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

August 1, 2015

Week of 10 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 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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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.

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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 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

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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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)?

4 Pentecost – Odd – 06/21 – 27/2015

June 20, 2015

Week of 4 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  4 Pentecost  -Odd

Sunday 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted  06/11/05;

Podcast: Sunday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 29:16-29 – Warning against idolatry;

Revelation 12:1-12 – Conflict between Christ and Satan;

Matthew 15:29-39 – Healing and feeding;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

As Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them of the consequences of idolatry. Moses reminded them of the idolatry of the nations which Israel had passed through and which surrounded them, and warned them not to allow any member of the congregation of Israel to practice idolatry, “lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit” (Deuteronomy 29:18).

No one should think he could be safe from God’s wrath while following his own stubborn will. Disobedience within the congregation will result in good people being swept away along with the sinful. The Lord will not allow the disobedient to go unpunished, and the curses of God’s Word upon his enemies will be fulfilled. Those who break the covenant of God’s Word will receive the calamities God’s Word warns against. Those who break God’s covenant will suffer God’s wrath and punishment, as did Sodom and Gomorrah, (and Admah and Zeboim; two other cities destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah).

God intended for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to be an example to the world of God’s judgment against wickedness. Israel was warned that they would suffer a similar fate if they broke their covenant with God and practiced idolatry, which God has forbidden. God warned that Israel would be driven from the Promised Land and would suffer the curses of God’s Word if they disobeyed God’s Word and worshiped other gods. God’s people are to trust God and leave to God’s divine wisdom things which are beyond human knowledge and understanding, but are to obey, and teach our children to obey, what God has revealed to us through his Word.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John described a vision in the sky of a woman “clothed with the sun” (Revelation 12:1), standing on the moon, crowned with a crown of twelve stars (the twelve tribes of Israel; also, the twelve Apostles). The woman was pregnant and cried out in labor pain. Another vision appeared: a great red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns. One third of the stars were swept to earth by his tail.

The dragon was poised to destroy the child once the woman had given birth. The woman gave birth to a male child, who is to rule all nations with an iron rod, but God snatched up the child to his throne in heaven, and the woman fled into the wilderness to a place God had prepared for her, where she is to be nourished for twelve hundred and sixty days.

John described a war in heaven, where Michael, the Archangel who is Israel’s guardian, fought the dragon (Satan) and Satan’s angels (i.e. demons), and defeated them. Satan and his angels were exiled to earth. A loud voice in heaven declared that “salvation, power and the kingdom of God and his Christ (Messiah; God’s anointed Savior and King) have come” and the accuser (Satan; Job 1:9-11) has been defeated. God’s people have conquered Satan “by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus, the “sacrificial Lamb” of Passover), and by the word of their testimony” (confessing Jesus as Lord, and proclaiming his gospel), willing to give up their worldly lives for the sake of the Gospel and the kingdom of God. Heaven and God’s kingdom rejoice, but the earth grieves in misery because Satan is plotting evil in anger, knowing that the time of his freedom and power is limited.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus returned from the region of Tyre and Sidon to the hills (on the northern shore) near the Sea of Galilee. Great crowds came to him bringing the lame, maimed, blind, mute, and many others and Jesus healed them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute “speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing” (Matthew 15:31) and they glorified God.

The crowd had been there for three days, and Jesus told his disciples that he wanted to feed the crowd because they had nothing to eat and Jesus didn’t want them sent away hungry, or they might faint on the way home. His disciples asked Jesus where they could get enough bread in the wilderness to feed such a large crowd. Jesus asked what bread the disciples had, and they told him they had seven loaves and several small fish.

Jesus had the crowd sit down, and he took the bread and fish and after he gave thanks to God, he broke the bread and fish into pieces and had the disciples distribute them to the crowd. All ate and were satisfied, and the disciples collected seven baskets of food left over. There had been about four thousand men, not counting women and children. Jesus dismissed the crowd and then got in a boat and went to Magadan (on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee).

Commentary:

God’s Word contains promises and warnings, blessings and curses. God is God whether we acknowledge him or not, but we will either trust and obey him or suffer the consequences. God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled repeatedly as the conditions for its fulfillment occur. God’s Word was fulfilled when Judah, the Southern Kingdom and remnant of Israel, was carried off by Nebuchadnezzar into exile in Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C. Israel was again driven into “exile” in 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and the state of Israel ceased to exist, until it was reestablished following World War II.

In one sense, America is the “New Israel,” the “New Promised Land” (on earth). The Church is also the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” God’s Word is a warning to America and to the Church not to tolerate disobedience of God’s Word and idolatry. Idolatry is any thing which conflicts with obedient trust in the Lord. Money, power, family, hedonism, nationalism, humanism, self-sufficiency are all prevalent idols.

The woman in John’s vision symbolizes Israel, through whom the “child,” the Messiah, Jesus, came. After the coming of Christ, the Church, is under the protection and providence of God in the spiritual wilderness of this world during the time after Satan was defeated by Jesus on the Cross, until Satan is restrained. [Revelation 20:1-3; Daniel 7:25, 12:7. Some believe that the twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months, or three and a half years, is the period of the “Great Tribulation,” before the “Rapture” of the Church. My personal conviction is that this is part of the “secret things (which) belong to the Lord our God;” Deuteronomy 29:29a. We should entrust those things to God (Acts 1:6-7) and focus on knowing and doing what he has revealed in his Word].

God’s people have overcome Satan by the blood of Jesus Christ, through his sacrificial death on the Cross, by their confession of faith (obedient trust) in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and by their testimony to Jesus and his Gospel, by word and deed, to the world. God’s grace (free gift; unmerited favor) of salvation in Jesus Christ must be claimed and received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s people receive salvation and eternal life by surrendering their worldly lives and their own will, in order to live for and serve the Lord, and God’s will.

Jesus is our healer of spiritual blindness, spiritual deafness, spiritual lameness, and spiritual muteness (Matthew 10:19-20), and the spiritually maimed, through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit which he gives to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). Jesus is our “bread of life (John 6:31-35, 48-51)” which God provides to nourish and sustain us in the spiritual wilderness of this life and give us eternal life in God’s kingdom.

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 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/12/05;

Podcast: Monday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 – Repentance and restoration;

2 Corinthians 10:1-18 – Paul’s defense of his ministry;

Luke 18:31-43 – The road to Jerusalem;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The Lord warned Israel that obedient trust in the Lord was the requirement for life in the Promised Land. The Lord promised to bless those who obeyed him and to punish rebellion and disobedience, and he foresaw that Israel would disobey and be exiled from the Promised Land.The Lord promised to restore Israel to the Promised Land when they acknowledged their disobedience and turned to the Lord with all their heart and soul, in obedient trust.

The Lord promised that he would gather them back to the Promised Land no matter how far they had been scattered, even from the ends of the universe. He will restore them to their land and will bless them and prosper them more than their forefathers. “And the Lord will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (eternally; Deuteronomy 30:6).

The Lord promised that it would be the enemy of God’s people who would receive the curses of God’s wrath and eternal punishment. God’s people will return to live in obedience to God’s commands, and God will prosper them in their work and their offspring and the fertility of their livestock and their land. The Lord will delight in blessing his people if they will obey the Lord and his Word with all their heart and soul.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul had apparently been accused of having boldness in his letters which he did not possess in person. Paul was replying that he was humbly imploring the Corinthians by letter so that he would not have to demonstrate his boldness in person to the Corinthians, as he was confident that he would demonstrate, to those who had accused him of living according to worldly ways.

Paul taught that although we are living in the world, we are not fighting a worldly war but a spiritual war, and our weapons are spiritual weapons with divine power to destroy spiritual opposition. The Christian “soldier” destroys every obstacle of human pride and every argument and resistance to the knowledge of God; we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).

The Church will punish the disobedient when the Church has grown to spiritual maturity and obedience to Christ. Let those who can recognize spiritual truth see; anyone who thinks he is in Christ should remember that the Apostles are in Christ and have been given authority so that the Church would be strengthened and built up, rather than wasting away and coming to destruction.

The Apostles will be not be put to shame (on the Day of Judgment). Paul doesn’t want to intimidate the Corinthians, by letters, which he cannot accomplish with his personal presence, as his critics have accused. Paul’s conduct in person is no different than what he proclaims by letter. Paul does not want to be categorized by those who commend themselves; the fact that they compare themselves against human rather than divine standards reveals that they have no true (spiritual) understanding.

Paul was committed to accept God’s judgment of his ministry. Paul was confident that he was not exaggerating his ministry as the first to reach the Corinthians with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he did not take unfair credit for the ministry of others (as Paul’s critics apparently did).

Paul’s hope was that the spiritual growth of the Corinthian congregation might enlarge Paul’s opportunity for evangelism among other Corinthians and Gentiles beyond them, without interfering with the work of others, and without conflict over who deserved the credit. It is not what humans think of themselves that counts, but what is approved by God.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told the Twelve (original disciples) that they were going to go to Jerusalem, and that every Biblical prophecy concerning the Son of man (Jesus’ name for himself, which allowed his hearers to reach their own conclusion as to who he was) would be fulfilled. For the fourth time (Luke 9:22; 44-45; 17:25; 18:31-33), according to Luke, Jesus foretold his suffering and crucifixion, telling his disciples that he would be turned over to the Gentile authorities, mocked, spat upon and treated shamefully, flogged and killed, and that he would rise again on the third day. But his disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying.

As they approached Jericho (about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem) they passed a blind beggar sitting along the road. He heard the multitude passing and asked what was happening. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, the blind man called out addressing Jesus as the Son of David (the Messianic heir and eternal king of the line of David), and asking Jesus to have mercy on him.

People preceding Jesus told the man to be quiet, but he called out even louder. Jesus stopped and asked for the man to be brought to him, and then asked the man what he wanted Jesus to do for him. The man addressed Jesus as Lord, and asked to regain his sight. Jesus commanded the man’s sight to be restored and his blindness was healed instantly. The man joined the multitude following Jesus, glorifying God, and the multitude also praised God for the miracle they had witnessed.

Commentary:

Obedient trust is the requirement for eternal life in God’s kingdom. God will reward obedient trust and will punish rebellion and disobedience. God foresaw Israel’s disobedience and prophesied that Israel would be exiled from the Promised Land until they learned to repent and return to the Lord in obedient trust. The Lord promised that when they repented and turned to him in obedient trust he would restore them to the Promised Land and would delight in blessing them.

God’s Word is eternally true and is fulfilled repeatedly as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Judah, the remnant of Israel, was driven into exile in Babylon from 587 to 517 BC because of their idolatry and disobedience to God’s Word and God’s prophets. The Lord did restore them to the Promised Land as he had promised, when they repented and returned to the Lord in obedient trust.

But Israel forgot the lesson they should have learned in exile in Babylon, and refused to trust and obey Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah and eternal King, the heir to David’s throne. The result was that they were again exiled from the Promised Land, and only began to return following World War II.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also intended to be a parable and metaphor for life in this world, written down for our instruction so that we might avoid making the same mistakes (1 Corinthians 10:11). God’s prophetic warning applies to America, the “New Promised Land” and “New Israel,” (nation of God’s people), and also to the Church, which is the “New People of God” and the “New Jerusalem” the “New City of God” on earth.

Paul (formerly “Saul”) is the example of a modern, “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, who did not know Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 9:1-20; he was also the Lord’s apparent choice as the Apostle to replace Judas, who betrayed the Lord). Paul was carrying out Christ’s commission to his disciples to make disciples and teach them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20).

Paul was falsely accused of “not practicing what he preached.” Paul was personally enduring suffering to preserve and pass on the scriptural (as recorded in the Bible) Apostolic Gospel (as learned by the Apostles, including Paul, in personal fellowship with, and designation as apostles by Jesus). Paul’s goal was to disciple Christians to spiritual maturity through obedience to Jesus and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17).

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Deuteronomy to circumcise the hearts of his people and their offspring, so that they can love the Lord with all their heart and soul, and have eternal life with him (Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 8:9b-13) Paul’s conviction was that the Church would discipline and punish the disobedient among its members when the Church had grown to spiritual maturity and accepted Apostolic authority.

The Church is engaged in spiritual warfare; the “enemy” is human pride, argument and resistance to the knowledge of God. The objective is to achieve obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Anyone who claims to have spiritual sight should recognize the truth and authority of the scriptural Apostolic Gospel. The way to multiply and strengthen the Church is to uphold that Apostolic truth and authority.

Those who use any other standard than the divine standard of that truth and authority demonstrate their spiritual ignorance. Authentic Christians don’t seek personal glory, they don’t interfere or compete with the ministry of others and don’t argue over who deserves the credit. Their goal is God’s approval and the strength and health of Christ’s Church.

Jesus’ disciples didn’t have spiritual maturity and spiritual understanding until they had personally experienced Jesus’ Resurrection and had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45, 49). Paul didn’t have spiritual maturity and understanding until he encountered the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus, repented, trusted and obeyed Jesus, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-20).

The beggar along the road to Jerusalem was physically blind, but spiritually sighted. The people following Jesus had not decided that Jesus was more than “Jesus of Nazareth” [regarded as an obscure village in a province far from the political and spiritual capital of Israel (John 1:46; 7:52)]. But the blind man cried out in faith, acknowledging Jesus as the Son of David, God’s anointed Savior and eternal King of Israel, and the blind man acknowledged Jesus as his Lord, trusting that Jesus was able to heal his blindness. His healing made it possible for him to follow Jesus and he used it for that purpose.

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 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/13/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 – Choose life or death;

2 Corinthians 11:1-21a – Paul’s response to critics;

Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus the tax collector;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The covenant with God is not beyond the ability of Israel (God’s people) to understand and obey. The Word of God is near to them, in their very mouth and heart. The Lord sets before them a choice between (eternal) life and death; between good and evil. If Israel obeys God’s Word the Lord will bless and prosper them and give them long life in the Promised Land. But if they turn away from serving the Lord and refuse to hear his Word, turning away to worship and serve other gods, the Lord promises that they will perish (die eternally). God’s Word contains both blessings and curses and a choice between (eternal) life and (eternal) death. Choosing to love, obey, worship and serve God rather than practicing idolatry (worshiping or serving any other thing or person than the Lord) results in long life in the Promised Land.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul regards the Church as the bride of Christ, and himself as the friend of the groom who has arranged the betrothal, so he is naturally concerned for the bride’s purity and faithfulness. Paul is concerned that the Church not be led astray, like Eve was deceived by the serpent (Genesis 3:1-6), from sincere and faithful devotion to Christ. The Church must be careful not to be led astray by those preaching another Jesus, or a different Spirit, or “another gospel” (compare Galatians 1:6-9) than the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) Apostolic (as taught by the Apostles, including Paul) Gospel of Jesus Christ (which the Apostles, including Paul, learned by discipleship to Jesus and were commissioned by Christ to proclaim). Paul had been criticized by others as unskilled in speaking, but Paul had demonstrated that his knowledge was not deficient.

Paul’s ministry was belittled by some because Paul had made his ministry free of cost to the Corinthians (Paul had supported himself as a tent-maker; Acts18:1-4; Thessalonians 3:7-12; Only the Philippian congregation had voluntarily contributed to his financial support: Philippians 4:14-17). Paul felt like a robber (an exaggeration to make a point) in taking money from the Philippian Christians in order to minister to the Corinthians.

Paul had been accompanied to Corinth by some Macedonian Christians (from Philippi, which was the capital of the province of Macedonia), who provided for Paul’s support in Corinth, so that the Corinthians would not be burdened. Paul was pleased to let it be known throughout Achaia (a territory of Greece, of which Corinth was a city) that he had preached the gospel free of cost because Paul knew the truth of the Gospel of Christ and loved and cared for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians.

Paul was determined to continue to preach the gospel without charge, so that it could be clearly seen that he was not doing it for money, in contrast to false apostles, who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. Satan attempts to deceive people by appearing to be an angel of light, so it isn’t surprising that the servants of Satan would disguise their real motives by adopting the outward appearance of righteousness. They will receive God’s judgment according to their deeds.

Paul was not really boastful and did not seek his own glory, but he wanted to make a point. He was willing to appear foolish to Corinthians who thought they were wise. Those “wise” Corinthians were being deceived by false apostles acting as though they possessed great wisdom in order to enslave and take advantage of the deceived. Paul was glad to acknowledge that he was too “weak” to indulge in that kind of “strength.”

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was heading for Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-34). As he was passing through Jericho, a few miles from Jerusalem, Zacchaeus, a tax collector (a collaborator who had become rich collecting Roman taxes from his fellow Jews), wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed into a tree to see better. As he came to the tree, Jesus called him by name and told Zacchaeus that he needed to stay at Zacchaeus’ house.

Zacchaeus was glad to have Jesus as his guest. The crowd criticized Jesus for associating with a man they regarded as a sinner. Zacchaeus called Jesus “Lord” and vowed to give half of all his possessions and wealth to the poor, and promised to restore four times whatever he had defrauded anyone. Jesus declared that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house that day, “since he also is a son of Abraham.” Jesus declared that his mission was to seek and save the (spiritually) lost.

Commentary:

God’s purpose has always been, from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of God’s people who willingly trust and obey him. This Creation was designed from the very beginning to accomplish that purpose. This life is our opportunity to seek and find God, who is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27). Sin is anything other than obedient trust in the Lord. Idolatry is worshiping and serving anyone or anything other than the Lord.

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). God gave us free will when he designed Creation and God knew that we would all be sinful by nature. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sins and restoration to fellowship and eternal life with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Creation was designed with Jesus Christ “built into it” from the very beginning (John 1:1-5:14).

This lifetime is a selection process for eternal life in God’s kingdom, and God has given us a choice. We are all created as eternal beings (John 5:28-29). We can choose to love, obey, worship and serve the Lord in paradise in his eternal kingdom, or we can reject his offer, but the consequence of rejection is eternal death separated eternally from God’s love and providence and everything good.

God has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that he is loving and righteous and that his will is our very best interest. He has given us his Word to guide us. He wants us to find him so that he can reveal himself to us and show us his love and goodness, but he won’t force himself upon us.

Paul and all genuine Christian evangelists are “friends of the groom” Jesus Christ (they have personal fellowship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit), who are trying to arrange the “betrothal” of their hearers to Jesus Christ. Seekers and new believers are vulnerable to false apostles, “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). There are many false prophets and false doctrines in the world and in the Church today, which began in the first-century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. There are many examples of false apostles who appear to be righteous, for whom ministry is a “career choice” or a way to manipulate and have power over people.

Ministers of the Gospel deserve the financial support of their congregations, but they need to be genuine “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ commissioned and empowered by his Holy Spirit for ministry. There are many false doctrines being proclaimed in so-called “churches,” preaching a different “Jesus” than the Biblical Jesus, another “Spirit” than the Biblical Holy Spirit, another book or “another gospel” than the Biblical Apostolic Gospel recorded in the New Testament.

Since this whole earthly life is about learning to choose right from wrong we should read, know and apply God’s Word so that we have some sound basis for discerning the right choice. Satan knows God’s Word and quoted it to Jesus, the Son of God and the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:14), to try and lead Jesus astray. Jesus demonstrated that the only defense against Satan is knowledge of God’s Word (Matthew 4:4-11).

This life is our only opportunity to seek and come to personal knowledge of, and fellowship with, God through faith in Jesus Christ, who is God’s revelation of himself in human flesh to the world, through whom we come to know the love, goodness, faithfulness and power of God. As we learn to trust and obey Jesus we receive the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), who is the fullest revelation of God the Father and the risen Jesus to us personally and individually.

Jesus is near to us. If we make an effort to see him in the Bible scriptures, we can hear him calling us to have fellowship with him, and as we respond to his call by beginning to apply his teachings in our lives, he will reveal himself and come into personal fellowship with us through his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21, 23; Revelation 3:20). When we respond to Jesus in obedient trust we enter God’s eternal kingdom (1 John 5:11-12). The gift of 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).

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 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/14/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:14 – The song of Moses;

2 Corinthians 11:21b-33 – Paul’s suffering;

Luke 19:11-27 – Parable of the pounds;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The Lord is great; he is the Rock (solid; dependable); his work is perfect and he is just in all his doings. He is faithful, just and righteous. Israel (and mankind) has dealt corruptly with the Lord; they are no longer his children because of their sin. “They are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deuteronomy 32:5). Are they so foolish and ignorant as to treat the Lord that way? Do they not realize that he is their father and creator?

Remember the days of old; let them ask their elders. The Lord rules over the allotment and boundaries of nations, but he has chosen Israel as his own people. The Lord found Israel in the wilderness and protected and provided for them, and tended them like an Eagle cares for its young. The Lord alone led them; not some foreign idol. He lifted Israel up to the high places of earth and fed him with the produce of the field. The Lord gave them honey and oil from the rock, and provided the finest food from their herds, vineyards and fields.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul (formerly called “Saul”) was not boastful or advocating boasting, but making the point that if he were inclined to boast he would have more reason for boasting than his critics, who had been boasting of themselves in comparison to Paul. Paul was as much a Jew by birth and by training as his adversaries, and had worked harder and suffered more to proclaim the Gospel than they had.

Paul had been imprisoned, beaten, whipped, and stoned. In his missionary travels, he had been in danger on rivers and had been shipwrecked on the sea. He had been in danger in the wilderness and also in cities. He had been persecuted by Jews, Gentiles, and false Christians. He had endured sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure. Added to this was the stress and worry for the churches under his supervision. When any believer under Paul’s responsibility stumbled (spiritually) Paul suffered because of his concern for him (or her).

