Day 203: Genealogy and Riots

1 Chronicles 4-6; Acts 19:21-41

Key Verses

Acts 19:28-30
When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him.

In 1 Chronicles, the genealogy continues… But in Acts, there is quite the uproar!

This passage begins by outlining Paul’s travel itinerary that will comprise the rest of the book of Acts. He “resolved in his spirit” to visit the churches in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica & Berea), then of Achaia or Greece (Corinth). He then planned to return to Jerusalem and ultimately, Rome (Acts 19:21).

Then the passage returns to events occurring in Ephesus. It would seem that Paul’s ministry was hurting the business of the idol-makers. One specific silver-smith, Demetrius, was especially perturbed, so he decided to assemble his cohorts and accused the disciples of slandering the “great goddess Artemis.” This small assembly multiplied into a riot – with all the crowds piling into the great amphitheater and shouting for TWO HOURS, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

Oh my. Now, let me interject… I’ve been to Ephesus. I’ve sat in this amphitheater and let me tell you…this isn’t some quaint outdoor theater! This place is HUGE. As I sat in this theater, I imagined the mob – screaming for two hours. It’s hard to imagine how loud it must have been. The whole city would have heard, for the amphitheater was close to the main thoroughfare of the city.

ephesus

Paul wanted to go to the theater. Who knows why! But, thankfully, the disciples prevented Paul from going. We learn something about Paul’s character. He was not a coward!

Here’s what’s cool…. Do you remember what the mob was screaming about? Artemis, the goddess. Have you ever heard of this goddess? Does she have any influence over your life? Did she change the course of history?? I didn’t think so.

The mob can scream all they want to – the fact is… the city of Ephesus and their precious goddess, Artemis, are in ruins. But Jesus, the God of creation and of all of history – stands forever.

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Day 141: The Temple of God

1 Kings 8-9; John 5:1-24

Key Verses

1 Kings 9:1-3
As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”

In 1 Kings we read of God coming down and filling Solomon’s temple with His glory (8:11)! God promised that his eyes and heart would be there for all time, but because of Israel’s sin, God’s Holy presence left the temple. Did God break his promise? No! For in John, we see God’s permanent temple…Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s glory on earth. He became the temple of God. Jesus is the final fulfillment of all of God’s promises to Israel!

After Jesus ascended to the Father, and the Spirit came at Pentecost, God made a new temple. God chose to manifest His glory through His people, the church. It is there, among God’s people, that we experience God’s presence. We are also His temple…

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

I wonder what Solomon would think of God’s temple today?

Day 77: Resurrection Power

Deuteronomy 29-30; Mark 16

Key Verses

Deuteronomy 30:6
And the Lord your God 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, that you may live.

Mark 16:6-7
And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

The resurrection. Thinking in literary terms… this is the climax of the story. Everything – everything – in the Old Testament and the gospels points and leads to this one moment.

Jesus’ resurrection proves that God has power over death and sin, which is the cause of death. This is the same power that God uses to change our hearts and give us new life.

Apart from the power of God, we are dead in our sin. But when our weak faith is mingled with God’s grace and compassion toward us, we are changed…

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV).

Because of the resurrection, we are set free from the burden of the law and fear of the curse. Instead, we are given a new heart, the power to obey and the gift of eternal blessing!

Day 50: Encamped Around the Presence of God

Numbers 1-2; Mark 3:1-21

Key Verses

Numbers 2:1-2
The
Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
“The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.”

Mark 3:9-10
And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.

We begin the book of Numbers today! Numbers chronicles Israel’s time in the desert and begins with the people making preparations to go to war. If they wanted to take the land, they had to prepare to fight…

From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company (Numbers 1:3).

Numbers 2 goes on to detail exactly how the people were to camp and march. The Tabernacle would be guarded by the Levites and remained in the center of the people when they camped and when they marched. Remember, the tabernacle was God’s house. God dwelled there. The people were to camp around the presence of God. Numbers vividly portrays God’s presence dwelling with the Israelite people!

