Week of 14 Pentecost – Odd – 08/30 – 09/05/2015

August 29, 2015

Week of 14 Pentecost – Odd

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Podcast Download: Week of 14 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 14 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted

Podcast: Sunday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 17:1-23   –     Ahithophel’s Counsel Rejected;

Galatians 3:6-14     –    Salvation by Faith, not Works;

John 5:30-47      –    Jesus’ Authority;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Ahithophel was the royal counselor and prophet, who joined Absalom’s conspiracy to usurp the throne of David. Ahithophel advised Absalom to allow Ahithophel to select and lead twelve thousand men to pursue and attack David that night, while David and his men were exhausted and discouraged by their flight from Jerusalem. Ahithophel said that he would kill only David, and all David’s people would return and submit to Absalom’s kingdom.

Absalom asked for a second opinion from Hushai, a royal counselor whom David had sent to join Absalom’s people in order to spy and oppose Ahithophel’s council. Hushai heard what Ahithophel had advised, and Hushai advised Absalom not to follow it. Hushai said that David and his mighty men were experts in battle and their experience and their anger at Absalom’s conspiracy would prevail. Also, since David was a skilled tactician he would hide himself apart from his army, so Ahithophel’s plan to kill only David would fail.

Hushai suggested an alternate plan, which called for assembling a vast army from all the tribes of Israel, with Absalom leading, and they would destroy David and all his expert soldiers. In case David and his men took refuge in a walled city, Absalom would have sufficient forces to tear down the walls and destroy the city. Absalom and the elders of Israel accepted Hushai’s plan instead of the counsel of Ahiphophel.

Hushai gave word to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, who sent their sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, to warn David not to camp on the west bank of the Jordan, but to cross over, so as not to be trapped between the river and Absalom’s forces. The sons of the priests had stayed outside the city so as not to be seen, but a young boy saw and reported to Absalom. The sons knew they had been spotted, so they hurried to a house in Bahurim (between Jerusalem and the Jordan River) and hid in a well, which was covered with a cloth and concealed by the woman of the house.
When Absalom’s men came looking for the sons, the woman gave them false directions, and when the men couldn’t find Jonathan and Ahimaaz, they returned to Jerusalem. The sons of the priests went to David and gave him the message, so David and his forces arose and crossed the Jordan River. When Ahithophel saw that his counsel had been rejected he went to his home and hanged himself.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul quoted Genesis 15:6 to show that Abraham’s righteousness was by faith in God, rather than by keeping the law, and thus it is people of faith who are his spiritual sons and daughters. God’s Word foretold that the Gentiles would be saved through faith, by declaring that all nations on earth would be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Those who rely on works of law for their righteousness and salvation are under a curse (Deuteronomy 21:23).

God’s Word says that the righteous shall live (daily and eternally) by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), but the Covenant of Law is not based on faith, because it is those who do the law who will live by them. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). Christ took that curse upon himself on the Cross (as the sacrifice once for all time, for all people, for all sin; Hebrews 9:26), “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the (indwelling Holy) Spirit through faith” Galatians 3:14).

John Paraphrase:Jesus did nothing in his own human will and authority; his purpose was to do God’s will and fulfill God’s purpose entirely. Jesus’ judgment is that of God’s, without partiality or error. Jesus’ authority is not by his own testimony, and Jesus’ authority is not based on what humans think and say about him. God has testified to Jesus’ authority through the witness of John the Baptizer (John 1:29-34), through the miracles Jesus’ did, and through the scriptures.

Commentary:

No one has ever seen God or heard his voice. Those who believe God’s Word will recognize that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Those who think they know and understand God’s Word but who do not accept Jesus demonstrate that they have not accepted and applied God’s Word in their lives. Those who study the scriptures and think they have eternal life through the scriptures apart from faith in Jesus Christ are mistaken (the scriptures testify that Jesus is God’s only provision for salvation and eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Those who reject Jesus demonstrate that they do not love God, regardless of what they may claim. People accept those in worldly authority but reject Jesus who comes in the name and power of God; they seek worldly status and approval, but not God’s approval (which is eternal). Those who trust in their good deeds, apart from faith in Jesus, will be condemned by Moses (the Old Testament Scriptures) because Moses foreshadowed and prophesied of Christ. Those who don’t believe Moses’ testimony to Christ won’t be able to believe Jesus either.

Absalom was next in succession to the throne of David. Absalom didn’t want to wait to receive the kingdom, and he didn’t want to live by the rules in order for that to happen. He didn’t love David, who was the Lord’s anointed and Absalom’s father. He tried to seize the kingdom by force.

Ahithophel was regarded by both David and Absalom as a prophet of God (2 Samuel 16:23). Ahithophel had formerly spoken God’s Word, but he abandoned his loyalty to the legitimate king who had been anointed by the Lord, and joined the conspiracy of the illegitimate worldly king trying to usurp David’s throne. The fact that Ahithophel advocated killing the Lord’s anointed proved that he was not speaking God’s Word. Absalom followed the counsel of Hushai, who was loyal to the Lord’s anointed, rather than the counsel of Ahithophel, the traitor who, like Judas Iscariot, had betrayed the Lord’s anointed. God is in control and it was not God’s will for Absalom to succeed (2 Samuel 17:14b).

This scripture is also a parable and metaphor. David foreshadows and illustrates the Messiah, God’s anointed eternal Savior and King. Worldly people and authorities try to usurp the throne of the Lord’s anointed, Jesus Christ. The Jewish religious authorities tried to usurp Jesus’ throne by crucifying him, and they tried to pervert God’s Word to accomplish their worldly agendas. This same thing happens today, not only by Jews, but by all who reject Jesus as the Christ.

There are many false prophets and false teachings in the world and within the Church. Legalists (including those who claim to be “Christians,” who teach salvation by “works,” “keeping the Law,” or “good deeds,” rather than by faith in Jesus), are one example of human attempts to seize the kingdom of God by some way other than God’s way. The other extreme is the doctrine of “Cheap Grace”* which is an attempt to seize the kingdom of God without discipleship and obedience to Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for salvation and eternal life in God’s kingdom (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul showed by scripture that God’s plan of salvation has been based on faith (obedient trust) from before the Law was given to Moses. God’s Law was given to teach us the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20), and to keep God’s people safe until the Messiah came (Galatians 3:21-26). The Law demonstrates that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and declares that the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

The Jews, although physical descendants of Abraham who kept the Law of Moses, failed to receive the promise of the Spirit because they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Gentiles, however, inherited the promise through faith in Jesus, although they were not physical descendants of Abraham or under the Law of Moses.

God’s intention from the beginning of Creation has been to create an eternal kingdom of his people, who will trust and obey him. This life is our opportunity to seek and come to personal fellowship with the Lord (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus has been God’s plan of salvation from the very beginning of Creation, and has been “built into” its very structure (John 1:1-5; 14).

Receiving the fulfillment of the promised Holy Spirit (being “born-again;” John 3:3; 5-8) through faith in Jesus is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Salvation is not by keeping God’s Laws, but by God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10). Note that obedience is a necessary component of faith; faith is obedient trust. Faith is not getting whatever we believe, if we believe hard enough. If we truly believe in Jesus we will trust and obey what Jesus says (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46; James 2:17-18). The kingdom belongs to God, and if we want to enter God’s kingdom we must follow God’s plan.

Only Jesus is the Lord’s anointed eternal Savior and King, not by his own will but by God’s eternal purpose. Jesus is Lord, whether we accept him as our Lord or not. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12). No one can know and have fellowship with God except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34), which he gives only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Any other way to enter God’s eternal kingdom is false, and will lead to eternal destruction.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Monday 14 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 08/21/05;

Podcast: Monday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 17:24-18:8   –   David’s exile;
Acts 22:30-23:11   –    Paul before the Sanhedrin;

Mark 11:12-26   –    Fig tree cursed;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

King David had fled from Jerusalem to avoid being trapped there by his son Absalom’s attempted coup. David made Mahanaim, east of the Jordan River, his headquarters during his exile. Shobi, an Ammonite, Barzillai, and Machir, Gileadites, supplied David’s men with food and equipment in the wilderness. David divided the command of his army between three loyal commanders: Joab, Abishai, Joab’s nephew, and Ittai, the Gittite.

David planned to go into battle with his army, but his men told him not to; David’s life was worth tens of thousands of ordinary men, because of his office (as the Lord’s anointed king). David accepted their advice and stayed in the city as his army marched out. David specifically told the three commanders to treat Absalom’s life with care, and everyone knew David’s order.

David’s army went against the army of Israel led by Absalom at the forest of Ephraim; David’s army defeated Israel and slaughtered twenty thousand men. “The forest devoured more people that day than the sword” (2 Samuel 18:8).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by a mob outside the temple in Jerusalem, and had been taken into custody by the Roman garrison until the facts could be determined. Paul was about to be interrogated by scourging (torture) and had invoked his Roman citizenship, which did not allow punishment without a trial.

The next day the commander arranged for Paul to be examined in the presence of the Sanhedrin (Jewish court) so he could determine the facts. Paul declared that he had done nothing contrary to God’s Word. Ananias, the high priest, ordered Paul struck on the mouth, and Paul rebuked Ananias for presuming to judge Paul, while blatantly disregarding the law himself by ordering Paul struck without cause. The others rebuked Paul for reviling the high priest, and Paul apologized for having inadvertently violated God’s Word to refrain from speaking evil of a ruler of the people (Exodus 22:28), since he had not realized that Ananias was the high priest.

Paul perceived that the Sanhedrin was composed of Sadducees and Pharisees, so he declared that he was raised as a Pharisee and that he was being tried for preaching the hope of resurrection of the dead. This caused dissension among the Sanhedrin, because the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, angel, or spirit, and the Pharisees did.

The Pharisees sided with Paul and declared that he was innocent, which caused the disagreement to become violent. The Roman commander had to remove Paul by force and return him to the barracks. The following night the Lord came to Paul and revealed that Paul would have to testify in Rome as Paul had testified in Jerusalem.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified. He had stayed overnight in Bethany (about two miles away, where close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, lived; John 11:1). When he returned to Jerusalem in the morning he was hungry and saw a fig tree in leaf, but there were no figs since it was not the season. Jesus said, in the hearing of his disciples, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (Mark 11:14).

In Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple and began driving out the moneychangers (changing Roman coins for Jewish coins required for contributions in the temple) and vendors of animals for sacrifice. Jesus told the crowd that God’s Word designated the temple as a house of prayer, but it had become a den of robbers (the venders and moneychangers were exploiting it for their profit). The priests and teachers of scripture were furious and began to seek a way to destroy Jesus which would not cause a riot of the people, who were impressed with Jesus’ teaching.

Again Jesus and his disciples went to Bethany overnight, and returning the next day, as they passed the fig tree, the disciples were amazed to see that it had withered. Jesus told them to have faith in God. Whatever disciples ask in prayer in faith without doubting will be done for them (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). When we pray we should pray for forgiveness for anyone who has wronged us, so that God will also forgive us our sins.

Commentary:

David was living according to God’s Word and the calling God had given him, but he was opposed by his own son, Absalom, who was only interested in fulfilling his own will. God’s Word divided the people into two kingdoms: those who followed the Lord’s anointed king, and those who followed the worldly king. The worldly king was able to seize control of Jerusalem for a time, but his kingdom ultimately was destroyed because it is contrary to God’s will and purpose.

Paul was obedient to God’s Word and was following the calling the Lord had given him. The Pharisees and Sadducees were more interested in pursuing their own will than God’s. The Pharisees only sided with Paul when they saw that it was advantageous to their worldly interests.

Paul hadn’t realized that Ananias was the high priest, because Ananias wasn’t behaving like one. Paul was willing to accept correction from his adversaries because he acknowledged it as true, although his error had been inadvertent. The Sadducees and Pharisees weren’t seeking truth; they were seeking to have their own way.

The religious authorities in Jerusalem were more interested in the appearance, in human judgment, of obedience of God’s Word than actual obedience according to God’s judgment. They were more interested in personal benefit from their calling than in truly serving the Lord. They hated Jesus because he threatened the worldly system they had established. They were looking for ways to get rid of Jesus without making themselves look bad to the public. Jesus expected to find the temple a house of prayer, but instead found it full of greed and corruption.

The fig tree is intended to be a visual “parable,” representing the congregation of God’s people, Judaism, at the time of Jesus’ first advent (“coming;” his physical life on earth) and also the Church, at the time of Jesus’ second advent, his return in glory and power on the Day of Judgment. Fig trees bear fruit before they produce leaves. From a distance the fig tree looked as though it had produced fruit, but up close it was apparent that it had none.

Judaism effectively ended at Jesus’ crucifixion. The curtain of the temple separating God’s presence in the Holy-of-Holies from the congregation was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), symbolizing that Jesus has opened the way into God’s presence through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17; Acts 2:1-12).

Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. and the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation until the Jews began returning after World War II. The temple (essential for the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant of Law) has never been rebuilt.

The Church is the New Israel, the new People of God. Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), looking for people who have produced the fruit of the Gospel; the fruit of the Holy Spirit; people who are truly disciples who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5-8), not people who just “look good,” who look like “Christians,” from a distance.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 14 Pentecost – Odd 
First Posted 08/22/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 18:9-18   –      Death of Absalom;

Acts 23:12-24    –    Plot to assassinate Paul;

Mark 11:27-12:12    –   Jesus’ authority;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Absalom, David’s son and usurper of David’s kingdom, was mounted on a mule during the battle against David’s army in the forest of Ephraim, and Absalom’s head was caught in a branch, causing him to be pulled from his mount and suspended by his head (or by his hair). One of David’s men saw and reported it to Joab, one of the commanders of David’s army.

Joab rebuked the soldier for not killing Absalom when he had the chance. Joab said he would have been happy to reward him, but the soldier replied that he would not have killed Absalom for any amount of money, because David had ordered his army to spare Absalom. The soldier said that if he had killed Absalom he would have borne the blame and Joab would not have protected him from punishment. Joab considered arguing with the soldier a waste of time, and went to where Absalom was still hanging, and killed Absalom, and Joab’s armor bearers also participated.

Once Absalom was dead, Joab sounded the trumpet to signal David’s army to stop pursuing Absalom’s soldiers, and Absalom’s men returned to their homes. Joab had Absalom thrown into a pit in the forest and covered with a great heap of stones. During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself to memorialize himself in the King’s Valley (thought to be the junction of the Kidron, Hinnom and Tyropoeon valleys south of the “City of David” in Jerusalem). If Absalom had sons to carry on his name (apparently; see 2 Samuel 14:27), he wasn’t satisfied with that.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been accused of desecrating the temple and teaching Jews to break the Laws of Moses. He had been taken into custody by the Roman garrison. Jewish religious authorities had conspired with a group of forty Jews who had vowed to assassinate Paul as he was brought from the garrison to the Jewish religious court.

The son of Paul’s sister heard of the plot and went to Paul in prison and told him. Paul summoned his guard and asked the guard to take Paul’s nephew to the commander of the garrison. The commander took the nephew aside and was told of the plot. The commander told the nephew not to tell anyone else that the commander knew of the plot.

The commander summoned two Roman officers and told them to prepare, at 9 PM, to transport Paul, with a guard of four hundred and seventy soldiers and cavalry, to the Roman Governor of Judea, Felix, at Caesarea. Paul was to be provided with a mount to ride.

Mark Paraphrase:

After having thrown the vendors out of the temple the day before, Jesus returned, and was walking in the temple. The religious authorities came to him and demanded to know Jesus’ authority for doing these things. Jesus replied that he would also ask them a question, and if they answered Jesus he would answer them.

Jesus asked them if John the Baptizer’s authority was from God or men. The religious leaders argued among themselves, realizing that if they said John’s authority was from God, they would be guilty of not heeding John, but if they said John’s authority was worldly they were afraid of public reaction, because the people considered John a genuine prophet. They decided not to answer Jesus, and Jesus refused to answer them.

Then Jesus told the parable (a common life experience used to teach a spiritual truth) of the vineyard. A man planted a vineyard with a winepress and a tower and rented it to tenants while the owner was traveling in a distant land. At the proper time, the owner sent a servant to receive his portion of the fruit of the vineyard, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away without payment.

The owner sent other servants to collect, and they were similarly mistreated and injured, and some were killed. Finally the owner sent his son, thinking that the tenants would certainly respect the owner’s son. But the wicked tenants realized that the son would inherit the vineyard, and they killed the son, so that when the owner died the tenants would possess the vineyard. Jesus told his hearers that the owner would have no choice but to come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

Then Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23: “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Mark 12:11). The religious authorities realized that Jesus had told the parable against them, and they wanted to arrest Jesus but were afraid to, because of the crowd.

Commentary:

Joab disobeyed David’s order to spare Absalom. Joab was outwardly subservient to David, but did whatever served his own interests. The issue was who was in authority. David’s authority was from God. Joab’s authority was his own self-interest, and Absalom’s usurpation had been Absalom’s attempt to establish his own authority. Absalom was vain and self-centered. He was handsome and had beautiful hair (2 Samuel 14:25-26).

It is ironic that Absalom was killed by his enemy as Absalom hung between heaven and earth by his head (or his hair), and was buried in obscurity in the forest under a pile of rocks instead of his memorial in the cemetery of Kings in Jerusalem (which no longer exists; “The present monument called ‘Absalom’s Tomb,’ still standing today in the Kidron, valley is of Hellenistic or Roman date, and has no connection with the original ‘Absalom’s monument’”*).

The authority of the Sanhedrin (Jewish council of elders) was ostensibly from God, but they used their authority to accomplish their own interests, contrary to God’s will, and contrary to the Roman civil authority. The Jewish leaders were in direct conflict with God’s will, and Romans were (unwittingly) cooperating with God’s will.

The Jewish religious leaders challenged and resisted Jesus’ authority. Where had they gotten their authority to do that? They expected Jesus to answer them while they refused to answer him. Their consideration of their answer was not to find the truth but to serve their own interest. They were using their authority to accomplish their own purposes and were more interested in popular opinion than the will and approval of God.

How are we doing? In a sense we are all tenants in the Lord’s vineyard, whether we are Christians or not. The purpose of this creation is to create an eternal kingdom of God’s people who trust and obey the Lord. This life is the selection process and we make the choice for ourselves.

We have been given use of the “vineyard” in order to produce fruit for the Lord. We will be accountable to the Lord for our fruitfulness. Jesus is God’s only “anointed” eternal King (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; see also John 1:32-34; Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

If we claim to be in the King’s army we will be accountable for knowing and obeying the King’s orders. Are we seeking and doing the Lord’s will or are we pursuing whatever we perceive as our own self-interests. Are we building eternal lives on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ (compare Matthew 7:21-29), or are we settling for a worldly monument to ourselves? Are we building the Lord’s kingdom or our own empire?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, 2 Solomon 18:16-18n, p. 400, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Wednesday 14 Pentecost – Odd 
First Posted 08/23/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 18:19-33         David mourns Absalom;

Acts 23:23-35   –    Paul transferred to Caesarea;

Mark 12:13-27   –    The resurrection;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Joab, commander of David’s army, had killed David’s son, Absalom, contrary to David’s direct order. Ahimaaz, the son of the high priest, Zadok, volunteered to tell David that Absalom’s conspiracy to usurp the throne had been defeated. Joab wouldn’t allow him to do that errand, and assigned a Cushite (an Ethiopian slave) to take the report to David.

Ahimaaz asked for permission to go with the Cushite. Joab asked him why he insisted on going; there would be no reward for the news. Regardless how the message would be received, Ahimaaz insisted on going, so Joab let him. Ahimaaz took an easier route and arrived before the Cushite at Mahanaim where David was staying.

David was sitting by the gate to the city, and the watchman called out that a runner was approaching. David knew that a lone runner would be bringing a message. Then the watchman reported another runner. The watchman recognized Ahimaaz as the first runner, and since David knew Ahimaaz was a good person, he assumed he was bringing good news.

Ahimaaz reported the good news that David’s army had defeated Absalom’s men, but when David asked about Absalom, Ahimaaz denied knowing Absalom’s outcome. Then the Cushite arrived and gave the good news of the enemy’s defeat, and when David asked about Absalom, the Cushite replied that he hoped all David’s enemies might receive the same fate as Absalom. David was deeply grieved for his son and went to his chamber to mourn for him in privacy, saying that he wished he had died instead of his son.

Acts Paraphrase:

A plot to assassinate Paul had been discovered, and Claudius Lysias, the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, had Paul transferred secretly at night, with a large number of soldiers protecting him, to the headquarters of the provincial governor, Antonius Felix, at Caesarea. Paul was given a mount so he didn’t have to walk.

The commander sent a letter explaining to the governor that the commander had saved Paul from being killed by the Jews, after learning that Paul was a Roman citizen. The commander said that he had brought Paul to the Jewish court (Sanhedrin) to hear the charges against Paul, and found that Paul had done nothing deserving execution or imprisonment. Having discovered a Jewish plot to assassinate Paul, the commander was sending Paul to Felix, and had ordered Paul’s accusers to present their accusations to Felix.

The soldiers took Paul by night to Antipatris, on the way to Caesarea. The next day the unmounted soldiers returned to Jerusalem, and the mounted soldiers took Paul on to Caesarea, where they presented Paul and the letter to Felix.

After reading the letter, Felix asked Paul which province he was from, and on hearing that he was from Cilicia, he told Paul he would hear the case when Paul’s Jewish accusers arrived. Meanwhile he had Paul under guard at Herod’s Preaetorium (the governor’s residence).

Mark Paraphrase:

The Jewish religious authorities sent some Pharisees and Herodians (Jews who supported the Roman civil government of Israel) to try to get Jesus to say something they could use to destroy him. They told Jesus that they knew Jesus’ teachings to be true, and that he was not partial toward any human individual or group, so they asked Jesus whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not.

Jesus was not fooled by their insincerity, and asked them why they were testing him. Jesus asked them to show him a coin, and then asked whose likeness it bore. It had Caesar’s likeness, as they said. Then Jesus told them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s, and they were amazed by Jesus.

Sadducees came to Jesus and asked about the resurrection (existence after physical death). Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection. They posed a hypothetical question in which seven brothers had all been married consecutively to one woman. Each had died while married to her, and the surviving brothers had fulfilled the custom of taking the widow as wife in order to raise children for the deceased brother. Since she had been the wife of each, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?

Jesus suggested that they were wrong because they didn’t know the scriptures, and they did not know God’s power. Jesus said that marriage is not a part of resurrected life; the resurrected are like angels. Jesus also cited scriptures from Exodus 3:6, where God said, “I am the God of Abraham …Isaac, and …Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Mark 12:26-27) and those who do not believe in the resurrection, like the Sadducees, are wrong.

Commentary:

Ahimaaz was the son of the high priest, and had been appointed a messenger by King David. He was anxious to give David the good news, and he said that he wasn’t seeking any reward and that he would accept the consequences of David’s response to his message. But when the time came, he failed to give David the full message, the bad as well as the good news.

Ahimaaz took the “easy road” geographically and morally. Joab was responsible for Absalom’s death, contrary to David’s order, but he preferred to send the news by a Cushite (Ethiopian; black) slave. Joab was willing to defy David’s command, but he wanted someone else much more “expendable” to deliver the news.

David had a reputation for killing messengers who brought bad news. The Amalekite (Saul’s armorbearer; 2 Samuel 1:8) claimed (falsely; compare 1 Samuel 31:4) responsibility for killing Saul, thinking it would be good news to David, but David had him killed for it (2 Samuel 1:5-16). The murderers of Ish-bosheth suffered a similar fate (2 Samuel 4:1-12).

The Cushite messenger gave the complete message, but he very carefully phrased it so that David understood, but was unlikely to hold the messenger personally responsible for the bad news.

Claudius Lysias, the commander of the garrison in Jerusalem, sent a very diplomatic letter to Governor Felix, his superior in Caesarea, presenting the facts in a way to make himself look good, and leaving out details that didn’t.

The Jewish religious authorities were not interested in telling the truth. Their message was a lie fabricated to accomplish their own agenda. The insincerity of their message should be obvious to anyone who is seeking truth. They certainly didn’t deceive Jesus, who knows our innermost thoughts. He answered them in a way that was completely truthful, and beyond reproach.

The Sadducees were not looking for truth; they were trying to justify their error. They considered themselves authorities on the scriptures and about God, but they ignored the parts of the scriptures and the aspects of God’s character which didn’t suit their ideology. When Jesus revealed their errors, instead of accepting the truth and changing, they became more determined to destroy Jesus.

Jesus is the Lord’s anointed eternal king, the heir to David’s throne (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed, in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus is the Word of God in human flesh (John 1:1-5; 14). God has given us his Word in the Bible and in Christ. The scripture contains both promises and warnings; good news and bad news.

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1: 8-10). Sin is disobedience of God’s Word, and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Salvation from eternal death is by God’s grace (free gift; unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what each has done in this life (Matthew 25:31-46). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been guided by his indwelling Holy Spirit will receive eternal life, but those who have rejected Jesus and refused to obey him will receive destruction eternally.

In a sense we are all guilty of crucifying Jesus, because we have all sinned and made Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross necessary. Without Jesus, we’re all, like Absalom, guilty of rebelling against the Lord’s anointed Savior and King. Without Jesus Christ, we are all, like Joab, guilty of disobedience of God’s Word and of killing God’s Son. We won’t have the option of sending someone else to face the Lord’s judgment; we’ll have to do it ourselves.

The only way to escape eternal destruction is to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) through obedient trust in Jesus Christ by his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Jesus is the way, the truth and the (real, eternal) life (John 14:6).

Are you willing to hear and proclaim the whole truth? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 14 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 08/24/05;

Podcast: Thursday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 19:1-23   –     Restoring a divided nation;

Acts 24:1-23    –    Paul tried by Felix;

Mark 12:28:34   –    The great commandment;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

King David was mourning for his son Absalom, although Absalom had tried to usurp David’s throne. Because David was mourning, his army was not able to celebrate their victory in ending Absalom’s conspiracy. Joab, the commander of David’s army, came to David and told him that by his actions he was causing his loyal followers shame.

David’s army had saved the lives of David and all his sons, daughters, wives and concubines, but instead of appreciating and rewarding those who loved and were loyal to him, David chose to mourn Absalom, who had hated and betrayed David. David’s actions revealed that David cared nothing for his loyal followers in comparison to Absalom. Joab told David that if he continued to ignore his followers, they would abandon David. David heeded Joab and got up and sat at the city gate, and his people gathered around him.

The men of Israel who had followed Absalom had fled to their homes, and there was considerable worry and stress among the people. The people realized that King David had delivered them from the Philistines and the other enemies of Israel, but had been driven out by Absalom’s rebellion. The people had anointed Absalom as their king, but he was dead. They realized that they needed to bring David back as their king.

David sent a message to Zadok and Abiathar suggesting that they lead and help the elders of Judah to restore David’s kingdom. David also promised that he would give Amasa (David’s nephew) command of David’s army in place of Joab. By appealing to tribal loyalty, David persuaded the people of Judah to ask him to return. David returned to the Jordan River, and the people of Judah came out to meet and welcome him.

Shimei, of the tribe of Benjamin, of the family of Saul, had cursed and thrown rocks at David when David was fleeing Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt. Ziba, Saul’s servant, who David had made custodian of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son, and sole survivor of Saul’s family, had lied to David, saying that Mephibosheth had joined Absalom’s conspiracy.

Shimei and Ziba wanted to be the first to welcome David to make amends and seek forgiveness for their misconduct. Shimei brought with him a thousand men of the tribe of Benjamin to join David. Abishai, David’s nephew and one of three commanders of David’s army, thought Shimei should be executed for cursing the Lord’s anointed (David), but David wanted to unify Israel under his kingdom, not divide it. David forgave Shimei and gave his word that Shimei would not die for his sin.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was awaiting trial before Felix the Roman Governor if Judea. After five days, Ananias, the high priest, and some elders and a spokesman, Tertullus, came and presented the case against Paul. Tertullus told Felix that Paul was a ringleader of the “sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), and an agitator among Jews in Israel and throughout the world. Paul was also accused of an attempt to profane the temple in Jerusalem.

Paul was given the opportunity to speak. Paul asserted that he had not been agitating in the temple or in the synagogues. Paul said that his accusers could not substantiate their charges. Paul admitted only that he worshiped the God of Israel, believed in the Jewish scriptures and in the “resurrection of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15) which his accusers also believed. Paul therefore was careful to obey God’s Word, so as not to sin against God or people.

Paul was in Jerusalem to bring alms and offerings to his nation, and was in the temple in the process of ritual purification, not stirring up a crowd or causing a tumult. Paul said that Jews from (the Roman Province of) Asia (modern-day Turkey) had stirred up the trouble and should have brought their accusations before Felix themselves. Paul said that the reason he was on trial before Felix was only because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Felix had an accurate knowledge of “the Way” (as Christianity was then called; Jesus is the Way; John 14:6). Felix put off the verdict until Lysias, the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, could be present. Meanwhile he had Paul detained in custody, with some liberty and with access to provisions by his friends.

Mark Paraphrase:

A scribe asked Jesus which commandment was first in importance. Jesus replied that the first Commandment was that the Lord God is the only God, and that one shall love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is that one shall love one’s neighbor as oneself. Those two commandments are the greatest. The scribe agreed, declared that Jesus had answered correctly, and said that obedience to those two commandments was more important than any religious ritual (offering or sacrifice). Jesus recognized that the scribe knew the truth of God’s Word, and told him that he was not far from God’s kingdom.

Commentary:

The Lord loves us and doesn’t want any to perish eternally (John 3:16), but he gives us the freedom to choose whether to follow him or not. Jesus was driven out of Jerusalem and physical life in this world by his crucifixion. In one sense he is in exile in heaven, awaiting his return as the triumphant king.

We may have cursed him and thrown “stones” at him; we may have lied to him and tried to use him to gain personal advantage. We may have fallen away from loyalty to the Lord’s anointed king. We may have joined with and worked for the worldly king who was trying to usurp the throne of the Lord’s anointed king, Jesus Christ).

The worldly king (Satan) has been defeated at the Cross of Jesus Christ. The worldly king can’t save us from the “Philistines,” the enemy of our souls (the part of us which is eternal). Only Jesus can save us from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is going to return in victory and power to reclaim his throne and establish his eternal kingdom. We should think seriously about inviting him to return and be our Savior and King.

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). If we realize that we have sinned against him, we should be wise enough to seek his forgiveness before he comes. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). Once Jesus has “crossed the river” which separates this world and life from the next, it will be too late.

Paul (formerly named Saul of Tarsus) had approved of the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:59-8:1). Paul had persecuted, arrested and participated in killing the followers of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:3; 9:1-6). Paul heeded the risen and ascended Jesus’ call to repentance, was forgiven and spiritually healed (Acts 9:10-20).

Paul could honestly testify that he had a clean conscience before God. He was in Jerusalem bringing spiritual gifts to his nation. Paul worshiped the God of Israel, the one true God, believed the Jewish scriptures, and in the resurrection to judgment of the just (saved) and unjust (unsaved; see John 5:28-29). The indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ within him made the difference in Paul, compared to his Jewish accusers. It wasn’t Paul who was profaning the temple; it was his accusers (Mark 11:17).

God’s Word can be fulfilled by obedience of two commandments: to acknowledge and love God with every aspect of our life and being, and to love others as we love ourselves and want to be loved. No religious ritual can substitute for obedience to those commands. Jesus is God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God made visible in human form (Colossians 2:8-9). The scribe demonstrated that he understood God’s Word; all he needed to do to enter God’s kingdom was to recognize that Jesus was God’s anointed savior and king and ask Jesus to forgive him and be his king.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 14 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 08/25/05;

Podcast: Friday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 19:24-43    –    David returns to Jerusalem;

Acts 24:24-25:12    –    Paul appeals to Caesar;

Mark 12:35-44    –   Teachings on piety;

2 Samuel Paraaphrase:

After Absalom’s revolt had been put down, King David returned to Jerusalem from exile. Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson through Jonathan, was crippled. He was the only survivor of Saul’s family, and David had made arrangements for him to live in David’s household. Mephibosheth’s steward, Ziba, had lied to David that Mephibosheth had joined Absalom’s revolt, and David had awarded Ziba Mephibosheth’s share of Saul’s estate. Mephibosheth came to meet David upon his return. Mephibosheth had not had any grooming or change of clothes the entire time David had been in exile.

David asked Mephibosheth why he had not joined David in exile, and Mephibosheth told David that Ziba had refused to get Mephibosheth a donkey, so that he could accompany David, since Mephibosheth was lame. Ziba had slandered Mephibosheth to David. David rescinded his decision to transfer Mephibosheth’s portion of Saul’s estate to Ziba, but Mephibosheth was willing to let Ziba keep it; Mephibosheth didn’t need it as long as he could continue in David’s household.

Barzillai, a resident of Rogelim (probably near Mahanaim, David’s headquarters in Gilead during his exile) had accompanied David to the Jordan River. Barzillai was eighty years old and very wealthy. He had provided for David and his men in exile, and David invited him to join David’s household, as a way of repaying him. Barzillai preferred to stay in Rogelim; at his age he could no longer taste food or drink, and did not want to be a burden. He wanted to die among his family and friends.

Barzillai suggested that David take Chimham (assumed to be Barzillai’s son) instead. David agreed to do for Chimham everything that would please Barzillai, and would be happy to do the same for Barzillai. David and Chimham went on to Gilgal, accompanied by most of the people of Judah, and half of the people of the northern ten tribes of Israel.

The people of Israel accused the people of Judah of attempting to get special favor with David. The people of Judah replied that it was because David was of their tribe that they had shown greater support for him, and they had not sought or received any gift or benefit by their support. The people of Israel asserted that they had more interest in David than Judah, because they represented ten tribes, and they had been first to ask David to return to his throne, but the people of Judah prevailed in the argument with the people of the northern ten tribes.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been imprisoned in Caesarea awaiting a verdict by Governor Felix. After a number of days, Felix brought his wife Drucilla, a Jewess, and had Paul brought to talk with them about faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul talked about justice, self-control and future judgment, Felix became alarmed, and sent Paul back, saying he would send for him again later. Felix also hoped that Paul might offer him money, and conversed with him often. After two years, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus, and Felix left Paul remain in prison as a favor to the Jews.

Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem, and the Jewish religious leaders told him about Paul and asked that Paul be returned to Jerusalem, secretly intending to assassinate Paul on the way. Festus declined their request, and told them to come and present their case before Festus in Caesarea.

After ten days, Festus returned to Jerusalem and summoned Paul. His Jewish accusers were present and made many serious charges against Paul which they could not prove. In defense, Paul said that he had done nothing contrary to Jewish Law or against the temple, or Caesar.

Festus wanted to please the Jews so he asked if Paul would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried by Festus there. Paul said that he was being tried by Roman tribunal, which was the proper jurisdiction. The Jews had not proved their accusations. Paul wasn’t trying to avoid justice, but he wanted (as a Roman citizen) to be tried by a Roman court. So Festus decided to send him to Rome to be tried by Caesar.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified. He went daily to the temple to teach, and the people were glad to hear his teaching. Jesus said that the scribes (teachers of scripture) taught that the Christ is the son of David, but David, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit called the Christ his Lord (Psalm 110:1). No one was able to explain the apparent contradiction.

Jesus warned his hearers to beware of scribes who liked public distinction by the clothes and title of their profession, and the public recognition which gave them preferential treatment at public gatherings, who make elaborate prayers as pretence of piety, and who steal from widows. Their outward pretense of piety will result in greater condemnation (at the Day of Judgment).

Jesus watched people as they placed their offerings into the temple treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums, but a widow gave two copper coins (the smallest denomination in circulation, about a half cent each). Jesus told his disciples that the widow’s contribution was greater that the all the others, because while the rich contributed from their abundance, she had given sacrificially everything she had.

Commentary

The ten northern tribes which became the Northern Kingdom, Israel, after the death of Solomon (1 Kings 12:16-20) was already showing signs of schism. They were arguing with Judah (which later became the Southern Kingdom), over who deserved special favor with the Lord’s anointed king. Judah’s claim was genealogical; Israel’s claim was “democratic” (first; and most, respectively), although in terms of commitment, Judah supported David one hundred percent, and Israel’s support was only fifty-fifty.

Felix was more interested in popular support than in justice; instead of rendering a just verdict, he let Paul languish in prison as a favor to the Jews. Although he sought Jewish favor for political purposes, he was willing to grant Paul special favor for a price. He was also more interested in personal comfort than in truth; he was interested in hearing about faith in Jesus Christ, but didn’t want to hear about sin, judgment and Hell, just like a lot of modern (nominal) “Christians.”

Paul was seeking justice, not special favor. Paul knew that God’s will was for him to testify to the Gospel in Rome as he had done in Jerusalem (and in Caesarea; Acts 23:11). Paul knew that the Jews were planning to assassinate him (Acts 23:12-16). He was not guilty of any of their charges or of anything deserving death. Paul had to appeal to Caesar to get a fair trial. He wanted a Roman tribunal, not necessarily Caesar himself, but Festus “passed the buck” to Caesar. Festus was happy to duck his responsibility, whether to Jerusalem or to Rome.

The Jewish authorities were more interested in the approval of humans than the approval of God. They were more interested in looking holy than being holy. Scribes sought preferential treatment. Their actions did not match their professions. Outward pretence of faith will receive greater condemnation on the Day of Judgment.

The Lord is not deceived by ostentation. The Lord’s judgment will be just and impartial. Do we expect special favor because we’ve been born into the Church, or into faith? Do we give to the Lord only what we must?

As Christians, we’re citizens of the Kingdom of God and we can appeal to the King. Our judge is not subject to political manipulation, or motivated by self-interest. He has just one standard, by which he judges everyone the same way: Jesus Christ. We can receive not just justice, but forgiveness. Jesus already died for our sins; they’ve been paid in full. All we need to do is appeal to God for forgiveness in the name of Jesus.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 14 Pentecost – Odd
First posted 08/26/05
Podcast: Saturday 14 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 23:1-7, 13-17    –    David’s last words;

Acts 25:13-27    –    Paul’s hearing before King Agrippa;

Mark 13:1-13   –    Signs of the end of the age;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David was a shepherd boy whom God raised up and anointed to be the King of Israel. David was also a highly regarded musician and poet to whom many of the Psalms, the hymns of the religion, were attributed. He was also a prophet; the Spirit of the Lord spoke through David, as Jesus declared in Mark 12:35-36. The Lord had shown David that he blesses and prospers nations whose leaders rule justly in the fear (awe; respect; obedience) of God.

The Lord has established an everlasting covenant with the house (dynasty, and spiritual family) of David. In that covenant all things have their proper order and are secure. The Lord provides all help and satisfies every need for those who abide in his covenant. But godless people are like thorny weeds; they threaten and damage everyone they come in contact with. They are worthless and good for nothing but destruction by fire, and those who must deal with them need armor and weapons.

When David was being pursued by Saul, David gathered an army of those who were dissatisfied with Saul’s reign, and they took refuge in caves at Adullam, about 13 miles west of Bethlehem. At that time the Philistines had a garrison at Bethlehem, and a band of them was encamped in the Rephaim valley. It was a difficult time for David, and he spoke longingly, wishing he could drink water from the well of Bethlehem, his hometown.

David had a group of military heroes who were his personal bodyguards, and three of them, at great personal risk, broke through the Philistine encampment, drew water from the well at Bethlehem and brought it back to David. David wouldn’t drink it, because of the risk the men had taken. He poured it out, as an offering to the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

Governor Festus had decided to send Paul to Rome for trial before Caesar. King Herod Agrippa II, ruler of Galilee and Perea (the eastern bank of the Jordan River) and his sister Bernice visited their sister Drusilla, Festus’ wife, for many days. While there, Festus told them about Paul’s case, and The Jews had asked Festus to turn Paul over to them, but Festus refused to pass sentence upon Paul without a trial.

Paul’s accusers had come to Caesarea for Paul’s trial before Festus. Festus told Agrippa that the Jews could not prove any criminal charges; the only basis for their dispute was over “superstitions” (“religion”) and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Festus felt unable to determine the facts of such matters, and had suggested returning Paul to Jerusalem for trial. But Paul had asked to be tried by a Roman court, so Festus had decided to detain him until he could send him to Caesar. Agrippa wanted to hear Paul for himself, and Festus arranged it the next day.

Festus and his royal guests were in a large hall with military officials and prominent men of Caesarea. Paul was brought in, and Festus told the assembly that the Jewish people had brought charges against Paul and demanded Paul’s execution. But having examined Paul, Festus found Paul not guilty of anything deserving death. Paul had appealed to Caesar, and Festus had decided to send Paul to Rome, but he wanted to examine Paul so that he could decide what to charge Paul with to justify his trial by Caesar.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was in Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion, knowing what would occur. He spent the days teaching in the temple. As he and his disciples were leaving the temple one of them commented on the beauty of the buildings and their adornment. (The temple had been built by Herod the great, and was not yet finished.) Jesus replied that those great buildings would be utterly destroyed.

As they sat on the Mount of Olives, in sight of the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Jesus privately when the destruction Jesus had prophesied would happen, and what would be the signs that it was about to happen. Jesus warned them to be careful not to be led astray by false messiahs and false prophets. “Many will come in my name, saying ‘I am he” and they will lead many astray” (Mark 13:6). His disciples must not be alarmed by wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes, and famines, because these things will occur before the beginning of suffering.

Disciples can be expected to be punished and examined by rulers and kings for Jesus’ sake, and it will be an opportunity for disciples to testify to the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel must be preached to all nations before the end of the age.

When disciples are required to give their testimony before officials, they are not to worry beforehand about what to say, because the Holy Spirit will speak through them at that very moment. (I personally testify to the truth and fulfillment of that promise.) Disciples will be hated and killed for Jesus’ name’s sake, even by their own families. “But those who endure to the end will be saved” Mark 13:13).

Commentary:

David had been anointed by the Holy Spirit when God chose him to succeed Saul as King of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13-14a). David is an example of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that the disciples would be persecuted for the Gospel and would be given what to say by the Holy Spirit in testimony about Jesus before worldly officials. The Lord taught David by his Word and experience, as David was guided by the Holy Spirit, that the Lord blesses and prospers nations whose leaders rule justly in the fear (respect and obedience) of God.

In David, God was creating a New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) through faith (in Christ; Ephesians 2:8-9) to replace the Old Covenant of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). David was the forerunner and illustration of the “Lord’s anointed” perfect eternal King, Jesus Christ, the Son of David, whom God had promised (2 Samuel 7:1-17).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of an eternal king, and of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah (both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Jesus is the Son of David (Matthew 1:1, 17; 21:9), the eternal heir to David’s throne (Mark 11:10). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7), David’s birthplace.

Jesus is the “living water” (John 7:38-39) through his Holy Spirit, which gives his disciples life and hope in even the most desperate circumstances; Jesus is the water from the well of Bethlehem, obtained for us at the cost of Jesus’ life (compare Isaiah 12:2-3). Jesus is the only one who baptizes (“anoints”) with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34). Jesus provides, by his indwelling Holy Spirit, the spiritual armor and weapons we need to stand against the godless people and rulers of this world (2 Samuel 23:6-7; Ephesians 6:10-18).

The Roman rulers were more just than the Jewish religious rulers at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Lysias, the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, and Felix, Festus and Agrippa at Caesarea were unwilling to execute Paul without a fair trial on unsubstantiated accusations by the Jewish religious rulers, but the Jews weren’t willing to give him a fair trial; they wanted to assassinate him at the first opportunity. The Jewish leaders claimed to know, respect and obey God, but were blatantly disobeying the Fifth Commandment, not to kill, the Eighth Commandment to not bear false witness, and the First Commandment to fear, love, trust and obey God.

Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple. The Jews fulfilled the prophecy of David that unjust and godless rulers bring disaster upon nations. Their temple was beautiful and grand, but their leadership was corrupt. They had allowed the temple to become a den of robbers (Mark 11:17-18). They thought they were authorities on scripture, but failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5; 14). They wanted to destroy Jesus, but they destroyed themselves instead.

Judaism effectively ended at Jesus’ crucifixion. The veil (curtain) of the temple, separating God’s presence in the Holy-of Holies from the congregation, was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom, signaling that Jesus had opened the  new way into God’s presence, through the gift of his Holy Spirit (Mark 15:38).

Jesus’ death on the cross was the sacrifice once for all time and all people for forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant of Law, which was dependant upon the temple sacrificial system, no longer applies; Jesus’ sacrifice is the only sacrifice acceptable to God.

The temple was completed in 65 A.D..  Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. The nation of Israel ceased to exist, until reestablished following World War II, when the Jews began returning. The temple has never been rebuilt.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel should be a warning to nations and also to the Church. In many ways, America and the Church are each in much the same condition as was Israel and Judaism at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Our Churches and Government buildings look grand, and our spiritual and political leaders claim to know the Lord but don’t obey or teach obedience to God’s Word.

God’s Word is absolutely true and reliable. God’s Word is eternal, and is fulfilled over and over, as conditions for its fulfillment are met. Just because it was fulfilled once doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be fulfilled again. Jesus has promised to return to judge everyone who has ever lived (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Are we ready for Christ’s return?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 13 Pentecost – Odd – 08/23 – 29/2015

August 22, 2015

Week of 13 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

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*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 13 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 13 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 08/13/05;
Podcast: Sunday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 13:1-22   –   Tamar Raped by Amnon;
Romans 15:1-13    –   Bearing with the Weak;
John 3:22-36    –   John’s Further Testimony;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Absalom was David’s son by Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur, Syria. He had a beautiful sister named Tamar. Amnon was David’s son by Ahinoam, his first wife. Amnon was so passionately in love with Tamar that he was making himself ill.

David’s nephew, Jonadab, was devious in nature, and noticed that Amnon was not sleeping well. He asked Amnon, and Amnon confessed his love for Tamar. Jonadab told Amnon to feign illness, and David would come to check on him. Then Amnon should ask for Tamar to come and bake bread for him and feed him. Amnon followed Jonadab’s advice, and Tamar came to cook and feed him.

Amnon sent all his servants away and asked Tamar to bring the food to him in his bedroom. When she came near he grabbed her and asked her to have sex. She pleaded with him not to do such wickedness and cause her great shame. She told him to ask David for permission to marry her and she would be his wife, but Amnon wouldn’t listen, and forced himself on her.

After he had raped her, he loathed her more than he had loved her before. He told her to get out, and she told him that sending her away was worse than the rape. Amnon summoned his servant and had him throw her out and bolt the door, so she could not return. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the robe she was wearing (rituals of mourning) and went away with her hand on her head and crying aloud.

Absalom suspected what had happened and by whom, and told Tamar not to let this tragedy ruin her. Tamar dwelt in Absalom’s house as a desolate (unmarriageable) woman. David was very angry when he heard what had happened, but Absalom said nothing to Amnon, although he hated Amnon for what he had done to Tamar.

Romans Paraphrase:

Those who are spiritually strong should endure the failings of those who are spiritually weak, and seek to help and build them up, rather than pleasing ourselves. Christ is our example, who accepted abuse and humbly obeyed God’s will rather than pursuing his own will and pleasure.

The Old Testament scriptures were written for our instruction so that we might be encouraged and strengthened in hope. God is the Lord of encouragement and steadfastness; may he grant his people to live in obedience to Christ and in harmony with one another, so that we may glorify God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us give to one another the welcome we have received from Jesus Christ, so that God will be glorified. Christ came to the Jews in fulfillment of the scriptures, so that the truth and faithfulness of God could be seen, but the scriptures also promised mercy and hope to the Gentiles, so that all might glorify God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were baptizing (in the Jordan River) in the region of Judea, the southernmost of three provinces of Israel. John the Baptizer was baptizing (in the Jordan) at Aenon which was between Samaria (the middle province) and Galilee (the northern province).

John’s disciples had been discussing the Jewish ritual of purification with a Jew. They came to John and told him that all the people seemed to be going to Jesus for baptism rather than John. John replied that whatever we receive comes from God. John’s disciples had heard John say that he was not the Christ (Messiah), but had been sent ahead (to herald the Messiah’s coming). John is like the bridegroom’s “best man” Jesus is the bridegroom because he has been given the bride (his Church). John rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s arrival, but with the bridegroom’s arrival, John’s role is completed.

John said that Jesus is of heaven and has the authority of heaven. John is of earth, and can only speak from a human perspective. Jesus testifies to the spiritual realm and what is eternal, which he knows from his heavenly origin, but worldly people do not accept Jesus’ testimony. But those who do accept Jesus’ testimony testify that God is true and that Jesus speaks the Word of God, because the fullness of God’s spirit dwells within Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9).

God the Father loves his (only begotten) Son, and has given him authority over all things. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see (real, eternal) life, but the wrath of God rests upon him (John 3:36 RSV).

Commentary:

It wasn’t love that Amnon had for Tamar. He was only interested in gratifying his lust. He cared nothing for her. She was willing to marry him, but instead he did what was wicked, brought her great shame, and destroyed her possibility for love and marriage, and then threw her away. Amnon had followed the worldly counsel of an unrighteous relative, because it gratified his self-interest, rather than doing what was right and honorable.

Jonadab had an opportunity to guide Amnon, but instead of helping Amnon know what was right and honorable, he helped Amnon accomplish what was wicked and which led to Amnon’s as well as Tamar’s destruction. The behavior of Amnon and Jonadab caused division and hatred among the members of David’s household.

In contrast, the Church is a household where the spiritually strong, mature Christians are to help new believers know and do what is right, and guide them to grow to spiritual maturity. Christians are to put the needs of those who are spiritually weaker, in the church and in the community, ahead of their own interests, following the example of Jesus Christ. Instead of being divided by selfish competing desires and seeking our own glory, we are to cooperate and work together to glorify God.

John the Baptizer is an example of a servant of the Lord who was obedient and faithful to the calling God gave him, not seeking to build up his own name and ministry, but to work in harmony with God’s plan, to point others to Jesus, and to glorify the Lord. He counseled his own disciples not to oppose or compete with Jesus’ ministry.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 13 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/14/05;
Podcast: Monday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 13:23-39   –    Absalom’s Revenge;
Acts 20:17-38    –    Paul’s Farewell;
Mark 9:42-50    –   Warnings of Hell;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Amnon was David’s son by Ahinoam, David’s first wife; Tamar and Absalom were David’s children by Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur, Syria. Amnon had raped his half-sister, Tamar, the sister of Absalom. Two years later Absalom had a festival celebrating sheepsheering, on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin. He invited David and all David’s sons. David declined the invitation, but allowed his sons to go. Absalom made a point of including Amnon.

Absalom told his servants to wait until Amnon was drunk, and then to kill him. He told them not to be afraid, but to do as he ordered. They killed Amnon as Absalom had told them, and the other brothers fled. While they were fleeing, news came to David, saying that all the king’s sons had been killed by Absalom. The King tore his robes and lay on the ground (ritual acts of mourning). But David’s nephew, Jonadab (whose counsel facilitated Amnon’s rape of Tamar; 2 Samuel 13:3-5) corrected the report by telling David that only Amnon had been killed, and that it was because of Amnon’s rape of Tamar.

Absalom fled to Geshur, Syria, the land of his maternal grandfather, which was under David’s military control (2 Samuel 8:6). David’s watchman reported that many people were coming on the Horonaim road (named for a city of Moab south of the Arnon River). The watchman reported that it was David’s sons, confirming Jonadab’s report.

As the watchman finished reporting, David’s sons arrived and David, his sons, and his servants wept. David also mourned for Absalom and longed to be reconciled with him, since Amnon was dead (and nothing could change that). Absalom stayed three years at Geshur.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was trying to return to Jerusalem, from his third missionary journey, by Pentecost, so to save time he summoned the leaders of the Ephesian congregation to meet him in Miletus. When they arrived Paul reviewed his ministry in Asia, how he had declared the full Gospel message despite persecution from the Jews. Paul preached the Gospel of repentance to God and of faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul told them he was now heading for Jerusalem, in obedience, knowing by the Holy Spirit, that imprisonment and afflictions awaited him. Paul’s only desire was to fulfill the ministry the Lord had given him. Paul told the congregation that he knew they would never see him again. Paul was confident that he had taught them the full Gospel, and that their salvation (from eternal death) was their own responsibility (according to what they did with the Gospel they had received).