Paul had empathy for those who are weak, because Paul knew and acknowledged his own weakness. If Paul boasted of anything he would boast of his weakness (so that the Lord’s power might be evident in him). The fact that Paul escaped all these perils illustrates the Lord’s power to deliver him, like the time he escaped from the power of the government at Damascus by being lowered in a basket from a window in the city wall (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; compare Acts 9:23-25).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew he would be crucified. (Luke 18:31-34). As they drew near Jesus told his disciples a parable “because they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). A nobleman went to a distant land to receive kingly power and then return (to reign over his own land). He called his servants and gave them each an identical amount of money (a “pound;” a “talent;” compare Matthew 25:14-30) and told them to invest and trade with the money until his return.

The nobleman’s citizens hated him and sent a delegation to try and thwart the nobleman’s appointment as king, saying that they didn’t want the nobleman to reign over them. When the nobleman returned, having received his kingly authority, he called his servants to account for the money he had given them to invest. One servant had used the pound to make ten more pounds. The king commended the servant for doing well, and gave him authority over ten cities. Another servant had made five pounds, and was commended and given authority over five cities. One servant had buried his master’s pound because he was afraid of his master and believed that his master possessed what the master hadn’t earned or deserved. The master condemned the unfaithful servant, saying that the servant should have at least put the pound in the bank where it would be safe and would earn interest.

The king took the pound from the unfaithful servant and gave it to the servant who had gained the ten pounds. Some were surprised and criticized the king for giving it to the servant who had the most. But the king replied that to those who have, more will be given; but to those who have not, even what they have will be taken away. Then the king commanded that the enemies of his kingdom who didn’t want the nobleman to reign over them be brought and executed in the king’s presence.

Commentary:

In one sense we are all God’s people, because he is our Creator, and we have been disowned, separated from God, because of sin. We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of his righteousness (Romans 3:23). In another sense Israel was the chosen people of God, whom God brought out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, but who repeatedly disobeyed God’s Word and went astray, worshiping and serving idols.

God’s Word is a warning to “Christian” nations today, particularly America, the “New Israel,” the “New Promised Land,” and also to the Church, which is the “New People of God.” Are we dealing corruptly with the Lord? Are we a crooked and perverse generation? Have we as Church and Nation forgotten what God taught our ancestors and our elders in the “wilderness?” Have we forgotten the care, providence and protection of God for us in the past?

Jesus is the fulfillment and manifestation in flesh of God, the Rock. Jesus is the only solid Rock on which to build, by obedient trust in him, a life that will last for eternity (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus is the Rock who provides the spiritual water of life in the wilderness of this world (1 Corinthians 10:4b; Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:7-11; John 4:10-14; John 7:37-39).

The confession that Jesus is the Christ, God’s anointed Savior and eternal King, is the Rock on which his Church is built. (Matthew 16:16-18). Jesus is the Rock of salvation (Acts 4:11-12). Jesus is also the Rock which will cause people to stumble and be destroyed by unbelief and disobedience (Matthew 21:42-44; Romans 9:31-33; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Isaiah 28:16, 8:14-15).

Paul is the example and prototype of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ. The Lord gave Paul forgiveness and salvation from eternal punishment and spiritual death through Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-20), and from that moment Paul began investing that gift for maximum yield and benefit for God’s kingdom.

Paul wasn’t seeking his own profit or recognition. Paul was willing to be humble and to admit his own weakness so that the Lord’s power working in and through him could be seen and glorified. He was willing take personal risk and to endure hardship to benefit God’s kingdom, and so that others could also share the gift and the work of God’s kingdom.

The parable of the pounds is the spiritual reality of this life. We are the citizens of this world, and Jesus is the nobleman who has gone to the distant land of God’s kingdom in heaven, where he has received his kingly authority (Matthew 28:18). Some of the citizens of this world have refused to accept Jesus’ kingly authority over them. Those who have accepted Jesus’ kingly authority are his servants.

The Lord has given all the citizens of this world the gift of forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal destruction, on the condition that they trust and obey Jesus as their Lord and King (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the gift which they are to invest by applying the Gospel in their lives, and by sharing the Gospel with others to produce a “profit” for Christ’s kingdom.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Jesus will return in the glory and power of his eternal kingship. We will all be accountable to him for the gift God has given us. He will reward his servants in proportion to what they have done with the gift they have been given, and he will destroy those who have refused to trust and obey him (Matthew 25:31-46). Are you the Lord’s servant? What kind of servant 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)?

Thursday 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/15/05;

Podcast: Thursday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Ecclesiasticus 44:19-45:5    –   Abraham and Moses;

Song of Solomon 1:1-3, 9-11, 15-16a; 2:1-3a   –    Song of Songs;

2 Corinthians 12:1-10    –    Strength in Weakness;

Luke 19:28-40   –   Entry into Jerusalem;

Eccleiasticus (The Book of Sirach, or Ben Sira*) Text:

“Ecclesiasticus 44:19 Abraham was a great father of many people: in glory was there none like unto him;

Ecclesiasticus 44:20 Who kept the law of the most High, and was in covenant with him: he established the covenant in his flesh; and when he was proved, he was found faithful.

Ecclesiasticus 44:21 Therefore he assured him by an oath, that he would bless the nations in his seed, and that he would multiply him as the dust of the earth, and exalt his seed as the stars, and cause them to inherit from sea to sea, and from the river unto the utmost part of the land.

Ecclesiasticus 44:22 With Isaac did he establish likewise for Abraham his father’s sake the blessing of all men, and the covenant, And made it rest upon the head of Jacob. He acknowledged him in his blessing, and gave him an heritage, and divided his portions; among the twelve tribes did he part them.

Ecclesiasticus 45:1 And he brought out of him a merciful man, which found favour in the sight of all flesh, even Moses, beloved of God and men, whose memorial is blessed.

Ecclesiasticus 45:2 He made him like to the glorious saints, and magnified him, so that his enemies stood in fear of him.

Ecclesiasticus 45:3 By his words he caused the wonders to cease, and he made him glorious in the sight of kings, and gave him a commandment for his people, and shewed him part of his glory.

Ecclesiasticus 45:4 He sanctified him in his faithfuless and meekness, and chose him out of all men.

Ecclesiasticus 45:5 He made him to hear his voice, and brought him into the dark cloud, and gave him commandments before his face, even the law of life and knowledge, that he might teach Jacob his covenants, and Israel his judgments.”

Eccleiasticus Paraphrase:

Abraham was a great father of many people; no one (among men) compares to his greatness. He obeyed God’s Word and was faithful to God’s covenant. When tested he was found to be faithful. God promised to bless his descendants and make from them a great nation beyond counting, and promised to give them the Promised Land for an inheritance. God renewed his covenant and blessing with Isaac and Isaac passed it on to his son Jacob, and divided the inheritance of the blessing and land among the twelve tribes.

From the descendants of Abraham God brought forth Moses, who was highly regarded and beloved by God and by all people. God magnified Moses in peoples’ eyes so that his enemies would fear him. God gave Moses power to work wonders, exalted him among kings, gave him the commandments, and revealed a portion of his glory to Moses. God sanctified (purified and set apart for God’s service) Moses in Moses’ faithfulness and meekness, and chose him from all people (to be leader and mediator between God and God’s people). God allowed Moses to hear God’s voice, allowed Moses to enter into (God’s presence in) the cloud (on Mount Sinai) , gave Moses God’s commandments, the laws of life and knowledge, face to face, so that Moses could teach the descendants of Jacob (Israel) his covenants and judgments.

Song of Solomon Paraphrase:

The love of the King is better than wine or fragrant anointing oil; his “name is oil poured out.” His bride is beautiful and the King will adorn her with finest jewels and gold and silver ornaments. She is truly beautiful and beloved. The King is a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley, and his bride is a lily among thorns and an apple tree bearing sweet fruit among a forest (of unfruitful trees).

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was not boastful nor was he advocating boasting, but was responding to critics who had been building themselves up by criticizing Paul. Paul described a vision of highest heaven which he had fourteen years prior (although he shared it “anonymously”). In that vision Paul heard (secret) things he either could not or was forbidden to share. Paul chose to boast of nothing of himself except his weaknesses, although he had plenty of reasons to boast if he chose. He was content to let people form their own opinion of him from what he said and did.

Paul mentioned a “thorn in the flesh” (a physical or emotional irritant) given him to keep him from becoming too proud of the revelations he had been given. Paul had prayed three times for its removal, but the Lord had told him that the Lord’s grace would help Paul endure it and that the Lord’s power is revealed through human weakness. So Paul would gladly admit his weaknesses so that he could experience and reveal Christ’s power in himself. For the sake of Christ, Paul was able to be “content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When Paul was weak he experienced and learned to rely on Christ’s strength.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was going to Jerusalem where he knew that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-33). When Jesus and his disciples and followers came to Bethphage (on the outskirts of Jerusalem) and Bethany (about two miles from Jerusalem, on the slope of the Mount of Olives) Jesus sent two of his disciples into the village where they would find a young donkey which had never been ridden. Jesus told them to untie and bring the donkey, and if anyone questioned them they were to say that the Lord needed it.

The two disciples found it exactly as Jesus had said; they were questioned, and they answered as Jesus had told them, and they returned with the donkey. They placed their garments on the donkey and Jesus sat on it. Others put their garments on the road for the Lord to ride over. As he drew near to Jerusalem, descending from the Mount of Olives, the disciples and the whole multitude of followers began to rejoice and praise God, saying “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some Pharisees (legalistic religious leaders) among the crowd told Jesus to rebuke his disciples, but Jesus replied that if people were silent the rocks would cry out.

Commentary:

Abraham and Moses are both examples of the kind of person God can use to accomplish God’s purpose. Both humbly trusted and obeyed the Lord. Neither sought their own greatness. Abraham is also an illustration of God the Father who passes on his blessing and inheritance to his children who keep God’s covenant by obedient trust. Abraham is the father not just of the Jews but of all Christians who trust and obey the Lord as Abraham did (Romans 4:16-17).

Moses is a forerunner and illustration of Christ; Jesus is our mediator between God and his people. Jesus is our leader who leads us through the wilderness of this life and into the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom. It is through Jesus by his indwelling Holy Spirit that we enter into God’s presence, hear God’s voice, understand God’s Word, know God’s will, and learn the laws of life and divine  knowledge (in contrast to what the world falsely calls knowledge; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 2:6-7).

The Song of Songs is a love song of a king and his bride. It can be understood as describing the love between the Lord and his “bride” the Church. Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), God’s anointed King of God’s eternal kingdom. The anointing was done with oil, so his name is literally the equivalent of “oil poured out” and the fulfillment of God’s Word .

The love of the King is illustrated and demonstrated in God’s Word and experienced in the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, which is an “anointing.” I and all “born-again” Christian disciples can testify that the Lord’s love is far better than any worldly approval, honor, anointing with the most fragrant oil, or the “high” one gets from alcohol. It’s the Lord’s approval and the anointing with his Holy Spirit that we should be seeking.

Jesus is the Rose of Sharon; the Lily of the Valley (Song of Solomon 2:1); the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s people beholding the glory and majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 35:1-2; the “rose” of Sharon is a crocus, or a lily). The Lord loves his “bride,” the true Church, “the body of Christ,” but not every Church and every person that calls themselves “Christian” is part of the true Church. It is the true Church that is “beautiful” in their love of and in obedient trust in the Lord, who produces good fruit, and whom the King will bless with spiritual riches.

Paul is an example of the modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple and Apostle (a messenger of the Gospel). He was obedient and faithful to the Lord. He wasn’t seeking his own glory, material wealth or worldly power. He did not allow himself to become prideful because of his spiritual vision, knowledge and insight. He was humble and willing to suffer physically and emotionally for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul accepted the Lord’s discipline. He learned from experience to trust and rely on the Lord’s power and providence. He admitted his weakness and acknowledged and gave the Lord glory for whatever was accomplished through Paul. Paul experienced personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord and experienced the Lord’s love and power through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul applied Jesus’ teaching and example in his own life.

Jesus, the Son of God, God’s anointed Savior and King of God’s eternal kingdom, in whom the complete deity of God dwelt bodily (Colossians 2:8-9), willingly entered Jerusalem, the “city of God,” on a young donkey, knowing that he would be crucified. His followers acknowledged and proclaimed him God’s anointed King and Lord. They gave him a “red carpet” welcome. Jesus didn’t come with great demonstration of power and glory; he came humbly, not in the horse-drawn chariot of a king, but on the back of a donkey. He didn’t expect or seek his own worldly praise and recognition, but he would not rebuke his disciples who recognized and acknowledged him.

Jesus is coming again. This time he will come with tremendous supernatural power and glory. Do you realize who 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)?


*One of the Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible, known as the Apocrypha. Quoted above, since not all Bible editions contain Apocrypha:

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Ecclesiasticus-Chapter-1/


Friday 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 

Podcast: Friday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Ecclesiasticus 45:6-16*   –   Aaron’s priesthood; Song of Solomon 2:8-13; 4:1-4a, 5-7, 9-11    –   The lover comes in the spring; 2 Corinthians 12:11-21    –    Paul’s approaching visit; Luke 19:41-48   –   Cleansing the temple;

Ecclesiasticus Text:

“Ecclesiasticus 45:6 He exalted Aaron, an holy man like unto him, even his brother, of the tribe of Levi.

Ecclesiasticus 45:7 An everlasting covenant he made with him and gave him the priesthood among the people; he beautified him with comely ornaments, and clothed him with a robe of glory.

Ecclesiasticus 45:8 He put upon him perfect glory; and strengthened him with rich garments, with breeches, with a long robe, and the ephod.

Ecclesiasticus 45:9 And he compassed him with pomegranates, and with many golden bells round about, that as he went there might be a sound, and a noise made that might be heard in the temple, for a memorial to the children of his people;

Ecclesiasticus 45:10 With an holy garment, with gold, and blue silk, and purple, the work of the embroidere, with a breastplate of judgment, and with Urim and Thummim;

Ecclesiasticus 45:11 With twisted scarlet, the work of the cunning workman, with precious stones graven like seals, and set in gold, the work of the jeweller, with a writing engraved for a memorial, after the number of the tribes of Israel.

Ecclesiasticus 45:12 He set a crown of gold upon the mitre, wherein was engraved Holiness, an ornament of honour, a costly work, the desires of the eyes, goodly and beautiful.

Ecclesiasticus 45:13 Before him there were none such, neither did ever any stranger put them on, but only his children and his children’s children perpetually.

Ecclesiasticus 45:14 Their sacrifices shall be wholly consumed every day twice continually.

Ecclesiasticus 45:15 Moses consecrated him, and anointed him with holy oil: this was appointed unto him by an everlasting covenant, and to his seed, so long as the heavens should remain, that they should minister unto him, and execute the office of the priesthood, and bless the people in his name.

Ecclesiasticus 45:16 He chose him out of all men living to offer sacrifices to the Lord, incense, and a sweet savour, for a memorial, to make reconciliation for his people.”

Ecclesiasticus Paraphrase:

God blessed Aaron and gave him the priesthood which was to be passed on to his descendants. God put his perfect glory upon Aaron and strengthened him with a robe of glory. Moses consecrated Aaron and anointed him with holy oil. God chose him out of all people to offer sacrifice to the Lord, to make reconciliation for his people.

Song of Solomon Paraphrase

[The Song of Solomon can be understood as a love song of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his bride, the Church.]

The Lord’s coming draws near; his voice can be heard. He calls to his beloved to arise and come to the Lord and come away with him. The winter is past and the signs of spring can be seen throughout nature. His bride is beautiful and without flaw. The Lord loves her and desires her love above all.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

In all his words and actions Paul was worthy of commendation by the Corinthian church, but instead had been forced to defend his conduct. He had been criticized by (false) apostles within the congregation who were seeking their own glory. The fact that Paul wasn’t seeking personal recognition or using his ministry for financial gain didn’t make his ministry and divine commission inferior to his critics. In the congregation Paul had demonstrated his authentic apostleship and his “anointing” by the Holy Spirit. Paul had dealt no less fairly with the Corinthians than any other church. In fact he had been more generous with them because he had not required their financial support of his ministry.

Paul was prepared to visit the congregation again, and he was seeking their spiritual wellbeing rather than any material benefit for himself. Paul regarded them as his spiritual children and, like a good parent, wants to provide for them rather than expecting them to provide for him. Paul was happy to give himself and his resources for their spiritual nurture. Would the congregation love Paul less as Paul’s love for them increased? Was Paul’s generosity a crafty scheme to take advantage of them? When Paul sent Titus and his fellow missionary to them they had behaved exactly like Paul and no one was claiming that Titus and his co-worker had taken advantage of the Corinthians (as they apparently had done to Paul).

The purpose of Paul’s letter was not to defend himself to the Corinthians, but to help them grow spiritually. God’s judgment of Paul’s ministry is the only judgment that matters. Paul worried that when he came to Corinth he might find problems in the congregation and the congregation might be unhappy with Paul. Paul wanted to avoid quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit and disorder within the congregation. Paul didn’t want to be embarrassed in the presence of the congregation and be grieved “by many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, immorality and licentiousness which they have practiced” (2 Corinthians 12:21).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-34). When Jesus approached and saw the city he wept over it, saying “Would that even today you knew the things that make for Peace! But now they are hid from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (fulfilled by the Romans in 70 A.D.), and declared that it would happen because Israel had not recognized and accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus entered the temple and drove out the merchants who conducted business (those who sold animals for sacrifice and exchanged Roman coins for Jewish coins required for use in the temple), declaring that they had made what God designated a house of prayer into a den of robbers (Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11).

Jesus taught in the temple daily. “The chief priests and the scribes (teachers of Jewish law) and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words” (Luke 19:48).

Commentary:

Aaron is a forerunner and illustration of the Christ who was to come. Aaron’s priesthood was to be replaced by a better, eternal high priest, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one and only Messiah (Christ; meaning “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek respectively). Jesus is the only one who could and did offer a sacrifice, on the Cross, once for all people and all time, to make reconciliation for his people (all who trust and obey Jesus). God put his perfect glory upon Jesus and strengthened him with the robe of glory (through his Holy Spirit; Luke 3:21-22; Colossians 2:8-9).

Jesus passes on that priesthood to his spiritual children, not that they replace or become equal to Jesus, but serving under him and carrying on his ministry. The gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17) is the anointing of the perfect glory of God and the “robe of glory” who strengthens his disciples and enables them to carry on Christ’s ministry of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God.

The King is coming! The Lord Jesus Christ has promised to return for his bride, the Church, on the Day of Judgment. (John 14:3; Acts 1:10-11). Like we can tell when winter is over and spring is coming, we can see spiritual indications all around us that his return is drawing near. The Lord loves his bride, the Church, and desires her love for him. Jesus calls his beloved to arise and come to the Lord spiritually through obedient trust and spiritual growth, so that she is prepared to come away with the Lord. When Jesus returns will he find her beautiful and flawless?

Paul had promised to return to his Corinthian Church, and as his visit drew near he was trying to prepare the Church for his coming, so that his visit would not be an occasion for embarrassment and mourning. Paul was an authentic Apostle (messenger; of the Gospel), who testified to, and demonstrated his “anointing” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He wasn’t in it for the money, for worldly acclaim, to manipulate people, or to please himself. Paul was seeking their spiritual growth and wellbeing.

Paul is an example of the inheritance of Jesus’ eternal priesthood by the spiritual children of Christ, and Paul’s fatherly concern for his spiritual children at Corinth emulates Christ’s concern for his Church. Paul is the example of what Church leaders should be, in contrast to the leaders of Judaism at the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. Paul was an authentic “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, and the Church at Corinth should have been able to recognize that from Paul’s words and actions.

Paul was worried that he would be embarrassed and grieved at his visit by finding a considerable number of members of the Corinthian congregation who were unrepentant and continuing to practice sinful behavior.

Jesus mourned over Jerusalem, “the city of God,” knowing that they were unprepared for his coming. Jesus knew that their city and temple would be destroyed because they had not recognized and accepted Jesus as the Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and King. When Jesus entered the city he went to the temple and began driving out those who were violating God’s Word and using religion for their personal profit. The reason that the temple was full of disobedient, unrepentant sinners was because there was tremendous corruption in the religious leaders.

How are we doing, Church? Are we ready for Jesus’ return? Do we tolerate unrepentant sinful behavior like impurity, immorality and licentiousness within our congregations? Are there quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit and disorder within our congregations?  Do we tolerate false apostles? Do we choose preachers who preach only what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?

Are we pursuing spiritual growth and the “anointing of the Holy Spirit?” Are we using religion for financial or political gain? Has religion become a “business?” Are we carrying on Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness, reconciliation and discipleship by his call and empowerment by the Holy Spirit?  Are we returning Christ’s love for us with indifference or anger? When Jesus returns, will he find his bride beautiful and without blemish, or will he mourn and be forced to drive out the wicked?

Are you 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)?


*One of the Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible, known as the Apocrypha. Quoted above, since not all Bible editions contain Apocrypha:

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Ecclesiasticus-Chapter-1/


Saturday 4 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/17/05;

Podcast: Saturday 4 Pentecost – Odd

Song of Solomon 5:10-16; 7:1-7a (9); 8:6-7 – The king and his bride;

2 Corinthians 13:1-14 – Paul’s impending visit;

Luke 20:1-8 – Jesus’ authority;

Song of Solomon Paraphrase:

[The Song of Solomon can be understood as a love song of the lover (the king; Jesus Christ) and his bride (the Church).]

The bride’s lover is the “fairest of ten thousand.” His words are sweet and he is completely desirable. He is the bride’s beloved and her friend. The bride is queenly and virginal. She is fair and pleasant. She is beloved and pleasing to her lover. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as (or stronger than) death, jealousy is cruel as the grave” (Song of Solomon 8:6). The fire of jealousy is an unquenchable flame. Love cannot be quenched or drowned, and love is worth more than any amount of material wealth.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was planning a third visit to the Corinthian Church. Paul’s previous visit had been “painful” because he had to discipline members for sinful and unacceptable behavior (such as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21), and had warned them that he would deal harshly with members if he found them continuing such behavior. But accusations would have to meet the standards of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 19:15), requiring two or three witnesses to substantiate the charges. Apparently some of the congregation had challenged Paul’s “anointing” (with the Holy Spirit) and authority that Christ was speaking through Paul. Christ died in weakness but rose in power, and Paul shared similar human weakness, but Christ worked with divine power through Paul.