Both of today’s passages contain imagery of great numbers surrounding the presence of God. The account in Numbers is ordered and precise. Everyone had a place – so much so that it would be very obvious if a family or clan went missing. There would be an empty spot around the tabernacle! This was a model of community. This is a model for the church*!

By contrast, the scenes in Mark seem frantic. The crowds pressing in on Jesus were desperate. This is also a picture of community. Our churches are made up of hurt and broken people, desperate for the healing touch of the Savior.

Both passages teach valuable lessons about community and church life. The church needs each of us. If we go missing, there will be a noticeable gap that goes unfilled. But we also need the church. For that’s where God’s presence is found!!! If you don’t believe me, read Ephesians…

…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The dwelling place of God is in the midst of a community of believers… being built together into a holy temple.

Are you desperate for the Savior?? Oh, I hope so. Now… go to church :) …And encamp together around the presence of God!

*I am indebted to author and teacher, Susan Hunt, for the application of Numbers 2 to church life.

Day 44: Life-blood

Leviticus 17; Matthew 27:1-31

Key Verses

Leviticus 17:11
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Matthew 27:13-14
Then Pilate said to [Jesus], “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

God tells the people: life is in the blood (Lev 17:11). The shedding of the animal’s blood, its sacrificial death, is a substitute payment for the sinner. For the consequences of any and all sin – is death. God graciously allows a substitute. The life is in the blood. The life of the animal is poured out on the altar as a payment for sin.

Jesus, standing before Pilate, offered no defense. He knew his role. When he was mocked and spat upon, he did not retaliate. He was the substitute. His life-blood would be poured out for our sins. Do you believe this? Do not belittle the sacrifice with indifference. Come to the cross and find rest for your soul.

Day 22: God is sufficient

Exodus 1-3; Matthew 15:21-39

Key Verses

Exodus 2:23-25
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Matthew 15:32
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

God saw, and God knew. And God set in motion his rescue plan. It involved a most unlikely hero. Just look at Moses’ qualifications…

  1. He should have been killed as an infant but was saved by an Egyptian princess (2:5-6).
  2. Even though he was born Hebrew, he was raised as an Egyptian by Pharaoh’s daughter (2:10).
  3. He murdered an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew slave (2:11-12).
  4. He ran away to Midian because he was rejected by both the Hebrews and the Egyptians (2:13-15).
  5. He failed to circumcise his own son, and if not for the help of his wife, would have been killed by God (4:24-26).
  6. God called him to be his mouthpiece, but he was slow in speech and tongue (4:10).

Moses was chosen so that it would be clear exactly who was sufficient to save the Israelites. God, alone, is sufficient to save.

And for the first time, we, along with Moses, learn God’s name… “I AM WHO I AM.”

There are so many conclusions we can make from this name… He is self-existent; He is eternal; He does not change… But I doubt Moses was thinking so deeply in that one moment… I think Moses learned that God was personal. That He had a name and He chose to share it with him… Even though Moses had done nothing to earn God’s favor, God chose him anyway.

In Matthew 15, we see Jesus’ exemplifying God’s mercy and compassion to the undeserving. He heals the sick and satisfies the hungry. Just as the Israelites and Jesus’ followers could not save themselves, I am unable to save myself from the consequences of my sin. And even though I have done nothing to earn God’s favor, He gives it anyway. That’s good news! That’s the gospel.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Day 203: Genealogy and Riots

1 Chronicles 4-6; Acts 19:21-41

In 1 Chronicles, the genealogy continues… But in Acts, there is quite the uproar :)

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

This passage begins by outlining Paul’s travel itinerary that will comprise the rest of the book of Acts. He “resolved in his spirit” to visit the churches in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica & Berea), then of Achaia or Greece (Corinth). He then planned to return to Jerusalem and ultimately, Rome (Acts 19:21).