Paul urged the leaders to take heed to their own spiritual wellbeing and also of the congregation which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to lead and guard, and to spiritually nurture the church of the Lord, which Jesus secured by his blood. Paul warned that there would be “wolves” (false teachers and false prophets) attacking the “flock” and even arising from within the congregation, attempting to lead the disciples (Christians) astray. Paul asked them to be vigilant to preserve the sound doctrine Paul had lovingly and faithfully taught them night and day for the three years he was with them.

Paul commended the congregation to God and to the Gospel of grace (free gift; unmerited favor; Ephesians 2:8-9) which is able to strengthen them spiritually and enable them to receive the fulfillment of the promise to all who are sanctified (purified and consecrated, by the indwelling Holy Spirit). Paul reminded them that he had not used his ministry to accumulate material wealth. In fact Paul had earned his living among them (as a tentmaker). His life was an example of how Christians are to help those who are weak, following the teaching of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:36; compare Luke 14:12-14.).

Then they all knelt and prayed. They all hugged and kissed, sad most of all because they knew they wouldn’t see him again, and then they accompanied him to the ship.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus warned that whoever causes a follower of Jesus to sin will suffer worse consequences that the worst imaginable physical death. Sin has eternally terrible consequences. If sin could be avoided by removing an eye or a hand or a foot, the physical disability now, with the ability to enter God’s eternal kingdom, would be far better than the eternal destruction of unquenchable fire in Hell. Jesus declared that everyone will be seasoned (tested) with fire. Seasoning is good and necessary, but if doesn’t produce the desired result the result is worthless. One should become seasoned within (grow to spiritual maturity) so that one can live peacefully with others.

Commentary:

Jonadab is an example of one who causes the “King’s children” to sin. He facilitated and encouraged Amnon to commit terrible sins against Tamar and her family. Amnon was the eldest son and potential successor to the throne. Jonadab’s counsel destroyed Amnon and gravely injured Tamar, and caused a three-year separation between Absalom and David. But Jonadab thought he was helping comfort David by telling him that it was “only” Amnon who had been killed. Jonadab and Amnon thus fulfilled the prophecy of Nathan that evil would arise against David from within his own house (2 Samuel 12:11a).

Paul, in contrast, is the example of a faithful servant of the Lord who sacrificed his own will and desires in order to fulfill the ministry the Lord had given him. Paul had proclaimed the full Gospel (not just the parts that make us feel good), to enable the congregation to be saved and to avoid the consequences of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and his congregation would bear the responsibility for how they applied that message.

Paul warned the church that evil would arise against it, even from within the household of the people of God, and he warned leaders to heed their own spiritual wellbeing, and also the spiritual wellbeing of the members under their supervision. He warned that false teachers would arise in the world and within the Church.

The church is to make every effort and sacrifice to hold to the scriptural apostolic doctrine (the Gospel taught by the apostles including Paul, and recorded in the New Testament) which Paul had faithfully preached. Jesus shed his blood on the Cross for that Gospel, and Paul had made personal sacrifices and suffered persecutions to preserve and pass on that Gospel accurately.

Jesus preached the full Gospel, including eternal damnation in Hell for those who do not trust and obey Jesus. Jesus warned that a Day of Judgment is coming. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey God’s Word will be punished eternally in the unquenchable fire of Hell.

Only through Jesus, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, are we able to be saved from eternal destruction and to receive eternal life in the Lord’s presence in his eternal kingdom. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Only Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit, only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus declared that everyone will be tested by trials and adversities in this life. Those trials are intended to develop our faith (trust and obedience) in the Lord. They’re designed to lead us to grow in faith to spiritual maturity through “rebirth” (being “born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that if we had to lose an eye or a hand in order to avoid sin and eternal condemnation it would be well worth the loss. Paul (formerly called Saul of Tarsus) is an example of a “born-again” disciple who was willing to sacrifice everything including his physical life, for the joy of the Gospel and of eternal life in the Lord’s presence.

That spiritual maturity in Paul was the result of walking daily in personal fellowship with and obedient trust in the Lord, developing over a period of years as Paul experienced the faithfulness of the Lord. It began in a “fiery trial” of physical blindness and his confrontation with his sin by the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20).

We may not be required to lose a body part, or die physically for the Gospel, but we will need to make personal sacrifices in order to follow Jesus. We start by surrendering our personal will and desires to the Lord, one day at a time.

Are we willing to surrender twenty minutes a day for personal Bible study and prayer, seeking the Lord’s will and guidance for the day? Are willing to spend a couple hours regularly every week to worship the Lord in Church and be spiritually nurtured by his Word and presence? What have we done with the Gospel of Jesus Christ which we have received? Have we made every effort to know and pass on, faithfully and accurately, the full Gospel of Christ?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 13 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 08/15/03;
Podcast: Tuesday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 14:1-20    –   Joab Intercedes for Absalom’s return;

Acts 21:1-14    –    Paul’s Return to Israel;

Mark 10:1-16   –   Teaching on Marriage and Family;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Absalom had killed his half-brother, Amnon, King David’s oldest son and heir to the throne, in revenge for Amnon’s rape of Absalom’s sister Tamar. Absalom, the next in succession to the throne, after Amnon, had been forced to flee to Geshur, Syria, the land of his maternal grandfather. Joab, the commander of David’s army, realized that David was mourning for Absalom, and he devised a way to have Absalom reinstated. Joab located a woman in Tekoa, within a couple miles of Bethlehem, where David had been raised. Joab had the woman appear as one who had been mourning and had her present herself to David and speak as Joab instructed.

The woman came to David and said that she was a widow with two sons. They had fought and one had killed the other. Now the family sought to kill the remaining brother in revenge. She told David that the loss of her remaining son would quench the spark of life which remained in her, and leave no one to carry on her dead husband’s name and heritage.

David told the woman to go home, assured that David would give orders protecting her remaining son. David promised to punish anyone who would attempt to harm her or her remaining son.

The woman asked permission to speak freely and then suggested that the situation which she had described was David’s own situation. She said that David had been willing to help her and her son, but was not intervening to restore Absalom, David’s heir. She pointed out that everyone faces death, but God will not destroy the life of one for seeking his son’s restoration (2 Samuel 14:14). The woman expressed her faith in the king, who she hoped would deliver her from the one who would seek to destroy the woman and her remaining son from the heritage of God, since David was acting as an angel (prophet; Strong’s number 4397; messenger; spiritual counselor and judge of good and evil*) of God by the Lord’s will and authority.

David asked her if Joab had put her up to this and she admitted it was true, saying that one could do nothing but accept and do as the king had said. Joab had hoped to intervene and change the situation, but David had been given divine wisdom to know all things on earth.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and his associates were returning to Israel from Paul’s third missionary journey, sailing southeast down the coastline of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). When they came in sight of Cyprus they passed south of Cyprus across the Mediterranean Sea to port in Tyre, where the ship’s cargo was unloaded. They went to Ptolemais, south of Tyre on the coast, where they stayed overnight with Christians. The next day they traveled to Caesarea and stayed with Philip, the evangelist, (one of the seven original deacons; Acts 6:1-7).

Philip had four unmarried daughters who were prophets (1 Corinthians 12:28). Paul’s group stayed there a number of days, and during that time a prophet, Agabus, came from Judea to Philip, and Agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet and declared that the Jews of Judea would bind Paul likewise and deliver Paul to the Gentile authorities.

When the Christians heard that they begged Paul not to continue to Jerusalem, but Paul said that their weeping on his behalf was breaking Paul’s heart, but that he was committed to endure imprisonment and even physical death for the name of the Lord Jesus. Since Paul could not be dissuaded, his fellow Christians accepted and commended Paul to the Lord’s will.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching in Judea “beyond the Jordan” (i.e. the region of Perea; east of the Jordan; Gilead). Pharisees asked Jesus a question about whether divorce is lawful, in order to test Jesus. Jesus asked them what Moses had commanded, and they replied that Moses had allowed divorce.

Jesus replied that divorce was allowed because of the hardness (selfishness and lack of love for others) of people’s hearts. God’s intention was that man and wife would leave their parents and become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), joined together by God. Humans should not separate what God had joined. Privately, Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus about this teaching and Jesus said that anyone who divorces his spouse and marries another commits adultery (compare Matthew 5:31-32).

Crowds were bringing children to Jesus to be blessed, and the disciples told them to stop. Jesus saw it and was indignant and rebuked his disciples, telling them to let the children come to Jesus, because the kingdom of God belonged to those who come to him in innocent, obedient trust like a child. Jesus laid his hands on the children and blessed them.

Commentary:

Jesus is the “Son of David,” the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, the eternal King, Priest and Judge whom David foreshadowed. The one who would seek to destroy the woman and her remaining son from the heritage of God is Satan. Joab is the spiritual leader of God’s army, and the woman is a member of the King’s neighborhood. Joab and the woman worked together to restore the fallen son of the king.

Joab had interceded for Absalom’s restoration to David’s house. He knew that the King, impartially weighting a similar situation, would decide in favor of mercy, but was unable to see his own situation impartiality. The woman expressed her faith to David that the Lord doesn’t desire that anyone perish (eternally; John 3:16-17). God will not condemn anyone who works for restoration of a child of the King. The woman was willing to cooperate with Joab’s effort to restore Absalom, and to trust in the King’s divine wisdom and judgment.

Similarly Christians loved Paul and did not want him to perish, but they were willing to accept and trust the Lord’s will.

God’s commandments were not given to oppress us and make us miserable, but to save and restore us to true eternal life. God’s best will for us is that we would be united in marriage with one spouse, but he was merciful to allow for our human weakness.

Jesus is God’s mercy made visible in human flesh. No one is able to fulfill the requirements of God’s laws (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16), apart from the grace (unmerited favor; free gift) which is received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We have all sinned and fall short of the righteousness of God (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus intercedes to God for our restoration to our heavenly father, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is God’s only provision for salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12) and for restoration to fellowship with God (John 14:6).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #4397, Greek Dictionary, pg 62, James Strong, LL.D., STD, Nelson, NY 1984 ISBN 0-8407-5360-8


Wednesday 13 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 08/16/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 14:21-33    –    Absalom’s Reconciliation;

Acts 21:15-26    –    Paul’s Arrival in Jerusalem;

Mark 10:17-31   –    The Rich Man;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Absalom had killed his half-brother, Amnon, King David’s oldest son and heir to the throne, in revenge for Amnon’s rape of Absalom’s sister, Tamar. Absalom, the next in succession to the throne, after Amnon, had been forced to flee to Geshur, Syria, the land of his maternal grandfather. Joab, the commander of David’s army had interceded with David through a woman of Tekoa, David’s boyhood neighborhood, to allow Absalom to return to Israel.
David gave Joab permission to go to Absalom and return with him to Israel. Joab thanked David for granting his request, and did as he had been commanded. David allowed Absalom to return, but Absalom was to dwell in his own house in Jerusalem, and was not to come into the King’s presence.

Absalom was the handsomest man in Israel. His features were flawless, and he had magnificent hair. Absalom had three sons, and a daughter, whom he named Tamar (for his sister who had been raped by Amnon), and she was a beauty.

After Absalom had lived for two years in Jerusalem without seeing his father, he summoned Joab to go to the king in Absalom’s behalf, but Joab refused to come. Joab had a barley field next to Absalom’s property, so Absalom told his servants to set Joab’s barley on fire. That brought Joab to Absalom, demanding to know why Absalom had set fire to his barley. Absalom said he had asked Joab to come and take Abaslom’s message to David: If he couldn’t be in his father’s presence Absalom might as well have stayed in Geshur. Absalom said that if David found him guilty, he should kill Absalom. Joab took Absalom’s message to David, and David received Absalom and kissed him.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul went with a group of disciples (Christians) from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where they stayed in the home of Mnason of Cyprus, an early convert. The Christians in Jerusalem welcomed them, and the next day Paul and his associates went to meet with James (the brother or close relative of Jesus) the head of the Church Council at Jerusalem and the elders and apostles who were members of the Council. Paul gave them a report of his ministry to the Gentiles, and they rejoiced and praised the Lord.

The Council warned Paul that the “Judaizers,” the “Circumcision Party,” the Pharisees who had been converted to Christianity, were accusing Paul of teaching Christians to forsake the traditions of Moses. The Council told Paul to sponsor four men who were under a Nazarite vow at the time, paying for the offerings required by the Law of Moses (Numbers 6:1-21). The Council hoped that by this, the allegation of the Judaizers against Paul might be disproved. But the ruling of the Council that the Gentile Christians did not have to conform to Jewish Law was sustained. Paul did as the Jerusalem Council had directed.

Mark Paraphrase:

A rich man came to Jesus and knelt before him. He addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher” (Mark 10:17) and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked why the man had called him “Good,” because only God is truly good. Jesus told him that the rich man knew the commandments, and citing the fourth through eighth commandments, omitting the obligations to God and against covetousness. The rich man said that he had kept the commandments all his adult life. Jesus told the rich man that he lacked one thing; he should sell his material possession and give the proceeds to the poor and come and follow Jesus. The rich man left Jesus and went away in sadness, because he loved his possessions.

Jesus told his disciples that the rich will have difficulty entering God’s kingdom. The disciples were amazed at this statement, and asked Jesus who, then, could be saved. Jesus told them that it is easier for a camel pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom; a physical, human impossibility. But God is not limited by physical, human impossibilities.

Peter said that he and the other disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus, and Jesus replied that everyone who has given up anything to follow Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over, in this life, although with persecution, and in the age which is coming, with eternal life. But Jesus said that the worldly values of things will be reversed.

Commentary:

Absalom wanted not only to be restored to life in the kingdom, but also restored to fellowship with the King, his Father. He took action to convince Joab that he was serious, by setting fire to Joab’s barley field. Because of Absalom’s initiative, David received him and restored him to full fellowship.

Paul is the prototype of the modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ, like any of us, who did not know Jesus during Jesus’ physical life on earth. Paul wanted acceptance and approval by the Apostles and the Church in Jerusalem, and he was willing to conform to the doctrines and rulings of the Jerusalem Council, guided by the Holy Spirit, in accordance with the Scriptures. He didn’t want any behavior on his part, whether real or perceived, to hinder others in receiving salvation.

The rich man wanted to be restored to the kingdom of eternal life and fellowship with the Father, but was unwilling to conform to and obey Jesus’ teachings. Instead of submitting to Jesus’ authority, he went away in sadness, because he was unwilling to give up worldly things for eternal life and fellowship with the Lord.

We have all sinned and are estranged from God (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is our advocate (Acts 4:12), our only way to restoration to fellowship with God; John 14:6). Through him we can receive a full pardon, and be welcomed into our Heavenly Father’s house.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 13 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/17/05;
Podcast: Thursday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 15:1-18    –     Absalom’s Conspiracy;

Acts 21:27-36    –    Paul Assaulted in the Temple;

Mark 10:32-45    –   Christ’s Mission;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Absalom, King David’s son and heir to the throne, had been reinstated in the King’s household following his murder of his half-brother, Amnon for the rape of Absalom’s sister, Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13:1-14:33). Once reinstated Absalom acquired a chariot and fifty bodyguards, and began standing by the king’s gate, intercepting those seeking legal redress from the king. Absalom would ask the petitioner his city and tribe, and then would tell the man that the man’s claim was valid, but that the king had not appointed anyone to serve as judge to hear legal claims. Absalom would tell them that if he were judge, he would give the petitioners justice. Then he would embrace the petitioners, and thus Absalom endeared himself to the people of Israel.

After four years Absalom asked his father for permission to go to Hebron (the former capital city) on the pretext of fulfilling a vow Absalom had made while in exile in Geshur. David gave him permission, but Absalom secretly sent messengers throughout Israel to declare, at Absalom’s signal, that Absalom was reigning as king at Hebron. Absalom took two hundred men of Jerusalem with him as invited guests who were unaware that Absalom was planning to depose David. At Hebron, Absalom sent for Ahithopel, David’s counselor and prophet. Absalom’s support was growing and he was informed that the majority of Israelites supported him as king.

David called all his men and servants in Jerusalem to escape from Jerusalem so that they would not be trapped in the city by Absalom’s rebels. All of David’s people left the city, except for ten concubines left to keep the king’s house. David halted at the edge of the city as all of his people passed by, including the Cherethites and Pelethites, and six hundred Gittites (all foreign, perhaps Philistine, mercenary soldiers loyal to David).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had accepted the advice of the Jerusalem Council (Christian church headquarters), to sponsor four Christian Jews then in Jerusalem to fulfill Nazarite vows (Jews who separated themselves from others and consecrated themselves to the Lord; Numbers 6:1-21), to avoid antagonizing Jews and Jewish Christians who had accused Paul of teaching Jewish converts to stop obeying the Laws of Moses.

Jews from Asia (who had persecuted Paul there) were in Jerusalem and stirred up the Jews against Paul, claiming that he had desecrated the Temple by bringing Gentiles into it. They had seen Trophimus, an Ephesian (Gentile Christian) with Paul in Jerusalem, and had supposed that Paul had brought Trophimus into the Temple. They stirred up a riot in the city, and Paul was dragged from the temple and was being beaten to death.

The commander of a Roman military unit stationed in Jerusalem to maintain order received word of the riot and took soldiers to intervene. When the rioters saw the soldiers coming, they stopped beating Paul. Paul was arrested and put in chains, while the officer tried to obtain the facts, but because of conflicting information, he was unable to make a determination, so he had Paul brought to the barracks. At the steps into the barracks the soldiers had to physically carry Paul, because of the violence of the mob.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, where he knew that he would be crucified. He was walking determinedly ahead while his disciples were hanging back in fear. For the third time Jesus told the Twelve plainly that the Son of man (Jesus) would be condemned by the Jewish religious authorities and delivered to the Gentile governing authorities. Jesus would be mocked, spit upon, scourged, and killed, and would rise again on the third days.

James and John drew near and asked Jesus to do something for them. Jesus asked what they wanted, and they asked to be his immediate subordinates in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus told them they didn’t know what they were asking. He asked them if they could endure the same fate that Jesus must endure, and they said they were able. Jesus said that they would suffer the same fate, but what they had asked was not possible for Jesus to grant, because those positions had already been determined by God’s will.

The others of the Twelve were indignant at James and John for trying to gain rank over them, but Jesus told them that the standards of worldly behavior are reversed in God’s eternal kingdom. Here the powerful are in authority, but in God’s kingdom the greatest is the one who is the servant of all the rest. Jesus is the example of that principal; he is the king who didn’t come to be served in the worldly manner of a king, but to be the servant who suffered for all, and gave his life as a ransom to purchase our release from eternal condemnation.

Commentary:

Absalom had been forgiven and pardoned from execution for murder, and restored to fellowship with the Lord’s anointed King, Absalom’s father, David. Absalom was next in line to inherit the kingdom, but he wasn’t content to be second and to wait until the kingdom was his.

David foreshadows the promised eternal savior and king, Jesus Christ. We are all like Absalom, pardoned from the punishment of death for disobedience of God’s Word, and restored to fellowship with him through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; see God’s Plan of Salvation sidebar, top right, home).

Paul had made every effort to avoid antagonizing the Jews and the Jewish Christians of the “Circumcision Party,” because he didn’t want to hinder anyone from receiving salvation (from God’s eternal condemnation and eternal death). The Jews who opposed Paul were not willing to seek and obey God’s will. They wanted to make the rules and be in authority over others.

Jesus is God’s anointed Savior and King. “Christ” and “Messiah” are the Greek and Hebrew words  (respectively) which mean “anointed.” Jesus came humbly, not seeking his own power and glory from the world; he came as a suffering servant of all, contrary to the world’s concept of kingship, but his resurrection from death illustrates and proves that his servanthood was rewarded by God with kingship.

Jesus was warning the disciples for the third time that he was going to Jerusalem where he would be crucified and rise from the dead on the third day. But they didn’t understand what he was saying; Jesus was teaching by word and example, but they were still thinking of greatness in worldly terms. James and John wanted to share in Jesus’ glory without sharing in Jesus’ suffering.

Worldly people oppose the Lordship of Jesus Christ, because they want to be great and powerful by worldly standards. They want to have their kingdom now, by worldly standards, instead of waiting to inherit it through the Lord’s anointed Savior and King, Jesus Christ.

Christians are to follow Jesus’ example, and we cannot expect to be treated any better by the world than Jesus was. Jesus knew what was coming and he set his face toward Jerusalem in determination to accomplish his mission (Luke 9:51-53). Paul knew what awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:17-25; 21:10-14), and yet he was determined to go and fulfill his ministry. Christians are disciples who set their face toward the Cross daily and walk in determination to finish their mission in Jesus Christ (Luke 9:23).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 13 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/18/05;
Podcast: Friday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 15:19-37   –    David Flees from Jerusalem;

Acts 21:37-22:16   –    Paul’s Testimony in Jerusalem;

Mark 10:46-52    –   Blind Bartimaeus Healed;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David and his loyal followers left Jerusalem to avoid being trapped there by his son, Absalom, who was attempting to take over the kingdom. David had stopped at the city boundary, as his people passed by. As the Gittites passed by David said to their commander, Ittai, that the Gittites should remain in Jerusalem, since they were new exiles in Israel; why would they want to join David’s people with such an uncertain future? But Ittai responded that he and his people would follow David in life or death. So the Gittites went with David.

Abiathar, the surviving priest from Saul’s massacre of the priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:19-23), and Zadok, a high priest, came with all the Levites, bringing the Ark of the Covenant. David told Zadok to carry the Ark back into Jerusalem with Abiathar and his son, Jonathan, and Zadok’s son, Ahimaaz. David said that if it was the Lord’s will David would return to Jerusalem and the Lord’s house; David would accept the Lord’s will, whatever the outcome.

David and his people went up the Mount of Olives in mourning. David heard that Ahithophel, David’s advisor, had joined Absalom’s conspiracy, and David prayed that the Lord would change Ahithophel’s wisdom to foolishness. At the summit, where God was worshiped (high places were places of worship), Hushai, the king’s counselor, came to David with torn coat and dust on his head (signs of ritual mourning). David told Hushai to return to Jerusalem and offer to be Absalom’s advisor, so that he could defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. From that position Hushai would know Absalom’s plans and be able to relay information to David through Zadok and Abiathar, by their sons as messengers. Hushai returned to Jerusalem just as Absalom was entering.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been rescued by Roman soldiers from being beaten to death by a Jewish mob outside the temple. As he was being taken into the Roman garrison, he asked the Roman officer, apparently in Greek, for permission to speak to the mob. That caused the officer to suspect that Paul might be an Egyptian who had recently stirred up revolt. Paul answered that he was a Jew from Tarsus, an important city in Cilicia, known for wealth and as a center of education. The Roman officer gave his permission.

Paul, speaking in Hebrew, addressed the mob, saying that he was a Jew of Tarsus who had been raised in Jerusalem and educated by Gamaliel, a Pharisee and a well-known Jewish educator and head of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish supreme court). Paul told them that he had been as zealous for God as they were; he had persecuted the Way (as Christianity was known; Jesus is the Way: John 14:6) to the death, arresting and imprisoning Christians by the authority of the high priest and the Sanhedrin. Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) had been on the way to Damascus for that very purpose, when he was struck down by a bright light and a voice, which only he heard, rebuking Paul’s persecution.

Paul asked who was speaking, and the voice said “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 22:8). Paul asked Jesus what he wanted Paul to do, and Jesus told him to go to Damascus and wait for instructions. Paul was unable to see because the light had blinded him, and he had to be led by the hand.

Ananias, a devout Jewish (Christian) man, respected in the Jewish community came to Paul and commanded Paul’s blindness healed. Ananias told him that God had appointed Paul to know God’s will, to see the “Just One” (Jesus, the Messiah, the Righteous Judge) and to hear his voice; the Lord had appointed Paul to be a witness to what he had seen and heard. Ananias told Paul to be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the cleansing of his sins.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was determinedly going to Jerusalem, where he knew that he would be crucified. As they were leaving Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus (“son of Timaeus”) was sitting by the road and when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing, he called out, saying “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47)! Many told him to be quiet, but he kept calling, and Jesus stopped and asked Bartimaeus to come to him. Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus, who asked what Bartimaeus wanted Jesus to do for him. Bartimaeus asked Jesus to heal his blindness, and Jesus, dismissed him, saying that his faith had made him well. Bartimaeus’ vision was immediately restored, and he followed Jesus.

Commentary:

Ittai, the Gittite leader, committed himself and his men to follow David, no matter what came, and David committed himself to accept the Lord’s will, although the outcome seemed uncertain.

Paul went to Jerusalem in obedience to the Holy Spirit, knowing that he would be persecuted and imprisoned. He had been struck blind on the road to Damascus but had obeyed Jesus to go on to Damascus and await instructions, and his blindness had been healed.

Jesus was going to Jerusalem, in obedience to God’s will, knowing that he would be crucified, but trusting in God the Father. Bartimaeus had trusted that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the “Son of David,” and his blindness was healed, and he followed Jesus.

Jesus gives sight to the spiritually blind. If we’re trusting in Jesus we can follow him and leave the outcome to him. Are you following Jesus?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 13 Pentecost – Odd

First posted 08/19/05;
Podcast: Saturday 13 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 16:1-23    –    Absalom takes Jerusalem;

Acts 22:17-29   –     Reaction to Paul’s Testimony;

Mark 11:1-11   –   Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

2 Samuel Summary:

David and his supporters had fled Jerusalem to avoid being trapped there by Absalom, David’s son, who was trying to usurp the kingdom. Ziba was the servant of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son, the sole surviving descendant of Saul’s family, whom David had had taken in and provided for, for Jonathan’s sake. Ziba brought two asses loaded with food to provide for David and his people, claiming that Mephibosheth had stayed in Jerusalem hoping that Saul’s kingdom would be restored to Mephibosheth by Absalom. David then promised that all Mephibosheth possessed would be transferred to Ziba.

Descending from the Mount of Olives, David and his followers passed through Bahurim, and Shimei, a descendant of the family of Saul came out and cursed David continually as David passed. Abishai, one of David’s commanders, offered to kill Shimei. David said he didn’t need Abishai to deal with Shimei. Instead, he left it to the Lord to deal with. David thought Shimei had more reason to hate David than David’s own son, Absalom. David trusted that the Lord would reward him for his forebearance of Shimei. David and his followers were weary when they reached the Jordan River.

Absalom, David’s advisor, Ahithopel who had joined Absalom’s conspiracy,  and Absalom’s followers from all over Israel entered Jerusalem. Hushai, David’s friend, whom David had sent back to Jerusalem to thwart Ahithopel and to spy on and report Absalom’s plans, came to Absalom and pledged his allegiance to Absalom. Absalom asked guidance from Ahithopel, and Ahithopel told Absalom to take David’s concubines for himself (as a way of demonstrating that Absalom had assumed the throne). Ahithopel’s counsel was regarded as the Word of God, by both David and Absalom.

Acts Summary:

Paul, placed under arrest by Roman soldiers following an attack by a mob outside the temple in Jerusalem, asked permission to address the mob. Paul told how he had formerly persecuted Christians. The mob listened to Paul up to the point that Paul testified that the Lord had warned him to get out of Jerusalem because the people would not accept Paul’s testimony, and that the Lord would send Paul to testify to the Gentiles.

At that point the mob began shouting that Paul should not be allowed to live The military commander ordered Paul brought into the barracks and interrogated by scourging (torture).  When Paul’s hands had been tied Paul asked the Centurion (a Roman officer) if it was legal to scourge a Roman citizen without a legal judgment.

Hearing this, the Centurion told his commander, and the commander, who had purchased his citizenship for a large fee, asked Paul if it was true that Paul was a Roman citizen? Paul responded that he was born into Roman citizenship. Hearing this, the soldiers withdrew immediately, and the commander himself was afraid of what might happen to him as a result of having bound a Roman citizen without a trial.

Mark Summary:

Jesus had been heading for Jerusalem, knowing that crucifixion was awaiting him.  At Bethphage, and Bethany, villages on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples into the village to get a young donkey, He told them where to find it and what to say, and as they followed his instructions, it happened exactly as Jesus had told them.

They brought the donkey and placed garments on the donkey and Jesus sat on it. Others spread robes and branches on the roadway. The crowd in front and behind him shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!”  (Mark 11:9-10). Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.

Commentary:

David was the Lord’s “anointed;” the legitimate king of Israel, but he was driven from Jerusalem by Absalom, the imposter who claimed to be king. (Absalom did not have the Lord’s anointing.) David left Jerusalem by the same route the Son of David, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would enter Jerusalem.

David prefigures and illustrates the Messiah, Jesus. David, the legitimate anointed king was driven out by the illegitimate worldly king, Absalom, but ultimately David triumphed over Absalom and returned to his throne. In the same way Jesus was physically driven from Jerusalem by crucifixion, but rose from the dead, and will return in glory to reign eternally.

Paul was a legitimate citizen of Rome, while his worldly interrogator and judge had purchased his citizenship. The Jews considered themselves to be special because they were “God’s chosen people,” and they could not accept God’s salvation going to “Gentiles” who they regarded as pagans.

Jesus entered Jerusalem by the route David had exited, and his followers acknowledged him as the rightful heir to David’s throne. But he was rejected by the worldly authorities, as David had been.

The legitimate people of God are those who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, God’s anointed eternal savior and king. Jesus’ entry was a “drama” in the form of a parable, to be understood and accepted or rejected, humbly offering himself as the Messiah (God’s Anointed King). Jesus doesn’t force his kingship on anyone. We’re free to choose God’s way or our own way, but there will be an accounting before God.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 12 Pentecost – Odd – 08/16 – 22/2015

August 15, 2015

Week of 12 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.

*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 12 Pentecost – Odd

Sunday 12 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/06/05;

Podcast: Sunday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 6:12-23   –   The Ark Arrives in Jerusalem;

Romans 14:7-12   –    Living for the Lord;

John 1:43-51   –   The Call of Phillip and Nathanael;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had intended to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but on the way Uzzah had touched the ark and had been struck dead. David became afraid to bring it into the “City of David,” (the former Jebusite fortress at Jerusalem which David had conquered). The ark was placed in the custody of Obededom for three months during which the Lord prospered Obededom and his household.

When David saw that it was safe to bring the ark into Jerusalem he did so with great celebration, singing and dancing. David’s wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked out the window of the palace and saw David celebrating and dancing before the Lord, and she despised David.

David sacrificed an ox and another animal, and he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. Then David blessed the people in the Lord’s name, and sent them home with a portion of meat, a cake of bread and a cake of raisins.

David entered his house to bless his household, but Michal criticized David for his uninhibited dancing and celebration in the presence of the Lord and of the people, which she had considered vulgar. David replied that the Lord had chosen David above Saul to be prince of Israel, and that nothing would prevent David from celebrating in the Lord’s presence. If Michal found his behavior disgraceful, David assured her that she would see even more “disgraceful” behavior from David. But by the maids (whose adulation of David made Michal jealous) David would be honored. Michal remained childless all her life.

Romans Paraphrase:

None of us live or die entirely to ourselves. Christians are to live to serve and glorify the Lord, and if we die we die in service and glory to the Lord. We are the Lord’s people and his servants, whether we live or die. Christ died and rose to life again so that he would be Lord of the dead and the living. We must not judge or despise others, because all will face judgment by the Lord. “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue will give praise (or confess) to God” (Romans 14:11; quoting Isaiah 45:23). “So each of us will give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

John Paraphrase:

After Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptizer in the Jordan River in Judea, several disciples of John began following Jesus because of John’s testimony. (John 1:35-42). Jesus decided to go to Galilee. Jesus found Philip and told him to follow him. Philip was from Bethsaida, in Galilee, the city of Andrew, who was one of those who had followed Jesus because of the testimony of John the Baptizer, and Peter was Andrew’s brother. Philip went and found Nathanael and told him that he had found the Christ (Messiah) promised in the law and the prophets (the Old Testament scriptures), Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael wondered how anything good could come from Nazareth. Philip told Nathanael to come and see for himself.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming and said that Nathanael was an Israelite who did nothing deceitful. [Jacob (Israel) had deceived his father and taken his brother’s “birthright” (inheritance). After struggling with the angel of the Lord, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel; he is the patriarch of the Israelites, for whom they are named].

Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, and Jesus said that he had “seen” Nathanael “under the fig tree” (where Philip had found him). Nathanael acknowledged Jesus to be a spiritual teacher and the Son of God (the Messiah). Jesus said that Nathanael would see greater signs than Jesus’ knowledge of his innermost thoughts. Jesus told Nathanael that he would see the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream of a ladder with “angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (Jesus; John 1:51).

Commentary:

When Uzzah had been struck dead for touching the ark, they had not been transporting the ark in accordance with God’s Word. (It was supposed to be transported by poles through rings on each side, with a person on each end.) David was frightened by God’s power and didn’t want to bring the ark into Jerusalem, until he saw that God’s power had been blessing and prospering the household of Obededom.

The Holy Spirit is the Lord’s powerful presence within the disciples of Jesus Christ, like the ark represented God’s presence among his people. It might seem threatening to those who have not yet been “born-again.” (John 3:3-5-8). But the Lord uses his power to bless and prosper those who trust and obey him. Christians need to live by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit so that others can see the blessing and goodness of the Lord and seek his presence within them.

If we have been “born-again” and have experienced the joy of the Lord’s presence within us, we should worship and praise the Lord publicly, not as an outward display to be seen by others, not to influence what people think of us, but without worrying whether others will think it’s vulgar or disgraceful. There may be people even within our own families who will think we’re getting “carried away” by our emotions; going too far; exceeding the limits of decorum. In order to worship the Lord we must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), not by outward behavior we’re not really feeling, but as we are moved by and respond to the Holy Spirit within us.

If we are truly “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ we are to serve and worship Jesus, with our life, and in our death. Everyone has been given the freedom to choose in this lifetime whether to serve and glorify the Lord or not. But there is a Day of Judgment coming when we will no longer have that freedom of choice. In that Day, we will all kneel and praise the Lord, and be accountable to him for what we have done in this life.

Before Nathanael had met Jesus he was a cynic; he couldn’t believe that God’s anointed Savior and eternal King could come from an insignificant village in a remote province. When the Lord revealed Nathanael’s innermost thoughts and details of Nathanael’s life that were humanly impossible for him to know, Nathanael believed, from his own experience, that Jesus was the Christ, and he immediately expressed it. There was no deceit in Nathanael; he said what he thought, and he gave expression to what he believed. Jesus promised him that, as he followed Jesus, Nathanael would see greater things than what he had already witnessed.

If we “come and see” Jesus honestly, we will come to know that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. If we follow Jesus in obedient trust he will reveal himself to us (John 14:21),  we will come to know with certainty that he is the Lord (John 6:68-69 RSV), and we will see many greater things done by the Lord in and through us. Those who think worship and praise of the Lord is disgraceful will find out what disgraceful really is on the Day of Judgment.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (Jacob) of a ladder from heaven. Jesus is the way (John 14:6) by whom God’s blessings come down from heaven to us, and by whom we can ascend into God’s presence in heaven

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 12 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/07/03;

Podcast: Monday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 7:1-17   –    Everlasting Kingdom;

Acts 18:1-11    –    Paul at Corinth;

Mark 8:11-21   –    Leaven of the Pharisees;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had built his palace in the Jebusite fortress on mount Zion after conquering Jerusalem, and had brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David felt that he should build a more permanent house for the Lord. Nathan was the prophet of the Lord and spiritual advisor to David. During the night Nathan had a Word from the Lord: The Lord had dwelt in a tent from the time of the exodus from Egypt, and had never commanded that a house be built for the Lord.

The Lord told Nathan to tell David that the Lord had taken him from being a shepherd to become the prince of Israel. The Lord had been with David and had prospered him and given him a great name. The Lord promised to prepare a place for his people that would provide rest from their enemies and protection from affliction and trouble.

Instead of needing David to build a house (temple) for the Lord, the Lord was going to build a house (a dynasty) for David. From David’s descendants would come an eternal king, the Son of God. He would be chastised with the punishment of mankind, but the Lord would not take his steadfast love from the Lord’s anointed as the Lord had taken it from Saul. The Lord’s anointed would be established as king forever. Nathan told David all that the Lord had said.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul went from Athens to Corinth, where he met Aquila and Priscilla, Jews who had been expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius (probably in 49 A.D.*). Paul stayed and worked with them because they were both tentmakers by trade. Silas and Timothy came from Athens and rejoined Paul. On sabbaths Paul debated in the synagogue, testifying that Jesus was the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed Savior. The Jews opposed and rebuked him, so Paul “shook out his garments” and told them they would bear their own responsibility for their condemnation, and Paul would take the Gospel to the Gentiles

Paul moved to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God who lived next to the synagogue. Crispus, the synagogue leader, believed the Gospel, with his household, and many other Corinthians who had heard Paul believed and were baptized. The Lord told Paul in a dream that Paul was to preach boldly and not be afraid, because the Lord had many believers in the city and the Lord would protect Paul from attack and harm. Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months, teaching God’s Word (discipling new Christians).

Mark Paraphrase:

Pharisees came to Jesus demanding a sign from heaven as proof of Jesus’ claims. Jesus was deeply saddened and asked why this generation insisted on seeing signs. Jesus declared that none would be given to them. Jesus got into the boat and went to the other side of the sea.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread and had only one loaf. Jesus was telling his disciples to beware of the leaven (sin) of the Pharisees and the Herodians, but the disciples were preoccupied with physical bread, and thought that was what Jesus meant.

Jesus knew what they were thinking and confronted them, asking why they were discussing their lack of bread. Did their eyes and ears not work? Had they not understood from witnessing the miracles of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand? Did they not remember that the leftovers alone were greater than the amount of food they had started with?

Commentary:

The Lord God raised up David as the Lord’s anointed king of Israel as a forerunner and illustration of the Christ, the Lord’s anointed eternal Savior and King, whose kingdom would be established forever. God promised David that the Christ would be a descendant of David. David trusted in God’s Word. Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus is the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1; 21:9; Luke 2:4) through his earthly father, and the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14; John 3:16 KJV) by his heavenly father.

Paul was a well-educated Jew. His ministry was an attempt to convince the Jews that Jesus was the fulfillment of scripture. Some Jews believed the Gospel and were converted, but many Jewish leaders rebuked and persecuted Paul. Having fulfilled his obligation to present the Gospel to the Jews, he became the evangelist to the Gentiles.

Paul was empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b). The Lord promised to protect Paul and told him to stay and preach boldly in Corinth and Paul trusted and obeyed. Paul was a “tentmaker,” working to build the eternal “house” God promised to David through the promised Christ, the eternal king.

Pharisees (a strict legalistic faction; the predominant leaders of Judaism at that time) came to Jesus demanding “proof,” by some miracle, that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ). For those who need “proof” in order to believe, there is none, because God’s plan of salvation (which see, sidebar, top right, home) depends upon faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But for those who believe and act in faith by obedient trust, there is abundant “proof,” in daily personal experience in fellowship with the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Similarly Jesus could have commanded them to accept him as Lord and Messiah, but God’s purpose is to allow us to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey him or not.

The truth is that there was plenty of “proof” available for them to be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. They had God’s Word in the scriptures pointing to Jesus as the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, and Jesus was doing miraculous healings under their very noses (Mark 3:1-6). They witnessed the miracles but still did not believe. The leaven of the Pharisees was the sin of unbelief. (Leaven was a symbol of putrefaction or corruption, and thus of sin).

Jesus’ disciples had just witnessed two miraculous feedings of multitudes, but in the boat with Jesus, they were worried about not having enough physical bread, and completely missed the spiritual lesson Jesus was trying to teach them. Jesus asked them whether their eyes and ears worked. They had seen and heard; why did they not understand? Had they forgotten?

The reason people can’t believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah is because they choose not to believe. Jesus’ lordship may interfere with their personal ambitions and desires. They may be so focused on worldly things that they are ignoring the spiritual things which are eternal.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Acts 18:2n, p. 1343, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

Tuesday 12 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/08/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 7:18-29    –    David’s Response to God’s Promise;

Acts 18:12-28   –     Beginning Paul’s Third Missionary Journey;

Mark 8:22-33   –   Peter’s Confession;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had built a cedar house for himself in the “City of David” (the Jebusite fortress at Jerusalem which David had conquered) but the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent (the Tabernacle; a portable sanctuary). David proposed building a permanent house of God, but God had told David that the Lord didn’t need David to build the Lord a house; instead he would build a house for David. (The exchange involves a play on the various meanings of the word “house;” a palace, a temple, a dynasty, and family.)

David answered by acknowledging that he was not worthy of his position as the Lord’s anointed prince of Israel, personally or by family heritage. David realized that the Lord had done great things for David, not by David’s merit, but by the Lord’s own goodness, so that David would recognize the Lord’s greatness. David acknowledged that there was no god but the Lord and nothing could compare to the greatness of the Lord.

No other nation had been blessed like Israel, whom God redeemed (from slavery in Egypt) and gave the Promised Land as their possession by driving out the Canaanites and their idols before Israel. The Lord had adopted Israel as his people and had become their God. David assented to the God’s will which he had revealed to David. David prayed that the Lord would fulfill what he had promised to David, and that the Lord would be exalted through it. David acknowledged that God’s Word is true, faithful and good and that David sought and would be fully satisfied forever by the Lord’s blessing.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had spent eighteen months in Corinth, but when Gallio (the brother of Seneca, the philosopher*) was proconsul of Achaia (Greece; about 51 A.D.*),  the Jews accused Paul and brought Paul to be tried by Gallio for teaching worship of God contrary to law (Jewish law; Law of Moses; Scripture). Before Paul had a chance to present his case, Gallio refused to exercise judgment in the case since it involved Jewish law; he told the Jews to deal with it themselves.

The Jews apparently beat Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue at Corinth (probably because he had been converted by Paul’s preaching; see 1 Corinthians 1:1). Gallio didn’t intervene (the Jews were dealing with the matter themselves, as he had ruled). Paul stayed many more days in Corinth, but then returned to Syria, bringing Pricilla and Aquila with him.

At Cenchreae (the Greek seaport near Corinth) Paul cut his hair (as part of a Nazirite vow, indicating its fulfillment; see Numbers 6:2-21). At Ephesus Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. Paul debated the Gospel with the Jews in the synagogue, and they asked him to stay longer, but Paul declined, saying that if it was God’s will he would return.

Paul sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea and went from there to Antioch (the base of his missionary journeys). After some time there he went on the third missionary journey to Galatia and Phyrgia, “strengthening the disciples” (Acts 18:23; “discipling” new Christians).

A Jew named Apollos, raised in Alexandria (Egypt), came to Ephesus. He knew the scriptures and had been taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was an eloquent and fervent speaker who accurately taught Jesus Christ, but Priscilla and Aquila noticed that he knew only the baptism of John (water baptism; not the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit; see John 1:33-34; 3:3, 5-8). Aquila and Priscilla “discipled” Apollos.

The congregation at Ephesus encouraged Apollos and gave him a letter of commendation to the Christians in Achaia (Greece; specifically the congregation at Corinth; 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:1-9, 21-23). When Apollos arrived in Greece he greatly helped new believers and powerfully refuted the Jews, proving by the Jewish (Old Testament) scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah).

Mark Paraphrase:

At Bethsaida (in Galilee) a blind man was brought to Jesus begging to be healed. Jesus took him aside outside the city and anointed his eyes with spittle (a common practice of healers of that time), and asked if the blind man could see. The man saw things but they were not clear, so Jesus again touched the man’s eyes and the man’s vision was restored and he was able to see clearly. Jesus sent the man home, telling him not to enter the village.

Jesus went on with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, (20 miles north of the Sea of Galilee on the border of Syria; not to be confused with Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast). On the way, Jesus asked his disciples who people thought Jesus to be. The disciples told him that some thought he was John the Baptizer, others thought he was Elijah (who was expected to return to herald the coming of Christ), and others thought Jesus was (just) one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked the disciples who they believed Jesus to be, and Peter declared that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus commanded them to tell no one.

Then Jesus told the disciples, for the first time, that the “Son of man” (i.e., Jesus) would suffer, would be rejected by the religious leaders, would be killed, and would rise again on the third day. Jesus said it plainly (without any attempt to disguise his meaning). Peter began to rebuke Jesus, but Jesus rebuked Peter in front of the disciples, saying that Peter’s resistance was on the side of Satan and human sinfulness, rather than supporting God’s will.

Commentary:

David had been anointed with the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13), to replace Saul as king of Israel. In that pre-messianic age, the Holy Spirit was only given to certain prophets and leaders of Israel. Since that time he had been growing in spiritual maturity in fellowship with the Lord through the Holy Spirit and his spiritual counselors: first, Samuel, and then, Nathan. He had the promise of God, but the fulfillment was gradual. First he was on the run from Saul, then he was made king of Judah only, and then he received the fullness of the promise to be king of all Israel.

David was also growing in his understanding of the Lord’s nature and will. When David had built a palace for himself on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, he thought he should build a more permanent house for God, but came to understand that the Lord didn’t need a house built by men, but was instead building an eternal house, a dynasty, a heritage, for David.

David came to realize that it was not by David’s own merit, or by family lineage that David was blessed and prospered by the Lord, but because of the Lord’s own goodness. From that realization David praised and worshiped the Lord and accepted God’s will without reservation.

The Lord’s ultimate intent is to dwell “within” his disciples by the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we can dwell with him in his eternal kingdom.  “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples are his “Temple;” a “tent” of human flesh, temporary and portable rather than a permanent structure. We are not worthy of God’s gift of salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction. It’s his gift to us so that we can come to comprehend the Lord’s love and goodness (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) is an example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. Paul had not known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. He encountered the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus, and was radically converted and reborn by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-20). He had been learning to be led by the Holy Spirit since that time (for example Acts 16:6-10).

The Jews were intending to destroy Paul, but Paul trusted and obeyed the Lord’s command to preach boldly and the Lord’s promise to protect him (Acts 18:9-10). Paul was delivered from his Jewish persecutors and from the Roman tribunal.

The Church at Corinth wanted Paul to stay, but Paul was guided by the Lord’s will rather than by popular demand. He promised to return in God’s timing if it was God’s will. Paul’s ministry was fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus had given his disciples after his resurrection. Paul was discipling and strengthening new Christians.

Aquila and Priscilla are examples of mature “born-again” Christian disciples. They had been with Paul in Corinth, and must certainly have grown spiritually in their fellowship with Paul. At Ephesus they met a Jewish Christian evangelist who was eloquent and had excellent knowledge of scripture, who had been taught the Gospel and was proclaiming it accurately. But, he had only received the water baptism of John the Baptizer.  Apparently he had not been taught to seek and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, so Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and discipled him more fully (and presumably led him to be “born-again” by the gift of the Holy Spirit). Note that Apollos was knowledgeable about the scriptures and the Gospel but he was willing to accept further discipling, and thus he was able to grow to spiritual maturity.

Compare the situation in the immediate following verses (Acts 19:1-7). Paul, Priscilla and Aquila were “born-again” Christians discipling others to be “born-again.” They knew what Apollos and the other “unregenerate” (not yet “born-again”) Christians were lacking and how to get it! The first century church was making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ by teaching them to trust an obey Jesus’ commands.

Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34). Jesus gives the gift of his Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Jesus specifically commanded his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) until they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) before going into the world to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples.

Jesus tested his disciples’ understanding of who Jesus was. They knew that Jesus was the Christ, but they were not spiritually mature until the Day of Pentecost when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The blind man had received partial healing, but he wasn’t completely healed until Jesus tested him and gave him what he still needed to have: complete vision. It is not enough to know the Bible and acknowledge that Jesus is Christ the Lord; we must trust and obey him (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46) and be filled with his Holy Spirit.

There are too many Church leaders in the Church today who know only the “baptism of John,” and there are too many churches that are making “members,” “fair-weather Christians,” instead of “born-again” disciples. Unregenerate “Christians” can’t make “born-again” disciples, because if they knew how, and what is missing, they wouldn’t be “unregenerate.”

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Acts 18:12n, p. 1343, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

Wednesday 12 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted

Podcast: Wednesday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 9:1-13   –   David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth;

Acts 19:1-10    –    Receiving the Holy Spirit;

Mark 8:34-9:1   –   On Discipleship;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David and Jonathan, Saul’s son, had sworn eternal loyalty to one another. Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle by the Philistines and seven relatives had been executed by the Gibeonites. David asked if there was any descendant of Saul’s family that David could show kindness too, for Jonathan’s sake. Ziba, Saul’s servant, was brought to David and told him that Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan, had survived.

David had Mephibosheth brought to him and David made him a member of David’s household, so that he would eat at the king’s table. David also restored all Saul’s land. David commanded Ziba, Saul’s servant, to supervise Zeba’s household, his sons and his servants, in cultivating Saul’s land for Mephibosheth’s benefit.

Acts Paraphrase:

Apollos was a Christian evangelist who had been discipled by Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28) and who had been encouraged to go to Corinth. While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul arrived in Ephesus and contacted a group of Christians. He asked whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they had believed in Jesus, and they said that they hadn’t known about the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul asked them what baptism they had received and they said that they had been received water baptism of John the baptizer. Paul told them that John had baptized with water, for repentance, to prepare them to believe in Jesus Christ (who alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit; John 1:32-34. Jesus did not baptize with water; only his disciples did; John 4:2). On learning this, they were baptized in Jesus’ name and Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues and prophesied (as had the disciples on the Day of Pentecost; Acts 2:1-13).

Paul taught about the kingdom of God (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) in the Ephesian synagogue for a three-month period, but some refused to believe and spoke against “the Way” (as Christianity was called; Jesus is the Way; John 14:6). So Paul and the disciples (Christian believers) moved to the hall of Tyrannus (an available meeting place) and for two years Paul taught the Gospel daily. Many residents of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the Gospel preached by Paul during that period.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus taught his disciples and the crowds that came to hear him, that anyone who wants to follow Jesus must “deny himself (set aside his personal will) and take up his cross (endure suffering) and follow” (Jesus; apply Jesus’ teachings and follow Jesus’ example; Mark 8:34). “Whoever would save his (worldly, physical) life will lose it (and eternal life) but whoever loses his (worldly, physical) life” (by surrender to God’s will; or by dying physically, if required) for the Gospel and for Jesus’ sake, “will save it” (Mark 8:35).

Jesus said that all the possessions in the world are worthless if a person loses spiritual, eternal life. What would a person of such material wealth be willing to pay to live in Heaven for ever?  Jesus warned that whoever is ashamed of Jesus and his teaching in this utterly sinful world will experience shame, in Jesus’ presence, on the Day of Judgment when Jesus comes in the glory of God. Jesus declared that there were some present, hearing his words, who would not experience physical death before experiencing God’s kingdom and power.

Commentary:

In Jesus Christ, God has done for us spiritually, for Jesus’ sake, what David had done to Mephibosheth physically for Jonathan’s sake. We are spiritually crippled by sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s plan of salvation, sidebar, top right, home) and cannot provide spiritually for ourselves, but through God’s covenant in Jesus Christ by faith (obedient trust) we become members of the King’s household and are fed spiritually at the King’s table, as David had done with Mephibosheth in fulfillment of the covenant of love and fidelity between David and Jonathan. The covenant with Jonathan obligated David to show kindness for Mephibosheth, and Mephibosheth recognized that he was unworthy, but he trusted and obeyed David.

Baptism is a covenant between the Lord and the baptized. When we are baptized we’re adopted into God’s household for Jesus’ sake, provided that we believe in (trust and obey) Jesus. Jesus has promised to baptize his disciples who trust and obey him with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). When we fulfill our covenant obligation, the Lord fulfills his.

Some “Christians” are offended when asked if they have received the Holy Spirit. Some Churches teach that the Holy Spirit is conveyed automatically at [water] baptism. I draw several conclusions from this Biblical text in the perspective of my own personal experience:

First, it is possible for an individual to know with certainty, personally, for oneself, whether they have received the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (or there would have been no point in Paul’s question). If you have to ask your spiritual advisor, or a theologian, you haven’t been “born-again.”

Second, at baptism we receive the promise, the power, to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:12), but we must appropriate it by obedient trust in Jesus Christ; we must act on faith. Paul knew from personal experience (Acts 9:17-20) that the twelve new disciples in Ephesus were not mature Christians able to do Christian ministry until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, just as Apollos was not ready until Priscilla and Aquila led him to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 18:24-28).