Paul urged the Corinthian Christians to examine and test themselves to be certain that they are holding to the true faith (the Apostolic Gospel which Paul had taught them and is recorded in the New Testament). They should know with certainty if they have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). If they have been “born-again” they should be able to recognize Paul’s “anointing.”

Paul prayed that the Corinthian Christians would not do wrong, not so that Paul’s authority and reputation would be enhanced, but for their own spiritual welfare. Paul would be willing to sacrifice his own status if it would help the Corinthians grow to spiritual maturity. But Paul couldn’t sacrifice truth to make the Corinthians look good or feel good. God is truth and Christians can’t work against truth. Paul would be glad to be weak so that the Corinthians could become strong through Christ’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9) within them. Paul prayed for their spiritual growth.

Paul hoped that, by writing in advance of his visit, he could avoid using his apostolic authority to severely discipline the congregation in person, hoping to use that authority to spiritually build up the congregation, as the Lord intended, rather than for tearing down. In closing Paul urged the congregation to do what Paul urged, to amend their ways and to live in peace with one another “and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11b). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, knowing that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-34). Jesus was teaching and preaching the gospel daily in the temple, and one day the religious leaders demanded to know by whose authority Jesus was teaching and preaching (and healing; Matthew 21:14-15). Jesus replied by asking the religious authorities whether the baptism (authority) of John was from heaven or from men.

The authorities discussed the question among themselves, realizing that if they acknowledged John’s heavenly authority they were admitting their guilt of sin for not accepting John’s call for repentance. On the other hand, if they denied John’s heavenly authority the people would rebel against the leaders’ authority. So they decided to say they didn’t know. Then Jesus told the leaders that he wouldn’t answer their question either.

Commentary:

Jesus Christ loves his Church and his true and faithful Church loves and desires him. His words are sweet and his will for his Church and people is most desirable and in their very best interest. Jesus is more beautiful and desirable than any other person or thing. Jesus’ is a true friend, whose friendship exceeds any other. The Church is to be “queenly,” to act nobly, and virginal, not tolerating sin, immorality or infidelity.

The Church is sealed in Christ by the gift and “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit within each member. It is the Holy Spirit who is the seal upon our hearts. 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).

Love is stronger than death because love is eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13). But the Lord will not tolerate any rival for his love and affections (i.e., idolatry; Exodus 20:2-6). Disobedience and idolatry will be punished by eternal fire in Hell (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Those who truly love Jesus will trust and obey him (John 14:21, 23).

Paul is the example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. His authority and commission were from the Lord through his “anointing” with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and he was using the authority he had been given to build and strengthen the church by rebuking and disciplining members for sin and wrongdoing. He was not using that authority to build himself up or for any personal or worldly benefit.

Paul knew and wanted his congregations to know that no one who is unwilling to hear the truth, though painful, can come to the Lord. Paul was speaking the truth in love, so that his congregation could receive the spiritual blessings the Lord has promised to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus.

Paul asked his congregation to examine and test themselves honestly against the standard of God’s Word, so that they would not drift away from the sound doctrine and gospel taught by Paul and recorded in the New Testament, and also to honestly assess their level of spiritual growth and maturity. He expected them to know whether they had been “born-again” (Acts 19:2), and expected those who had been “born again” to be able to tell from Paul’s words and conduct that Paul was “born-again” and acting in the guidance and authority of Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s purpose and goal was to fulfill the “Great Commission,” given by the risen Jesus to his disciples, to make disciples of Jesus Christ who would trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20) and be “born-again,” as Paul (formerly known as “Saul”) had been (Acts 9:17-18), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. (Note also the doctrine of the Trinity expressed in Paul’s benediction: 2 Corinthians 13:14.)

The Jewish religious leaders were so spiritually blind that they could not recognize that Jesus is the Son of God and the promised Messiah (Christ; God’s anointed Savior and eternal King). They demanded to know where Jesus had gotten authority to preach the gospel (and heal the sick and disabled; Matthew 21:14-15).

Where had the religious leaders gotten their authority? They refused to accept the truth that Jesus revealed to them in his reply: They loved their own authority over the people more than they loved God or the truth; otherwise they would have accepted John the Baptizer’s authority, repented and been ready to receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They were using their authority for their own personal benefit and for power over the people.

Is the Church examining itself to make sure it is practicing, preserving and passing on the true Biblical Apostolic Gospel? Is the Church making “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey all that Jesus commands? Is the Church rebuking and disciplining members who are doing what is sinful and contrary to God’s Word? Are the Church and each individual congregation making sure that its preachers have the authority and anointing 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)?

Week of 3 Pentecost – Odd – 06/14 -20/2015

June 13, 2015

Week of 3 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 3 Pentecost – Odd 
Sunday3 Pentecost – Odd   
First Posted 06/04/05;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 11:1-12   –     What the Lord Requires;
Revelation 10:1-11   –     The Little Scroll;
Matthew 13:44-58   –   Parables of the Kingdom;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

God’s people are to love the Lord, acknowledging him as our God, and keeping his commandments always. We are to remember in our time what the Lord has done in the past so that we might learn his greatness and power to deliver his people from Pharaoh, king of Egypt and from the army of Egypt when they were destroyed by waters of the Red Sea as they pursued Israel.

Remember all that the Lord did in leading his people through the wilderness until Israel came to the Promised Land. Remember how the Lord destroyed by an earthquake the households of Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben because they rejected the authority of Moses (Numbers 16:12-14, 25-34).

Obedience to the Covenant is God’s requirement for Israel to possess and live long in the Promised Land. The Promised Land is different from the land of Egypt; in Egypt the land was watered by the labor of man, but the Promised Land is dependent upon the Lord to provide rain at the proper times.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John had a vision of an angel coming down from heaven holding a little scroll. The angel stood with one foot on the land and one on the sea, and called out in a loud voice with the sound of seven thunders (seven is a symbol for completeness; totality). John was about to write down what the seven thunders had said, but the voice of God from heaven commanded that what the seven thunders had said was to be sealed and not written down. The angel lifted up his right hand and swore by the eternal God, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them, that there would be no further delay.

During the days of the seventh trumpet call the mystery of God’s purpose, which had been revealed to his servants the prophets, would be fulfilled. The voice from heaven told John to take, from the hand of the angel, the little scroll and eat it. John was told that it would taste sweet, but would be bitter in his stomach. Then John was commanded to prophesy again about many races, nations, languages and kings.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus taught about the kingdom of God in a series of parables. The kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure hidden in a field. When a person found the treasure, he covered it back up and then in great joy sold everything he had and bought the field.

The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great value. A merchant in search of fine pearls, on seeing it, sold everything he had to purchase it.

The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net thrown into the sea. Then the fishermen pulled the net in, full of fish of every kind, and began to separate the good fish to keep, and threw away the bad. So the angels will likewise separate the wicked from the righteous on the Day of Judgment. The righteous will be gathered in to God’s eternal kingdom, but the wicked will be thrown into the fire of Hell where they will spend eternity in grief and agony.

Jesus asked the audience if they had understood what he was saying, and they replied that they had. So Jesus continued, saying that scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses) who have been trained for God’s kingdom are like a householder who selects valuables which include things that are old and things that are new.

When Jesus finished teaching these parables he returned to his own community (Nazareth) and taught in the synagogue. The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching and his miracles. They wondered where Jesus had gotten his teaching and authority. They knew his earthly father was a carpenter, and they knew his mother, sisters and brothers, so they were offended by him. Jesus replied that a prophet is honored and respected everywhere but in his own community and household. Jesus did not do many miracles there because of the people’s unbelief.

Commentary:

Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament scriptures) have not been made irrelevant by the coming of Jesus Christ. The history of God’s dealings with Israel has been written down for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). Israel’s history is an illustration of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, freeing us from the “Egypt” of bondage to sin and death, through the “Sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, leading us through the wilderness of this world by Jesus Christ, our “Moses,” and by the Holy Spirit, the “pillar of fire,” through the “River” of physical death and into the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom. We are to remember God’s saving acts for his people, and also God’s judgment and punishment of his enemies. God’s people need to learn to trust and obey the Lord in the wilderness of this life so that they will be prepared for eternal life in the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven.

The mystery of God’s eternal purpose has been revealed in God’s Word and by his prophets, and it will be fulfilled at Christ’s return on the Day of Judgment. God’s purpose has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey him. This life is an opportunity to seek and come to personal knowledge and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27) which is possible only by obedient trust in Jesus Christ, through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23). This life is a selection process for eternal life in God’s kingdom.

God’s Word contains both promises and warnings. If we don’t seek to claim and possess the promises we will receive the consequences of the warnings. Jesus is the one chosen and sent by God to be our “Moses.” Jesus didn’t come to abolish God’s laws but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus came to establish a new covenant based on grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). We are no longer under condemnation by the law, provided that we are filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:1-11).

What would eternal life in Paradise with the Lord Jesus Christ be worth? What treasure in this present world would be worth spending eternity in grief and agony in Hell? If we truly recognize the value of eternal life, it is worth far more than everything we possess in this world, and whatever price we pay for it will be a tremendous bargain and great investment. God’s Word promises that this present age is going to come to an end and there is going to be a Day of Judgment where our eternal destiny will be fixed and unalterable. The cost of life in God’s eternal kingdom is obedient trust in Jesus 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)?

Monday 3 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/05/05;
Podcast: Monday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 11:13-19   –    Obey God’s Commandments;
2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2   –    Ministry of Reconciliation;
Luke 17:1-10   –    Forgiveness and Faith;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The Lord promised that if his people would obey his commandments, loving and serving God with all their heart and soul, he would give rain in its proper season so that the harvest would not be damaged, and they and their cattle would be well-fed. The Lord warned them to be careful not to be deceived into turning from obedience to the Lord, to worship and serve false gods, so that God would not punish them by withholding rain or hindering the fertility of the land and that they might live long in the good land God is giving them.

God’s Word is to be stored up in their hearts and their souls, and constantly recalled by them as if written on their hands and between their eyes. God’s Word is to be taught by God’s people to their children at every opportunity; at table, while going to and fro, in the mornings on arising, and at night before bed.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Knowing the fear (respect for the power and authority) of the Lord, believers persuade others to fear the Lord also. Paul entrusted judgment of his ministry to God, and hoped that the Corinthians would also judge him fairly with a good conscience. Paul was not trying to enhance his reputation among them, but hoped that they would have reason for confidence in him, so that they could refute those who judge people on outward, worldly criteria, rather than inward spiritual conditions.

Paul endured worldly criticism that he was crazy (a charge made also against Jesus; compare Mark 3:21) for the sake of God’s glory and tried to publicly establish his rationality in order to save the lost. The love of Christ, who died to give us real life, motivates his disciples to share in Christ’s sacrificial death, dying to self-interest so we can live to serve Jesus and share in his resurrection.

Christians no longer regard anyone, including Jesus, from a worldly human perspective. Jesus is no longer regarded as simply a good teacher crucified by religious rivals. Anyone who is in Christ (through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9) is a new creation (“born again;” John 3:3, 5-8). The old sinful nature has passed away and the new spiritual nature has come.

Forgiveness, rebirth and reconciliation with God are his free gift, to be claimed and received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we have been saved so that we can join in Christ’s ministry of salvation and reconciliation. In Jesus, God offered reconciliation to the world, forgiving us of all our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and entrusting the good news of reconciliation to us.

We are to be God’s ambassadors, offering God’s peace treaty to the world in Jesus Christ on his behalf, urging the world to accept his offer of peace through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. For our benefit God allowed his guiltless son, Jesus, to bear the guilt of all our sins, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.

So cooperating with God’s plan of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, we urge you not to allow the unmerited forgiveness and reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ to be wasted in your case. In the perfect timing of God he has seen our need and has provided for it in Jesus Christ. Now is the day and the time to receive that provision in order to benefit from it; today is the day to be saved from eternal destruction and eternal death.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that temptations are an inevitable part of life in this world, but that we should avoid causing temptation for others if we want to avoid the penalty (the penalty for sin is eternal death; Romans 3:23). It would be better to die the worst imaginable physical death than to experience eternal destruction in Hell by causing spiritually young believers to sin. We will be held responsible for our own eternal souls, but we are also to care for our brothers’ (and sisters’) souls, rebuking sin and offering forgiveness to the penitent. Forgiveness is abundantly sufficient to meet all our needs without limitation.

The apostles (the 12 original disciples designated by Jesus to be missionaries of his gospel) asked Jesus to increase their faith, and Jesus replied that only the tiny “mustard seed,” the “yes,” of faith (obedient trust) was necessary to accomplish the greatest of spiritual works. The servant is to serve the master; not the other way around. The servant should not expect to be commended for merely doing his duty.

Commentary:

God is God, whether we acknowledge and serve him or not. God has the power to bless us or punish us. It is in our best interest to know God’s Word and obey it and teach our children to know and obey it. Obedience to God’s Word is the condition for life in the good land of his eternal kingdom that God has promised to give us.

If we have experienced forgiveness, reconciliation and rebirth through faith in Jesus Christ we are called to join in his ministry of reconciliation. We will be accountable to God for our stewardship of his gift of forgiveness and salvation for ourselves and for others. Paul is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ, who knows and obeys God’s Word and is an ambassador of the gospel to others. Paul was not using the gospel ministry to receive worldly acclaim but to serve others for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.

Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to be re-born by the gift of the Holy Spirit and then to join Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. God has provided for every need. He provided our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death, before we recognized our need. Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ he provides the gift of the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45), to store his Word in our hearts (John 16:13), and to recall it to our minds at the appropriate time (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to know God’s will and to do God’s ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation in the world. All we need to do to accomplish his will is the simple “yes” of obedient trust. We will be accountable for what we have done with God’s gift of forgiveness for ourselves and for others.

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 3 Pentecost – Odd 
First Posted 06/06/05;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 12:1-12    –    Sanctuary of the Lord’s Choosing;
2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (14-7:1)    –   Christian Character;
Luke 17:11-19   –  Ten Lepers Cleansed;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The law given by God to Moses included statutes and ordinances concerning worship and sacrifices to be obeyed when the people entered the Promised Land. They were a requirement for life in the Promised Land. Israel was to destroy all the idols and places of idolatrous worship created and used by the native inhabitants of the land. Heathen altars, statues and pillars set up to memorialize idols were to be destroyed. Israel was forbidden to set up local altars and shrines to the Lord, but was to establish a central place of worship which the Lord would designate to manifest his name (nature and character, and through which the people would have access to the Lord).

Sacrifices and offerings were to be offered to the Lord only at his central sanctuary. Certain offerings were to be eaten at the sanctuary. The sanctuary was also where people were to rejoice and give thanks for God’s blessings on all their activities. They were expressly forbidden to continue their former practice of worshiping the Lord according to their own judgment of what was appropriate. Once they entered the Promised Land and had taken possession of it, after driving out the native people, and had rest and safety in the land they were to rejoice and give thanks to the Lord.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was careful not to cause any obstacles to faith by his own example, but instead to behave in every way in a manner which would encourage “seekers” and new converts to follow his example. Christians are to bear all sorts of afflictions, persecutions and hardships with great endurance, demonstrating “purity, knowledge, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God’ (2 Corinthians 6:6-7), whether treated with honor or dishonor.

We are to be true although regarded as impostors, unrecognized by the world but acknowledged by God, dying but having life, punished but not destroyed, rejoicing even in sorrow, considered poor but spiritually rich and giving spiritual wealth to others. Paul had been honest and sincere out of his love for the Corinthians. Any estrangement by the Corinthians indicates that they need to grow spiritually to become more loving.

Paul taught that Christians are not to be mismated with unbelievers. There can be no fellowship or cooperation between righteousness and wickedness, spiritual enlightenment and ignorance, or belief and unbelief. There is no accord between Christ and Satan, or the temple of God and idolatry. (“Born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8) Christians are (individually and collectively) the temple of the living God.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among and in his people, and that as “earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7) we must be separated from the world, cleansed and dedicated to the Lord’s service (Isaiah 52:11). So Paul urges Christians to claim the promise of personal fellowship with the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit by being cleansed and growing to spiritual maturity as we trust and obey Jesus, turning from every sin of body and spirit and growing to complete sanctification and dedication in the fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was at the border between Galilee and Samaria, on his way to Jerusalem. As he entered a village, ten lepers stood at a distance and called to Jesus, addressing him as Master, and asking him to have mercy on them. Jesus responded by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. “And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14b). One of the lepers, a Samaritan (regarded as racially and religiously corrupt), when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, praising God, and worshiped and gave thanks to Jesus. Jesus asked why the other nine (who presumably were Jews, “God’s chosen people”) had not also returned to give praise to God, and told the Samaritan that his faith had healed him.

Commentary:

Israel was being prepared to enter the Promised Land. They were admonished that obedience to God’s Word is the condition for possession, occupation, blessing and life in the Promised Land.  God commanded them to destroy all the idols and idolatrous places and objects from the land (and to drive out all the pagans). They were expressly forbidden to worship God in whatever way they felt was appropriate, but were to let the Lord determine and command where and how he was to be worshiped (compare John 4:21-24). They were to cleanse themselves and their land through obedient trust in the Lord.

Paul is an example of a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ. The Lord confronted Paul (then known as “Saul of Tarsus”) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20), and convicted him of spiritual blindness. Paul repented and began to trust and obey the risen Jesus and his (spiritual and physical) sight was restored. Paul became an example of spiritual maturity. He’s an example of spiritual cleansing and complete sanctification (consecration and dedication to God’s service). Christians are to follow Paul’s example of living according to Christ’s teaching and example, instead of seeking the world’s approval and conforming to the world’s values.

Believers who follow the example of Christ and of Paul can expect to be opposed by worldly people. That opposition indicates spiritual deficiency on the part of the people who oppose Christian disciples. Christians need to grow in discipleship and seek and receive the gift, guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit before going out into the world in ministry of the gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). “Born-again” Christians are to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel to the world but not to adopt the ways of the world; it is the world that needs to change to adopt Christian discipleship.

Only Jesus can cure spiritual blindness, and only Jesus can cleanse and heal us spiritually. That healing only begins when we hear his commands and begin to trust and obey them. It was as the lepers acted in faith on Jesus’ command that they were healed. Nine of the ten, who regarded themselves as God’s chosen people, received physical healing, which is only temporary, but missed eternal spiritual healing. They called Jesus Master, but they didn’t turn to him and worship him as Lord and make themselves available to his further service; they had received all they wanted from him.  In contrast, the Samaritan leper, who Jews regarded as spiritually corrupt and inferior, received spiritual sight and spiritual cleansing.

The Church and Christians, particularly in America, need to examine ourselves and honestly consider whether we have cleansed ourselves, our churches and our land of idolatry or whether we have adopted and allowed the pagan practices of the “natives” to infiltrate our lives and our churches. Have we allowed pagans to have fellowship in our churches? Have our churches entered into fellowship with false “churches”?

We must honestly examine whether we haven’t chosen to worship God according to our own personal desires and standards rather than by the guidance of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. If we want to influence our culture and our nation for the gospel we have to begin to cleanse ourselves and our churches by obedient trust in Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciple 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 3 Pentecost – Odd 
First Posted 06/07/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 13:1-11   –    Warning Against False Prophets;
2 Corinthians 7:2-16    –    Godly Grief and Repentance;
Luke 17:20-37   –   The End of the Age;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Prophets who lead people to worship and serve other gods are false prophets, regardless of what signs and wonders they may perform. The Lord may allow false prophets to test our faith and discernment. God’s people must follow the Lord in fear (awe and respect for his power and authority) in obedience to his Word and in commitment to serve him and trust him.

False prophets are to be destroyed and purged from among the people of God. If the false prophet is a close relative or a beloved friend who advocates another god, one must not yield to him or conceal his wickedness. Any attempt to induce the members of God’s people to turn from obedient trust in the Lord and to encourage them to serve other gods is to be dealt with severely to remove such wickedness from among God’s people.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul had dealt honestly and sincerely with the Corinthian Christians out of love for them. He had rebuked the congregation for issues which needed repentance and correction, but his love for them was apparent and unchanged, and he asked them to continue to love him. Paul had not wronged, corrupted or taken advantage of anyone. Paul would continue to love them, sharing with them in life and in death. Paul had great confidence, comfort and joy in them, in the midst of Paul’s suffering and imprisonment for the gospel.

God comforts the downcast, and God comforted Paul through Titus, who himself had been comforted by the Corinthian congregation, and who returned to Paul with a report of the congregation’s longing, mourning, and ardor for Paul. Paul didn’t want to permanently hurt the congregation’s feelings by his reprimand, but only to cause them godly grief so that they would be moved to repent and be restored.

Godly grief leads to repentance and salvation (eternal life), in contrast to worldly grief which produces death. Godly grief had produced earnestness and eagerness to correct the situation, applying discipline and punishment, and revealing their blamelessness.

Instead of merely affecting the guilty person or the one who had been wronged, Paul’s letter had benefited the entire congregation by stirring up renewed commitment to the Lord and to Paul. Paul had expressed pride and confidence in the Corinthians to Titus, and he and Paul were both relieved and pleased that that pride and confidence had been fulfilled. The congregation was commended for their obedience and godly fear (respect) for the authority of Paul and Titus.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, and Jesus replied that the coming of the kingdom would not be with outward signs showing its approach, nor will it come in a specific location. The kingdom of God is in our midst (and within us). Jesus told his disciples that the time is coming when they will be eager to see the coming of the kingdom of God, but that they are not to be misled by those who will claim that the kingdom can be found in a certain location. When Jesus returns it will be sudden and visible to all as a flash of lightning which lights up the whole sky.

