The mountainous southern part of the region of Palestine
Old Testament: Job 1 Job 1 (Listen) Job's Character and Wealth 1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed1 God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. Satan Allowed to Test Job 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan2 also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Satan Takes Job's Property and Children 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants3 with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Footnotes  1:5 The Hebrew word bless is used euphemistically for curse in 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9  1:6 Hebrew the Accuser or the Adversary; so throughout chapters 1–2  1:15 Hebrew the young men; also verses 16, 17 (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 43 Psalm 43 (Listen) Send Out Your Light and Your Truth 43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (ESV) New Testament: Luke 7 Luke 7 (Listen) Jesus Heals a Centurion's Servant 7 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant1 who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion2 heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,' and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,' and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. Jesus Raises a Widow's Son 11 Soon afterward3 he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus4 gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Messengers from John the Baptist 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers5 are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” 24 When John's messengers had gone, Jesus6 began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,7 having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) 31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.' 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.' 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” A Sinful Woman Forgiven 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among8 themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Footnotes  7:2 Or bondservant; also verses 3, 8, 10  7:3 Greek he  7:11 Some manuscripts The next day  7:15 Greek he  7:22 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13  7:24 Greek he  7:29 Greek they justified God  7:49 Or to (ESV)
At the Festival of the Tabernacles, Jesus teaches in the temple. His message is surprising, convicting, meaningful, infuriating to some, but most of all, life-giving. Will you listen with an open mind and an open heart, seeking God's wisdom for the path He has for you today? (John 7:14-31) ***** Welcome to Walking in the Word – the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders' Podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins, and I am honored to walk with you as we open God's Word and ask Him to teach us what He wants us to know today. In today's passage, I believe that God is issuing a charge to each of us. There is SO much unfolding in our world and I believe this message to us is urgent and necessary. I also believe that He is bringing YOU this message at the exact moment that you need to hear it. So strap in – because we are diving right in! Our scripture today comes from John 7:14-31. Before we begin, let's pray. Dear Most Holy God. Thank you for guiding us today as we study your Word. God, we know that each time we open your Scripture, there is something specific that you want us each to know – and we don't want to miss it! So Father, we ask that you cleanse of our sins that we may be clean vessels, ready to hear directly from you. God, may the words that come out of my mouth not be my words, but may they come directly from you. As we gather today, we all have different things going on in our lives, but you know each of them, your care for us is astounding, and we trust you. So we give you this time and ask that you do with it as you will. We love you and we trust you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. As we join Jesus today in John chapter 7, He is in Judea at the Festival of the Tabernacles. You may recall that Jesus has been there in “secret” as it was not yet time, in God's perfect timing, for Jesus to make known His presence. That didn't keep people from talking about Jesus, however. He had quite the reputation. And, like the news we see on our phones and on television today, the news that people knew about Jesus was likely not the whole story – instead, MOST of the Jewish people relied on what they heard from others instead of seeking to experience and understand the truth. But now, as John records, the time came for more people to get that opportunity to experience Jesus for themselves and draw their own conclusions as to His identity. John 7:14 from the New Living Translation states.. 14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people[a] were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn't been trained?” they asked. I love that phrase, “the people were surprised when they heard him.” – Again, the verses before this clearly tell us that Jesus was the buzz around town. Everyone had an opinion. And yet…when they listened for themselves to Jesus, they were surprised. They wondered how He knew so much – this man who had not followed a Rabbi or been taught by one. For many, this was their first contact with the man about whom the rumors had flown. When we hear rumors, do we go to the source? Do we check out things for ourselves – seeking the truth – before we make a judgment? The people were surprised by Jesus, but Jesus was not surprised by the people. Verse 16… 16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. Wow…there is so much in these few sentences! In a time of memorization and regurgitation, teaching, and especially scriptural teaching, was handed down word for word from the teacher to the student. Until the student became the teacher. But as time went by, God's Word, passed on from flawed human to flawed human, became warped. But THIS teaching, Jesus' teaching, was different. And Jesus tells the crowd, that's because HIS teaching, came directly from God Himself. Today, we often hear people say, “I heard from God…” That hearing comes from the Holy Spirit who speaks directly to all of God's children. But this was not the case before Jesus went to the cross. People could not, at that time, hear directly from God, as sin had created a barrier between God and His people. In fact, the Old Testament is chock full of rituals that had to be followed to the T in order for the people to hear from God at all. And yet this man, Jesus, is professing that HIS Words are God's Words – and that God, in fact, sent Him to speak the Words. I imagine the murmurs…what did He say? This man is from God? How are we supposed to believe that? Jesus answers the murmurs, whether they were spoken audibly or just thought in the hearts of the listeners – because Jesus can hear and will answer what is in our hearts – we just need to listen. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. I want you to notice the order of this sentence… We must determine to do the will of God before we get the answers we are craving. There are many things that have changed since Jesus walked the earth, this is not one of them. God calls us to listen to Him in unbridled obedience before He imparts His understanding to us. That is called faith. And it can be difficult. Do you ever pray for wisdom from God? The Bible says we can, and we should, and when we do, God will lavish us with His wisdom. But, we have to resolve in our hearts that we WILL act in faith BEFORE we can experience God's wisdom for our lives. Let me say that again… We have to resolve in our hearts that we WILL act in faith BEFORE we can experience God's wisdom for our lives. Kimberly Hobbs started Women World Leaders 4 years ago on a word from God. And in God's perfect timing, He continues to build this ministry step by step. I pursued my Masters of Biblical Exposition upon God's call long before I knew what He intended me to do with it. Maybe you are seeking answers – should you start a family, begin that business, or make that move? Seek God's wisdom, certainly. But seek it with a steadfast heart, poised and ready to be obedient to His call. If you are asking if it is time to start a family and you want God's guidance, be ready to obey – whether that be to start a family the natural way, to adopt, foster, or wait on His timing. He will guide you – but only if you prepare yourself to be obedient no matter what He says! Jesus continues in vs 18, giving concrete guidance of whom they should follow and listen to… 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” Have you ever played 20 questions? It's a game where one person thinks of a person, place, or object and the other players try to guess what it is. The players ask 20 yes or no questions trying to narrow down the field. Is