Day 52: 1 Corinthians 16 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 16 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

As Paul wraps up this first letter to the Corinthian church he gives special instructions about collecting money that give us insight into church life. The money was to be collected on the first of the week (Sunday), which indicates the early church had already replaced the Sabbath day with Sunday worship. Sunday was the day Jesus rose from the dead.

The money was collected as a reverse missions offering. The churches that had been planted by Paul were raising money for the church in Jerusalem, the church that had sent out Paul.  There were a couple of reasons for this type offering.  First, Paul wanted to establish the legitimacy of the Gentile church and his mission. An offering to take care of the poor and orphans of the mother church is a great way to demonstrate the church’s legitimacy. Second, the Jerusalem could have really used the gift with general calamities it had recently suffered and persecution that was arising.

Paul instructs the church to show Timothy some hospitality (16:10). Those first missionaries were first sent out with little reserves. As they traveled from place to place, they relied on the hospitality of individuals in the church. This benefited the church as they were influenced by ministers such as Timothy, Paul, and Apollos. It also benefited the ministers in that it meat their needs.

Paul reminds the Corinthians to make sure that all they do is done out of love (16:14). This becomes an excellent measure to evaluate our thoughts and deeds. Can we truly say that what we’ve said and done is out of love for God and neighbor? If not, perhaps we ought not do it.

FATHER, Thank you for the many churches in the world today that exist because you used your missionaries established gospel outposts. I pray that we would remember the faithfulness of brothers and sisters who have gone before us to establish the bodies that we so gratefully minister to and through today. I ask that we continue to open our doors and hearts to your ministers. I pray that we evaluate all that we do and seek to operate from a pure heart. Thank you for the grace to pastor your church. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 46: Romans 16 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Romans 16 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In today’s reading the first sixteen verses present a long list of people that the Apostle Paul and others know and recognize as genuine believers with pure motives. Then in verse seventeen Paul makes a stern warning for those who have an unholy ambition to serve themselves.

The point I took away is this, some people serve in the church as servants of God and are truly Kingdom first people. God is their king, their motives are pure, and they really want to see God glorified. They don’t serve for recognition, they don’t jockey for power, they just give and give generously of their time, money and effort to see God’s kingdom expand.

Others though use the same means to draw people away from the kingdom. They are divisive and self serving.They advertise a false doctrine.

Note, though where the line is. It’s over “doctrine contrary to what you have been taught” (16:17). It’s not over error or differing opinions on less than doctrinal matters. This isn’t a call to arms against those who are preaching truth from wrong motives (Philippians 1:15-18), or like Apollos who needed a little more education in the gospel (Acts 18:24-28), this is a call against those who are teaching divisive, false doctrine.

Be on guard, keep the gospel pure, but don’t be trigger happy and send out friendly fire either. Some people in error just need a better education in the gospel.

FATHER, I thank you for your many faithful servants who love you and labor to see you exalted in everything. I pray that we are faithful to you and encouraging to one another. I pray that you would protect the unity of Spirit that is among us and preserve us in your love. I pray that we would be aware of those with false motives. I pray that we would be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Give us wisdom and discernment in dealing with those who seek to destroy your body. Thank you for the distinct privilege of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 43: Romans 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Romans 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online. You can get a copy of the New in 90 reading schedule here.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we have been freed from sin by Jesus Christ. If we are not careful old thoughts and patterns will creep back into our lives. Paul reminds us that we are not only free from the hold of sin, but that the Holy Spirit of God now has a stronger hold of those who belong to Him (7:4-6).

What a grace, to have the Holy Spirit in our lives. He shows us how to live. His very presence is a guarantee of our salvation in Jesus Christ (8:9, 16). He causes us to look forward to the return of Christ and the fulfillment His word (8:23). He helps us pray by making intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered/heard (8:26). [Side note: This does not explicitly indicate a private prayer language.  The indication is that the Holy Spirit takes our inability to form a proper prayer and intercedes in a way that does not need utterance (sound). This is made clearer in verse 27.]

With Romans 8:28 we begin to move more and more into an understanding of the Sovereignty of God. First with providence, in that God works all things together for good. It is important to notice that Roman’s 8:28 comes in the context of perseverance (8:25) and that “good” ultimately entails salvation (8:29-30).  Romans 9 then becomes one of the most exhaustive passages on the sovereignty of God and salvation, as Paul lays out God’s prerogative to save who He will (9:14-16).

Make sure you don’t miss Romans 9:30-33. It all comes back to faith. Those who would be saved must come to God in faith. We must believe God. The Jews had attempted to find righteousness on their own, but righteousness can’t be achieved, it can only be given and God chooses to give it to those who come to him (both Jew and Gentile) by faith.

FATHER, Thank you for the gift of faith and thank you for salvation. Thank you for the Holy Spirit and how He moves in our lives to confirm our salvation and draw us nearer to you. Thank you that He intercedes when we don’t know how to pray. I pray that we would be submitted to you and led by the Spirit in all of our actions and desires today. I pray for my friends who don’t know you and I pray that they would find the forgiveness of their sins and new life in you. Thank you for the privilege to pastor your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 34: Acts 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Acts 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I’ve noticed often in our culture that when we meet resistance, we can begin to think that we must not be doing God’s will. We rationalize that, “if this is really where God wanted me, He would have greased the skids and made it so much easier.” Seldom do we expect that our faithfulness would earn us something as serious as death.  Yet that is exactly what happened for Stephen. He was faithful and he suffered because of it.

The righteous facing injustice is at the very heart of the gospel. Jesus faced injustice on the cross. As believers you will face it from an unbelieving world. Do not fall into the falsehood of thinking that just because you face set backs, ship wrecks, and martyrdom that you are on the wrong track. Press forward.