Jesus said that before his return he had to suffer and be rejected. Christ’s return will be like the time of Noah; the people of earth will be living worldly lives unprepared and not seriously believing God’s warning until the moment it happens, and will be swept away like the wicked in the flood. The Day of Judgment will be like the example of Sodom. Lot heeded (heard and obeyed) God’s Word and was saved, but the wicked in Sodom continued living their wicked lives until fire and brimstone fell from heaven and destroyed them.

So it will be on the Day of Christ’s return. As Lot’s wife was destroyed as she turned to look back, so we must not look back with longing for our worldly lives, or try to hang on to our worldly possessions. Those who try to save their worldly lives will lose them, but those who are willing to lose their worldly lives will live eternally in God’s kingdom.

The separation of the saved from the lost will be extremely precise; of two people sleeping in the same bed, one will be taken and the other left. People asked Jesus where those who were taken were going. In reply, Jesus said, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together” (i.e. “where the carcass is, the vultures will be gathered;” Luke 17:37).

God is very serious about the sin of idolatry. God’s people are not to listen to false prophets who advocate idolatry in any form. Idolatry is the love of anything which interferes with our complete obedient trust in God. Today money, career, political power, nationalism, success, family, pleasure, and humanism are some of the prevalent idols.

There are many false prophets in society and within churches. Church robes, clerical garb or seminary diplomas are not reliable indicators or authenticators of God’s prophets, nor are miraculous claims. The only reliable basis for discerning false doctrine and false prophets is the Bible, with an understanding of the Old Testament from the New Testament perspective.

Two examples of false doctrine today within the “Church” (the “nominal,” self-defined church), which began in the first-century Church and which were refuted in the New Testament are the doctrine of “salvation by works” (the “circumcision party;” “legalism;” salvation earned by keeping Jewish law or doing good deeds) and the doctrine called “Cheap Grace”* (salvation by grace -a free gift- without the requirement of discipleship or obedience to Jesus’ teachings). In each of these “heresies” the advocates are encouraging followers to rely on something other than obedient trust in the Lord (see False Teachings. sidebar, top right, home).

Other examples of false doctrine are the deification of Mary, the mother of Jesus; or the worship of “Saints;” or teaching that Jesus wasn’t fully human and also fully God; or that Jesus was a man who became a god and that we can become “gods;” or that Jesus was just a man. Another is that there is some book other than the Bible necessary for salvation, or that there is “another gospel.”

In many cases, the “Church” has failed its commission from the Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples of Jesus Christ and teach them to know and obey Jesus’ commands (Matthew 28:18-20), and has instead been merely making “members,” “fair-weather Christians,” who worship the Lord as they think appropriate in their own judgment (Deuteronomy 12:13-14; see entry for yesterday, Tuesday, 3 Pentecost, odd year).

Paul is an example of a “born-again” (John 3:3-5, 8) Christian disciple who carried on the ministry of making disciples and teaching them to know and obey the scriptural apostolic gospel (as taught by the apostles, including Paul, and recorded in the New Testament). Paul proclaimed the truth, the full gospel, not just the parts that make us feel good. Paul didn’t rebuke the Corinthian congregation because of meanness, or to manipulate them for his own glory and power, but because he loved them and wanted them to repent and accept correction so that they could experience the fulfillment of the promise and hope of the Gospel. Paul commended the congregation for their obedience and for their respect for his scriptural authority.

Jesus warns that the kingdom of God is coming subtly, gradually and individually, as each individual hears Jesus and begins to follow him in obedient trust. Jesus has promised to give the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17).

The kingdom of God begins now and is present now in “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. The gift of the indwelling 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 with certainty whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

But the kingdom of God is also coming suddenly, unexpectedly and universally. Those who have believed and acted in obedient trust on God’s Word will be gathered into God’s kingdom, and those who have refused to hear, trust and obey will be swept away to eternal destruction. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (and God’s only begotten Son; John 1:1-5; 14).  Jesus warns not to believe false prophets and not to be deceived by false “messiahs” (false “christs”). The question is not where we can go to be saved, or how long before we need to prepare. Now is the time to prepare by becoming Jesus’ disciple, learning to trust and obey Jesus, and seeking the new life through the gift 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)?

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

Thursday 3 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/08/05;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 16:18-20, 17:14-20   –    Administration of Justice;
2 Corinthians 8:1-16    –    Offering for the Jerusalem Church;
Luke 18:1-8    –   The Parable of the Unjust Judge;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Israel was to appoint judges and administrators in their towns who would judge righteously. They were forbidden to pervert justice by taking bribes or showing partiality. Justice for all was a requirement for life in the Promised Land. The Lord allowed Israel to have a king to rule over them because they desired to be like the surrounding nations, but the king was to be appointed according to God’s choice, and must be one of the Israelites and not a foreigner. The king was not to use his position to multiply his wealth by acquiring horses, wives, silver and gold. He was also commanded to read the Bible every day so that he would know and obey God’s Word in all his doings, as a condition of his reign, and his life, and the lives of his descendants in the kingdom.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul had been collecting an offering from among his congregations to help the financially needy Christians in Jerusalem who were experiencing persecution. The Macedonian congregations, who were themselves experiencing affliction and poverty, had contributed generously beyond their financial ability, out of their joy and thanksgiving for God’s grace (free gift of salvation and God’s providence). Their generosity was the result of them having first given themselves in obedience to the Lord and to Paul by God’s will.

Titus was in charge of collecting the offering from among the churches and Paul urged the Corinthian church to demonstrate their faith, love and excellence in spiritual gifts through their contribution to this offering, not by his command but by their love and sincerity, following Christ’s example. Christ left the spiritual riches of heaven and became poor among us so that we could receive his spiritual riches.

The Corinthian church had agreed, the previous year, to contribute, but the collection had been interrupted by dissention within the congregation, which had now been resolved. The Corinthian congregation was apparently financially better-off than the Macedonian Church, and Paul reminded them that good intentions alone are not sufficient, but must be fulfilled by action.

Paul wasn’t asking the Corinthians to be unfairly burdened, but reminded them that their abundance in this situation should be used to alleviate the needs of others, and that in some other situation the roles might be reversed. The goal was that there should be equality.

Paul mentioned the example of God’s justice in distributing the manna in the wilderness so that everyone received no more or less than they needed. In the same way Titus was redistributing resources for the benefit of each member of the Church and for the well-being of the Church as a whole.

Luke Paraphrase:

To illustrate the effectiveness of persistent prayer, Jesus told a parable of an unrighteous judge. The judge didn’t fear God or care for other people, but there was a widow who kept coming to him asking him to give her justice in a legal dispute. The judge at first refused, but because she kept bothering him, he finally did what she asked only to be rid of the nuisance.

God is the ultimate righteous judge who cares for his people, so we can be assured that, if we are in the right and obeying his Word, he will not delay long in vindicating us. “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes (on the Day of Judgment) will he find faith” (Luke 18:8)?

Commentary:

It is God’s intention for his people to be governed by leaders they choose who will govern righteously according to God’s Word. God’s intention is that Jesus Christ is the king of God’s people, and the leaders of the people are to be the stewards of Christ’s reign on earth. The leaders are to know, trust and obey God’s Word, the Bible.

America today is far from God’s will. We have politicians who claim to be “Christians” but who don’t live according to Christ’s teachings. Instead of a government of the people by the people for the people we have government of the people by the rich for the rich. Influence and special interest for sale is the daily operating reality in our society. There’s vastly different “justice” for the rich than the poor.

There are examples of economic and social injustice all around us. The gap between the rich and the poor has grown wider. According to one editorial* the ratio between what a CEO earns compared to workers pay was 43 to 1 in 1973 and rose to 531 to 1 in 2000. In the wake of 9/11 it declined to 301-1 in 2003. The real ratio is even greater if compared to the wages paid for “outsourced” jobs. If the minimum wage had kept up with CEO pay increases, the minimum wage would have to be $15.76 an hour instead of the current $5.15. (See 2010 updates below**)

The rich who benefit most from our economy and government are unwilling to pay their fair share of taxes, and they are happy to pass off responsibility for the poor to the Church. It is the political and economic sectors which have caused the problem of economic injustice. But the Church also bears responsibility for not requiring discipleship and obedience of God’s Word from their members, and economic, social and legal justice from their government. The “middle class” continues to vote contrary to their economic interest because they continue to hope and believe that they can move up into the rich ruling class and benefit from preferential treatment.

“America, America, God shed his grace on thee.”*** But do those who benefit most feel any obligation to provide employment at a fair living wage for its own sons and daughters? Do we feel any obligation to redistribute God-given resources and to work to reduce economic, social and legal injustice?

Our obedience to God’s Word and our appreciation of God’s grace are demonstrated by our concern for the poor and the marginalized, and our commitment to economic, social and legal justice for all. The Macedonian congregation contributed generously even beyond their economic ability because they had first given themselves to the Lord. But the Corinthian congregation was hindered by dissension and by the inclination to substitute good intentions for practical action.

God’s judgment will be just and impartial. We need to pray persistently in faith (obedient trust) for God’s justice and equity in our nation, for genuine Christian leadership, and we must be willing to contribute what we can in time, effort and resources to make that happen (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, 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)?


* Jackson, Derrick Z., Boston Globe, “Ladder of success growing steeper,” The Sun, San Bernardino, Ca. Thursday, May 19, 2005, A15.

The One Percent, Video Documentary by Jaime Johnson
(2006)  Available on DVD from Netflix,

**see 2015 updates:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-gap-between-rich-poor-americans-widened-during-recovery-1409853628

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/inequality-between-americas-rich-and-americas-poor-at-30-year-high/383866/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/05/americans-see-growing-gap-between-rich-and-poor/

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Americans-unaware-of-staggering-gap-between-rich-5797486.php
***Bates, Katherine Lee, “America The Beautiful,” 1893.


 

Friday 3 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/09/05;
Podcast: Friday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 26:1-11   –     Offering of First Fruits;
2 Corinthians 8:16-24   –    Offering for the Poor;
Luke 18:9-14   –     Pharisee and Tax Collector;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Through Moses, the Lord instructed Israel that they were to make an offering of first fruits when they had entered and received possession of the Promised Land. The occasion was the grain harvest, seven weeks after the harvest began, called the feast of weeks (“Pentecost;” the fiftieth day). The worshiper was to present a basket containing the first fruits of the harvest at the central sanctuary. The worshipers were to give the offering to the priest and declare that they had come into the Land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give them.

The priest then would take the basket and set it down in front of the altar. Then the worshipers were to recite a liturgy (rite; formal recitation spoken by the congregation in worship), recalling that the patriarchs were “wandering Arameans” (nomads from Aram, now called Syria), that Jacob (Israel; the patriarch) sojourned in Egypt where his descendants became a nation (in multitude) and became enslaved by the Egyptians. Then Israel cried to the Lord and the Lord heard and delivered them from the Egyptians (by Moses) and brought them through the wilderness and into the land, “a land of milk and honey” (a paradise, compared to the wilderness), which he had promised the patriarchs to give to their descendants. Now the Israelites were presenting the first fruits of the Lord’s deliverance and fulfillment of that promise. Israel was to celebrate and rejoice in the blessings the Lord had given them.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was sending Titus, who cared deeply for the Corinthian congregation, and two other unnamed individuals, one of whom was an evangelist who was well-known among the churches.  They had been appointed by the churches to help administer the offering being collected for the relief of the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

Paul was committed to see that the offering would be to the glory of God and for the upbuilding of the church, honorable not only in God’s judgment, but also in the judgment of the public. He was being careful that it be properly supervised and audited by honest and faithful people.  Paul urged the Corinthian congregation to demonstrate their faith and love in their contribution to this offering.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector, as a warning to correct those who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others. The Pharisee (a legalistic Jew) and the tax collector (a sinner; a Jewish collaborator with the Roman occupying government) both went into the temple to pray.

The Pharisee stood (rather than bowing in reverence and humility) and “prayed… with himself” (Luke 18:11; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home), saying that he thanked God that he was better than other people, because he was not an extortioner, adulterer, unjust or even the tax collector. He was proud that he fasted twice a week and tithed (gave ten percent to God) of all he received.

But the tax collector bowed and beat his breast (an act of ritual mourning and repentance), and prayed, acknowledging that he was a sinner and requesting God’s mercy. Jesus declared that the tax collector returned home forgiven, but the Pharisee was not forgiven. Jesus declared, “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Commentary:

It is no coincidence that the Church was “born” on the Day of Pentecost, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-21). It is the climax of a plan which God has been developing since the beginning of this Creation. The Lord keeps his promises. Even before Abraham (formerly called “Abram”) trusted and obeyed God’s command to leave his native land (Aram) to go to a new land that the Lord would show him and give to his descendants (Genesis 12:1-9)

God has been working toward this purpose. According to Matthew 1:17, it was forty-two generations from Abraham to Christ. According to Exodus 12:40 Israel was in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years. They wandered for forty years in the wilderness. It was a long time between the giving of the promise and the fulfillment (partly because Israel didn’t act in obedient trust the first time God told them to enter and possess the Promised Land).

Israel was now about to enter the Promised Land and was given instructions for commemorating the first fruits of the fulfillment of God’s promise. Through Jesus Christ, Pentecost became the occasion of God’s gift to disciples of Christ of the first fruits of God’s eternal kingdom, and the beginning of the spiritual harvest which had been sown so long before. It is the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers the Church to continue the spiritual harvest of making disciples, teaching them to grow in obedient trust in Jesus teachings (Matthew 28:18-20) to spiritual maturity through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness of sin, salvation (from eternal death), and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the first fruits, the “security deposit” on eternal life in God’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16) are God’s gift to those who trust and obey Jesus Christ. If we’re saved and we know it, we are to testify to that fact by using our lives and our resources to carry on Christ’s ministry of healing and reconciliation. Are we using our lives to glorify God, to build up the Church and help with the spiritual harvest by discipling others to spiritual maturity? Are we working to alleviate human need; poverty, hunger, homelessness, joblessness?

The Pharisee and the tax collector were both sinners, like all of us, but only one of the two was forgiven. We have all sinned against God and have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The Pharisee thought he didn’t need God’s forgiveness because he hadn’t committed any blatantly obvious sins. But the other acknowledged and confessed his sin and asked for God’s forgiveness and salvation. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Regular attendance at church won’t save us; tithing won’t save us; only a personal relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us. The Pharisee thought he was righteous, and he considered himself “just” in his dealings with others (Luke 18:11), but was he “just” in his assessment and treatment of himself and others? Did he care about the spiritual (or even the physical) condition of others?

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 3 Pentecost – Odd
First Posted 06/10/05;
Podcast: Saturday 3 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 29:2-15   –    The Covenant in Moab;
2 Corinthians 9:1-15   –     The Duty of Giving;
Luke 18:15-30   –   The Rich Ruler;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Israel was in Moab, about to cross the Jordan River to enter and possess the Promised Land. Moses directed the people to renew their covenant vows with the Lord. Moses reminded the congregation of the great signs and wonders the Lord had done in Egypt for their deliverance, which they had witnessed. Despite all the great things they had witnessed they still didn’t use the eyes, ears and minds God had given them to see, hear and understand.

Moses had led them for forty years in the wilderness, and during all that time their clothing and their shoes had not worn out. They hadn’t eaten bread nor drunk wine or alcohol. The wilderness experience was to teach them to trust and obey the Lord their God. When they came to Moab the Lord gave them victory over Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, and their land was given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh of Israel. Moses warned them to be careful to obey all the requirements of the covenant.

The covenant includes everyone from the greatest to the least in the congregation of Israel, every man, woman and child, including sojourners, servants and slaves. The covenant was renewed that day by the congregation as of that day; it wasn’t just something their ancestors had agreed to, but it applied to all the descendants of Israel, even those not yet born (Deuteronomy 29:14-15). That very day of covenant renewal Israel committed to be God’s people by God’s power, and God promised to be their God, fulfilling the promise he made to their ancestors.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul had told the Macedonian churches that the churches in Achaia (a region in Greece), including the Corinthian congregation, had, the previous year, committed to contribute to the offering for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Now he was sending Titus and two Macedonian Christians to supervise and audit the collection of the offering, sending them ahead of Paul who intended to bring some Macedonians with him. Paul urged the Corinthians to be ready to fulfill their commitment willingly, so that neither they nor Paul would be humiliated.

Paul used an analogy of sowing seed to produce a harvest in order to illustrate Christian charitable giving. As one who wants an abundant harvest must sow seed generously, so Christians must be generous with others if they want God to be generous in his blessings to them, and if they care about the salvation of others.  Each person must follow his own conscience, giving willingly, not reluctantly or under compulsion. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7b). God supplies every blessing abundantly and is able to provide abundantly everything we need, so we will be able to give generously without fear of not having enough.

Paul quoted Psalm 112:9, teaching that a person who is righteous in God’s judgment is one who distributes generously to others and gives to the poor, and his righteousness will be eternal. It is God who provides seed for sowing, and bread for food, and he is able and faithful; “he will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). God will supply the resources so that our generosity will bring glory and thanksgiving to God and build up the Church.

Charitable giving glorifies God by our obedience to and our demonstration of the truth and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our generosity demonstrates our love and concern for others and our thanksgiving to God for the inexpressible greatness of his gift of forgiveness and salvation to us in Jesus Christ, and it increases the love of others for us and their thanksgiving to God.

Luke Paraphrase:

People were bringing infants and small children to Jesus to be blessed, and the disciples tried to stop them. Jesus told them to let the children come to him without hindrance, because the kingdom of God belongs to those who come to the Lord in innocence and obedient trust as to their father. All who enter God’s kingdom must enter in the same child-like obedient trust.

A rich ruler addressed Jesus as a “Good Teacher,” and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied by asking the man why he had called Jesus “good,” since only God is truly good. Jesus told the person that the person surely knew the Commandments, and mentioned the ones dealing with a person’s obligations to other people (not memtioning his obligations to God). The ruler said that he had kept the Commandments since his birth. Then Jesus told him he still lacked one thing and that he should sell all of his possessions and give to the poor; he should exchange his worldly riches for eternal spiritual treasure, and then come and follow Jesus.

The rich man was sad when he heard this, because he was very wealthy. Jesus, looking at him, said it is very difficult, seemingly impossible, for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. Those who heard Jesus asked how anyone could be saved, since that was the case. Jesus said that what is impossible for humans can be accomplished by God. Peter remarked that the Disciples had left their homes (and everything) to follow Jesus. Jesus declared that those who have left anything for the sake of God’s kingdom will receive again many times what they have left in this age, and in the coming age of God’s kingdom will receive eternal life.

Commentary:

God led his people for forty years in the wilderness so that they would learn to trust and obey him and so they could learn to depend upon his providence. Their material needs were met supernaturally through God’s power. They learned to live by manna, “the bread from heaven.” The Lord gave them victory over their enemies and those who opposed them, and gave them possession of rich lands, on the condition that they would obey his Word, the Covenant. The people entered into a covenant with God to be his people by God’s help and power, and God agreed to be their God to guide and provide for them.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. We are to learn to trust and obey the Lord as he leads us through the spiritual “wilderness” of this world. Jesus is our “Moses” and our “manna,” the bread from heaven which sustains us and gives us life (John 6:31-35). Jesus is the New Covenant of forgiveness and salvation from eternal death by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) to be received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14). Through obedient trust in Jesus, his disciples receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), who is the Word and power of God within us to help us truly be God’s people and fulfill our covenant with God by obedience of Jesus’ commands. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we share in Christ’s victory over the enemy of our souls, which he accomplished for us at the Cross, and enter and possess the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

If we are truly Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus) we are parties to a covenant with God through Jesus Christ. We have a commitment to obey God and love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). We have a commitment to carry on Christ’s ministry of healing and reconciliation, not just spiritually but physically and materially (James 2:14-18). What we do with the worldly resources which God has provided for all to share equally demonstrates our faith in the truth and power of God’s Word, and our love and commitment to trust and obey Jesus.

The rich man was right when he called Jesus “good,” but he did not see, hear, understand and acknowledge that Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9). The rich ruler thought that he was righteous; he thought that he obeyed God’s Commandments, but he had not fulfilled his obligation to love others as he loved himself, and he had not fulfilled his obligation to love God more than worldly riches and to fulfill and demonstrate his love of God by obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

We cannot save ourselves from God’s judgment or enter God’s kingdom except by God’s grace and power through obedient trust in Jesus 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)?

Week of 2 Pentecost – Odd – 06/07 – 13/2015

June 6, 2015

Week of 2 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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Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

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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.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 2 Pentecost – Odd 

Sunday 2 Pentecost – Odd 

First posted 05/28/05;
Podcast: Sunday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:1-9    –    Moses’ Appeal for Obedience;
Revelation 7:1-4, 9-17   –    Sealing the Servants of God;
Matthew 12:33-45    –   The Sign of Jonah;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Moses warned the people of God to heed (hear, remember and obey) God’s Word. Israel must apply God’s Word daily in their lives to receive the fulfillment of God’s promise of long life in the Promised Land. They were admonished to keep God’s Word faithfully and accurately, neither adding to it nor taking away from it. Obedience to God’s Word is the requirement for life in the Promised Land. God’s people are to remember what happened to those who disobey God’s Word, and the punishment and death of the disobedient at Baal-peor is just one example (Numbers 25:1-9).