Self-denial and suffering are the antithesis of the “American way” and the culture in which I live today. Discipleship is going to cost disciples self-sacrifice and endurance in suffering.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes” (Romans 1:16a).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 12 Pentecost – Odd

Podcast: Thursday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 11:1-27   –     David and Bathsheba;

Acts 19:11-20    –    Paul’s Ministry at Ephesus;

Mark 9:2-13  –     Jesus’ Transfiguration;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

The army of Israel, under the command of Joab, was besieging Rammah, the capital city of the Ammonites, north of Moab and east of the Jordan River. King David had not gone with the army, but remained in Jerusalem. One afternoon David saw, from his rooftop, a beautiful woman bathing (ritual cleansing required by the Law of Moses, following menstruation). He asked his servants who she was and was told that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (remnants of earlier Hittite settlement in Israel were incorporated into the people of Israel), who was with the army besieging Ramma. David sent servants to bring her to David, and he slept with her. She became pregnant and told David.

David sent a messenger to Joab, asking him to send Uriah to him, and when Uriah arrived David asked him how the war against the Ammonites was going. Then David told Uriah to go to his home and take the opportunity to clean up before returning to the battle, but Uriah slept in the gateway of the King’s house, instead.

When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he asked Uriah why not, and Uriah replied that he would not indulge in the comforts of his home while the Ark of the Covenant, Joab, and the army of Israel were in tents in the field, and the men were separated from their wives and homes. David asked Uriah to stay another day, and invited Uriah to eat and drink at the King’s table. Uriah became drunk, but he did not go home and sleep with his wife.

The next day, David wrote a letter to Joab to be carried by Uriah. In the letter David asked Joab to place Uriah in the area of greatest danger, and to fall back from Uriah, so that Uriah would certainly be killed. Joab did as the King had requested and Uriah was killed, along with some of David’s elite bodyguards.

Joab sent a messenger to tell David of the casualties of his bodyguards, and told the messenger that if David was critical of Joab’s conduct of the battle the messenger was to remind David that Uriah had been killed also. The messenger did as Joab ordered, and David was not upset by the news of casualties. David told the messenger to tell Joab that such things happen in war, and he encouraged Joab to rally his troops and overthrow the city.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband had been killed, she observed the usual mourning period, and then David brought her to his house and she became his wife and bore his son. But David had committed a terrible sin.

Acts Paraphrase:

The Lord did many great miracles through Paul. Clothing and handkerchiefs Paul had touched were taken to the sick and they were healed. Jewish healers and exhorcists began invoking Jesus’ name in their healings.

Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were attempting to exorcise a demon “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13). The Demon replied that he knew (and acknowledged the power of) Jesus and Paul but did not know or acknowledge the exorcists. The exorcists were overcome by the demon and fled naked and bleeding.

This incident was widely known in Ephesus and the people feared and extoled Jesus’ name. Ephesis was a center of magic practice, and many who were converted to Christianity brought, to be burned, books on magic which they owned. The number and value of the books thus burned was amazing.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus took Peter, James and John, the three disciple of his inner circle, to the top of a mountain, and Jesus was transfigured (his appearance was changed); his garments became brilliantly white (seeming to glow). Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus.

The disciples were frightened, and Peter, not knowing what else to say, suggested building three shrines, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. A cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud declared that Jesus was his beloved son, and the disciples were commanded to listen to Jesus. Then, suddenly they were alone with Jesus.

As they came down the mountain Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed until after the “Son of man” (Jesus) had risen from the dead. So they kept the experience to themselves, but they wondered about what Jesus had meant about rising from the dead.

They asked Jesus why the teachers of scripture taught that Elijah would return (before the coming of the Messiah), and Jesus reminded them that the scripture had prophesied that the Son of man would suffer and be treated with contempt, and that the prophesy of Elijah’s return was also true, but that Elijah had come, and the people had done to him what pleased them (they had not recognized him and had acted according to their own worldly nature).

Commentary:

Uriah was a man of honor and a man of God. He denied his self-centered desires in order to do what was right in God’s judgment. David, whom the Lord had described as a man after God’s own heart, who would do all God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20), had an appalling lapse of moral judgment. God’s people were in spiritual warfare with the enemy of God’s people, and David, who represented the Lord’s anointed Savior and king, had chosen to stay in Jerusalem. He was idle and used that opportunity to indulge himself. He committed adultery, and then he had an honorable man of God murdered in an attempt to conceal David’s sin.

Paul’s life after his conversion glorified the Lord. Everything he did brought honor and glory to Jesus. Worldly people tried to use Paul’s name and Jesus’ name to give legitimacy to their own interests. The authenticity of the Ephesian conversions was demonstrated by their changed values.

The closest of Jesus’ disciples witnessed the heavenly glory of Jesus. Jesus tried to explain that John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the return of Elijah.

One cannot do the work of God without being obedient to God’s Word. David should have been out with his troops, instead of indulging his senses in the comfort of home. Invoking the name of Jesus doesn’t make one a Christian (Matthew 7:21-27). A Christian is a disciple of the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:26c), a follower of Christ, who knows Jesus’ commands and does them (Matthew 28:20).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 12 Pentecost – Odd

Podcast: Friday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 12:1-14   –    Nathan Confronts David;

Acts 19:21-41   –     Riot at Ephesus;

Mark 9:14-29    –   A Boy Healed;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had committed a great sin against God, and God sent Nathan, a prophet and David’s spiritual advisor, to confront David. Nathan told a parable of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had many herds but the poor man had only one ewe [female] lamb. The lamb was a beloved pet who was fed from his table and who slept in his bed. It was as dear to him as his own children. A traveler came to the rich man’s house and the rich man was obligated to feed him, but was unwilling to use one of his own lambs, so he took the poor man’s lamb and fed it to the rich man’s guest. David expressed outrage at the rich man’s selfishness, and Nathan replied that David was that man.

Nathan told David that the Lord had made David king of Israel, had protected him from Saul’s attempts to destroy him, gave him Saul’s house (palace, dynasty and heritage), and many wives (probably including Saul’s concubines) and the houses (kingdoms) of Israel and Judah. If that hadn’t been enough the Lord would have given David more. But David had violated God’s Word, and done evil in God’s judgment. David had killed Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites (Israel’s enemy), and had taken Uriah’s wife to be David’s wife.

Nathan prophesied that the Lord would allow evil to arise against David from within his own household. The Lord declared that he would take David’s wives from him and David’s neighbor (probably Absalom) would sleep with them; their adultery would be public knowledge, and David would be publicly disgraced. David had committed his sin secretly, but God would punish him publicly.

David acknowledged his sin against the Lord to Nathan. Nathan told David that David would not die; the Lord had “put away” David’s sin, but the child born to him would die, because of David’s obvious lack of respect for the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

On Paul’s third missionary trip, after spending more than two years in Ephesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit Paul decided to go through Macedonia and Achaia (Greece) and then return to Jerusalem, after which he would go to Rome. He sent Timothy and Erastus (a Corinthian Christian; see 2 Timothy 4:20; possibly a city official; see Romans 16:23), to Macedonia, and Paul stayed at Ephesus.

Ephesus was the center of worship of Artemis, a fertility and lunar goddess, worshiped throughout Asia, and the Ephesians had a lucrative business selling miniature silver shrines. A silversmith named Demetrius stirred up others who profited from the production of Artemis cult objects. They were worried that the conversion of Asians to the Way (as Christianity was called; Jesus is the Way; John 14:6), would reduce their income. They were upset with the success of Paul’s preaching, which taught that idols made by humans were not gods.

The tradesmen stirred up the entire city, and the people gathered in the outdoor theater to see what was going on. Paul’s Macedonian Christian traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, were dragged before the mob, and Paul wanted to address the people, but the disciples would not let him. Some city officials who were Paul’s friends begged him not to go into the theater. Most of the mob did not know why they had come together. Alexander, a Jew, attempted to address the crowd but when the people realized he was a Jew they shouted a cheer for Artemis continuously for two hours.

The town clerk finally quieted the crowd and told them that Ephesus was well known as the keeper of the Temple of Artemis and custodian of the sacred meteorite (which they regarded as a cult object). The clerk told the crowd that Gaius and Aristarchus weren’t guilty of blasphemy or sacrilege against the Ephesian goddess. He suggested that if Demetrius and the tradesmen had a legal complaint against the Christians they should pursue it legally in court. Other issues could be addressed at a regular town meeting. Otherwise they were liable to be charged with rioting, since there was no basis for this commotion. Then he told the people to go home.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had taken Peter, James and John to a mountaintop where they witnessed his transfiguration and talk with Moses and Elijah. When they returned, the rest of the Twelve disciples were arguing with a large crowd. When the crowd saw Jesus they gathered around him. Jesus asked what they were discussing and a man said that he had brought his son to the disciples for healing. The symptoms described sound like epilepsy, but in that time were identified with demonic possession (demonic possession suggests a spiritual component in the physical illness).

Jesus had the boy brought to him, and when he came he immediately had a seizure. The father said that the condition had jeopardized the boy’s life many times, by convulsions near water or fire. The father asked Jesus to heal him if Jesus could. The man’s request indicated skepticism. Jesus replied that healing would be determined by the man’s faith.

The man immediately declared that he believed, and asked for help ridding himself of unbelief. Jesus rebuked the condition and the boy’s convulsions ceased. The crowd thought the boy was dead, but Jesus took his hand and the boy stood up. Later in private the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to heal the boy, and Jesus told them that this kind of healing required faith (rather than argument).

Commentary:

David had behaved wickedly, even by worldly standards of the time. He had used his God-given authority for his own selfish worldly desires. David certainly knew that he was committing adultery (violating the Sixth Commandment) and murder (violating the Fifth Commandment) in his relationship with Bathsheba. His behavior showed contempt for God’s Word. When confronted, David expressed repentance, and God forgave his sin (2 Samuel 12:13-14; see superscription of Psalm 51, RSV), but there were still painful worldly consequences for David. God’s ways are going to confront and oppose worldly ways.

The Ephesians were pagans worshiping idols but their behavior was wicked even by worldly standards. They were threatening riot and anarchy in the confrontation between the Gospel and worldly “religion.”

The disciples who were confronted with a spiritual illness failed to heal it because they resorted to worldly methods, arguing with the Jewish religious authorities, instead of being guided by the Holy Spirit in faith (the Holy Spirit had not yet been given; Acts 2:1-13; they had not yet been “born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8). Jesus, before his resurrection and the dispensation of his Holy Spirit, could not be with them and on the mountaintop at the same time).

David hadn’t appreciated how much the Lord had given him. If David had lacked any good thing he could have prayed and the Lord would have provided it. The Ephesians weren’t able to appreciate and receive the truth and benefit from the gospel of salvation that Paul preached because they were only concerned with protecting their monopoly in religious paraphernalia. The disciples weren’t able to use the spiritual power they were given in Jesus because they allowed themselves to be drawn into worldly debate.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 12 Pentecost – Odd

Podcast: Saturday 12 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 12:15-31   –    Capture of the Ammonite Capital;

Acts 20:1-16   –     Paul Returns to Jerusalem;

Mark 9:30-41   –    True Greatness;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

The child conceived by the adultery of David and Bathsheba, became sick. David prayed and fasted and lay on the ground for seven days, and his servants tried to get him to rise up and eat but he would not. On the seventh day, the child died, and the servants were afraid to tell David, fearing that David might harm himself because of his grief. David noticed the servants whispering among themselves and perceiving that the child had died, asked them, and they confirmed it.

David got up, bathed and groomed himself and changed his clothes and went into the house of God and worshiped. Afterward, he returned to his home and ate. The servants asked David why he had mourned for the child while the child was sick, but stopped mourning when the child died. David told them that while the child lived David had hope that the Lord would heal him, but when the child died David’s prayers and fasting could not bring the child back to life. David knew that he would eventually join the child in death, but the child could not rejoin the living.

David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and eventually she conceived a son named Solomon. Nathan, the prophet, assured them that Solomon was beloved by the Lord.

Joab had been besieging the Ammonite capital at Rabbah (where Uriah, Bathsheba’s former husband was killed in battle by David’s order; 2 Samuel 11:1-27). Joab sent word to David that the city’s water supply had been captured, and invited David to take command of the army of Israel to conquer Rabbah and take credit for the victory. David did so and David took the crown from the Ammonite king for himself. The crown was large and heavy, made of gold, with a precious stone.  A great amount of plunder was also captured. David put the conquered Ammonite capital, Rabbah, and the other Ammonite cities to work at hard labor.

Acts Paraphrase:

After the near-riot at Ephesus, Paul left for Macedonia and Greece, as he had been guided to do by the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:21). He spent three months in Greece, but when the Jews there started persecution, Paul left and returned to Macedonia instead of sailing for Syria. Christians from Beroea and Thessalonica in Macedonia, and from the churches in Asia accompanied Paul. Some went on and were waiting for Paul at Troas (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey). The group with Paul stayed until after Passover, and then sailed to Troas from Philippi. The group stayed a week at Troas.

On Sunday they celebrated the Lord’s Supper in an upper room. They were planning to leave the next day, and Paul kept preaching until after midnight. A young man was sitting in a window and fell asleep. He fell three stories to the ground, and was pronounced dead, but Paul went down, embraced him, and told the others not to worry; the young man was alive. The congregation was very relieved that the young man had not been killed.

Paul’s companions boarded the ship heading for Assos, about thirty miles from Troas, to rendezvous with Paul who went there by land over a Roman road. Paul decided to pass Ephesus so that he would not be delayed, since he was anxious to reach Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was traveling through Galilee, trying not to attract crowds, because he was teaching his disciples to prepare them for his crucifixion. Jesus told them, for the second time (see Mark 8:31, 10:33-34) that the Son of man (Jesus) would be turned over to worldly authorities, who would kill him, and three days after his death he would rise. The disciples didn’t understand what he meant and were afraid to ask.

At home in Capernaum, Jesus asked his disciples what they had been discussing on the way, but the disciples didn’t reply, because they had been arguing over who of them was greatest. Jesus told the Twelve that whoever wants to be first must become last and servant of all. Jesus picked up a child in his arms and told his disciples that whoever receives a child in Jesus’ name receives Jesus, and whoever receives Jesus receives God.

John mentioned that they had encountered a person casting out demons in Jesus’ name and had forbidden him, because he was not one of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus said not to forbid such people, because anyone who does something spiritually powerful in Jesus’ name will soon be unable to say anything against Jesus. Anyone who is not opposed to Jesus is open to him. Anyone who is kind to Jesus’ disciples for Jesus’ sake will be rewarded.

Commentary:

In the time of King David, there was no hope of life beyond physical death. David trusted in the Lord’s mercy and prayed for healing, but he accepted God’s will. Nathan had prophesied that the child would die (2 Samuel 12:14), and God’s Word was fulfilled, but God had shown mercy to David in “putting away” David’s sin and not taking David’s life. The Lord gave David and Bathsheba another son, Solomon, and assured them of his love for Solomon.

Once Joab had captured the water supply of Rabbah, he knew it was just a matter of days before the Ammonite capital surrendered. Instead of seeking his own glory, he allowed his King to claim the victory. Joab is an example of Christian servanthood; fighting the battle for the King, Jesus Christ, and seeking the King’s glory instead of his own.

The young man at Troas miraculously survived a three-story fall, whether or not Paul actually raised him from the dead. Paul is another example of a Christian disciple who put his ministry for the Lord ahead of any personal considerations.

Jesus told his disciples that he was going to be killed and would rise again on the third day, but they didn’t understand what he meant and were afraid to ask. They didn’t know what he meant, because they believed that death was final, as David had, even though Jesus had demonstrated his power to raise the dead: Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43), the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15), and Lazarus (John 11:38-44), for example. Jesus foretold his death and resurrection, and his prophecy was fulfilled, and witnessed  by over five hundred eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Jesus came into the world to give us true, eternal, spiritual life beyond physical death (John 10:10; Hebrews 2:14-15). He came to demonstrate that there is life beyond physical death. He came to give us a source of spiritual, living water (John 7:37-39) which cannot be captured and used to manipulate us by our spiritual enemy, Satan. Jesus is the Lord’s anointed, eternal King who won the victory over sin and death by shedding his own blood on the Cross, and which he proved by his resurrection.  He invites us to claim and share in his victory.

Paul is the example of the servanthood Jesus taught to his disciples, and Paul is also the example of the power of the Gospel to transform people, if they are open to receive it.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 11 Pentecost – Odd – 08/09 – 15/2015

August 8, 2015

Week of 11 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.

*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

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Podcast Download: Week of 11 Pentecost – Odd

Sunday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 07/30/05;

Podcast: Sunday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 1:17-27   –   David’s Elegy for Saul and Jonathan;

Romans 12:9-21   –    Christian Duty;

Matthew 25:31-46   –   The Great Judgment;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

David composed this lament and recommended that it be taught to the people of Judah; it was written in the Book of Jashar, (or The Upright; a book of Hebrew poetry). The glory of Israel, Saul, the first king, once mighty, has fallen in battle and from glory. May it not be publicized in Gath and Ashkelon (Philistine cities). Let the mountains of Gilboa (Saul’s encampment, where he died) be cursed with drought, because Saul’s shield was defiled there. Saul and Jonathan did not hesitate to slay the enemy.

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions” (2 Samuel 1:23). Israel had prospered under Saul’s leadership but now the once mighty have fallen in battle.

Jonathan has been slain in the high place. David mourns for him as for a brother whose kindness and love surpassed that of a woman. The weapons of war have perished.

Romans Paraphrase:

Christians are to demonstrate genuine brotherly love for others, not just for fellow Christians but also for those who persecute them. We are to share in both joy and suffering with one another. We are to live in harmony with one another, not being haughty or conceited. We should never return evil for evil or seek our own vengeance but leave that to the Lord. Instead we should do good to our enemies, so that they might be ashamed of their treatment of us. We can overcome evil with good, instead of being overcome by evil.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus declared that he (the Son of man) will return in glory and power and will be enthroned, with all his angels surrounding him. All the nations will be assembled before his throne, and he will separate the righteous from the unrighteous, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. Those who have applied Jesus’ teachings in their lives will receive eternal life in his heavenly kingdom, but those who have not lived according to Jesus’ teachings will receive eternal punishment in Hell.

Commentary:

Saul hadn’t obeyed God’s Word so God took his anointing from Saul and gave it to David (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Saul had been destroyed by his jealousy of David and his disobedience of God’s Word. Saul had been warned by Samuel that God was going to take the kingdom from Saul (1 Samuel 15:28), but Saul didn’t offer to repent and return to obedience of God’s Word until it was too late.

Saul hated David and had become David’s enemy, but David continued to love Saul and honor him as much as he loved Jonathan. Jonathan and Saul were both killed in battle but Jonathan had been faithful to his covenant of love for David, and Saul had been David’s enemy. David overcame evil with good.

Saul represents worldly leaders who pursue their own self-interest instead of obeying God’s Word. Jonathan and David both represent Christian disciples, and they both are forerunners and illustrations of the Christ, who is the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy of the Lord’s anointed eternal king. In a sense Jonathan gave his life for his friend and for God’s people as a human sacrifice on a “high place,” a traditional place for an altar and animal sacrifice.

Saul also died there, but his death was the fulfillment of scripture and prophecy that God would tear the kingdom from Saul’s grasp. Jesus’ crucifixion was the ultimate sacrifice on a “high place” called Golgotha (a limestone outcropping slightly elevated above the surrounding area) once for all time and all people who receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus taught his disciples to obey his commandment to love one another, their enemies as well as their friends. Paul was passing that teaching on to the new disciples in the Roman church. Is the Church today making disciples and teaching them to obey Jesus’ teachings?

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven; but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey him will receive eternal destruction in Hell. Only through obedient trust in Jesus, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible to fulfill the commandment of love.

Jesus warned that it is not those who call Jesus “Lord,” and who call themselves “Christians,” who will be saved from eternal punishment, but those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46) and have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 07/31/05;

Podcast: Monday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 2:1-11   –     David Made King of Judah;

Acts 15:36-16:5    –    Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas;

Mark 6:14-29   –   John the Baptizer Beheaded;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle, and when David got the news he mourned for both. Later David sought guidance from the Lord (since David was the Lord’s anointed and Saul who had previously been the Lord’s anointed was now dead). The Lord told David to go to Hebron, so David went to Hebron with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel (of Judah; not in the Plains of Esdraelon), and Abigail, the widow of Nabal, and with his army. In Hebron, David was anointed King of Judah.

The men of Jabesh-gilead in the territory of Manasseh buried Saul and his sons, out of gratitude for their deliverance from the Ammonites by Saul early in his kingship of Israel (1 Samuel 31:11; 11:1-15). David sent messengers to thank and bless the people of Jabesh-gilead for their loyalty and kindness to Saul. David also hinted that they should consider making David their king, as Judah already had.

David was probably unaware that Abner, the Commander of Saul’s army, had installed Isbosheth, Saul’s son, as King of Israel, who reigned from Mahanaim in Gilead (East of the Jordan. The territory west of the Jordan was still dominated by the Philistines). Isbosheth only reigned a few years, and David continued as King of Judah a number of years after Isbosheth died.

Acts Paraphrase:

After getting an apostolic decree from Jerusalem exempting Gentile Christians from conforming to the Laws of Moses, such as circumcision, and having taught the congregation in Antioch, Syria, Paul suggested that he and Barnabas return to the churches they had established on their first missionary journey.

Barnabas wanted to take John Mark (Barnabas’ cousin, probable author of the Gospel of Mark), but Paul didn’t think he should be invited again, since Mark had left them in Pamphylia and returned home on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). Sharp dissention arose between them and Barnabas and Paul separated. Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus and Paul took Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia to Derbe and Lystra (in modern-day Turkey; by land rather than by sea via Cyprus as on the first trip).

At Lystra there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Timothy had a good reputation among the Christians at Lystra and Iconium, and Paul wanted Timothy to accompany them. Paul had Timothy circumcised (probably to avoid antagonizing the Jews in the area) since it was well known that Timothy’s father was a Gentile. As they went, they delivered the apostolic decree to the churches, and the churches grew in faith and numbers.

Mark Parapahrase:

Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great heard of Jesus’ miracles. Some of the people believed that Jesus was John the Baptizer who had been raised from the dead, and others thought Jesus was Elijah returned (to herald the coming Messiah). Others thought Jesus was a prophet like other biblical prophets of earlier times. Herod was convinced that it was John the Baptizer, whom Herod had beheaded, raised to life again.

Herod had arrested and imprisoned John because John had told Herod that it was not lawful for Herod to have married Herodias, wife of Herod’s brother, Philip. For that reason Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted him killed, but Herod feared John as a righteous and holy man, and Herod had kept John safe. John’s message perplexed Herod but Herod was willing and eager to hear it.

But on Herod’s birthday, he gave a lavish banquet for all his administrative officials and political supporters. Herodias’ daughter danced for the group. Herod was so pleased that he extravagantly promised her anything she wanted, even half of his kingdom. The daughter consulted with her mother and then asked for John’s head on a platter. Herod was very sorry to comply, but because of his oath and his potential embarrassment in front of all his friends and supporters, he had John beheaded and the head brought to the daughter who gave it to her mother. John’s disciples heard of his execution and took his body and placed it in a tomb.

Commentary:

David sought God’s will and was led to move to Hebron. David was the Lord’s anointed, but Abner, the commander of  Saul’s army, wanted to retain his worldly power instead of seeking and yielding to God’s will, so he installed Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, as king of Israel, dividing Israel into two kingdoms. The Lord prospered David in the growth of his kingdom, but Isbosheth’s kingship didn’t last.

The circumcision party (Pharisee converts who insisted that the Gentile Christians must obey the Laws of Moses, including circumcision) caused dissention in the first century church, by advocating requirements based on their own will and understanding, rather than seeking God’s will. The dissention had to be resolved by an apostolic decree guided by God’s revealed will (Acts 15:1-29).

Paul and Barnabas had an argument over John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. Barnabas wanted to take him along, and Paul had opposed it because John Mark had abandoned the missionary work and returned home from the first missionary journey. Ultimately Barnabas took John Mark with him and revisited churches in Cyprus, while Paul took Silas and went to the churches in Asia Minor by a different land route.

It may be that Barnabas’ decision was based on his worldly interests, his relationship with John Mark, rather than the will of God. Paul and Silas, in contrast, were obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul discipled Timothy on the journey, and they were guided by the Holy Spirit to take the gospel for the first time to the European continent (Acts 16:7-12).

Herod was open to the Gospel. He was interested in hearing John the Baptizer, even though John’s message convicted Herod’s conscience. Herod recognized John as a righteous and holy man, and Herod wanted to protect and preserve John’s life, but he let worldly interests and relationships lead him to do what was contrary to his own will and conscience. Instead of recognizing and accepting Jesus as the Son of God, Herod was “haunted” by the “ghost” of John the Baptizer.

Are we building the Lord’s kingdom or are we trying to create our own “empire”? Are we willing to seek and follow God’s Word even when it causes division and separation from family and friends? Do we put God’s will ahead of our own desires?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/02/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/01/05;

2 Samuel 3:6-21   –    Abner Negotiates with David;

Acts 16:6-15  –    Paul First Preached in Europe;

Mark 6:30-46  –   Feeding the Five Thousand;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

While Saul had been seeking to kill David, Abner, Saul’s commander, had been strengthening his own position within Saul’s kingdom. Abner had sexually possessed Rizpah, one of Saul’s concubines (representing a claim on the monarchy and thus treasonous). Saul’s son, Isbosheth, whom Abner had established as king of Israel, confronted Abner about this infidelity.

Abner was furious, demanding the reason Isbosheth was treating Abner as a “dog’s head” (an expression of reproach), when Abner had been loyal to Saul and had protected Ishbosheth and the house of Saul from David’s power. Abner swore to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul to the house of David, and establish David as king of the entire land of Israel from the northern to the southern borders. Isbosheth was afraid of Abner and had nothing else to say.

Abner sent a message to David at Hebron, offering to support David as king of all Israel. David agreed to make a covenant with Abner, on condition that Michal, Saul’s daughter who had been given to David as a wife, but later given by Saul to another, be returned to David as his wife. Isbosheth took her from her second husband and returned to David. Her husband followed behind her weeping, but Abner drove him away.

Abner negotiated with the elders of Israel, particularly the tribe of Benjamin to which Saul and Isbosheth belonged, to make David king of Israel, citing the Word of God promising to deliver Israel from the Philistines by David. Then Abner went to David at Hebron to tell David the results.

Abner arrived in Hebron with twenty men, and David gave them a feast. Abner told David that he would gather Israel together to covenant with David to be their king, and David gave his approval.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul, Silas and Timothy passed through Phrygia and Galatia without preaching because the Holy Spirit had forbidden them to preach the Gospel there. At Mysia they tried to enter Bithynia (northern Turkey) but the Spirit of Jesus (the indwelling Holy Spirit) would not allow it, so instead they went to Troas on the western shore. There Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man pleading for Paul to come and provide spiritual help. Concluding that the dream was the Lord’s guidance, they sailed from Troas to Samothrace, and then traveled through Neapolis to Philippi, a major city of Macedonia, a Roman colony.

On the Sabbath they went outside the city wall to a riverbank where there was a place of prayer (perhaps an informal meeting place for Jews, since no synagogue seems to have been available in Philippi at that time). A group of women were gathered, and Paul and Silas joined them and proclaimed the gospel. One woman who listened to and accepted the gospel was Lydia, a seller of purple goods (royal garments). After she and her household had been baptized, she invited Paul and Silas to stay as guests in her house.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had sent the Twelve out, two by two, to preach and heal, and when they returned they told him all they had done. Jesus took them off to an isolated place to rest for a while, since otherwise the crowds coming to Jesus made it difficult even to eat undisturbed. Jesus and his disciples took a boat across the Sea of Galilee to an isolated place, but the crowds saw them, and knowing where they were heading, ran on shore and were waiting for them when the boat landed. Jesus had compassion on the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so Jesus started to teach them.

When it grew late, the disciples suggested that Jesus should send them away so that they could buy food in the surrounding cities, but Jesus told the disciples to feed them. The disciples mentioned that it would take at least two hundred denarii to buy enough bread. Jesus asked the disciples to check and see what food they had, and the disciples found five loaves and two fish.

Jesus had the crowd sit down in groups on green grass. Then Jesus took the bread and fish and blessed them, broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute. All ate as much as they wanted, and there were twelve baskets of pieces leftover. Then Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and leave for Bethsaida, while Jesus dismissed the crowd. Afterward, Jesus went into the hills to pray.

Commentary:

Abner saw that it was in his best interest to transfer his allegiance, from the worldly king he had set up, to David, the Lord’s anointed. He agreed to work for the establishment of David’s kingship over all Israel, but he had to agree to David’s condition. David’s condition of the return of Michal as his wife was motivated both by love and political consideration, establishing David as the son-in-law of Saul.

Paul and Silas had been obedient to the Lord’s leading and had gone to Macedonia. Macedonia may not have seemed very promising; it didn’t even have an established synagogue. But Lydia heard and accepted the gospel preached by Paul and Barnabas, and she and her household transferred their allegiance from Judaism to Jesus Christ. As a result of her conversion she invited Paul and Silas to be her guests in her home, and they agreed.

When Jesus had sent the disciples out in pairs, the disciples had followed Jesus’ instructions concerning their missionary journey (Mark 6:7-13), to not take any provisions for their journey, although the instructions seemed contrary to common sense. In the situation of a hungry crowd in an isolated place, the disciples had offered a solution for the wellbeing of the crowd, but went instead with Jesus’ instructions, even though it seemed humanly impossible.

The Lord is abundantly able to provide for those who trust and obey him. David was the Lord’s anointed, but had not received the fullness of that promise yet. Abner, who was motivated by self-interest, nevertheless helped the Lord’s plan for David to be fulfilled.

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s anointed. If he is going to be our eternal king, we’re going to have to trust and obey him. We’re going to have to agree to his conditions. Jesus is abundantly able to make our efforts produce results, as we trust and obey his commands, and he can be trusted to be compassionate to provide for our needs, including rest from our labors on his behalf. Doing his will is in our best interest, whether we realize that yet or not. This life is our opportunity to learn to know and do his will and to be led by his Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/02/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 3:22-39  –    Joab Kills Abner;

Acts 16:16-24   –    Paul and Silas Imprisoned;

Mark 6:47-56   –    Jesus Walks on Water

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Abner was the commander of Saul’s army and had arranged for David, who was then king of Judah to become king of all Israel. When Joab, the commander of David’s army returned from a raid, he learned that Abner had just left after reporting to David. When he learned that Abner had visited David and had been allowed to go in peace, Joab went after Abner and his bodyguards and brought them back to Hebron. Joab and his brother, Abishai, took Abner aside at the city gate and killed him by stabbing him in the belly.

When David found out that Abner had been killed by Joab in revenge for Joab’s brother’s death by Abner, David publicly cursed Joab, and then ordered a period of public mourning throughout Judah. David led the mourning and the public funeral for Abner, so that his actions were approved by all the tribes of Israel, who understood that David had not been responsible for Abner’s death. David was not powerful enough to order Joab and Abishai, the sons of Zeruiah (David’s sister), executed for Abner’s murder, but left vengeance to the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Silas were in Phillipi, a leading city in Macedonia, where they had been preaching the gospel for many days. They were going to a place where the Jewish community gathered for prayer (since the city had no established synagogue), and a slave girl who had a spirit (a demon) of divination had been following Paul and Silas every day shouting that Paul and Silas were servants of the Most High God and were teaching the way of salvation.

Paul was annoyed by her constant behavior, and he turned around and commanded the spirit to come out of her. She had been making money for her owners by her divination, and when the demon was cast out she no longer had the ability, so her owners were angry and had Paul and Silas arrested and brought before a Roman judge. The owners alleged that Paul and Silas were evangelizing Romans, which was unlawful, and the Roman court had them stripped, severely beaten with rods, and imprisoned in the most secure area of the prison, with their feet in stocks.

Mark Paraphrase:

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus sent his disciples off in the boat, while he remained behind to dismiss the crowd and pray in solitude. Jesus could see that the disciples were not making much progress on the sea because the wind was against them. Just before sunrise Jesus came to them, walking on the surface of the sea. He appeared to be passing by, but the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost and cried out in fear.

Jesus spoke to them identifying himself and telling them not to be afraid. Jesus got into the boat and immediately the wind ceased. The disciples were totally amazed because they had not understood what had taken place with the loaves (and fish) of the feeding of the five thousand.

When the boat landed at Gennesaret (on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, southwest of Capernaum), the people recognized Jesus when he and the disciples disembarked, and they ran through the surrounding neighborhood and began bringing the sick to Jesus. Wherever Jesus went it was like that; they would bring the sick to him and even laid the sick along his way, begging Jesus to allow them to touch the fringe of his garment as he passed, and everyone who touched it was healed.

Commentary:

Joab and Abishai had not known and understood what had taken place between Abner and David, and they had pursued what they perceived as their own interests, instead of seeking God’s will. Abner had arranged to have David become king of all Israel, as the Lord had intended. Joab and Abishai took matters into their own hands, rather than entrusting it to God. Joab also perceived Abner as a rival and threat to Joab’s position and influence as the commander of David’s army. By their actions Joab and Abishai had hindered and delayed the accomplishment of God’s will, and brought God’s judgment upon themselves.

In contrast, David knew God’s will for him, and entrusted it to God to accomplish. David’s actions were honorable and it was clearly seen that Abner’s death was not David’s fault. David didn’t have the power to punish Joab and Abishai, but he left their punishment to the Lord.

The owners of the slave girl in Philippi were profiting from evil. They had no interest in seeing her freed from demonic possession. They used civil authority to hinder and oppose the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul and Silas had no power to resist; they had to accept their situation and entrust it to the Lord.

The disciples were terrified by seeing Jesus walking on water and thought they were seeing a ghost, something evil or demonic, because they had not understood the miracle of the loaves at the feeding of the crowd which they had just witnessed.

Worldly people are going to resist and oppose the Gospel because they are profiting from evil. David, Paul and Silas are examples of Christian disciples who are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have worldly power but they had spiritual power. It was God’s will for David to become king of Israel and so David did eventually become king of Israel, even though Joab and Abishai temporarily hindered and prevented it. David did what he could and entrusted the outcome to the Lord.

It was the Lord’s will for the slave girl to be freed from demonic possession and so she was. It was contrary to God’s will for Paul and Silas to be imprisoned, even though they were powerless to prevent it. The Twelve were frightened and wrongly interpreted Jesus’ miracle of walking on water as a threat, an evil, because they didn’t understand what they had witnessed at the feeding of the five thousand. They had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit. They were “rowing against the wind” until they brought Jesus into “their boat.”

Faith in Jesus heals rather than harms. When we cannot understand what is going on, trusting in Jesus will see us through.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/03/05;

Podcast: Thursday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 4:1-12   –    Isbosheth Murdered;

Acts 16:25-40   –    The Philippian Jailer;

Mark 7:1-23   –    Traditions of the Elders;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

Isbosheth, Saul’s son, who Abner had made king of Israel, was terrified when he heard Abner had been killed. Two captains of Isbosheth’s army, Rechab and Baanah, of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, entered Isbosheth’s house at noon, when Isbosheth was taking a nap, and the doorkeeper was dozing, and assassinated Isbosheth. They cut off his head and took it to David.

They tried to claim that the Lord had avenged David through them. But David told them that the Lord had faithfully delivered David from every adversity. He told them that when the Amalekite man claimed to have killed Saul, thinking that David would be glad to hear it, David had him executed (2 Samuel 1:13-16). David told the captains that their deed was worse, since they had entered a righteous man’s house to do evil. David had the captains executed and displayed publicly at Hebron, but placed the head of Isbosheth in the tomb of Abner in Hebron.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Silas had been imprisoned in Philippi, because Paul had cast a demon out of a slave girl whose owners were exploiting her psychic abilities. During the night Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, and the other prisoners were listening to them, when there was an earthquake. The building’s foundation was shaken and the prison doors were opened.

The jailer was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped, but Paul spoke to him and stopped him from suicide, reassuring him that the prisoners were all still there. The jailer brought Paul and Silas out of their cell and asked them what he should do to be saved. They told him to believe in the Lord Jesus and he and his household would be saved. They taught the gospel to the Jailer and his household. They treated the wounds Paul and Silas had received from their beating, and the jailer and his household were baptized. The jailer brought Paul and Silas into his home and fed them, and rejoiced with his household at their salvation.

In the morning, the judges sent police to release Paul and Silas, but Paul and Silas refused to be released without an apology from the court, since Paul and Silas were Roman citizens who had been beaten unlawfully without a trial.

Mark Paraphrase:

Pharisees (strict legalistic Jews) and scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses; the Scriptures) criticized Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands before eating. They asked why the disciples did not keep the traditions of the elders. Jesus replied that the Pharisees and scribes were fulfilling God’s prophecy of people who had the appearance of honoring God, but whose hearts were far from God; “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Mark 7:7; Isaiah 29:13). Jesus told them they put aside God’s commandments to keep the traditions of men. As just one example, Jesus cited a Jewish tradition which allowed one to avoid the commandment to honor father and mother by declaring that what they would have received was given to God.

Jesus told the crowd that it isn’t what enters a person, like food, which corrupts a person, but rather what comes out of his heart. Privately his disciples asked Jesus to explain what he had meant. Jesus told them that food doesn’t cause evil thoughts and desires. It is mankind’s heart (the center of his desires) which causes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evils come from within mankind.

Commentary:

Rechab and Baanah did what seemed right to them; they followed their own interest, and tried to claim that they had done God’s will. They were blind to their own wickedness. David, on the other hand, submitted to God’s will and trusted that the Lord would accomplish his purpose in David. David realized that Isbosheth was no threat to God’s will.

Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned unjustly, but they did what was right in God’s judgment and trusted in the Lord to deliver them and accomplish his purpose through them. As a result they were able to rejoice in the Lord and worship and praise him even in suffering and imprisonment. Consequently, the other prisoners heard the gospel.

Rather than taking the opportunity provided by the earthquake to escape, Paul and Silas remained in the cell, saving the jailer’s life, and resulting in the conversion of the jailer and his household. In the morning light it was obvious that Paul and Silas had been in the right and that their accusers and judges had been wrong in punishing them.

The scribes and Pharisees had substituted the traditions of the elders for obedience to God’s Word. They were doing what seemed right in their own eyes, instead of what was right in the Lord’s judgment. They were pursuing their own self-interests and calling it God’s will, instead of seeking and obeying God’s will. Their criticism of Jesus’ disciples revealed their own spiritual corruption.

When our standard of behavior is popular opinion rather than God’s Word, we lose the moral reference by which to discern right from wrong. Should society tolerate any activity as long as it is economically profitable? The psychic was a slave to her owners who was only valued her for her psychic abilities. She was empowered by her bondage to the demonic.

Consulting mediums is specifically forbidden in the Scripture (see Leviticus 19:31; 1 Samual 28:3-20). We are to be guided by the Holy Spirit — not demons.] Should Paul have kept quiet and let the guard kill himself, thus allowing them to escape un-opposed? The magistrates did what was popular, having Paul and Silas beaten with rods to appease the angry mob, but it was illegal to beat Roman Citizens without a trial. Just because it was OK with the majority didn’t make it right.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 08/04/05;

Podcast: Friday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 5:1-12   –     David Captures Jerusalem;

Acts 17:1-15    –     From Thessalonica to Athens;

Mark 7:24-37   –    The Syrophoenician Woman;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

The heads of all the tribes of Israel came to David to make him king over all Israel. They said that when Saul had been king, David had been a leader of Saul’s army, and that the Lord had declared that David would be a shepherd and prince over Israel. David reigned as king of Judah for seven and a half years, and then was king of Israel for thirty-three years.

Jerusalem was the last stronghold (fortress) of Canaanites (Jebusites) in the land. David and his men prepared to attack Jerusalem, but the Canaanites though they were sufficiently secure that the blind and lame could keep out the Israelites. But David rallied his men to attack up the water shaft (Siloam tunnel connecting to Gihon Spring) which was the water source for the Jebusite stronghold. After the stronghold had been captured, David made it his capital, and called it the City of David.

The city of Jerusalem was built north and west of the stronghold. The Lord prospered and increased David’s greatness. The king of Tyre sent cedar lumber and carpenters and masons who built a palace for David. David recognized that the Lord had established David’s kingship, and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of God’s people, Israel.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Silas were on Paul’s second missionary journey. They arrived in Thessalonica, where there was a local synagogue, and Paul went on the Sabbath, and for three weeks he taught the Gospel, showing that Jesus is the Christ, the fulfillment of scripture, and that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were necessary for the fulfillment of God’s plan. Some Jews believed, as well as many Greeks and more than a few leading women.

But the Jewish leaders were jealous, and they organized a mob of riffraff and created a riot. They attacked the house of Jason, looking for Paul and Silas, and when they didn’t find them they dragged Jason and other Christians before the civic authorities. They charged Paul and Silas of upsetting civil order, of acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, and of proclaiming another king, Jesus (rivaling Caesar). Jason and the other Christians had to post bail to be released.

The Christians helped Paul and Silas escape to Beroea during the night. Again Paul began to preach the gospel in the synagogue. The Jews at Beroea were eager to hear the gospel and examined the scriptures daily in order to come to their own conclusion about the truth of the gospel. Many believed, including Gentiles and community leaders. But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that Paul and Silas were in Beroea, they came to Beroea and stirred up persecution there.  While Silas and Timothy stayed in Beroea, the believers helped Paul to flee to Athens, where Paul arranged to wait for Silas and Timothy to join him.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to the region of Tyre and Sidon, Phoenicia, (northwest of Galilee), hoping to avoid public notice. But news of his visit became known, and a woman, a native of the Syrian region of Phoenicia, who had a child possessed by a demon, came to Jesus and begged him to heal her daughter. Jesus told her that the “children” (of God) should be “fed” first; that it would not be right to give the children’s food to “dogs.” Acknowledging Jesus as Lord, she accepted Jesus’ words, but replied that dogs are allowed to eat the children’s crumbs which fall from the table. Jesus told her that because of her answer, the child had been healed, and when she returned home she found her daughter well.

Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee through the region of the Decapolis (a federation of ten cities, south of the Sea of Galilee and east of the Jordan River). A man who was deaf and couldn’t speak plainly was brought to Jesus. Jesus took the man aside and touched the man’s ears and tongue and said in Aramaic, “Be opened” (Mark 7:34). Immediately the man could hear and he spoke plainly. Jesus told the witnesses to tell no one, but the more he commanded them the more enthusiastically they proclaimed it. They said Jesus does everything well, even healing the deaf and mute.

Commentary:

The elders of the tribes of Israel recognized that David was the fulfillment of God’s promise of a shepherd and prince to lead the people of Israel, so they came to him and asked him to be their king. They acknowledged that David had been their “champion” and hero in Saul’s monarchy. Under David’s monarchy, God’s people were united, the last enemy of Israel was defeated and Jerusalem, the “City of God,” was established. David recognized that the Lord had established David’s kingdom in fulfillment of God’s promise, and had exalted David’s kingdom for the sake of God’s people.

David prefigures and illustrates the Christ, God’s anointed eternal King. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is our “champion” and hero who has defeated our spiritual enemy, Satan, at the Cross, as David had killed Goliath. In the kingdom of Jesus Christ, he has established his City of God on earth, the Church.

God’s plan of salvation (see sidebar, top right, home) from sin and eternal condemnation has been built into creation (John 1:1-5, 14). It has always been God’s purpose to create an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey him. This life is a selection process for that eternal kingdom; it’s our opportunity to seek and find forgiveness, reconciliation and a personal relationship with God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Those who examine the scriptures honestly will conclude that Jesus is the Christ and that his crucifixion and resurrection were necessary to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. Their minds are open to receive the Gospel. They will come to Jesus and ask Jesus to be their King.

Those who are pursuing self-interest and worldly goals will see the Gospel as the overturning of their world; they will see Christianity as a threat to their worldly way of life. Their minds are not open to receive the Gospel. They will oppose the Gospel and persecute the evangelists, but the Lord will preserve and prosper his Word and his people. Those who cannot see the goodness of God in the light of the Gospel condemn themselves to eternal darkness.

The Syrophoenician woman recognized that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord’s anointed, and asked him to be her Lord. She acknowledged that she was not worthy of his favor, but she trusted that the abundance of his grace would overflow to her blessing, and she received what she requested.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 11 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 08/05/05;

Podcast: Saturday 11 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 5:22-6:11   –    Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem;

Acts 17:16-34    –   Paul’s Preaching at Athens;

Mark 8:1-10   –   Feeding the Four Thousand;

2 Samuel Paraphrase:

After Israel conquered the Jebusite stronghold at Jerusalem, the Philistines realized that David’s kingdom was becoming strong enough to be a threat to the Philistines. The Philistine army moved into the Valley of Rephaim (near Jerusalem). David sought the Lord’s council, and the Lord told him not to engage the Philistines directly, but to go around and attack from their rear. The Lord would give the sound of marching in the treetops, signaling that the Lord had gone before them to strike the Philistines, and David’s army was to attack. David did as the Lord had said, and they drove the Philistines from Geba (near Jerusalem) to Gezer (near the Philistine border).

The Ark of the Covenant had been in the custody of Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, in Kiriath-jearim (Baale-judah) for twenty years after its return from the Philistines. David and thirty thousand men escorted the Ark from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem. The Ark was placed on a new cart prepared for the purpose (not the method of transport God commanded). Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab drove the cart; Ahio went ahead of the cart and Uzzah was beside or behind the cart. The crowd was celebrating with music and singing.

At the threshing floor of Nacon (a local landmark) the oxen stumbled, the Ark lurched, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady it and was struck dead. (It was forbidden for anyone to touch the holy things or they would be destroyed by divine holiness; Numbers 4:15 RSV). David was upset that the Lord had broken forth upon Uzzah and the place became known as Perez-uzzah (meaning “the breaking forth upon Uzzah”). David became afraid to take the Ark into the city of David (the Jebusite fortress at Jerusalem which David had captured and made his capital). Instead, David gave custody of the Ark to Obededom, where it remained for three months. During that time the Lord blessed the entire household of Obededom.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been forced to flee from Beroea to Athens because of persecution by the Jews of Thessalonica, while Silas and Timothy had stayed in Beroea (to disciple new Christians). While Paul waited for Silas and Timothy to arrive he looked around Athens and was disturbed by all the idolatry. Paul debated with the Jews in the synagogues on the Sabbath, and in the marketplace during the week, with whoever happened to be there.

He encountered Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who considered Paul a ‘babbler,’ less intellectually sophisticated than themselves. Paul was preaching Jesus and the resurrection, which they concluded must be two foreign deities. They brought Paul to the Areopagus, an outdoor “Greek” theater where the Athenian court met. Athenians at the time were well known for their intellectual curiosity.

Paul addressed the crowd saying that he had noticed that the Athenians were very religious, and as he had looked at their shrines he had found one dedicated to an unknown god. Paul was trying to make known to the Athenians the God who had been unknown to them. This God is the creator of everything and Lord of heaven and earth.

God has no need of shrines made by mankind, nor does he need anyone to do things for him, since he is completely able to accomplish his will by his own power. God has created every nation on earth and all creation is governed by his will. The purpose of this creation is so that mankind can seek God, groping after him in hope of finding him, although God is not far from us (Acts 17:26-27).

Paul showed his knowledge of Greek literature by quoting appropriate passages to make his point that we are God’s offspring, and God is not an object fashioned by human hands and imagination. In the past God has overlooked spiritual ignorance, but now, with the fulfillment of the promised Savior in the appearance, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God commands all people everywhere to repent, to turn from disobedience of God’s Word. God has fixed a Day of Judgment when he will judge everyone who has ever lived, by Jesus Christ whom he has appointed Judge, and has confirmed this appointment by raising Jesus from the dead.

Some of Paul’s hearers mocked his claim of Jesus’ resurrection, but others were interested in hearing more. Paul continued to mingle with them in daily activities, but several individuals believed and joined with Paul, including one of the members of the Areopagus.

Mark Paraphrase:

A great crowd had come to Jesus in the open countryside and had been listening to Jesus for three days.  Jesus had compassion for them because they were hungry; many had come from great distances and were likely to faint on the way home. His disciples couldn’t see how they could feed the large crowd, but Jesus told them to check their supplies. The disciples reported that they had seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down and he took the bread and fish, and blessed and broke them into pieces, and told his disciples to distribute them. The crowd of about four thousand people ate and were satisfied, and there were seven baskets of leftover pieces collected. Then Jesus dismissed the crowd and he and his disciples got into their boat and went across the Sea of Galilee to Dalmanutha (or Magadan; on the western shore).

Commentary:

The Lord blesses those who trust and obey him, but he has power to destroy eternally those who do not respect his holiness and power and do not obey him. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Anyone who does not have a healthy respect for God’s authority and power is spiritually ignorant. We don’t need to fear him if we do what is in accordance with his Word, but we can’t violate his commandments and avoid his judgment and punishment.

The meaning and purpose of this life is to seek and come to a personal relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. God has revealed himself through his prophets, in his Word, the Bible, and through Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment and embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the revealing of God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; Matthew 11:27). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God to us individually and personally (John 14:21, 23).

God’s purpose has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey him. We are given free will to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey him or not. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus Christ has been “built into” the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5; 14).

The Lord doesn’t want anyone to perish; he sent Jesus into the world to save us (John 3:16-17). Jesus’ miracle of physically feeding the multitudes was intended to show that Jesus is the source of spiritual nurture and sustenance. Jesus is the bread of eternal life (John 6:51). Jesus is the source of “living water” (John 4:14; 7:37-39), which is the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of his Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has designed creation so that mankind dies physically once, and then comes judgment (not reincarnation; Hebrews 9:27). Jesus Christ is God’s appointed judge, who has promised to return on the Day of Judgment when he will judge the physically and spiritually living and dead. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in heaven with the Lord, but those who have rejected Jesus or have refused to obey him will receive eternal death and destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). With the revealing of Jesus as the Lord’s anointed Savior and eternal King, and his death and resurrection, there is no longer any excuse for spiritual ignorance. Each one of us will be accountable to God for what we have done with God’s Word in our life.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 10 Pentecost – Odd – 08/02 – 08/2015

August 1, 2015

Week of 10 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.

*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 10 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 10 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/23/05;

Podcast: Sunday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 23:7-18   –     David Escapes from Saul;
Romans 11:33-12:2   –     Spiritual Riches;
Matthew 25:14-30   –   Parable of the Talents;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had been fighting the Philistines at Keilah (just a few miles south of Adullam in the hill country of Judah. When King Saul heard where David was, he thought that David had become trapped in the walled city, and Saul and his army planned to besiege the city. David knew that Saul was trying to kill him, so he asked the only remaining priest, Abiathar for help in seeking the Lord’s guidance. David asked the Lord whether Saul would come to Keilah to capture David and whether the people of  Keilah would surrender David to Saul. The Lord affirmed that Saul would come and David would be given into Saul’s custody.

David and his men, who now numbered six hundred, left Keilah and took refuge wherever they could. When Saul learned that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul gave up his plan to besiege the city. David took refuge in the Wilderness of Ziph (the Negeb, southwest of the Dead Sea). Saul sought David constantly, but the Lord did not allow Saul to capture David.

Romans Paraphrase:

The spiritual riches of God are greater than we can measure and his wisdom and understanding are beyond human comprehension. His judgment and his acts are beyond reproach. Who has known the mysteries of God? The Lord has no need for human advice. What could a person give the Lord to repay him? All things have been given by him, through him and belong to him. He is worthy of eternal glory.

Realizing that, we should present ourselves as a living sacrifice (in contrast to the slain body of an animal), as the act of spiritual worship, which is holy and acceptable to God only because of his mercy to us. We must not be conformed to the ways of this fallen world, but transformed by the renewal of our minds [a new understanding of spiritual reality through spiritual rebirth (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9b, Acts 9:4-6), who opens our minds to understand God’s Word (Luke 24:45)] so that we come to certain knowledge and demonstration of God’s good, acceptable and perfect will as we apply it in our lives.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus described this life in the parable (an ordinary experience from daily life to convey spiritual truth) of the talents. The master left his resources in the stewardship of his servants, distributed according to their ability. To one he gave five talents (estimated at a thousand U.S. dollars in 1946;* a lot of money); to another he gave two talents, and to another, one talent. Then the master went far away and was gone a long time.

When he returned, he summoned his servants to account for their stewardship. The servant who had been given five talents had invested it and gained five talents more. The master commended the servant for his faithfulness and rewarded him with greater responsibility and a share in his master’s glory and success. The master likewise commended the servant who had received two talents and had gained two talents more.