Then the passage returns to events occurring in Ephesus. It would seem that Paul’s ministry was hurting the business of the idol-makers. One specific silver-smith, Demetrius, was especially perturbed, so he decided to assemble his cohorts and accused the disciples of slandering the “great goddess Artemis.” This small assembly multiplied into a riot – with all the crowds piling into the great amphitheatre and shouting for TWO HOURS, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

Oh my. Now, let me interject… I’ve been to Ephesus. I’ve sat in this amphitheatre and let me tell you…this isn’t some quaint outdoor theater! This place is HUGE. As I sat in this theatre, I imagined the mob – screaming for two hours. It’s hard to imagine how loud it must have been. The whole city would have heard, for the amphitheatre was close to the main thoroughfare of the city.

ephesus

Paul wanted to go to the theater. Who knows why! But, thankfully, the disciples prevented Paul from going. We learn something about Paul’s character. He was no coward, that’s for sure!

Here’s what’s cool…. Do you remember what the mob was screaming about? That’s right…Artemis, the goddess. Have you ever heard of this goddess? Does she have any influence over your life? Did she change the course of history?? I didn’t think so.

The mob can scream all they want to – the fact is… the city of Ephesus and their precious goddess, Artemis, are in ruins. But Jesus, the God of creation and of all of history – stands forever.

Day 141: The Temple of God

1 Kings 8-9; John 5:1-24

In 1 Kings we read of God coming down and filling Solomon’s temple with His glory (8:11)! But God’s presence in the temple would be temporary. God’s Holy presence would eventually leave the wayward Israelite nation. In John, we see God’s permanent temple…Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s glory on earth. He became the temple of God.

After Jesus ascended to the Father, and the Spirit came at Pentecost, God made a new temple. God chose to manifest His glory through His people, the church. It is there, among God’s people, that we experience God’s presence. We are His temple…

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

I wonder what Solomon would think of God’s temple today? Just something to think about…

Day 77: Resurrection Power

Deuteronomy 29-30; Mark 16

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:6-7).

The resurrection. Thinking in literary terms… this is the climax of the story. Everything – everything – in the Old Testament and the gospels points and leads to this one moment.

Jesus’ resurrection proves that God has power over death and sin, which is the cause of death. This is the same power that God uses to change our hearts…

And the Lord your God 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, that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Apart from the power of God to change our hearts, we are dead in our sin. But when our weak faith is mingled with God’s grace and compassion toward us, we are changed…

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV).

Because of the resurrection, we are set free from the burden of the law and fear of the curse. Instead, we are given a new heart, the power to obey and the gift of eternal blessing!

Day 50: Encamped around the presence of God

Numbers 1-2; Mark 3:1-21

We begin the book of Numbers today! Numbers chronicles Israel’s time in the desert and begins with the people making preparations to go to war. If they want to take the land, they have to prepare to fight…

From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company (Numbers 1:3).

Numbers 2 goes on to detail exactly how the people were to camp and march. The Tabernacle would be guarded by the Levites and remained in the center of the people when they camped and when they marched. Remember, the tabernacle was God’s house. God dwelled there. The people were to camp around the presence of God. Numbers vividly portrays God’s presence dwelling with the Israelite people!

Both of today’s passages contain imagery of great numbers surrounding the presence of God. The account in Numbers is ordered and precise. Everyone had a place – so much so that it would be very obvious if a family or clan went missing. There would be an empty spot around the tabernacle! This was a model of community. This is a model for the church*!

By contrast, the scenes in Mark seem frantic. The crowds pressing in on Jesus were desperate. This is also a picture of community. Our churches are made up of hurt and broken people, desperate for the healing touch of the Savior.

Both passages teach valuable lessons on community and church life. The church needs each of us. If we go missing, there will be a noticeable gap that goes unfilled. But we also need the church. For that’s where God’s presence is found!!! If you don’t believe me, read Ephesians…

…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The dwelling place of God is in the midst of a community of believers… being built together into a holy temple.

Are you desperate for the Savior?? Oh, I hope so. Now… go to church :) …And encamp together around the presence of God!

*I am indebted to author and teacher, Susan Hunt, for the application of Numbers 2 to church life.