Moses had faithfully taught God’s people God’s Word. It was the responsibility of Israel to keep God’s Word, to demonstrate to the native people of Canaan (the land of Israel) that God’s Word is wisdom, and that those who obey him are wise. God’s people were to honor and glorify the Lord by living in obedience and demonstrating God’s power, love and faithfulness. The people and the nation were to be examples of righteousness and justice in living according to God’s Word. Moses warned God’s people to be careful not to forget God’s Word, and to diligently teach their children to know and obey God’s Word.

Revelation Summary:

John saw a vision of the coming Day of Judgment. In this portion there was an interlude before the opening of the seventh seal (the opening of the seals representing the revealing of God’s unchangeable, previously unknown purpose for the future), to give assurance to God’s people that they would be safe from God’s judgment and punishment. Angels standing at the four corners of the earth, ready to carry out God’s judgment, were told by a fifth angel, bearing God’s seal, not to harm the earth until all the Lord’s servants were sealed upon their foreheads with God’s seal. The number of the servants of God who are protected by his seal was one hundred forty-four thousand (a symbolic rather than literal number; representing completeness; twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel; Revelation 7:5-8).

John saw the vision of a great multitude, beyond counting, from every nation, people, tribe, and language. They were clothed in white robes (symbolizing righteousness) and waving palm branches (symbolizing victory), praising God, the sovereign King of Creation, and the Lamb (Jesus Christ, who served as the sacrificial Lamb of the Passover, for the forgiveness of sins).

Around the throne of God, with Jesus standing by it, were thrones for the twenty-four elders, and the four living creatures symbolizing all created beings (man and animals). The angels surrounded them, along with the vast multitude of people in white robes, and they knelt down and worshiped God, with a seven-fold praise of eternal blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might (seven is symbolic of perfection; completeness; see also Revelation 4:1-11).

One of the elders asked John who he thought the people in white robes were, and John deferred to the elder. The elder told John that the people robed in white were the people who had come out of the great tribulation; they had been purified by the blood of the Lamb (the blood of Jesus, sacrificed on the cross). They serve the Lord day and night and the Lord shelters them in his presence. This is a vision of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 49:10, and Psalm 121:6 that the Lord will care for and provide eternally for his people and will protect them from any need or trouble. The one who was their sacrificial Lamb has become their shepherd who will eternally provide for and comfort them.

Matthew Summary:

Jesus said that in order to produce good fruit one must start with good trees; bad trees inevitably produce bad fruit. Jesus called the crowds, particularly the Pharisees and scribes, who came to hear him, a brood of vipers (poisonous snakes; compare Matthew 3:7). One who speaks (or does) evil demonstrates an evil heart, because the heart of a person motivates what one says (and does). A good person values what is good and produces good according to what he values; the evil person values evil and that’s all he can produce. Jesus warned that on the Day of Judgment each of us will be justified (found not guilty; saved from punishment) or condemned by what each has done, individually, whether good or evil (compare John 5:28-29).

Some of the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign (a miracle proving Jesus’ claim to be doing the will of God), and Jesus replied that it is an evil and (spiritually) adulterous generation who seeks a sign; but no sign will be given, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, so Jesus would be in the tomb and be raised again on the third day.

Commentary:

The people of Nineveh (to whom Jonah was sent) will condemn this generation because the people of Nineveh heeded the prophetic preaching of Jonah and repented and turned to the Lord; Jesus has a greater message than Jonah (and did many great signs which were well known to the Pharisees and scribes) and yet Israel did not repent and turn to the Lord. The Queen of the South (Queen of Sheba) will also condemn this generation because she came seeking the wisdom of Solomon, and Jesus is the embodiment of divine wisdom, but Israel did not acknowledge or accept Jesus’ wisdom.

Jesus warns that a person can be cleansed of evil, but unless he fills the place in his heart that was occupied by evil with what is good (the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Jesus; Romans 8:9), he will not be able to avoid reverting to his former state, and his final situation will be worse than before (because there is no way to be cleansed again after one has experienced the goodness of the Lord if he then renounces Jesus; Hebrews 6:4-6).

The requirement for life in the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom is obedience to God’s Word. God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not, but God cannot allow sin and disobedience to spoil his eternal paradise, the way we’ve spoiled his temporal Creation on earth. This creation which God created was good (Genesis 1:3, 25, 31), a paradise (the Garden of Eden), but God allowed us to have free will to choose whether to obey him or not, and when humans chose to pursue their will contrary to God’s Word, sin was introduced into paradise, and paradise was lost (Genesis 3:1-24).

The things that are wrong and evil in this world are caused, not by God, but by human disobedience (sin). God wants to create an eternal kingdom and paradise for his people who choose to trust and obey him. This life is an opportunity for us to discover that God is good and his Word is good and that obeying him is in our best interest, individually and collectively (see Acts 17:26-27).

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also meant to be a parable and metaphor for life in this world; it is temporal truth which illustrates spiritual reality. The people and nation of Israel were to know, trust and obey God’s Word, and teach their children to do so also. In a sense, America and the Church are each the “New Israel” (God’s people) and the “New Promised Land.” The kingdom of God begins now, in the Church, as disciples who trust and obey Jesus are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and begin to live as his people and his kingdom now.

It is those disciples who trust and obey Jesus who receive the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17) and have 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). Are we, in the Church and in America, living examples of God’s righteousness and justice and the truth and goodness of God’s Word? Are we teaching our children to trust and obey Jesus?

John’s vision was of the Day of Judgment. Those who belong to Jesus were marked with the seal of God’s Holy Spirit. Those who were not in Christ were about to receive God’s final judgment and eternal condemnation. Those in white robes have been redeemed from judgment and condemnation by the blood of Jesus Christ, through obedient trust in Jesus. They will enter the Lord’s eternal kingdom where they will worship and serve the Lord, and he will provide, protect, satisfy and comfort them eternally.

Jesus said that in order for us to produce good “fruit” we must be cleansed and filled with the goodness of the Lord through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Salvation from eternal destruction and eternal death is by grace (God’s free gift; unmerited favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, not “earned” by “good deeds.” We are God’s “good works,” created by God to do “good works” he has prepared for us, as we live in obedient trust according to his will and guidance (Ephesians 2:8-10).

When we’re baptized into Jesus we’re cleansed of all our sin, but in order to stay cleansed we must grow in discipleship in Jesus to spiritual maturity, through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Without that growth we will not be able to maintain our spiritual cleansing. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the guidance, will and strength to continue and grow spiritually in Christ. It is the Holy Spirit within us who opens our minds to understand God’s Word and his will, and who recalls to our minds scriptures to guide and help us grow (but if we have not read the Bible, there’s no scripture in our minds to be recalled). Without the indwelling Holy Spirit there’s no way to produce “good fruit.”

For those who need “proof” in order to believe in Jesus, there is none, because it is God’s will that salvation should depend on faith (obedient trust). But for those who believe in Jesus there is overwhelming abundance of “proof.” There were signs that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God all around the Pharisees and scribes, but they were not willing to believe the signs. Jesus did fulfill the “sign of Jonah” as he promised, but they still didn’t repent and believe in Jesus.

Humanism declares that mankind is basically good. That’s not what God’s Word says. Humanism, which is basically idolatry of self, compares us to human standards; God compares us to the standard of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). We are all “bad trees” and if left to pursue our own nature and self-interest, we will inevitably produce “bad fruit.”

The only way to produce “good fruit” is to be cleansed inside and filled with the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth. Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we produce “good fruit’ for his eternal kingdom and accomplish the “good works” God created us to do.

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 2 Pentecost – Odd

First posted 05/29/05;
Podcast: Monday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:9-14  –     Remember to Reverence the Lord;

2 Corinthians 1:1-11   –     Thanksgiving to God;
Luke 14:25-35    –   Conditions of Discipleship;

Deuteronomy Summary:

Take heed and guard your soul with diligence, so that you do not forget what the Lord has done for his people; pass them on to your children and their children. Remember how at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) the Lord told Moses to gather the people to hear God’s Word, so that they would learn to fear (honor and respect) the Lord all the days of their earthly lives, and would teach their children to do so also.

In the day of God’s manifestation at Horeb in fire, darkness, cloud and gloom, Israel heard God’s Word but saw no form, hearing only his voice. (God is spirit; Israel is warned not to worship idols which have forms created by the imagination of humans.) God established a covenant with his people, a covenant based on the obligation to obey the Ten Commandments (the Covenant of Law, written on two tablets of stone). At that time God commanded Moses to teach Israel, the people of God, to obey God’s statutes and ordinances, so that they could possess the land which God had promised them.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul was an apostle (one sent with a message; a missionary) of Jesus Christ by the will of God (Acts 9:10-16). Paul was writing to the church at Corinth (in Achaia, one of two Roman territories into which Greece was divided, and where Corinth was located). Paul greeted them in the grace and peace which are in God alone through Jesus Christ, praising God the Father of Jesus Christ and the God of consolation and mercy in Christ. God has mercy on us and consoles us in every affliction so that we may share his consolation and mercy with others. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ will share in his consolation also.

Disciples bear Christ’s suffering so that others, when they patiently endure suffering for the gospel, may experience the same consolation the disciples have received, and that is Paul’s fervent hope for the Corinthian Christians. Paul testified to the power and faithfulness of the Lord to deliver him from almost unbearable persecution in Asia (the Roman province in what is now western Turkey).

God allows his disciples to experience affliction so that they will learn that he is faithful and powerful to deliver and console his disciples, so that they grow in faith to be confident in future afflictions. Paul asked the Corinthians to help by praying for Paul, so that others will give thanks to God for God’s blessings to them in answer to prayer.

Luke Summary:

Jesus told the crowds following him that unless a person loves Jesus so much more than he loves even family that his love for others seems like hate in comparison (a deliberate exaggeration to make the point vivid) he could not be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple of Jesus must be willing to carry his own cross (must be willing to suffer personally for discipleship) or he cannot be Jesus’ disciple.

A person planning on building a tower would be wise to consider the cost and whether he can afford it before he begins to build. Similarly, a king facing a battle would be wise to consider whether his forces can prevail over the enemy’s. If not, the king would be well advised to negotiate peace before becoming engaged in battle.

Jesus said that the same principles apply to Christian discipleship. A disciple must be willing to renounce all that he has in this life in order to follow Jesus. Disciples are to be like salt, influencing and changing the world greatly out of proportion to their number and strength. But if disciples cannot be differentiated from the world, they are like salt which has lost its savor. How could they possibly accomplish their intended purpose? They would be totally worthless! Those who are willing to hear spiritual truth should pay attention!

Commentary:

God commanded Moses, the spiritual leader of God’s people, to teach the people to obey God’s Word so that they could receive what God had promised. Until the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s people were under the Covenant of Law (the Old Covenant). Jesus is the promised Messiah who freed us from the Old Covenant of Law and established the New Covenant (Matthew 26:28) of salvation by grace (unmerited favor; free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Christians are freed from obligation to the Jewish Laws, provided that they are in Christ through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). Only Jesus gives the gift of his Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trust and obey him (Luke 3:16; 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 came to make it possible for us to fulfill the requirements of the Law not by fear of punishment but in love and gratitude for God’s love, mercy and grace, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit. Teaching God’s people that they are saved by God’s grace without obedient trust in Jesus and without the requirement of discipleship is false doctrine, called “Cheap Grace*” (see False Teachings, sidebar,top right, home).

Christians are the “New Israel,” the new people of God. We are to know and remember what God has done for his people through reading God’s Word, the Bible, and by experience by applying God’s Word in our own lives, and by teaching it to our children. It is only through obedience to God’s Word that we can receive God’s promises of the gift of the Holy Spirit, personal fellowship with the Lord, salvation from eternal death, and eternal life in the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven, as well as many other promises.

Paul is the prototype of a modern, “post-resurrection” (not having known Jesus during Jesus’ ministry in the flesh) “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul suffered many dangers and persecutions in his preaching of the Gospel. He taught the Christians in Corinth that disciples must be willing to bear suffering so that they may also share in the comfort, consolation and peace (and joy) which only Jesus can and does provide.

Disciples endure suffering so that others may share in their joy, peace, comfort and the consolation of salvation. The Lord allows his disciples to suffer so that their faith will grow and be strengthened. If we never had any problems we wouldn’t realize that we need the Lord, and as he shows us his power and faithfulness in delivering us from small problems we learn to trust in him in the big problems.

Jesus told the crowds that gathered to him that any one who wants to follow Jesus must be a disciple, and a disciple must be willing to follow Jesus’ teaching and example. Jesus bore suffering to proclaim the Gospel during his earthly ministry, and he suffered and died on the cross for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death. His disciples can’t expect their proclamation of the Gospel to be any more popular to the people of this world than was Jesus.’ People should realistically consider the cost and requirements of discipleship before they make the commitment.

We live in a very hedonistic, self-indulgent society. No one seems to be willing to do anything if it isn’t “fun.” Some proponents of the “Church Growth” movement (in the nominal, “institutional” church, as opposed to the true Church of Christ’s body) are promoting worship as entertainment and designing programs that will attract “fun-seekers.”  That’s not what Jesus taught his disciples. Discipleship isn’t an optional category of “power-Christians.” “Born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ or new believers who are actively being discipled and seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit are the only authentic Christians there are.

Christian discipleship is costly in terms of self-denial, obedience, and endurance, but the rewards are beyond comparison, as Paul, then in prison and awaiting trial as a result of preaching the Gospel, told the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 3:7-10). Although there are costs of discipleship, there are great immediate and eternal rewards, including the joy, love, peace and assurance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The worst thing the world can do to a disciple is to put him to physical death, but the disciple knows that Jesus is alive, having risen from physical death to eternal life, and by the indwelling Holy Spirit he is comforted and assured that he has eternal life with Jesus. What in this present world would be worth death and destruction eternally in hell to possess, briefly, here (Luke 9:25)?

Christians are to be “salt” in the world; they’re to be different and distinguishable from worldly people. They’re to possess a vital element, the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the application of the Gospel, that the world needs in order to experience real life, and they’re to use that element to share it with others.

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


Tuesday 2 Pentecost – Odd  

First Posted 05/30/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:15-24   –    Against Image Worship;

2 Corinthians 1:12-22    –     Seal and Guarantee of the Spirit;
Luke 15:1-10   –    Parables of the Lost;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

When God revealed himself to Israel at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai), the people heard his voice but saw no form (God is Spirit; John 4:24). Israel is not to make any form or figure to worship as god; not human, animal, or celestial. God has allowed the people of earth to worship images but has brought Israel out of Egypt to be his own people. The Lord was angry with Moses (because when he brought water out of the rock in the wilderness Moses took personal credit, instead of glorifying God; Numbers 20:10-12) and forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land, so Moses was to die in the wilderness before Israel (under the leadership of Joshua) could cross the Jordan and enter Canaan. Moses warned the people not to forget the covenant of the Lord or worship any one or thing other than the Lord, because the Lord has the power to punish and destroy, and will not tolerate idolatry among his people.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was proud that he had conducted himself in the world and in the church with holiness and godly sincerity, not relying on worldly wisdom but instead on God’s grace. Paul wrote only what was necessary for the church to understand, so that, in the Day of the Lord their understanding would be complete and they would know the same pride for Paul as Paul had for them.

Paul had hoped to be able to visit the church at Corinth on his way to Macedonia and again on his return. Paul didn’t make plans, like worldly people, according to his whim (but by God’s guidance). Paul wasn’t vacillating (in his promise to visit them) nor is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul and his associates preached wavering or uncertain. God is completely faithful. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Luke Paraphrase:

Pharisees (strict legalistic Jews) and scribes (teachers of Jewish Law; Scripture) criticized Jesus for associating with tax collectors (Jewish collaborators with the Roman government) and sinners who were attracted to Jesus’ preaching. So Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep. A man had one hundred sheep. Who wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to seek one sheep that had gone astray? When the man found the lost sheep he would carry it back rejoicing. The man would invite his friends and family to rejoice with him over the recovery of the one lost sheep. Likewise, in heaven there will be more rejoicing over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need to repent.

Another example is of a woman having ten silver coins. If she loses one, won’t she light a lamp and sweep the house thoroughly until she finds it? And when she finds it she will share the good news and her rejoicing with her friends and neighbors.

Commentary:

God is Spirit (the Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9). It has been God’s purpose from the beginning of Creation to establish a kingdom of his people who will trust and obey him. This life is an opportunity for us to seek and find personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, by his indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 17:26-27).

God called Abraham to be the patriarch of God’s people, and Abraham responded to that call in obedient trust. God called Moses to lead God’s people out of the “blast furnace” (Deuteronomy 4:20) of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, but Moses lost the opportunity to lead Israel into the Promised Land or enter himself because he took for himself glory which rightly belonged to God alone. God wants us to find him; he wants to reveal himself to us, but he wants us to trust and obey him above any other thing or person.

Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) had been zealous to be holy and godly, but until the Lord revealed himself to Paul and confronted him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20), Paul had no personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord. When confronted with his sin and spiritual ignorance (although Paul was well-educated in theology), Paul repented and began to trust and obey the Lord, and as he did so he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul became a disciple of Jesus Christ and learned to rely on God’s grace (the free gift of everything necessary to know and obey God’s will) in Jesus Christ, rather than his human, worldly wisdom.

As a result of his encounter on the road to Damascus, Paul recovered what had been lost within him: fellowship and eternal life with the Lord, and was sharing the good news and his rejoicing with others. Now he was teaching the Church at Corinth what they needed to know to grow in Christian discipleship to spiritual maturity at the Day of the Lord (Jesus’ Second Coming).

It is God’s initiative and gift which establishes us as his people in Christ, and commissions us for his service, and it is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which is his 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). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death and destruction in Hell (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus is the revelation of the invisible God in human form (John 1:18; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus came to seek and save the spiritually lost. All of us are sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The Pharisees and scribes thought they were righteous and had no need to repent because they met their own standards of righteousness instead of God’s. They demonstrated that they were not among the Lord’s family or his friends because they did not rejoice in the salvation of sinners.

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 2 Pentecost – Odd 

First Posted 05/31/05;
Podcast: Wednesday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:25-31   –    Faithful and Merciful God;
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17    –    Peddlers of the Word;
Luke 15:1-2, 11-32    –   The Prodigal Son;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Moses warned the people of Israel that after they entered the Promised Land and had dwelt there for several generations they would be tempted to turn to other “gods” and disobey God’s Word. If they pursued idolatry and disobedience Moses warned them that they would not remain in the land but would be destroyed and driven from it, and scattered among the nations of the world. There they would be forced to serve idols created by the imagination of humans. But from there, when they sought God with all their heart and soul, they would find God. “When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them” (Deuteronomy 4:30-31).

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul told the Corinthian Christians that he had refrained from coming to them earlier to spare them from another “painful” visit. It was not that Paul considered himself so much better spiritually than they; Paul’s efforts were for their joy in standing firm in their faith. Paul didn’t want to cause pain to those who were his reason for joy. It was painful for Paul to write a severe letter, but it was done in love for them.

Those in the Corinthian congregation who had caused pain had hurt the Corinthian congregation, and realizing that should be punishment enough. Paul urged the church to forgive and comfort them and reaffirm their love. Paul had written the congregation hoping that their obedience would be confirmed. Paul declared that he had also forgiven the wayward members, and that forgiveness and reconciliation prevent opportunities for Satan to attack and divide the church.

Paul had an opportunity to preach the Gospel in Troas, but Paul was unable to pursue that opportunity because he was worried about Titus (a co-worker), and so Paul went instead to Macedonia. Paul thanked God that in Jesus Christ we are always triumphant (because he has already won the victory at the Cross).  Through his disciples he spreads the “incense” of the knowledge of the Lord everywhere.

We are the offering of incense of Christ to God among the lost and saved of this world. Christ is the fragrance of life to those who are being saved and transformed from physical life to eternal life, but the smell of death to those who are perishing, moving from physical death to eternal death. Paul recognized his human inadequacy for this ministry. “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word; but as men (people) of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Luke Paraphrase:

The Pharisees (strict, legalistic Jews) and scribes (teachers of Jewish law) criticized Jesus for associating with tax collectors (Jewish collaborators with the Roman government) and sinners. Jesus answered with the parable (a story which uses common human experiences to convey spiritual truth) of the prodigal son.  A man had two sons, and the younger son asked his father to give him his portion of the inheritance. The father divided his inheritance between the two sons, and within a few days the younger son took his possessions and went to another country, where he spent his inheritance in loose living.

When his inheritance was spent, the country had a great famine, and the young son began to experience hunger and want. He became the servant of a hog farmer (the ultimate degradation and humiliation to a Jew), and would have been happy to eat the pods which he was given to feed the pigs, but he wasn’t allowed to eat them.

The young son began to remember how in his father’s house even the servants had plenty to eat, while here the son was starving with hunger. He decided to return to his father’s house to repent of his sin and become one of his father’s servants, since he felt no longer worthy to be his son. But the father saw him coming and ran and embraced and welcomed his son. He gave the young son the best robe and a signet ring (symbolizing authority) and prepared a feast to celebrate his son’s return.

The older son had been in the field (working) and when he returned home he heard the music and rejoicing, and asked one of the servants the reason for the celebration. The servants told him that his younger brother had returned and his father had made a great feast. But the older son was angry and refused to join the celebration.

His father came out to beg him to come in, but the oldest son criticized his father for rewarding the younger son who had been unfaithful and had squandered his inheritance in debauchery, while never rewarding the older son who had always been faithful and obedient. The father told his older son that he would always be with him and would possess all of his father’s estate, but it is right to celebrate over the return of one who was dead but has been restored to life; the one who was lost and has been found.

Commentary:

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also a parable, a metaphor, for life in this world. God warned Israel through Moses that if they yielded to the temptation of disobedience and idolatry that they would be driven from their land and scattered throughout the nations of the world. God also promised that from that exile and tribulation, if they repented and returned to obedient trust in the Lord, the Lord would forgive and restore them and fulfill his covenant with them.