The third servant told the master that the servant knew him to be a hard man, who profited from the labor of others, so the servant had buried the master’s one talent and he returned it to his master. The master condemned his wicked servant for his wicked assessment of the master, and for neglecting to exercise the minimum standard of care for his responsibility by investing in the bank where it would have been safe and at least have earned interest. The master took the one talent from the wicked servant and gave it to the servant with the ten talents.

Everyone who recognizes what he has been given and by whom, and uses it responsibly, will be rewarded, but those who do not appreciate what has been entrusted to them and by whom, will lose everything. The master ordered the wicked servant to be cast into outer darkness where people will be in eternal grief and agony.

Commentary:

Saul had been the Lord’s anointed King of Israel, anointed with the kingship and with the Holy Spirit, but had not obeyed God’s Word, so the Lord took the anointing of the kingship and of the Holy Spirit from Saul and gave it to David (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Saul hadn’t listened to the council of Ahimelech, the priest, Saul’s spiritual advisor (1 Samuel 22:13-15). Saul had followed his own worldly goals and ambitions instead of the Lord’s will, and he had killed the priests and destroyed Nob, the “city of God” where the priests lived and the tabernacle, God’s “house,” was located at the time.

In contrast to Saul, David sought the council of the Lord’s Word through the one priest which God had delivered from execution by Saul’s servant, and whom David had offered sanctuary and protection. By the guidance of God’s Word, and by David’s obedience, David escaped from Saul’s plan to capture and destroy David. Saul continually sought to capture and kill David, but was never able to, because God was with David to protect him from Saul’s power.

What is our concept of God? Do we doubt his existence? Do we think God is dead? Do we suppose that he is removed from and indifferent to worldly affairs? Do we visualize him as an old man who can be deceived and manipulated to do what we want? Do we see him as a cosmic policeman who wants to keep us from having success, happiness, and pleasure in life?

Jesus Christ is the illustration, the demonstration, of God in human form; Jesus is fully God in fully human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus came to demonstrate real, spiritual, eternal life, and to die as the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who trust and obey him, for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s will; Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), so that we wouldn’t have to die eternally (Romans 6:23), and so that we could be “born-again” (John 3;3, 5-8)  to eternal life through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit within us, which he gives only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17, 21, 23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God is intimately involved in daily life in this world. God is the creator, owner, and sustainer of everything in creation; everything in the entire Universe. God’s plan and purpose for this creation has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who will trust and obey him. Jesus Christ, the Savior and eternal King, has been “built into” the very structure of creation (John 1:1-5, 14). This life is a selection process for God’s eternal kingdom, and we get to choose whether or not to accept his offer of forgiveness and eternal life in his Kingdom through obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

He came in Jesus Christ to show us what he’s like, and to show us how to live according to his will. Through the gift of his Holy Spirit he cleanses us from sin, and gives us the knowledge and understanding of his will and Word, and the power to live in obedient trust in his will and Word.

In a sense we are all God’s servants and this earth is his property. The Lord has given us every good and necessary thing. He expects us to be good stewards, realizing the value and the giver of his gifts and his goodness to us. Each of us will be personally accountable for what we have done with the life he has given us on this earth (Matthew 25:31-46).

Saul is an example of worldly rulers and those who live according to the world instead of living in obedience to God. Saul also symbolizes Satan, the supernatural ruler of this present world, who had been expelled from heaven for disobedience of God’s will (Revelation 12:12). Satan constantly seeks to destroy God’s children, but the Lord protects them by his power and Holy Spirit.

Both Satan and Saul have been dethroned and are spiritually dead; they just don’t acknowledge it yet. David is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ (so that we would know what to look for, and recognize the Christ when he came), and Jesus is the Christ, the fulfillment of the promised eternal Savior and King.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, New Testament, Matthew 25:14 note “d,” Division of Christian Education, of the National Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1946.


Monday 10 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/24/05;

Podcast: Monday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 24:1-22    –    David Spares Saul’s Life;
Acts 13:44-52   –     Jews’ Jealousy of Paul;
Mark 4:1-20   –    Parable of the Sower;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

King Saul continued to pursue David’s assassination. When he learned that David was in the desert of Engedi, he took three thousand hand-picked troops of the best warriors of Israel to hunt David, and Saul’s men cornered him in front of steep terrain only suitable for mountain goats. Saul came to a cave, and went in to relieve himself. David and his men were hidden in the deepest recesses of the cave.

David’s men saw this opportunity as the fulfillment of prophecy that the Lord would deliver his enemy into David’s hand. David approached Saul stealthily and was able to cut off the fringe of Saul’s robe while Saul was occupied with his toilet. But afterwards David felt guilty. David felt that regardless of Saul’s wickedness Saul had been anointed and installed as king by the Lord, so David prevented his men from using the opportunity to kill Saul.

When Saul left the cave, David came out and called to Saul, acknowledging him as his lord and king. David bowed to Saul. David told Saul not to believe those who said that David sought Saul’s injury. David showed Saul that he had come close enough to kill Saul, by removing the fringe of Saul’s robe, but had spared Saul, because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Saul should therefore acknowledge that there was no evil or treason in David.

David had done nothing evil to deserve Saul’s punishment. David consigned his vengeance to the Lord. An ancient proverb said that wickedness is the product of the wicked. David could not be considered wicked based upon his conduct, so why was Saul pursuing David, who was no threat whatsoever to Saul? David was content to let the Lord be his judge, his advocate, deliverer and avenger.

Saul was ashamed and acknowledged his wicked intent toward David, in contrast to David’s righteousness. Saul admitted that David’s conduct did not deserve Saul’s enmity. Saul realized that the kingdom belonged to David. Saul asked that when David had become king that David would not destroy Saul’s honor and his descendants. David promised to do as Saul had requested.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was on his first missionary trip, with Barnabas, and arrived at Antioch (of Pisidia) in Asia Minor, north of Pamphylia in the Roman province of Galatia (in present-day Turkey). Paul had preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the synagogue, and had been invited to return the following Sabbath. Almost everyone in the city had gathered to hear Paul preach, but the Jewish religious leaders were envious of Paul for the crowd which had gathered to hear him, and they reviled and contradicted Paul publicly.

Paul and Barnabas said that they had fulfilled their responsibility to declare the Gospel to the Jews first, but since the Jews rejected the message and the gift of eternal life they would proclaim it to the Gentiles. Paul quoted the prophecy of Habakkuk 1:5 showing that God had intended the Jewish people to be a source of spiritual enlightenment and eternal salvation to the Gentiles through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The Gentiles rejoiced and glorified God’s Word and many believed the Gospel and the hope of eternal life. The Gospel spread throughout the region, but the Jews enlisted the support of prominent and influential Jewish men and women and stirred up persecution of Paul and Barnabas, driving them away. But Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust from their feet against them and went on to Iconium” (southeast of Antioch in Galatia; Acts 13:51; compare Matthew 10:14-15). “The (new) disciples (in Antioch) were filled with joy (of the Lord’s presence and salvation) and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching a crowd on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He was in a boat just offshore (to avoid being trampled by people pressing forward to hear and be healed; Mark 3:9-10). Jesus taught them in parables (examples from ordinary life experience to teach spiritual truth).

In the parable of the sower (one who broadcasts seed) seed fell on various types of soil. Some fell on the path, which was compacted and hard. Birds came along and ate the seed. Other seed fell on rocks where it sprouted quickly but then withered in the heat of the sun because of lack of depth of soil to sustain it. Some fell among thorns, and as it grew the thorns choked the seed and it failed to produce a harvest. But some seed fell in good soil and produced a harvest many times greater than the original seed.

Privately his disciples asked him to explain the parable, and Jesus said that the secrets of God’s kingdom were revealed to his disciples, but that Jesus taught in parables so that people were free to not understand, if they chose.  Jesus told them that the seed is the Word of God. The soils represent the hearers. Some, like the soil on the path, hear the Word of God, but Satan immediately takes it from them. Rocky ground represents those who hear and receive God’s Word with joy, but they don’t grow and develop spiritual roots, so at the first taste of tribulation or persecution they fall away. Thorny soil represents those who let worldly cares and pleasures choke out God’s Word so that it doesn’t produce a harvest. The good soil represents those who receive God’s Word and nurture it by applying it in their lives so that they grow to spiritual maturity and produce an abundant harvest of spiritual multiplication beyond their own lives.

Commentary:

What we do reveals who we are and what we believe. Saul was doing what seemed right in his own judgment, without the standard and guidance of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit had been taken from him, because he did not obey God’s Word, and had been given to David (1 Samuel 16:13-14).

In contrast, David was guided by God’s Word and Spirit, and did what was right in God’s judgment. Wickedness is produced by the wicked. Righteousness is the product of the righteous. David returned Saul’s evil with good and left judgment and vengeance to the Lord. David’s righteousness led Saul to repentance and to Saul’s obedience of God’s will. Saul accepted his replacement by David as the Lord’s anointed.

Paul and Barnabas were examples of righteousness. They were guided by God’s Word and God’s Spirit within them as David had been. In David’s time the anointing with the Holy Spirit was a rare event limited to a few prophets and leaders of God’s people, but since Jesus’ resurrection the Holy Spirit is given to all Jesus’ disciples (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-18) who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Paul and Barnabas were trying to share the goodness and blessings of the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life with their fellow Jews, but the Jews responded with wickedness against them. In response to persecution Paul and Barnabas obeyed the Lord’s Word to shake the dust from their feet and go on to the next town (Matthew 10:14-15). When the Jews rejected the message of salvation and eternal life Paul and Barnabas took the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Some of the Jews were jealous of the popularity of the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. They saw them as rivals for their position and power over the people, like King Saul had regarded David. They stirred up persecution and drove Paul and Barnabas away, but others had been eager to hear the Gospel; they believed and they experienced the blessings and joy of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and the assurance of eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

So many people were coming to Jesus to hear the Gospel and receive healing that he had to preach from a boat to keep from being crushed and trampled. Some were coming only for what Jesus could do for them physically at the moment (see John 6:26-27). Jesus’ physical healing and feeding were intended to show that he is able to feed and heal spiritually which is of benefit now and eternally.

The parable of the sower illustrates the response of various types of hearers of Jesus’ gospel. Only those who hear Jesus’ message and apply it in their lives, who nurture it and allow it to grow to maturity, so that it produces a harvest of eternal life, receive spiritual healing and spiritual life through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

God’s Word is in parables, so that people are free to accept or reject it. God’s Word is not like our word; it is a powerful and actively creative force (Hebrews 4:12). The entire universe was created by God’s Word (Genesis 1:3). The Lord could command us to obey him, but he wants us to be able to choose for ourselves to obey him. He wants us to be able to see but not perceive; to hear but not understand, if we choose. That is why Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man; it is true (he is God, the Son of man, begotten by the Holy Spirit; Colossians 2:8-9; Matthew 1:20-23) and it allows his hearers to decide for themselves who Jesus is (with a hint from Daniel 7:13-14).

When people commit to trust and obey Jesus, their minds are opened to understand the scriptures, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen, ascended Jesus (Luke 24:45; Romans 8:9b).

David, Paul and Barnabas are examples of believers who nurtured God’s Word and allowed it to grow to spiritual maturity, producing the fruit of righteousness; they’re examples of “good soil.” What kind of “soil” are you?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 10 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/25/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 25:1-22   –    David and Abigail;
Acts 14:1-18    –    Mistaken for “gods;”
Mark 4:21-34   –   Parables of the Kingdom;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel, priest, prophet and last of the judges of Israel, died, and all Israel mourned for him. He was buried at his home in Ramah in the hills of Ephraim [about 15 miles west of Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3) where the tabernacle had been located before being moved to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1)]

David went down into the wilderness in the vicinity of Maon (probably the Negeb; in Judah west of the Dead Sea). There was a rich man named Nabal, in Maon, whose business was in nearby Carmel. He owned a large number of sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. Nabal had an intelligent and beautiful wife, but he was vulgar, ill-mannered and surly. He was a descendant of one of the families of the tribe of Judah. David heard that Nabal was in Carmel, shearing sheep, so David sent ten of his men to Nabal with greetings and offering peace in David’s name, asking for a contribution of provisions for David’s men, since they were preserving peace in the region and protecting Nabal’s sheep business.

Nabal claimed he had never heard of David, the son of Jesse, He claimed that there were many servants rebelling against their masters and forming gangs. Nabal refused to give to these men whose origins and motives he didn’t know, provisions he had prepared for his servants. So David’s men reported back to David, and David told his men to arm themselves. David and four hundred armed fighting men went to Carmel, while two hundred men stayed with their baggage.

One of Nabal’s servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife in Maon, that David had sent men to greet Nabal and Nabal had reviled them and treated them rudely, even though David’s men had treated Nabal’s servants fairly and had protected them in the wilderness. Nabal’s servant warned Abigail that trouble was coming upon Nabal and his entire household, and the servant knew that Nabal wouldn’t listen to reason.

So Abigail hurriedly gathered up two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, five measures of parched grain, a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of dried figs. This was all loaded on donkeys and she told her servants to go ahead of her and she would follow, going to meet David as he and his army came toward them. She didn’t tell her husband, and they took a route concealed behind a hill which prevented her husband from seeing them. David had vowed that, since Nabal had returned evil for good, David and his men would kill every male of the house of Nabal by the next morning.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas had been driven from Antioch of Pisidia by persecution by the Jews, but they went on to nearby Iconium, the capital of Lycaonia (a Roman province in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey). Again they preached the Gospel in the synagogue and a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed, but again Jews opposed and refuted the Gospel.

Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time, despite opposition, preaching the gospel boldly, which the Lord confirmed by many miracles done through them. But the city was divided between the Jews and the Apostles. When they learned that a group of Jews and Gentiles, and people in authority, planned to stone them, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra and Derbe (other nearby cities of the province) where they continued to preach the Gospel.

At Lystra there was a man born crippled who had never been able to walk. When Paul saw him, Paul realized that the man had the faith to be healed, so he told the man to stand up. The man did has Paul told him and began to walk.

When the crowd saw what had happened they declared that Paul and Barnabas were “gods” in human form; they called Paul “Hermes” and Barnabas “Zeus.” The priest of the temple of Zeus brought oxen and garlands, and the people of the city prepared to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.

When Paul and Barnabas realized what was happening, they tore their garments (a sign of ritual mourning) and rushed out into the crowd, telling them that Paul and Barnabas were just mortals, and urging them to turn from the useless worship of idols to worship the true and living God, the creator of everything in the Universe.

Paul told them that in the past God had overlooked spiritual ignorance, but the generous blessings of his creation testified to the goodness of the creator. With this, Paul and Barnabas were barely able to restrain the people from their attempt to offer a sacrificial offering to Paul and Barnabas.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus taught the crowds in parables (examples from ordinary life experience to teach spiritual truth). Jesus said that a lamp is not lit and then hidden under a basket or under a bed. Nothing can be hidden that will not be revealed by the light.

Jesus said if one has ears that hear he should use them to listen (and apply what he hears). One must be careful what he hears (what and who he listens to); everyone will be accountable for his own deeds. Those who realize and appreciate what they have will be given more; but those who do not, will lose even what they think is theirs.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. He doesn’t have to understand how it sprouts and grows. Native seed will grow without any assistance from man at all, but man can tell when it is ripe and reap the harvest.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is a tiny, seemingly insignificant seed when sown, but when it grows to maturity it becomes the largest of shrubs, becoming a shelter and home for birds of the air.

Jesus always taught in parables to the crowds who came to hear him, but he explained the parables to his disciples when he was alone with them.

Commentary:

Nabal is an example of a worldly man who had many blessings: an intelligent and beautiful wife, wealth, success, and authority over many servants, but who did not appreciate that he had been blessed, and did not acknowledge who had blessed him. David was a representative of the Lord, the Lord’s “anointed,” (1 Samuel 16:13-14) who had been given authority from God to govern Israel. David and his men had made it safe and possible for Nabal to accomplish what he had achieved, and yet Nabal had treated David’s servants with great disrespect, and had refused to give any offering of a portion the blessings of protection, peace, and prosperity he had been given.

Nabal thought that he was better and smarter than those who worked for him, but they could see what was about to happen and Nabal was oblivious. There was a time coming soon when Nabal would be accountable to David, and what he thought was his would be taken from him.

The people of Lystra were spiritually ignorant; they worshiped things they had made. They were receptive to hear about God who came to earth in human form, but until Paul and Barnabas came they had never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They mistakenly were ready to worship the messengers, the servants of the Lord, instead of the Lord, but they heeded the teaching of Paul and Barnabas when they were corrected.

The crippled man was healed because he believed the Gospel and he acted on it in faith (obedient trust). The Lord was merciful to overlook their past spiritual ignorance, but now that they had heard the Gospel they were accountable to the Lord for how they responded to it.

The people of Iconium heard the Gospel from Paul and Barnabas and some of them believed the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, but some of them believed the erroneous teaching of those who had rejected the Gospel, who claimed to know God, but who had failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God and God’s promised Savior and anointed King (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively).

Jesus warned that it matters eternally what and who we listen to, and what we do with what we’ve heard. Those who recognize the blessings of the goodness of creation and gift of God of forgiveness and eternal life, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), will receive more: eternal life in paradise with the Lord and every spiritual blessing in heaven. But those who don’t realize that everything they have is a gift by the love and mercy of God will lose all the material things they think they possess, and also their immortal souls and the opportunity for eternal life.

David is the forerunner and illustration of Christ. Christ has sent his servants to proclaim blessing and peace with God, and to ask for a return of a portion of his blessings and the acknowledgement of his authority. But those who treat his servants with abuse and disrespect and refuse to give him the offering of a tithe of their blessings will face his wrath and judgment on the day of his return, the Day of Judgment.

Jesus warned that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what each has done individually in life, and what they have done with the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the light of the world who will expose the things we think are hidden and that we think will never be found out.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 10 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/26/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 25:23-44    –    Death of Nabal;
Acts 14:19-28   –     Stoning of Paul;
Mark 4:35-44    –   Jesus Calms the Sea;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Abigail had been told by her servants that her husband, Nabal, had refused to provide provisions for David and his men, who were providing peace and protection for the region, and that David would come to avenge himself. She prepared a large amount of food and she and her servants went out to intercept David. When she came to David, she bowed and humbled herself before David, and interceded for her husband.

Abigail told David that the character of her husband, whose name means “fool,” was the same as his name. Abigail swore that the Lord was restraining David from committing sin by taking vengeance upon Nabal himself, and she prayed in faith that the Lord would avenge all the enemies of David as he would Nabal. Abigail asked David to accept her gift of provisions and she declared her faith that David was fighting the battles of the Lord, would be protected and preserved by the Lord, and that David would not be found guilty of evil. The Lord would bless and prosper David in his endeavors and would afflict and punish David’s enemies.

David praised and thanked the Lord for sending Abigail to David to keep him from committing sin and taking vengeance into his own hands. If Abigail hadn’t intervened David would have destroyed every male of the household of Nabal. David accepted Abigail’s offering, and granted peace to her household.

When Abigail returned to her home her husband was holding a lavish feast and was extremely drunk, so Abigail told him nothing until the next morning, when he had sobered up. When Abigail told him about her intercession with David, Nabal had a heart attack or stroke and became unconscious or paralyzed, and died ten days later.

When David heard Nabal had died, David praised the Lord for avenging David, for preventing David from sinning in seeking vengeance himself, and for giving Nabal what he deserved. David sent his servants to Abigail to ask her to join David and become his wife, and Abigail accepted, telling them she was unworthy to wash the feet of David’s servants. She and five female servants went to David and he and Abigail were married. David also took another wife, Ahinoam, of Jezreel (in Hebron; between Jerusalem and Beersheba; not in the Plain of Esdraelon in northern Israel). Michal, Saul’s daughter whom he had given to David as wife, Saul later gave to Palti, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas were on Paul’s first missionary journey. They had been driven from Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), by persecution from the Jews. They went to Lystra, in the same region, but Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and stirred up the people and stoned Paul, dragging him from the city and leaving him for dead. The Christians gathered around Paul, who rose up and returned to the city.

The next day Paul and Barnabas went on to near-by Derbe, where “they preached the gospel to that city and… made many disciples” (Acts 14:21). They returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch encouraging the new disciples to continue in faith, telling them that we must endure many troubles in order to enter the kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas, guided by the Holy Spirit selected and appointed elders to lead and govern each congregation, and “committed them to the Lord in whom they believed” (Acts 14:23).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus had been preaching to a huge crowd on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:1-34). That evening he and his disciples left the crowd and took a boat across the sea, with other boats. A great windstorm arose and created large waves which were swamping the boat, but Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion. His disciples woke him and asked him how he could be sleeping when they were about to perish.

Jesus awoke and commanded the wind, saying “Peace, Be still” (Mark 4:39) and the wind ceased and the sea became calm. Jesus asked why his disciples had been afraid; had they no faith? The disciples were amazed and asked among themselves who Jesus must be, that even wind and sea obey him.

Commentary:

Abigail was a servant of the Lord. She recognized that David was leading the Lord’s army and fighting the spiritual battle in the name, power and guidance of the Lord. She had faith that the Lord would bless and prosper David and would punish David’s enemies. She interceded with David to leave vengeance on Nabal to the Lord and the Lord did as she believed he would.

David is an example of a servant of the Lord, and a leader of the Lord’s servants, who is fighting a spiritual battle in this world. The Lord’s servants must learn to not allow personal emotions to cause us to take vengeance into our own hands, but instead to rely on the Lord’s guidance and power. David is also an illustration of a servant of the Lord who, although he has been designated as the Lord’s “anointed,” is willing to listen to reason and to accept correction even from those who are lower in authority than himself.

David also is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ. Jesus is the anointed Messiah and eternal King. He withholds, for now, his anger and vengeance against his enemies, who are fools like Nabal, who refuse to listen to reason. Jesus is King and Lord, and he sends his servants offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world, but those who refuse to accept his peace and forgiveness, who refuse to give him an offering of what he is entitled to receive, and who insult and abuse his servants, will receive what they deserve on the Day of Judgment when Jesus returns in power and glory as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 25:31-46; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Paul and Barnabas are examples of servants of the Lord; they were “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ. They came proclaiming good news of peace, reconciliation with God and eternal life in Heaven, through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. The Jews who opposed the gospel are like Nabal; they refused to listen to reason, and they treated the Lord’s servants shamefully. They tried to stone Paul to death, but the Lord was with Paul, preserved him and prospered Paul’s ministry despite the opposition of his enemies.

Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the gospel with great boldness and courage in the face of great persecution. Paul returned to the cities where he had been persecuted, in order to strengthen the new disciples and organize the young congregations. Paul didn’t seek his own vengeance but trusted in the Lord to protect him and punish his enemies.

Jesus is the Lord of Creation. Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14); he was attendant with God at creation, and has been “built into” the very structure of Creation. When Jesus speaks, his words are the Word of God, with the creative force of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12; John 14:24).

Jesus could command us to obey, but he wants us to choose to obey him. That is why Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man, so that his hearers could decide for themselves who Jesus is, with a hint from Daniel 7:13 (compare Acts 1:9, 11). Jesus is God, the Son of man (John 20:28; Colossians 2:8-9), conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-23). Jesus is able and faithful to protect and prosper his disciples in any tribulation or persecution.

Jesus’ disciples had been growing, through constant daily presence with him, in their understanding of who Jesus is. They had witnessed many miracles, and yet were amazed that Jesus’ word could command obedience from the forces of nature. The disciples were forced to re-examine who they understood Jesus to be.

Who do you say that Jesus is? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 10 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/27/05;

Podcast: Thursday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 28:3-20    –    Saul Consults the Witch at Endor;

Acts 15:1-11    –    The Circumcision Party;

Mark 5:1-20   –    The Gerasene Demoniac;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel, the priest, prophet and last judge of Israel had died, and all Israel mourned him. He was buried in his city, Ramah (about 5 miles north of Jerusalem). The Philistines were camped at Shunem (on the north side of the valley of Jezreel in northern Israel) and Saul and his men were camped at Gilboa (on the south side of the valley). When Saul saw the Philistine army he was very afraid.

Saul sought guidance and reassurance from the Lord but the Lord did not reply by dreams, prophets or by sacred lots (Urim and Thummim). Saul had previously driven mediums and wizards out of Israel, (because they were an abomination to the Lord). But now Saul asked his men to locate a woman who was a medium, and they told him there was one in Endor (nearby; north of the Philistine encampment).

Saul disguised himself and went to the woman at night, with two bodyguards. Saul asked the medium to summon the spirit of Samuel. The medium told him that Saul had cast the wizards and mediums out of Israel, and she was afraid his request was a trap to destroy her. Saul swore on the living God that she would not be punished for doing what he requested. When the medium saw the spirit of Samuel, she cried out loudly, realizing that the person seeking her help was Saul. Saul told her not to be afraid. Saul asked the medium what the spirit looked like, and was convinced that she had summoned Samuel.

Samuel asked Saul what he wanted, and Saul told him that the Philistines were about to engage Saul’s army and Saul had not been able to hear a Word from God. Samuel asked why Saul was asking Samuel, since the Lord had stopped answering Saul and had become Saul’s enemy. Samuel told Saul that this was the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecy to Saul that the Lord would take the kingdom from Saul, because Saul had not obeyed God’s command to completely destroy Amalek (1 Samuel chapter 15). Samuel told Saul that he and his sons would die at the hands of the Philistines the next day, and his army would be conquered. Saul fainted with fear at this prophecy, partly because he had been fasting for twenty-four hours.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch, Syria, from Paul’s first missionary journey. Some Christian men from Jerusalem came to Antioch and were teaching that to be saved Gentiles must keep the laws of Moses, including circumcision. Paul and Barnabas got into a big debate and argument with them. So the Church delegated Paul and Barnabas and others to go to Jerusalem to the Church headquarters to get an official ruling from the Apostles on the matter. On their way, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of Gentiles to the Christians along their route, who rejoiced with them.

At the council of Apostles and elders in Jerusalem they were welcomed and they gave a report on what the Lord was doing through them. But Christian members of the Pharisees (strict legalistic Jewish party) insisted that Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Laws of Moses.

After much debate, Peter spoke and reminded them how he had been guided to preach the Gospel to Gentiles (the household of Cornelius; Acts 10:9-48). God had made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, but gave them the same gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom they were cleansed. Peter asked why the advocates of legalism were trying to test God by making Gentiles bear requirements which Jews had never been able to fulfill, themselves. The Jewish Christians depended for their salvation on God’s grace (free gift; unmerited favor; see Ephesians 2:8-9) and so could the Gentiles.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples had crossed the Sea of Galilee to the eastern shore. When they got out of the boat they were confronted by a man possessed by a demon, who lived outdoors in a cemetery, without clothes, like an animal. No one had been able to restrain him because he broke every rope or chain used on him. When the Demoniac saw Jesus he ran to him and bowed to him, and in a loud voice, addressing Jesus by name as the  Son of the Most High God, asked what Jesus intended to do to him.

The demoniac begged not to be tormented. Jesus asked the demon’s name, and the demon replied, “Legion,” for the man was possessed by many demons. The demons begged not to be sent out of the country, but to be allowed to enter a herd of pigs, nearby. Jesus gave them permission, so the demons entered the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand pigs stampeded down a steep bank into the sea and were drowned.

The pig herdsmen fled to the city nearby and reported what had happened, and the townspeople came out to see for themselves. They found the demoniac clothed and in his right mind, sitting with Jesus. When the townspeople had heard the eyewitness accounts they begged Jesus to leave their region. When Jesus was getting back into the boat, the man begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home and tell his friends how merciful the Lord had been and how much the Lord had done for him. Everyone was amazed at what had happened.

Commentary:

Saul hadn’t obeyed God’s Word when he had good spiritual council and knew God’s Word. Saul wanted God to save him without requiring Saul’s obedient trust. Because Saul had not obeyed God’s Word, God stopped answering Saul.

Instead of repenting and returning to obedient trust in the Lord, Saul sought spiritual guidance from demonic forces which he knew were abominable to the Lord. Saul tried to hide his identity but failed. Instead of security and reassurance, he learned of a disaster he was unable to avert. It was too late to change the outcome.

In contrast to Saul’s consultation with demonic forces, Paul and Barnabas relied on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sought Christian council. The same Holy Spirit that led and enabled Paul and Barnabas also led and enabled Peter.

The people of the Gerasenes (Gadarenes; Gergasenes) had access to the teaching and spiritual healing of Jesus Christ demonstrated vividly for them in the healing of the demoniac. The demoniac had been a nuisance and threat to the community for a long time, but instead of appreciating his healing and their deliverance from this threat, they were upset by the loss of the pigs, which represented a sinful occupation to Jews. The loss of the pigs gave the people of Gerasenes the opportunity to pursue a more legitimate occupation, but they went right back to raising pigs. They sent away the Savior who could heal their eternally fatal spiritual illness, because he interfered with their worldly business.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 10 Pentecost – Odd

First posted 07/28/05;

Podcast: Friday 10 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 31:1-13  –    Deaths of Saul and Jonathan;
Acts 15:12-21   –    The Apostolic Decree;
Mark 5:21-43   –   Jairus’ Daughter Raised;

1 Samuel Summary

Saul’s army had been encamped on Mount Gilboa facing attack by the Philistines from their encampment at Shunem (the north side of the valley of Jezreel in northern Israel). Saul had sought spiritual guidance from the witch at nearby Endor. The next day the Philistines attacked and overwhelmed the army of Israel. Jonathan, Saul’s son, and two of his brothers were killed and Saul was badly wounded by an arrow.

Saul asked his armor bearer to kill Saul with a sword so that Saul might not be humiliated and tortured by the Philistines, but the armor-bearer couldn’t bring himself to do it, so Saul fell on his own sword. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead the armor-bearer also killed himself by falling on his own sword. When the Israelites in that region saw that Saul and his army had been destroyed, they fled from their homes and villages, and the Philistines occupied them.

The day after the battle the Philistines came to loot the dead Israelites and found Saul and his three sons dead. The Philistines cut off Saul’s head and stripped his armor. Messengers were sent to  report the news of victory throughout the land of the Philistines, and Saul’s armor was placed in the temple of Astarte, the goddess of fertility and profane love.

Saul’s and his son’s bodies were displayed on the wall of Beth-shan (a Philistine stronghold between the Valley of Jezreel and the Jordan valley) When the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul they went at night and took the bodies to Jabesh, where they cremated them and buried their bones under a tree in Jabesh. They mourned them for seven days.

Acts Summary:

Converts to Christianity from the Pharisees (strict legalistic faction of Judaism) were insisting that Gentile Christians must keep the Laws of Moses, including circumcision. Paul and Barnabas had vigorously opposed them and had been sent to Jerusalem to get a ruling from Church headquarters. Peter, who had been led by the Holy Spirit to convert the first Gentile Christians, Cornelius and his household, had spoken in support of Paul’s and Barnabas’ position (Acts 15:1-11).

The apostolic council listened to Paul and Barnabas report what the Lord had been doing through them among the Gentiles, and then James (the brother of Jesus) spoke. He quoted scripture (Amos 9:11-12; Jeremiah 12:15, Isaiah 45:21) to show that the Lord intended salvation to include the Gentiles. James suggested that Gentiles be required to conform to the restrictions God gave to the sons of Noah: abstention from the pollution of idolatry, unchastity, animals which had been strangled (rather than bled out) and consumption of blood.

Mark Summary:

Returning from the healing of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20; see entry for yesterday) Jesus was again surrounded by a large crowd. A leader of a synagogue named Jairus came to Jesus and asked Jesus to come to his home and heal his daughter, who was close to death.

On the way, a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years reached out and touched Jesus’ clothing, in faith that by simply touching his clothes she would be healed. As soon as she touched him she knew that she had been healed, and Jesus knew that power had gone forth from him. Jesus asked who had touched his clothing. His disciples thought it was a foolish question; Jesus had just been jostled by the crowd.  But Jesus looked around to find who had touched him and the woman came forth and confessed what had happened. Jesus told her that her faith had made her healing possible.

While this dialog was going on, Jairus’ servants came to tell him that his daughter had died, and that he should not bother Jesus further. But Jesus ignored the messengers and told Jairus to believe and not worry. Jesus allowed only Peter, James and John to accompany him to Jairus’ house.

When they arrived, there were mourners weeping and wailing. Jesus told them that the daughter was only “sleeping,” which they thought was ludicrous. But Jesus made them wait outside; taking only the child’s mother and father he went in to her and took her hand and told her to get up. Immediately the girl rose up and walked, since she was twelve years old. The witnesses were overcome with amazement, but Jesus strictly commanded them not to publicize what had happened, and told her parents to give her some food.

Commentary:

Saul tried to circumvent God’s will. He had spiritual guidance and knowledge of God’s will from Samuel, but had chosen to disobey it. Because Saul had disobeyed, God stopped answering Saul, so Saul sought spiritual council from a demonic source (the witch of Endor). The witch was able to foretell Saul’s death, but Saul was unable to avoid it. Saul wound up destroying himself.

In contrast, Paul sought the Lord’s will and chose to obey it, and the Lord was able to sustain and support him. Paul was supported by others who were also guided by and obedient to the Lord’s will and Spirit. It is notable that the Lord strictly forbade drinking blood or consuming meat with its blood, because at that time it was believed that the spirit of the animal was contained in its blood. When the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, (Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Eucharist), he declared that the wine was his blood. The Lord wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit rather than the spirits of demons or animals.

Jairus trusted in Jesus’ words rather than the reports of his servants, and his daughter was restored to life. The hemorrhagic woman believed that Jesus was able to heal her just by touching him, and she was healed. It is important to trust Jesus and to act on that trust.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 10 Pentecost – Odd

First posted 07/29/05
Podcast: Saturday 10 Pentecost – Odd

2 Samuel 1:1-16  –   David Hears of Saul’s Death;
Acts 15:22-35   –    The Apostolic Decree Delivered;
Mark 6:1-13   –   Commissioning the Twelve;

2 Samuel Summary:

David and his army had fled from Saul and taken up residence in Ziklag in southern Israel. He had just returned from slaughtering the Amalekites and recovering the wives and children of David and his men who had been carried off by the Amalekites while David and his men were away.

On the third day of his return, an Amalekite came to Ziklag, claiming to have escaped from Saul’s encampment, and reported that the Israelite army had been defeated and that Saul and Jonathan were dead. David asked how the Amalekite knew this and the Amalekite claimed that he had come upon Saul who had been gravely wounded and the Amalekite had given him the “coup de grace” at Saul’s request. The Amalekite had brought Saul’s crown and armlet.

David and his men all tore their clothing (a sign of mourning) and mourned Saul and Jonathan until evening. David questioned the Amalekite further and learned that the Amalekite was the son of a “sojourner,” a long-term resident alien in Israel with limited civil rights. David asked him how he dared to destroy Saul, the Lord’s anointed, and then had one of his men execute the Amalekite.

Acts Summary:

The council of apostles and elders at Jerusalem had reached a decision on the issue of whether Gentile Christians were to be required to keep the Law of Moses, including circumcision. They delegated Judas (Barsabbas; not Iscariot) and Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabas and sent with them a letter certifying their authority and stating the ruling of the council requiring Gentile Christians to abstain only from what has been sacrificed to idols, from consuming blood or meat which contained blood, and from unchastity.

The men returned to Antioch, Syria, where they assembled the congregation and read the letter. The congregation rejoiced at the decision. Judas and Silas were both prophets and they preached and taught (“discipled”) the congregation, and after a while they returned to Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas stayed and continued, with others, to teach and preach God’s Word.

Matthew Summary:

Jesus preached in the Synagogue in Nazareth, but the people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They wondered how Jesus could have gotten his knowledge and power. They knew Jesus’ parents and family, and they were offended by Jesus’ teachings. Jesus told them that prophets have no honor in their own community, among their relatives and their own families. Jesus healed a few people but was not able to do any great miracles because of the unbelief of the people.

Jesus traveled among the villages of Galilee teaching, and he began sending the Twelve apostles out, two by two, having given them authority over demons. He told them to take no provisions for their journey except a staff; no bread, no money, and no extra clothing. Wherever they were received they were to stay in one house until they went on to the next village. If any village refused to receive them or listen to them, they were to shake the dust from their feet and go on to the next village. The Twelve went, preaching that people should repent, and they cast out many demons, and healed many who were sick.

Commentary:

David was the Lord’s “anointed;” the Lord had taken his anointing away from Saul because Saul had not obeyed God’s Word (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Despite Saul’s persecution, David had continued to honor Saul’s office and fulfilled his promise not to desecrate Saul’s legacy (1 Samuel 24:20-22).

The Amalekite had lied to David (1 Samuel 31:4-6), hoping to ingratiate himself with David, but David had him executed for killing Saul, the Lord’s anointed. The Amalekite was born in Israel as a resident alien, and should have known that Saul was the Lord’s anointed. As the Lord’s anointed, David was led by the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13) and had been given the power and authority to administer justice in the Lord’s name.

The council of apostles in Jerusalem consisted of the Twelve (minus Judas, the betrayer) who had been discipled and given authority over demons by Jesus, and had been empowered by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). They were leading the Church from Jerusalem by their understanding of the scriptures and by guidance given by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45). They were fulfilling the Great Commission given by the risen Lord to his disciples, to make disciples and teach them obedience to Jesus’ words (Matthew 28:18-20), to be carried out after having received the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The people of Nazareth were offended by Jesus’ authority and were unwilling to accept it. They knew his mother and father and thought they knew Jesus so well that he couldn’t possibly be the Lord’s anointed. They thought Jesus was trying to be something he wasn’t. As a result they missed the spiritual healing and reconciliation with God that only Jesus can provide. Jesus gave his authority to his disciples who used it to carry on Jesus’ ministry of repentance and reconciliation with God.

Jesus is the Lord’s Anointed. Can we recognize him, or do we think we know so much that we can’t believe it? Does his message offend us because we think he’s claiming to be someone he isn’t? Would anyone be motivated to reject him because it would be more popular to do so?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 9 Pentecost – Odd – 07/26 – 08/01/2015

July 25, 2015

Week of 9 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 9 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 07/16/05;

Podcast: Sunday 9 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 17:50-18:4    –    David’s Triumph over Goliath;

Romans 10:4-17   –    Righteousness by Faith;

Matthew 23:29-39  –    Jesus Mourns over Jerusalem;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

David killed Goliath with a slingshot, striking and penetrating Goliath’s forehead with a stone. David wore no armor and carried no sword. David stood over the fallen giant and used Goliath’s sword to cut off Goliath’s head. When they saw Goliath fallen, the Philistines fled in panic and the Israelites chased them for ten miles northwest to Ekron and southwest to Gath slaughtering them as they fled. Then the Israelites returned to the Philistine encampment and plundered it. David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem and kept Goliath’s armor in his tent.

When Saul saw David go out to fight Goliath he asked Abner, the commander of Saul’s army the identity of Goliath’s challenger but Abner couldn’t recognize him. Afterward Abner brought David to Saul, and David told him he was the son of Jesse, of Bethlehem. Saul’s son, Jonathan, began a deep friendship with David during that visit, and Saul made David a member of his household. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David and gave David his robe, his armor, and his sword and bow.
Romans Paraphrase:

Paul taught the Roman Christians that Christ is the end of the law (the Covenant of Law), so that we can be justified (judged righteous) by faith (obedient trust; instead of by works, i.e. “keeping” of the law). Moses taught that (under the Covenant of Law) one must keep (practice, obey, apply) the law to be saved by it and live (Leviticus 18:5). The covenant of righteousness doesn’t require what is humanly impossible (in contrast to the Law, which is humanly impossible; Romans 3:9-20).

The new covenant of grace (unmerited favor; free gift) through faith is not far off; it’s near us, on our lips and in our hearts. If we confess Jesus as Lord with our lips, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead we will be saved from eternal condemnation and eternal death. Anyone who truly believes and acts accordingly in obedient trust will be saved. No one who truly believes in Jesus will be put to (eternal) shame (Isaiah 28:16). God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles; Jesus is Lord of all and his blessings are given lavishly to all who call upon him (in obedient trust). “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Jesus; in obedient trust) will be saved” (Joel 2:32).

People cannot call upon Jesus unless they believe (that he is God’s anointed Savior and Lord), and they cannot come to that faith unless they hear and know the Gospel. In order to know the Gospel they must be taught by someone who has been sent (and equipped by the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit) for that purpose. Those who are empowered and sent to preach good news are blessed and are a blessing to those who hear and respond to the Gospel, but not everyone who hears responds in obedient trust, as Isaiah has said (Isaiah 53:1). Faith comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus called the religious leaders of his time hypocrites because they built memorials to the prophets and the righteous and thought that they were better than their fathers who murdered the prophets, and thus proved themselves to be the sons of their fathers who murdered the prophets. Jesus called the religious leaders “poisonous snakes” and asked how they could hope to escape eternal condemnation in hell (Matthew 23:33; compare Matthew 3:7).

The Lord will send prophets and teachers of God’s Word, and the religious leaders will continue to kill and persecute them, and in the Day of Judgment they will be accountable to the Lord for all the innocent blood that has ever been shed from Abel to Zechariah (i.e. from “A” to “Z;” from the first book of the Bible to the last, in the Hebrew Bible). Jesus prophesied that eternal judgment would be coming upon “this generation” (the generation who crucified Christ and every generation which rejects Jesus).

Jesus mourned for Jerusalem (the “City of God”). Jesus longed to protect and save her people from the eternal destruction of coming judgment, but they refused to heed Jesus or the prophets of the Lord. Jesus prophesied, “Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate (see 1 Kings 9:7). For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mathew 23:38-39; compare Matthew 21:9).

Commentary:

David is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ, our “champion,” who defeated the superhuman enemy, Satan, at the Cross. David is also an example of a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ who fights the spiritual battle with weapons and armor of the Spirit, following the example of Jesus.

The covenant of deep friendship between David and Jonathan is an illustration of the covenant of grace through faith which we have in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is the son of the King, who gives us the robe of righteousness and the armor and weapons of the Spirit.

Paul taught the Roman Christians that Christ is the end (the termination, but also the goal and fulfillment) of the covenant of law. In Christ we are freed from the demands of the covenant of law, which is humanly impossible to keep, provided that we abide in the covenant of grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to live according to God’s ways, which we were unable to do by keeping the law (Romans 8:1-11). Jesus is the covenant of friendship by which his soul is knit with ours by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (compare 1 Samuel 18:1).

The Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9b) is very near us as we read the Bible or hear the Gospel preached. In my own personal experience, as I began to seek God’s Word I sensed him close to me as I read the scriptures, guiding my understanding, but it was later when I committed to him as my Lord and began seeking, trusting and obeying his will, that I received the anointing and fullness of the Holy Spirit within me. When we begin to say “yes” to his will and Word, the Lord begins to disciple us in the everyday events of life, showing us that his will is good and reliable, teaching us to know his Word and touch, and causing our faith to grow to spiritual maturity.

Jesus’ name isn’t a “good-luck” charm. Jesus said “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, 22-24; compare Luke 6:46). Just adding Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers doesn’t obligate the Lord to fulfill our requests (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). Faith is not like wishing on a star; we don’t receive whatever we believe, if we “believe hard enough.”

It is important to read and know the entire Bible for ourselves so that we can discern false teaching and choose teachers and preachers who are proclaiming the true, biblical apostolic gospel, the gospel taught by the original disciples of Jesus Christ, and recorded in the Bible. Any average reader can easily read the Bible in one year (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right, home). There are lots of false teachers and false prophets in the world today.

Jesus called the religious leaders of his day hypocrites and poisonous snakes. They preached but didn’t practice what they preached (Matthew 23:3). They sought worldly honor more that God’s approval (Matthew 23:5-7). They were spiritually blind guides (Matthew 23:16). They had the appearance of righteousness but were inwardly corrupt (Matthew 23:23-28).

In many ways the “nominal” Church (in contrast to the true Church which is the Spirit-filled body of Christ), is in exactly the same condition today. The Church is the New Jerusalem. Are we causing Jesus to mourn? Are we “stoning” the prophets he sends? Are we refusing to hear messages which reveal and convict hypocrisy?

Jesus’ prophecy against Jerusalem was fulfilled. The religious leaders proved to be the sons of their fathers who had murdered God’s prophets, and they did what their fathers had done by crucifying Jesus, the Son of God, God’s anointed Savior and King, the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Jewish religion effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus. The veil of the temple was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) signifying that the way into God’s presence had been opened through Jesus Christ, the “Door” (John 10:7) and  the Way (John 14:6). The covenant of law ended, along with the need for a sacrificial system, because Jesus became the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people (Hebrews 7:27). Jesus is the new High Priest.

Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation until they began returning following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 07/17/05;
Podcast: Monday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

1 Samuel 18:5-16 (17-27a) 27b-30  –   Saul’s Jealousy of David;

Acts 11:19-30   –     Mission to the Gentiles;

Mark 1:29-45   –    Galilean Ministry;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

David was successful in everything Saul had him do, so Saul made him an officer in his army, and he was popular with all the people and with Saul’s servants. When David returned with King Saul after David had slain Goliath, the women came out to meet them, celebrating the victory. The women were saying that Saul had slain thousands, but David had slain tens of thousands. Saul was angry and jealous of David, thinking that David was one step from possessing the kingdom, and watched David with suspicion from that day on.

The next day Saul was being tormented by an evil spirit, and David was playing the lyre (a stringed musical instrument like a harp). Saul took his spear in his hand and attempted to pin David to the wall, but David evaded him twice.

Saul feared David because “the Lord was with him (David) but had departed from Saul” (1 Samuel 18:12). Saul removed David from his presence and made David a commander of military unit of a thousand men. Thus David was in a position of authority in public view. David continued to be successful in everything by the Lord’s power, and Saul was amazed at David’s success. All the people knew and loved David because he had become a public figure.

Saul offered his eldest daughter, Merab, to David as wife, hoping that a wife would distract David and he would be killed by the Philistines, since Saul didn’t want to be blamed for killing David himself. David responded that he was unworthy of being the king’s son-in-law. Merab was later given to someone else. Another of Saul’s daughters, Michal, was in love with David and they told Saul, who consented, hoping again that David would be distracted and fall into the hands of his enemies.

David couldn’t provide a dowry, but Saul had his servants coax David to marry and he told David to provide a hundred Philistine foreskins in lieu of a dowry. David was pleased with the arrangement, and took his men and killed two hundred Philistines and brought their foreskins to Saul, and David and Michal were married. But Saul was more jealous and suspicious of David than ever. In battles with the Philistines David always distinguished himself beyond the servants of Saul, and he gained a great reputation.

Acts Paraphrase:

When Stephen was martyred great persecution of Christians arose in Jerusalem, and Christians were driven away to Phoenicia, Antioch, and Cyprus. As they fled they shared the Gospel mainly with Jews, but Christian men from Cyprus and Cyrene also proclaimed Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. And the Lord was guiding and empowering them to succeed. When the Church in Jerusalem heard this news, they sent Barnabas (a Jew and Levite, born in Cyprus; and a leader in the Church at Jerusalem) to superintend the Church.

Barnabas rejoiced in the grace (unmerited favor) of God at work in the people and he urged them to remain faithful and steadfast to the Lord. Barnabas was known as a good man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.  A large number of disciples were added to the congregation. There was so much discipling to be done that he went to Tarsus to find Saul and brought him back, and for a year they discipled  a large number of people, “and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians” (Acts 11:26).

A prophet named Agabus came to Antioch “and foretold by the Spirit” (Acts 11:28) a great world-wide famine; and this prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Claudius. The church at Antioch decided to send a donation to help the Christians in Judea (who were more needy because of the persecution), and Barnabas and Saul took the donation to Jerusalem.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus began his public ministry preaching God’s Word and healing in the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath. Jesus’ reputation began to spread throughout Galilee. He was the guest in the house of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, with James and John. Andrew’s mother-in-law was ill and when Jesus heard this he went to and healed her and she got up and served them. That evening the whole town gathered at the door of the house bringing the ill and those possessed with demons, and Jesus healed many. Jesus cast out demons, but wouldn’t allow them to speak because they knew him.

In the morning Jesus got up quite early, and went to a place where he could be alone to pray. His disciples followed him and told him people were seeking him for healing, but Jesus told them to go with him to other villages, so that he could preach throughout Galilee. Wherever Jesus went he preached in the synagogues and healed the physically and spiritually sick.

Jesus encountered a leper who believed that Jesus could heal him if it was Jesus’ will, and Jesus reached out and touched him saying, “I will; be clean” (Mark 1:41). Immediately the man was healed. Jesus told the man to tell no one of Jesus’ healing, but to go to the priest and offer the sacrifice required by the Law of Moses for his cleansing. The man disregarded Jesus’ command and talked freely about how Jesus had healed him. As a result Jesus became so famous as a healer that he could no longer openly enter any town, and people were coming in great crowds to him out in the country.

Commentary:

David was successful in everything he did because the Lord was with him. Saul was jealous and afraid of David because the Lord was with David and had departed from Saul, so Saul sought to destroy David. He offered David his daughter in hopes of distracting David by worldly things so that he would be killed by the Philistines.

He made the marriage price for his daughter a hundred Philistine foreskins, seemingly beyond human achievement, in hopes that David would be killed trying, but David far exceeded Saul’s expectation. Everything Saul did to destroy David only made David more successful and popular, because the Lord was with David. David had the spiritual resources to heal Saul’s spiritual illness (1 Samuel 19:9-10), but Saul missed what David had to offer because he was jealous and spiteful of David.

The Jews tried to destroy Jesus by crucifying him, but they didn’t succeed. By killing Jesus, God’s plan of salvation was fulfilled; Jesus rose from physical death to eternal life, demonstrating the truth of the resurrection and of eternal life beyond physical death. As a result disciples who had been of “little faith” and afraid before Jesus’ death (like Peter, who denied Jesus on the night of Jesus’ betrayal; Matthew 26:69-75), after the resurrection preached the Gospel boldly and with great power by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-36). Stephen was martyred, but he was unafraid because he had the vision and certainty of eternal life (Acts 7:56; consider Hebrews 2:14-15).

Persecution did not destroy the Christian Church; it helped accomplish God’s purpose of spreading the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 11:19-20; compare Acts 1:8), because the hand of the Lord was with them (by the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) as the Lord had been with David by his “anointing” (1 Samuel 16:12b-13). The Lord guided his Church by his Holy Spirit and by the proclamation of his Word by his prophets (Acts 11:28), and the Christians heeded and responded in obedience to prophetic utterance (Acts 11: 27-30).

Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming God’s Word in the synagogue at Capernaum and by bringing physical and spiritual healing wherever he went. His miracles of physical healing and physical feeding were intended to demonstrate that his real ministry was spiritual feeding and healing. But some were only interested in what Jesus could do for them physically right then (John 6:25-28).

Jesus offers us healing so that we can serve him. The leper was interested in the Lord’s will for his physical healing, but not interested in obeying the Lord’s will not to publicize his healing. As a result he hindered rather than helped Jesus’ ministry, and he obtained physical healing, but not spiritual healing and eternal life.

Jesus did not allow the demons he cast out to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah, and Jesus wants each of us to decide for ourselves who Jesus is. For the same reason he referred to himself as the Son of man (which is true; he is God, the Son of man, by the Holy Spirit; Matthew 1:18-21; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28), but which allows his hearers to decide for themselves whether he is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus’ reputation could not be suppressed, and neither could his message. The Jews crucified him, but that didn’t stop his Gospel from being spread throughout the world. It was obvious to many that he spoke God’s Word and that God was with him to accomplish things which were humanly impossible. People will either be drawn to Jesus and healed by his Gospel, or they will be jealous and afraid of him and hate and try to destroy him, but they cannot prevent his eternal kingdom from coming!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 9 Pentecost – Odd   

First Posted 07/18/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 9 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 19:1-18 (19-24)  –   Saul Tries to Kill David;
Acts 12:1-17   –     Peter’s Release from Prison;
Mark 2:1-12   –    Healing a Paralytic;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Saul told his servants to find a way to kill David, but Saul’s son Jonathan warned David to hide. Jonathan interceded with Saul to spare David’s life, because David had done nothing against Saul and his deeds had benefited Saul. David had risked his life fighting the Philistines and the Lord had given Israel a great victory over them through David.

Jonathan told Saul that Saul had rejoiced in David’s victory, so why would Saul sin by killing David without reason? So Saul swore not to kill David, and Jonathan called to David and told him. Jonathan brought David back into Saul’s presence and David served him again as a musician.

There was another war with the Philistines and David fought and won a great victory, but when he returned to Saul, Saul again tried to kill him with a spear, and David fled from Saul’s presence. That night Saul sent servants to watch David’s house to kill him in the morning, but David’s wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, warned David. She made a dummy to make it appear that David was in bed, and helped David escape through a window.

