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!
2 Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
3 Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!
4 Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
6 He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps;
8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
9 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!
In Luke 19:37-40, as Jesus entered Jerusalem before He was arrested and crucified, it says:
As He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “ ‘Blessed is the
King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher,
rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” All
of creation is obedient to and praises God. Only man was created with a free will and a choice of whether or not to worship, praise and be obedient to God. The psalmist 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. In the mind of the psalmist it is enough that God created all things. For that alone, if nothing more they should praise Him.
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; Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. All people too, along with the rest of creation, regardless of their age or stature, were created by God and for that alone they/we too should praise Him. In Job 38-41 we can read the account of Job being confronted by God. God speaks of all the living and nonliving things of creation and how they are obedient to His will and plan; that they do what He created them to do. Job’s response to God is recorded in the beginning of chapter 42, he says: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” One day, whether in this life as Job, or when this life has passed, each one of us will also stand before the Lord and answer to Him. Philippians 2:5-11 says: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that 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. We have a choice now, whether we will be obedient to and worship and praise the Lord. One day there will no longer be a choice, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Hebrews 9:27 says: It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. None of us, regardless of our standing, stature or resources on earth will get out of here alive. Since every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, the only choice we have in that matter is to choose when we will bow and confess; we can choose if we will offer the lives we have been given in obedience to Him, that we might know eternal life with Him and through Him; or if we will squander these few years of our earthly existence, opposed to God and seeking to satisfy self and our will not His. We can choose to worship and praise Him now and forever or bow before Him and forever be seperated from His love, His goodness and His glory.
It’s our choice. Like the psalmist, I say: Let us 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, salvation through Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! Thank You heavenly Father, God of creation; Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, my Savior and precious Holy Spirit my guide. Never will I allow anything to cry out in my place. I choose now, and forever to worship and praise You; to live in obedience to Your will and Your plan for me. You are my creator, my Redeemer and Savior; my guide and the One who sustains me. For me there is no choice but to Praise the Lord! Amen.
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 [y]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.
In John 14:13-14 Jesus says: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” 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. Indeed there is power and authority in the name of Jesus. Yet we should not be mistaken, the name of Jesus is not a mystical incantation to be used to get what we want. In today’s text it says: 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.” 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. To have the authority of the name of Jesus, requires not only that a person knows about Him, but that they believe and are known by Him. In Matthew 16:13-19 it says: Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” The authority of the name of Jesus comes with the knowledge and the revelation that He is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Lord and Savior. It is in knowing and believing who Jesus is that we are given the authority of His name and the keys to the kingdom of heaven. It is by being in Christ that we have authority to stand against the gates of Hell and to cause demons to bow down and flee. If we would proclaim Him as Lord over demons and the circumstances of our lives, He must first be our Lord.
In John 14:23 Jesus says: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” If we would claim the authority of His name, we must also keep His word. He must be Christ to us and Christ in us. For those who invoke the name of Jesus without knowing, believing and being known by Him, there is an even worse fate than that of those in today’s text. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Far worse than not having authority over demons is not being known by Jesus and so, not entering the kingdom of heaven.
The text 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 John 12:23-28 Jesus says: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify It again.” It is in knowing Christ and the cross; that His death brought life; it is in following Him and declaring that He is the Christ, that His name is magnified and the Father is glorified.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, the Christ and precious Holy Spirit may Your name be magnified and glorified in and through my life. May I declare You are Lord of all, but even more may I make You Lord of all of my life. May I know You and be known by You. May I declare the glory of the cross. In You may I have the authority of Your name and the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
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. 2 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.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 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.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.
8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 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.
In today’s text it says: 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. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Believing is vital and what is necessary for eternal life. But it is the Holy Spirit that gives us power to live this life. The disciples in Ephesus believed, but they lacked the Holy Spirit power. In Acts 1:8 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.” In John 14:16-17;26 Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In Luke 12:12, “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” In John 16:8;18, “When He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment… when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” In Romans 8:26-27 Paul says: The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. All these things that Jesus says the Holy Spirit will do for us and what Paul says are just part of how important the Holy Spirit is to us. Still, there are some who believe but deny the Spirit’s power and presence. There are some who are unwilling to yield to His guidance and leading. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
In the text it says: 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. It was not Paul. It was not the hankerchiefs or aprons that had the power to heal. It was God and the Holy Spirit working through and with Paul. The Holy Spirit is the power of God to work His will and His words. In Genesis 1 it says: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. At creation, the Holy Spirit was the power to do what God said. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
There is more to the Holy Spirit than the power to do miracles. Galatians 5:16-25 says: 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. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we truly live and love like God. Speaking of love, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is speaking about spiritual gifts when he says: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we love like Jesus. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we truly, like Jesus, not seek our own, not take into account wrongs suffered, yet not rejoice in unrighteousness but in truth. Romans 12:9-13 says: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. The world says we are hypocrites if we do not tolerate and embrace whatever people chose. In truth we are hypocrites if we do. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we like Jesus, love every person, yet hate; even abhor evil. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; I believe and I ask daily that You would be my helper, comforter, my guide; that you would give me the words to say that I might be Your witness. Teach me and empower me to live and to love as You do. Be with me and abide in me. Amen.
