by Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ DEUTERONOMY 26:4-10 FIRST READING
(“He brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand and outstretched arm.”)
- Who shall take the basket out of your hands, and what will he do with it? Deuteronomy 26:4
- In verse 5 of Deuteronomy 26, who is speaking? Deuteronomy 1:1
- Who is the wandering Aramean, and where did he go? Genesis 46:6
- How did the wandering Aramean live, and what did he become? Deuteronomy 26:5
- How did the Egyptians treat the Israelites, and to whom did they cry out? Deuteronomy 26:6-7
- What do the following verses say about oppression?
- Isaiah 53:8
Personal – In what way have you been maltreated and oppressed? How have you dealt with it?
- What two senses did the Lord use in Deuteronomy 26:7?
- In what way did the Lord answer their cry? Deuteronomy 26:8
- What was the land like to which the Lord brought them to? Deuteronomy 26:9
- What did Moses do in response to what the Lord did for him? Deuteronomy 26:10
- What should we do in response to what he has done for us? List the two things in verse 10 of Deuteronomy 26.
Personal – What has God personally done for you in the past? From what you have earned or produced financially, in what way have you responded to what God has done for you? Have you bowed down in thanksgiving and reverence to the Lord for all he has done for you?
THIRD DAY READ ROMANS 10:8-13 SECOND READING
(“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”)
- What is near you, on your lips, and in your heart, and what does Paul say is preached? Romans 10:8
- What or who is the Word? John 1:1, 14
- With what do you confess, and what do you confess? Romans 10:9
- Who gives you the ability to confess Jesus is Lord? 1 Corinthians 12:3
- With what do you believe and what will happen to you if you do this? Romans 10:9
- What leads to justification, and what leads to salvation? Romans 10:10
- What does Scripture say in Romans 10:11, Romans 9:33, and Isaiah 28:16?
Personal – There are two requirements to being justified and saved. In what way have you fulfilled these requirements?
- To whom is God rich in mercy? Romans 10:12
- What must you do to receive God’s mercy? Romans 10:12
- Who will be saved? Romans 10:13, Acts 2:21
Personal – To whom and in what way have you spoken to others of what Jesus has done for you? Take a few minutes now and reflect on Jesus, who he is, and what he has done.
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 4:1-13 GOSPEL
(“You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”)
- What was Jesus full of, and who conducted him into the desert? Luke 4:1
- What had previously taken place in the Jordan River? Luke 3:21
- How long was he in the desert, who tempted him, and what did he eat while there? Luke 4:2
- What did the devil say to him? Luke 4:3
- What one word in verse 3 denotes the devil’s unbelief in him?
- What was Jesus’ response, and besides bread, what does Matthew 4:4 say man shall live on? Luke 4:4
- What did the devil show Jesus, and what did the devil say to him? Luke 4:5-6
- Deuteronomy 26:10 tells us to bow down in the presence of the Lord for all he has done for us. What is the devil saying in Luke 4:7?
- What was Jesus’ reply to him? Luke 4:8
- Then what did the devil do and say to Jesus, and what small word in verse 9 showed the devil’s unbelief?
- From what did the devil quote? Psalm 91:11
- What did Jesus say to the devil, and when the devil had finished all the tempting, what did he do? Luke 4:12 and Deuteronomy 6:16
Personal – In which of the following ways have you been tempted by Satan: When you are hungry – When you feel inferior – When things are not going the way you would like them to go? In what practical way can you apply this lesson to your life this week? Share with someone.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 91:1-2, 10-15
(“My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 91:1-2, 10-15.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
Today’s reading makes the purpose of tithing very clear: to put God first in our lives. We are called to give God the first and best of what we earn. This means that we give from the heart, and we are to give joyously. What we do with our money shows what we value most. Giving the first part of our paycheck to God, rather than what is left after taxes and bills, focuses our attention on him. A habit of regular tithing can keep God at the top of our priority list and give us a proper perspective on everything else we have.
The Bible and the Christian Church have always supported an organized system of caring for the poor. God told his people then, and he tells us today, to use our tithe for the helpless and poor. These regulations were designed to prevent the country from sinking under crushing poverty and oppression.
We see in today’s reading that it was everyone’s responsibility to care for the less fortunate and that responsibility still falls upon the body of believers in our church. In the Israelite tradition, each person was required to recite the history of God’s dealings with his people. We need to reflect on the history of God’s dealings with Christians throughout the ages.
What is the history of your relationship with God? Can you specifically recall what God has done for you? Take some time alone to reflect on the many gifts that God has given you. This will help you to see how all of your gifts and talents really come from God. That is why we can joyously tithe to God, because he has showered us with so much treasure. Remember, where your treasure is, your heart is.
A tremendously powerful statement is made when we say salvation that comes from trusting Christ is already within easy reach of us. In fact, it is as near as our own hearts and mouths. People all through the ages have looked for God through dramatic experiences. Some people have traveled all across the world to meet a spiritual leader.
Today’s Scripture reading tells us that God’s salvation is right in front of us. He will come to us wherever we are and whenever we call (John 6:37). All we need to do is to respond and accept his incredible gift of salvation. Today many people think that to become a Christian and be the recipient of the gift of salvation is a complicated process, but it is not. If we truly believe in our hearts and this belief is shown in the changes that take place in our lives and confess that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, then we too will be saved.
Paul is not saying that Christians will be free of all disappointments. There will be many times when people let us down and when circumstances take a turn for the worse. What Paul is really saying is that Jesus Christ will never let us down and that everyone who believes in him will be saved. Today there are some people who say they believe, but there is no fruit of the Holy Spirit visible in their lives. We validate what comes out of our mouths by the way we live our lives. When we really believe without hearts and confess that Jesus is really the Lord of our life, then others will see in us the fruits of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Temptations often come after a high point in our spiritual lives or ministries. Sometimes we feel that if the Holy Spirit leads us, it will always be “beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). But that is not necessarily true. He led Jesus into the desert and allowed him to experience a long and difficult time of testing.
The Holy Spirit can and does lead us into difficult situations in the desert experiences of our own lives. When facing these trials, first make sure you have not brought them on yourself through sin or foolish choices. If you find no sin to confess or behavior to change, then ask God to strengthen you for your test. Like Jesus did, you are also to follow faithfully where the Holy Spirit leads. We must always remember that Satan is a real being and his temptation of Eve in the Garden and of Jesus in the wilderness is not to be dismissed as just a symbol or an idea. We need to be on our guard in times of victory, just as in times of discouragement. Satan constantly fights against God and those who follow and obey him. We can be assured that knowing and obeying God’s Word is a very effective weapon against temptation.
Scripture clearly points out that God’s Holy Word is a very powerful offensive weapon that is provided in the Christian’s armor (Ephesians 6:17). Knowing Scripture is not enough to defeat Satan because he also knows Scripture. We must have faith in God’s promise that he loves us so much that he sent his only begotten Son into the world to die just for us. Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and Satan cannot stand up to that power.
The first reading shows that where your treasure is, your heart is. In the second reading, faith is belief in the giver more than in the gift. In the Gospel, God’s love is far more powerful than Satan’s fear.
This week show your family the power that comes from God when you set him in first place in your life. Let your family see that you joyously tithe and encourage them to give back to God some of the fruits that they enjoy. The simple act of your joyful caring for the helpless with your tithe will be a tremendous witness to your children and your children’s children.