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A Burning Revival (Saturday, December 30, 2017)

Acts 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Introductory Thoughts

When the “name of the Lord Jesus” is truly magnified (Acts 19:17), everything contrary to Him either becomes insignificant or observably wicked. As men believe on the Lord, they naturally begin to consider the moral nature of everything else in life. As they begin to see the wickedness of their flesh, they must choose whether to obey God or to satisfy the flesh. The people in Acts chapter 19 chose to obey God. As they learned of the wickedness of their curious arts, they brought their books together to be burned. This was done at no little cost to them (Acts 19:19), but they considered it a greater cost to displease the One who died for them. Naturally resulting from this, the word of God grew and prevailed (Acts 19:20).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): When we hear the word of God, it should move us to action (James 1:22). Consider king Josiah’s reaction to the word of God (2 Kings 23:24-25). Would you be willing to get rid of something displeasing to God if it were shown to you (Genesis 35:2-4)?

• (For everyone): Is the word of God growing and prevailing in your home? If not, have you considered whether or not there are some things in your home that need to be set aflame to the glory of God?

• What is keeping you back from a closer walk with the Lord? What is more important to you—pleasing the flesh or pleasing the Lord who bought you?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to give you the courage to obey Him.

• Ask the Lord to help you see the cost of disobeying Him.

SONG: AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS?

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A Work of the Flesh (Friday, December 29, 2017)

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Introductory Thoughts

Many have erroneously suggested that witchcraft is a spiritual gift, but the Bible plainly declares that it is instead a work of the flesh. As such, it is anti-Spirit and lustful. It is of the same kind as adultery, idolatry, hatred, heresies, murders, and drunkenness. No Christian who finds joy in these practices can rightly claim to be led of the Spirit, and so it is with Christians involved in witchcraft at any level. Unfortunately, many beguiled saints have grown increasingly accepting of witchcraft, at times even suggesting there are hidden scriptural messages. Men should not be deceived into thinking that God will partner with a work of the flesh to accomplish His work.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): God hates witchcraft (Exodus 22:18; Micah 5:12). If you are attracted to it, it is not God doing it (James 1:13) but your own desires and longings (James 1:14). Remember, in God’s eyes there is no such thing as a “good” witch no matter how the world dresses them up to appear so (1 John 4:1).

• (For everyone): No man can rightly suggest that God led him to get drunk or to commit adultery. Yet, why do you think people justify witchcraft as a harmless endeavour?

• The works of the flesh have bombarded man’s entertainment. Do you find witchcraft, adultery, and drunkenness entertaining?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to help you rid your life of the works of the flesh.

• Ask God to give you wisdom to know what is right and wrong.

SONG: TAKE MY LIFE, AND LET IT BE

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They Have Made Others to Hope (Thursday, December 28, 2017)

Ezekiel 13:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;

3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

4 O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

5 Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.

6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

7 Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?

8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.

9 And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Introductory Thoughts

Due to the false hopes offered through the lies of witchcraft, many lives have been devastated. Fortune tellers, psychics, and horoscopes become a source of hope, assuring simple souls of peace when there is no peace apart from the Lord (Ezekiel 13:10). Men expect the promises of peace to come to pass to the point that they search diligently, looking for the slightest confirmation that these counsellors speak the truth. Some have gone so far as to claim that these counsellors are of God and speak for God. Rest assured that this is not the case. Only the word of God can speak for God. Where there is hope, the word of God offers that hope. Where there is no peace, the word of God declares it plainly.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Most people really do not want to hear the truth (Isaiah 30:9-11). Yet, words are useless if not from God (Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 14:13-16; Jeremiah 23:30-32). Simon the sorcerer wanted others to think he was great. But he needed to be saved (Acts 8:9-13).

• (For everyone): In whose hand is your future? Why would you trust the words of man when only God knows your future? Why is it blasphemous to trust the words of horoscopes, magicians, psychics, or other such witchcraft?

• From whence do you derive your hope? Do you reject any and all forms of witchcraft as the false prophets that they are?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to show you the only true source of hope.

• Thank God for giving you light.

SONG: WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

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Church Night (Wednesday, December 27, 2017)

Micah 5:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:

12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

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The Love of Money (Tuesday, December 26, 2017)

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Introductory Thoughts

The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). One should take notice that witchcraft, magic, and similar practices are very lucrative industries. Many have foolishly imagined that these things have some redeeming value. However, the world cares most for the temporal profits and not for the ultimate consequences of polluting the minds and hearts of the masses. As Paul and Silas ministered, they were followed by a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16). After many days, Paul turned and rebuked the spirit, setting the damsel free (Acts 16:18). Instead of rejoicing in the damsel’s new found peace, her masters incited violence against Paul and Silas.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Preachers are to preach God’s word (2 Timothy 4:2) which is the truth (John 17:17). They are not to preach to make money (Titus 1:7-11; 1 Peter 5:2; 2 Peter 2:1-3). Consider Paul’s example (Acts 20:33-34; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:9). God took care of him. Paul never charged for helping people.

• (For everyone): How did the love of money affect the response of the damsel’s masters? What was their major concern? How can this be related to similar practices in our day?

• How are witchcraft and similar practices lucrative today? Why would they keep producing such things at the risk of harming the minds and hearts of young and old alike?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to show you the true motives behind witchcraft.