it a person? Is it a man? Is he living? The point is to listen carefully to the clues and thoughtfully consider the answer. Jesus teaches the crowd that if we want to know if someone is speaking the truth, we should ask questions and consider the answers. And the first questions should be – Is the speaker looking for his or her own glory? Is the speaker seeking to honor God? Jesus doesn't tell the listeners to put their stock in Him or the Pharisees, but instead, Jesus asks them to discern wisely whom they will follow. And then Jesus gives them more to chew on – stating point blank that every person listening is flawed. He says that although they are well aware that they are to follow the law, none of them do. In fact, he states that many were targeting him for murder – and murder is clearly against the Ten Commandments. Today we would say that calling out someone's sin isn't a good way to Win Friends and Influence People. People want to be supported, to be honored, to hear how good they are. But sometimes, the truth hurts…and Jesus' goal was to speak the truth, teaching his listeners, and us, to use their God-given wisdom to each take their own stand in God's presence. Verse 28… 20 The crowd replied, “You're demon possessed! Who's trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses' law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” Jesus was referring back to his healing of the paralyzed man on the Sabbath a year before. Because of that miracle of healing, the Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law were still plotting Jesus' death a whole year later. Jesus highlights the hypocrisy of the situation. It was considered lawful to “work” on the Sabbath if the work meant performing a circumcision, but it was UNlawful for Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath. I love the sentence… Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly. The murmurs and the speculations continued… 25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn't this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” Jesus GAVE the people exactly what they needed so they could know exactly who He was. He offered miraculous teachings, healings, and guidance on how to discern truth. But still, they murmured amongst themselves and relied on the speculation of the so-called authorities. What a lesson for us today! Our world is in peril! Divisions are growing in every sector of society every day. God made you individually. He spent time creating each of our brains, planning out our days, and He provides for each of us and gives us each a mission. Our job as individuals is to ask the questions, to listen for the answers, and to respond in obedience ONLY to God – no matter what He says. Sometimes, when we are standing for God, it will feel like we are standing alone. At those moments, check yourself. And check back in with God, making sure you are hearing Him correctly. He WILL guide you. And you can be assured that when you are following God, you will NEVER by standing alone, because He will always have your back. Say YES to God! Before you even know what you are saying yes to! He will NEVER lead you astray. People WILL lead you astray, that is for certain, but God will ALWAYS guide you. Verse 28… 28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I'm not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don't know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time[b] had not yet come. 31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” Jesus determined to obediently follow God's call, even when the chips seemed down. And “many” in the crowd finally got it. They realized, THIS IS the Messiah AFTER they asked the questions and considered the answers. God granted them His wisdom that pointed to the truth. We all have MANY choices to make in our lives – we make decisions many times a day. The most important choice is who you will follow. You can trust that Jesus IS God. But if you still don't know, if you still aren't there, try an experiment. Say a prayer to God – ask Him to show you if He is real, and determine in your heart that you will respond based on His answer. God doesn't want you to believe in Him in a vacuum. Or just because I said to. Not at all. Jesus wants you to believe in Him based on the brains He put in your head and the evidence that He will give when you ask Him for it. And if you DO believe in Jesus, you already know what it is like to be obedient to Him. You know the joy and simplicity and power that comes with following His call. God is asking you to take that belief a step further – to intentionally obey Him, and only Him, with each decision you make. He's asking you to go DIRECTLY to Him and ask who you should support, follow, or trust; what path you should pursue; and when you should speak out for a cause. When you do, Jesus will give you the wisdom to follow the path He has ordained for you. With each decision you are presented, God wants you to decide in advance to faithfully obey Him, then ask Him the questions and listen for His discerning and guiding answer. Oh…if I sound passionate about this, I am! God has created you to be strong and take a stance many times every day of your life. We are in the middle of a war of good versus evil. Satan is on the prowl, and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy ANY good that God has accomplished in and through His people. He deceives, he tricks, and he positions even Christians against each other in an effort to get his way and thwart God's plan. Let's not let him! Let's stand together, yes, but let's EACH be accountable to GOD! THAT is the only way we can truly accomplish His plans! Let's pray… Dear Most Holy God! You are righteous, perfect, and on the throne! We come to you this minute and we come to you every minute of every day, seeking your wisdom. We ask you to guide us and lead us to walk in your will and your way. God, we give you our lives to do with as you will – and we pledge our obedience, to walk and stand tall in obedience to you – no matter what that looks like. We ask for and trust that you will give us your strength and endurance to do ALL that you have called us to do – one, single step at a time! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Morning: Psalms 107–108 Psalms 107–108 (Listen) Book Five Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So 107 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble13 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. 10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. 17 Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! 23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;24 they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep.25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end.228 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.30 Then they were glad that the waters3 were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.31 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. 33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. 39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. 43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD. With God We Shall Do Valiantly A Song. A Psalm of David. 108 My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!42 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!6 That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me! 7 God has promised in his holiness:5 “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth.8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter.9 Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?11 Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies.12 Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!13 With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. Footnotes  107:2 Or from the hand of the foe  107:27 Hebrew and all their wisdom was swallowed up  107:30 Hebrew they  108:1 Hebrew with my glory  108:7 Or sanctuary (ESV) Evening: Romans 15:21–33 Romans 15:21–33 (Listen) 21 but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” Paul's Plan to Visit Rome 22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected,1 I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing2 of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Footnotes  15:28 Greek sealed to them this fruit  15:29 Some manuscripts insert of the gospel (ESV)
Counterterrorism operations are continuing in Judea and Samaria. An IDF officer was sadly killed by friendly fire near the town of Tulkarem. The US State Department is set to give a visa to the president of Iran for a speech at the UN general assembly in September. The parties of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Betzalel Smotrich are planning to run separately in the upcoming elections. And the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is threatening Israel again. All this and more on today's show!
