Daily Nuggets

Jun. 30, 2018

Psalm 148 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!
Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars;
10 Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and winged fowl;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
12 Both young men and virgins;
Old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above earth and heaven.
14 And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
Praise for all His godly ones;
Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the Lord!

Did the psalmist know something that we have only recently come to know? He says:   Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created. He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away.     Scientist recently have found that indeed the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars are not only obedient to the Lord who created them, but they do in fact praise Him. You don’t have to take my word for it, just google music of the stars and you can hear the praises of the heavens to God.

The psalmist continues: Praise the Lord from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl.    All of creation and every living thing lives in obedience to and offers praise to the Lord God. In Luke 19:39-40, when Jesus was entering Jerusalem, it says:  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”   If you have ever heard the songs of the birds as they greet the new day, you would agree with them and the writer of Lamentations 3:22-23:   Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.      Each new day is a blessing from the compassionate, merciful and faithful God. Each day offers a new opportunity to praise Him, love Him and respond in obedience to Him. Man tries to explain the intricacies of creation and the unique qualities and characteristics of each animal and plant, saying it came about by a series of random acts and natural selection. Yet, with the intricate balance of creation, the relationship between animals and plants, the intricacy of molecular structure to the magnitude of the mountains, the oceans and the heavens, isn’t it more likely that it was planned and designed rather than just an accidental occurrence? All of creation, both living and nonliving does exactly what it does, in perfect balance, so that indeed every day is a new blessing. All of creation responds in obedience and praise, to the Lord God, its creator and designer.

The psalmist continues:   Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. And He has lifted up a horn for His people, Praise for all His godly ones; Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the Lord!     It is people alone who have a choice. We are created and designed with a free will, an ability to choose what we say, what we do, how we will respond to God. There is a Christian worship song by Wayne Watson, from a number of years ago, titled “Almighty.”  The lyrics say:         Almighty, most holy God Faithful through the ages Almighty, most holy Lord Glorious, almighty God

The beasts of the field, the birds of the air Are silent to call out your name
The earth has no voice and I have no choice But to magnify God unashamed

Let the rocks be kept silent for one more day Let the whole world sing out, let the people say

Almighty, most holy God Faithful through the ages
Almighty, most holy Lord Glorious, almighty God

 

It’s a good song, but I always had a disagreement with the lyrics. The earth does in fact have a voice, as does all of creation. It is creation that really has no choice. It, all of creation, unashamedly magnifies the Lord. I, we, do have a choice. We alone, of all of God’s creation can choose whether or not to praise Him and give glory to His name.   As the song says: Let the rocks be kept silent for one more day Let the whole world sing out, let the people say Almighty, most holy God Faithful through the ages Almighty, most holy Lord Glorious, almighty God.  A time will come when man, like the rest of creation will have no choice. Philippians 2:10-11 says:  At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.       Today, while you have a choice, I join the psalmist and say:

 

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created. He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl; Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children.     Everyone who reads these words,  Praise the Lord!   Amen.   Praise the Lord!   Amen.

 

 

  

      

 

 

Jun. 29, 2018

Acts 19:13-41 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

21 Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

23 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; 25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. 26 You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. 27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”

28 When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30 And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. 31 Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater. 32 So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven? 36 So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. 40 For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

 

Today’s text begins saying:  Some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.   James 2:18-20 says:    But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?    It is true that even the demons believe in God and shudder. But if we want what 1 John 4:4 says:   You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world,   to be true, we better make certain that the one who is greater, truly is in us. Romans 8:31 says:  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?   If we want to claim authority and victory over the world and the devil, we better be certain that God is for us and that we have Christ in us. As James says, our works and our walk should line up with our words and our faith.

Have you ever been in a completely dark place, where there is no light? Without light there are no shadows, everything is dark.  The psalmist declares the protection and provision that are ours in the Lord in Psalm 91. Verses 1-2 say:     He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.     Many people believe they can claim the promises and the protection of abiding under the shadow of the Almighty while they walk in darkness. There is no shadow in darkness. To abide under the shadow of the Most High we must walk with Him in light, not darkness. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)   Many times people question why they do not have victory in their lives. Perhaps like the seven sons of Sceva, the enemy they face neither knows or fears them because they walk in darkness. The psalmist says:  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. (Psalm 23:4)   Even death is merely a shadow; with neither lasting power or substance, when we walk with God in the light. The demons shudder at the name of Jesus, but it is the presence of His light which makes them flee.