David fled to Samuel, the high priest. When Saul’s messengers came to bring David to Saul, Michal told them that David was sick in bed. The messengers reported this to Saul, and Saul told them to bring David to him in bed, so that Saul could kill him. When they returned to David’s house, they found the dummy in the bed, and Saul asked his daughter why she had deceived him and let Saul’s enemy escape. Michal replied that David had threatened to kill her otherwise.

Saul heard that David had fled to Samuel in Ramah, so he sent servants to capture David, but when the servants found David he was with a group of prophets led by Samuel. The group was filled with God’s Spirit and they were dancing in ecstatic worship, and Saul’s servants were caught up in the fervor themselves. Saul went to capture David himself, and he too was caught up in the emotion and ritual of ecstatic worship.

Acts Paraphrase:

Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, was king of Judea. He began persecuting Christians, and had James, the brother of John executed by sword. Herod found that the Jews approved of his persecution of Christians, so he had Peter arrested and imprisoned during the Passover celebration, intending to execute Peter after Passover. The Church was praying fervently for Peter.

During the night preceding the day Herod planned to execute Peter, Peter was asleep in prison, chained to the wall between two soldiers, and guarded by two sentries at the door. An angel of the Lord appeared and the cell was filled with light. The angel awoke Peter and told him to get dressed. The chains fell from Peter’s hands and he did as instructed. The angel told Peter to follow him and led him out past both guards. The iron gate leading to the city opened apparently “by itself” and they passed through and they had gone about a block and then the angel disappeared.

Peter thought he had been dreaming, but when he realized he was standing in the street, he knew that the Lord had delivered him from Herod’s intentions. He decided to go to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Mark; The Evangelist), which was a gathering place of the Church in Jerusalem. Christians were gathered there and had been praying for Peter.

When Peter knocked, Rhoda, the maid went to answer. She recognized Peter’s voice, and in her excitement she left him standing outside as she went to tell the congregation that Peter was at the door. They thought Rhoda was crazy or that it was Peter’s spirit. Peter knocked again, and when they opened the door they saw that it was Peter, and they were amazed. Peter told them how the Lord had brought him out of prison, and told them to tell James (not the martyred brother of John) and the rest of the disciples.

Mark Paraphrase:

When Jesus returned to Capernaum from preaching throughout Galilee so many people came to him at home that there was no room in the house and they crowded at the door to listen to his teaching. A paralytic was brought on a stretcher by four men, but they couldn’t get to Jesus because of the crowd, so they went up on the roof and made a hole in it and lowered the man down though it.  Jesus saw it as a practical demonstration of their faith, and told the paralytic man that his sins were forgiven.

Some scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses, Jewish scripture) were present and they were thinking that what Jesus said was blasphemous, because only God can forgive sins. Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked them if it would have been easier to say that the man’s sins were forgiven, or to tell him to rise, pick up his stretcher and walk? Jesus had told the man that his sins were forgiven to demonstrate that the Son of man (Jesus) had authority on earth to forgive sins. Jesus then told the paralytic to rise, pick up his bed and go home, and the man immediately did so. The crowd was amazed and glorified God, declaring that they had never witnessed anything like this.

Commentary:

David had done nothing but good for King Saul, but David’s goodness and the signs of God’s favor on David made Saul hate David and seek to destroy him. Saul tried to use his servants to do his dirty work for him so that Saul would appear blameless, but his servants were influenced by the spiritual leader, Samuel, and worshipped and glorified God instead of following Saul’s evil plans.

Saul even tried to use his daughter as a distraction to keep David from fulfilling God’s will and purpose and thus be destroyed by the enemy (1 Samuel 18:21). After his daughter became David’s wife, Saul expected her to remain faithful to her father and to betray David. Instead, she chose to cooperate with David to save him from her father’s evil intentions. Saul himself was caught up in the emotion and ritual of worship, although he was not truly worshiping God. God was able to preserve David and to distract even Saul himself (1 Samuel 19:23-24), to frustrate and cause Saul’s plans to fail.

Herod was another evil king whose plan to destroy the Lord’s disciples was thwarted by God’s power. Herod chose to do what was evil because it was popular. The Church was praying for Peter’s release, but when it happened while they were praying, they could hardly believe it. God’s answer demonstrated to the young Church that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (person) availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV). The power is not in the person or the prayer but in the Lord; but note that the petitioners were “righteous” by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus and by the cleansing of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:22-23; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

We are all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) imprisoned by the present ruler of this world, Satan, and condemned to eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the one who releases us from that prison and eternal death sentence and restore us to real, eternal life, now and forever.

The religious leaders of Jerusalem were looking for a way to destroy Jesus. They were listening to Jesus, not to obey and follow him, but to use his words against him. What Jesus was doing was offering them forgiveness, and eternal life, by salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, but instead of receiving his words for their own eternal benefit they hated him for it and sought to use his words for their evil worldly purposes.

The religious leaders had “front-row seats” in Jesus’ home (see Mark 12:38-40), while the paralytic man with his helpers had to go to extraordinary measures to get close enough to Jesus to hear Jesus’ word, so that he could immediately apply Jesus’ word in his life. When he heard Jesus’ command, he did exactly as Jesus had said, and he received spiritual as well as physical healing.

It would have been easier for Jesus simply to have told him to get up and go home, but Jesus wanted everyone to know that his real purpose was eternal spiritual healing. He was already attracting large crowds of people seeking only what Jesus could do for them physically and materially at the moment (John 6:25-28). Jesus knows our innermost thoughts and motives; it matters eternally for each of us individually and personally what we do with Jesus’ words.

Are we seeking Jesus’ words so that we can apply them in our daily lives in obedient trust, or only for our own worldly benefit? Do we recognize our need for spiritual healing? Do we expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers without our obedience to his Word? Do we truly worship the Lord or are we just caught up in the emotion and ritual of worship? Are there so many “nominal” Christians taking up seats in congregations that it is difficult for those who are truly seeking spiritual forgiveness and healing to get close enough to receive it?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 9 Pentecost – Odd   

First Posted 07/19/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 9 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 20:1-23   –    Friendship of David and Jonathan;

Acts 12:18-25   –     Herod’s Death;

Mark 2:13-22   –    On Fasting;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Saul had been trying to destroy David. Saul’s son, Jonathan, was David’s friend, so David went to Jonathan for help. Jonathan was unaware of Saul’s plot, probably because Saul knew of Jonathan’s friendship with David, and had kept his plot secret from Jonathan.

David told Jonathan that since the next day was a festival day when households were to eat together, David planned to be absent. If Saul noticed David’s absence, Jonathan was to tell him that David had gone to Bethlehem to attend an annual family festival. If Saul accepted David’s absence David would know that Saul was not planning evil against David. But if Saul was angry, David would know Saul‘s intentions toward David were evil.

David referred to his covenant of friendship with Jonathan, and told Jonathan that he had done nothing against Saul. If he had, Jonathan should kill David right then and there; why bother to take David to Saul. Jonathan assured David that if he knew that Saul was plotting evil against David, Jonathan would surely tell David, so that David could flee to safety. Jonathan asked David to show the steadfast love of the Lord to Jonathan. Jonathan asked that he would not be cut off from the house of David when the Lord destroys the enemies of David.

Jonathan knew that David’s absence from the feast the next day would be noticed because his place at the table would be empty. On the second day of David’s absence, David would be greatly missed. They decided that David would hide behind a rock pile in a field. Jonathan would come to the field on the pretext of archery practice, with a boy to fetch Jonathan’s arrows. Jonathan would call to the boy directing him where to look, and David would know whether it was safe to stay or necessary to flee by Jonathan’s directions to the boy to look nearer or farther.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter had been imprisoned by Herod, and had been released from prison by an angel of the Lord on the night before Herod planned to execute Peter. When day came there was a great commotion over what had become of the prisoner. Herod interrogated the sentries and ordered them to be executed. Then Herod went to Caesarea.

Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they wanted to appease Herod because they depended upon Herod’s kingdom for food. They arranged for an audience with Herod through his chief officer, Blastus. On the appointed day they came to Herod in the outdoor theater in Caesarea. Herod dressed in royal robes, sat upon his throne and made a speech. The people hailed him as a god, and immediately he was stricken with a fatal illness and died.*

God’s Word (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) spread and believers increased. Saul (of Tarsus; later Paul, the Apostle) and Barnabas returned to Antioch from delivering a famine relief offering to the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30), and brought with them John Mark (a cousin of Barnabas; Colossians 4:10; probable author of the Gospel of Mark).

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus passed the tax office of Matthew (Levi) and told him to follow Jesus, and Matthew did so. They went to Matthew’s house and Jesus and his disciples ate with Matthew and a large group of sinners and tax collectors (despised as Jewish collaborators with the Roman government) who had followed them. Jewish religious leaders criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners, but Jesus replied that it is the sick who need a physician, not those who are well. Jesus came to call sinners, not the righteous.

The Pharisees were fasting, as were John the Baptizer and his disciples, and people asked Jesus why his disciples were not fasting also. Jesus compared the situation to a wedding celebration. Guests don’t fast while the bridegroom is present, but the time was coming when the bridegroom would depart, and the guests would fast then.  Jesus also said that one does not patch an old garment with new (unshrunken) cloth; otherwise it would tear the old garment when it was washed. Similarly, one cannot put new wine in old wineskins, or the skins would burst and be ruined and the wine lost.

Commentary:

David is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ. Jesus is the “anointed” eternal king who is the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1-16), the heir to David’s throne. Jesus reveals the steadfast love of the Lord for us. Disciples are bound to Jesus with a covenant of love, as Jonathan was bound to David. If we truly love Jesus we will do what he asks us to do for him (John 14:21, 23). Jesus gives the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17) and through his indwelling Holy Spirit we will have close fellowship with the Lord as if we were dining with him (Revelation 3:20).

Through Jesus, we are assured that we will not be cut off from the “House of David” on the Day of Judgment, when the Lord destroys the enemies of Jesus Christ. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Herod is an illustration of a worldly king. His subjects did what he said or they died; there was no forgiveness for disobedience. The Lord is the eternal king who has provided forgiveness for our sins in Jesus Christ. The Lord supplies food and the necessities of life; it is human greed which captures and controls, for personal gain, what God has provided.

The people of Tyre and Sidon were focused on material things; they were preoccupied with obtaining physical “bread” rather than spiritual “bread” (see John 6:26-27). They were willing to call Herod “god” in order to gain material benefit. Herod had come to power because he wanted to have the power of “god” over other people. He was perfectly willing to manipulate, for personal benefit, resources which God provides for all. The Day of Judgment came suddenly and unexpectedly for Herod. His worldly power and glory didn’t amount to much in comparison to the Lord. He had no special advantage in death.

Christians, instead of grabbing and controlling God-given resources for their own selfish motives, contributed offerings for the relief of the poor. Jewish religious leaders regarded themselves as more righteous than the Lord. They thought they didn’t need spiritual healing.

God’s Word says that every one of us has sinned (disobeyed God) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). If we deny that we have sinned we are only deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). “It is appointed for [humans] to die once and then comes judgment” (not reincarnation; Hebrews 9:27).

Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is his bride. Jesus’ covenant is a covenant of love and marriage of himself to his disciples. Jesus is the “new wine” (see Acts 2:13 RSV) which requires “new wineskins:”   “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples. Jesus is not just a patch on the old covenant of Judaism. It requires a “new garment,” a new covenant of grace (unmerited favor; free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is the Savior who has the power to deliver us from the “prison” of sin and the power of death and Satan. Eating at the “table” of the rulers of this world is spiritually deadly, but eating at the Lord’s table gives eternal life. Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:51).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*”This was in the spring of A.D.44. Josephus** (ant.xix 8:2) tells how he [Herod] was stricken by a mortal illness immediately after the people hailed him as a god.” Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce Metzger, NY, Oxford Univ. Press 1962 Acts 12:20-24 note, P 1334.

**”Josephus:  Flavius ca A.D. 37-circa 100 Jewish historian; under patronage of emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, wrote History of the Jewish War, Antiquities of the Jews, etc.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Digital Edition ver. 2.5, (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/josephus)


Thursday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 07/20/05;

Podcast: Thursday 9 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 20:24-42    –   Saul’s anger with David;

Acts 13:1-12   –   Paul and the Magician;

Mark 2:23-3:6   –    Lord of the Sabbath;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

King Saul was trying to kill David, because of David’s popularity with the people, and saw him as a threat to Saul’s kingdom (1 Samuel 18:8-9). At the new moon feast, David stayed away from the king’s table and Jonathan, Saul’s son, was to report Saul’s reaction revealing whether it was safe for David to stay. Saul made no comment on David’s absence on the day of the new moon, but the day after, when David was again absent,  Saul asked Jonathan where David was. Jonathan said that David had needed to attend an annual family sacrifice in Bethlehem, which was the excuse he and David had agreed to use.

Saul was angry at Jonathan. He told Jonathan that as long as David lived, Jonathan would never be king. Saul told Jonathan to fetch David, and Saul would execute him, but Jonathan defended David’s innocence. Saul threw a spear at him, so Jonathan knew Saul was determined to kill David. Jonathan left the table without having eaten, grieving for David and disgraced by his father.

In the morning Jonathan went into the field on the pretext of archery practice, taking a young boy to retrieve Jonathan’s arrows, as he and David had agreed. When the boy got to the area where Jonathan’s arrow had landed, Jonathan told him to look for it further away, telling him to hurry and not linger. David was hiding nearby and this was the agreed upon signal to David, but the boy was unaware. Jonathan told the lad to take Jonathan’s bow and arrows home, and when the boy had left, David came out of hiding, and he and Jonathan had an emotional farewell, reaffirming their covenant of eternal friendship.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) and Barnabas had been discipling new Christians in Antioch, Syria. There were prophets and teachers in the congregation beside Paul and Barnabas (through the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:28). While the congregation was worshiping, the Holy Spirit told them to consecrate Paul and Barnabas for the work the Lord had called them to do. After fasting and praying, the congregation laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas to bless and dedicate them for the Lord’s purpose.

Paul and Barnabas were directed by the Holy Spirit to sail to Cyprus. When they arrived in Salamis, the largest city and port, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, they began preaching the Gospel in the synagogues of Cyprus. They eventually arrived in Paphos, the capital, on the western coast, where they encountered a Jewish false prophet named Elymas Bar-Jesus, meaning “the Magician, son of Jesus” (or Joshua). Cyprus was a Roman province governed at the time by Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, and Elymas was seeking influence with the proconsul.

The proconsul was intelligent and summoned Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the Gospel to him, but Elymas opposed the message and tried to turn the proconsul from it. Paul, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, called Elymas the “son of the devil, full of all deceit and villainy” (Acts 13:10), and told him to stop perverting the Lord’s ways. Paul told Elymas that the Lord was causing Elymas to be physically blind for a while, and Elymas was immediately struck blind, and sought someone to lead him by the hand. The proconsul believed the Gospel when he saw what had occurred with Elymas, and was amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples were passing through a grainfield on the Sabbath, and his disciples were snacking on the heads of grain. Pharisees among the crowd following Jesus criticized Jesus for allowing his disciples to break the Sabbath laws by “harvesting” grain. Jesus replied by referring to scripture (1 Samuel 21:1-6), showing that David and his men ate consecrated bread from the temple, which was unlawful for anyone but the priest to eat, when they were being hunted by King Saul. Jesus declared that the Sabbath was created to benefit people, not to burden them. Jesus declared that he (the Son of man) was Lord (of everything) even of the Sabbath

Jesus entered a synagogue on the Sabbath, and saw a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees were watching Jesus hoping to catch him healing on the Sabbath, so that they could condemn Jesus. Jesus told the man to come to him, and then Jesus asked the crowd whether it was lawful to do good or to do harm, to save life or take life on the Sabbath. The Pharisees wouldn’t answer, and Jesus was angered and grieved by the hardness of their hearts. He told the man to stretch out his arm, and the man’s hand was restored. The Pharisees went out immediately and met with the Herodians (political supporters of the Roman government of Herod) to plot how to destroy Jesus.

Commentary:

Saul had been the Lord’s “anointed,” but had not obeyed God’s Word, so God took his anointing by his Spirit (1 Samuel 15:22-23; 16:1, 13-14) from Saul and gave it to David. Saul was jealous of David because David was more highly regarded than Saul, and Saul was seeking a way to destroy David, the Lord’s “anointed,” so that the kingdom could remain with Saul and be inherited by Saul’s son Jonathan.

David is the forerunner and illustration of the Christ, and Saul represents worldly rulers, and all who refuse to surrender their personal autonomy and self-will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jonathan is an illustration of a disciple of Jesus Christ who is bound by a covenant of eternal love and fellowship with the Lord by grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Worldly people hate Jesus because Jesus is a threat to their own personal “lordship,” and their hatred extends to the disciples of Jesus as well.

Elymas is an example of worldly leaders, “lobbyists” and members of “special interest groups” who try to influence the affairs of this world for their personal benefit. They oppose the Gospel and God’s ways because it competes with their personal interests and political agendas. Elymas is also an example of worldly people who regard religion as “magic” and who use religious ritual as a way to influence and manipulate God to do their will.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the example of a modern, “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul had apparently never known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, and had first encountered the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). Paul was going to Damascus with authority from the religious leaders to arrest, imprison, persecute and destroy Christians, and Jesus struck Paul physically blind, so that Paul might realize his spiritual blindness.

Paul, by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within him, told Elymas that Elymas would be similarly struck physically blind, and his words were immediately fulfilled. Paul was speaking God’s Word by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He was one of the authentic New Testament prophets (Acts 13:1) and the example of what Church leaders (and all Christians) should be.

The Pharisees had inherited religious leadership from their fathers, but without the Lord’s anointing. They were the “Sauls” of Judaism. Jesus inherited the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit (and God’s Word of approval; Matthew 4:17) from his heavenly Father (Mark 1:7-11; John 1:32-34), and Jesus inherited the throne of David as David’s descendant through his earthly father (Matthew 1:1-17). “Christ” and “Messiah” each mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively. The Jews had been God’s “chosen people” but they rejected God’s anointed Savior and Lord, so the Lord gave that designation of God’s approval to the Gentiles who believed in Jesus Christ.

The Pharisees hated Jesus for the same reasons that Saul hated David; Jesus was the rightful heir and King but they wanted to be in charge; they wanted to run things their way instead of the Lord’s way. They used “religion” to manipulate people for their personal benefit, instead of seeking and doing the Lord’s will. They were perverting and misusing God’s Word to destroy God’s only begotten Son (“fathered” by the Holy Spirit, in contrast to “adopted,” as we may be;  Matthew 1:18-23; John 1:14), and anointed eternal King.

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, but the Pharisees wanted to be the ones who decided what was lawful on the Sabbath. They condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, but thought they were keeping the Sabbath law while plotting with secular powers on the Sabbath to kill and destroy God’s anointed Savior and King.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 07/20/05;
Podcast: Friday 9 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 21:1-15   –    David Eats Consecrated Bread;

Acts 13:13-25  –    Paul’s Sermon at Antioch of Pisidia;

Mark 3:7-19a    –   Jesus Appoints the Apostles;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

With the help of his wife, Michal (King Saul’s youngest of two daughters), David fled from King Saul, who wanted to kill him. David fled to Nob, a high place near to Jerusalem, where the tabernacle was located at that time. Ahimelech, the priest, was afraid of David and asked why he had come. David claimed to be on a secret mission for the king and was to meet his men at a certain location. David asked for bread, and a weapon.

The only bread was the holy bread of the Presence which had been placed on the altar daily. The priest was willing to give the holy bread only if he and his men had abstained from women, and David told the priest that he and his men never had carnal relations when they were on a mission.

The only weapon was the sword of Goliath which the priest kept wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod (a garment with a pocket for carrying the sacred Urim and Thummim used for determining God’s will. Some think there may have been a box of the same name and purpose). The priest gave David holy bread and Goliath’s sword.

One of Saul’s servants, Doeg, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen, was at the tabernacle performing some ritual, while David was getting the bread and sword. Then David fled to King Achish of Gath (a royal city of the Philistines; birthplace of Goliath). The servants of King Achish told him that David was king of Israel and repeated the song which ascribed to Saul the death of thousands, and to David the death of ten thousands. David heard this and became afraid of Achish, so David feigned madness. Achish was convinced that David was crazy, and sent him away, rebuking his servants for having brought David to him.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas were on Paul’s first missionary trip. They had preached in Cyprus and then sailed from Paphos (on the western end of Cyprus) to Perga in Pamphylia (southern Asia Minor; present-day Turkey). John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch of Pisidia (north of Perga). On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue. After the reading of the law and prophets (books of the Bible which constituted Jewish scripture) the synagogue leaders invited Paul and Barnabas to speak.

Paul began to preach the Gospel with the history of God’s dealing with Israel, beginning with the exodus from Egypt and the forty years in the wilderness. Then the Lord destroyed seven nations inhabiting Canaan (the Promised Land) and gave it to Israel. Four hundred and fifty years later (to the building of the temple) the Lord established judges to rule Israel until Samuel. Then the people wanted a king, so the Lord gave them Saul for forty years.

When the Lord removed Saul, he anointed David to be king of Israel. The Lord declared that David was a man after God’s heart who would do all of God’s will (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). From David’s descendants “God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised” (Acts 13:23). Before Jesus was revealed, John the Baptizer preached a baptism of repentance. As John fulfilled his mission he clearly stated that he was not the Messiah, but he was announcing the coming of the Messiah, in comparison to whom John was less than the most menial servant.

Mark Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples went to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a great crowd from all over Israel, from the east side of the Jordan and from Tyre and Sidon, came to Jesus. Jesus had his disciples get a boat ready so that Jesus could use it to avoid being trampled by the crowd pressing forward to hear and to touch Jesus in hope of being healed. The demons of those who were possessed bowed before Jesus and declared him to be the Son of God, and Jesus sternly ordered them not to make Jesus’ identity known.

Jesus went into the hills and he chose twelve of his followers to be with Jesus constantly, learning Jesus’ lifestyle and message, and to be sent out to preach and to have authority over demons. He called them apostles (a messenger; envoy; Luke 6:13).  The Twelve were Simon Peter, James and John: the sons of Zebedee, who Jesus called “sons of thunder,” Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.

Commentary:

David was the Lord’s anointed king of Israel, but he hadn’t yet taken the throne, because the evil worldly ruler, King Saul, was still in possession of the kingdom. Saul was trying to destroy David, and David was on a secret mission for the Lord and trying to avoid being destroyed by Saul. David went to the priest for food to sustain him and a weapon to help him accomplish his mission. He received “holy, consecrated” bread, and the priest gave him the sword of Goliath, the Philistine giant David had destroyed.

Doeg, the servant of Saul was performing some religious ritual at the tabernacle while David was getting the bread and sword (and later became David’s betrayer; 1 Samuel 22:9). David fled to Gath, the birthplace of Goliath, but he was recognized as the heir to the throne of Israel, and as a potential rival and adversary, David’s life was in danger from Achish, the king of Gath. David feigned madness which induced Achish to conclude that David was a nuisance rather than a threat, so he sent David away.

David prefigures and illustrates  a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian. He had been designated as the Lord’s representative on earth, but he needed to be spiritually nurtured by the holy bread of the Presence, and he needed to be armed with a spiritual weapon. Holy bread symbolizes the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, who “disciples” us, opening our minds to understand God’s Word (Luke 24:45) and to know God’s will.

The Holy Spirit arms us with the sword of Goliath, supernatural power which has been taken from the enemy by faith (obedient trust) in the Lord. Jesus is our “champion” who has defeated Satan at the Cross, has taken his supernatural power from him and gives us supernatural power over our spiritual enemy. Jesus is God’s anointed Savior and King and Satan is the evil worldly ruler who has been defeated but not yet removed from the throne.

Paul and Barnabas were on a mission for the Lord armed with the Word of God and led and empowered by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul’s preaching was God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit. In a sense Paul and all “born-again” Christians are on a mission as representatives of Christ in this world. Christians are to be like John the Baptizer, calling people to repentance and identifying and announcing the coming of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.

Paul is the original “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and Apostle of Jesus Christ. I believe that he was the one chosen by the Lord to replace Judas Iscariot, for exactly that reason, so that Paul could be an example for all Christians who hadn’t known Jesus during Jesus’ physical life on earth (compare Acts 1:15-26; the disciples were supposed to be waiting for the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but chose Matthias, by chance, without the benefit of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, while they waited).

Jesus chose twelve of his followers to live with him in close personal fellowship so that he could teach them his message, and to constantly apply it in their daily lives. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, his disciples received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), and the Twelve became the leaders of the Church, commissioned to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul and Barnabas were doing that very thing.

Christians are to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We are to seek spiritual nurture from reading the Bible and from the preaching of God’s Word by authentic, mature, “born-again” Apostles. We are to seek and grow to spiritual maturity and the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we can have the close personal daily fellowship with the Lord that the Twelve had, and we can be taught the same message and also the lifestyle.

Note that Jesus commanded his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the Church is the New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God on earth) until they had received power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). We must be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit before we can be sent out into the world to continue Jesus’ mission.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 9 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 07/22/05;
Podcast: Saturday 9 Pentecost – Odd 

1 Samuel 22:1-23   –     David at the Cave of Adullam;

Acts 13:26-43   –    Paul’s Sermon at Antioch of Pisidia;

Mark 3:19b-35   –    The Unforgivable Sin;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

David had feigned madness and had been driven from Gath by King Achich. David took refuge in the cave of Adullam (southwest of Bethlehem). When his relatives heard where he was they joined him along with many who were discontented with Saul’s kingship, and David became the captain of about four hundred men. David and his men went to Mizpah in Moab, (east of the Dead Sea) where David asked the King of Moab to provide sanctuary for his parents. The prophet Gad told David to leave his safe haven and return to Judah, where he took refuge in the forest of Hereth.

Saul learned that David and his men had been located. Saul was at Gibeah (his birthplace) on a hilltop, surrounded by his men. He rebuked them for not informing him that his son Jonathan had made a covenant of friendship with David with the result that David was hiding, waiting to ambush Saul. Doeg, an Edomite overseer of Saul’s livestock, spoke up, telling Saul he had seen David come to Ahimeleck, the priest at the tabernacle at Nob, for guidance from God’s Word and for food and the sword of Goliath. Saul summoned Ahimelech and all the priests (Nob was a city of priests, where the tabernacle was located at that time).

Saul accused Ahimelech of conspiring with David to overthrow Saul and of providing David with bread, a sword, and spiritual counsel. Ahimelech responded by telling Saul that none of Saul’s servants were as faithful as David had been to Saul, and that David was also Saul’s son-in-law and captain of Saul’s bodyguard. Ahimelech said that it was completely reasonable and understandable for him to provide spiritual guidance for David, and that Ahimelech had no knowledge of any plot against Saul by David.

Saul swore to kill Ahimelech and all the priests, and Saul gave the command for his men to execute them, but Saul’s servants refused to carryout his order. But Doeg, who had betrayed David and who was an Edomite (a foreigner and not an Israelite; Edom was an enemy of Israel) accepted and carried out Saul’s order.

Eighty-five priests were killed, and all of the residents of the city of Nob, including women and children, and all their livestock were slain, with the exception of one of the sons of Ahimelech, named Abiathar, who escaped and told David that Saul had killed all the priests. David told Abiathar that he had realized the day he saw Doeg at the tabernacle that Doeg would surely tell Saul. David therefore accepted responsibility for the deaths of the priests, and he invited Abiathar to stay with David, since they both had the same enemy.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was presenting the Gospel in a synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor; present-day Turkey) on his first missionary trip, with Barnabas. The Lord had given the message of salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction) to the Jews. But the Jews and their religious leaders didn’t understand the prophecies of scripture which they heard read every Sabbath, so they fulfilled them by condemning Jesus.

They condemned Jesus to death even though he was blameless of anything deserving death. They had him executed by Pilate (the Roman Procurator of Judea) and his dead body was placed in a tomb. But God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus appeared to many of his followers over many days (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). These followers were now witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and to the good news of the fulfillment of God’s promise in scripture of a Son who would be a Savior and eternal King.

Psalm 16:10 prophesied that the Messiah would be raised from death to eternal life. It was not David about whom the Psalm prophesied, because David died and was buried after having faithfully served the Lord during his lifetime, and yet he wasn’t raised from the dead. But God raised Jesus and through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to all, and by Jesus all who believe are freed from the condemnation which was unavoidable under the Law of Moses.

Be warned by scripture which declares that scoffers will doubt and perish (eternally), refusing to believe what has been testified to them (Acts 13:41, citing Habakkuk 1:5). As the sermon ended, the people left, begging that they be able to continue to hear this message again on the next Sabbath. Many of the Jews and converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who urged them to continue to believe and continue in the gospel and grace (unmerited favor; free gift) of God.

Mark Paraphrase:

When Jesus returned to his home, so many people came to him that it was difficult even to eat. His friends though Jesus was having an emotional breakdown and tried to take him away. Scribes, teachers of scripture, from Jerusalem said that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul (a pagan god; the “lord” of demons; Satan). Jesus responded in parables, saying that a kingdom or house divided against itself is destroyed, and, similarly, if Satan attacks himself he would be destroyed. In order to plunder the house of a strong man, one must first restrain the strong man.

In response to those who suggested that Jesus had an unclean spirit, Jesus declared that there is forgiveness for all the sins and blasphemies of mankind, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is the unforgivable and eternal sin.

Jesus’ mother and brothers came, asking for Jesus, since they were not able to get to him because of the crowd. Jesus was told, and he responded that Jesus’ family, his true mother and brothers, are those who do God’s will.

Commentary:

King Saul had turned away from obedience to the Lord and as the result the Lord had taken Saul’s anointing of kingship and the Holy Spirit from Saul (1 Samuel 16:13-14) and had given it to David, who was a man after God’s own heart, who would do all God’s will (Acts 13:22). Saul was no longer the Lord’s anointed, but he had not yet been deposed. Saul had become spiritually corrupt; he could no longer tell right from wrong. His only criterion for decisions was what he thought was his own self-interest.

David was Saul’s most loyal servant, a great military leader and captain of Saul’s bodyguard, and Saul’s son–in-law. Saul had used his own daughter in an attempt to destroy David (1 Samuel 18:21). Saul had all the people of Nob, which was the “City of God,” at that time, where God’s house was then located and where the priests lived, killed because a priest fulfilled his reasonable duty to the Lord by providing David with spiritual guidance, nourishment and weapon. Ahimelech had not conspired with David, because Ahimelech had known nothing about Saul’s enmity with David. David was entitled to the sword of Goliath because David had fought Goliath for Israel and for the Lord, and had killed Goliath.

Saul ordered the priests executed and Saul’s own servants refused to obey Saul’s order. Only Doeg, the Edomite (a foreigner; the enemy of Israel) was willing to carry out Saul’s order. But the Lord preserved one priestly survivor, Abiathar.

The Jews had been given the message of salvation through the scriptures, but the Jews and their religious leaders and teachers did not understand the scriptures which were read every Sabbath, and because they failed to understand, what they did in ignorance, condemning Jesus to death, resulted in the fulfillment of those scriptures. Jesus had done nothing deserving execution, and David and the priests had done nothing to deserve execution by Saul. Jesus could not be destroyed by physical death, because God raised him to eternal life, and the Lord was able to preserve David and Abiathar from Saul. Saul had to get an “outsider” to do his dirty work, and the Jewish leaders got Pilate, the Roman official, a “foreigner,” to do their dirty work.

The religious leaders during Jesus’ lifetime were as spiritually corrupt as Saul had been. They had lost the “anointing” and God’s presence. They were pursuing their own worldly agendas and their own perceived self-interest. They considered themselves experts in God’s Word, but they didn’t understand it.

Jesus was the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word, (John 1:1-5, 14) and yet they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed”), the fulfillment of God’s promised eternal Savior and King. They couldn’t distinguish the Holy Spirit from a demonic spirit; the Lord of lords from the Lord of demons. Their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit sentenced them to eternal condemnation and eternal death.

God’s Word warns scoffers that those who doubt God’s Word and refuse to accept the testimony of the disciples of Jesus Christ will perish eternally. God’s Word warns that not everyone who call themselves Christians are members of Jesus’ “family” and not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” will be saved; only those who are obedient to God’s Word and do God’s will (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46)

The Church is the new “City of God,” where we are to get spiritual guidance, spiritual nourishment and be armed with spiritual weapons (by “discipleship;” “spiritual growth”). Is that what is happening, or have some lost their anointing and the presence of the Lord as a result of failure to be and make disciples who obey all Jesus commands?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 8 Pentecost – Odd – 07/19 – 25/2015

July 18, 2015

Week of 8 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.
*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.
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Podcast Download: Week of 8 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 8 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/09/05;
Podcast: Sunday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 14:36-45    –   Jonathan Ransomed;

Romans 5:1-11   –     Results of Justification;

Matthew 22:1-14    –   The Marriage Feast;

1 Samuel Summary:

Jonathan and his armor-bearer had acted in faith (obedient trust) and the Lord worked through him to win a great victory for Israel over the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:1-15). Saul wanted to pursue the advantage and destroy the Philistines while they were in retreat. But the priest told him to seek guidance from God. When Saul prayed the Lord did not respond, so Saul realized that there must be some sin arisen in his army that caused separation from God. Saul vowed that whoever was guilty of sin would be executed, even his own son, Jonathan

To resolve the issue he had the priest cast lots using the sacred Urim and Thummim. He separated himself and his son Jonathan from his troops, and the lot pointed to Saul and Jonathan. Again the lot was cast, and pointed to Jonathan. Saul asked what Jonathan had done, and Jonathan told him he had broken Saul’s vow of fasting (unintentionally, not having heard the vow; 1 Samuel 14:24, 27) by eating honey found in abundance in the forest. Saul vowed that Jonathan would be executed, but the people opposed Saul’s verdict, because it was Jonathan’s faith and action which had led to Israel’s victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:6-15). The people vowed that Jonathan should not die because of what God had done through him. “So the people ransomed Jonathan, that he did not die” (1 Samuel 14:45b). Israel’s victory gave them peace from the Philistines.

Romans Summary:

Those who are justified (accounted blameless in God’s judgment) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ have peace with God. Through Jesus we have received grace (unmerited favor) in which we stand (securely) and have joy in the hope of sharing God’s glory. Moreover, we can rejoice even in suffering, knowing we learn endurance through suffering, and character through endurance, and character produces hope that will not disappoint us because we have received and experienced God’s love through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

While we were enslaved by sin and helpless to save ourselves, Christ died for sinners in God’s perfect timing. One might be willing to die for a good person, but practically no one would be willing to die for the loathsome (which as sinners we all were). “But God shows his love for us in that while were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

If Jesus’ death accomplished our reconciliation to God by his blood sacrifice, certainly we can depend on our salvation from God’s wrath and eternal condemnation by his life (his resurrection to eternal life which we personally experience through the gift of the Holy Spirit). So we can rejoice in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ through whom we have received our reconciliation.

Matthew Summary:

Jesus described the kingdom of God in a parable, as a marriage feast a king had prepared for his son. At the right time he sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they declined his invitation. The king again sent his servants to them to tell them that everything was ready and the food had been prepared. But the invited guests laughed at the invitation. They went about their business and interests. Some even attacked the king’s servants and abused and killed them. When the king heard this he was angry, and he sent his troops to destroy those people and burn their village.

The king told his servants that those who had been invited were unworthy. Instead the servants were to go out and invite whoever they might find. So the wedding hall was filled with all sorts of people, good and bad. When the king came in to see the guests he noticed that one person was present who had no wedding garment. He asked that person how he had gotten in and the person was speechless.  Then the king told his attendants to bind the person’s hands and feet and throw him into “the outer darkness, where people will weep and gnash their teeth” (Matthew 22:13). “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Commentary:

Sin (disobedience of God’s Word) separates us from God. Jonathan had not been aware that he was sinning against his father and his king, but his sin separated him from God. God’s Word declares that the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Under the Old Covenant of Law instituted by God with Moses on behalf of Israel, God provided forgiveness of sin through blood sacrifice. Either the sinner had to die, or an animal was substituted. Jonathan was condemned to death, but was redeemed by a substitutionary animal sacrifice. Israel’s victory over the Philistines through the faith and obedience of Jonathan gave them peace from the Philistines.

Jesus is the Savior and Messiah promised by God, whose blood sacrifice, once for all time and all people (who trust and obey Jesus), on the Cross, redeems us from the condemnation of eternal death, since all of us are sinners who have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus’ blood is the blood of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28) of grace (unmerited favor; free gift) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation sidebar, top right, home).

Until the coming of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit had been available only to certain priests and prophets. Priests used the sacred lots to reveal God’s will. Silence from God is a sign of separation caused by sin. If we experience silence from the Lord we should examine ourselves to see if we have unconfessed sin; we should consider whether we have wandered from obedient trust in the Lord. It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9 b) that our minds are opened to understand the Bible (Luke 24:45), and we are guided and empowered to know and do God’s will.

Those who are disciples, who are trusting and obeying Jesus, have been forgiven and are accounted blameless in God’s judgment and have peace with God. Forgiveness, salvation from eternal death, and reconciliation with God are the gift of God to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can rejoice in the hope of eternal fellowship with the Lord in his heavenly kingdom, even in the midst of suffering. That hope is guaranteed by the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16), which is a foretaste of the fullness of the eternal love, fellowship and glory to come.

The wedding feast Jesus described is the celebration prepared by God for the marriage of his Son, Jesus Christ, and his bride, the Church. That feast is illustrated in Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the multitudes (for example, Matthew 14:13-21) and the water turned to wine at the marriage at Cana (John 2:1-11). It is the fulfillment of the promise instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, which believers celebrate in the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion; Matthew 26:26-29).

We have been given the invitation to join the wedding feast. The Father has supplied the wedding garment, by the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from sin. Anyone who will accept the invitation and act on it in obedient trust, put on the garment and come, will be welcomed, but the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17) is the only “garment” that will gain our admission.

Many today are not taking God’s invitation seriously; they’re pursuing their own interests rather than responding to the Lord’s call, ignoring the fact that they have to respond by a certain day that the Lord has set (now; today; 2 Corinthians 6:2). Some are abusing or killing the servants who the Lord has sent to call them to the feast.

The Lord has promised that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when the Lord will destroy the unworthy guests and their villages and homes with fire (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8). Those who try to get into the heavenly feast any other way than by spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the indwelling Holy Spirit through obedient trust in Jesus Christ will find themselves thrown into eternal darkness, anguish and torment.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 8 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/10/05;
Podcast: Monday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 15:1-3, 7-23    –    Obedience is Better than Sacrifice;

Acts 9:19b-31   –    Paul’s Reception in Jerusalem;

Luke 23:44-56a   –   Jesus’ Death and Burial;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel was the spiritual leader of the people, although he had anointed Saul as king in obedience to God’s will. Samuel told Saul that Saul was to be the Lord’s instrument of judgment on Amalek (the Amalekites; who had attempted to prevent Israel from entering the Promised Land). Samuel warned Saul to hear and obey God’s command to utterly destroy all the Amalekites and all their livestock (1 Samuel 15:2-3; see Deuteronomy 25:19, 20:16-18).

Saul and his army defeated the Amalekites but Saul and the Israelites took Agag, the king of the Amalekites, prisoner, and kept the best of the livestock and all the best of their possessions. They only destroyed completely the people, except for Agag, and only the possessions which Israel regarded as worthless.

The Lord told Samuel that the Lord regretted having made Saul king, because Saul had not obeyed God’s Word. Samuel was angry at Saul “and cried to the Lord all night” (1 Samuel 15:11). He got up early to go to find and meet with Saul. He was told that Saul had set up a monument to himself at Carmel, and then gone to Gilgal. Samuel found Saul, and Saul greeted him with a blessing of God and told Samuel that Saul had performed the commandment of the Lord. Samuel said that if what Saul had said was true, why was Samuel hearing the bleating and lowing of Amalekite livestock.

Saul claimed the Israelites had brought the best of the livestock to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel told Saul to stop lying. Samuel told Saul what the Lord had told Samuel during the night. Though Saul was just a common person without any great qualities, the Lord had anointed him king of Israel. The Lord had given Saul a mission to utterly destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions. Why had Saul disobeyed God’s command? Why had Saul seized the spoils and disobeyed God’s command?  Saul denied that he had disobeyed the Lord’s command, and blamed the Israelites for keeping the spoils to sacrifice to the Lord at Gilgal.

Samuel asked Saul if he thought that the Lord would more pleased with the sacrifice of animals than with obedience. Samuel confirmed that obedience is better than sacrifice. Rebellion or disobedience against God’s Word is worse than divination (seeking guidance from demons); stubborn resistance of God’s will is worse than sin and idolatry. Samuel declared that since Saul had rejected God’s Word, God had rejected Saul as King.

Acts Paraphrase:

Saul of Tarsus (later called “Paul,” the apostle) encountered the risen, ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus and was struck blind. After his sight had been restored and he had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the Holy Spirit, he was with the disciples (Christians; seeActs 11:26), in the Church at Damascus. Immediately Saul began to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogue. All who heard him were amazed because it was well known that he had arrested and imprisoned Christians and had come to Damascus on the same mission.

Saul increased in the strength of the Holy Spirit and “confounded the Jews by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (Messiah; both mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; Acts 9:22). After many days, a plot of the Jews to kill Paul was discovered. Since the Jews were watching the city gate day and night, the disciples lowered Saul over the wall in a basket.

When Saul came to Jerusalem he attempted to join the Christians there but they were afraid of him; they didn’t believe he was a disciple. Barnabas, a highly regarded disciple, vouched for Paul and told of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, and how Saul had preached the Gospel boldly in Damascus. Saul was allowed to associate with the Church at Jerusalem, and he preached the Gospel boldly. He argued against the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) and they sought to kill Saul, but when the plot became know the disciples took him to Caesarea, and sent him on to Tarsus.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus had been crucified and was hanging on the cross, still alive. It was about noon, and from noon until about 3:00 PM there was a solar eclipse. Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” and stopped breathing. The Roman Centurion saw what had taken place and he declared that Jesus certainly must have been innocent. The large crowd that had watched the crucifixion went home “beating their breasts” (a ritual of mourning). Those who had been followers of Jesus from Galilee, and the women who had accompanied and supported him, stood at a distance and saw what had happened.

Joseph, a native of Arimathea (a village in Israel), was a member of the Jewish Council (the Sanhedrin, which had condemned Jesus and demanded his execution by the Romans). Joseph was a good and righteous man who had opposed the Council’s verdict. He went to Pilate and asked for custody of Jesus’ body.

He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid it in a new, unused tomb. It was (Friday), the Day of Preparation for the Jewish Sabbath which began at sundown. The women “who had come with him from Galilee (including Mary Magdalene) saw the tomb and how his body was laid” Luke 23:55). Then they went home and prepared the spices and ointments to be used to prepare his body for burial.

Commentary:

The Lord had blessed Saul by making him “prince” of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1; Although Saul had the title of King, the Lord was the King of Israel, and Saul was reigning as the representative of the Lord by the Lord’s authority), although Saul had done nothing to merit God’s favor.

Saul wanted the blessings without obedience to God’s commands. He built a memorial to himself instead of glorifying God by his obedience (1 Samuel 15:12 RSV). Saul thought he could substitute religious ritual for obedience to God’s Word. He tried to manipulate God’s favor instead of seeking to know and do God’s will.

He tried to excuse his disobedience by blaming it on others, and by saying that he had saved the best to sacrifice to the Lord in worship, when in reality had given God, by his disobedience, only what Saul and Israel regarded as worthless (1 Samuel 15:9e RSV). Regardless of what Saul said, what he believed was demonstrated by what he did.

The Lord is God whether we acknowledge him or not, but God has no obligation to be all that an almighty, loving and merciful God implies, to people who don’t trust and obey him.

Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, revealed his conversion and spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) by what he did. When Jesus rebuked him on the road to Damascus he responded humbly and respectfully (Acts 9:4-5), he obeyed what the Lord told him to do and he waited for further guidance from the Lord (Acts 9:6). He fasted and prayed in repentance as he waited (Acts 9:9, 11d). He believed the vision the Lord had given him and in the disciple the Lord had sent to restore his physical vision and give him the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. So the Lord’s promises were fulfilled to Saul.

Other Christians were skeptical at first because what Saul was saying didn’t match what they knew he had done in the past, but as they came to know the re-born Paul, his conversion was obvious in his changed life. His former “allies” in his old life didn’t appreciate his conversion and they attacked and tried to destroy Paul, just as people had attacked and tried to destroy Jesus by crucifixion.

The truth and power of the Gospel is available for everyone who is willing to see it. Jesus came into the world to show us that God is merciful, loving, faithful, all-knowing and all-powerful. Jesus is what God looks like in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:7-9). He came to show us how to live according to God’s Word, and to enable us to do so, by his Holy Spirit. Jesus’ words and deeds recorded in scripture testify to his goodness and faithfulness.

As we trust and obey Jesus’ words and apply them we receive the fulfillment of his promises, and he will reveal himself to us personally through the gift of his Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). What begins as the simple “yes” of faith becomes sure and certain knowledge and personal experience (John 6:68).

Do we claim to be Christians without discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus’ words? Do we want spiritual blessings without yielding to God’s will? Do we give God only what we regard as worthless; what is left-over? Are we glorifying God in our words and actions or are we building “memorials” to ourselves?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 8 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/11/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 15:24-35   –     Samuel Departs from Saul;

Acts 9:32-43   –     Peter heals Aeneas and Dorcas;

Luke 23:56b-24:11 (12)    –   The Empty Tomb;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel, the priest, had confronted Saul, the king of Israel, for disobeying God’s Word. Saul was to utterly destroy all the people and possessions of the Amalekites, but had taken hostage Agag, the Amalekite king, and had kept the best of the Amalekites’ livestock (1 Samuel 15:10-23). Saul confessed that he had sinned and disobeyed God’s Word because he had feared the people and had obeyed them. He asked Samuel to pardon his sin and return with Saul to worship the Lord, but Samuel refused to return with Saul; Saul had rejected God’s Word, so God had rejected Saul.

Samuel turned to leave, and Saul grabbed Samuel’s robe and it tore. Samuel told Saul that God had torn the kingdom from Saul to give to a neighbor of Saul (i.e., David) who was better than Saul, as Saul had torn Samuel’s robe. The “Glory of Israel” (God) doesn’t lie and does not need to repent, since he is unlike humans (Saul is the example of those who lie and sin). Saul acknowledged his sin again, but pleaded for Samuel to honor Saul in the presence of the elders and the people “and worship the Lord your (Samuel’s) God” (1 Samuel 15:30). Samuel returned to Gilgal with Saul and Saul worshiped the Lord.

Then Samuel had king Agag of the Amalekites brought before him. Agag thought that he had avoided execution, but Samuel told Agag that as Agag’s sword had made mothers childless, so would Agag’s mother be childless. Then Samuel cut Agag to pieces with a sword. Samuel then returned to his home at Ramah, and Saul went to his home in Gibeah. Samuel never saw Saul again, but Samuel grieved over Saul, and the Lord regretted having made Saul king of Israel.

Acts Paraphrase:

As Peter was visiting churches in the region, he came to Lydda on the coastal Plain of Sharon. He met a man named Aeneas who had been paralyzed for eight years. Peter told him that Jesus Christ was healing Aeneas, and told him to get up and make his bed. The man did so, and all who witnessed it in Lydda and the surrounding region turned to the Lord.

At Joppa on the coast to the west of Lydda, a disciple (Christian), a woman named Dorcas (Greek for Gazelle; “Tabitha” is the Aramaic equivalent), fell ill and died. She was known and loved for her good works and acts of charity. Since the Christians at Joppa had heard that Peter was nearby in Lydda, they sent two men to beg Peter to come immediately.

Peter came with them to Joppa and was taken to an upper room where Dorcas’ body had been placed. All the widows in the district were there, mourning for Dorcas and showing the clothing and coats she had made for them. Peter made them wait outside, and then he knelt and prayed. Then Peter said “Tabitha, rise” (Acts 9:40), and she opened her eyes.

Seeing Peter, she sat up. He helped her stand up and then called the mourners and showed them that she was alive. Word of this miracle spread throughout the region and many became Christians as a result. Peter stayed in Joppa a long time, living with Simon, a tanner (an occupation regarded by Jews as defiling).

Luke Paraphrase

The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. Jesus’ body had been laid in the tomb, and the disciples observed the Sabbath rest. Early Sunday morning the women went to the tomb to prepare the body for entombment, and they found that the stone used to close the entrance had been rolled away. They entered, but there was no body.

Two men appeared beside them in garments that appeared to glow (compare Luke 9:28-31). The women were frightened, and bowed to the ground. These men asked why the women were seeking the living among the dead. They reminded the women that Jesus had told them that the Son of man would be crucified and rise on the third day.

They remembered Jesus’ words, and they returned to the disciples and told them what they had seen and heard. The women included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James and others. The disciples were skeptical of the women’s story.

Commentary:

Samuel had declared God’s Word to Saul, but Saul had listened to his people instead. The Lord was Samuel’s God, but not Saul’s, because Samuel did what the Lord commanded and Saul did not. Saul thought he could worship the Lord after he had sinned, but he hadn’t truly repented. Saul wanted to appear before the people with Samuel, the priest, to validate Saul.

When Samuel returned with Saul it was so that Samuel could carry out God’s will. It was Samuel, not Saul, who ordered Agag to be brought, and it was Samuel who carried out the execution. Agag thought he had escaped God’s judgment, but he was wrong; it just took a little longer in coming than Agag had expected.

Saul thought he could go against God’s Word, and then confess to the priest and receive forgiveness without truly repenting and changing his ways. The difference between Samuel and Saul was obedience to God’s Word.

Because Saul had rejected God’s Word, God tore the kingdom from Saul and gave it to someone “better”, who was willing to do God’s will and obey God’s Word (David; ultimately Jesus, the Son of David; 1 Samuel 15:28). Because they rejected God’s anointed Savior and King God tore the kingdom from the Jews and gave it to the Gentiles [the Church; but understand that the Jews can be restored through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus; Romans 11:1-24].

This is a warning to the Church and to “Christian” nations, particularly America. “Worship,” without obedience to God’s Word does not secure the blessings and promises of God. “Confession” without true repentance does not secure forgiveness. “Religious” endorsement of political leaders doesn’t “validate” their administrations. “Ministry” without the authentic anointing of the Holy Spirit does not produce authentic “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ.

Peter is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple who learned and applied Jesus’ teaching, and was carrying on Jesus’ ministry through guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Peter had been radically transformed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, from one who had denied knowing Jesus to the high priest’s slave (John 18:26-27) to boldly proclaiming the Gospel and doing miracles of healing and restoration in Jesus’ name. (Acts 2:1-24). Peter had obeyed Jesus’ command to wait in Jerusalem until he had received the promised indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5), and was now carrying out Jesus’ command to make disciples and teach them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches and commands (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus had told his disciples several times that he was going to be crucified and would rise again on the third day (Luke 9:22, 18:31-34), but they didn’t understand when Jesus said it, and they could not at first believe it when it was reported to them. Jesus spoke God’s Word (John 14:24) and Jesus is the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ words are utterly true and reliable.

Jesus said that those who trust and obey his words are the ones who are truly his disciples and who truly love him, and they are the ones who receive the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21 23), the seal and guarantee and foretaste of eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Jesus’ resurrection is the demonstration of his promise of resurrection and eternal life.

We have been given great promises in God’s Word, but we must trust and obey the Lord in order to receive them. Have we believed the eyewitness biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection? Have we believed the testimony of truly “born-again” Christians, those who have personally encountered the risen ascended Jesus, like Paul (Acts 9:1-18)? Have we sought and experienced “resurrection” from spiritual death to true spiritual eternal life through the indwelling Holy Spirit? Are we living in ways that glorify Jesus’ name and cause people to trust and obey Jesus, or are we listening to and obeying the people of this world? Do we expect God to forgive our sins while we continue to be disobedient to his Word?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 8 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/12/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 16:1-13   –     Anointing of David;

Acts 10:1-16   –     Conversion of Cornelius;

Luke 24:13-35   –   The road to Emmaus;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel had separated from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience of God’s Word, but Samuel had continued to grieve for Saul. The Lord told Samuel to stop grieving for Saul, since the Lord had rejected Saul as King of Israel. Instead Samuel was to go to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king. Samuel told the Lord that he was afraid Saul would kill him if he found out. The Lord told Samuel to take a heifer to offer as a sacrifice, and to invite Jesse and his sons to worship and share the feast. Then Samuel was to anoint the son of Jesse whom the Lord would reveal to Samuel.