Psalm 145 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
9 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 Deuteronomy 6:6-9 God says: These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. The psalmist goes one step farther, not only the commandments of God should be passed down but also: One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. How far have we fallen in our society, from the commandment of God to teach our children, to the exhortation to tell of His mighty acts? I am sixty years old and in my lifetime we have gone from a culture that openly praised God, to one that condemns and outlaws the teaching and telling of His works. We’ve removed God from our schools and our public places. We are seeing a third generation of children raised with little to no knowledge of God. Along with God, we have done away with righteousness. Sin, self satisfaction and selfishness are encouraged. Proverbs 9:10 says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Surely in our society today we see the results of having no knowledge of God. Rather than understanding, we see people who are confused. They don’t even know who or what they are. As God has been removed from society, so has goodness. Our schools and our cities and neighborhoods resemble war zones and addictions to sin and selfishness are rampant.
The psalmist says: 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. Not knowing God, people today know nothing of His mercy and grace. They are unaware of His lovingkindness. God’s love, His grace and mercy are over all His works, but the greatest work, the greatest demonstration of His love mercy and grace was that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. In John 15:13-14 Jesus says: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. We cannot know and comprehend true love, the great love of God, without also knowing the cross. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. The world promotes a love defined by acceptance and tolerance of what is unholy. True love is that Christ died to make us holy; that He gave His life for His friends. If we are His friends, those He gave His life for, our response is that we keep His commandments. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We demonstrate our love by keeping His commandments.
The psalmist says: All Your works shall give thanks to You,
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. That men today do not know of God, does not change the fact that His dominion still endures; that His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. So, it is for those who know to bless God and to speak of the glory of His kingdom; to talk of His power and make known His mighty acts. Jesus 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. “ (Mark 16:15-16) In Matthew 24:9-14 Jesus says: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Lawlessness results in cold love and many are mislead.
The psalmist says: 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, But all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever. Amen. 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.
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. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 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.” 4 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. 5 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.6 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; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9 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.
In today’s text it says: The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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.Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. The Bereans were not smarter, more holy, better versed in scripture, they were noble-minded. They sought the truth, not their own preconceived idea. Now, just as then, when noble-minded people, people who desire to know the truth rather than to hold to their own preconceived ideas, search the scriptures they will find the truth and therefore they will believe. Even those who are noble-minded in regards to the evidence of science will find the truth concerning God and creation. God reveals Himself both through His word and through creation. Those who only desire to maintain their own preconceived ideas will believe and create alternate explanations that oppose the truth. In Jeremiah 29:13-14 God says: You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you. For anyone who truly seeks God, noble-mindly seeking truth, He will be found.
Later the text says: 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. Just as Paul observed then, people today are very religious in many respects. Aside from spiritual applications, religion is defined as: a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance - a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Along many other causes, many people are very religious about their lack of belief in God. So it is not religion that people dislike, it is the belief in God and Christ. Like those Paul spoke to, many today worship unknown gods. God Himself is not interested in our religion, what He desires is a relationship. In Genesis 3:4-10 it says: Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” God desires to walk with us as He did with Adam and Eve. As it did with them, the awareness of sin causes people to hide from God. All of religion, all of man’s efforts to be spiritual are an attempt to restore the relationship that God Himself desires to have with us. What none of us can do on our own, God did for us. He restored our relationship with Him, reconciling us to Himself through Jesus sacrifice on the cross. In Christ there is no longer any reason to hide from God. Romans 8:1 says: There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no reason to look for another way to find God. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
It is okay to be religious in many respects. It is okay to hold to and value many causes. But, nothing should come before our relationship with God. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” First and foremost, before and beyond anything else, we should seek to reciprocate the love that God has for us and to value and pursue, with ardor and faith the relationship He desires. God is asking: “Where are you?”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; that even when I hid from You, You sought me. Thank You that You demonstrated Your love for me, in that while I was a sinner, Christ died for me. Thank You that You continue to pursue me, standing at the door and knocking. I say yes Lord. Come in. I love You with all of my heart, soul and mind, and my desire is to walk with You daily. I am religious about You. Amen.