Old Testament: Esther 6–10 Esther 6–10 (Listen) The King Honors Mordecai 6 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana1 and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows2 that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown3 is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.'” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.” 12 Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” Esther Reveals Haman's Plot 14 While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared. 7 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared4 to do this?” 6 And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. Haman Is Hanged 7 And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. 8 And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows5 that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits6 high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated. Esther Saves the Jews 8 On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2 And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 3 Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4 When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. 5 And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6 For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” 7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows,7 because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. 8 But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.” 9 The king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. 10 And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king's signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king's service, bred from the royal stud, 11 saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, 12 on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 13 A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. 14 So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king's service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. 15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown8 and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. 17 And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. The Jews Destroy Their Enemies 9 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3 All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder. 11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day's edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.”9 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another. The Feast of Purim Inaugurated 20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants. 29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing. The Greatness of Mordecai 10 King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 2 And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people. Footnotes  6:2 Bigthana is an alternate spelling of Bigthan (see 2:21)  6:4 Or wooden beam (see note on 2:23)  6:8 Or headdress  7:5 Hebrew whose heart has filled him  7:9 Or wooden beam; also verse 10 (see note on 2:23)  7:9 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters  8:7 Or wooden beam (see note on 2:23)  8:15 Or headdress  9:13 Or wooden beam; also verse 25 (see note on 2:23) (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 42 Psalm 42 (Listen) Book Two Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul? To the choirmaster. A Maskil1 of the Sons of Korah. 42 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?23 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation3 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Footnotes  42:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term  42:2 Revocalization yields and see the face of God  42:5 Hebrew the salvation of my face; also verse 11 and 43:5 (ESV) New Testament: Luke 6 Luke 6 (Listen) Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath 6 On a Sabbath,1 while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” 5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” A Man with a Withered Hand 6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. The Twelve Apostles 12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. The Beatitudes 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Jesus Pronounces Woes 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Love Your Enemies 27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic2 either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judging Others 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. A Tree and Its Fruit 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Build Your House on the Rock 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.3 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Footnotes  6:1 Some manuscripts On the second first Sabbath (that is, on the second Sabbath after the first)  6:29 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin  6:48 Some manuscripts founded upon the rock (ESV)
Proper 15 First Psalm: Psalms 120–123 Psalms 120–123 (Listen) Deliver Me, O Lord A Song of Ascents. 120 In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. 3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?4 A warrior's sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree! 5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war! My Help Comes from the Lord A Song of Ascents. 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Let Us Go to the House of the Lord A Song of Ascents. Of David. 122 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! 3 Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,4 to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for1 Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.5 There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!7 Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”8 For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. Our Eyes Look to the Lord Our God A Song of Ascents. 123 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.4 Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. Footnotes  122:4 Or as a testimony for (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalms 124–127 Psalms 124–127 (Listen) Our Help Is in the Name of the Lord A Song of Ascents. Of David. 124 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side— let Israel now say—2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us,3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! 8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. The Lord Surrounds His People A Song of Ascents. 125 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel! Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord A Song of Ascents. 126 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Unless the Lord Builds the House A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. 127 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children1 of one's youth.5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.2 Footnotes  127:4 Or sons  127:5 Or They shall not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies in the gate (ESV) Old Testament: Judges 18:1–15 Judges 18:1–15 (Listen) Danites Take the Levite and the Idol 18 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2 So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4 And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5 And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.” 7 Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking1 nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 And when they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” 9 They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. 10 As soon as you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.” 11 So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12 and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan2 to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah. 14 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15 And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. Footnotes  18:7 Compare 18:10; the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain  18:12 Mahaneh-dan means camp of Dan (ESV) New Testament: Acts 8:1–13 Acts 8:1–13 (Listen) Saul Ravages the Church 8 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city1 of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city. Simon the Magician Believes 9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles2 performed, he was amazed. Footnotes  8:5 Some manuscripts a city  8:13 Greek works of power (ESV) Gospel: John 5:30–47 John 5:30–47 (Listen) Witnesses to Jesus 30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (ESV)