Samuel did as the Lord had told him. When he arrived in Bethlehem the elders of the city were afraid and asked Samuel if his visit was peaceable. Samuel told them he had come to offer a sacrifice, and invited them as well as Jesse and his sons. When they came Samuel saw Eliab and he thought that surely Eliab would be the Lord’s choice, but the Lord told Samuel that the Lord is not influenced by outward appearance.

The Lord knows the innermost thoughts and motives of the heart, and had rejected Eliab. Jesse brought his sons before Samuel one at a time, and the Lord rejected each of them. Samuel asked Jesse if all his sons were present, and was told that the youngest son, David, was herding sheep.

Samuel told Jesse to send someone to fetch David, because they could not begin until David was present. David was handsome with beautiful eyes and ruddy complexion. The Lord told Samuel that David was the one who was chosen. Samuel anointed David in the presence of his brothers, “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).

Acts Background:

Cohorts were garrisons of Roman soldiers spread throughout the provinces of the empire and serving as military police.

Acts Paraphrase:

Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian Cohort stationed in Caesarea at the time. He and his household were worshipers of God, and Cornelius was known to be devout, generous in giving alms, and constant in prayer.

At about three pm he was praying and had a vision of an angel of God, who called him by name. Cornelius was terrified, and asked what the angel wanted. The angel assured Cornelius that his prayers and alms had been acknowledged by God. Cornelius was to send messengers to Joppa to fetch Simon Peter, who was staying at the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea. When the angel had delivered the message, he left, and Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier from his aides, told them everything that had happened, and sent them to Joppa.

The next day at noon, as Cornelius’ messengers were on their way, Peter went up to the roof to pray. He became hungry, and while lunch was being prepared he fell into a trance, and saw a vision of something like a large sheet lowered from heaven by it’s four corners. There were all varieties of animals, reptiles and birds in it, and a voice told Peter to get up, kill and eat.

Peter replied that he had never eaten anything regarded as unclean according to Jewish dietary laws. The voice replied that Peter should not regard as unclean anything the Lord had cleansed. The vision was repeated two more times.

Luke Paraphrase:

On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of his disciples were going to Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking about the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. As they were talking, Jesus approached and walked with them. They saw but did not recognize him. Jesus asked them what they had been talking about.

They stopped and appeared sad as they told him how Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet, had been condemned and crucified. They had hoped that Jesus was the one chosen by God to redeem Israel. It was now the third day since his crucifixion, and the really amazing thing was that the women had reported that Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb and they had seen a vision of angels who told them that Jesus was alive.

Jesus gently rebuked them as foolish for being slow to believe the scriptural prophecies. It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and die to fulfill God’s plan and receive his glory. Jesus began to show them from Jewish scripture (the Old Testament books of Law and Prophets) the fulfillment of prophecies concerning himself.

As the disciples neared their destination, they invited Jesus to stay the night, since it was near sunset. So Jesus joined them and at dinner Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples, and they recognized him, but Jesus vanished from their sight.

They agreed that they should have recognized him on the road as he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. That very hour they returned to Jerusalem and told the other disciples what had happened and how Jesus had been revealed in the breaking of the bread. They learned that the Lord had also appeared to Simon Peter.

Commentary:

David is the kind of person God chooses to accomplish his purpose. The Lord isn’t deceived by outward appearance, status, worldly power or wealth. The Lord looks on the heart, the inner thoughts and motives.

David was a humble shepherd boy God chose to be King of Israel, because David was a man with a heart to serve God, who would obey God’s will (Acts 13:22). Saul was tall and good looking, but he cared more for the approval of people than for God’s will and God’s approval. Because Saul rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord rejected Saul. (1 Samuel 15:23c, d).

The Lord chose Cornelius to be a disciple because the Lord knew that Cornelius had a heart to worship and serve God, and when the Lord called Cornelius, Cornelius responded in obedient trust. Cornelius was a military leader, but he was terrified by the vision of an angel of God. But despite fear, he trusted and obeyed God’s Word. Cornelius and his entire household were blessed as a result of Cornelius’ spiritual leadership.

Peter is the example of a disciple the Lord uses to accomplish his purpose. Peter had been a fisherman and a Galilean with no formal religious training; not someone who would be highly regarded by the religious establishment in Jerusalem. On the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, he had denied knowing Jesus three times to people who didn’t have much social, political or religious status (Luke 22:54-62). He had been in constant personal fellowship with Jesus for three and a half years or so, and he had obeyed the Lord’s command to stay in Jerusalem until he had received the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49).

Since the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was upon him mightily (compare 1 Samuel 16:13) and he had been noticeably transformed, boldly proclaiming the Gospel (Acts 2:1-42).  When the Lord taught Peter the need to change his heart attitude in a particular area, Peter accepted the Lord’s correction in obedient trust, and he was prepared and ready to minister to Cornelius and his household.

Jesus is God’s chosen and anointed Savior and King. God’s purpose has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who will trust and obey him. This life is a selection process for that eternal kingdom, and we are given the opportunity to choose for ourselves whether to enter that kingdom or not.

The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find a personal relationship with the Lord (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is the only way, the only door (John 10:7), to personal fellowship with the Lord and eternal life in God’s kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word, and has been “built in” to the structure of creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Disciples of Jesus who trust and obey him receive the gift, the “anointing,” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-33). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

All of the scriptural prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Lord reveals himself to us first through the scriptures. If we trust and obey him he will come to us and be present with us. It is the Spirit of the risen Lord who opens the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:27, 45).

Are you slow to believe God’s Word? Are you slow to believe the testimony of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples who have experienced the resurrection of Jesus and testify that Jesus is alive?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 8 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/13/05;

Podcast: Thursday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 16:14-17:11   –     David and Goliath;

Acts 10:17-33   –     Peter Goes to Cornelius;

Luke 24:36-53   –    Jesus’ Commissions his Disciples;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

The Holy Spirit which had been in Saul since his anointing by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:6), departed from Saul because he had disobeyed God’s Word and God had rejected him from being king (1 Samuel 15:23c-d). He was tormented by an evil spirit, and his servants suggested that he employ a musician to soothe him with music when he was being tormented by the evil spirit.

Saul told his servants to find a musician, and one of them knew that David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, was a good musician, a brave soldier, temperate in speech and companionable. So Saul sent for David. David’s father sent David to Saul with a donkey loaded with bread and wine and a young goat. Saul loved David and made him his armor-bearer. Saul asked Jesse to allow David to remain with Saul, and whenever Saul was afflicted with the evil spirit, David soothed him with his music.

The army of the Philistines gathered at Socoh in the region of Judah, and Saul and his army gathered nearby. The Philistines were on a hill on one side of a valley and Saul’s army was on the hill on the other side. A ten foot tall giant named Goliath came out from the Philistines to challenge the Israelites.

He had a bronze helmet and bronze armor on his lower legs, and he wore a coat of mail armor. He carried a bronze javelin with an iron point. Goliath shouted a challenge to Israel to send out a man to fight Goliath and the fate of the people would be decided by the outcome of the duel. Saul and his men were dismayed and afraid when they heard the challenge.

Acts Paraph rase:

Peter had been praying and had seen a vision of a great sheet of cloth containing every variety of animal, both “clean” and “unclean” according to Jewish dietary laws. A voice from heaven told Peter that God had cleansed them, so Peter was to no longer regard any as unclean. Peter was still pondering this vision when the messengers sent by Cornelius arrived and called for Simon Peter.

The (Holy) Spirit told Peter to accompany the men without hesitation, because the Lord had sent them. Peter went down and the men told him that they had been sent by Cornelius, a centurion who worshiped God and was highly regarded by the Jewish people. Peter invited them to stay overnight, and the next morning they went to Caesarea with some of the Christians from Joppa.

The following day they arrived at Cornelius’ house. Cornelius had gathered his family and close friends. Cornelius bowed down to worship Peter but Peter told him to rise because Peter was just an ordinary person like Cornelius. Inside, Peter found a large group of people. Peter told them that it was unlawful for Jews to visit in Gentile homes, but God had showed Peter that he should not consider any person “unclean,” so Peter had come with no objection.

Peter asked why they had sent for him and Cornelius told him about the vision he had seen four days ago of a man in radiant apparel (compare Luke 9:28-31), who had told Cornelius that Cornelius’ prayers and acts of charity had been remembered by the Lord. The man had told Cornelius to summon Peter and gave him directions to find him. So Cornelius had immediately done as he had been told. They were gathered to hear all that Peter would say by the inspiration of the Lord.

Luke Paraphrase:

After encountering the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what they had experienced. As they were speaking to the group of disciples, Jesus appeared among them. The group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. Jesus asked why they were troubled and confused. He showed them his hands and feet, and invited them to touch him to see that he had flesh and bones. While they were still incredulous and amazed in their joy, Jesus asked for something to eat and was given a piece of broiled fish, which he ate as they watched.

Then Jesus reminded them that he had told them that everything in the scriptures (Old Testament books of Moses, the prophets and the psalms) concerning Christ must be fulfilled. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45). The scriptures prophesied that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, “and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). His disciples were witnesses to these things.

“And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Then Jesus led the disciples a short distance out of Jerusalem to Bethany (on the Mount of Olives. There he blessed them and departed from them (he rose from the ground and was taken from their sight by a cloud; (Acts 1:9). The disciples returned to Jerusalem with great rejoicing, and went often to the temple to praise God.

Commentary:

David is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ. David was the ideal king whose heart was committed and obedient to God’s will (Acts 13:22). David was God’s “anointed” King of Israel to replace Saul who was disobedient to God’s Word. David had been “anointed” with oil and with the Holy Spirit at the Lord’s direction (1 Samuel 16:13).

The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ; Romans 8:9b) is the Comforter (John 14:16 KJV; consoler) who comforts and strengthens us when we are tormented by evil spirits, and gives us the ability to offer that comfort to others (2 Corinthians 1:4). Though faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ we are anointed with the Holy Spirit as David was. Jesus is the “Christ” (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively). Christ is our “champion” who fights our spiritual battle with the superhuman enemy and gives us the victory. Jesus won the battle with “Goliath” (Satan) at the Cross (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Peter is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ who trusted and obeyed Jesus, who had received the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and was directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. His mind was opened to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45). He stayed in Jerusalem (the “City of God;” the equivalent is the Church) until he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49).

The Holy Spirit, the “Lord and Giver of Life” (in the words of the Nicene Creed) prepared him for ministry to the Gentiles and brought Peter and Cornelius together. The Lord gave Peter a message and understanding of scripture and brought together a group of people ready to hear and apply that message in obedience to God’s Word. Peter was fulfilling Jesus’ command to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). He was making disciples and teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught (Acts 10:26; Matthew 28:19-20).

The disciples had personally experienced the risen Jesus. They knew Jesus was alive. They had been trained and equipped to carry on Jesus’ ministry of repentance and forgiveness of sins as soon as they had received the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the other disciples received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11), and Peter immediately began preaching by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-40). [Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype of a modern “post-resurrection” “born-again” disciple who did not know Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry but who personally experienced the risen and ascended  Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19)]

God’s Word is always fulfilled; it is totally true and reliable. Everything the Bible prophesied about Jesus is fulfilled in him. Jesus has promised that he will return on the Day of Judgment to judge everyone who has ever lived. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and who have been “born-again” by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16), will live eternally with the Lord in his heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction (Matthew 25:31-46; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Are you ready for Jesus’ return? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 8 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/14/05;

Podcast: Friday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 17:17-30   –     David visits his brothers;

Acts 10:34-48    –    Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit;
Mark 1:1-13    –   Jesus’ baptism;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

David’s father, Jesse of Bethlehem, sent David to visit his brothers who were fighting the Philistines. David was to take a half-bushel of parched grain, ten loaves of bread, and ten cheeses to be given to the commander of the unit.

Saul and his army were fighting the Philistines in the valley of Elah. David left early in the morning and came to the Israelite encampment as they were facing off against the Philistines. Goliath, a ten-foot tall well-armored giant, came out in front of the Philistine line and challenged Israel to put forth a champion to fight against Goliath as a contest to determine the fate of the nations. David heard the challenge. All the men of Israel were afraid of Goliath, and David heard them say that whoever killed Goliath would be well-rewarded by the king.

David asked the men around him what the reward would be for the one who killed Goliath, and asked how an uncircumcised Philistine could defy the armies of the living God. David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard him and became angry. He asked why David had abandoned his father’s sheep and come. Eliab accused David of presumptuousness and evil for coming there to see the battle. David asked why Eliab was picking on him, and turned away and resumed his discussion with another man.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter had gone to Caesarea at the invitation of Cornelius to expound the gospel to Cornelius and his household, by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Peter said that he had discovered that God shows no partiality for any person or group of people. Any one who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. The good news (gospel) which Jesus proclaimed is that people can have peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord above all. Jesus began to proclaim this good news throughout Judea and Galilee after his baptism by John the Baptizer. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and Jesus did good works and healed all who were afflicted by the devil, by the power of God who was with Jesus. His disciples are witnesses to all that Jesus did.

Jesus was put to death on a cross, but on the third day God raised him from the dead and revealed him to those who ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection, who were chosen by God to be his witnesses. Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the good news and to testify that Jesus is the one designated by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets (the Old Testament scriptures) testify that every one who believes (trusts and obeys) Jesus receives forgiveness of sin.

As Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit came upon all who were listening, and the Jewish Christians (from Joppa) who came along with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles. They knew that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit because they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Since they had received the Holy Spirit there was no question that they were ready and worthy of baptism, so Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter and his fellow Christians were invited to stay and remained for a number of days.

Mark Paraphrase:

The gospel (i.e. “good news”) of Jesus Christ begins with the fulfillment, by John the Baptizer, of Isaiah’s prophecy of a messenger to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah (Christ). John appeared in the wilderness preaching water baptism in repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Large numbers of people from Jerusalem and all of Judea went to him, confessing their sins, and were baptized in the Jordan River.

John wore camel hair clothing and a leather belt, and he lived on locusts and wild honey he foraged in the wilderness. John’s message disclosed that John was not the Messiah but only the most menial servant heralding the coming of the Messiah. John’s mission was to prepare the people by water baptism (with confession and repentance of sin) so that they would be ready to receive the Messiah, who would baptize (“anoint”) them with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus came to John from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. When Jesus came up from the water, John saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain upon Jesus in the form of a dove (see John 1:31-34). A voice from heaven declared that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and God is well pleased with him. The Holy Spirit immediately drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by Satan, and angels ministered to him.

Commentary:

Eliab thought his little brother had just come to “sightsee.” Eliab didn’t think David was old and big enough to join the fight of God’s people against their enemy. Eliab thought he was older, stronger and wiser, and that David was talking big, but would be unable to back up his words with action. But Eliab was wrong; David had been sent by his father with a specific mission, and God had a purpose to be accomplished through David.

David had been “anointed” with the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13). David was called by God to be the “champion” of his people to deliver them from their enemy. David is the forerunner and illustration of the Christ. In a sense he is a herald of the coming Messiah. Jesus is the “champion” of his people who delivers them from their superhuman enemy, Satan.

The Lord was working in the lives of both Peter and Cornelius to bring them together so that the gospel of Jesus Christ could be extended to the Gentiles. Peter is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ. He personally experienced and testified to the resurrection of Jesus. He was carrying on the ministry of Jesus to bring spiritual healing and peace with God through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Peter had received the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit, was able to lead others to that anointing by the power of the Holy Spirit within and through him, and was able to recognize the anointing of the Holy Spirit in others. He stayed with the new disciples and “discipled” them.

Jesus promised the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him and that he would personally manifest himself to them through the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17; 21; 23).  He fulfilled that promise, beginning on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

Sin is disobedience of God’s Word. God’s Word says that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). If we deny our sin we call God a liar and are only deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and reconciliation with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Every one who trusts and obeys Jesus receives forgiveness, and comes into fellowship with the Lord through his Holy Spirit. Jesus is the example of life lived by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, and he is the only one who baptizes his disciples with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know personally for oneself whether one has received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

John the Baptizer’s ministry was to call people to confess their sins and to change from disobedience and unbelief to obedient trust in the Lord. The scriptures were fulfilled. Jesus came in human flesh; he was crucified and rose to eternal life from physical death.

Jesus has promised to return to judge the (both physically and spiritually) living and the dead (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus is the perfect and righteous judge. He came and lived in our world in our flesh, but without sinning. He knows every detail of our innermost thoughts and motives. He will judge us fairly and impartially. His disciples are commissioned to prepare people for the Lord’s return on the Day of Judgment by calling them to confess their sins, turn to obedient trust in Jesus Christ and grow to spiritual maturity and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the “anointing” of his Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 8 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/15/05;
Podcast: Saturday 8 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 17:31-49    –   David Kills Goliath;

Acts 11:1-18   –     Baptism of Gentiles;

Mark 1:14-28   –   Jesus Calls Disciples;

1 Samuel Paraphrase;

Goliath had challenged Israel to send forth a champion to fight Goliath to decide the battle between Israel and the Philistines. David had told Israelite soldiers that Goliath was a heathen who had defied the armies of God. David’s words were reported to Saul and Saul had David brought to him.

David said Israel should not fear Goliath, and he volunteered to challenge Goliath. Saul didn’t think David was qualified; he was a young boy who had never trained for war, and Goliath was a ten-foot tall giant who had trained for war from his youth.

David replied that he had fought and killed lions and bears while shepherding his father’s sheep. “David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’” (1 Samuel 17:37). So Saul agreed to let David challenge Goliath, but he had him put on a bronze helmet, a coat of mail armor and a sword.

David was not accustomed to armor and could hardly move with it, so he took it all off. He took his wooden staff, and he selected five smooth stones from a stream and put them in his shepherd’s purse. With his sling in his hand he approached Goliath.

The Philistine drew near in full armor and with a shield-bearer. When he saw that David was just a youth he was contemptuous and asked if David thought he was a dog, since David came to him with a stick.

Goliath cursed David by his gods, and told him that David’s flesh would be food for buzzards and animals. David replied, “You come to me with a sword, and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). David told him it would be Goliath’s flesh that would be food for the birds and beasts, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into my hand” (1 Samuel 17:46-47).

Goliath came forward to engage David and David ran to meet him. David hurled a stone with his slingshot, and it hit and penetrated Goliath’s forehead and he fell on his face, dead.

Acts Paraphrase:

The apostles and Christians in Judea heard that Gentiles had received God’s Word (the Gospel of Jesus Christ). When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he was criticized by the group of conservative Jewish Christians known as the “circumcision party” who insisted that Christians must keep Jewish laws, such as circumcision.

Peter told them that he had been praying and had seen the vision of all varieties of (ritually) clean and unclean animals, and had been told not to regard what God has cleansed as “unclean.”  The vision had happened three times, and at that very moment three men from Caesarea arrived seeking Peter. The Holy Spirit told Peter to go with them showing no prejudice. Six Christian brethren from Joppa went with Peter to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.

Cornelius had told them how an angel had appeared to him telling him to send to Joppa for Peter, who would declare a message by which Cornelius and his household would be saved. As Peter had begun to preach, the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius’ entire household, just as it had originally come upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts Chapter 2).

Peter “remembered that Jesus had said that ‘John baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16; see Acts 1:5; fulfilling John’s prophecy: John 1:33). Since God gave the Gentiles the same gift (the indwelling Holy Spirit), how could Peter (or any person) oppose what God had done. That ended the argument, and they glorified God for giving the Gentiles repentance which results in true, eternal life.

Mark Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer had been arrested (by Herod; Matthew 14:3) when Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee, “saying, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand; repent (return to obedient trust in God, and believe in the Gospel (accept the message that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and King).

Walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called to two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew, who were fishing with a thrown net. Jesus called them to follow him and he would make them become “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). They immediately dropped their net and went with Jesus. Further down the shore, Jesus saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee in their boat mending nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left their father, the nets and boat, and followed Jesus.

They went into Capernaum and on the Sabbath Jesus began to teach in the Synagogue. People were amazed at the power and authority of his teaching, which they had never experienced in the teaching of the scribes (teachers of Scripture; the Bible; the Law of Moses). There was a man with an “unclean spirit” who cried out asking if Jesus had come to destroy them, and acknowledging that Jesus was the “Holy One of God” (the Messiah; Mark 1:24).

Jesus commanded the demon to be silent and leave the man. The demon convulsed the man and came out of him with a shriek. The people were amazed and discussed among themselves, saying that this was a new teaching, and that Jesus had authority even over demons. News of these things quickly spread throughout Galilee.

David had learned to trust in the Lord. He had experienced the Lord’s deliverance in the past and had come to know the Lord’s power and faithfulness. He recognized that the contest between Israel and the Philistines was a spiritual battle. He stepped out to confront Goliath not relying on armor or his own skill or strength, but in God’s power.

David is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ, God’s anointed Savior, our “champion” who fights and defeats the superhuman enemy, Satan. David is also an example of the “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple through whom God works to accomplish God’s purpose. The Lord “discipled” David in the ordinary events of life as David learned to trust and obey him, causing David’s faith to grow to spiritual maturity.

The Church needs to be led by “born-again” disciples. In order to do that, they must make “born-again” disciples. It is by the Holy Spirit that our minds are opened to understand the scriptures, and God’s specific will is revealed. Peter is an example of a “born-again” Christian disciple.

The Lord was working in the lives of Cornelius and his household to prepare them to receive the gospel; it was the Lord who told Cornelius to send for Peter, and Peter was being prepared by the indwelling Holy Spirit for that specific ministry. In contrast, the circumcision party was motivated by their own human understanding instead of seeking and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus began his public ministry by calling people to repent (to turn away from following their own will and desires, and become obedient to God’s will) and to believe in the gospel (the “good news;” to accept the message that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and eternal King).

Jesus calls us to be disciples. Disciples are not a special category of “Super Christians;” “Christians” is the name first given in Antioch to disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). When Jesus calls us, we need to leave the way we used to live and the things that would interfere with following Jesus, and we must begin to follow him, learning to live a new way. We need to learn what Jesus teaches and to trust and obey Jesus so that we can receive and be guided and empowered by his Holy Spirit.

Jesus came to show us how to live according to God’s will and to be empowered by his Holy Spirit. Jesus demonstrated resurrection from the dead to eternal life. Jesus’ death on the Cross made it possible for his disciples to receive the gift of his Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Jesus was more than just baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit, but he demonstrated the power and authority his disciples can have through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Peter’s life is an example of how the gift of the Holy Spirit can change a person and give them power and authority they never had before. Peter denied knowing Jesus to the menial servant of the high priest on the night of Jesus betrayal (Luke 22:56-57), but from the Day of Pentecost onward Peter preached Jesus with boldness (Acts 2:14-36)
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we can grow in trust and obedience to God’s Word and be used by God to accomplish his purpose as David was and as Peter was. Only Jesus can baptize us with the Holy Spirit, which he gives only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Are we seeking teachers who teach with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit or are we seeking teachers who will “tickle our ears” and tell us what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 7 Pentecost – Odd -07/12 – 18/2015

July 11, 2015

Week of 7 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of  7 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 7 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 07/02/05;

Podcast: Sunday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 10:1-16   –     A New Man; a Changed Heart;
Romans 4:13-25   –    True Descendants of Abraham;
Matthew 21:23-32   –   Jesus’ Authority;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Saul had been seeking his father’s donkeys which had gone astray, and his servant suggested that he contact Samuel, the prophet. Before Saul returned home Samuel anointed him with olive oil and told Saul that God had anointed him to be prince over Israel (1 Samuel 9:1-10:1). Saul had been chosen by God to be a savior of his people from their enemies surrounding them.

Samuel told Saul, as a sign of the truth of this prophecy, that on his journey to return home Saul would meet two men at Rachael’s tomb at Zelzah (north of Jerusalem). The men would tell Saul that the donkeys that Saul was seeking had been found, and now Saul’s father was worried about Saul.

Samuel prophesied that as Saul continued, he would encounter three men, carrying three kids (young goats), three loaves of bread and a skin of wine. The men would give Saul the bread, which Saul was to accept. Then Saul would encounter a group of prophets coming down from a place of worship at Gibeath-elohim (the hill of God). They would be singing and dancing with musical instruments. The Spirit of God would come mightily upon Saul and he would prophesy with them and become a changed man.

Samuel told Saul to do whatever he was led to do, because God would be with him. Saul was to wait at Gilgal for seven days, and Samuel would join him to offer sacrifices and give Saul further instructions.

As he left Samuel, God gave Saul “a new heart.” All the things Samuel had told Saul happened as Samuel had prophesied. When Saul met the band of prophets he joined their ecstatic celebration. People who knew Saul previously were amazed at the change in Saul. They said, “What has come over the son of Kish. Is Saul also among the prophets? …And who is their father” (1 Samuel 10:11-12).

Saul returned home and his uncle asked him about his journey. Saul said he had sought the missing donkeys, and when he hadn’t found them he sought a Word from God through the prophet Samuel. Saul’s uncle wanted to know what Samuel had told Saul, and Saul said that Samuel told him the donkeys had been found, but Saul didn’t tell his uncle the rest (about God’s anointing of him as King of Israel).

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul taught that God’s promise to Abraham that Abraham’s descendants “should inherit the world” (Romans 4:13), was received by faith, not by keeping the law. If the promise was attained by keeping the law, faith wouldn’t matter. The law results in condemnation, but there is no condemnation apart from law.

God’s promise depends on faith, so that the promise is given by grace (God’s unmerited favor; Ephesians 2:8-9) and is guaranteed to all people, “not only to the adherents of the law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16). God’s Word declares Abraham the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). The giver of the promise is God, who alone by his Word can call into existence things which do not exist “and gives life to the dead” (Romans 4:17).

Abraham is an example of faith; he hoped in faith in God’s promise when it seemed hopeless and impossible. Although he was about a hundred years old and his wife had never conceived, he didn’t waver in faith in God’s promise. “He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).

God regarded Abraham’s faith as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), and we likewise will be judged righteous (blameless) who believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, and was raised by God to eternal life for our justification (judgment of blamelessness; acquittal; vindication).

Matthew Paraphrase:

In the week before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus was teaching in the temple, and the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority for doing so. Jesus replied by asking them whether John the baptizer’s authority was from God or from men.

The leaders discussed the question among themselves. They were afraid to say that John’s authority was from men, because the people were convinced that John was a prophet, but if they said it was by God’s authority, they would be guilty for not believing John’s word. So they decided to say they didn’t know. Because they refused to answer Jesus, Jesus declined to answer them.

Then Jesus told a parable of two sons of the owner of a vineyard. The father told his sons to go and work in the vineyard. One agreed to go but didn’t keep his word; the other said no, but then repented and did as his father had asked. Jesus asked which of the two sons had done the will of his father. They answered that it was the son who had done what his father asked. Jesus told the religious leaders that tax collectors (hated as collaborators with the Roman government) and harlots enter the kingdom of God before the religious authorities.

John the Baptizer preached the way of righteousness (he called for repentance, and pointed to Jesus as the Messiah), but the religious “experts” didn’t believe him. But the ones they looked down on as “sinners” believed him, and when the religious experts saw sinners repenting and being saved they still did not repent and believe.

Commentary:

Saul was on a journey, but hadn’t found what he was searching for, so he decided, on the suggestion of a servant, to seek God’s guidance through God’s prophet Samuel. Samuel had become well-known as a prophet (1 Samuel 3:20). God had prepared Samuel for Saul’s visit. Saul participated in worship, and then Samuel told Saul God’s Word and God’s will for Saul. Samuel told Saul exact details of what Saul would encounter on the way home, as a sign that Samuel had spoken God’s Word, and as Saul went on his way Samuel’s prophesies were fulfilled.

As Saul went in faith in God’s Word, the gift, the “anointing,” of the indwelling Holy Spirit came mightily upon him, he spoke God’s Word by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and he became a changed man; he had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). God gave him a “new heart” to love, trust and obey the Lord. Those who knew him earlier recognized the transformation. They recognized that he was a prophet, and that his spiritual father was God.

God’s promises depend on faith (obedient trust). Saul was changed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit as he walked according to God’s Word which he had received from Samuel. Abraham received the fulfillment of God’s promise as he walked in obedient trust in God’s Word.

Fulfillment is the hallmark of God’s Word; God’s Word is always fulfilled. To receive the promises we must trust and obey Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God’s one and only Savior, the only way to forgiveness, reconciliation, and fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the Messiah (which means “anointed”), God’s anointed, eternal King. Jesus promised to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus died on the Cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. His resurrection is the fulfillment of his word (Luke 18:31-34; 9:22, 44-45; 17:25) and the demonstration of the truth of his word of resurrection and eternal life beyond physical death. Through obedient trust in Jesus we are reborn, have personal fellowship with the Lord and receive a foretaste of eternal life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We become new people, with changed hearts.

The religious leaders during Jesus’ earthly ministry were convinced that they were righteous because they thought they kept the Law of Moses, but their hearts were far from obedient trust in God. They needed a “change of heart.” They had the scriptures and should have been able to recognize that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but they refused to acknowledge his authority.

Jesus’ reply to their question was a challenge to their (self-given) authority. Their answer was not truth but self-vindication. They were “sons” of the “vineyard owner” who gave verbal assent to God’s Word, but didn’t do what it required. They thought they had no need of repentance.

No one can be righteous by keeping God’s laws because we all sin and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). Only by spiritual rebirth and a changed heart by the anointing of the Holy Spirit through obedient trust in Jesus Christ can we serve and accomplish God’s will. It is through the anointing of the Holy Spirit that we receive all that is desirable (all the spiritual gifts) in Israel (in the congregation of God’s people (1 Samuel 9:20). It is the Holy Spirit who gives true, eternal life to the spiritually dead (Romans 4:17).

The Lord has great plans for our lives, but to discover and do them we need the anointing of his Holy Spirit. As we begin to walk in obedient trust in God’s Word and be led by his Spirit, we grow in faith and spiritual maturity. We’re called to be servants of the Lord who direct others to seek the guidance of God’s Word. We’re called to join Jesus’ ministry of salvation and be saviors of God’s people from their spiritual enemies.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 7 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/03/05;
Podcast: Monday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 10:17-27    –    Saul Chosen King;
Acts 7:44-8:1a    –   Stephen Martyred;
Luke 22:52-62   –    Jesus’ Arrest;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel called the Israelites to assemble and warned them that it was the Lord who had delivered them from the oppressors in Egypt, but they had decided that they needed a king to rule over them (other than the Lord), although it was the Lord who had delivered them from all their calamities and distresses. So Samuel had all the tribes pass before him and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by chance.

The tribe of Benjamin passed by and the family of Matrites was chosen. The family passed by and Saul, son of Kish, was chosen, but he could not be found, because he had hidden among the baggage. He was found and brought forward, and he was head and shoulders above all other Israelites. Samuel proclaimed him chosen by the Lord, and the people acknowledged Saul as their king.

Samuel proclaimed the duties of the king, and recorded them in a book which he placed before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the congregation to return to their homes. Saul also returned to his home, accompanied by bodyguards prompted by the Lord. Some among the congregation were unhappy at Saul’s selection and brought him no gift, but Saul did not react.

Acts Paraphrase:

Stephen had been charged with blaspheming Moses and God and was on trial before the Jewish religious court. He began his defense by reviewing the history of God’s dealing with Israel.

Stephen said that the patriarchs had a tent as a sanctuary in the wilderness, built according to the design given by God to Moses. It was brought into the Promised Land with Joshua and served until David, who asked and received permission to build a House for God’s dwelling. But God does not need a house built by humans, as the word of Isaiah 66:1-2 shows, since it is the Lord who created everything in this universe. All of Heaven is his throne, and the entire earth is his footstool.

Stephen called Israel ‘stiff-necked people” as God’s Word had declared them to be (Exodus 33:3, 5), saying that they resisted the Holy Spirit and remained uncircumcised in heart and ears (although physically circumcised as a symbol of their covenant with God, they weren’t faithful to the covenant in their hearts, and they were not sensitive enough to heed God’s Word).

They were behaving like their forefathers had been since the Lord brought them out of Egypt. The forefathers killed the prophets of God who prophesied the coming of the Messiah and this generation proved to be their descendants by killing the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Israel received the Law from God in heaven by divine revelation but didn’t obey it.

When Stephen had said these things the members of the council were enraged, but Stephen was filled with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and declared that he saw a vision of the heavens opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  When Stephen said that, the members of the council began to shout and plug their ears (so as to hear no more from Stephen). They grabbed him, dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death. And Saul of Tarsus (who later became the Apostle Paul) was an eyewitness to the stoning of Stephen. Stephen’s last words were to pray God to forgive Stephen’s executioners.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by the religious authorities in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives at night. Jesus asked the authorities who had come to arrest him why they had armed themselves with swords and clubs as if they were capturing a criminal. Jesus told them that he had been in the temple everyday (that week) and they could have arrested him there, but they had chosen to do it in darkness away from public scrutiny. They were working for the forces of darkness, and it was their hour, because it was God’s will to allow it so that his purpose could be fulfilled.

The authorities took Jesus to the high priest’s house, and Peter followed at a distance. They built a fire in the courtyard to warm themselves, and Peter sat among them. In the light of the fire the high priest’s maid recognized Peter and declared that Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples, but Peter denied knowing Jesus. A little while later, someone else suggested that Peter had been with Jesus, and again he denied it. An hour later someone else recognized Peter as a disciple and a Galilean (the region of Galilee; around Nazareth) and again he denied it. While Peter was still speaking the cock crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed, “and he went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

Commentary:

Saul had been chosen by God in answer to Israel’s prayer for a human king to reign over them, like the neighboring countries (1 Samuel 8:4-7). Saul knew that God’s Word had been fulfilled in the past (1 Samuel 10:9), he knew the Lord would empower and guide him to fulfill his calling (1 Samuel 10:10), but Saul didn’t want to follow the calling God had given him. Saul knew the Lord’s will, and that purpose was confirmed by the selection of Saul by chance (directed by God’s power), even though Saul was not present (1 Samuel 10:19-21). He could not change God’s will and purpose for his life by hiding and not showing up.

Saul’s duties were written out in a sacred book placed before the Lord. Although God’s will was revealed by prophecy and confirmed by the fulfillment of prophecy, some were unhappy with God’s “anointed king,” they didn’t see how Saul could save them, and they refused to give him gifts (1 Samuel 10:27). But some whose hearts were responsive to God joined Saul’s “army” (1 Samuel 10:26).

Stephen is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple. He accepted the Lord’s call, was equipped by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and spoke God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to the leaders of Judaism, even at the cost of his life.

Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; meaning “anointed”) God’s anointed king of the universe. But the religious leaders were unhappy with God’s choice, and they didn’t accept Jesus as their Lord. These same religious leaders also refused to listen to God’s Word proclaimed by Stephen. They took Stephen out and killed him by stoning, just as they had killed Jesus by crucifixion.

God’s prophets are recognizable as the spiritual children of God by what they say and do (1 Samuel 10:11-12). Those who reject Jesus reveal by their words and actions that they are the children of their worldly, sinful ancestors and are working for the forces of darkness.

Saul took no immediate action against those who didn’t like his selection and who refused to rejoice and give him gifts. Neither did Jesus. The wicked are allowed to pursue their own desires for a time, but there is going to be a Day of Judgment, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have said and done (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). We can refuse to hear God’s Word, but we cannot change his will, and his purpose will be accomplished whether we cooperate with it or not.

Peter denied knowing his Lord Jesus, but he had not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit. After he received the Holy Spirit there was a noticeable change in Peter. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the Gospel (Acts 2:14-41) with boldness he hadn’t had when he had been afraid to admit knowing Jesus to the high priest’s maid (Luke 22:56). Although he hadn’t believed Jesus’ prophetic word earlier (Luke 22:31-34) about his denial, he came to personally experience its fulfillment. Peter personally witnessed Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:34), and was forgiven for his denial (John 21:15-19).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 7 Pentecost – Odd 
First Posted 07/04/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 11:1-15   –   Saul leads Israel in Battle;
Acts 8:1b-13   –     Spread of the Gospel;
Luke 22:63-71  –    Jesus Before Caiaphas;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

The Ammonites were east of the tribal allotments in Gilead east of the Jordan River. They besieged Jabesh-gilead, and the men of the village sought a peace treaty with them. Nahash, the commander of the Ammonite army would only make a treaty with them on condition that he would gouge out their right eyes to disgrace Israel. The men of Jabesh asked for a week to seek reinforcement, and if no one could be found to come to their aid they would surrender.

Messengers from Jabesh came to Gibeah, where Saul lived, and the people wept when they heard the news. Saul came home from plowing his fields leading a yoke of oxen, and asked why the people were mourning, When Saul heard, he was enraged, “and the spirit of God came mightily upon Saul” (1 Samuel 11:6), and he slaughtered the oxen and cut them up in pieces. He sent them by messenger throughout Israel, saying that whoever did not join him to fight against the Ammonites, would be cut up in pieces like the oxen.

The Israelites gathered at Bezek, west of the Jordan, opposite Jabesh. Three hundred and thirty thousand men assembled to fight the Ammonites. They told the messengers of Jabesh that their town would have relief from the Ammonite siege the next day before the sun got hot.

The men of Jabesh sent word to the Ammonites that they would surrender themselves to the Ammonites the next day. The next day Saul divided his army into three companies, and attacked the camp of the Ammonites early in the morning, and the surviving Ammonites were scattered and fled.

The Israelites suggested to Samuel that those Israelites who had opposed Saul’s kingship should be brought forth and executed, but Saul told them that not a single Israelite would be put to death that day, because the Lord had given Israel deliverance that day. Samuel called the people to go to Gilgal and publicly ratify Saul’s kingship, with sacrifice and peace offerings to the Lord, with great worship and celebration.

Acts Paraphrase:

The day Stephen was stoned, great persecution arose against the church, and the Christians were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, except for the Apostles (who remained in Jerusalem). Stephen was mourned and buried by the Church, but Saul (of Tarsus; later known as Paul, the Apostle) was leading the persecution of the Church, arresting and imprisoning believers.

Believers who were scattered by the persecution proclaimed the gospel as they went. Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ to them. The crowds who heard him believed, as they witnessed the miracles he did, healing many of physical and spiritual illness, and there was much rejoicing.

There was a magician named Simon, who had amazed the people of Samaria, and had a reputation as a great worker of magic. The people believed he had the supernatural power of God, and had believed in Simon, but when Philip preached Christ and demonstrated the true power of the Holy Spirit they were converted and baptized into Christ, and even Simon believed, was baptized, and was amazed by the miracles done through Philip.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had been arrested and taken to the house of the high priest during the night. While waiting for dawn, his guards blindfolded him and beat him, taunting him to prophesy who had struck him, and other such abuse.

At daybreak the Jewish council of elders (Sanhedrin; Jewish court) gathered, and Jesus was tried by them. They demanded that Jesus tell them whether he was the Christ (Messiah), but Jesus said that if he told them they would not believe him, and they would not answer if Jesus asked them. But Jesus said that from then on, Jesus would be at the right hand of the power of God. They asked him if he claimed to be the Son of God, and he replied, “You say that I am” (Luke 22:70). At that, the council ruled that Jesus was condemned by his words.

Commentary:

The enemies of God’s people thought they could dictate ruthless terms of peace. They thought God’s people would have no choice but to submit. But they were surprised by the power of the Israelites through God who gave his people deliverance from them. God’s people worshiped God and celebrated their king.

The persecution of the Christians which arose in Jerusalem did not thwart God’s plan; it was the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophesy of Acts 1:8, that his disciples would carry the Gospel outward from Jerusalem into Judea, then to Samaria, and to the most distant parts of the earth, AFTER they had received the promised gift, the “anointing,” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Simon, the Magician, claimed to have the great supernatural power of God, and had been a false messiah to the Samaritans (who were regarded by Jews as racially and religiously impure), but his words and his power could not compare to the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit working through Philip. Even Simon believed Philip’s gospel and wanted for himself the power that Philip demonstrated (Acts 8:18-24).

Jesus’ enemies had blindfolded Jesus and taunted and abused him, because Jesus allowed it, in obedience to God’s will and purpose. His guards thought they were smart; they thought blindfolding Jesus could prevent Jesus from knowing and prophesying who struck him.

The religious leaders wanted Jesus to tell them if he was the Messiah, but Jesus had been telling them and demonstrating, from the beginning, that he was. They didn’t want to know in order to trust and obey Jesus; they were looking for an excuse to kill him. Jesus never said that he was the Son of God; he referred to himself as the Son of man, which was true, because he was God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28) who had a human mother, and that name allowed (and required) his listeners to decide for themselves whether he was the Son of God or not.

Jesus’ word is the creative power of God. When he commanded, even the wind and waves obeyed (Luke 8:22-25). He could have commanded us to accept, trust and obey him, but he allows us to choose for ourselves. Jesus’ answer was correct that it was the religious leaders who had called him the Son of God, and they based their condemnation of Jesus on those words.

Jesus told his enemies that they would see him seated at the right hand of the power of God. There is a day coming when we will no longer be free to choose whether or not to trust and obey Jesus, the Son of God and God’s anointed eternal King. In that day it will be too late to accept his kingship. Now is the day of deliverance by the Lord; then it will be the Day of Judgment, and in that day those who have resisted Jesus’ kingship will be brought before him and condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; Mathew 25:31-46).

The Lord’s forbearance of his enemies is intended to allow them time to come to understanding and repentance. In the case of Saul, he experienced conviction by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b), and spiritual awakening on the road to Damascus (Acts Chapter 9), and became the biblical example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ, and great evangelist to the Gentiles.

The Cross is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, also see 19-29). The Lord defeated his enemies at the Cross. His enemies thought they could destroy Jesus by crucifying him, but God raised him from physical death to eternal life and gave him power and authority over everything in heaven and earth (Mathew 28:18). God’s plan of salvation (which see, sidebar, top right, home) through Jesus is the secret and hidden wisdom of God (1Corinthians 2:6-7) which has been built into creation (John 1:1-5, 14), which the world does not understand and acknowledge; otherwise they would not have killed Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8).

Jesus is the eternal King who gives deliverance of his people from the enemies of their souls. Jesus’ disciples have power and deliverance from their spiritual enemies through obedient trust in Jesus, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 7 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 07/05/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 12:1-6 (7-15) 16-25   –   Samuel’s Farewell;
Acts 8:14-25    –    Simon the Magician;
Luke 23:1-12   –    Jesus Before Pilate and Herod;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Samuel assembled Israel and told them that he had provided the king they had asked for. Samuel was now old and had led Israel as a judge for a long time. He invited any in Israel to speak up if they had any complaint of wrongdoing by Samuel. Israel replied that Samuel had not defrauded, oppressed anyone or taken any bribe.

Samuel reviewed the great saving acts of the Lord in bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Israel had forgotten the Lord and turned to the worship of idols, the Lord allowed their enemies to attack and oppress them. But when Israel confessed their sin and turned in repentance to the Lord, the Lord raised up leaders who delivered Israel from their enemies.

Israel had insisted on having a human king, although the Lord God was their king. Now they had King Saul. Samuel warned them that, if they would fear and serve the Lord and heed his Word, things would go well for them, but if Israel rebelled and disobeyed God’s commands, the Lord would oppose them.

It was the day of the wheat harvest, but Samuel told them the Lord would send thunder and rain (which would be a disaster to the harvest, and extremely unusual in their climate). Samuel called upon the Lord to send thunder and rain to show the people how sinful their desire had been to have a king other than the Lord. The Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and the people feared the Lord and Samuel.

The people asked Samuel to pray for them, that they wouldn’t die as a result of their sins. Samuel told them they had done evil against the Lord in asking for an earthly king, but they must not fear or turn from trusting and obeying the Lord. They must not turn from serving the Lord to vain things which are ultimately of no benefit, and cannot save them.

Samuel assured them that the Lord is faithful and will not abandon his people whom he has chosen. Samuel promised to continue to pray for them and to teach them the good and right way to live. Israel must fear and serve the Lord faithfully with all their heart, remembering all the great things the Lord has done for his people. But if Israel continues to do what is wicked they will be swept away; having an earthly king won’t help them.

Acts Parapahrase:

News of the conversion of Samaritans through the preaching of Philip reached the apostles in Jerusalem, and they sent Peter and John who came to them and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit. They had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but had not yet received the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit. After the apostles prayed, they laid their hands on the Samaritan Christians and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Simon the magician had been teaching and influencing the Samaritans through his magic powers, but had been converted by Philip’s preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:9-13; see entry for yesterday). When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was conferred by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, Simon offered Peter money for the power to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit upon others, but Peter rebuked him harshly for thinking he could buy the gift of God with money. Simon’s heart was not right before God and he was in bondage to sin. Peter told him to repent of his wickedness, so that, if possible, the Lord would forgive him, so that he might not perish.

Simon asked Peter to pray to the Lord on Simon’s behalf, that none of Peter’s words of condemnation would come upon Simon. After preaching the Gospel and giving their testimony to the Samaritan church, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to the Samaritan villages on their way.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Jewish court (the Sanhedrin) had condemned Jesus for words they had spoken of him (Luke 22:70-71 RSV). Then they went as a group (seventy members and the presiding high priest) to turn Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. They accused Jesus of perverting Israel and “forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar (Luke 23:2; compare Luke 20:25), and saying that he himself is Christ a king” (Luke 23:2; Jesus never made that claim; he referred to himself as the Son of man).

Pilate asked Jesus if he claimed to be King of the Jews, and Jesus replied, “You have said so” (Luke 23:3). Pilate told the Jews that he found Jesus not guilty of their charges, but they insisted that Jesus was a “rabble-rouser” throughout all Judea and Galilee. When Pilate learned that Jesus was a Galilean and therefore under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, Roman ruler of Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to him, since Herod was in Jerusalem.

Herod was glad to have the opportunity to see Jesus, and hoped he might see some miracle done by Jesus, since Herod had heard about him. Herod took some time in questioning Jesus, and the Jewish authorities made vehement accusations, but Jesus made no reply. Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with disrespect and mocking. They dressed Jesus in royal clothing and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who had been hostile towards each other, became friends that day.

Commentary:

Samuel warned Israel that having an earthly king would not make them secure. The Lord had blessed and delivered them in the past, as long as they trusted and obeyed God’s Word, but if they rebelled and disobeyed God’s Word the Lord would withdraw his providence and protection from them, and would allow their enemies to attack and oppress them. The Lord allowed trouble to come upon his people to show them the wickedness and consequences of their sin, but he is faithful to forgive and heal those who confess their sin and repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord and his Word.

The people of Israel acknowledged their sin and asked Samuel to pray to the Lord, interceding on their behalf, so that they might not die as a result of their sin. Samuel promised to continue to intercede for God’s people and to continue to teach them to live according to God’s Word, but the people were to recall and remember God’s great saving acts in their behalf, and must fear and serve the Lord earnestly and faithfully.

Simon the magician recognized that the Gospel that Philip preached was true and powerful, compared to the self-glorifying message Simon had been proclaiming to the Samaritans. The power of the Holy Spirit working through Philip was greater than magic illusion. Simon hadn’t learned yet that spiritual gifts and salvation cannot be bought with money.

Peter’s rebuke of Simon came near to being a curse (Acts 8:20). Peter was carrying out his responsibility by rebuking sin within the church and calling for repentance. Simon’s heart was not right before God and he was in bondage to sin. Simon needed to learn how to live according to God’s Word. Rather than being insulted and leaving the church, as many would do today in a similar situation, Simon willingly heard the truth and repented and sought forgiveness, asking Peter to intercede with God on his behalf, so that he might not die (eternally) for his sin.

God’s people wanted a King and a Savior to deliver them from their enemies and God gave them Jesus Christ, but Jesus won’t do us any good if we don’t trust and obey Jesus, who speaks God’s Word and is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus and refused to obey him. They trusted in their “religion” while violating its teachings. They didn’t love the Lord their God and they condemned Jesus and testified against him with lies they made up. They killed him without justification. They refused to hear God’s Word. They refused to confess and repent.

The Jewish authorities loved their position as leaders of their religion and their nation and their behavior brought both to an end. Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and the nation of Israel ceased to exist until it was reestablished following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

“Simony” is the name, taken from Simon the magician, referring to the practice of the buying of church offices. It applies to those who regard ministry as a career choice or a way to manipulate people. It can also apply to those who think they can buy or earn influence with God, or manipulate God’s favor by membership, attendance, or financial contributions to the Church.

The Church and “Christian” nations, particularly America,  are in much the same position today as Judaism and Israel were in at the time of Christ’s first coming. Many have turned away from obedient trust in the Lord and have pursued vain things and worldly rulers who they think will give them security. Many leaders are using their position to enrich and glorify themselves, and have perverted the nation and church.

Many preach a false gospel that sounds good, that people want to hear, but which lacks truth and power of the scriptural (as recorded in the Bible) apostolic (as taught by the Apostles, including Peter and Paul) Gospel. Many leaders refuse to rebuke sinful behavior and call for repentance and obedient trust in the Lord, and many church “members” refuse to accept rebuke, acknowledge sin, and heed the call to repentance. Samuel and Peter are examples of the kinds of people we need in church and national leadership. Will the Church and Nation be any more prepared for Christ’s return than Judaism and Israel were for his first coming?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 7 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 07/06/05;

Podcast: Thursday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 13:5-18    –     Saul’s Disobedience;
Acts 8:26-40   –     Philip and the Ethiopian;
Luke 23:13-25   –   Pilate’s Verdict;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

The Philistines mustered a large army of thirty six thousand chariots and horsemen, and a vast number of foot soldiers. They camped at Michmash, west of Gilgal. The Israelites were terrified of the Philistines, and hid in caves, tombs and cisterns, or fled east across the Jordan into Gilead. Saul was at Gilgal with his army of six hundred men, waiting for Samuel to arrive to sacrifice to the Lord and beg for God’s blessing in their fight against the Philistines.

Samuel had told Saul that he would be there in seven days, and when Samuel was delayed and hadn’t arrived after seven days, Saul’s troops began to scatter. So Saul ordered the burnt offering and peace offering brought to him, and Saul offered the sacrifices to the Lord.

As soon as he was finished, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to greet him, and Samuel rebuked Saul for what Saul had done. Saul replied that his men were beginning to desert him and Samuel had not arrived in the time agreed upon, and the Philistines had encamped at Michmash, so Saul had “forced himself” to offer the sacrifices.

Samuel declared that Saul had acted foolishly and had disobeyed God’s command. The Lord would have established Saul’s kingdom over Israel for ever (through his descendants), but now Saul’s kingdom would not remain. God sought a man “after (the Lord’s) own heart,” who would do all God’s will (David was that man), and had appointed him to reign over Israel instead of Saul, because Saul had not obeyed God’s command.

Samuel left Gilgal and went southwest to Gibeah. Saul counted his troops, and there were six hundred fighting men, and they encamped at Geba (southwest of Michmash). Raiders were sent out from the Philistine encampment in three companies. One went north toward Ophrah (Ephron, Ephraim), one went west toward Beth-horon, and one went south toward Gibeah and the southern border of Israel and the wilderness.

Acts Paraphrase

Philip had been preaching the Gospel in Samaria, and an angel of the Lord told Philip to go south on the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza (a desert road), and Philip got up and went. As Philip went, he encountered an Ethiopian who was the administrator of the treasury of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia (Nubia). The Ethiopian was a proselyte of Judaism, who had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning in his chariot, reading aloud (the usual custom in that time) from the book of Isaiah.

The Spirit of God told Philip to join the Ethiopian, so Philip ran up and, hearing what he was reading, asked the Ethiopian if he understood that passage. The Ethiopian acknowledged that he would appreciate someone to guide him and invited Philip to ride with him in the chariot.

The passage the Ethiopian was reading was Isaiah 53:7-8, “As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb (mute), so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe this generation? For his life was taken up from the earth.” The Ethiopian asked Philip who Isaiah was referring to, and Philip began with this verse and told the Ethiopian the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.

