Scripture reading for May 15th: Acts 8, Psalm 97, Proverbs 4
Key Scriptures: Acts 8:4-8 “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.”
Jesus had promised that His followers would suffer persecution. This happened after Stephen was martyred. The persecution caused the disciples to scatter out of Jerusalem into many other towns and regions. Philip, one of the first deacons, was scattered to Samaria. There he proclaimed Christ and preached the Word and God stretched out His hand in signs and healings and demonic evictions. Great joy was spread as the Word of God spread by those persecuted believers!
Faith Confession: Lord Jesus, help me to boldly proclaim Your truth wherever the Spirit takes me. I want the joy and light of Your truth and healing presence to flow among all people in my path.
Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”
Scripture reading for April 30th: John 18, Psalm 86, Proverbs 24
Key Scriptures: John 18:36-38 “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to Him, “So Your are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?””
One of the charges against Jesus was the charge that He was proclaiming Himself king over the Jews. The Jews sent Him to Pilate accusing Jesus of sedition. As Pilate questioned Jesus, he asked him directly if He was indeed ‘King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered in a wise manner, stating that Pilate and others had said so. But then He stated that He had come into the world to bear witness to the truth. He stated that all who listened to His voice is of the truth. This brought Pilate to the pivotal question: “What is truth?”
Faith Confession: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Truth and is not only King of the Jews, but King of all Kings. Jesus is the Truth!
Psalm 86:10-11 “For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth.”
Scripture reading for November 20th: Ezekiel 20-23, 1st John 2
Key Scriptures: 1st John 2:3-6 “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”
What does it mean to truly “know God?” John, the beloved disciple, says that obedience to His holy Word is the best indication of our knowledge of God and our love for Him. If we say we ‘know’ God, but live in rebellion to His Word, we are a liar and do not have the truth. If we truly ‘know’ God through Jesus Christ, we should walk as Christ walked on this earth: in complete obedience to the Father by depending on the Holy Spirit and God’s grace.
Ezekiel 20:44 “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for My Name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving me the revelation of Jesus Christ to know You and Your great love and mercy. Thank You for that mercy instead of dealing with me according to my evil ways. Help me to live fully for You. Amen.
Scripture reading for April 24th: 2nd Samuel 21-23, John 14
Key Scriptures: 2nd Samuel 23:1-4 “Now these are the last words of David: . . . . The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; His word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, He dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.”
King David’s last words are in the form of a song. In this introduction, God is called the “God of Israel” and the “Rock of Israel.” David declared that he ruled in the “fear of God” and allowed the “Spirit of the Lord” to speak His word through him. God was like a bright light, like the sun shining forth. and like rain causing the earth to bring forth vegetation.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You revealed Your Father to us. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and let Your word and life shine in me. Water my life with the rain from Heaven! Amen.
Scripture reading for August 29th: Ephesians 4
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Ephesians 4:22-27 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitudes of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Disciples are teachable and must be instructed by mature believers how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. Those who are born again of the Spirit no longer live like they did before. Changes must be made by decisive and willing actions. We repent of lying and deceit and choose to speak the truth in love. Even in situations where we may be angry, we deal honestly with our feelings in accordance with the truth of Scriptures. In doing so, we over-come our enemy who is a liar and murderer and preserve the unity of Christ’s body, the Church.
Observations for over-comers: True over-comers learn the discipline of choosing to put off our old self and put on the new self. Truthfulness and honest dealing with others are character traits that overcome our enemy, the devil. “Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)
Scripture reading for August 11th: 2nd Corinthians 11
Key scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-14 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. . . . .For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
The apostle Paul was concerned for the church at Corinth. Some fast-talking ‘super-apostles’ had come into the church and were preaching a ‘different gospel’ about a ‘different Jesus’ and ‘different spirit’ than the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. They were out to deceive the believers and lead them astray and some of the church members were falling for it. Paul was jealous for their souls and sought to expose Satan’s masquerade in these false ‘apostles’! According to Jesus Christ, these ‘false’ apostles will mark the last days! (Matthew 24:4)
Observations for over-comers: Believers must know the true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit to avoid deception. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23)
Scripture reading for March 30th: Luke 20
Key scriptures for over-comers: Luke 20: 21-25 “So the spies questioned Him: “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach what is right, and that You do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription is on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, the religious rulers were looking for a way to trap Jesus in order to eliminate Him from interfering with their little kingdom. Jesus was asked about paying taxes to Caesar. He masterfully took a coin and asked them whose inscription was on it. His answer showed no partiality nor played up to those who were looking for grounds to convict Him of wrong. Jesus taught submission to authority because all authority is in place because of God’s decree. (Romans 13:1) However, God is the ultimate authority and His people must honor Him as just that by giving the tithe and offerings. Both taxes and tithes are required of God’s people.