Tuesday, 16 August 2022 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. Acts 9:32 The previous verse told of the peace and edification of the believers in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. They were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit while being multiplied. With that remembered, the narrative now returns again to Peter. “Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country.” Rather than “went,” the verb is a present participle. He was passing through all parts of the country. Luke is describing it as he is going. As for the traveling itself, it can be inferred that this is what the apostles did, both from the previous verse where the content and expanding nature of the church were noted as well as from Galatians 1 where Paul noted that he only saw Peter and James the Lord's brother. The inference to be made is that the apostles traveled about Israel strengthening the churches and instructing them while using Jerusalem as their home base. Peter is now doing this, carrying his knowledge of the Lord throughout the land. During this trip, it next says “that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.” Of this town, Albert Barnes (1798-1870) notes the following – “This town was situated on the road from Jerusalem to Caesarea Philippi. It was about 10 or 12 miles southeast from Joppa, and belonged to the tribe of Ephraim. It was called by the Greeks Diospolis, or city of Jupiter, probably because a temple was at some period erected to Jupiter in that city. It is now so entirely ruined as to be a miserable village. Since the Crusades, it has been called by the Christians George, on account of its having been the scene of the martyrdom of a saint of that name. Tradition says that in this city the Emperor Justinian erected a church.” Today, Lod is considered a part of the Central District of Israel, being situated between the lower Shephelah on the east and the coastal plain on the west. In 2019, it had a population of a bit more than 77,000. It is a mixed city with about 30% Arabs. It is a major junction for roads and railways. As for its biblical history, it appears four times in the Old Testament. Each reference is without any great specificity. Its name is defined by Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names as “Contention.” It is at this place that Peter has made a stop during his travels. Life application: In Lod, Israel today there is a Greek Orthodox church. The closest Messianic synagogues noted on the map are in Tel Aviv. This means that the message of Jesus is sorely needed there. While you're praying for the lost, be sure to pray for those in Israel. There they are, right in the middle of the land of the Bible, and yet the knowledge of Jesus is severely lacking. The traditional orthodox churches are pretty much all rites and rituals, but there is generally little concern for, or even an understanding of, the gospel. Messianic synagogues are growing in Israel, but the Arab churches appear to be in a bit of decline. On the brighter side, there are Messianic believers that put out great music in Hebrew and there is a radio station that broadcasts from Israel. With the internet available pretty much everywhere, there is access to sermons, studies, and music. Direct your prayers for the Lord to bring about those seemingly chance occurrences where a finger will push a wrong button and click on something Christian-related. Pray that something even as cumbersome as a flat tire or an accident might lead to someone meeting a believer who is willing to share his faith. Just like in the other countries of the world, people in Israel need to hear about Jesus. Pray that the Lord will open those doors and bring the word to many. Lord God, today we lift up the people in Israel – Jews and Gentiles alike. We pray that they will be curious about the biblical history of where they are and that they will seek out and find Jesus as they look. Make this the day where many wonderful meetings through time and circumstance will bring this about. According to Your wisdom, we pray. Amen.
Psalms and Wisdom: Psalm 14 Psalm 14 (Listen) The Fool Says, There Is No God To the choirmaster. Of David. 14 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand,1 who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? 5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but2 the LORD is his refuge. 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Footnotes  14:2 Or that act wisely  14:6 Or for (ESV) Pentateuch and History: 1 Samuel 1–2:11 1 Samuel 1–2:11 (Listen) The Birth of Samuel 1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb.1 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” 9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” 12 As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”2 Samuel Given to the Lord 21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,3 an ephah4 of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there. Hannah's Prayer 2 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy5 was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest. Footnotes  1:5 Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. Septuagint And, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the Lord had closed her womb  1:20 Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for heard of God  1:24 Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint, Syriac; Masoretic Text three bulls  1:24 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters  2:11 Hebrew na‘ar can be rendered boy (2:11, 18, 21, 26; 3:1, 8), servant (2:13, 15), or young man (2:17), depending on the context (ESV) Chronicles and Prophets: Jeremiah 44–45 Jeremiah 44–45 (Listen) Judgment for Idolatry 44 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Judeans who lived in the land of Egypt, at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, 3 because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers. 4 Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!' 5 But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. 6 Therefore my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they became a waste and a desolation, as at this day. 7 And now thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant? 8 Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? 9 Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their1 wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers. 11 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. 12 I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. 13 I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, 14 so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.” 15 Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” 19 And the women said,2 “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands' approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” 20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: 21 “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them? Did it not come into his mind? 22 The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. 23 It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.” 24 Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. 25 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.' Then confirm your vows and perform your vows! 26 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the LORD, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord GOD lives.' 27 Behold, I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them. 28 And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs. 29 This shall be the sign to you, declares the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm: 30 Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and sought his life.” Message to Baruch 45 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.' 4 Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. 5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the LORD. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.” Footnotes  44:9 Hebrew his  44:19 Compare Syriac; Hebrew lacks And the women said (ESV) Gospels and Epistles: Mark 13 Mark 13 (Listen) Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple 13 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Signs of the End of the Age 3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!' and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. The Abomination of Desolation 14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!' or ‘Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. The Coming of the Son of Man 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. The Lesson of the Fig Tree 28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. No One Knows That Day or Hour 32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake.1 For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants2 in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows,3 or in the morning—36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Footnotes  13:33 Some manuscripts add and pray  13:34 Or bondservants  13:35 That is, the third watch of the night, between midnight and 3 a.m. (ESV)