As they rode along, they came to some water, and the Ethiopian asked what would prevent him from being baptized. He stopped the chariot and he and Philip got down into the water and the Ethiopian was baptized. When they came out of the water, Philip was snatched up by the Holy Spirit and disappeared from the Ethiopian’s sight. The Ethiopian continued on his way, rejoicing. Philip was found in Azotus (near the southern Mediterranean coast north of Gaza), and he went north preaching the gospel in every town until he arrived in Caesarea.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had been brought before Pilate by the Jewish Court (Sanhedrin; seventy elders and the high priest presiding). Pilate had sent Jesus to Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great, and Roman administrator of Galilee, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover). Herod had sent Jesus back dressed in royal clothing, mocking him as the King of the Jews.

Pilate assembled the Jewish priests and elders and told them that neither Herod nor he had had found Jesus guilty of any of the charges which the Jewish Council had brought against Jesus. Pilate ruled that Jesus had done nothing worthy of execution, and he would chastise Jesus and release him. But all the Jewish leaders cried out, insisting that Jesus be gotten rid of, and asked Pilate to release Barabbas, a notorious insurrectionist and murderer, instead.

Pilate again tried to release Jesus, but they cried out for Jesus to be crucified. A third time Pilate asked them what evil Jesus had done that deserved his execution, and ruled that Jesus be chastised and released, but the Jewish leaders demanded that Jesus be crucified. So Pilate granted their demand. He released Barabbas, and sentenced Jesus to be crucified according to the will of the Jewish Council.

Commentary:

Saul had been told to wait until Samuel arrived, but Saul had not trusted and obeyed God’s Word, and had tried to manipulate God to bless Saul’s enterprise without Saul’s obedient trust. Instead of receiving the fullness of God’s promise of an eternal throne passed on through Saul’s descendants, the kingdom was removed from Saul and given to David, who was a man whose heart was willing to do all of God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20).

Philip is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian (a disciple of Jesus Christ). Philip was obedient to divine inspiration to get up and go on the road to Gaza, and as he went, he was guided by the Holy Spirit to present the Gospel to an influential member of the Ethiopian government. He was fulfilling the commission given by the risen Christ to his disciples to make disciples in all nations and baptize them in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity) and to teach them to obey all Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20). He was equipped, guided and empowered as he trusted and obeyed God’s Word.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of the eternal king, the descendant of David (Matthew 1:1-16), who has inherited the throne of David. Jesus is the perfect example of one who is completely willing to do all God’s will, even to the point of dying on the Cross (Luke 22:42). He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a suffering servant, a perfect, unblemished sacrificial “Lamb” of Passover, whose blood allows us to be “passed over” by eternal death, who was denied justice, and who was mute before his “shearers” (Luke 23:9).

Neither Pilate nor Herod found Jesus guilty of any charge which the Jewish Council had brought against him, and Pilate tried three times to acquit and release Jesus. Jesus died in place of Barabbas, a notorious sinner and murderer, and for each of us, because we are all sinners who fall short of the Lord’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home).

God’s Word is always fulfilled, but it is those who trust and obey the Lord who received what he has promised. God has promised us an eternal kingdom in the “Promised Land” of heaven, with the Lord as our king. Philip is an example of what Christians are supposed to be and do, and Saul is a warning to us of what we should not be and do.

Philip was willing to follow the Lord’s guidance down a lonely road, without knowing the opportunity it might bring. Saul thought he could use “religion” to manipulate God to bless Saul’s plans, without Saul’s obedient trust in God’s Word. When God tells us to wait, going ahead in our own wisdom and strength will lead to spiritual disaster.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 7 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 07/07/05;

Podcast: Friday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 13:19-14:15    –     Jonathan’s Victory at Michmash;
Acts 9:1-9   –     Paul’s Conversion;
Luke 23:26-31    –   Jesus Goes to Crucifixion;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Blacksmithing was a new technology, and the Philistines were more advanced. They profited from making and sharpening agricultural implements for the Israelites but tried to keep Israel from arming themselves with swords and spears. On the day of battle, Saul and his son Jonathan were among the only Israelites with iron weapons.

The Philistines were camped at Michmash and Saul and his men were at Gibeah. Saul had about six hundred men, and the Philistines had many thousands (1 Samuel 13:5). Ahijah, the grandson of Phinehas, the son of Eli, was high priest, and he had the ephod (a garment or box containing the Urim and Thummim, the sacred objects used to determine God’s will by “chance”).

Without telling Saul, Jonathan and his armor bearer went up the pass between themselves and the Philistines. Jonathan told his armor bearer that the Lord could not be hindered from saving them regardless of the number of the enemy, and the armor-bearer was in accord with Jonathan. Jonathan decided to cross over to the garrison and show themselves. If the Philistines decided to come out and fight in the open they would not engage them, but if the Philistines called Jonathan and his armor-bearer to come up to them, it would be a sign that the Lord had given them into Jonathan’s hands.

When Jonathan and his armor-bearer showed themselves, the Philistines said that the “Hebrews” (a derogatory name) were crawling out of their holes, where they had hidden. They called to Jonathan to come up and they would teach him a lesson. Jonathan went up and he and his armor-bearer killed twenty Philistines. There was panic in the Philistine camp, and the earth quaked, increasing their panic.

Acts Paraphrase:

Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul; the apostle) had been persecuting Christians since the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:1). He had gotten authorization from the high priest to go to the synagogues at Damascus and arrest any who belonged to the “Way” (the early name for Christianity; Jesus is the way; John 14:6).

As Saul approached Damascus, a bright light flashed around him, and he fell to the ground. A voice from heaven called him by name and asked why Saul was persecuting him. Saul asked who was speaking, and the voice replied that it was Jesus. The voice of Jesus told Saul to rise and enter Damascus and await further instructions. The men accompanying Saul heard the voice but saw no one. Saul arose and found that he could not see, and was led by the hand into Damascus, where he fasted for three days.

Luke Paraphrase:

After Pilate had agreed to sentence Jesus to crucifixion because of the demands of the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin), Jesus was led away to be crucified, and the soldiers compelled Simon of Cyrene, who happened to be entering the city, to carry the cross behind Jesus. A great multitude followed bewailing and lamenting for Jesus, but he turned and told them they should weep and mourn for themselves, rather than for Jesus.

Jesus warned that the day was coming when they would wish they had never borne and nursed children. He warned them that in that day they would pray for the mountains to fall on them and cover them. “If they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry” (Luke 23:31).

Commentary:

It wasn’t numerical superiority or man-made weapons, but faith (obedient trust) in the Lord that gave Jonathan the victory over his enemies. The Lord is “with” those who are committed to seeking and following his will; his power gives them victory over their spiritual enemies. As Jonathan and his servant stepped out in faith, the Lord was working to cause confusion and panic in the enemy.

Saul had thought that he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians. The Lord confronted him on the road to Damascus. Jesus revealed Saul’s spiritual blindness through the loss of Saul’s physical sight. Saul accepted the Lord’s rebuke, and spent three days fasting in repentance.

God’s plan to save eternally those who trust and obey him through Jesus Christ cannot be hindered no matter how numerous and powerful the enemy or how great their technology. Jesus’ enemies succeeded in crucifying Jesus, but in doing so they accomplished the fulfillment of God’s purpose.

Jesus died physically, but he was raised to eternal life. His resurrection was attested to by over five hundred eye-witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-9), and continues to be attested to by every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ, since they have personally experienced the risen Jesus just as Saul (Paul) did. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the truth of resurrection and eternal life beyond physical death.

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can know God’s will and guidance personally and are empowered to do it.  The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The Holy Spirit is the guide, the sword and the armor we must take into spiritual battle in this world.

Jesus warned that there is a day coming when the world will see Jesus returning in great power and glory. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will rejoice in him, and will receive eternal life with him in heaven; but those who have rejected Jesus and refused to obey him will be condemned to eternal death, eternal destruction, in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). Those who have resisted and opposed him will be in panic. They will wish they could hide or flee, but there will be nowhere to hide. They will wish they had never been born.

Only Jesus can save us from God’s wrath and eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the way, the truth and the (true, eternal,) life (John 14:6). Only Jesus can heal spiritual blindness and give life to those who are spiritually dead.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 7 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 07/08/05;
Podcast: Saturday 7 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 14:16-30   –   Jonathan Violates Saul’s Oath;
Acts 9:10-19a   –     Paul Receives the Holy Spirit;
Luke 23:32-43   –    Jesus Crucified;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Jonathan and his armor-bearer had attacked the Philistine garrison in faith in the Lord (1 Samuel 14:6-7), and the Lord had caused the Philistine camp to panic (1 Samuel 14:15). Saul’s watchmen noticed the pandemonium in the Philistine camp and told Saul. Saul took a head count and determined that his son Jonathan and Jonathan’s armor-bearer were not present. Saul consulted Ahijah, the high priest.

Meanwhile the commotion in the Philistine camp was increasing, so Saul and his men attacked the Philistine camp. There were Hebrews (not necessarily Israelites, but Semitic) who had collaborated with the Philistines who turned to support Saul’s forces, and there were Israelites who had hidden themselves (1 Samuel 13:6-7a) who joined with Saul’s men to pursue the fleeing Philistines northward past Beth-aven (Bethel). The Lord had given Israel a great victory over superior forces.

The Israelites were distressed because Saul had ordered his men to fast until evening. As the army passed through a forest there was honey dripping from the trees, but Saul’s men were forbidden to eat. Jonathan and his armor-bearer hadn’t heard the order to fast and so Jonathan ate. The men told him that Saul had made a curse against anyone who ate that day, and Jonathan replied that Saul had caused hardship for his men by not allowing them to eat the spoils of their enemy and had thus diminished Israel’s victory.

Acts Paraphrase:

Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul, the Apostle) had been blinded in an encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was fasting in Damascus and awaiting further instructions from the Lord. A disciple in Damascus named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord called him by name and told him to go to the house of a man named Judas on Straight Street where Saul of Tarsus was fasting and praying. The Lord had also given Saul a vision of Ananias coming to him and laying his hands on Saul to restore Saul’s sight.

Ananias replied to the Lord that he had heard Saul’s reputation for persecuting Christians and knew that Saul had come to Damascus to arrest Christians and imprison them in Jerusalem. The Lord told Ananias to go to Saul as the Lord had told him, because the Lord had chosen Saul to be a minister of the Gospel to Gentiles, to Kings and to the people of Israel, and Saul would suffer much for the Lord’s name.

Ananias went as the Lord had commanded and laid his hands on Saul so that Saul’s sight would be restored and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight” (Acts 9:18). Saul got up and was baptized and ate and regained strength. (Saul’s radical transformation demonstrated that he had been filled with the Holy Spirit; Acts 9:19-20, 22.)

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was being taken to his crucifixion, and two criminals were also taken to be crucified with him. They were taken to a place called the Skull, and Jesus was crucified, with the criminals crucified on his right and on his left. Jesus prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who carried out his crucifixion in their spiritual ignorance. The soldiers cast lots (like throwing dice) to divide Jesus’ garments.

A crowd watched; but the rulers (the Jewish religious authorities) mocked Jesus, saying that if Jesus were the Christ, God’s anointed, he should save himself miraculously, like the miracles he had done for others. The soldiers also mocked Jesus, saying that if Jesus were the King of the Jews he should save himself. An inscription labeling him “King of the Jews” had been placed on Jesus’ cross.

One of the criminals crucified beside Jesus also said that Jesus should save himself and the criminals also if he really was the Christ. But the other criminal rebuked his fellow criminal, saying that he should fear God, since he had been justly condemned to death, while Jesus had done no wrong. Then he asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus received his kingly power. Jesus replied that the repentant criminal would be with him that day in Paradise.

Commentary:

It was Jonathan’s faith and initiative that the Lord used to give Israel victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:6-10). While Saul was in his encampment seeking to manipulate God’s favor by vows (1 Samuel 14:24) and religious ritual (1 Samuel 14:18-19) Jonathan was out in the battlefield doing what God wanted done. Vows and fasting have the appearance of piety, but are not to be used as a substitute for obedient trust in the Lord.

When Jonathan and his armor-bearer stepped out in faith, the Lord gave them help from unexpected places. The Lord caused the Philistines to panic, and he caused an earthquake to increase their panic (1 Samuel 14:15). He raised up unexpected allies from within the Philistine camp, both Jews who had been in hiding, and those who had been collaborating with the enemy (1 Samuel 14:21-22).

When they were tired and hungry after the battle the Lord provided an overflowing abundance of honey, but the Israelites were unable to partake in it because of the unsound ruling of their earthly leader. Are some of us missing the spiritual blessings and the fullness of the victory which the Lord wants us to have because we are participating in ritual and vows instead of discipleship and the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Do we use “religion” in an attempt to get God to do our will, instead of seeking to know and do his will through a personal relationship with the Lord by his indwelling Holy Spirit?  Are some of us hanging around in “camp” instead of joining our brothers on the battlefield?

The Lord was working in Saul’s life through Ananias to restore Saul to spiritual vision and true, eternal life. Saul had accepted the Lord’s rebuke and turned to the Lord in obedient trust. The Lord had told him to wait for further instructions (Acts 9:6), and as he waited the Lord gave him the vision of Ananias restoring his sight. Ananias was unknown to Saul but the Lord knew and used him to be his mediator to bring healing and re-birth to Saul.

Ananias trusted and obeyed the Lord despite Saul’s reputation and previous behavior. Ananias “prayed back” the Lord’s command to be sure he had it right, and expressed his concern so that the Lord was able to reassure him. Because of Ananias’ obedient trust, Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, the prototype of the “modern,” “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ, minister of the Gospel to the Gentiles (which includes most of us), who wrote or participated in a significant portion of the New Testament. Ananias didn’t need any special skill to treat and heal Paul; he just needed to be “available” to the Lord, through a personal relationship by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Lord provided his power through Ananias.

Many of the spectators at Jesus’ crucifixion expected that if Jesus were the Messiah he should prove it by saving himself, but God’s plan of salvation (see sidebar; top right, home) required Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus’ human nature would have preferred not to be crucified, but he was obedient to God’s will (Luke 22:42). If he had come down from the cross he would have failed to be the Messiah. People who require “proof” in order to believe in Jesus, will never find any, because God has intentionally made salvation (from eternal death) be received only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In a sense, we are all guilty of Jesus’ crucifixion because all of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s will) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23), making Jesus’ crucifixion necessary.  we are all also like the criminals crucified with Jesus. We are all under condemnation in God’s judgment, and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Instead of demanding proof, the repentant criminal crucified with Jesus acknowledged his guilt and Jesus’ righteousness, expressed faith that Jesus was Lord, and asked Jesus to intercede for him. Jesus promised he would, and that the repentant criminal would be with him that day in Paradise.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 6 Pentecost – Odd – 07/05 – 11/2015

July 4, 2015

Week of 6 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 6 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 6 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 06/25/05;
Podcast: Sunday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 4:12-22   –   The Death of Eli;
James 1:1-18   –    Trials are Blessings;
Matthew 19:23-30    –   Entering God’s Kingdom;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

There had been a battle of the Philistines against Israel. A man of the tribe of Benjamin escaped the slaughter of Israel by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:10-11) and came to Shiloh (where the temple was then located). He had torn his clothes and put dirt upon his head as a sign of mourning. Eli was sitting by the road in his customary place (by the temple door), worried about the Ark of God, which had been taken into battle by his sons, Phinehas and Hophni, who were (corrupt) priests. Eli was ninety-eight years old and had become blind.

When the man entered the city and told the news the people gave a loud cry, which Eli heard, and he asked the reason for the outcry. The Benjaminite came and told Eli that he had fled from the battle. The Philistines had defeated the Israelites, and a great many Israelites were slaughtered, including Eli’s two sons, and the Ark of the Covenant had been captured. When Eli heard the news he fell over backward from his seat, broke his neck and died. Eli had been a judge of Israel for forty years.

Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth. When she heard the news that her husband and her father-in-law were dead, she went into labor and died in childbirth. The women who attended the birth told her she had given birth to a son, but she was unresponsive. She had named the child Ichabod (meaning “no glory” or alas for the glory), saying that “the glory (of God) has departed from Israel” (1 Samuel 4:21-22 because of the deaths of her husband and father-in-law and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines).

James Paraphrase:

The identity of James is unknown, but he was a Christian writing to Christians as spiritual heirs of Israel scattered (by persecution; Acts 8:1b) throughout the world. James urged fellow Christians to consider trials as blessings because testing causes faith to mature in steadfastness, and that we should cooperate with that process so that we will grow to complete spiritual maturity.

Believers should pray for and seek true wisdom from God, who gives generously and without reproach to those who ask. But in order to receive anything from God we must pray in faith without doubting; we must believe that God will hear and answer our prayer. Those who pray as a test to see if God will answer won’t receive anything from the Lord. Poor and humble Christians should rejoice and give thanks to God for their spiritual riches, and the rich should gladly learn humility (and generosity). Worldly status is fleeting and insignificant in comparison to eternal glory.

Those who endure trials without yielding will be blessed and will receive the reward of eternal life which the Lord has promised to those who love (and obey) him (John 14:15-17). God doesn’t tempt anyone and he cannot be tempted by evil. When we are tempted it is by our own sinful desires. Desire allowed to “germinate” sprouts forth as sin, and when allowed to grow to maturity yields a harvest of eternal death.

Let us not be deceived. The source of every good blessing and gift is God, the creator of the universe. He is eternal and unchanging. We have been created by his will, and out of his creation we have become a kind of “first-fruits” offering devoted to him through the “word of truth” (the Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is comparable to the impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a needle. His disciples were amazed and asked Jesus how anyone could hope to be saved. Jesus replied that it is impossible for humans, but not for God; nothing is impossible for God.

Peter said that he and the rest of the Twelve (original disciples) had left everything to follow Jesus, and he wanted to know what they would receive. Jesus told him that in the new world (God’s eternal kingdom) Jesus would reign as king, and that the Twelve would be Judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. Those who have given up houses, land, family or friends to follow Jesus will receive back many times what they have sacrificed, and will (also) receive eternal life. “But many that are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:30).

Commentary:

Eli had been a high priest and judge of Israel, but under his leadership he had allowed his sons to corrupt the priesthood. They had been sexually immoral, and had used the priesthood for their own benefit and to exercise power over other people. The Lord judged Eli and his sons, and prophesied through Samuel that Eli’s household would be cut off from the priesthood and destroyed (1 Samuel 2:31-34). This is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Phinehas and Hophni died on the same day (1 Samuel 4:11; compare 1:Samuel 2:34).

The Lord said that the one who would survive would be spared to mourn. Ichabod, the grandson of Eli, was the survivor, orphaned on the day of his birth. (In a sense, the Benjaminite who survived the battle and gave Eli the news also qualifies.) The Lord allowed the Philistines to slaughter the Israelites and capture the Ark because they did not honor and obey the Lord, and they thought they could manipulate God’s favor by carrying the Ark into battle. The Ark, symbolizing the Spirit of God, left the congregation of Israel because of the corruption of the priesthood and the sinfulness of the congregation.

The Church is the spiritual heir of Israel, and represents the New Twelve Tribes in dispersion. Church membership is not a good luck charm against tribulation, or a propitiation of God to do our will. The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who will trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). Discipleship calls for self-discipline and endurance. The purpose is to grow to spiritual maturity through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Believers should be praying for and seeking divine wisdom which is revealed through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, who opens the minds of Jesus’ disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45) and gives them a voice and wisdom, as needed, that no one will be able to withstand or refute (Luke 21:14-15).

Worldly wisdom is not true wisdom; it only appears to be wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7). Has the Spirit of the Lord (the Holy Spirit) departed from our congregations and our nation because of spiritual corruption of our leaders and disobedience and contempt for the Lord and his Word among our people? Do we think we can invoke God’s favor and be victorious over our enemies by religious rituals or token symbols?

Worldly standards of judgment are contrary to God’s standards. Worldly judgment and status are fleeting but God’s judgment is eternal. Christians are to be an offering dedicated to God and his service. We are to live to please God, instead of seeking worldly recognition and approval. God is the only source of any and every good thing, through Jesus Christ. Seeking good anywhere else is bound to fail. Anything which seems good is not to be trusted, if it leads us away from the Lord and his Word.

Faith is not like wishing on a star or making a birthday wish. Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we “believe hard enough.” Faith is obedient trust in God’s Word through Jesus Christ by his indwelling Holy Spirit. If we want the Lord to answer our prayers we must believe that he hears and has the power and willingness to answer, if we ask according to his Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction are only possible through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) by the grace (free gift; unmerited favor) of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus has been God’s eternal plan from the beginning of Creation, and has been “built into” Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). God accomplishes through Jesus Christ what is impossible for mankind to accomplish on his own. It is impossible for humans to completely obey God’s Word apart from faith in Jesus, through whom we receive the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Christians will have to surrender our desires in order to follow and serve the Lord, but the rewards now and eternally will make that sacrifice worthwhile.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 06/26/05;
Podcast: Monday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 5:1-12    –   Ark Captured by Philistines;
Acts 5:12-26    –     Apostles Arrested;
Luke 21:29-36   –   Parable of the Fig Tree;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

God allowed the Philistines to attack the Israelites and capture the Ark of the Covenant because of the corruption of the priests, Phinehas and Hophni, the sons of Eli (1 Samuel 3:10-14) Samuel, raised from a small child by Eli was completely different; Samuel was a faithful and accurate prophet of God. Eli accepted the Word of the Lord.

The Philistines carried the Ark of the Covenant to Ashdod, where they brought it into the Temple of Dagon and set beside the idol. The next day they found that their idol had fallen on its face. They put the idol of Dagon back in its place, and the next morning they found that Dagon had again fallen on his face, and that his hands and head had been broken from the trunk of his body. As a result the superstitious Philistines became afraid to step on the threshold of Dagon (similar to the superstition of stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, or the carrying of the bride over the threshold.)

When the Ark was in Ashdod, the Lord afflicted the people of the city with tumors, and the people of Ashdod rebelled and refused to allow the Ark to remain. So the leaders of the Philistines had the Ark sent to Gath. Then the people of Gath began to get tumors, and demanded the removal of the Ark. The Philistine leaders sent the Ark to Ekron, and the Ekron began to suffer the tumors and demanded the removal of the Ark. They demanded that the leaders of the Philistines return the Ark to Israel. All the Philistines were deathly afraid of the Ark and the power of God, and the ones “who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to God” (1 Samuel 5:12).

Acts Paraphrase:

Solomon’s Portico was a covered porch on the east side of the temple where people gathered to discuss spiritual matters. It had been used by Jesus to teach and heal and it was used by his apostles (the original disciples) for the same purpose, although the others of the wider group of Christians were afraid to join them.

The disciples were highly regarded by the people. More multitudes of people were becoming believers. So many people were seeking healing that they brought the sick and laid them on mats along the streets hoping that, as Peter passed, his shadow might fall on some of them. Those in need of healing were being brought to Jerusalem from all the surrounding towns, and all the physically, mentally and spiritually sick were healed.

The religious authorities were filled with jealousy at the popularity and success of the disciples, so they had them arrested for a second time (for first time, see Acts 4:3) and imprisoned. But during the night an angel of the Lord released the disciples and brought them out of the jail, telling them to return to the temple and to continue proclaiming all the words of (true, eternal) life (the full gospel of Jesus). At daybreak the disciples did as the angel had told them.

That morning the high priest and the council of elders (the Sanhedrin; the official Jewish Court of religious leaders) assembled. They sent a temple guards to bring the disciples before the council, but the disciples were not in the prison, although everything had been securely locked. The members of the council were very troubled by this news, and worried about what might develop. Then someone reported that the disciples had been found teaching the people in the temple. The temple officers went and brought them to the council, but without violence because they were afraid of the people.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had been answering a question about signs of the coming of the end of the age. Then he told this parable of the fig tree. When a fruit tree begins to produce leaves in the spring one knows that summer is coming soon. Likewise, when we observe the changes in the heavens and in nature on earth (which Jesus had just described) we will know that the coming of God’s eternal kingdom is at hand. That generation will not pass away until all God’s Word has been fulfilled. Jesus declared that heaven and earth (the physical universe) will pass away, but Jesus’ words are eternally true.

Jesus warned us to be careful not to become so involved in the cares and pleasures of this life that we are caught surprised and unprepared for the Day of Judgment, because everyone who has ever lived will be held accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life (John 5:28-29). Jesus advises us to be watchful and prayerful at all times so that we can escape the condemnation which is coming upon the world, and be vindicated at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Commentary:

God is God whether we acknowledge him or not. He’s in charge; nothing happens except by his will. God allows sin because he designed us to have free choice to obey him or not; sin is disobedience of God’s Word. God’s purpose has always been to ultimately create an eternal kingdom of people who will trust and obey the Lord.

We have all been created with eternal souls, and this life is a selection process for eternity. Each of us will learn to trust and obey the Lord and receive eternal life in his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ, or we will reject Jesus and refuse to obey him and spend eternity in the absence of God and of every good thing (because the Lord is only the source of every good thing; James 1:17).

God allowed the Philistines to defeat Israel because of the corruption and disobedience of the priesthood and of Israel, the congregation and nation of God’s people. This ought to be a warning to the Church and to America today; both are in a similar condition. Israel thought they could manipulate God’s favor; they thought they could have God’s power and salvation on their side without obedient trust, by carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence, into battle. The Philistines thought that by capture and possession of the Ark they could appropriate God’s power for themselves. God is the only true, all-powerful God. He can’t be put in a box and carried about. He isn’t a genie in a bottle who can be summoned to do our will.

The Jewish religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry were as corrupt as Eli’s sons had been. They were using their office for personal benefit and personal power over others, and did not honor and respect God. They failed to understand the scripture they claimed authority in, and failed to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah and eternal king.

They were the religious “establishment.” They thought they could suppress the parts of God’s Word that didn’t serve their interests. They were jealous of the spiritual power and wisdom of the “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples. They were trying to earn their own salvation by keeping the Law of Moses; by doing “good works,” relying on their own strength instead of relying on God. They were more concerned with their popularity among the people than they were in serving and pleasing the Lord.

The disciples are examples of what all Christians should be. They knew, understood, and proclaimed the scripture through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24: 45; Luke 21:14-15). They were guided by and obedient to the Holy Spirit rather than by worldly standards or authorities. They proclaimed the full gospel, not just the parts that people want to hear.

Jesus warned that no one can avoid God’s judgment; whether we are living or have died physically at the day of Christ’s return we will each be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this physical life. We cannot manipulate the Lord, we cannot suppress the Lord. We can ignore and disobey God’s Word, but we cannot escape the consequences of God’s Word.

We will either trust and obey God’s Word and receive the fulfillment of the promises of God’s Word, or we will reject God’s Word, refuse to obey God’s Word and receive the condemnation of God’s Word. Jesus is the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s Word (John 1:1, 5-8, 14). Every promise and every warning in God’s Word, the Bible, will be fulfilled through Jesus Christ at his triumphant return on the Day of Judgment.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/27/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 6:1-16   –     Return of the Ark;
Acts 5:27-42    –   Apostles Before the Council;
Luke 21:37-22:13   –    Judas Plans Betrayal;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

The Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines, and was in their land for seven months. It was moved around to several locations, but in each place it caused plague and trouble, so the Philistines asked their spiritual advisors what to do. The advisors told them to return Ark, accompanied by a guilt offering.

There were five Philistine lords, so the diviners told them to make five golden tumors (images of the symtoms of the plague) and five golden mice (plague is spread by fleas on mice), one of each for each lord, and send them along with the Ark, in hope of appeasing the God of Israel, who was afflicting the land of the Philistines. The spiritual counselors advised them not to be stubborn like the Egyptians, who had been ravaged by a series of plagues, but ultimately had to give in and let the Israelites go.

The Philistine priests advised the rulers to make a new cart and to use two milk cows, which had never been yoked, to pull it. The rulers were to keep the calves of the milk cows at their home. Then if the cows took the Ark to Beth-shemesh, the nearest Israelite city (rather than turning back to their home where their calves were) the Philistines would know that it was the hand of the God of Israel who was afflicting them, rather than simply misfortune. The rulers did as they were advised, and the cows went straight down the highway to Beth-shemesh.

The Israelites were reaping the wheat harvest when they saw the cart coming with the Ark, and they rejoiced. Levites removed the Ark and the gold from the cart, broke up the cart for wood and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering.

Acts Paraphrase:

The Apostles had been arrested for preaching the gospel and healing in the temple in Jerusalem, and were brought before the Jewish high court (the Sanhedrin). The court had previously forbidden the Apostles from preaching the name of Jesus (Acts 4:1-22), but they had continued to do so, and were bringing blame for Jesus’ crucifixion upon the Jewish leaders. Again, the Apostles gave the leaders the same answer as previously; the Apostles had to obey God’s will rather than worldly leaders.

Peter told them that the Jewish leaders had crucified Jesus, God’s anointed King and Savior, whom God had raised (from death) to the right hand (power and authority) of God in heaven. Jesus is God’s (only) provision for repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), and the Apostles were witnesses to these things (which constitute the Gospel of Jesus Christ), “and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). The council was enraged by these words and wanted to kill the Apostles then and there.

But Gamaliel, a famous and respected teacher of Jewish law, had the Apostles taken outside of the council chamber to wait, and Gamaliel told the council members to be careful about how they dealt with the Apostles. He cited another occasion when Theudas gained public notice, claiming falsely to be the Messiah. In that case he attracted a following of about four hundred people, but he was killed, and his followers dispersed and his movement came to nothing. A similar thing happened with Judas the Galilean. Gamaliel advised the council that if Jesus was a false messiah his movement would dissipate as well, but that if Jesus was truly the Messiah by God’s will, the council would be unable to prevent Jesus’ mission, and would be in danger of opposing God.

The council heeded Gamaliel’s advice. They brought the Apostles back into the council room, had them beaten, ordered them again not to preach in Jesus’ name, and released them. The Apostles left the council, rejoicing that they had been found worthy of dishonor for Jesus’ name’s sake, and they continued daily teaching and preaching, at the temple and in the community,  that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).

Luke Paraphrase:

During the week preceding his crucifixion, Jesus taught and preached daily in the temple, but he stayed overnight on the Mount of Olives (in Bethany; Matthew 21:17).  The Passover holiday was near (when a lot of people would be in Jerusalem for the celebration), and the priests wanted to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people (because of Jesus’ popularity among them). Judas, one of Jesus’ Twelve original Apostles, yielded to Satan’s temptation, and went to the Jewish religious authorities and offered to betray Jesus to them when no crowds were present.

On the day of Passover, when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed, Jesus told Peter and John to prepare for Jesus and his disciples to celebrate the Passover. They asked him where he wanted them to prepare, and Jesus told them that when they entered the city, they would see a man carrying a jar of water, and they were to follow the man to his residence. They were to say that the Teacher had sent them, asking him to show them the guest room where Jesus was to eat the Passover feast with his disciples, and the man would show them a large, furnished, upper room. The disciples did as Jesus had said and found it exactly as he had told them, and they prepared for the feast.

Commentary:

There are many signs around us that reveal God’s hand in the affairs of this world if we aren’t too spiritually blind to see; too preoccupied with our own worldly pursuits; too stubborn to learn from God’s Word. The Egyptians had repeated opportunities to learn from God’s Word during the ten plagues (Exodus 7:8-11:10). Nine times they refused to obey God’s Word, proclaimed through Moses, to let God’s people leave. The Passover was instituted by God through Moses, to spare the Israelites from the final plague. After the final plague of death of the first-born, the Egyptians did agree to let the Israelites go, but then they pursued them to bring them back, and were destroyed in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-29).

The Philistines were smarter than the Egyptians. It didn’t take them ten plagues to learn that God’s will is going to be done, whether we cooperate with it or not. Their spiritual advisors were better than the Egyptian’s spiritual advisors. The Philistine advisors told their rulers that when they perceived what they thought was God’s will, they should try doing it, and the results would indicate whether it was God’s will or not. (But note that God’s will is never contrary to the Bible, and will never lead us to harm ourselves or others.)

The Apostles had witnessed the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They had experienced that what Jesus says is true and will be fulfilled. Jesus had told them beforehand that he would be crucified and would rise on the third day (Luke 9:22, 44-45; 17:25; 18:31-34). They were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus had promised that he would give the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trusted and obeyed him, and they had personally experienced the fulfillment of that promise (Acts 2:1-21).

The disciples of Jesus had learned that when the world says one thing and God’s Word says another, they would always trust and obey God’s Word, and gladly suffer the consequences, knowing that the Lord is able and faithful to deliver them from anything they might suffer for the gospel, just as Jesus had been delivered from persecution and physical death.

The Jewish religious leaders had God’s Word, they were expecting God’s Messiah (anointed King and Savior), but they were so focused on their worldly pursuit of wealth, power and status that they refused to accept Jesus’ rebuke and correction, and were unable to recognize that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s will. Their spiritual adviser, Gamaliel, gave them good advise in dealing with the Apostles of Jesus Christ, not to be so blinded by their own worldly ambition that they find themselves opposing God’s will, because God’s will will be done, whether we cooperate with it or not.

As Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem the week preceding his crucifixion, he told his disciples to fetch a donkey from a nearby village. The disciples trusted and obeyed Jesus’ instructions and found them exactly as Jesus had promised (Luke 19:28-40).

Jesus knew that the religious authorities were going to have him crucified, but he went into the temple daily to preach his gospel anyway. On the Day of Passover, he gave his disciples instruction where to prepare for the feast, and they found it exactly as he said (Luke 22:7-13). One of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, chose to cooperate with worldly rulers rather than following Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus needed to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins because we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus became the ultimate sacrificial Passover Lamb, and his Last Supper with his disciples became “Holy Communion” (Eucharist, the “Lord’s Supper”), the central act of worship in which his disciples enter into personal spiritual communion with the Lord through his Holy Spirit, having been spared from the final plague of eternal death as the result of God’s judgment on sin.

In Communion we commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice, and our hope in the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to celebrate it with us in the Kingdom of God, which begins now as the foretaste of the ultimate fulfillment. Jesus has revealed the truth of God’s Word; he has shown us the way to reconciliation and fellowship with God and has demonstrated the reality of resurrection from physical death, and the reality of eternal life (John 14:6).

We all have a choice of whether to trust and obey Jesus, or to join with the enemies of Jesus in this world. The choice has eternal consequences. The great news is that if we will begin to trust and obey Jesus we will come to know that Jesus is God’s one and only Lord and Savior as we begin to personally experience the fulfillment of his promises.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 06/28/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 7:2-17   –     Samuel’s Role as Judge;
Acts 6:1-15    –    Appointment of Stephen;
Luke 22:14-23   –   The Last Supper;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

When the Ark of the Covenant was at Beth-shemesh, seventy men died because they looked into the Ark, so the people of Beth-shemesh sent the Ark of the Covenant to Kiriath-jeorim. It stayed in Kiriath-jeorim about twenty years, in the house of Abinadab, in the custody of Eleazar, his son, whom they consecrated for that duty.

All Israel was in mourning, beseeching the Lord for help (against the Philistines). Samuel told the people of Israel that if they were truly returning to the Lord they should put away their idols, and commit themselves to trust and obey the Lord alone. So Israel did as Samuel had said. Samuel called all Israel to gather at Mizpah to pray to the Lord. They fasted and confessed their sin, and made an offering to the Lord. Samuel became a Judge of Israel at Mizpah.

When the Philistines heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah they attacked, and the people begged Samuel to pray to the Lord to save Israel from the Philistines. So Samuel sacrificed a young lamb and prayed for Israel, and the Lord heard his prayer. As the Philistines gathered for the attack the Lord thundered against them and threw them into confusion and they fled in retreat from Israel.

Samuel set up a stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (both near Jerusalem) and called it Ebenezer (“stone of help”) as a memorial to God’s help against the Philistines. The Lord protected Israel from the Philistines for the rest of Samuel’s life, and the cities and territories the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel. Samuel was a judge of Israel for the rest of his life, traveling a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah, and his home at Ramah, where he built an altar to the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

The church was growing rapidly and the Gentile Christians felt slighted in the daily distribution (the Christians were sharing resources with one another; Acts 4:32-5:11). The apostles called the congregation and chose seven members to supervise the distribution of food and resources. They chose seven including Philip, and Stephen, who was recognized as strong in faith and the Holy Spirit. The seven were consecrated for their office by prayer and laying on of hands.

The congregation in Jerusalem was growing rapidly, and many priests of Judaism were converted. Stephen did great miracles by his anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jews from several synagogues in Jerusalem began a dispute (about religion) with the Christians, but were unable to withstand Stephen, who spoke with the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 21:15). So they conspired to destroy Stephen by making false accusations, saying that Stephen had blasphemed Moses and God, and they stirred up the Jews against Stephen.

The religious authorities arrested him and tried him in the council (Sanhedrin, the Jewish court). They brought false witnesses against Stephen, and they testified that Stephen had said that Jesus would destroy the temple and would change the customs Moses had delivered to them (from God). Looking at Stephen everyone in the council saw that his face was like that of an angel.

Luke Paraphrase:

When Jesus and the Twelve disciples sat down to eat the Passover feast, Jesus told them that he had looked forward to eating this last meal with his disciples, before his suffering began. He told them he would not eat another Passover feast until it was fulfilled in God’s kingdom. Jesus took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God and passed it for his disciples to share, saying that he wouldn’t drink wine again until the kingdom of God was established.

Jesus took bread and gave thanks; then he broke it and passed it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body” (Luke 22:20). Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him. Jesus said that what was about to happen was necessary and God’s will, but it would be spiritual disaster for the one who chose to betray him. The disciples began to question among themselves who it was who would betray Jesus.

Commentary:

There are serious consequences for allowing the wrong people to have control and authority over spiritual matters. The seventy at Beth-shemesh didn’t have a proper regard for the holiness of God represented by the Ark and that disregard destroyed them. The Philistines had learned that lesson and had returned the Ark to Israel.

The people of Israel were suffering from the attacks of their enemies, the Philistines. The Israelites had allowed corruption in the priesthood by the sons of Eli. They had used the rituals and outward symbols of religion to try to manipulate God to their advantage (1 Samuel 4:1-11).

The trouble Israel was having with the Philistines was a spiritual problem. The people of God had become careless in their obligation to God. They were in a Covenant with God which required their obedient trust, but they were being disobedient and committing spiritual adultery by possessing and serving idols. Samuel told the people that if they wanted to avoid further trouble from their enemies they should repent, get rid of their idols, and return to obedient trust in the Lord.

Samuel was the right kind of leader for God’s people. He had a personal relationship with the Lord and he called the people to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord, in contrast to the sons of Eli, who considered the priesthood as a means of enriching themselves and manipulating others. After the sons of Eli had been killed and had lost the Ark to the Philistines, Eleazar was the person consecrated under Samuel’s spiritual leadership to have charge of the Ark after its return. Under that spiritual leadership the Philistines were no longer a threat to Israel, by God’s power.

The young Church in Jerusalem was threatened by division between Gentile and Jewish Christians over the operation of Church programs. The congregation chose several people from among them to oversee these programs. They were selected for their spiritual qualifications as well as their temporal abilities (they were Gentile Christians to ensure that the Gentile Christians weren’t overlooked) and were dedicated by prayer and the laying on of hands.

The Church was under attack by “Philistines” outside (and perhaps within) the congregation. They could not withstand and prevail against Stephen because he was a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian who had received the fulfillment of the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23), and his conduct before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:2-53) demonstrated the fulfillment of the promise that the Holy Spirit would give his disciples voice and wisdom that none could withstand (Luke 21:12-19).

The Jewish religious authorities couldn’t refute Stephen, but they refused to heed his call for repentance and correction. Instead, Stephen’s word of Truth (see John 14:15-17) made them hate and murder him, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy that his disciples would be hated and killed for his name’s sake (Luke 21:16-19).

The charge that Jesus would destroy the temple and would change the customs of Moses was the truth. At the moment of Jesus’ death on the Cross, the temple veil was torn in two, from top to bottom (Luke 23:45), by God’s act, signifying that the way to personal fellowship with the Lord had been opened through Jesus (John 10:1-2, 7, John 14:6). Jesus had instituted, at the Last Supper, a New Covenant (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), not based on Law, but on God’s grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), fulfilling God’s Word through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

The temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans, the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until they began to return following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt. The sacrificial system on which the Old Covenant of Law was based requires the temple.

Jesus knew that he was going to be killed by the Jews; he had told this to his disciples several times on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 18:31-34; 9:22, 44-45; 17:25). He told his disciples that one of them would betray him. God’s plan of salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home) required that Jesus be crucified, but God knows the human inner nature, and knew that someone would “volunteer.” Jesus loved his disciples and at the last possible time he tried to warn his betrayer of the spiritual consequences of his betrayal, but Jesus’ warning was not heeded.

These texts should be a warning to the Church and also to America (and all “Christian” nations), of the consequences of disobedience of God’s Word, and the danger of bad choices in leadership, if we expect God’s providence and if we hope to prevail against the “Philistines.” We need to hear and respond to God’s call to repent, get rid of our idols, and return to obedient trust in the Lord.

Are we disciples of Jesus Christ, or are we his betrayers? Are we willing to hear the Lord’s words of warning and be corrected and revived, or do we reject and oppose them? Are we making disciples of Jesus Christ and choosing our leadership from those who have been “born-again” and “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, or do we choose leaders who make us feel good and tell us what we want to hear.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First  Posted 06/29/05;
Podcast: Thursday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 8:1-22   –     Israel Wanted a King;
Acts 6:15-7:16    –    Stephen’s Preaching;
Luke 22:24-30   –    Greatness in God’s Kingdom;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

When Samuel got old, he made his sons, Joel and Abijah, judges, serving in Beersheba. But his sons didn’t follow Samuel’s example. Instead, they used their office for personal gain, taking bribes and perverting justice. The elders of Israel went to Ramah (Ramathaim-zophim; about 5 miles northwest of Jerusalem), Samuel’s birthplace and home, and asked to have a king to rule them, like their neighboring nations, since Samuel’s sons were perverting justice.

Samuel prayed to the Lord about it, and the Lord told him to do what the people asked. The people were rejecting the Lord as their king, and the Lord had more reason to be offended than Samuel. Israel was continuing a pattern of unfaithfulness to the Lord since the day the Lord brought them out of Egypt. The Lord told Samuel to warn Israel the consequences of a monarchy, but to allow them to institute it.

Samuel warned Israel that the king would require the sons of Israel to serve as his attendants, man his army, plow his ground and harvest his crops, and make the implements of war to equip his army. He would require Israel’s daughters to cook and bake for him, to serve him and to produce the items of luxury the king would require. He would take the best fields, vineyards and orchards for himself. He would tax Israel’s harvest and herds to provide for his officers and servants. Israel would become his slaves.

Israel would come to regret having a king, but the Lord would refuse to hear and give them relief, because they had chosen for themselves and had not listened to God’s warning. The people refused to heed God’s warning and demanded a king, because they wanted to be like their neighboring nations, so the Lord told Samuel to do what they requested.

Acts Paraphrase:

Stephen had been arrested by the Jewish religious authorities and had been brought before the Jewish court (the Sanhedrin) on charges of blaspheming God and Moses. When given the opportunity, Stephen began to respond by reviewing the history of God’s dealings with Israel, beginning with the call by God to Abraham to leave his homeland in Mesopotamia to go to a land the Lord promised to show him and to give to his descendants, although Abraham did not have children.

The Lord told him that his descendants would be aliens in another land who would be enslaved for four hundred years. Then the Lord would judge that nation and would bring his people back to the Promised Land. The Lord gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, and Abraham circumcised Isaac, the heir God had promised. Isaac became the father of Jacob (Israel) who became the father of the heads of the twelve tribes.

The sons of Jacob sold their brother, Joseph, into slavery in Egypt, but God was with Joseph and gave him wisdom and favor with Pharaoh, who made Joseph governor of Egypt and Pharaoh’s household. Then a famine arose in the region including Egypt and Canaan, and Jacob sent his sons to buy grain from Egypt (which Joseph had stored up in Egypt in obedience to God’s revelation).
On the second trip of the sons of Jacob to Egypt, Joseph revealed himself to them and introduced them to Pharaoh, who invited them to bring their households to Egypt. At that time the members of Israel consisted of seventy-five people. Jacob died in Egypt, but his body was brought back and buried in the Promised Land.

Luke Paraphrase:

During Jesus’ “Last Supper,” the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem with his disciples before his crucifixion, his disciples started arguing about who among them was the greatest. Jesus told his disciples that “the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over their citizens, and their leaders are addressed with noble titles. In the kingdom of God, the greatest will be those with childlike obedient trust in the Lord (Luke 18:17) and the leaders will be those who are servants of others. In this world the greatest are served by those who are least, but Jesus, God’s anointed eternal king, came as a servant.

Jesus told his disciples that they, who persevered in faith (obedient trust), sharing in the trials which Jesus endured, would also share in Jesus’ kingdom, glory and fellowship.
Commentary:

The reality of life in this world is that what appears to be good becomes enslaving (consider Genesis 3:1-21). We will all be subject to someone or something. Leaders who don’t obey God’s Word become tyrants; they use their office for personal gain and justice is perverted. We must choose whether to follow God’s Word and submit to God’s Lordship in Jesus Christ, or to follow the pattern of the world around us. Israel ignored God’s warning and did what they thought was in their best interest, but later discovered themselves enslaved by the system they created.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, but he trusted and obeyed God, and God freed him from imprisonment and gave him wisdom and favor with Pharaoh. By understanding and heeding God’s warning of the coming famine he stored enough grain to provide for God’s people.

The invitation to live in Egypt sounded like a good idea at the time, but worldly leaders come and go; a new Pharaoh was not sympathetic toward God’s people, and they found themselves enslaved in Egypt.

God hears and answers the prayers of his people, if they are trusting and obeying the Lord. But if they defy his warning and act contrary to his Word he has no obligation to hear and respond when they complain about the consequences (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

The history of Israel’s enslavement and God’s deliverance from Egypt is also a metaphor for life in this world. We are all, in one sense, slaves in the “Egypt” of this world. If we trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, he will free us from the bondage of sin and death, and lead us through the “wilderness” of this life and into the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom in heaven.

Stephen is an example of a faithful disciple sharing in the suffering of Jesus in this world. The Jewish religious authorities during Jesus’ earthly ministry are an example of leaders who claim to be serving God, but who are using their office for personal gain and perverting justice. When people say one thing but do something else, it is what they do which reveals what they truly believe; “the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).

Jesus is Lord and King, whether we acknowledge him or not. His Lordship is not oppressive, but freeing. That doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we please, but it will prevent us from doing things which will enslave and destroy us. If we follow him, he will deliver us from slavery and oppression and provide for us in the midst of “famine.” We can be certain and secure in knowing that he will bring us safely into his eternal “Promised Land.” If we will share in Jesus’ trials, we will share in his kingdom, glory and fellowship in eternity.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/30/05;
Podcast: Friday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 9:1-14   –    Saul Comes to Samuel;
Acts 7:17-29    –   Stephen Preaches about Moses;
Luke 22:31-38   –    Jesus Prophesies Peter’s Denial;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Saul was the married son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. His father’s donkeys had strayed and Saul and a servant went to find them. They passed through the hill country of Ephraim but could not find them. Saul decided that they should return home, but the servant suggested that there was a man of God (Samuel) with a reputation for foretelling the future who might give them a word from God concerning their journey. Saul asked the servant what they could give to the man of God in payment for his services, since Saul and his servant had consumed their provisions. The servant had a small piece of silver and they decided to give him that.

The holy man lived in Ramah, a city on the side of a hill. The water source was below the city and there was a sanctuary on the hilltop. Saul and the servant encountered women coming out to draw water and asked about the “seer” (a prophet of God). They were told that he was about to go up to offer a sacrifice. The women told them to enter the city and they would encounter the man of God on his way up the hill to the sacrificial feast. Saul and the servant did so, and encountered Samuel coming out, as the women had said.

Acts Paraphrase:

Stephen, one of the “Seven” who had been chosen by the Church to administer the programs of the church, had been falsely accused by the Jewish religious authorities of blaspheming God and Moses. He was making his defense in the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin; Jewish judicial court), reviewing the history of God’s dealings with Israel.

God had promised to give the descendants of Abraham the Promised Land (Canaan), and as the time of the fulfillment of that promise approached, the Israelites had grown in number in Egypt where they had taken refuge from famine. A new Pharaoh arose, who had no regard for the Israelites. Pharaoh required the Israelites to abandon their male infants (to reduce the threat of revolt). Moses was exposed at three months of age, but was found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought up and educated in the Pharaoh’s household.

At forty years of age, Moses decided to visit his Israelite brethren. He saw an Egyptian master abusing an Israelite, and Moses intervened and killed the Egyptian. Moses “supposed that his brethren understood that God was giving them deliverance by his hand” (Acts 7:25).

The next day Moses went forth again and saw two Israelites quarreling, and again he intervened. He asked them why they would hurt each other rather than cooperating. But the one who had been wronging the other asked Moses what right he had to judge them, and asked if Moses wanted to kill them as he had the Egyptian the previous day. When Moses heard this, he fled into exile in Midian (for forty years), where he fathered two sons.

Luke Paraphrase:

At the “Last Supper,” the celebration of the Passover of Jesus and his disciples on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Jesus told Peter that Peter (and the disciples) would face trial and temptation by Satan, but that Jesus had prayed for Peter, that his faith would be preserved, and that after he had been tested he might strengthen the other disciples. Peter declared that he was prepared to go to prison and death with Jesus, but Jesus told him that Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times that night “before the cock crows” (Luke 22:34).

Jesus reminded his disciples that when he had sent them out in pairs (the “seventy;” Luke 10:1-12), that they had needed no provisions, but from now on they would they would encounter hostility and must be prepared to persevere by their own resources. Jesus told them that everything in scripture about Jesus would be fulfilled, including the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12 that Jesus would be regarded as a criminal.

Commentary:

The hand of God was working to accomplish God’s will. Although Israel had demanded a king, contrary to God’s warning, God allowed them to have a king and then guided the selection. Samuel was recognized as a prophet of the Lord, because what he prophesied was fulfilled. Fulfillment is the hallmark of God’s Word.

Stephen was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that his disciples would be arrested and brought to court where they would testify by the Holy Spirit who would give them what to say in that hour (Mark 13:11-13; Luke 21:12-19). Moses supposed that the Israelites would recognize that God was working through him for their deliverance, but they did not. If they had, they might have been freed from slavery in Egypt forty years earlier (Acts 7:30). Stephen was following the example of Jesus and was proclaiming God’s Word, but the religious authorities still refused to accept it.

Jesus spoke the Word of God, but the Jewish religious authorities didn’t recognize and accept it. Jesus told his disciples that everything in the scriptures about the messiah would be fulfilled. Jesus prophesied three or four times that he would be killed and would rise again on the third day (Luke 18:31-34; 9:22, 44-45; 17:25), and his resurrection was witnessed by over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Everything Jesus preached and taught his disciples is true and is fulfilled for those who trust and obey Jesus. Jesus predicted Peter’s denial, and that prophecy was fulfilled (Luke 22:54-62).

Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14; Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and salvation from eternal death and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Are you seeking and following the guidance of God’s Word in your daily life?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 6 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 07/01/05;
Podcast: Saturday 6 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 9:15-10:1  –    Samuel Anoints Saul;
Acts 7:30-43   –     Stephen’s Sermon;
Luke 22:39-51   –   Jesus’ Betrayal;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

The day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that a man from the tribe of Benjamin would come the next day. Samuel was to anoint him to be “prince” of Israel, and he would save Israel from the Philistines, in God’s answer to the prayers of the people. The next day when Saul arrived, the Lord told Samuel that this was the man the Lord had told Samuel about, who would reign over Israel. Saul approached Samuel and inquired where the “seer” (prophet of God) could be found.

Samuel said that he was the seer that Saul was seeking, and invited him to come up to the sacrificial feast at the sanctuary on the mountaintop and eat with him. Then in the morning Samuel would tell Saul what he was seeking to know, after which he could leave. Samuel told Saul to stop worrying about the donkeys he was seeking for they had been found. Samuel told Saul that Saul and his household would have the best of everything in Israel. Saul replied that he was from the humblest family of the smallest tribe of Israel, and wondered why Samuel had prophesied thus.

Samuel took Saul up to the sanctuary and gave him the seat at the head of the table of thirty guests who had been invited. Samuel asked the cook to bring the portion that had been set aside for Saul. That evening Saul came down from the sanctuary with Samuel and slept on the upper floor of Samuel’s house. At dawn Samuel woke Saul, and he and Saul walked toward the outskirts of the city. Samuel sent Saul’s servant on ahead, and he and Saul stopped so that Samuel could tell Saul God’s Word. Then Samuel took a vial of (olive) oil and anointed Saul’s head and kissed him and told him that the Lord had anointed Saul to be prince of Israel.