In today’s text it says:  This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.   In our culture and society we are seeing an increase in the practice of false spiritual power and authority. Witchcraft is openly practiced. Witches, mediums and those who practice dark spiritual activities have become integrated into mainstream society and even into the church. Again as 1 John 1:5 says:  God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Light dispels darkness.  True darkness and  true light cannot coexist. There are only degrees of darkness or light. In Isaiah 5:20, God says:  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
   The world will try to mingle light and darkness, but we must choose. If we want the authority and the victory of the name of Jesus over the enemy, we must walk and abide in the light. Things in the world and the kingdom do not remain static or stagnant. In the text it saysthe word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.   If the word is not growing it is decreasing. If it is not prevailing in us and through us, it and we are dying. May we be those at whom the enemy shudders and flees from, as we grow, walk and abide in the light.  

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit may I know the truth that truly there is none that can stand against me if You are with me and in me. May I grow, walk and war in Your power and light.  Amen.    

  

Jun. 28, 2018

Acts 18:23-19:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

19 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.

 

Today’s text begins saying:  Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.    The first thing that occurred to me when I read that was that the scriptures it speaks of, were not the New Testament, they were not the gospels or the writings of Paul, Peter, James and John. The scriptures he used to demonstrate that Jesus was the Christ, were the Old Testament scriptures of the law and the prophets. Words which were written hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus was born, lived, died on the cross and was raised from the grave, accurately predicted the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. Depending on who is counting, there are between 350 and 400 Messianic prophecies in scripture, which were fulfilled by Jesus. Yet sadly so many today call the Old Testament irrelevant. They say we are no longer under the law or the old covenant. It is true that we are not under the law, but to disregard the Old Testament scriptures is to disregard the revelation of Christ and the nature of God. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is God’s revelation of His plan for the redemption of man. When we demonstrate Jesus as the Christ from only the New Testament gospels and letters, we lose the convincing power of the prophetic word, which accurately predicted Christ and God’s plan.

Still, the second thing that occurred to me was that the text says:  …he greatly helped those who had believed through grace…    What is it that matters so much about those few words?   We today need to understand that we can demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, through the scriptures, both the Old and the New Testament, but those who believe, must believe through grace. As convincing as Apollos was, as convincing as Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles were, there were many who still rejected what they said. We may convince some people by the demonstration of the truth of scriptures, but in truth, it is by grace that even they must believe. Today’s text ends saying:   God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,  so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.   Paul walked in a powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit. When Paul, an expert in scriptures, described his own preaching, he said:  When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) Like Paul, we will not convince many by superior speech. We may win some debates, but we will win very few souls for the kingdom. They must believe by grace. We must be careful even in this, even in the message of grace. Far too many today speak of grace as though it makes every sin okay. Paul says he was determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified. Jesus didn’t endure the suffering of the cross to redeem sin; to make sin okay. Jesus was born, lived, died on the cross for our sins, that we would be redeemed from our sins. The true message of grace is not that sin is okay, but that rather through Jesus death on the cross, we are okay.

How then should we live? What should we do and say, that by grace others would be convinced that Jesus is the Christ? Jesus Himself says:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)    The power of the Holy Spirit will accompany those who believe and preach the good news. Like Paul, we should speak of Christ and Him crucified for sin. We should walk in the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Still it is by grace that they will believe. The message of grace is not that sin is okay, but rather that because Jesus died for our sins we are okay. The message of grace, more than what we say, is a message we speak through our lives. If they are to believe by grace, then they must see and know grace through the lives of those who believe. One of the greatest powers of the Holy Spirit which we can demonstrate to others is to, as Paul says in Galatians 5:16-25:   I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.   If others are to believe that Jesus is the Christ, they should hear the truth of the gospel, that Jesus died, not to redeem sin, but sinners. Our lives should demonstrate the power of the Spirit as we walk powerfully in grace.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may both the words of scripture, the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit and a life of grace, be my witness and testimony that Jesus is the Christ.   Amen

   

    

 

Jun. 27, 2018

Psalm 145 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

The Lord Extolled for His Goodness.   A Psalm of Praise, of David.