I grew up in a church that believed that God had stopped speaking outside of the Bible. This teaching, known as Cessationism, is seen throughout the church world today and has appeared periodically in history. But the question is, why would someone believe God has stopped speaking, given that the New Testament is clear that the Holy Spirit was given to everyone to hear from God on the Day of Pentecost? (Acts 2:16,17). The Apostle Peter himself said that this promise was for all generations - beyond the early church and beyond Jerusalem and Judea (and beyond the canonisation of Scripture!) (Acts 2:39). One of the answers lies in the theological problem of how Spirit relates to Scripture. That is, how do my Spirit-speaking experiences today relate to the Spirit speaking experiences of Scripture? God's words are both a vessel of his power and a reflection of his character. Therefore, any claim to hearing God's voice today represents a claim to divine authority. This looks as if we're placing our experience on par with the Bible, something most Protestant Christians would emphatically reject. This episode of the podcast begins to resolve the problem by featuring a reading from my new book, The Church who Hears God's voice: equipping everyone to recognise and respond to the Spirit. It's the third in a 3-part series that features readings from the book - a bit of an entree before you enjoy the main meal! In the episode, you will learn about: The questions of a real life situation. If God said it, should I obey it? Four answers to the theological problem. The first answer to the theological problem: “God on Mute” (Cessationism) The second answer to the theological problem: Christians who don't read the Bible! (Why would you if you have the Spirit) The remainder of the chapter goes on to discuss a third (“Good but not as good”) and fourth answer (“This is that”). The fourth option is the one I arrived at and expand at more detail in the rest of the book. You'll begin to see why this question is so important and how it has practical implications for how we experience the Spirit today as well as how we read the Bible. The theological conundrum can be solved and it all starts with looking at how the early church dealt with it. I pray it is a blessing to you! Subscribe to God Conversations with Tania Harris and never miss an episode!
Mark 13:1-37 13:1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, look! What wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4 “Tell us, when will these things come about, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!' and they will mislead many.7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are only the beginning of birth pains. 9 “But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit.12 And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. 14 “Now when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be—let the reader understand—then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down, nor go in to get anything out of his house. 16 And whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 17 But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 Moreover, pray that it will not happen in winter. 19 For those days will be such a time oftribulation as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will again. 20 And if the Lord had not shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ'; or, ‘Look, there He is'; do not believe it; 22 for false christs and false prophets will arise, and will provide signs and wonders, in order to mislead, if possible, the elect. 23 But beware; I have told you everything in advance. 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Mancoming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven. 28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 33 “Watch out, stay alert; for you do not know when the appointedtime is. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35 Therefore, stay alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 so that he does not come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all: ‘Stay alert!'” GIVE - The Listener's Commentary is a listener supported Bible teaching ministry made possible by the generosity of people like you. Thank you! Give here: https://www.listenerscommentary.com/give STUDY HUB - Want more than the audio? Join the study hub to access articles, maps, charts, pictures, and links to other resources to help you study the Bible for yourself. https://www.listenerscommentary.com/members-sign-up FREE EBOOK - Get the free eBook, Bible in Life, to help you learn how to read and apply the Bible well: https://www.listenerscommentary.com MORE TEACHING - For more resources and Bible teaching from John visit https://www.johnwhittaker.net
Monday, 15 August 2022 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Acts 9:31 In the last verse, Saul (Paul) was sent out from Caesarea to Tarsus. With him now sent off, the narrative continues with the focus on the immediate area, beginning with, “Then the churches.” Some manuscripts here identify it as one church – “And the church.” Either way, the individual churches form one church as long as they are under Christ, the Head. But the distinction between individual churches is not inappropriate and is seen throughout the rest of the Bible, even into Revelation where Jesus addresses the seven churches. For now, these churches (forming one church) are found “throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria...” The land of Canaan, the original area of Israel's land grant, is the main area of focus at this time. The words “had peace and were edified” should read “had peace, being edified.” The first verb is imperfect and the second is a present participle. These things were happening, and the time of edification was a part of what resulted in the peace they experienced. Of this word, edified, Charles Ellicott says – “The passage is noticeable for the appearance of the word ‘edified,' or ‘built up,' in the sense in which St. Paul had used it (1Corinthians 8:1; 1Corinthians 14:4), as describing orderly and continuous growth, the superstructure raised wisely upon the right foundation.” Along with that, it says, “And walking in the fear of the Lord.” Rather than being a new sentence, these words are a continued part of what brought the state of peace. Along with being edified, the churches were walking in the fear of the Lord. This speaks of a sense of reverent fear of the Lord, not a sense of terror or trembling fear. Just as a child is admonished by his father and he has a sense of respect for him, so the church is built up in the knowledge of the Lord, growing in a sense of respect and humility before Him. With that understood, it next says, “and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” The word translated as “comfort” signifies “close beside.” Helps Word Studies says it “is used of the Lord directly motivating and inspiring believers to carry out His plan, delivering His particular message to someone else.” The context will decide what is being conveyed, whether it is a warning, an exhortation, an encouragement, etc. In this case, and because it is tied in with edification and fear of the Lord leading to peace, it is probably a mixture of exhortation – meaning the words of the apostles building them up into a fuller knowledge of Christ, and encouragement – meaning a state of feeling secure, confident, and hopeful in the faith that was espoused to all of the believers. In this state, it concludes with, “they were multiplied.” These words certainly mean the number of believers, but it may go beyond that to the state in which the believers existed. A small church that doesn't have great growth can still be multiplied in knowledge and in their state of blessing. A large church with new members coming in all the time may have a love for the Lord, but may not have the same sense of importance concerning doctrine. In other words, one may be multiplied in doctrine and instruction while the other is multiplied in people filling the seats. The words now do not limit the meaning and it is probable that they were being multiplied in both ways. Life application: If one goes back to the previous verses, it almost seems as if the statements made in this verse came about because Paul was no longer among them. When he was there several years earlier, they were not in a state of peace. When Paul returned, they – at least at first – were wary of him. His zeal for the Lord also brought about difficulties with the Hellenists who then tried to kill him. But their animosity toward Paul would naturally lead to that same feeling toward others who Paul identified with. As such, the Lord had Paul removed from the area in order for them to grow without him. This would give Israel a chance to accept this message or reject it apart from him. At the same time, he would be out among the Gentiles evangelizing them. Eventually, it would be seen that Israel would not accept Jesus in the time allotted by God (see Luke 11:29-32). This was a period of forty years (a day for a year based on Jonah's proclamation to Nineveh). By the time this period was over, the Gentiles would be ready to take the helm of carrying the gospel forward. Everything finds its proper place, and God continues to work out His plans according to His infinite wisdom. We do not need to fret or fear that things are not working out as they should. They are. We just need to continue to trust that God is in control. He is doing things that we may not even realize. In the end, we will see the wisdom of it all. Lord God, how precious it is to know that You are leading things. If it were up to us, it all would have fallen apart eons ago. But things are getting done because You are directing things to a good end. Help us to trust this when things don't appear that way from our perspective. We have a sure place of trust in Your guiding hand. Thank You for that. Amen.