Acts Paraphrase:

Stephen, one of the Seven deacons chosen to administer the programs of the church in Jerusalem, had been charged by the Jewish religious court with blaspheming God and Moses. When given the opportunity, Stephen made his defense by recounting the history of God’s dealings with Israel. Stephen said that Moses had killed an Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite, but the Israelites rejected him as their leader, so he had fled to Midian, where he married and had two sons.
Moses had been in exile for forty years, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai as a flame in a burning bush. Moses was attracted to this sight, and when he drew near the Lord spoke to him, identifying himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was afraid to look. The Lord told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.

Moses, who had been rejected as a leader by his people, had been designated ruler and deliverer by the Lord through the angel that appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Moses led Israel out of Egypt after doing many great miracles, and led them through the Red Sea, supernaturally parted, and through the wilderness for forty years. Moses was the Leader who prophesied that the Lord would raise up another prophet like Moses. Moses received “living oracles” from the angel on Mount Sinai which he delivered to Israel. Israel’s forefathers rejected Moses’ leadership in the wilderness at Mount Sinai; they turned to Egypt in their hearts, and made and worshiped an idol of a golden calf. Stephen quoted Amos 5:25-27 to show that from the very beginning and throughout their wilderness wandering they were spiritually unfaithful and worshipped idols.
Luke Paraphrase:

After eating the Passover feast with his disciples on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, they went out to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom. Jesus told his disciples to pray that they not succumb to temptation, and then he went a short distance away to pray. Jesus prayed that if possible, that God the Father remove the destiny Jesus knew was coming to him, but he committed himself to accept God’s will, rather than his own. An angel appeared to Jesus, to strengthen him. Jesus prayed in great spiritual agony, and his sweat fell like great drops of blood. Then he arose and came to his disciples who were sleeping because of melancholy, and told them to rise and pray to avoid temptation.

While Jesus was saying that, a crowd came, led by Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve disciples. Judas went to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus rebuked him for intending to betray Jesus with a kiss. The disciples saw what was going to happen and they asked Jesus if they should fight in resistance. One of them attacked with a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, but Jesus told them to stop, and he healed the slave’s ear. Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders who had come to arrest him that they had many opportunities to arrest Jesus in public since he had been in the temple every day, but they had chosen to do it in darkness and away from public view, and they were able to only because it was their “hour” and the power of darkness.
Commentary:

Samuel is an example of a “man (or woman) of God.” He trusted and obeyed God’s Word, and the Lord revealed his will to Samuel. The Lord had told him that the person God had chosen to be “prince” would come to Samuel the next day, and Samuel had prepared for that fulfillment. Samuel was prepared to worship the Lord with a sacrificial feast, and had set aside the choice portion for the person God had designated to be king. Then Samuel fulfilled God’s command to anoint Saul, “the Lord’s anointed.” Saul would rule as king, but the Lord was the true King of Israel, in relation to whom Saul was a prince.

In a way, Samuel is a forerunner of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciples. In the days of Samuel the Word of the Lord was rare and infrequent, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ disciples have the same personal fellowship and guidance from the Lord which Samuel had. Through the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit we become members of the King’s royal family.

Stephen is another illustration of a “born-again” Christian, proclaiming God’s Word by the inspiration and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Stephen is an example of the  fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that his disciples would be arrested and tried before various worldly authorities and would be inspired by the Holy Spirit in that hour (Mark 13:11-13; Luke 21:12-19).

Saul is a forerunner of the Messiah (or Christ, which means “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Saul was the “Lord’s anointed,” and God raised him up to save God’s people from the Philistines (1 Samuel 9:16). Moses is also a forerunner of the Christ who would lead his people out of slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of worldly government, through the “sea” of Christian Baptism, through the “wilderness” of life in this world, through the “river” of physical death, and into the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Israel had rejected God as their king, in favor of a human, worldly king (1 Samuel 8:7). In Egypt, they rejected Moses as their leader and accused him of trying to kill them (Acts 7:27-28), because they failed to recognize that God had raised Moses to deliver them from Egypt (Acts 7:25). Israel spent another forty years in slavery in Egypt, before the Lord called Moses to deliver Israel.

Because they failed to trust and obey God when he told them to enter and possess the Promised Land the first time, they were condemned to wander for forty years in the wilderness until all that disobedient generation had died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:26-35).

The Lord had promised through Moses to raise up another prophet like Moses (Acts 7:37), the Messiah, “the Lord’s anointed,” eternal Savior and King of Israel. Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of that promise. But the religious leaders of Israel rejected and crucified him. There was a sign nailed to Jesus’ Cross, declaring him “The King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38).

Stephen was falsely condemned (and killed) for (allegedly) blaspheming God and Moses, by the people who had condemned and killed their Savior, Messiah and eternal King. They had only been able to arrest Jesus because it was their “hour,” by God’s will, to fulfill his ultimate purpose. They arrested Jesus in the dark, because they knew that what they were doing would not withstand public scrutiny. Stephen’s sermon demonstrated that he was not blaspheming God or Moses, but the religious leaders executed him anyway.

The Lord has given us his Word so that we can know his will and purpose, revealed in Jesus Christ, so that we can have a reliable basis on which to make life decisions. The hallmark of God’s Word is that it is always fulfilled. We have been given a choice whether to accept God’s anointed Savior and Lord as our king and our leader. We will either trust and obey the Lord or we will die eternally in bondage to sin and the spiritual wilderness of this world. God’s Word promises that Jesus will return to judge the earth. Are you prepared for the coming of the Lord’s anointed eternal King?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 5 Pentecost – Odd – 06/28 – 07/04/2015

June 27, 2015

Week of 5 Pentecost – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

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based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

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*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

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Podcast Download: Week of 5 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/18/05;

Podcast: Sunday 5 Pentecost – Odd

Exodus 6:2-13; 7:1-6    –     Call of Moses and Aaron;

Revelation 15:1-8   –     Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath;

Matthew 18:1-14    –  True Greatness;

Exodus Paraphrase:

God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had been known to them by the name El Shaddai (Almighty; High God). To Moses God revealed himself by a new name, the LORD (represented in Hebrew by only the consonants YHWH, probably pronounced “Yahweh.” In some versions of the Bible it is translated as “Jehovah” by using the vowels of a different word, but “Jehovah” doesn’t accurately represent any name for God ever actually used in Hebrew).

The LORD is the God of the Covenant with the patriarchs, who promised to give their descendants the land of Canaan for a possession and inheritance although the Patriarchs themselves were sojourners (nomads) in the land. The Lord told Moses that he knew the suffering of the Israelites under slavery to the Egyptians, and had not forgotten his Covenant with Abraham. God told Moses to tell the Israelites that God will deliver his people from bondage in Egypt, redeeming them by God’s great power, by many great acts of judgment.

God said that he would take Israel to be his people, and would be their God. Israel will know and remember that God is the Lord, who has delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. God will bring his people into possession of the land of Canaan, which God had promised the patriarchs to give to their descendants. Moses told the Israelites what God had said, but they didn’t listen to Moses because their spirits were broken by the conditions of their enslavement.

The Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him to allow the people of Israel to leave Egypt. But Moses told the Lord that the Israelites hadn’t listened to Moses, so why would Pharaoh, since Moses had “uncircumcised lips” (a speech impediment)? God told Moses that he would make Moses like God to Pharaoh, and Aaron, Moses’ brother, would be Moses’ prophet.

God gave Moses and Aaron charge of the people of Israel. Moses was to receive God’s directions and Aaron would communicate them to Pharaoh. God warned Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to let Israel leave despite many great acts of judgment upon Egypt, but God would finally reveal his power decisively and Israel would be delivered. God said that the Egyptians would come to realize God’s power when he had delivered his people from Egypt. Moses, who was then eighty years old, and Aaron, who was eighty-three, did as God had commanded them.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John, in exile on the island of Patmos, had a series of visions of God’s ultimate judgment. This is the revelation to John of the seven (symbolizing completeness) plagues of God’s final judgment, ready to be poured out on earth. John saw the martyrs in heaven who had overcome the “beast (Revelation13:1-10) and      its image (Revelation 13:11-15) and the number of its name” (Revelation 13:16-18; 15:2). The martyrs “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Jesus Christ; the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of Passover), acknowledging the Lord God Almighty, whose deeds are great and wonderful, and whose ways are just and true.

The Lord is King of eternity; he alone is Holy (perfect in righteousness and goodness; worthy of complete devotion and worship). All nations will worship the Lord because his judgments have been revealed.

Then the seven angels carrying the seven bowls of the plagues of God’s wrath were released to pour out God’s wrath at God’s command (Revelation 16:1). God’s great presence and power filled the temple, and nothing was allowed to happen until that Judgment was carried out; the judgment was unalterable and unavoidable.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus had told his disciples for a second time that he was going to be crucified (Matthew 17:22-23). They were distressed when they heard this, but soon after they were arguing among themselves over whom among them was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called a child to his side and told his disciples that unless they turned and became like children in their obedient trust in their heavenly father they would not enter the kingdom of heaven. The one who is humble like a small child will be considered great in God’s kingdom. Whoever receives such a true disciple in Jesus’ name receives Jesus, but whoever causes such a disciple to sin will wish he had died instead; his punishment will be far worse than physical death.

The world will receive the terrible consequences of causing and yielding to temptation. Temptation is a necessary part of creation (because God designed creation so that we would have choice and free will), but the person who tempts others or who yields to temptation will ultimately suffer profound disaster. A person would be better off suffering physical mutilation in resisting temptation in order to have eternal life in God’s kingdom, than to have perfect physical heath and beauty and spend eternity in the fire of Hell.

Jesus warns not to despise his disciples, because they will be in God’s presence in eternity (and those who despise them won’t). If a shepherd has a hundred sheep and one strays, he will leave the ninety-nine and seek the one that is missing, and when he finds it he is happier to have recovered the one that was lost than over the ninety-nine that never strayed. Similarly, God doesn’t want any of his disciples to perish.

Commentary:

God’s purpose has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who will trust and obey him. Creation was designed from the beginning to accomplish that purpose. We have all been created with eternal souls; God has prepared a place in his presence for his people, and a place of eternal misery and punishment away from him and his kingdom for those who refuse to trust and obey God’s Word. God has created everything good in creation, but he has allowed the possibility of evil, and evil has come into the world through sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Imagine what will be left when everything and everyone good in this world is led out and into God’s eternal kingdom.

The meaning and purpose of this present earthly life is to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). God has been incrementally revealing himself to his people. To Moses he revealed that he is not only Almighty God Most High, but he is also Lord of Creation and of the universe. God chose Israel to be his people, and agreed to be their God.

God began to reveal himself to Pharaoh through a series of great acts of judgment, the ten plagues. Pharaoh did not acknowledge that God was Lord until God’s ultimate act of judgment of the death of the first-born of the Egyptians (while “passing over” the first-born of the Israelites by the institution of Passover). It was God’s intention that Egypt would realize God’s power as Lord when they saw the Lord’s deliverance of his people from Egypt, and that Israel would also know and remember that God is the Lord who had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt.

The history of God’s dealings with Israel was intended to also be a parable and an illustration of life in this world. Jesus is the “Moses” through whom God redeems his people from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world. Jesus is also the “Aaron” who is our High Priest who mediates on our behalf to God and who makes God’s Word and judgment known on earth.

John’s vision is of the Lord God Almighty who has ransomed his people from the power of Satan, the “Pharaoh” of the “Egypt” of this world, by the sacrifice of Jesus, the ultimate “Passover Lamb.” God is about to pour out the plagues of his Final Judgment.

Jesus is the fullest revelation of God to the world. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit whom only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the ultimate personal revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son, to us individually. Jesus is the name of the Lord our God (John 20:28). Jesus is God’s Word in human form (John 1:1-5, 14). In Jesus, God’s eternal plan has been fully revealed to all nations and people of the world.

Jesus had revealed to his disciples God’s will that Jesus would be crucified and raised to (eternal) life, but they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. Instead they were arguing over who among them would have the most power, status and influence in the kingdom of heaven. Instead of learning to submit to God’s will they were arguing over who would submit to their will.

God’s creation allowed for the possibility for temptation and sin so that we could have free will and choice, but he also designed the Savior, Jesus Christ, into creation (John 1:1-5, 14). People will either be open and responsive to the disciples of Jesus or they will ignore or despise them. Those who respond favorably to Jesus’ disciples will receive Jesus. Jesus warns us of the eternally disastrous consequences of disobeying God’s Word and rejecting his free offer of forgiveness and salvation through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Will we listen to God’s Word and trust and obey him, or will we wait until it is too late to be saved from his wrath to discover that he is indeed Lord and King of Creation and this Universe? The Day of Judgment will be the final and complete revelation of the Lord God Almighty. In that day nobody will have any doubt about who is Lord, but then it will be too late to change our eternal fate. Will we refuse to recognize the signs of God’s power and Lordship all around us until we stand before his throne of judgment and are separated eternally from his presence and paradise?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/19/05;

Podcast: Monday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 1:1-20    –    Hannah’s Prayer for a Son;

Acts 1:1-14    –    Jesus’ Ascension;

Luke 20:9-19   –    Parable of the Vineyard;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Ramathaim-zophim, the town called Zophim, the inheritance of a Levitical family in the district of Ramah in the tribal territory of Ephraim, was the birthplace of Samuel, whose father, Elkanah, was a descendant of Zuph, the Levite for whom the town was named. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had borne children but Hannah had not (Peninnah had probably been taken as a second wife because Hannah was “barren;” i.e., unable to conceive).

Elkanah made a pilgrimage each year to Shiloh [ten miles west of Bethel, where the tabernacle was located after the conquest of Canaan through the period of the Judges, until the Ark (of the Covenant) was captured by the Philistines]. Peninnah would receive portions of Elkanah’s offering for herself and her children, but Hannah received only one portion because she had produced no children. This was during the time the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phinehas, were priests. Peninnah exalted herself and provoked Hannah year after year, because Peninnah was fertile and Hannah was not, causing Hannah to weep and not eat. Elkanah noticed Hannah’s mourning and tried to cheer her up, reassuring her of his love despite her infertility.

After the ritual feasting celebrating the offering, Hannah was in the tabernacle (the portable “temple”) praying. She vowed that if the Lord blessed her with a son, she would dedicate him to a lifetime of serving the Lord (in the temple). Eli, the high priest, was on duty at the tabernacle door, and he noticed Hannah’s mouth moving as she prayed and assumed that she was a drunken alcoholic, and told her to stop getting drunk. But Hannah explained that she was not drunk, but had been praying to the Lord with all earnestness. Eli then assured Hannah that her prayer had been heard and he prayed that her prayer would find favor with the Lord and be answered. Hannah trusted the Lord and was no longer sad.

When they returned to their home, the Lord answered her prayer and Hannah became pregnant by Elkanah, and she eventually gave birth to a son she named Samuel (meaning “heard of God,” i.e., that her prayer had been heard and answered).

Acts Background:

Luke, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) is probably the author of both the Gospel of Luke, the “first book” (Acts 1:1 RSV), and the book of Acts, which continues the narrative where the Gospel of Luke leaves off (compare Luke 24:50-52 with Acts 1:9) with the ascension of the risen Jesus into heaven. Theophilus, which means “lover of God,” is either a real person, by that name, to whom both the Gospel and Acts were addressed, or is intended to address everyone who is a “lover of God.”

Acts Paraphrase

The commandment Jesus had given to his disciples before his ascension was to make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20), but first to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the gift, the “anointing,” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; 8) which Jesus promised to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by many people (over five hundred; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8) over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3) during which Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God.

Jesus is the fulfillment of John the Baptizer’s prophecy that Jesus would be the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5; compare John 1:33). Jesus told his disciples, who had gathered to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, that it was not their responsibility to try to figure out God’s timetable, but rather to obey Jesus’ commandment to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then to testify to the Gospel beginning in their immediate surroundings and spreading out to the farthest parts of the earth (Acts 1:7-8).

Then Jesus visibly rose off the ground and up into heaven as his disciples watched. Two angels appeared and told the disciples that Jesus would return (on the Day of Judgment) exactly as they had witnessed him ascend.

The disciples returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (about a half-mile away), and obeyed Jesus’ command to wait for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They waited in the upper room where they were staying (probably where they had celebrated the Passover, the “Last Supper”).  The eleven original disciples (minus Judas, the “betrayer”) and the women who had accompanied and provided for Jesus (Luke 8:2-3), including his mother and his brothers.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, knowing that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-34). After the Pharisees had challenged Jesus’ authority, Jesus told this Parable of the Vineyard:

An owner of a vineyard rented it out to tenants and traveled to a distant country. When the time of harvest came, he sent a servant to collect the Lord’s portion of the harvest, but the tenants beat the servant and threw him out, empty-handed. The owner sent another servant, whom the tenants treated similarly. So the owner sent his beloved son, whom he expected the tenants to respect. But the tenants killed the owner’s beloved son, thinking that they would gain possession of the vineyard by default when the owner died. After all this, what can the owner do but come and destroy the tenants?

Jesus’ audience responded, “God forbid!” But Jesus replied that he was the fulfillment of prophecy of Psalm 118:22-23: that Jesus was the cornerstone rejected by the “builders” (the Jewish religious leaders) that would trip and destroy those who rejected him.

Commentary:

The Lord hears and answers the prayers of those who trust and are faithful to the Lord (see The Conditions for Answered Prayer; sidebar, top right, home). Hannah asked in faith for a gift (a son). She promised to commit to serve the Lord, she trusted that the Lord had heard and would answer her prayer, and she was faithful to fulfill her promise to the Lord. She testified through the name she chose for her son that God hears and answers prayer of those who trust and obey the Lord and ask for things which serve God’s will, rather than for their own will and pleasure (James 4:3).

Jesus promised to give the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit to “lovers of God” who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the gift God wants to give the disciples of Christ who follow Jesus’ guidance and obey Jesus’ teaching. It is given to disciples so that they will be enabled and empowered to fulfill the commission Jesus gave to his disciples to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). That gift is to be used for and is essential to accomplish God’s will and purpose.

The other essential commandment of Jesus is to be discipled by a disciple of Jesus and to stay within the Church until they have received the Holy Spirit, before proceeding to proclaim the gospel in the world. It is possible for one to know with certainty that they have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2), and one cannot honestly claim to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) or to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ until they have received the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Like Eli, a discipler assures the one he is discipling, that if the disciple trusts and obeys the Lord, the Lord will hear and fulfill a disciple’s prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit, but like Hannah’s pregnancy, spiritual birth takes some time. The Lord wants to test our sincerity and commitment, because if one is reborn and then renounces the Lord and reverts to his old sinful ways there is no further hope of salvation possible for him (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Unfortunately, too often churches have failed to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, settling instead for making members, “fair weather Christians,” who are encouraged to invite their friends and neighbors to become members, resulting in the spiritually blind leading the spiritually blind (Luke 6:39). When the churches fail to make disciples, the pool of people from whom they recruit preachers and teachers of preachers doesn’t contain any “born-again” disciples.

It takes a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciples are to learn to be disciples, learning to trust and obey the Lord and seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit, rather than spending their time endlessly speculating about God’s plans and schedule of the events of the “End Times,” the end of the age (Acts 1:7-8).

Jesus’ word is absolutely trustworthy and true, both his promises and his warnings. Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment to take his disciples to his eternal heavenly kingdom and to condemn everyone else, who refused to accept Jesus as Lord or who failed to trust and obey Jesus’ commands, to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus’ last commands to his disciples were to wait in Jerusalem (the Holy City; the Church) for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then to make disciples (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:4-8). The disciples obeyed Jesus’ command, and they received the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-21).

The Parable of the Vineyard is an illustration of life in this world. This world is God’s vineyard. We’re allowed to manage it, but we are accountable to God to give him his portion of the fruit it produces. God has sent a succession of servants, his prophets, and many of the people of this world have refused to heed them, or give what rightfully belongs to God. Jesus is God’s Son, the heir to the vineyard, and worldly people, who don’t want to give God what he’s entitled to receive, think they can destroy the Son and inherit the vineyard.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when God, the owner of the vineyard, is going to come and take possession of his vineyard and receive the fruit that belongs to him, and he will destroy the wicked tenants who have refused to honor and obey him and have crucified his Son in an attempt to destroy him and take possession of God’s vineyard for themselves.

Jesus is the cornerstone of eternal life, which the Jewish religious leaders rejected. Jesus will either be the solid cornerstone of our lives leading to eternal life, or he will be the stone which will make us stumble and be eternally destroyed.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/20/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 1:21-2:11   –    Hannah Fulfills Her Vow;

Acts 1:15-26    –    The Appointment of Matthias;

Luke 20:19-26   –    Paying Taxes to Caesar;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Hannah had been unable to conceive children so she had prayed to the Lord for a son and then trusted the Lord to hear and answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1:1-18; see entry for yesterday). Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, took his entire household, yearly, to the tabernacle (then at Shiloh) but after Hannah had given birth to Samuel, she stayed at home until the child was weaned. Elkanah approved of Hannah’s decision; his concern was that the Lord’s Word be established (1 Samuel 1:23). She had promised the Lord to give her son to the Lord’s service in the temple (1 Samuel 1:11).

After the child was weaned, while he was still a young child, Hannah again went to the Tabernacle with her husband and the household. She took a three-year-old bull and about three-quarters of a bushel of flour, and a skin of wine (for an offering), There they killed the bull and gave Samuel to Eli, the high priest. She told Eli that she was the woman that Eli had seen praying and who he had assured that the Lord would hear and answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1:17). She told Eli that Samuel was the child the Lord had granted her and that she had lent Samuel to serve the Lord all his life.

[The Song of Hannah is a “ballad” of national thanksgiving commemorating Samuel’s origin, and is a model for the Magnificat, Mary’s song of thanksgiving (Luke 1:46-55).]

Hannah’s (and Israel’s) heart rejoices and is strengthened in the Lord who has given her salvation and victory over her enemies. No one can compare to the Lord and his holiness. The Lord is the solid and secure rock. The arrogance of mankind is rebuked and silenced before the knowledge and judgment of the Lord.

The Lord defeats the power of the mighty, and gives strength to the week; the rich will know hunger, poverty and humiliation, and the poor will be satisfied and exalted. The Lord gives children to the barren, and bereaves those who are fertile. The Lord has established the foundations of the world. “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” (1 Samuel 2:9). The Lord will destroy his enemies. “The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed” (1 Samuel 10b).

Hannah and Elkanah’s household went home, leaving Samuel with Eli, to serve the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

Before his ascension into heaven, the Lord had told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and await the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). The group of believers numbered about one hundred and twenty. While they were waiting, Peter suggested that they should choose another disciple to fill the position of Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer.

Peter compared Judas to Ahithophel (an Old Testament traitor who hanged himself; 2 Samuel 17:23).  A potter’s field was bought with the money Judas had received to betray Jesus (Matthew 27:6-10), and according to Matthew 27:5 Judas hanged himself. (Here “falling headlong” may also be translated “swelling up;” or it may imply disastrous spiritual error and eternal fate.)

Peter quoted Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 as their basis for choosing someone to replace Judas, and the qualifications were that he must be one who had been an eyewitness to Jesus’ entire ministry from his Baptism by John  to until Jesus’ ascension (see Acts 10:37, Mark 1:1-4). There were two candidates, Joseph “Barsabbas” Justice, and Matthias. The congregation prayed for the Lord’s guidance and then cast lots (selection by “chance”) and Matthias was chosen and became the twelfth apostle.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, having foretold that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-34). The religious leaders had challenged the authority of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 20:1-8; see entry for yesterday). Jesus had told the Parable of the Vineyard, and the religious authorities were enraged because they perceived that the parable was a criticism of them. They sent spies who pretended sincerity while attempting to trap Jesus in saying something against the Roman government so that they could hand him over to the governor.

“They asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it right for us to give tribute (taxes) to Caesar, or not?” Jesus knew their evil intent, and he asked them to show him a coin. Jesus asked them whose image and name were on it, and they replied “Caesar’s.  Jesus replied “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25). They were amazed by Jesus’ answer and were unable to refute him or accuse him in public.

Commentary:

Hannah had begged (the same word in Hebrew means “borrowed”) the Lord for a son and had vowed to “lend” him to the Lord’s service all the rest of his life, once he had been weaned. Elkanah, the head of the household, was committed to the establishment of God’s Word. Samuel was the fulfillment of God’s Word through Eli, and Elkanah approved the fulfillment of Hannah’s vow to the Lord.

Samuel is a precursor of the Christ. Jesus is the ultimate eternal king, God’s anointed, who will judge the earth in the name of the Lord. It is through Jesus, that the rich, powerful and arrogant will be defeated and the poor, powerless and humble will be exalted. Christ is the child of the virgin, Mary, who she gave to the service of God. Her pregnancy was a type of supernatural remedy of a type of physical barrenness.

The Church was awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to Jesus’ command (Acts 1:4-5, 8; Luke 24:48-49). Peter knew from scripture that there would be someone who would replace Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles who had been a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. Peter reasoned that it must be someone who had been with Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism, and so while they were waiting, they identified two that met those conditions, and prayed and then chose by “chance” (like drawing straws, or flipping a coin). Matthias was chosen, but he was mentioned only in Acts 1:23 and 26, and nowhere else in the Bible.

I believe their decision was premature; they should have waited until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom they would have guidance and empowerment. I believe that Paul was the fulfillment of God’s Word and God’s choice to replace Judas.

Matthias had been appointed by unregenerate (i.e., not “born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) disciples. He had “churchly credentials” but not God’s “anointing.” The qualifications for his appointment to office were set by unregenerate church leaders. It would be pretty hard today to find a candidate who had been physically present at Jesus’ baptism! A much more significant qualification is a personal relationship with the risen Jesus, through the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Paul had (formerly called “Saul;” Acts 9:17) and which his subsequent ministry demonstrated.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time claimed to be sincere, and claimed to be serving God, but they were trying to use God’s Word to accomplish their own worldly agenda. [Jesus is God’s Word, the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14), and he spoke God’s Word (John 14:24) and obeyed God’s will (Philippians 2:8).] God’s Word offended them and they refused to accept correction. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Hannah’s song; the arrogance of mankind is rebuked and silenced before the knowledge and judgment of the Lord (compare Luke 20:26).

The fulfillment of Hannah’s promise and vow should be an example to us. If we are spiritually barren we can and should pray sincerely and earnestly to the Lord to ask for our own “rebirth” through his “anointing” with the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. God is happy to give us the gift of his Spirit, provided that we are obediently trusting in Jesus Christ and are committed to the establishment of God’s Word and to serving him with our lives. The Lord knows our innermost thoughts and intentions, and cannot be deceived by false sincerity, and he will not allow his gift to be used to accomplish our selfish worldly agendas. It is also a reminder that the Lord’s work is not accomplished by human effort but by God’s Spirit (1 Samuel 2:9)

Since Hannah had “borrowed” Samuel from the Lord, she “lent” Samuel back to the Lord (a play on words is involved here). In a sense, everything we have is “borrowed” from the Lord, and we should “lend” ourselves and our resources to the Lord’s service, not just those who are ordained ministers. Hannah kept Samuel at home until he was weaned. Likewise, young Christian disciples should be kept “home” in the Church until they have been spiritually “weaned” (have received the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

These texts should also be a warning to the Church of the consequences of endorsing unregenerate candidates to ministry, according to worldly human standards, instead of by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/21/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 2:12-26   –    The Sons of Eli;

Acts 2:1-21    –     The Day of Pentecost;

Luke 20:27-40   –    Question about the Resurrection;

I Samuel Paraphrase:

“The sons of Eli were worthless men; they had no regard for the Lord” (1 Samuel 2 12; Phinehas and Hophni; see 1 Samuel 1:3b). When people came to the sanctuary (which was at Shiloh at that time), to offer sacrifice, the priest’s servant would stick a three-pronged fork into the boiling pot of meat and take whatever    came up on the fork. When someone was preparing a fat offering to be burned, the priest’s servant would demand a portion of the raw meat first, and would refuse to wait until the fat had been burned. He would threaten to take it by force if necessary. The sons of Eli treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.

Samuel was also serving the Lord in the temple. He wore a linen “ephod” (like an apron), which the priests wore. His mother, Hannah, would make him a robe each year and bring it to him at the annual pilgrimage of her husband, Elkanah, and his household. Eli would bless Elkanah and Hannah and would pray that the Lord would bless them with more children by Hannah, since the son she had “borrowed” from the Lord, she had “loaned” back to God’s service (a play on the Hebrew word which means “asked” or “borrowed”). The Lord did bless them and Hannah bore three sons and two daughters. “And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:21b).

When Eli was quite old he heard how wickedly his sons were behaving, and he confronted them, telling them how evil their conduct of their duties was. He said, “If a man sins against a man, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him” (1 Samuel 2:25). Since the sons refused to repent and amend their ways the Lord decided to destroy them.

Acts Paraphrase:

On the day of Pentecost (the fiftieth day after Passover, the “feast of weeks,” from the “first fruits” offering to the completion of the grain harvest; Leviticus 23:9-14; later Jewish tradition regarded it as the day the Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and the Covenant of Law established) the believers (about one hundred and twenty) were together in one place. There was a sound, like that of a great wind, which filled the house, and there were what appeared to be tongues of flame resting on each believer. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in many different languages by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

There were Jews in Jerusalem from every nation on earth. A great crowd gathered to the house because of the sound, and each one in the crowd heard their own native language being spoken by the believers. They realized that all the believers were Galileans, and were amazed that they were speaking in a wide variety of foreign languages, declaring the mighty works of God. The bystanders were amazed and wondered what this meant, but some thought the believers were drunk.

Peter stood and began to address the crowd, saying that the believers were not drunk, since it was only the third hour (9:00 A.M.). What had occurred was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28-32) of the Messianic age, when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh (the Holy Spirit had formerly only been given to certain individuals who were chosen prophets of God). Now all (believers) will be enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit. All God’s servants will prophesy by the Holy Spirit. There will be signs and wonders and disruptions in nature in the days before the Lord’s return on the Day of Judgment, and whoever    calls on the name of the Lord (in obedient trust) will be saved.

Luke Paraphrase:

Some Sadducees (a faction of Jewish religious leaders who rejected belief in resurrection and existence after death) addressing him as “Teacher,” asked Jesus a hypothetical question about resurrection. The Law of Moses required a man to take the barren widow of a brother as wife in order to create heirs for his brother. Suppose that seven brothers had the same woman as wife, in fulfilling that obligation, each dying in succession without heirs. The Sadducees asked Jesus whose wife the woman would be in the resurrection, since she had been married to each of the brothers.

Jesus answered that marriage is a part of physical life in this age, but in the eternal life to come those who have been judged worthy of eternal life will not marry or be married, because they will no longer have physical bodies. They will have glorified bodies like the angels (and like Jesus’ resurrected body) since they will be sons (and daughters) of God, resurrected from death like Jesus.

Jesus used the scriptures to refute the Sadducees’ denial of resurrection. God is (not “was”) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is the God, not of the dead, but of the (spiritually) living, who live for and in him. Some of the scribes (teachers of the law; the Scriptures) addressed Jesus as “Teacher,” saying that Jesus had answered well. No one dared to question Jesus further.

Commentary:

Samuel is an example of a child of God, a “son,” growing spiritually and committed to God’s service, as compared to the wickedness and corruption of the sons of Eli. Eli’s sons were born into the priesthood but they were only interested in what they could personally gain from it materially.

Samuel was aware that his life and everything he had in this world was a “loan” from God, and that he would use it to serve God. The Lord blessed Hannah with many children, because she had given her “first-fruits” to the Lord.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when we will all be accountable for what we have done with our life and all the material and spiritual blessings the Lord has given us. Those who, like Phinehas and Hophni, who have used their lives to serve and please themselves, who treat the Lord with contempt, and who refuse to repent, amend their ways, and trust and obey the Lord will be eternally destroyed in accordance with God’s will and judgment.

Jesus is the only mediator (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) who can and will intercede to God on behalf of those who are in Christ (Romans 8:9-10) for the forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Those who trust and obey the Lord can be assured that the Lord will mediate justice for themselves with other people; they can leave vengeance to the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35-36; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30)

The Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to believers, marks the birthday of the Church. Pentecost signified the establishment of the New Covenant of grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), replacing the Old Covenant of Law (Romans 8:1-8). Disciples of Jesus Christ, who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). But the Holy Spirit is given when the Lord, who knows our deepest innermost thoughts and attitudes, decides that we are committed to trusting and obeying him.

The believers who were “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) that first Pentecost by the gift of the Holy Spirit had been following and obeying Jesus for some time. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to enable and empower us to serve the Lord, not just for ourselves.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31a) are given to enable Christian disciples to accomplish God’s will. The gift of “tongues” is the reversal of God’s act of confusing the language of the people at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). The Holy Spirit is the “first-fruits” of eternal life; The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and that we have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh in the sense that the Holy Spirit is present in this world and active in convicting us of sin and calling us to repentance and righteousness (John 16:8-11). But the Holy Spirit only indwells those who have asked Jesus to come into their hearts in committed faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

The Sadducees were sure that resurrection and existence after physical death was impossible, and that they could prove why it wasn’t possible. They considered themselves experts and teachers of the Bible, but Jesus used the scriptures to refute them.

Each of us must decide for ourselves whether to believe Jesus and the Bible or not. Some will reject Jesus and God’s Word because their worldly “understanding” will make spiritual truth seem impossible. Some will have been born into the “Church” but won’t reverence, trust and obey the Lord. Some, as “members” of the “Church,” will continue sinful behavior without repentance and amendment, and will refuse to accept correction. Some will use “Christian” ministry as a “business” or “career” or as a way of manipulating God or people. Some will trust and obey Jesus and will receive the “first fruits” of eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will grow to spiritual maturity in personal fellowship with Jesus.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/22/05;

Podcast: Thursday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 2:27-36   –     House of Eli Condemned;

Acts 2:22-36     –    Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost;

Luke 20:41-21:4   –    David’s Son and Lord;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Eli had confronted his sons, Phinehas and Hophni, who were abusing their office of the priesthood, but they refused to repent and change their ways. A prophet came to Eli and told him that the Lord had revealed himself to Eli’s forefather, Aaron, in Egypt, when the Israelites were enslaved. The Lord chose Aaron from all the tribes of Israel to serve at the altar of the Lord, to burn incense, to wear the priestly garb. The Lord allowed Aaron and his descendants to eat the meat of the burnt offerings, but the sons of Eli had abused that gift by taking the best portions for themselves. God condemned Eli and his descendants for pursuing their own interests instead of honoring the Lord.

The Lord had promised Aaron that his descendants would serve as priests of the Lord forever, but now the Lord revoked that promise. The Lord declared that he would honor those who honor him, and despise those who despise him. The Lord declared that he would cut off the vitality of Eli’s descendants. His descendants would die young. The household of Eli will envy the prosperity of the other families of Israel. The only one to continue in the priesthood (Abiathar; 1 Samuel 22:18-23) would be spared only to grieve. As a sign of the truth of God’s prophecy, Phinehas and Hophni would die on the same day.

The Lord declared that he would raise up a faithful priest who would be obedient to God’s will. God will build him a sure house and his priesthood will continue for ever. The descendants of Eli who survive will beg for food and financial support and the opportunity to earn a living as priests.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter preached to a large crowd which had gathered to see the cause of the commotion caused by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Christ. Peter said that Jesus of Nazareth had been attested to by God through the miracles Jesus had done in their midst and which were public knowledge. But Israel had delivered Jesus to be crucified by lawless men (Gentiles), according to God’s plan and foreknowledge. But God raised Jesus up from the bonds of death.

Peter quoted David’s Psalm (Psalm 16:8-11) declaring that David honored the Lord and that the Lord was always with David to strengthen him, giving David joy and hope, believing that the Lord would not “abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption” (Acts 2:27). The Lord had revealed the ways of life to David, and would fill him with joy in his presence.

Everyone knew that David had died long before, and where he had been buried. Peter said that David was a prophet who was speaking of the Messiah, whom God had promised would be a descendant of David. David therefore foretold the resurrection of Jesus, whom God did not abandon to the realm of the dead, and whose flesh did not decay in the grave.

Jesus had been raised from the dead and the congregation of believers had personally witnessed that fact (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). Jesus had ascended into heaven where he was made king and received the promise of the Holy Spirit, which he has poured out on his disciples, which the crowd was witnessing.

David hadn’t ascended into heaven, and in Psalm 110:1 David called the Messiah, a descendant of David, Lord. That psalm also prophesies that the enemies of the Messiah will be vanquished. “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

Luke Paraphrase:

The Sadducees (a faction of Jewish leaders who did not believe in resurrection and existence after death) and scribes (teachers of Jewish law and scripture), had challenged Jesus on the teaching on resurrection (Luke 20:27-40). Jesus used scripture to show them that they were wrong. The Scribes and Sadducees were afraid to ask him further questions. So Jesus asked why, if the Messiah is David’s descendant, does David call him Lord in Psalm 110:1, but they did not answer.

In the hearing of the whole crowd, Jesus told his disciples to beware of scribes (religious authorities) who like the public distinctions of their position, such as distinctive clothing and titles, who enjoy public honor and deferential treatment, who “for a pretense make long prayers” (Luke 20:47), but take advantage of the poor and needy. They will receive the condemnation they deserve.

Commentary:

The Lord took the priesthood from Eli and his descendants because of corruption. The priests were using the priesthood for their own benefit; they weren’t honoring or serving the Lord but themselves instead. Jesus is the faithful priest God promised to raise up, who would be obedient to God’s will. Jesus was completely obedient to God’s will, including being crucified. God promised to make him a solid, eternal house (both a temple and a family) and his priesthood will be eternal. The descendants of Eli will be beggars, begging for a priesthood as a means of earning a living.

Peter, who on the night of Jesus’ betrayal was afraid to admit to a servant girl in the high priest’s house that he knew Jesus (Luke 22:56-57) was now boldly preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a large crowd, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which he and the other believers had just received. Peter declared that David had believed in resurrection and existence after physical death, that David hoped in his own resurrection and life in God’s presence in heaven, and had prophesied the resurrection of the Messiah. The prophecy had been fulfilled and the one hundred and twenty believers (Acts 1:15) who had just received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit were all witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus), the prototype of the modern, “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ, is also included as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 9:5) even though he had not known Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and did not encounter the risen Jesus prior to Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Every truly “born-again” Christian is also a witness to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and eternal life.

Jesus’ resurrection proved that he was the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), God’s anointed, eternal King and Lord of heaven and earth. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of God’s Word and Jesus’ promise to his disciples (John 14:15-17, 21, 23; Joel 2:28-32).

The Sadducees and scribes (and Pharisees) were the corrupt ” priests” of Jesus’ day. They were not serving and honoring the Lord, but were using their “priesthood” for their own honor and benefit. They claimed to be expert teachers and interpreters of scripture, but did not believe in resurrection, although scripture taught the resurrection of the dead and eternal existence. They couldn’t recognize that Jesus was the Messiah God had promised in his Word, and they didn’t honor and serve Jesus as their Lord, although David had called him his Lord. The prayers and piety of these corrupt religious leaders was a pretense, which they used to defraud widows, the poor and weak.

The “sons of Eli” are alive today and begging to make a living peddling the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:17), using religion for their own benefit and victimizing the poor and weak. Parts of the nominal “Church” today look a lot like Judaism at the time of Christ’s first coming. Peter and Paul are examples of what Christian leaders and all Christians should be, and the gathering of the followers on the day of Pentecost is what the Church should be today.

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment to vanquish his enemies and receive his “born-again” disciples into his eternal, unshakable house in God’s presence. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross “has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God” (Revelation 1:5b-6) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in heaven with the Lord, but those who have rejected Jesus as Lord or who have refused to trust and obey him will spend eternity in destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home)

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/23/05;

Podcast: Friday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 3:1-21   –    God’s Call to Samuel;

Acts 2:37-47 –   The Call to Repentance;

Luke 21:5-19    –   Destruction of the Temple foretold;

1 Samuel Summary:

Samuel was a still a boy, conducting the duties of a priest under Eli’s training and supervision. At that time prophetic revelation was not a common occurrence. Eli was quite old and had lost his eyesight. Samuel was sleeping in the temple. There was a lamp representing God’s presence which burned all night outside the veil (curtain) to the Holy-of-Holies, and the Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy-of Holies. Samuel heard a voice call his name and he went to Eli’s bed and asked what Eli wanted, assuming that it was Eli who had called. Eli told Samuel to go back to bed, because he hadn’t called. This was repeated, and then the third time, Eli realized that it was the Lord calling to Samuel.

Eli told Samuel to go back and lie down, and when the Lord called, Samuel was to answer: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9). Samuel did as Eli had told him, and then the Lord told Samuel that he was going to do something which would amaze and awe everyone in Israel. The Lord told Samuel that soon he would carry out his judgment against Eli’s household (1 Samuel 2:31-34). God held Eli responsible for allowing his two sons Phinehas and Hophni to blaspheme God (by their irreverence and wicked deeds in their conduct as priests). God vowed that no sacrifice or offering would ever atone for the sins of the house of Eli.

Samuel arose in the morning and began his routine of opening the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli what God had revealed to him. But Eli asked Samuel to tell him what the Lord had said without concealing any of it. Eli told Samuel that the Lord should do to Samuel the same judgment and more if Samuel concealed any of God’s Word from Eli. So Samuel told Eli everything that the Lord had said, and Eli acknowledged that God was Lord, and he accepted God’s judgment.

Samuel grew up with the Lord’s presence with him and none of God’s Word was wasted or unfulfilled. Throughout Israel, from the land of the tribe of Dan in the north, to Beer-sheba in the south, Samuel was recognized as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord appeared to Samuel at Shiloh and revealed himself to Samuel      through his Word.

Acts Summary:

Peter had preached the Gospel to a large crowd which had gathered because of the commotion resulting from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The hearts of the observers were convicted of sin, and they asked the Apostles what they should do. Peter told them to repent (acknowledge their sins and change their ways) and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The promise (of forgiveness and reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit) is for all who will respond to God’s call. Peter urged his hearers to save themselves from God’s judgment upon their sinful generation. About three thousand people responded to Peter’s word and were baptized that day. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship (i.e., discipleship) and worship, participation in the Lord’s Supper (Communion; Eucharist) and prayer.

Every Christian had godly fear (awe and respect for God’s power and authority) and many miracles were done through the apostles. All believers shared their possessions with one another and helped each other as any had need. They attended worship regularly and celebrated the Lord’s Supper in their homes, rejoicing and praising God. Their conduct, generosity and love for one another earned them respect in their community.

Luke Summary:

Some were admiring the beauty of the new temple, and Jesus told them the day was coming when the temple would be utterly destroyed. (The temple was built by Herod to gain political favor from the Jews; begun in 18 B. C. and not completed until 65 A.D., destroyed in 70 A.D, forty years after Jesus’ prediction, and has never been rebuilt.)

The people asked Jesus when this would occur and what signs would foretell this destruction. Jesus warned them to be careful not to be misled by false “christs” and false prophets. Wars and uprisings, earthquakes, famines, and epidemic diseases will occur. There will be disruptions in nature. But before the end of this age, Christians will be persecuted, imprisoned, and judged by civil and religious courts. Judgment before worldly authorities will be an opportunity for disciples to testify to the gospel. Disciples are not to prepare beforehand what to say, because they will be empowered and inspired by the indwelling Holy Spirit at the time that they testify. The Lord will give them voice and wisdom which none of their adversaries can withstand or refute (I have personally experienced and testify to that truth).

Christians can expect to be hated and persecuted even by their own immediate families, relatives and friends. Some Christians will be executed for Jesus’ name. But Jesus assures his followers that they will not suffer the slightest loss spiritually and eternally, and that by faithful endurance they will receive true, eternal life.

Before the coming of Jesus, the fellowship and guidance of God’s Spirit was only given to a few who were chosen by God to be his prophets by that spiritual anointing. Samuel was one example of the kind of person God chose to be his prophet. Samuel trusted and obeyed the Lord. He had an obligation to proclaim all of God’s Word, both the promises and assurances, and the warnings and judgments.

Samuel heard God’s call so clearly that he thought it was Eli’s voice. Samuel responded to God’s call in obedient trust; he acknowledged God as his Lord and himself as the Lord’s obedient trusting servant. The Lord revealed himself to Samuel through his Word and Samuel grew to spiritual maturity by the presence of the Lord’s Spirit. The result was that everyone in Israel came to recognize that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord.

Peter is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple. On the night of Jesus’ betrayal Peter had been afraid to acknowledge to the high priest’s maid that he knew Jesus (Luke 22:56-57). Now, having just received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he boldly preached the gospel, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to a crowd of over three thousand people, and it wasn’t a message that made them feel good. They felt guilty, convicted of sin. That conviction was needed to motivate them to acknowledge their situation and seek God’s forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Peter told them that the promise of God’s forgiveness and salvation and the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit are available to all who respond to God’s call. Three thousand people heard God’s call that day and responded in obedient trust. Their lives were transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit and the change was obvious to everyone who came in contact with them.

Church is not about beautiful buildings. It’s about proclaiming God’s Word faithfully, accurately and completely. It’s about making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to know, trust, and obey all that Jesus teaches and commands (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s not about manipulating God to do our will, but learning to know and do God’s will. It’s not to give us false assurance and validate our worldly attitudes and behaviors.

There are many false “christs” and false prophets in the world today. It’s not about trying to know God’s timetable for return of Christ on the Day of Judgment (Acts 1:7). It’s about being a disciple now, seeking the fulfillment of the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and growing to spiritual maturity in personal fellowship with Jesus through his Holy Spirit.

As we trust and obey Jesus we will receive his Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23), and he will reveal his love, power and faithfulness to us. We will learn that Jesus’ word is eternally true. Peter is an example of the fulfillment of Christ’s promise of the inspiration and empowerment of his disciples by his Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 5 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/24/05;
Podcast: Saturday 5 Pentecost – Odd

1 Samuel 4:1b-11   –    Philistines Defeat Israel;

Acts 4:32-5:11   –     Ananias and Sapphira;

Luke 21:20-28   –    The End of the Age;

1 Samuel Paraphrase:

Phinehas and Hophni, the sons of Eli, were corrupt priests of the temple at Shiloh. God had prophesied through Samuel that he was going to bring disaster upon the household of Eli, and that Phinehas and Hophni would die on the same day, as a sign that this was the Word of God (1 Samuel 2:34).

The Philistine army camped at Aphek and the Israelites assembled at Ebenezer in the middle of the coastal plain. The armies engaged, and Israel was defeated and four thousand Israelites were slain on the battlefield. When Israel returned to camp, they wondered why the Lord had allowed them to be defeated, and they decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant (a portable shrine representing the power and presence of God) from the temple at Shiloh, so that God’s presence among them would give them victory.

They sent messengers to Shiloh and brought back the Ark of the Covenant, with Phinehas and Hophni, the sons of Eli, who were priests at the temple in Shiloh. When the Ark was brought into the Israelite camp a great shout went up.

The Philistines heard the commotion and wondered what was happening. When they learned that the Ark of God had come into the camp they were afraid. They had never experienced such a thing before, and wondered who would be able to deliver them from the God of Israel. They had heard of the plagues God had brought against the Egyptians when he delivered the Israelites from Egypt. The Philistine leaders ordered their soldiers to be brave and fight like men if they didn’t want to become slaves of Israel.

When the battle was joined the Philistines defeated Israel in a great slaughter. Thirty thousand Israelite soldiers were slain that day, including Phinehas and Hophni, and the Ark of the Covenant was captured.

Acts Paraphrase:

The Christians in Jerusalem were united in heart and soul, and shared every resource among themselves. No one withheld anything as his own possession. The apostles testified to the resurrection of Jesus with great power, and great blessings from God were on them all. There wasn’t anyone among them who lacked anything, because whoever owned land or houses sold them and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute as needed.

Joseph Barnabas (“son of encouragement”), a Levite who had been born in Cyprus, sold a field and gave it to the apostles, but Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and gave only a portion of the proceeds to the church, lying about the amount he had received (and appearing to be generous but inwardly selfish).

Peter, speaking by the Holy Spirit, knew that Ananias had lied, and confronted him publicly. Peter told Ananias that he had not been required to sell his land, and he had not been required to give the money to the church. Peter said Ananias had tried to lie to the Holy Spirit. At these words Ananias fell down dead.

Great fear came on all who heard about this. Young men from the congregation took Ananias’ body out and buried it. Three hours later, Ananias’ wife, Sapphira, came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her the details of the land sale, and she repeated the lie her husband and she had agreed to say. Then Peter told her that she had lied to the Holy Spirit and would suffer the same fate as her husband, and she immediately fell dead at his feet. The young men returned, found her dead, and carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear came upon the entire congregation, and everyone who heard about this.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had prophesied the destruction of the temple (not yet finished; built by Herod to win political favor with the Jews; Luke 21:5-9; and 19:41-44). People asked Jesus what signs would foretell the end of the age, and Jesus told them that when they see armies surrounding Jerusalem they will know that its destruction is near. Then they should flee from Jerusalem and from Judah, because those will be days of God’s vengeance to fulfill the scriptures.

It will be a very difficult time, especially for those who are pregnant or still nursing small children. “For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:23). They will be slain, and made captives throughout all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until they have had opportunity to accept the gospel (Romans 11:25, Isaiah 63:18 Mark 13:10).

The day of Jesus’ return will be foretold by disturbances in the heavens and disruptions in nature on earth. Nations and governments will not know how to deal with these things, and people will be fainting with fear and dread. Then they will see Jesus coming in a cloud, with great power and glory. When these things begin, Christians should rejoice, knowing that their redemption is at hand.

Commentary:

Phinehas and Hophni were corrupt priests who used their priesthood to enrich themselves and manipulate people (1 Samuel 2:22-34; 3:13-14). Israel was facing an attack by her enemy and went to fight, expecting God to win the victory for them, although they were disobedient to God and spiritually corrupt; they didn’t honor and respect God’s power and authority.

The first engagement should have been a warning to them to examine their spiritual condition, to repent and change their ways, and seek the Lord’s help. Instead they thought they could manipulate God to do their will through their corrupt priests. God’s prophecy against the household of Eli was fulfilled.

Ananias and Sapphira thought they could use religion to enrich themselves and gain status through insincerity. They didn’t have a proper fear of God for his power and authority. Their mistake cost them their lives.

The Jews were very proud of their fine new temple, begun in 18 B.C. by King Herod the Great (the King who had attempted to kill the infant Jesus by slaughtering boy children in Bethlehem; see Matthew 2:1-18). Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the dispersion of Israel throughout the world, and this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Romans, five years after the completion of the temple and about forty years after Jesus’ prophecy. The Jews were scattered throughout the world, Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and the land was “trampled by Gentiles” until Jews began to return to their land following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Judaism effectively ended at Jesus’ crucifixion, when the veil of the temple (separating the Holy-of-Holies containing the Ark of the Covenant from the main sanctuary) was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:44-45). The tearing of the veil symbolizes that Jesus has opened the way into the personal presence of the Lord, through obedient trust in Jesus, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

The temple was the means of forgiveness and reconciliation with God under the Old Covenant of Law through animal sacrifices. The temple is no longer needed because Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time (Hebrews 9:24-28) for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

At the time of Jesus’ first coming, the religious leaders had become corrupt like the sons of Eli. They were using their positions to gain status and to enrich themselves. They had become like the wicked tenants in Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard (Luke 20:9-16). They didn’t honor and fear God. They liked worldly praise better than God’s approval.

Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, but he also foretold the Day of Judgment when he will return to separate the wicked, who reject and refuse to trust and obey Jesus, from the righteous, who do trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus will return in a cloud, just as his disciples saw him ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Whether we are alive or have died physically when Jesus returns, we will be accountable to him for what we have done in this life (John 5:28-29). The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple ought to be a warning to the Church and to Christian nations, which are in very similar conditions today as Israel and Judaism were then.

Do we imagine that God will bless and protect us although we do not trust and obey him? Do we think we can manipulate God to do our bidding by participating in some religious ritual or by some symbol? Do we imagine that we can fool God by insincerity?

Do we choose religious leaders who tell us what we want to hear and do what we ask them to do? Are we using religion for material and social benefit? Do we continue to make the same mistakes, instead of heeding warnings and honestly examining our spiritual condition? When Jesus returns will we be ready, or will we be fainting with fear and dread?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


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