness. They were to break off unholy alliances with unbelievers and pursue everything that would please the Lord. They were to take the Word of God seriously. Sin contaminates body and spirit and hinders our relationship with God our Father. We must respect and honor Him enough to leave sin behind and pursue holiness.
Paul wrote to them to help them see areas that needed work. “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2nd Corinthians 7:8-10) When the Holy Spirit is at work through God’s Word, it produces sorrow for disobedience in the believer. This sorrow should produce repentance, a change of mind and action, that leads to holiness and life! Paul was now happy that the church members had responded properly. Have you experienced this ‘godly sorrow’ and truly repented?
Scripture reading for March 30th: Luke 19
When I was very young, my mother loved to tell Bible stories with a flannel board. I remember her telling me the story of Zacchaeus, the little man who had to climb a tree to see Jesus. This story interested me, because I was short and had a desire to see Jesus too!
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He was a Jew who worked for the Roman government collecting taxes. His salary came from adding onto the tax collections, often using fraudulent means. People holding this job were considered by the Jews to be the worst of sinners! But Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and climbed up into a tree to get a better view. “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, com down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”” (Luke 19:5) This caused people to mutter about Jesus eating with sinners!
“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:8-10) In the presence of the lover of sinners, Zacchaeus had true repentance! He turned from his deceitful ways and was willing to follow God’s instructions. He wanted to give to the poor and to restore money he might have taken by cheating. Jesus declared that salvation had come to his house! After all, Jesus came to save sinners like me and the short man up in the tree!