Old Testament: Esther 3–5 Esther 3–5 (Listen) Haman Plots Against the Jews 3 After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. 2 And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. 3 Then the king's servants who were at the king's gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king's command?” 4 And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai's words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. 6 But he disdained1 to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy2 all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. 7 In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them. 9 If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents3 of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king's business, that they may put it into the king's treasuries.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.” 12 Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. Esther Agrees to Help the Jews 4 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. 2 He went up to the entrance of the king's gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. 3 And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4 When Esther's young women and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. 6 Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate, 7 and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction,4 that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him5 on behalf of her people. 9 And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” 12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”6 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. Esther Prepares a Banquet 5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, in front of the king's quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king,7 let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” 5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”8 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king9 to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” Haman Plans to Hang Mordecai 9 And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows10 fifty cubits11 high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. Footnotes  3:6 Hebrew disdained in his eyes  3:6 Or annihilate  3:9 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms  4:8 Or annihilation  4:8 Hebrew and seek from before his face  4:16 Hebrew if I am destroyed, then I will be destroyed  5:4 Hebrew If it is good to the king  5:6 Or done  5:8 Hebrew if it is good to the king  5:14 Or wooden beam; twice in this verse (see note on 2:23)  5:14 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 41 Psalm 41 (Listen) O Lord, Be Gracious to Me To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 41 Blessed is the one who considers the poor!1 In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;2 the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.3 The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.2 4 As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me,3 for I have sinned against you!”5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?”6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad.7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.4 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out5 on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.10 But you, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen. Footnotes  41:1 Or weak  41:3 Hebrew you turn all his bed  41:4 Hebrew my soul  41:7 Or they devise evil against me  41:8 Or has fastened (ESV) New Testament: Luke 5 Luke 5 (Listen) Jesus Calls the First Disciples 5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”1 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Jesus Cleanses a Leper 12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy.2 And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus3 stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Jesus Heals a Paralytic 17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.4 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, ‘Rise and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Jesus Calls Levi 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” A Question About Fasting 33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”5 Footnotes  5:10 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women  5:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13  5:13 Greek he  5:17 Some manuscripts was present to heal them  5:39 Some manuscripts better (ESV)
Proper 15 First Psalm: Psalm 106:1–18 Psalm 106:1–18 (Listen) Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good 106 Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times! 4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,15 that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. 6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.7 Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.8 Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power.9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.11 And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left.12 Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. 13 But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert;15 he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them. 16 When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD,17 the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.18 Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked. Footnotes  106:4 Or Remember me, O Lord, with the favor you show to your people; help me with your salvation (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalm 106:19–48 Psalm 106:19–48 (Listen) 19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image.20 They exchanged the glory of God1 for the image of an ox that eats grass.21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.23 Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them. 24 Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.25 They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the LORD.26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness,27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. 28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;29 they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them.30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed.31 And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever. 32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account,33 for they made his spirit bitter,2 and he spoke rashly with his lips. 34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them,35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them.37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. 40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;41 he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them.42 Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power.43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity. 44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.45 For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.46 He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive. 47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD! Footnotes  106:20 Hebrew exchanged their glory  106:33 Or they rebelled against God's Spirit (ESV) Old Testament: Judges 17 Judges 17 (Listen) Micah and the Levite 17 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” 3 And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” 4 So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5 And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained1 one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. 7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.” Footnotes  17:5 Hebrew filled the hand of; also verse 12 (ESV) New Testament: Acts 7:44–8:1 Acts 7:44–8:1 (Listen) 44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.1 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, 49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?50 Did not my hand make all these things?' 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” The Stoning of Stephen 54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together2 at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Saul Ravages the Church 8 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Footnotes  7:46 Some manuscripts for the house of Jacob  7:57 Or rushed with one mind (ESV) Gospel: John 5:19–29 John 5:19–29 (Listen) The Authority of the Son 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father1 does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. Footnotes  5:19 Greek he (ESV)