The Apostle Paul was converted from being a persecutor of the church (9:1-2) to one who would be persecuted for the church (9:16). There are seasons where everything seems to flow well and there is a lot of peace (9:31), but we should not be lulled into thinking that this is the only sign of God’s call and direction in our life. We should be ready to follow where the LORD would lead in both adversity and peace.

FATHER, Thank you for the incredible gift of salvation. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives. We pray that we would be faithful to you in all circumstances. We pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who are facing persecution even in this moment. We delight ourselves in you today. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. Thank you for times of peace and adversity. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 33: Acts 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Acts 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The prayer for boldness was certainly granted (4:29). However, it seems like praying for boldness is much like praying for patience… God just might bring circumstances into your life where you have to be bold. He certainly did this with the Apostles and the others there. I wonder do we pray for boldness today or are our prayers tempered with more requests for security and safety?

Gamaliel offered some wise advice to the council (5:38-39). If it’s of God it will stand, if it’s not it will fall away. I think many churches face a similar kind of conflict today. They argue or dispute over evangelistic initiatives, discipleship processes, etc.  Be careful what you resist. To be sure, we all want to resist the influences of Satan on the church, but we want to be careful not to resist our LORD if he is calling to spread the word in a bold and different direction.  Many great moves of God were begun in opposition to those who thought they had a lock on what God wanted.

Even the first church in Jerusalem had some tension and strife. Annanias and Saphira were jockeying for attention by lying about how much they gave (5:1-11) and widows were feeling neglected (6:1-7).  Sadly the experience is much the same in many churches today. There will always be those who seek to meet a personal need through undue recognition as well as those who haven’t learned to be content in whatever circumstances they find themselves.  There are legitimate needs and concerns that arise in any church and I am thankful for deacons that God has called to serve the church along side of the pastor and free him up for the ministry of the Word.

FATHER, I pray for boldness in sharing our faith today. May you give us great courage in our conversations with others to make sure we discuss matters of eternal significance.  We ask for wisdom and discernment to know what things come from you and what things are “man-made.” We thank you for those you have called to be deacons. We are grateful for their ministry both to the church and to the pastor. Thank you for the grace to lead your people as an under-shepherd. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 30: Luke 19-21 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 19-21 follow the link provided hereto read the ESV online.

How do you handle your wealth? Today’s reading begins with a rich man who hears the words of Jesus and repents to the point of restoring all those whom he has defrauded and giving half of his wealth to the poor (19:1-10). Zacchaeus had been a taker, but after Jesus transformed his heart, he became a giver. He didn’t need money for security he had something greater. Is Jesus more precious to us than our money and stuff?

The account of Zacchaeus’ change is followed up with a story about the Minas (19:11-27). Ten servants were charged to be faithful with what the master had given them. At least two went out and earned more for their master and at least one we know did not do anything with his. The ones who earned a profit were blessed with even more, the one who didn’t do anything was stripped of what he even did have. We are reminded to do what you can, with what you have, while you have it for the kingdom of God.

There is also the story of the poor widow who didn’t have much to give, just two little pennies (21:1-4). Jesus said that she gave more than the rest, not because of the extravagance of her gift, but because of her complete poverty.

FATHER, thank you that you teach us about money and possessions in the Scripture. I pray that we are faithful with everything you have given us. I pray that we are generous towards others and faithful in the small things. Thank you for all you have entrusted to us and thank you for the grace of talking about money in your word. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 10: Matthew 8-10 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Matthew 8 -10 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

What sticks out to me in these chapters this morning is the issue of faith and belief.  Jesus could and would heal, but those asking for healing knew that the power to heal wasn’t in their hands, it all belonged to Jesus. They weren’t just sending good vibes through the universe as if positive thinking would heal them. They weren’t trying to ignore the illness or deformity that plagued them, as though if they fooled themselves into thinking they were healthy it would make them healthy. NO… we see time and time again, there was a real and raw feeling of emptiness and brokenness that only Jesus could answer.

Go back with me to the paralytic man (9:1-8). Jesus said to the crowd, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5). Think about that question for just a moment. What does this paralyzed man want to hear? What is the desire of his heart?  He is broken. There is no other cure. There isn’t a miracle surgery out there that can change his condition. He is desperate… has come for healing and so if Jesus just merely wants to please this man and his friends, all Jesus has to do is heal this man and He’s got a fan.

But Jesus isn’t looking for a fan, He is looking to bring real healing into this man’s life, a healing that is deeper than this man even knows to look. He has come to heal the rift in his soul. He has come to forgive his sins and reconcile him to God! So he says, “Your sins are forgiven.” 

What does it cost to heal this man? Seemingly it’s just a few words upon the divine lips and this man is restored to health? What does it take to forgive this man of his sin? The story of the gospel of Matthew is not over. This pronouncement sets Jesus on a course for the cross.

Here is how I am praying through this passage today.

LORD, I thank you that you are a healing God. That in your kingdom there is no sickness or disease. I thank you that those of us who have been crushed by infirmity will find true relief in you. I praise you that sometimes we get a glimpse of the kingdom coming by seeing miracles of healing in our own day. Today, I ask that you would be pleased to work that kind of miracle for a friend of mine who is suffering. I lift up the many individuals I know who are sick and struggling with infirmity. I want to thank you that you are a forgiving God. Thank you for forgiving me. Today I pray for those who are lost in their sins and don’t know it. I ask that they would find true forgiveness through the mercy of the cross. I pray that we would all receive and realize the greatest gift of your grace. Thank you for calling me into ministry and giving me the charge to lead your people. I pray that you give me great grace and insight in preaching the gospel and pointing people to you . IN JESUS NAME. AMEN

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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