• Ask the Lord to help you repent of any evil associations.

SONG: OUR BEST

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Seeking to Turn Away from the Faith (Monday, December 25, 2017)

Acts 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Introductory Thoughts

Satan is always at odds with God because Satan refuses to place himself in submission to the Almighty. Likewise, there are always two spirits at work: the Holy Ghost and a satanic or false spirit. While the Lord seeks to give life, and joy, and peace, the forces of evil seek to turn men away from the truth. Barnabas and Saul, while on their missionary journey, had the opportunity to declare the word of God to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of the country. As the Holy Ghost worked in the deputy’s heart, another spirit began to work. Elymas the sorcerer withstood them, seeking to turn the deputy from the faith (Acts 13:8). What does this reveal to us? Sorcerers and all other forms of witchcraft are the enemies of all righteousness (Acts 13:10).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Jannes and Jambres were magicians who sought to defeat the effect Moses had upon Pharaoh (2 Timothy 3:8; Exodus 7:10-12, 20-22; Exodus 8:7). Satan is behind all such opposition, deceit, and trickery (John 8:44; Luke 8:11-12). God is against such acts (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

• (For everyone): What did Saul, also known as Paul, call Elymas the sorcerer (see Acts 13:10)? What does this suggest about those who practice various forms of witchcraft?

• God judged Elymas by blinding him for a season. How did this physical judgment match Elymas’ spiritual condition? Which is worse: to remain physically blind or to remain spiritually blind?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to open your eyes to the wickedness of witchcraft.

• Thank the Lord for giving you the truth.

SONG: WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO?

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Loins Girt About With Truth (Saturday, December 23, 2017)

Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Introductory Thoughts

Truth is a crucial piece in the believer’s armour. Truth is given with the purpose of girding the loins (the area between the lowest ribs and the hipbone). A conscientious study of scripture reveals that girding one’s loins prepped the individual for swift and free movement (Exodus 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29). It only makes sense then that God would tell the believer to gird his loins with truth. Truth frees a man from the entanglements hindering his ability to fight spiritual battles. Similarly, the Bible says of Christ that “righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins” (Isaiah 11:5). Just as righteousness will aid Christ when He comes to battle, truth multiplies the believer’s skill in warfare.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): How can you be ready for battle? A good start is knowing God’s word and keeping your heart right (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:21). Jesus used the truth (John 17:17) against the Devil (Luke 4:1-13).

• (For everyone): Are your loins girt about with truth? Is the truth helping you daily as you fight against the world, the flesh, and the Devil? If not, who is to blame for this failure?

• Study girdles in the Bible. What are some uses for girdles? What can you learn about girding your loins with truth from your study on girdles?

Prayer Thoughts

• Thank God for so graciously giving the truth.

• Ask the Lord to help you see the necessity of truth.

SONG: OUR BEST

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Speak Every Man the Truth (December 21, 2017)

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Introductory Thoughts

It is imperative that men speak the truth, for “he that speaketh the truth sheweth forth righteousness” (Proverbs 12:17), and his lip “shall be established for ever” (Proverbs 12:19). On the other hand, lies are only temporary resolutions that must be replaced with new lies. According to the word of God, lying is not becoming of a believer. Believers are to put “away lying” and “speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25). This is crucial for the hearer, for all deserve to hear and know the truth. It is likewise important for the speaker. Lies may, in the face of conflict or difficulty, present a temporary way of escape, but speaking the truth offers great rewards in the future.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): God hates lying (Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 12:22). He wants us to speak the truth (Zechariah 8:16; Colossians 3:9) even if it is sometimes hard to admit the truth (1 Kings 22:5-14, 17-18; Acts 4:19-21). We can turn people to God by speaking the truth (Acts 8:35; Acts 16:30-32).

• (For everyone): Under what circumstances does it become difficult to speak the truth? Does it help to withhold the truth in favour of a lie? How does this usually end up costing you more in the end?

• Why do men need to hear the truth? How can the truth help men spiritually and practically? How does it hurt others if you refuse to speak the truth?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to help you speak the truth.

• Ask God to convict you when you tell a lie.

SONG: O TO BE LIKE THEE

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Serve the Lord in Truth (Tuesday, December 19, 2017)

1 Samuel 12:23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:

24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.

Introductory Thoughts

God wants man to serve Him in truth. This was the message of Joshua when he admonished the people to “fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth” (Joshua 24:14). It was the message of Samuel when he proclaimed, “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:24). It was also the message of the apostle Paul when he declared, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8). It is perhaps this very issue that will determine “of what sort” man’s work is at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): God’s ways are righteous (Psalm 145:17). He wants us to follow His ways (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Which men served the Lord in truth: Genesis 39:9; 1 Samuel 8:1-3; Daniel 1:8; Daniel 3:17-18; Daniel 6:10; Job 2:3? Psalm 26:1-3 should be our prayer.

• (For everyone): Read John 4:23. In what two things does the Lord say the Father is to be worshipped? How does this relate to serving the Lord in truth?

• Are you serving the Lord? If so, are you serving Him in sincerity and in truth? How will this pay off at the judgment seat of Christ?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to show you your motive in serving Him.

• Thank God for the opportunity to do something for Him.

SONG: I AM RESOLVED

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