Israel did turn to idolatry and disobeyed God’s Word, and they refused to repent and heed God’s prophets. The result was that they were carried into exile in Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C. When they repented and returned to worship, trust and obey the Lord, the Lord brought them back to their land as he has promised in his Word.

But Israel forgot the lessons they had learned in exile in Babylon, and at the time of Jesus Christ, they were again serving other “gods” and rebelling against God’s Word. They refused to recognize Jesus as the Son of God who spoke God’s Word and was the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:1-5, 14), and they refused to trust and obey him. The result was that God’s Word of warning through Moses was again fulfilled. In 70 A.D.. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation until following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt. God’s Word is eternal and continues to be fulfilled as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Paul didn’t want to hurt his Christian brethren in Corinth, but he loved them enough to faithfully proclaim the full Gospel, including “painful” truth. Paul didn’t consider himself spiritually superior to the Corinthian Christians; he recognized that he was unworthy, as are we all, of the ministry which he had been given, and that it was not any ability of his own but solely the work of God in Christ at the Cross who had procured the victory and salvation which Paul preached.

Paul was living according to the example of God’s forgiveness and reconciliation revealed in Jesus Christ. We are not to be “peddlers” of God’s Word; Church ministry is not just a “career choice” or a way to manipulate people. In Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have been given the ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation which he provides to all who seek him in obedient trust.

In a sense we are all “prodigal” children of our heavenly Father. We have all used the resources he has provided to pursue our own pleasure and self-interest. We are all in exile in the “Babylon” of this world and away from God’s presence and kingdom through disobedience of his Word and the worship of other “gods” like money, power, pleasure, and self. He promises that when we repent and turn to him in obedient trust we will be forgiven, welcomed and restored to his presence as his own children.

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) and for our restoration to personal fellowship with the Lord through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit which he gives to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; 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)?

Thursday 2 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/01/05;
Podcast: Thursday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 4:32-40    –     The Lord is the Only True God;

2 Corinthians 3:1-18   –    The New Covenant;
Luke 16:1-9    –    The Dishonest Steward;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Consider the entire history of the world from the day of creation. Never before has any nation and people heard God’s voice or experienced God’s intervention except Israel. Never before has any nation been delivered from the power of another by miraculous powers and signs as the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt. The Lord revealed his powerful intervention so that we might know that the Lord alone is God. The Lord let his voice be heard so that he might discipline us. The Lord loved the patriarchs of Israel and chose to bless their descendants in fulfilling his promise to their ancestors.

He brought them out of Egypt with his own presence and power and gave them the Promised Land as an inheritance, driving out larger nations and more powerful people before Israel. Realize and remember that the Lord alone is God of heaven and earth; there is no other god. Know, remember and obey God’s Word and his commandments so that all will be well with you and with your descendants and that you may live long in the land God promised to give you forever.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul does not need to commend himself or have others commend him to people. The Church at Corinth is his commendation from Christ, delivered by Paul, written upon their hearts by the Holy Spirit through the new covenant, rather than on the tablets of stone of the old covenant of law. Paul is confident of his commendation and vindication by God through Christ. Paul doesn’t claim any adequacy of his own for his ministry of the new covenant but relies entirely on God.

The old covenant of written law kills (because it cannot free us from sin; it condemns us), but the new covenant gives life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The old covenant brought a measure of splendor illustrated by the fading splendor of Moses’ face, but the new covenant brings a greater and eternal splendor, so that by comparison, the splendor of the old covenant seems like no splendor at all. Because of that great hope, we can be very bold, not like Moses who hid the fading splendor in his face with a veil, so that Israel would not see it fading.

“But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant (the Old Testament of the Bible) that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man [person] turns to the Lord the veil is removed” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). The Lord is the Spirit and the Spirit frees us (from condemnation under the Law, from eternal death, and from spiritual blindness) so we, with unveiled faces, can behold the glory of the Lord and be changed from the fading glory (of the old covenant) to the greater, unfading glory (of the new covenant); “for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18b RSV).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples a parable of a dishonest steward. His master heard that his steward was wasting his resources, and ordered the steward to give an accounting. The steward realized that he would lose his job, and that he was too weak to do physical labor and too proud to beg. So he decided to call each of his Master’s debtors and reduce their debts, so that when he was fired they would be willing to give him room and board.

The Master commended his steward for his prudence in providing for the steward’s future. Worldly people are wiser in their worldly lives than are those who are spiritually enlightened. Believers should use their worldly resources to gain God’s approval and thus secure eternal habitation when this earthly life fails.

Commentary:

This creation was designed and intended by God from the very beginning to be a selection process for the creation of an eternal kingdom of God’s people who will trust and obey him. God gave us free will knowing it would lead to sin, and from the beginning he provided for our salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), through Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5; 14; and see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Eternal salvation as a free gift through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) has been built into creation.

God’s dealing with Israel is intended to be a metaphor for life in this world, as well as history. God brought his people out of slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness by his presence (in the pillar of fire and cloud; Exodus 13:21) and into the Promised Land. In the same way God wants to free us from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world and lead us through the wilderness of this life, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (our “Moses”), leading us through the darkness of this sinful world by the “pillar of fire” of the Holy Spirit within us, and into the Promised Land of his eternal heavenly kingdom. It is those who trust and obey Jesus who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:9-16 RSV), and the “New Israel,” the people of God.

It is through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that the Lord reveals himself to those who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17, 21); Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:20). It is through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit that we hear his voice so that he can guide and discipline us. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who 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 old covenant was intended to be our guardian to restrain us until the coming of the new covenant in Jesus Christ. The old covenant condemns us to eternal death because we’re all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23), and, since the coming of Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Through obedient trust in Jesus we are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the risen Jesus (Romans 8:9). It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, who removes the “veil” and opens our minds to understand the scriptures (compare Luke 24:45). Those who are in Christ, who are born-again by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, are freed from the demands of the law, provided that they are obedient to the Holy Spirit.(Romans 8:1-9).

We should learn a lesson from worldly people who know how to look out for and promote their own worldly interests, but we should apply that lesson to our spiritual interests. We should be using our time, effort and material resources in this life to grow spiritually, learning to know and do God’s will, to recognize his voice, learning to trust and obey Jesus, and seeking to be filled with and guided by his Holy Spirit. When the dishonest steward learned that his future wellbeing was in jeopardy he immediately took action to remedy his situation; he didn’t put off action while he continued his daily routine and lifestyle.

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 2 Pentecost – Odd

First Posted 06/02/05;
Podcast: Friday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 5:1-22    –    The Giving of the Law;

2 Corinthians 4:1-12    –    Paul’s Ministry;
Luke 16:10-17 (18)   –    The Coming of the Kingdom of God;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Moses proclaimed to Israel the Ten Commandments given to him by God at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai). The covenant between God and his people was based on these commandments and the people were commanded to learn them and be careful to do them. Each generation was to renew the covenant. Moses was the mediator between God and the people; the people couldn’t approach God directly.

The Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt is God; we are to have no other god. We must not make any image or “likeness” to worship and serve. The Lord will not share his glory with any other thing or person. He will bless those who love and obey him and punish those who hate and disobey him. We must not use God’s name any other way than reverently, to give him worship and praise.

We are to keep the sabbath as a day of rest for ourselves and those who serve us, remembering what the Lord has done to free us from bondage to sin and death (John 3:16). We must honor our fathers and mothers so that we may receive God’s blessings and live long in the Promised Land. We must not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet what belongs to others. These are the commandments of God which he wrote on tablets of stone and delivered to Moses on Mt. Horeb.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul was thankful for the ministry he had been given by God’s mercy, rather than being discouraged by the suffering he endured for it. He refused to use the Gospel for personal advantage or dishonorable purposes and he refused to alter God’s Word to make it or himself more popular and attractive. Instead he was committed to declare God’s truth openly and fully and leave its reception to the consciences of his hearers.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world (Satan) had blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Paul was not using his ministry to glorify himself but to glorify Jesus as Lord, with Paul as the servant of others for Jesus’ sake. God, who by his Word created light to shine in the darkness (Genesis 1:3), has created spiritual light in the darkness of the hearts of believers who have come to know the glory of God in Jesus. But that spiritual treasure is in “earthen vessels,” (bodies of flesh; human weakness) to show that our salvation is not our own accomplishment but is by the power of God.

Believers experience all kinds of suffering for the gospel but are not overcome by them. We share in Christ’s suffering so that Christ’s life-giving power may be seen working in us. Paul was sharing in the suffering and death of Christ so that others could experience the power of Christ’s life in them.

One who demonstrates faithfulness in small matters will be entrusted with greater responsibility, and one who has demonstrated his ability to manage another’s goods can be entrusted with his own. If we have not been faithful to God’s Word in managing the temporal resources God has given us, why would we expect him to entrust us with spiritual treasures which are truly and eternally precious. No one can serve two masters; we cannot serve worldly values and God.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Pharisees loved material wealth and they scoffed at Jesus’ statement that one cannot serve God and pursue worldly success and acclaim. Jesus replied that the Pharisees considered themselves righteous according to worldly standards, but God knows their true condition. What the world approves is contrary to God’s judgment.

Jesus declared that the old covenant of law was in effect until John (John the baptizer; who was the herald of the coming of the Messiah). Since then, the gospel of the kingdom of God, the new covenant of grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus is in effect, and entering it takes effort and commitment. Heaven and earth will pass away but God’s Word will never change.

Commentary:

God is God, Creator and Lord of Creation, whether we acknowledge him or not, but if we want his blessings and long (eternal) life in his kingdom, we must acknowledge and obey him. The Lord will not share his glory with anyone or anything, including ourselves.

God is not obligated to be all that being the powerful, righteous, just, merciful, loving God implies, unless we are willing to be his obedient, trusting people. God promises that he will eternally bless those who love and obey him, and will eternally punish those who hate and disobey him (John 5:28-29).  God’s people are responsible to learn, remember and obey God’s Word, and to pass that knowledge and obedience on to their children.

Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant of grace through faith in Jesus. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the likeness of God whom we are to worship and glorify. Jesus is the name of the Lord (John 14:7; Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is God’s revelation of himself to the world, and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit is the fullest personal revelation of the Lord to his disciples who trust and obey him (Romans 8:9; John 14:21, 23). Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (John 1:14), and  through Jesus only, all of God’s promises are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Paul was committed to passing on the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (as taught by the apostles, including Paul) gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully, fully, and accurately. He refused to use the Gospel to glorify and exalt himself, or to alter the Gospel to make it more acceptable to people. Paul was willing to be the servant of others for the sake of the Gospel, and to endure suffering and hardship so that others could come to know and experience the glory of God and his life-giving power in Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the glory of God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Glorifying Jesus is glorifying God. It is impossible to serve ourselves and worldly values and also serve the Lord; we must choose whom we will serve, and the choice has eternal consequences.

The Pharisees did not believe Jesus. They did not see and recognize the glory of God in Jesus because Satan had blinded their minds. They were using God’s Word to glorify themselves. They wanted the promises of God without the obligation of obedient trust.

Salvation from eternal death and punishment is the free gift of God to be received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t deserve it, can’t do anything to earn it, or take it by force or deception, but it requires our effort and commitment in order to receive it; it requires discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

Christian discipleship is not going to be popular or always pleasant, in this world.  Jesus didn’t come to abolish God’s laws but to make it possible for us to fulfill them. The Lord does not give the gift of his Holy Spirit to those who have not committed to trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e, John 14:15-17).

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 2 Pentecost – Odd

First posted 06/03/05;
Podcast: Saturday 2 Pentecost – Odd

Deuteronomy 5:22-33   –     Moses the Mediator;

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10    –    Paul’s Faithfulness;
Luke 16:19-31    –    The Rich Man and Lazarus;

Deuteronomy Summary:

God manifested himself in thick cloud and fire when he came down from heaven to the top of Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) to give the Ten Commandments to Moses, written on stone tablets (Exodus 19:9-20:19). The people of Israel witnessed the manifestation from a distance, and heard the voice of the Lord, and were afraid of God’s greatness and power. The people delegated leaders from each of the twelve tribes to ask Moses to be their mediator between God and themselves so that God would not speak directly to the people for fear that they would be destroyed by his great power. They promised to hear and do what the Lord said to Moses.

The Lord heard what the people said to Moses and he declared that it was reasonable and commendable for them to fear the Lord and obey his commandments so that they and their children would be blessed and prospered by the Lord forever. The Lord told Moses to release the people to return to their tents while the Lord gave the rest of his statutes and ordinances to Moses. Moses was to teach God’s law to the people so that they would live in obedience to all of God’s laws in the Promised Land. God’s blessings and long life in the Promised Land are conditional upon obedience to God’s Word.

2 Corinthians Summary:

Paul followed the example of faithfulness of the psalmist (Psalms 116:10), who acted upon what he believed in the midst of adversity. Paul was confident that God would raise him and all believers from physical death to eternal life as he has raised Jesus. Paul’s suffering is all worthwhile to bring God’s grace to more and more people, increasing their thankful rejoicing so that God will be glorified. So Christians should not become discouraged, even though their physical nature is wasting away, because their spiritual nature is being renewed every day. Present afflictions are slight and brief from the perspective of eternity as we focus not on the visible physical life which is transient but on the invisible spiritual realm which is eternal.

Believers can know with certainty that if the earthly “tent,” the temporary physical body which houses our eternal soul, is destroyed we have a “building,” a solid and reliable eternal body, in heaven. While still in this physical life we long to be in our eternal dwelling; we long to be more fully spiritually clothed than we are in our present physical state, so that what is dying might be “swallowed up” by what is truly and eternally life.

God has prepared us for this very purpose, “and has given us the (Holy) Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:5). So we can be fully confident, knowing that as long as we’re in this physical life we are not able to experience complete fellowship with the Lord which we would prefer. Here we must live by faith in what we are not yet able to receive and experience. So whether we live or die, our goal is to please the Lord, for we will all be individually accountable to him for what each of us has done in this earthly life.

Luke Summary:

Jesus told a parable of a rich man and a beggar. The rich man dressed in fine clothes, lived in a mansion, and ate sumptuously every day. A poor beggar, hungry and covered with sores, sat by the rich man’s gate. The poor beggar longed to eat the crumbs fell from the rich man’s table. The rich man’s dogs not only got the crumbs, but they tormented the beggar by licking his sores.

The poor man died and was carried by angels to heaven to be in the presence and fellowship of Abraham, but the rich man died, was buried and found himself in hell. The rich man saw the poor beggar far off with Abraham, and asked Abraham to send the poor man to dip his finger in water and cool the tongue of the rich man who was in the eternal fire of hell. But Abraham told the rich man that he had received good things in his earthly life while the poor man had received evil; now each was being repaid according to their deeds in earthly life. Furthermore, heaven and hell are separated so that it is impossible to go from one to the other.

Then the rich man asked Abraham to send the poor man to his father’s house on earth to warn his five brothers, so that they might not wind up in eternal torment. Abraham told the rich man that his brothers had all the warning they needed from Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament scriptures). The rich man replied that that wouldn’t be enough, but they would repent if someone came to them from the dead. “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:31).

Commentary:

God manifested himself to Israel and gave them his Word so that they would fear (have respect for the power and authority of) God and obey his Word. It is in our own best interest to trust and obey God’s Word. It is the only way to receive eternal life and blessings in the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Jesus is the manifestation of God to his people in a loving non-threatening way. Jesus is our mediator, our “Moses,” who declares God’s Word while saving us from God’s judgment and wrath. Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word in human form (John 1:1-5, 14).

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, like Paul, have the confidence of certain knowledge, through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that we are in Christ and have eternal life because we experience personal fellowship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We are freed from fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15), and can endure adversity without becoming discouraged. The personal love and fellowship we experience in this present life through his indwelling Holy Spirit are only a small sample of the full experience of eternal life in his presence.

This lifetime is our opportunity to come to personal fellowship with the Lord, to learn God’s will and to learn to trust and obey him. Each of us will be accountable individually to the Lord for what we have done with the life and opportunity he has given each of us. Are we learning to please the Lord or are we only interested in pleasing ourselves?

The rich man used his earthly life to pursue his own pleasure and satisfaction. He had daily opportunities to please God and love his “neighbor,” the poor beggar at his gate, but didn’t allow the beggar to even share the scraps from his table with the rich man’s dogs; he wasn’t even considerate enough to restrain his dogs from bothering the beggar. When he died and found himself in hell, he still related to the beggar only in terms of what the beggar could do for the rich man.

God wants us to know his will so that we can learn to do it and receive the blessings he’s promised. He’s given us not only Moses and the prophets but Jesus’ word and example, and his demonstration of his Resurrection, attested to by over 500 eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), and the testimony of the Apostles in the New Testament scriptures. Jesus has returned from the dead to warn us of the finality of God’s judgment. What will it take to convince us to repent and turn to the Lord in obedient trust?

There is no such thing as reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27). This life is our only opportunity to seek and come to personal reconciliation and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is the only mediator who can save us from God’s eternal wrath and condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Once we die physically, our eternal destiny is fixed and unalterable for all eternity.

None of us knows with certainty whether we’ll live until tomorrow, but we can know with certainty where we will spend eternity. If we trust and obey Jesus we will come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with him through the gift of his Holy Spirit which he has promised to his disciples who trust and obey him. The Holy Spirit is God’s ultimate manifestation of himself to us personally and individually (John 14:21, 23). 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). It is possible for us to know with certainty whether we have personally received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

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 Holy Trinity – Odd — 05/31-06/06/2015

May 30, 2015

Week of Holy Trinity – 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:

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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 Holy Trinity – Odd 

Sunday Holy Trinity – Odd 

First Posted 05/21/05;

Podcast: Sunday Holy Trinity – Odd

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (10-15)   –    One Lord;
Ephesians 4:1-16    –   The Unity of the Spirit;
John 1:1-18   –   The Word of God;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

The Ten Commandments, along with God’s statutes and ordinances, the basis of the [Old] Covenant of Law, were given to Moses to teach the people to obey God in the Promised Land so that they would fear (have proper awe and respect for the power and authority of) God. They were to be careful to obey all God’s commandments, statutes and ordinances in order to prosper, multiply, and live long in the Promised Land, in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.

The first and great commandment is that the Lord God is one Lord (not multiple gods; the one and only true, sovereign God). God’s people are to love God with their mind and will, their innermost self, to the fullest extent possible. God’s commandments are to be remembered and applied constantly and daily, and God’s people are to teach them to their children.

The Lord warned Israel of the consequences of forgetting his commandments when they began to prosper in the Promised Land. God was bringing Israel into a land which would seem lush after the barren harshness of the wilderness. Furthermore the Lord was displacing the native people of the Promised Land, so Israel would be able to take over houses, cities, fields and wells they had not labored for and built.

God’s people were warned not to forget that it was the Lord who had given them all these blessings, having brought them out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, as he had promised their ancestors. God’s people were to love, fear, honor, respect and serve only God. They were warned not to adopt the idols of the native people of the land, because God will not tolerate idolatry among his people and the consequence of his anger is total eternal destruction.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul was a prisoner in Rome because of his preaching of the Gospel, and was writing to the Church at Ephesus. He exhorted the Ephesian Christians to live according to Jesus’ teachings, in humility, meekness, patience and forbearance of one another, loving one another, bound together in peace and the unity of the (Holy) Spirit (a seven-fold description of unity of Christian character; seven is symbolic of completeness).

“There is one body (the Church, the body of Christ) and one (Holy) Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope (eternal salvation and life) that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith (obedient trust in Jesus Christ), one baptism, one God and Father of us all (seven-fold unity of faith), who is above all, and through all and in all” (a “trinity” of God’s omnipresence; Ephesians 4:4-6).  Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 to illustrate that God is Lord of the physically living and dead, and Lord of eternity, filling all things (as in Ephesians 4:6).

God’s unmerited favor is received in each Christian by the gift of the (one) indwelling Holy Spirit expressed in a variety of spiritual gifts (abilities). “And his gifts were that some should be apostles (missionaries), some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers;” Ephesians 4:11) These spiritual gifts were given to equip and empower all believers for ministry, to build up (in spiritual strength, ability, and number) the body of Christ (the Church) until all believers attain “the unity of the faith and the knowledge of God” (Ephesians 4:13); until each believer grows up to spiritual maturity, to attain the full spiritual likeness and character of Christ.

Christians are to grow to spiritual maturity so that we are no longer spiritual infants, vulnerable to any false teaching and teacher that comes along, being deceived by cunning, unscrupulous and dishonest people. Instead Christians are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, lovingly speaking and doing what is true, and growing in maturity to resemble, in every way, Christ, who is the head of the Church and of every believer, so that each believer is united in Christ, and each uses his individual spiritual gifts to work together to accomplish Christ’s mission, building and strengthening Christ’s body in love.

John Paraphrase:

The Apostle John says that the Word (God’s Word has creative power, unlike humans’ words) existed at the beginning of Creation; the Word was with God and was God. Everything was made through the Word (Genesis 1:3; Psalm 33:6). In the Word was (true, spiritual, eternal) life, and that life was the light of men. The Word is the true spiritual light in the spiritual darkness and evil of this world, and that darkness cannot overcome that light.

John the Baptizer was sent by God (Luke 1:13-17) as the prophet to announce the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), the true light of righteousness and spiritual enlightenment. The Word was physically present in the world which had been created through him, but the world didn’t know and recognize him. He came to his own home and his own people refused to receive him. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name (his character and authority) he gave the power (but that promise must be claimed and appropriated by obedient trust) to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father (John 1:14). John the Baptizer testified that Jesus, who came to manifestation chronologically after John, was greater in every way than John. From Jesus we receive inexhaustible loving forgiveness, and complete faithfulness of his promises.