I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

14 The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
20 The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

 

In our society stress, anxiety, depression; along with hatred and division are at all time highs. Ironically we entertain ourselves with much of the same stuff that we are worried about. Our programs, our movies, our books and our music are centered on violence and strife. Our news media is agenda driven rather than truth driven. Social justice, one of the buzz words of our society, has become more focused on an individual’s feelings than on their rights. It seems that the main “rights” we focus on are our right to be offended and our right to offend others. Isaiah 6:1-3 is a favorite portion of scripture for me, and one that holds the answer to much of the problem in our society today. It says:   In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of  hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”     When we view things from the perspective of earth, particularly from the perspective of an agenda driven media, we see the division, the violence, the hatred in the world. We see the devastation of natural disasters. We see evil and darkness covering the earth, because that is what they want us to see. If instead we would, like the seraphim seen and heard by the prophet Isaiah, see the world from the perspective of heaven, we would see that the whole earth is filled with the glory of God. If we would take time to hear the songs of the birds in the morning, as they greet the day and give praise to God; if we would sit by a peaceful quiet stream, pond or lake or quietly take in the beauty and majesty of a sunrise, a sunset or a starlit night; if we would see the beauty and solitude of a snow covered landscape; if we would see and hear the gentle but powerful sound of the ocean surf, or of a mighty rushing river or waterfall; if rather than watching and hearing what the world and media wants to say, we would listen and see what the creation is saying, we would see glory rather than gloom.

Each of us must choose what we will do and what we will say, how we will react and respond to the things of the world. If we will choose better, what we see and hear, our words and actions will also be better. If we will choose to see from the perspective of heaven rather than the view of the world, we will see glory not gloom. In today’s text, Psalm 145, the psalmist offers us a way to begin to see and hear. He says:   I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.    If we want to see the glory of God in the earth, we should begin by extolling His goodness, by praising Him and His awesome and mighty acts, every day, forever and ever. Rather than declaring the gloom of the world to our children, we should praise the works of God to the generations. We should declare the goodness and the mercy of God to  all. If we will declare the goodness of God, if we will praise and extol His name, the psalmist says:   All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, And Your godly ones shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.  The Lord keeps all who love Him.    In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”     If we will choose to see the light and the glory of God, if we will declare the light and the glory, if we will be the light and the glory of God, others too will see the glory of God in the earth.    Habakkuk 2:14 says:   The earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.     There are variations in the depth of the waters of the oceans, but may we begin and continue each day to be those who add to the depths of the knowledge of the glory of God in the earth. Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.   To know the answer to that prayer, we need to see from the perspective of heaven. To be the answer to His prayer, we need to declare His glory on the earth.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.    Amen.

      

 

Jun. 26, 2018

Acts 17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

 

There are many people today who have a dislike for religion and for religious people. Yet in truth, they are probably some of the most religious people that there are. Religion is defined as:  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.    Agnostics and atheists are very religious. Many people are very religious concerning social causes. Vegans are extremely ardent; religious in their beliefs, as are many other people about many other things.   In today’s text those who despised the disciples and followed Paul wherever he went, were themselves very religious, very ardent in their persecution of the followers of Christ and those proclaiming the gospel. The same is true today. Many who say they are against religion, are in fact very religious in their hatred of Christ. It seems today that in our culture it is acceptable to be religious, ardent about just about anything other than God, Christ and the Bible. So, in truth it is not religion that most people oppose, but rather it is Christ. As followers of Christ, this should not surprise us. In John 15:18-25 Jesus Himself says:     “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’   Beyond hating Jesus without cause, many today, like those in today’s text, make it their cause, their religion, to ardently hate Christ and those who follow Him; those who, like the disciples, proclaim the gospel.    

In today’s text and throughout his ministry as an apostle of Christ, Paul went from town to town with the message of the gospel of Christ. When he came to Athens in today’s text it says:   So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”   This too should be both our message and our attitude. We should continue as Christ has called us to: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15) Jesus says:  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)    Like Paul, we should know and understand that some will receive and believe our message. There may be some who reject what we say. Others may hate us, as they do Jesus, without cause, and still others will make their hatred of Him and us their cause. We are not responsible for the result. If we believe, as we should, that Jesus would have gone to the cross and endured the rejection of the masses even if it was only for us, then we should not allow the rejection or the ardent religious hatred of the gospel to keep us from sharing the message everywhere we go, that one might believe.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I thank You that You desire much more than religion. You bore the rejection and the pain of the cross, not for the sake of religion, but so that we might have a relationship. You died to redeem me from sin, to reconcile me to Yourself and to restore me to all that You intended for me. Regardless of how others respond, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may I be Your witness everywhere I go.   Amen.