Old Testament: Esther 1–2 Esther 1–2 (Listen) The King's Banquets 1 Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, 2 in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, 3 in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, 4 while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. 5 And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king's palace. 6 There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods1 and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones. 7 Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. 8 And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. 9 Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus. Queen Vashti's Refusal 10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown,2 in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. 13 Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king's procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, 14 the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom): 15 “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” 16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen's behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt,3 since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.' 18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's behavior will say the same to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19 If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” 21 This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people. Esther Chosen Queen 2 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king's young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king4 be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so. 5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king's palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king's palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. 12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women—13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. 15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown5 on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther's feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Mordecai Discovers a Plot 19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.6 And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king. Footnotes  1:6 Or rings  1:11 Or headdress  1:17 Hebrew to disdain their husbands in their eyes  2:4 Hebrew who is good in the eyes of the king  2:17 Or headdress  2:23 Or wooden beam or stake; Hebrew tree or wood. This Persian execution practice involved affixing or impaling a person on a stake or pole (compare Ezra 6:11) (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 40 Psalm 40 (Listen) My Help and My Deliverer To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 40 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. 6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.1 Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 9 I have told the glad news of deliverance2 in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD.10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. 11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!”17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! Footnotes  40:6 Hebrew ears you have dug for me  40:9 Hebrew righteousness; also verse 10 (ESV) New Testament: Luke 4 Luke 4 (Listen) The Temptation of Jesus 4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' 11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Jesus Begins His Ministry 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. Jesus Rejected at Nazareth 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers1 in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Demon 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha!2 What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. Jesus Heals Many 38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. 40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. Jesus Preaches in Synagogues 42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.3 Footnotes  4:27 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13  4:34 Or Leave us alone  4:44 Some manuscripts Galilee (ESV)
Sunday, 14 August 2022 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. Acts 9:30 The last verse revealed that the Hellenists had determined to kill Saul (Paul). With that, Luke now records, “When the brethren found out.” These words show that either Saul had already heard the threats and ignored them or that someone simply heard, and it became more widely known among the brethren. The first option is not unlikely. Saul had a defiant streak in him that will be seen again and again in Acts. A good example of this is found in Acts 21 – “And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”' 12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.' 14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the Lord be done.'” Acts 21:10-14 However, the second option is also something that occurs elsewhere in Acts – “And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, ‘We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.' 16 So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, ‘Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.' 18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, ‘Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.'” Acts 23:12-18 One way or another, the word concerning a threat to his life would get around and either Saul would ignore the danger, or he would have someone work on his behalf to get him out of it. In this case, it next says, “they brought him down to Caesarea.” Instead of staying in order to continue to challenge these belligerent and threatening Hellenists, Saul leaves Jerusalem and travels to Caesarea. A trip from Jerusalem to anywhere else is always considered traveling “down.” As for the location, this is Caesarea Maritima which is a port by the sea. It was built by Herod the Great around 22-9BC. Its ruins are still there today including the great aqueduct and the amphitheater along with many other areas of note. A short video on the location that is well worth watching can be seen at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ71dph8qE8 Another point about these words, “and they brought him down,” is that Saul is almost always seen being conducted by others. This could be chalked up to simply protecting his life from the Hellenists. However, due to the frequency of such comments, it appears that Saul was not suited to traveling alone. Instead, when Acts is taken as a whole, it seems to appear that he required assistance getting from one place to another. Regardless of this, though, it was certainly a testament that they had accepted Saul and it validated that they believed he had truly become one of them. With that, it next says they “sent him out to Tarsus.” This is where Saul was from, and it had now been an extended period since he had been there. A period of at least four years, and maybe more, had gone by since his being in Tarsus. The narrative will return to Jerusalem after this verse, but Saul's time away is referred to by him in Galatians 1 – “Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, ‘He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.' 24 And they glorified God in me.” Galatians 1:21-24 While in Tarsus, he certainly would have evangelized others, and he went into these other regions as well. During this time, he probably took up his old source of employment which was making tents. It is something he could do anywhere, and it would pay for his travels as he went. During his time in Syria and Cilicia, he obviously had made converts. This can be deduced from Acts 15:41. There, it records details of the second missionary journey and refers to churches not mentioned on the first missionary journey – “And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Acts 14:39-41 It is probable that these churches were established by Saul before he is reconnected with the details provided by Luke in Acts. Life application: Even when out of the main picture of Acts, it is seen through a careful study that Paul was always staying active in his evangelism. It is not uncommon to hear someone say today, “I just need to get away from it all for a while.” This is even seen among Pastors who take a “sabbatical” in order to unwind. Such a notion was unheard of to Paul. There was no unwinding but rather a constant focus on his life's mission. Paul evangelized while in prison. He evangelized while traveling. He evangelized at the synagogues on the Sabbath and to both Jews and Gentiles throughout the week. It didn't matter where he was or what secondary thing he was engaged in, he was telling people about Jesus. With prosperity, we have forgotten what it means to be focused. When enough time for a vacation is earned, we drop every remembrance of what we have been focused on and redirect to time away. How blessed we are that we can do this, but how unfortunate if we don't carry the message of Jesus along with us. Regardless of where we are going and what other things we are doing, let us not forget to continue to let people know our allegiance to Jesus and then share why we hold to it. As we travel, we may be the only ones the people we encounter will ever talk to about Jesus. If not we, then who? Lord God, how faithful You have been to us. We called on You when we heard the gospel, and You saved us. Now, it is our turn to tell others about this same wonderful message of hope. May we get about it and tell! People need to hear this good and precious news. So be with us and prompt us to do so. To Your glory! Amen.