The Law (which condemns sin to eternal death) was given through Moses, but Jesus has brought us unmerited redemption and faithfulness. No human has ever seen God; God’s only (begotten) Son, who is in complete fellowship and union with God the Father, reveals and makes God known.

Commentary:

The first and greatest of God’s commandments is that that the Lord God is one Lord, the only true and sovereign God. God’s people are to know, trust and obey God’s Word. The Lord blesses his people who fear, respect, honor, love and obey God, but he will not tolerate idolatry or disobedience. Those who worship and serve any one or thing other than God or refuse to trust and obey the Lord will be condemned to eternal destruction.

Israel learned to trust and obey God during their wilderness wandering, but God warned them to remember the lessons of their wilderness experience when they came into the Promised Land and became prosperous and successful. Despite the repeated warnings from God’s Word and God’s prophets, Israel kept turning to other gods and to disobedience of God’s Word, and they suffered the consequences.

America today, the “New Israel,” the “New Promised Land,” is in a similar situation, founded mainly by Christian people who realized their dependence upon the Lord when they settled the wilderness and drove out the native people. But today America has forgotten the lessons our ancestors learned in the “wilderness.” We’ve become prosperous and successful and have turned from serving the Lord to serving ourselves. We haven’t taught the fear and obedient trust of the Lord to our children.

Paul is the prototype of the modern “post-resurrection” (having come to personal knowledge of Jesus Christ only after Jesus’ resurrection) “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger of the Gospel; missionary) of Jesus Christ. He was telling the Ephesian Church to hold on to the scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (taught by the Apostles, including Paul) doctrines of the Gospel, and he was describing the doctrine of the Trinity; one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father is Spirit (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).

Jesus was God who became human (John 1:14; not a human who became God). In Jesus, the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus was more than just filled with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the risen Christ (Romans 8:9-11). Jesus is God’s only Son begotten by the creative act of God. We can become (adopted) children of God through Jesus by the gift of his Holy Spirit, but that does not make us gods or equal to God.

Jesus came in human flesh to reveal God’s nature and character to us, to make it possible for us to know and have personal fellowship with God the Father through the gift of his Holy Spirit within us, made possible by the forgiveness of our sins by obedient trust in Jesus (John 14:21, 23) and Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross.

We can only come to know God through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). When we see Jesus and realize that he is God in human flesh (John 20:28; John 1:14), then as we begin to trust and obey Jesus we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom we have personal knowledge and fellowship with God the Father and God the Son through God the Holy Spirit: three persons; one God.

Each “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ is united in Christ with other “born-again” disciples, individually empowered and led by the one Spirit to fulfill the ministry of Christ as his body the Church. That ministry is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to grow to spiritual maturity within the Church, seeking the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, repeat that discipling ministry with others.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to provide us the opportunity to seek and come to personally know God (Acts 17:26-17). God’s purpose from the beginning of creation has been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who trust and obey him. This life is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey the Lord so that we can live with him in the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom.

God gave us free will, knowing that we would disobey him, and he built a Plan of Salvation in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) into creation. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal death (John 14:6). Through obedient trust in Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit who cleanses us, frees us from bondage to sin, and gives us the power to serve and please 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)?

Monday Holy Trinity – Odd

First Posted 05/22/05;
Podcast: Monday Holy Trinity – Odd

Ruth 1:1-18   –    Ruth’s Commitment to Naomi;
1 Timothy 1:1-17   –    Commitment to Apostolic Doctrine;
Luke 13:1-9   –    On Repentance and Commitment; .

Ruth Paraphrase:

During the time Israel was governed by judges (after Joshua’s death, until the monarchy was established with Saul), a Jew from Bethlehem named Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, to live in the territory of Moab (east of the Jordan river at the southern part of the Dead Sea, whose people were considered enemies of Israel). Elimelech died in Moab. Naomi stayed in Moab with her two sons, who took Moabite wives named Orpah and Ruth, and then after ten years her two sons died also.

Naomi decided to return to Judah, because she had heard in Moab “that the Lord had visited his people (in Israel) and given them food” (Ruth 1:6). Her daughters-in-law prepared to go with her, but she offered to let them stay in the land of their people in Moab. Naomi wanted them to be able to remarry and have families, rather than staying widows with Naomi in Judah, so she released them and gave them her blessing although she was sad to be separated from them. Orpah returned to her people, but Ruth decided to stay with Naomi.

Naomi tried to convince Ruth to change her mind for Ruth’s happiness and benefit, but Ruth had made up her mind. Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth promised with an oath to keep her word. Naomi saw that Ruth had made her decision so they returned to Judah together.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul was an apostle by the command of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, writing to his disciple, Timothy, praying for Timothy to be blessed with the grace (unmerited favor), mercy, and peace which are only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. When Paul had gone to Macedonia, Paul had left Timothy in charge of the Church in Ephesus, with the commission to restrain the teaching of false doctrine by certain individuals within the congregation, and to prevent preoccupation with “myths and endless genealogies which promote speculation rather than the divine training that is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4).

What disciples should focus on is genuine “love which issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1Timothy 1:5). Some people have strayed from true faith by getting into vain discussion, and who desire to be teachers without having learned or experienced the things they are saying and claiming. God’s law is good if one applies it lawfully, but realize that the Law was given not for the righteous but “for lawless sinners, for the unholy and profane, murderers…, the immoral, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine in accordance with the glorious gospel” (of Jesus Christ; 1 Timothy 1:9-11).

Paul was thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ had judged Paul faithful to serve him and had empowered Paul for that service. Paul realized that he was unworthy (as are we all), because he had formerly blasphemed, persecuted (and opposed) Jesus, but the Lord was merciful to him because Paul had acted in ignorance and unbelief. Paul had received an overflowing abundance of the Lord’s free gift of love and faith which is received by faith in Jesus.

It is absolutely true and reliable that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Paul felt as though he was the foremost of sinners, but took joy in the idea that the Lord’s patience (and the transforming power of the Gospel) would be displayed in Paul’s example, for the world to see, so that they might receive eternal life through faith. The only true God and King of eternity is worthy of eternal honor and glory.

Luke Paraphrase:

Some in the crowd that had gathered around Jesus reported that Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, had killed Galilean Jews as they were offering sacrifices. Jesus asked them if they thought the Galileans thus martyred were more sinful than any other Galileans. Jesus said those martyred Galileans were not worse or more deserving of death than anyone else, but unless we repent we will all suffer a similar spiritual fate.

Worldly catastrophes are not the manifestation of God’s judgment, although they may cause physical death. The real spiritual catastrophe is dying without having repented and without having received forgiveness and salvation from spiritual, eternal death. Life is uncertain; no one can be sure that they won’t die suddenly and unexpectedly.

Jesus told a parable about a fig tree. For three years the owner came expecting to gather its fruit, but it had produced none. The owner told his gardener to cut it down and use the ground for something more productive, but the gardener convinced the owner to give the fig tree one more year. The gardener promised to cultivate the ground around the tree and fertilize it well. Then if the tree produced fruit the owner would be pleased and satisfied, but if it still was unproductive the fig tree would be cut down.

Commentary:

Naomi loved both her daughters-in-law enough to put their interest and happiness ahead of her own. Both daughters-in-law loved their mother-in-law, but Orpah accepted the freedom to pursue her own interest. Both Orpah and Naomi were willing to be separated from each other if that is what Orpah wanted and though would make her happy. Ruth loved Naomi and believed both would be happier together than apart; Ruth’s interest was in being with Naomi and making Naomi happy. Ruth was willing to leave her own land, her own people, her own family, and her own idols, and even to die with Naomi to be with Naomi, and Ruth was faithful to her commitment.

Our Lord is like Naomi. He loves us so much that he gives us the freedom to pursue our own interests; to seek our own happiness and fulfillment, even if that means permanent separation from him. He is also faithful like Ruth.  He loves us so much that he was willing to leave his glory and Father in heaven, to come to our land, to die for us to make it possible for us to be with him and spend eternity with him in the paradise of the heavenly “Promised Land.”

We have been given the choice to be like Orpah or Ruth. We’re free to pursue what we think and hope will make us happy on this earth, willing to be separated from our Lord’s love forever, or we can choose to commit our lives to love and trust our Lord, and follow him in obedience to the eternal Promised Land, renouncing our worldly idols to serve the Lord and physically die in and with him.

Paul is the example of a faithful disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. He is the prototype of the modern, “post-resurrection” (like us, having come to faith in the risen Jesus after Jesus’ earthly ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven), “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian disciple. He made a commitment to love, serve and follow Jesus to foreign lands, to serve the one true God of Israel and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul was committed to preserve the scriptural, apostolic Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully and accurately as he had received it from personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus through Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit. He was committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus’ teaches and commands, in accordance with Christ’s Great Commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and to faithfully and accurately preserve and pass it on to them the scriptural apostolic gospel as he had received it. Timothy is an example of that discipling process. Christians are called to grow to spiritual maturity, to know the scriptural apostolic doctrine so that they can avoid, restrain and refute false teachers and false doctrine.

Christians are warned to grow in the solid scriptural, apostolic doctrines and personal knowledge of the Lord and not to get side-tracked by unproductive speculations. It’s easy to get caught up in such things as speculations about the “End Times” and the “Second Coming.” No one but God the Father knows when the end of time will come, not even Jesus (Matthew 24:36 RSV). Instead of unproductive speculation it is far better and far more productive to develop a personal relationship with the Lord, so that we will learn to distinguish his voice and know and obey his will.

It won’t matter when the End comes, and it won’t be necessary for us to find the Lord, because he will know where we are (Matthew 24:26-28), and we will be secure in him. Another temptation is for people to become teachers before they have been discipled, grown to spiritual maturity and filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Just because one has read the entire Bible or even formally studied the Bible does not qualify one to lead others to discipleship, if one has not been truly “born-again” through the indwelling Holy Spirit. One does not appoint oneself to be an apostle, but is appointed by the command and call of God and by the empowerment of his Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 1:1, 12).

People in the crowds who gathered to hear Jesus believed that disasters were a sign of God’s judgment, and that anyone who suffered a disaster had deserved punishment by God. Jesus replied that the people who fall into disaster aren’t any greater sinners or more deserving of God’s punishment than anyone else. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and God’s punishment for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Life is uncertain; no one knows when disaster may strike. The real disaster is not physical death, but spiritual, eternal death. The real disaster is dying without having used the opportunity of this physical life to seek and come to fellowship with, and personal knowledge of God (Acts 17:26-27) through Jesus Christ, and spiritual birth by the gift of his 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). Only through Jesus Christ do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:332-34), which Jesus gives only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; John 14:21).

Christians are to bear spiritual fruit for the kingdom of God. The only way to be fruitful is to abide in Jesus Christ and he within us through his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 15:1-11). It is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which guides, enables and empowers us to be fruitful in accordance with God’s will and purpose. God is gracious, loving and merciful, which is intended to give us time, nurture and motivation to become fruitful, but if we continue to be unproductive his grace and mercy will come to an end and we will suffer his anger and 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 Holy Trinity – Odd 

First Posted 05/23/05;

Podcast: Tuesday Holy Trinity – Odd

Ruth 1:19-2:13    –    Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz;
1 Timothy 1:18-2:8 (9-15)   –   Instructions for Worship;
Luke 13:10-17   –    Healing on the Sabbath;

Ruth Paraphrase:

Naomi, a Jewish widow, returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite. The barley harvest was beginning when they arrived, and a wealthy relative of Naomi’s husband, named Boaz, had a barley field. Ruth asked her mother-in-law’s permission to glean the barley left by the reapers, hoping to find favor among those overseeing the harvest, and Naomi allowed Ruth to do so.

Ruth happened to glean the fields of Boaz. Boaz came out from Bethlehem to the field, and noticing Ruth, he asked his servants who she was. They told him that she was the Moabite maiden who returned with Naomi from Moab. They said she had asked permission to glean, and that she had been a hard worker.

Boaz spoke to Ruth, telling her to stay close to his servants and glean only from his fields, telling her that she would be safe from molestation with them, because he had ordered them not to molest her. He also told her to help herself, when she was thirsty, to the water drawn by his servants. Ruth bowed to Boaz, thanking him for his favor toward her, a foreigner. But Boaz replied that he had heard all that Ruth had done for Naomi since Naomi’s husband had died, and that she had left her country and her family and had come to a strange land and to people she didn’t know. Boaz prayed that the Lord would bless and reward Ruth for her goodness and faithfulness, since she had sought refuge in the God of Israel. Ruth thanked Boaz for his kind and comforting words to a maidservant who was not in his responsibility.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul had entrusted the responsibility for the Church at Ephesus to Timothy and had given him instructions for Church administration. Paul exhorted Timothy first to faithfully and accurately preserve the apostolic Gospel and to guard against false teachers and false doctrines. Timothy was exhorted to “wage the good warfare” of holding to the apostolic faith and good conscience.

Paul warned Timothy to beware of people who were not guided by a good conscience, and used as examples Hymenaeus, who had falsely taught that the resurrection of the dead was already past, and Alexander, a Jewish coppersmith who had opposed Paul’s ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:33). Paul had excommunicated such people in the hope that under Satan’s power they might be induced to repent.

Paul instructed Timothy that the Church was to pray with supplication, intersession and thanksgiving for all people, and for all secular rulers, so that Christians might lead quiet, peaceable, godly and respectable lives. It is good and in God’s will, because the Lord desires that all might be saved and come to knowledge of the (gospel) truth. God is the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between God and mankind. Jesus gave his life on the cross to pay the ransom of all people (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), and this is the message Paul was appointed a preacher and apostle to proclaim and to instruct the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Paul urged that members in every congregation would pray with holy hands (with a clean conscience, unstained by disobedience) uplifted (the customary posture), without anger or quarreling. People should clothe themselves with modesty, and avoid ostentation. Instead of outward adornment, we should seek to adorn ourselves spiritually through good deeds befitting people who profess Jesus as their Lord. Our behavior should be governed by faith, love, holiness and modesty.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue one Sabbath, and there was a woman who for eighteen years had a “spirit” of disability of her back, making her walk “hunched-over” and unable to stand up straight. Jesus saw her and called to her, declaring that she was freed from her disability. Jesus laid his hands on the woman and immediately her back was straightened, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant, and told the crowd that they should not come to Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.

Jesus replied, calling those who agree with the ruler of the synagogue hypocrites, because they feed and water their livestock on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that the woman was a descendant of Abraham (and one of God’s chosen children) whom Satan had oppressed for eighteen years, and that it was appropriate to free her from bondage to Satan on the Sabbath. Jesus’ adversaries were put to shame and the people rejoiced in the glorious things Jesus was doing.

Commentary:

Ruth had joined her mother-in-law’s community and religion. She wanted to participate in the support of the household, and she asked her mother-in-law for permission and guidance to glean in the fields. She wanted to find favor with the master of the harvest. Her behavior in the field impressed the servants and the master, and the news of her love and faithfulness, and the fact that she had sought refuge in the God of Israel also impressed the master. The master told Ruth to work only in his fields and to stay close to his servants so that she wouldn’t come to harm.

This is a “picture” of discipleship. Naomi brought Ruth to “church.”  The Master of the harvest is Jesus Christ. Christians are not just to hang around the “house” and visit with fellow members of the household. But they have to be discipled first by sticking close to “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian servants, who can teach them how to harvest correctly while preserving the scriptural apostolic gospel.

Not just anyone who wants to join in should be allowed to do so, unless they’re willing to bear the discipline of discipleship and are willing to obey the Master’s rules and guidance. They need to have a personal knowledge of and relationship with the Master, and to get his permission and guidance. They need to drink freely of the spiritual water the Master supplies (John 4:10-14; 7:37-39) through daily fellowship with the Lord and his Word. (I personally testify to this truth. This is how I came to this internet ministry.)

Timothy had been trained in discipleship by Paul. Paul made sure Timothy received the sound biblical apostolic gospel (the Gospel taught by the original apostles, including Paul, and recorded in the New Testament), and he urged Timothy, first of all to preserve and pass on that Gospel faithfully and accurately to his congregation, and to guard his congregation from false teachers and false doctrines. Paul warned Timothy to beware of people who were not guided by conscience to live according to the Gospel they professed.

Paul warned Timothy to teach his congregation obedience to Jesus’ teachings, so that their lives would be good testimony to the Lord, instead of allowing people to adopt the exterior appearance of “good Christians” while their deeds denied the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Paul advocated that false teachers and those who did not live according to the scriptural apostolic gospel should not be allowed to take refuge within the church; instead they should be excommunicated (or denied membership), in the hope that they might come to realize their spiritual condition and need and thus be induced to repent and be saved. How are we doing today, Church?

The ruler of the synagogue “looked good” on the outside, but he didn’t love and obey the Lord on the inside. He used his religion to make himself look righteous, but he didn’t love God or his “neighbor,” the basis and summation of all of God’s Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). He cared more for his livestock that the physical and spiritual needs of others, even his own people.

Jesus healed the woman physically, but there was a deeper underlying spiritual condition that only Jesus can heal. We can adopt a “Christian” posture and wear the garments of God’s people and God’s spiritual leaders, but it is only by the personal touch and guidance by the indwelling Holy Spirit through obedient trust in Jesus that our spiritual disability can be healed.

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 Holy Trinity – Odd 

First Posted 05/24/05;

Podcast: Wednesday Holy Trinity – Odd

Ruth 2:14-23   –    The Kindness of Boaz to Ruth;
1 Timothy 3:1-16   –   Qualifications of Church Leaders;
Luke 13:18-30   –    Parables of the Kingdom;

Ruth Paraphrase:

At lunchtime, Boaz invited Ruth to share in the bread and wine and gave her parched grain to eat. She had enough to satisfy her hunger and some left over. When she returned to gleaning, Boaz told his servants to leave a little extra of the harvest for Ruth to glean, and not rebuke her. Ruth continued her gleaning until evening, and then threshed what she gathered. She had harvested more than one-half bushel of threshed barley.

Ruth returned to the city and showed her mother-in-law, Naomi, what she had gleaned, and also gave her the food left over from Ruth’s lunch. Naomi was impressed and asked Ruth whose field she had gleaned. When she learned it was Boaz’ field, Naomi invoked the Lord’s blessing on Boaz who had not forsaken the living or the dead. She told Ruth that Boaz was a close relative of hers.

Ruth told Naomi that Boaz had also protected Ruth from molestation by telling her to stay close to his servants, and Naomi was glad to hear of Boaz’ concern for Ruth’s safety. Ruth continued to glean in Boaz’ fields through the end of the barley and wheat harvests.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul gave Timothy instructions for selecting church leaders. Bishops (overseers) hold a noble position, but they also have a responsibility to be above reproach. A bishop should be faithful in marriage, moderate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, and a good teacher, not a drunkard, violent, quarrelsome or greedy. He should demonstrate his ability to manage God’s church by his ability to manage his own household well, with obedient and respectful children. He must not be a recent convert or he may be conceited and fail to resist temptation. If he doesn’t have a good reputation in the secular community, his lack of good character will lead to reproach and sin.

Deacons were appointed to serve the administrative, social and charitable activities of the church. Both men and women may serve as deacons and are to be committed to their duties, honest and truthful, moderate and faithful, not drunkards or greedy. “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” [i.e. they must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) believers who practice what they profess; 1 Timothy 3:9].

“Let them be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons” (1 Timothy 3:10; i.e. they must be mature Christians, who have demonstrated their faith). They must demonstrate their ability to manage the church by good management of their families. Deacons are respected in their secular communities and their behavior influences the acceptance of the Gospel by the world.

The Church is and must be the pillar and bulwark of the truth in this world. Christ is the mystery of God “which has been manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus used several parables to illustrate the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed which grows into a supernaturally large tree, becomming a nesting place for birds. The kingdom of God is also like a small amount of yeast placed in dough and allowed time to permeate and affect the whole loaf.

Jesus was heading for Jerusalem, and on the way someone asked him if only a few people would be saved (i.e. enter God’s eternal kingdom). Jesus replied that one should earnestly endeavor to enter because the door to God’s kingdom is narrow, and many will try to enter and will not be able. Once the owner of the house has risen and closed the door, people will knock and ask to enter, but the owner will deny knowing them.

They will say, “we ate and drank in you presence and you taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26), but the owner will deny knowing them, condemn them as evildoers and command them to depart from him. Those who are denied entry will have great anguish and grief when they see the patriarchs and prophets in God’s kingdom while they, among the lost, are rejected. People from the farthest places on earth will come to the heavenly banquet. But Jesus warned that “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30).

Commentary:

The Church needs leaders like Boaz, who will train and supervise the servants who are responsible for reaping the harvest of God’s field. Ruth is like a new believer in the church who is not yet ready to handle the main work of the harvest, but is fed and given water and is warned to stay close to the reapers for her wellbeing. Mature, “born-again” Christian disciples are to be reapers.

Reaping is not the sole or even the main job of the ordained clergy. The main job of the clergy is to supervise the harvest, to see that both reapers and gleaners are spiritually nurtured and that gleaners are discipled and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit before they become reapers. Both reapers and gleaners can bring home and share with others the “bread” they have received from the “overseer.”

Paul was the discipler of Timothy who had become the overseer of the Church at Ephesus. All pastors are to be “overseers” and managers of their congregation and the qualifications for “bishops” apply also to pastors. Paul himself was fulfilling the role of “bishop,” the pastor, overseer and manager of pastors.

Mature Christians are to fulfill the responsibilities of deacons, to help with the discipling of new members and to help with the reaping of the harvest. There may be specifically appointed and commissioned deacons who oversee the harvesting and discipling. Christians, like deacons, must keep their reputations in the secular community from reproach, and like deacons, remember that what they do in the secular community affects the reception of the Gospel by the world.