Observations for over-comers: Believers must guard their hearts against duplicity and partiality. We must rightly give honor to where honor is due. “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” (Leviticus 19:15)
Scripture reading for April 24th: John 14
After Jesus revealed Judas as His betrayer and Peter’s future denial, the disciples were troubled in their souls about the things that Jesus was telling them. Jesus sought to comfort them and prepare them for what was coming!
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3) Jesus knew that troubling times were just ahead where these men would have their faith shaken and broken. He knew that all would deny Him in their weakness of flesh. But He encouraged them to trust in God and in Him and His word. Jesus was preparing a place for them in Father’s house through the events of the next few hours. They must trust that Jesus would prepare that place by going away and then return to take them there to be with Him.
Thomas told Jesus that he did not know where He was going or the way there. Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Knowing Jesus was also knowing the way to Father’s house. It was the truth that would make them free! (John 8:32) It was the life that would never end! (John 3:16) Jesus told them, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Jesus wanted these followers and us to know the way to Father’s house! Have you put your trust in God and His Son Jesus Christ?
Scripture reading for August 9th: Jeremiah 26-29
It takes discernment to hear the voice of God. What sounds good is not always truth and only truth will make us free! In Jeremiah 28 we have a story that always makes me stop and consider what I might have done as I listened to these two prophets share. One had a message of victory and hope, and the other a message of judgment and captivity. One message was true and the other was false. God allowed the contest to take place in the temple of the Lord in front of the priests and all the people. After the messages were given, the people had to decide which one to believe. Were they to prepare for captivity or deliverance?
In the fifth month of the fourth year of King Zedekiah, all the people were gathered with the priests in the temple. Hananiah, a prophet from Gibeon spoke to Jeremiah in front of all the people. Jeremiah had been wearing a wooden yoke around his neck for a long time telling the people of their coming captivity. Hananiah spoke that within two years, God would remove the yoke of the Babylonians and Judah would be free. To illustrate that message, he took the yoke off Jeremiah and broke it in front of the people. (Jeremiah 28:1-4,10-11)
Jeremiah responded initially with an ‘amen’ to the message. But he added some prophetic insight. Most prophets are sent to warn of coming disaster and turn the people back to God. This prophecy of peace will only be from the Lord if it actually happened. (Jeremiah 28:6-9)
Jeremiah went his way and then the Lord spoke to him to go back with a word for Hananiah. He was to tell Hananiah that he was not sent by the Lord and that his prophecy was not true. God was going to remove the wooden yoke and place an iron yoke on his rebellious people. Hananiah would die because he preached rebellion against the Lord!
How would you decide which was true? In time, the truth became apparent. In the seventh month, three months later, Hananiah died! Please take time today to thank God for His word and the blessing of knowing the truth. Ask Him for discernment in these last days that you will not be deceived by messages that simply make you feel good but are not of God!
Scripture Reading for March 10: Judges 1-5
When I was younger, we heated our home on the farm with wood. When it was extremely cold, we had a small bin of coal to help with the heat through the long winter nights in Iowa. One of the jobs right before bed was to go down and stoke the fire. More wood would be added and ashes removed so a good flow of air would cause the fire to heat up and blaze. A scoop of coal would be tossed in too. A short time later the damper was shut so all the coals and logs would glow with a steady fire all night. If no one stoked the fire, it would often go out and the house would quickly cool down to nearly outside temperature.
Good and godly leaders stoke the fires with the wood of prayer and pour on the coals of God’s Word to keep zeal burning through the long night. But when the leader is gone and the fire is not being stoked with fresh wood and coal, complacency sets in with our walk with the Lord. This happened in the time after the death of Joshua. Joshua left some elders who stoked the fire for a time. They passed from the nation as well. The next generation arose without a personal experience of God’s mighty miracles and deliverance. This generation began to drift into idolatry and the bondage of sin. Isn’t it funny, drift is always away from the Lord!
The cycle is recorded in Judges. After the death of Joshua and the elders, the nation drifted into sin and idolatry. God got angry and sold them into slavery to an oppressing nation. The people cried out to the Lord and he heard them and raised up another leader who would deliver them. Then there would be a time of peace during the life of that leader (Judge). After the leader’s death, the cycle would begin again. (Judges 2:10-19) This is repeated seven times in the Book of Judges!
I see this kind of cycle also present in our culture today. A godly leader teaches and preaches and lives out God’s Word and a revival springs up in a home or church or city. (That leader can be a father or mother, pastor or Sunday School teacher, or a janitor who loves the Lord.) The fires of the Spirit are stoked with prayer and faithful, anointed preaching of the whole counsel of God. A generation is set on fire and the wind of the Spirit brings salvations, healing, and deliverance. The land enjoys peace until another generation arises who did not experience God moving. They fall into bondage as they drift away from the Lord. God looks for another godly leader who will pray and preach to stoke the fire again! Will you stoke the fires of the Spirit today by praying and reading God’s holy Word? God will anoint you afresh with the Holy Spirit and Fire from on high! (Matthew 3:11)