Old Testament - Esther 7,8,9, and 10. This concludes the Book of Esther
Her obedience, and faith, and that of Mordecai, is amply rewarded. The plans of the evil to slaughter all the Jews are frustrated and they themselves are destroyed. This event is remembered even today in the Jewish festival of Purim. It was celebrated in our year 2007 on March 4th and will be celebrated in 2008 running from sunset March 20, 2008 to nightfall March 21, 2008.
Acts, chapter 6
Two main things here. The first is the establishment of the office of deacon, something that is with us today. The second is the early part of the events surrounding one of the first deacons, Stephen.
23 June 2007
22 June 2007
We start the day in the book of Esther, (Hadassah), chapters 4, 5, and 6.
This is, once again, the story of those who are faithful to the Lord despite being in lousy circumstances. Mordecai looks out for the interests of the king who has him in bondage. So does Esther. In addition, we have here one of those wonderful and memorable quotes from the Bible. When Esther expresses fear that carrying an unwelcome message to the king may result in her death, Mordecai replies,
13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
I love that phrase. The Lord puts us in places and in circumstances for His purposes, and simply asks that we be faithful and obedient. She was, and we remember her for it. And, in ways we perhaps can not understand, the world is a different place as a result.
The New Testament reading comes from the Acts, chapter 5, verses 17 through 42.
Just wonderful stuff here, hard to pick out the best parts.
Persecution comes from the religious leaders of the day, and the response is
7 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought
And later on,
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
21 June 2007
Today's Old Testament reading is from the book of Esther, chapters 1, 2, and 3. This is one of the books of the Bible that most Christians have paid little attention to, though the Jews do: if you've ever come across the Jewish women's group of Hadassah, that is in honor of the actual Jewish name of the woman the Babylonians called Esther. There was a movie last year called ''A Night With the King'' or something like that, which is an account of this and made the story more known to a wider audience. It's worth a second read.
The New Testament reading comes from the Acts, chapter 5, verses 1 through 16. Like everywhere else in the Bible, there is a lot here, beginning with the account of Ananias and Sapphira. It's important, but keeping in the line of yesterday's account , I also like this section.
12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
20 June 2007
Old Testament reading - Nehemiah, chapters 12 and 13.
This concludes the book of Nehemiah. It deals further with the organization and purification of the city and the the people and their practices. And it shows, yet again, the trend towards going wrong by an unseemly desire to be like everybody else. God practices discrimination, and a Good Thing Too.
New Testament passage - Acts, chapter 4, verses 23 through 37. As we've been saying, this is the early development of the Church as we understand it today, the mission, the practices, the attitudes. Not that we hold to it well, but it's an example for us. For example,
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,Does that not sound like something you would like to be part of? Me too, and we are, I believe, called to exactly that.
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
19 June 2007
Old Testament portion, Nehemiah, chapters 9, 10, and 11
The worship and the organization of the people of GOD.
|2||And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.|
|3||And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.|
|4||Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God.|
|5||Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.|
New Testament portion is from Acts, chapter 4, verses 1 through 22
More of the pattern of the Early church, and it should be ours as well - pointing to Jesus in all circumstances.
|8||Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,|
|9||If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;|
|10||Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.|
|11||This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.|
Ps 118:22 Matt 21:42 Mark 12:10 Luke 20:17 Eph 2:20 1 Pet 2:7
|12||Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.|
|18||And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.|
|19||But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.|
|20||For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.|
|21||So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.|
18 June 2007
From the Old Testament, Nehemiah chapters 7 and 8.
Having built the Temple under the direction of Ezra, and having rebuilt the wall and the gates of the city of Jerusalem, as directed by the Lord, the attention is now directed towards recovering the sense of the nation and of the duties to the LORD, such having had a break in continuity with the fall of the kingdom. Even the language was somewhat lost. So, a solemn assembly is called.
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
When we hear the word of the Lord, it should cause us to repent. Yet it should also give us joy - He cares enough about us to become involved in our lives. That's worth quite a lot to me.
From the New Testament, Acts chapter 3
We are here just beginning what is called the Church Age, which we are still in and will, I trust, be in until the Lord returns. This is the time when some of the patterns are laid down. As here.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
Peter very properly does not claim the credit, but uses the occasion to point to Jesus. As we should, always.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
17 June 2007
I have been listening for far too long to craven liars whining that we can't enforce the law, we can't keep out the illegals, we can't remove the illegals, we can't gain control of our borders, or our destiny, or our nation.
Go here and read the account.
It's one thing to try and fail. It is another thing to be afraid to try because you might fail. It is inexcusable to refuse to try because you might succeed. That is how we must characterize the criminal nonfeasance of the President and the behavior of much of the Senate.
This morning's reading is in the book of Nehemiah, chapters 4, 5, and 6
The wall is going up, and opposition is rising.
6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
And it had a good completion.
15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
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This evening we get further into the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verses 14 through 47, continuing the account of Pentecost. A great message is delivered here upon the occasion of the Holy Spirit of God indwelling the believers, as He does today. I have been told that Pentecost, the Jewish festival, is not only the Feast of Weeks, but also commemorates the Giving of the Law, as it came through Moses. If you go back into the Old Testament and look up the event, you will find that upon that occasion, Moses came down from the mountain to find the people engaged in every sort of wicked behavior, including idolatry. In the hours after that, 3000 people died. Upon the occasion in Acts, 3000 people were converted. There's a good verse we should all know, ''.. the law killeth, but the Spirit gives life''. Go look it up. Meanwhile, read, study, pray over this section of Acts. It's all good, but I like,
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
I've never been at an church service that saw 3000 people saved. But it could happen, it already has. I'd love to be there.