The Gospel is a tiny seed which grows into a large kingdom, provided that it is sown, fed and watered. Faith also begins as a tiny seed, with our “yes” to the seed of the Gospel, which when fed and watered grows to spiritual maturity. Christians are to be the “yeast” in our communities, which ultimately influences and changes the world. The Holy Spirit is the “yeast” within Christians that changes us so that we can be “yeast” in the world.

The Lord warns that we should diligently strive to enter the narrow door to eternal life in God’s kingdom. Jesus is that narrow door; Jesus is God’s only provision for salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’ Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). It is by obedient trust in Jesus Christ that we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are “reborn,” and qualified, guided, and empowered to be servants in God’s “field.”

Jesus warns that it is not people who call themselves Christians, who call Jesus “Lord,” or who are active church members, or who receive “Communion” (the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper), or who do good deeds, who will be saved from eternal death (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46). It is those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, and who have received the promised rebirth and gift of the Holy Spirit, who know with certainty for themselves that they are in Christ and have eternal life with him in God’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Worldly judgment will be overturned and reversed. It won’t be what we think of ourselves, or what the world thinks of us that will matter; it will be what the “Master of the house,” Jesus Christ, thinks of us that will matter for all 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)?

Thursday Holy Trinity – Odd

First Posted 05/25/05;

Podcast: Thursday Holy Trinity – Odd

Ruth 3:1-18   –   Ruth and Boaz;
1 Timothy 4:1-16   –   False Teachers;
Luke 13:31-35   –    Herod’s Threat;

Ruth Paraphrase:

Naomi and her husband, both Jews, and their two sons, had traveled to Moab to live, and where her husband died. Her two sons had taken Moabite women as wives, and the two sons had also died. Naomi had released the two widows of her sons to marry again, and one had chosen to stay in Moab, but the other, Ruth, had chosen to return with Naomi to Bethlehem in Judah (see entry for yesterday, Wednesday, Trinity, odd year).

Naomi loved Ruth and wanted Ruth to remarry so that Ruth would be happy and cared for, so she suggested that Ruth go to Boaz, a near relative of Naomi’s whom Ruth had met while gleaning leftover barley from harvested fields. In that culture, kinsmen had the right and obligation to take, as wife, the widow of their kinsman, so that the kinsman’s genealogy and family inheritance would be preserved. Naomi told Ruth to show her love for Boaz, by going to the threshing floor and lying down at his feet after he had gone to sleep. Ruth agreed to do all that Naomi had instructed.

At midnight Boaz was startled to find a woman sleeping at his feet, and asked who she was. She told him her name and that she was his next of kin. Boaz appreciated that Naomi had honored him regardless of wealth, rather than seeking a young and physically attractive mate, and complimented her as a woman of worth. Boaz was willing to have her as wife, but realized that the right belonged to someone who was of closer kinship, and allowed that person to have the first choice.

In consideration of Ruth, Boaz allowed Ruth to stay the night, and to leave in the morning before her presence was known. In the morning, before daylight, Boaz gave Ruth six measures of barley to take to provide for herself and Naomi. Ruth gave the barley to Naomi, and Naomi told Ruth to be patient and wait for the resolution, assuring her that Boaz would resolve the decision that very day.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul told Timothy that in the latter days (the period before the Lord’s return on the Day of Judgment) some will abandon the (true, scriptural, apostolic) gospel by giving heed to lying spirits and the doctrines of demons, through false teachers whose consciences have been seared (desensitized; rendered ineffective), who advocate abstinence from marriage and from certain foods (like meat), contrary to God’s will and intention for his people who believe and know the truth and who receive everything with thanksgiving, having consecrated it by God’s Word and by prayer.

A good minister of Jesus Christ is nourished on the Word of faith (the Bible) and good doctrine (the scriptural, apostolic Gospel), and teaches it to others. We are not to have any involvement in godless and foolish myths (false doctrines created by humans). Instead we are to train ourselves in godliness (obedience to God’s Word).

Physical training benefits our physical bodies, but spiritual training is of greater benefit, because it improves our present lives, and also provides and prepares us for eternal life. God’s Word is absolutely true and worthy of full acceptance, and we hold fast to it and persevere, having our hope fixed upon the living God, the savior of all people who put their obedient trust in him. So let us command and teach these things. Let us not discount any on the basis of their youth, but let us set an example in speech, conduct, love and purity.

Let us proclaim the scripture, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teach discipleship until Jesus returns. Let us not neglect the gift of the Holy Spirit which we have been promised in our baptism. Let us practice our Christian duties enthusiastically so that others will see our progress. Let us take heed to ourselves and to our teachings to apply them diligently in our own lives, so that all will see our progress in spiritual growth to maturity, so that we ourselves and our hearers will be saved.

Luke Paraphrase:

Some Pharisees tried to warn Jesus to leave because Herod was seeking to kill Jesus. Jesus called Herod a fox, and told the Pharisees to tell Herod that Jesus would continue to follow God’s will and fulfill his mission today and tomorrow, and would finish his mission on the third day (Jesus’ mission was fulfilled and confirmed by his resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion). Jesus declared that he must continue his ministry in Jerusalem (regardless of Herod). Jesus declared that the Jews would not be saved until they recognized and acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, who comes in the Lord’s name (his power and authority).

Commentary:

This text in the book of Ruth is a “picture” of the people of God, going about their daily lives, living honorable lives according to God’s Word. Naomi loved Ruth and wanted what was best for Ruth. She had offered to let Ruth stay in Moab and seek a husband from Ruth’s own people, but Ruth loved Naomi and had chosen to stay with Naomi and return to Naomi’s land and people. Ruth had taken the initiative to provide food for Naomi and herself by gleaning barley fields. She had gleaned barley in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s and he had demonstrated his good character, by providing protection from molestation, food and water, and had told his servants to deliberately leave extra barley for Ruth to glean.

When Ruth told Naomi about her encounter with Boaz, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was kin, and counseled Ruth how to show her love for Boaz according to the customs of God’s people, and Ruth did as Naomi had instructed. Boaz again proved himself honorable by giving a closer relative the opportunity to choose first, and by his consideration for Ruth, providing her with food, preserving her reputation by not taking advantage of the situation, and allowing her to leave unnoticed. Each person in this text demonstrated love for God and love of others ahead of themselves

In contrast, Paul warned Timothy that in “latter days” some “professors” of faith in Jesus will abandon the true, scriptural, apostolic Gospel and give heed to false teachers and false doctrines, who teach abstinence from marriage and from certain foods. Unlike Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, who put the best interest of others ahead of their own, false teachers restrict and enslave their followers contrary to God’s will. These restrictions appear “pious” but they are of no benefit for our salvation (Colossians 2:20-23). Celibacy and vegetarianism won’t save us; only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through obedient trust and the gift of the Holy Spirit will save us from eternal condemnation and eternal death.

A good disciple of Jesus Christ is nourished by God’s Word, the Bible, and good doctrine: the scriptural (recorded in the Bible), apostolic (as taught by the Apostles, including Paul) Gospel of Jesus Christ. A good disciple of Jesus trusts and obeys all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20), is “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5), guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, teaches God’s Word and scriptural apostolic doctrine to others. This is the discipling process. This is what Paul did with Timothy, and Timothy was to do to other faithful people, who would then repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

God’s people are not to have anything to do with false doctrine. Instead we are to train ourselves and one another in God’s Word and in obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Many people in our society are obsessed with physical exercise to perfect their physical bodies which are going to get old and die soon, regardless of what we do to preserve them. But they neglect to feed and exercise their eternal souls. We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. The question is where we will spend eternity (John 5:28-29).

This life is an opportunity for us to seek and come to personal fellowship with the Lord God through Jesus Christ (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death and the only way to have forgiveness and fellowship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

This life is a selection process and an opportunity to prepare for eternity. We are to learn to know, trust and obey Jesus through discipleship. Spiritual training has immediate benefits for this life, as well as the eternal life to come. We can experience the Lord’s power, love and faithfulness now in our physical lives, and we can know with certainty that we have eternal life with Jesus.

Paul exhorts Christians to proclaim God’s Word, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to teach discipleship until Jesus returns. He warns us not to neglect the gift of the Holy Spirit which we are promised in our (water) baptism into Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:11). We receive the promise, the authorization, at our baptism, but we must claim and receive the fulfillment of that promise by fulfilling our baptismal covenant by being disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus (John 1:12-13; 33; John 14:15-17).

We need to take responsibility to know God’s Word, to apply it diligently in our daily lives so that we grow to spiritual maturity. Then we are to teach the Gospel faithfully and accurately to others and demonstrate it in our own lives, so that we and our hearers may be saved from eternal death and destruction in Hell.

Most of the Pharisees were plotting to have Jesus’ killed, but some warned Jesus to leave to avoid being killed by Herod. The opponents of God’s Word want to suppress the proclamation of the Gospel by any means. If Satan can intimidate us by the threat of physical death he wins and we become his slaves.

Jesus wasn’t intimidated by the Pharisees or by Herod’s death threat. He just kept focused on God’s will and obedience to God’s mission. Jesus trusted God’s Word to raise Jesus from death on the third day and God’s Word was fulfilled. One of the reasons Jesus came was to free us from the fear of physical death and the power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15). What is keeping us from following Jesus’ example?

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 Holy Trinity – Odd

First Posted 05/26/05;

Podcast: Friday Holy Trinity – Odd

Ruth 4:1-22   –    Boaz Marries Ruth;
1 Timothy 5:17-22 (23-25)   –   Qualifications of Church Leaders;
Luke 14:1-11  –   Healing on the Sabbath; Humility;

Ruth Paraphrase:

Ruth had shown her love for Boaz, and Boaz was willing to marry her, but he was honorable and acknowledged that a closer relative had the right to choose first (Ruth 3:1-18). That day Boaz went to the city gate and waited for the kin who had first right to marry Ruth to pass by. When the man came past, Boaz asked him to turn aside and sit and talk, (as was the custom). Boaz also asked ten other men to observe as witnesses.

Boaz told the next of kin that a parcel of land belonging to Ruth’s deceased father-in-law was for sale, and the next of kin had first right to purchase it. The next of kin was interested in purchasing it, but Boaz told him that the next of kin couldn’t legally purchase it without taking Ruth, a widow, as wife. Under those terms the man was unwilling to buy the land because his family inheritance would be impaired (assuming that Ruth bore children). So the next of kin gave Boaz the right to the land and Ruth.

It was the custom to take off a sandal and hand it to the other party in a transaction to attest to the agreement, and the kin did so, and the ten witnesses were present to attest to the agreement. Boaz purchased the family property of Elimelech and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, who were all deceased, and took Ruth, the widow of Mahlon as his wife, with the purpose of perpetuating the lineage and inheritance of Elimelech and his sons.

The witnesses blessed Ruth and Boaz, praying that the Lord would use their marriage to build up the house of Israel as had Rachael and Leah (the wives of “Jacob” -also known as “Israel,” and the mothers of the heads of the twelve tribes). They also prayed that the family of Ruth and Boaz would be like the family of Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah. (Four hundred and sixty-eight “sons” of Perez came back from Babylon with the exiles, led by Zerubbabel, a descendant of Perez, and under whose leadership the rebuilding of the temple was begun.)

Boaz married Ruth and she bore a son and named him Obed. The people declared that Obed would be a restorer of life and a nourisher of Naomi, the mother of Mahlon, Ruth’s deceased first husband, in her old age. Obed was the father of Jesse, and the grandfather of David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, and the ancestor of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:5-6, 16).

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul had discipled Timothy and was giving him advice on church administration. Church leaders, especially preachers and teachers who govern the church well, are worthy of special honor. Paul quoted Deuteronomy 25:4 and Matthew 10:10 to make the point that the congregation should support their pastors and teachers. Any charges brought against church leaders should be attested to by at least two or three witnesses. Anyone in the congregation who persists in sin should be publicly rebuked in the presence of the congregation.

Church leaders are to be impartial in their enforcement of these rules. Leaders should not be hasty in ordaining leaders or in restoring sinful members. All Christians are reminded not to “participate in another [person’s] sins” (1 Timothy 5:23) but instead keep oneself pure. Drinking alcohol in itself is not sinful (but there is great potential for addiction and drunkenness, which are not to be allowed). The sins of some people are obvious, but other sins may not be recognized until later. The same thing applies to good deeds.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had been invited to dinner one Sabbath at the home of a Pharisee where Pharisees and scribes were guests, and Jesus was aware that the Pharisees were watching him critically (looking for something they could use against him). One of the guests had dropsy (a condition causing swelling of the body with fluids). Jesus asked the Pharisees and lawyers present whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, but they kept silent, so Jesus healed the person. Then Jesus asked those present, who among them would not immediately rescue his livestock from falling into a well on the Sabbath? Those present again declined to answer.

Jesus told a parable about social status at banquets. When one is invited to a banquet he should not take the seat of honor, since a greater person might have been invited, and he and the host would be embarrassed to ask the person to give up the seat of honor to another. Instead it would be better to take the lowest seat. Then the host and this guest would be pleased to ask him to take a seat of greater honor. Jesus’ point is that the humble will be exalted, but the proud will be humbled.

Commentary:

Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi are examples of how God’s people should live (see entry for yesterday, Thursday, Trinity, odd year). Boaz wanted to marry Ruth, but he knew the right of first choice belonged to another, so he acted honorably and followed the rules of his community. The result was that God’s will was done, and everyone was satisfied with the outcome.

Ruth and Boaz became the parents of Obed, and were even more influential through their descendants in building the nation of God’s people than Rachel and Leah (and Jacob) or Tamar and Judah. Through the progeny of Rachel, Leah, and Jacob (Israel) came the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Through the progeny of Tamar and Judah came Zerubbable, and then Boaz. Through Boaz and Ruth came David, and ultimately Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy that Obed would be a restorer of life and nourisher of his people.

The Church is the New Israel, the new people of God. The leaders of the Church must govern the Church well. They should be worthy and accorded honor. They should be supported financially and by the cooperation and labor of the congregation. They should be above reproach in their conduct, but they should be protected from unsupported charges.

They are to enforce Biblical standards of conduct impartially in the congregation. They should uphold Biblical standards for ordination, and for church membership. Paul warned Christians not to participate (or go along with) the sins of others. Not all deeds, good or bad, are immediately obvious, but will ultimately be revealed and made known.

How is the Church doing today? It is apparently no longer obvious, even within the nominal Church, that such things as homosexuality and fornication are unrighteous, sinful and abominations in God’s judgment (1 Corinthians 6:9-10;* Also see 1 Timothy 1:8-10). Sodom, from which we get the word sodomy, was the city so notoriously and blatantly homosexual that it was destroyed by God (Genesis 18:20-19:28). Also, many Churches are failing to make disciples and failing to teach them to obey all that Jesus commands.

People desire to be teachers of the “Word” without understanding the things about which they make assertions (1 Timothy 1:7). In many churches today administrators are ordaining ministers who have been “educated” in “theological speculation” in Seminaries but haven’t been discipled, and have not been filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit. People are attracted to the ministry as a career and are becoming mere “peddlers of the Word” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Jesus was in the midst of a group of Pharisees and scribes (teachers of the Law of Moses), but Jesus did not restrain himself from proclaiming the full Gospel truth to them, although he knew it wasn’t going to make himself popular and liked. The Pharisees and scribes were religious leaders who agreed on their own set of rules, instead of following God’s rules. They confirmed their own righteousness among themselves, while being totally in opposition to God’s will and to God’s own Son and promised Savior. The Pharisees gave themselves status according to their standards, instead of doing what was right and worthy of approval in God’s 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)?

* Because of the current controversy over same-sex marriage and the appointment of openly “gay” bishops (and clergy), I think it’s important to note that the word which is translated “homosexual” in the text (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; RSV, footnote “j”) is translated from two Greek words (Strong’s numbers 730 & 2845) which mean “effeminate sodomite.” I think it’s pretty hard to deny that “homosexual” is an accurate translation.

Saturday Holy Trinity – Odd

First Posted 05/27/05;
Podcast: Saturday Holy Trinity – Odd

Deuteronomy 1:1-8   –    Historical Insight;
1 Timothy 6:6-21   –    Godliness with Contentment;
Luke 14:12-24   –   Parable of the Great Banquet;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

It is only eleven days’ journey from Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai; from the giving of the Covenant of Law) to Kadesh-Barnea (from which the scouts, including Joshua and Caleb, scouted the Promised Land, and from which they could have entered and possessed the Promised Land if they had trusted and obeyed God’s command). Because they had not trusted and obeyed the Lord, they wandered for forty years (counting from the Exodus from Egypt) in the wilderness (until the disobedient generation had died in the wilderness; Numbers chapter 13-14), before they were again able to enter the Promised Land.

Now Israel was in Moab, poised, again, to enter the Promised Land. The Israelites had defeated Sihon, the king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan (who stood in the way of Israel’s entry into the Promised Land). Now the Lord commanded Israel to enter and possess the Promised Land. All of the land from Syria, Lebanon and the Euphrates in the north to the Arabah below the Dead Sea in the south, from the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the land of Edom and Moab on the east was promised to Israel.  (Israel never possessed the entire land that God intended.)

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul told his disciple, Timothy, that there is great benefit in satisfaction with godliness. We are born into the world with nothing, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world. As long as we have food, clothing and shelter we should be satisfied. Those who desire to be rich beyond the basic necessities of life fall into a trap and many desires which lead to destruction. It is the love of wealth and possessions which leads to destruction. By the craving for wealth some believers have been led astray and have suffered disappointment and loss.

As a godly person, avoid these things and instead aim for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. Struggle for the victory of faith, take hold and claim the promise of eternal life, which was given when we publicly declared Jesus our Lord. In the presence of God the Father, the creator of all things, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore witness to God before Pontius Pilate, we are exhorted to conduct ourselves so that Jesus’ teachings will be beyond reproach, and this will be revealed in God’s perfect timing on the Day of Judgment.

God is the sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords who alone is immortal and “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16). No mortal has ever seen or is able to see God. He is worthy of and possesses eternal honor and dominion.

The rich are warned not to be haughty or to trust in material wealth, but instead to depend upon God the creator and giver of all things for our enjoyment. The rich are “to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous” (1 Timothy 6:18) thus building an eternal unshakable foundation, so that they may possess eternal life which is true life. Disciples are admonished to guard the Gospel they have been given, and to avoid false doctrines and what the world falsely considers knowledge, which has caused some believers to fail to receive what has been promised.

Luke Paraphrase:

One Sabbath Jesus had been invited to a dinner at the house of a Pharisee. He told his host that when the host invited friends, neighbors and relatives to dinner they would repay him by inviting him to their dinners. If the man truly wanted to do something nice he should invite the poor, the crippled and the blind. They would not be able to repay their host, but he would be rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous.

One of the guests exclaimed that those who eat bread in God’s kingdom will be blessed. Jesus responded with the parable of the great banquet. A man gave a great banquet and invited many. When all was prepared he sent his servant to call them to dinner, but they began to make excuses. One was buying a field, another had purchased a team of oxen, and another had just been married. Each asked to be excused.

When the servant reported this, his master was angry with his invited guests, and told the servant to go into the streets and invite the poor, lame and blind to the dinner instead. The servant did as instructed, but there was still room for more, so the master sent his servant to the highways to compel people to come, because the master refused to allow any of the originally invited guests to have even a taste of his banquet.

Commentary:

After the great signs and wonders God had done in bringing his people out of slavery in Egypt and saving them from their Egyptian enemy by bringing them through the Red Sea, they were still unwilling to trust and obey the Lord and enter and possess the Promised Land. Only eleven days after they had received the Covenant of Law through Moses they could have entered the Promised Land, but they let the imagined threat of the native people of the land keep them from trusting and obeying the Lord.

Consequently they were required to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until those who had been disobedient had died in the wilderness, and during that time the new generation learned to follow the Lord in obedient trust. Now God’s people were again allowed and commanded to enter and possess the Promised Land. This time they did enter and possess the land, but because they still didn’t completely trust and obey, they never received the full extent of God’s promise.

Paul warned his disciple not to be distracted by material wealth, possessions or pleasures of this world, because they will never satisfy and will not last. We should be satisfied that our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met, and our efforts should be directed toward what is eternal: faith, hope and love, which are only possible through obedient trust in Jesus Christ.

We should earnestly pursue the victory over the things of this world through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We have been given great and precious promises, but we must take hold of them and claim them if we are to receive their benefits. Christians are to conduct ourselves in ways that glorify and demonstrate the truth of Jesus and his teachings.

Those who have been blessed with material wealth and possessions are warned to put their trust only in the Lord, and to use their wealth in ways that glorify Jesus and accomplish Jesus’ purpose. Obedient trust in Jesus is the only sound foundation on which to build one’s life.

Disciples are warned to guard the scriptural apostolic Gospel, and to pass it on faithfully and accurately to others. We must not be misled by false doctrines and false teachers, nor should we be misled by what the world falsely calls “knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7). False doctrine and false “knowledge” may cause “believers” (or those who profess belief) to fail to receive what the Lord has promised.

The Lord is the host of a great banquet in his eternal kingdom in heaven, and we have all been invited. All who will accept his invitation and act upon it will receive what he has promised in his invitation. Some of God’s own people, his “friends,” will fail to join him at that banquet because they have let worldly cares, pleasures, wealth and possessions interfere with their acceptance and participation. The Lord doesn’t limit his invitation to those who call themselves “Christians.” Anyone who hears the Lord’s invitation and acts upon it in faith to claim it will be accepted, and there is abundant provision for all.

All of us are spiritually poor, crippled and blind. None of us is worthy or can repay his invitation. Jesus paid, at the cross, for our admission; all we have do is to accept his invitation and act upon it in trust and obedience to his command (See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Will you receive what the Lord has promised, or will you die eternally in the wilderness?

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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