This episode follows up an intensive analysis and review of Nicholas Notovitch's book entitled “The Lost Years of Jesus”. The life of Saint Issa or Jesus, as formalized by Nicholas Notovitch. This research is backed by rigorous corroborations to testify Notovitch's reputation as well as legitimacy as a scholar. Despite all the unnecessary flak and outrageous intellectual dismissiveness, Alex and Jason have proven the ignorant and dogmatic snobbery of religious academia to be open minded. This episode also gives a brief background on Nicholas Notovitch Nicholas was a Crimean and a Russian aristocrat, known for his 1894 book claiming that during the unknown years of Jesus, he left Galilee for India and studied with Buddhists and Hindus before returning to Judea. Notovitch's claim was based on a document he said he had seen at the Hemis Monastery while he stayed there. What's inherently unique about Nicholas is despite his religion. Just because a person doesn't share your canonical views means having a warrant to be ostracized. Notovitch is a well respected individual, a decent aristocratic intellectual, regardless of his unorthodox views in Christianity. Higher Density Living has no dogma, only the truth prevails in the universe. Let us join Alex and Jason as they discuss Jesus and the Judeo-Christian faith. www.higherdensityliving.com
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” — Acts 13:2 In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his disciples they would be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In Acts 13 the church at Antioch, including Saul and Barnabas, prayerfully waited for direction from God. The church of Jesus Christ is called to listen for the Spirit's leading as we ask, “What do you want us to do next?” The Antioch church was fasting and praying in a position of readiness, eager to hear the Lord's orders and to obey them. And the Spirit of God responded with a clear directive: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” They were not to go on their own mission project, nor the church's. They were to do the work of the Holy Spirit. They needed to continue to listen for what the Spirit would tell them to do and where to do it. You and I must have a heart of submission to the Spirit. We need to be open to the plans that the Spirit of God has for us so that God can work in and through our lives. The Spirit is looking for us to continue the work of Jesus. Loving God, each person in this world is an object of your love. And by your Spirit you call us to bear witness to your truth. Give us your clear directions, we pray. Amen.
Old Testament: Nehemiah 12–13 Nehemiah 12–13 (Listen) Priests and Levites 12 These are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua. 8 And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 And Bakbukiah and Unni and their brothers stood opposite them in the service. 10 And Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua. 12 And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers' houses: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; 15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; 18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel. 22 In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the Levites were recorded as heads of fathers' houses; so too were the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 As for the sons of Levi, their heads of fathers' houses were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. 24 And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch. 25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. 26 These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra, the priest and scribe. Dedication of the Wall 27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; 29 also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall. 31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate. 32 And after them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, 33 and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35 and certain of the priests' sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph; 36 and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. 37 At the Fountain Gate they went up straight before them by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east. 38 The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah,1 and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. 40 So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; 41 and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. Service at the Temple 44 On that day men were appointed over the storerooms, the contributions, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the Law for the priests and for the Levites according to the fields of the towns, for Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered. 45 And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. 46 For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs2 of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron. Nehemiah's Final Reforms 13 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, 2 for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent. 4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, 5 prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. 6 While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king 7 and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. 8 And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. 9 Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. 10 I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. 11 So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service. 15 In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. 16 Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! 17 Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster3 on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” 19 As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love. 23 In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. 27 Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?” 28 And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. 30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good. Footnotes  12:39 Or of the old city  12:46 Or leaders  13:18 The Hebrew word can mean evil, harm, or disaster, depending on the context (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 39 Psalm 39 (Listen) What Is the Measure of My Days? To the choirmaster: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. 39 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing1 they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it.10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand.11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah 12 “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!” Footnotes  39:6 Hebrew Surely as a breath (ESV) New Testament: Luke 3 Luke 3 (Listen) John the Baptist Prepares the Way 3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,1 make his paths straight.5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways,6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics2 is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;3 with you I am well pleased.”4 The Genealogy of Jesus Christ 23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,5 the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. Footnotes  3:4 Or crying, Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord  3:11 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin  3:22 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved  3:22 Some manuscripts beloved Son; today I have begotten you  3:27 Greek Salathiel (ESV)