Day 177: Opposition, pt. 2

Jeremiah 42-45; Acts 4:23-31

Key Verses

Jeremiah 42:11-12
Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land.

Acts 4:31
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Yesterday, we learned of the opposition facing Jeremiah, the proclaimer of God’s will to the people and also the rising opposition against Peter, John, and the apostles.

In today’s reading, the Judeans who were left after the murder of Gedaliah, Babylonian governor of Judah, came to Jeremiah and asked him to inquire of the Lord as to what they should do. Jeremiah tells them… (and I paraphrase), “WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT GO TO EGYPT!!! Stay in Judah, and God will continue to protect and provide for you, but DO NOT GO TO EGYPT, OR ELSE YOU WILL DIE!”

So they went to Egypt.

Poor Jeremiah… He was dragged away by the apostate people he had loved and ministered to so faithfully. He was dragged to Egypt to watch the last of the Judeans perish.

But what of Peter and John? Their first response in the face of opposition was prayer…

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30).

Boom. That’s what you do in the face of opposition. You obey. And when you pray, you ask God to help you obey.

We can learn so much from these two scenes… What happened to the Judeans when they refused to listen to God’s word and rationalized their disobedience by calling Jeremiah a liar??? …they were destroyed in Egypt. Utter destruction is the final end of disobedience.

Whereas obedience leads to life. In Acts, the faith and obedience of Peter, John and the others resulted in the multiplication of the Kingdom, the expansion of the church, the increase of new converts. In other words, their obedience changed the world!

Bottomline: Disobedience leads to death. Obedience leads to life. Which do you choose?

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Day 176: Opposition, pt. 1

Jeremiah 40-41; Acts 4:1-22

Key Verses

Jeremiah 40:12
then all the Judeans returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. And they gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance.

Acts 4:11-12
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”

As Jeremiah watched Jerusalem fall and was marching as an exile to Babylon, he was given a reprieve – the opportunity to return to his beloved Jerusalem and be protected by the Babylonian-appointed governor, Gedalia.

Life was good for the remaining Judeans under Gedalia’s leadership. The small remnant was allowed to sow the many fields that were abandoned. They gathered in “great abundance” (Jer. 40:12).

But there was an uprising of those from the royal line of Judah that would not accept God’s plan for welfare. They opposed God’s will and murdered the Babylonian governor, Gedalia.

Why? Why do we have to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting in the ways of God? We’ll read tomorrow that this initial opposition was the catalyst for the complete destruction of the small remnant in Judah.

Peter and John also faced opposition in today’s reading from Acts. Once again, the opposition comes from the Jewish elite, the ruling leaders of the Jewish council. They questioned Peter and John concerning the healing of the lame beggar… “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

This was the same ruling council that conspired to kill Jesus, had him arrested, and held clandestine night trials – convicting Jesus to death. These men were certainly not sympathetic to the new Christian cause!

But this did not deter Peter from boldly proclaiming the truth!

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well” (Acts 4:8-10).

Wow. Peter was bold. The council warned them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. How would Peter and John react in the face of such opposition? We’ll read tomorrow that they would turn toward God instead of oppose God as the small remnant of Judeans did.

God’s ways are always best, and typically, amazing things happen when you follow God despite opposition… But we’ll read more about that tomorrow :)

Day 81: Signs Among Us

Joshua 3-5; Luke 2:1-21

Key Verses

Joshua 5:13-14
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”

Luke 2:9-11
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Words are inadequate to describe the events in these chapters. The shepherds fall before angels, and Joshua bows before the Commander of the Lord’s army. The Israelites cross the Jordan on dry land and God squeezes his form into an infant’s shell.

God is the same… yesterday, today and forever. But have you ever wondered why God doesn’t show himself to us in such a dramatic fashion? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen the glory of an angel or crossed a river on dry ground. If God is the same, why does He seem so different?

First, miraculous signs don’t make it easier to believe. What did the people do after they saw God part the Red Sea, provide water and manna in the desert and descend on the temple in glory?? They failed to believe that God would help them defeat the Canaanites. They did not enter the land.

Second, I believe that He has chosen to display His power and work in the world through His church. It is a great responsibility – a work that requires humility and compassion – and can only be done as we are unified by the Spirit. Remember Jesus’ words in John 17…

 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 NIV).

The world notices when believers are unified and serve one another with humility and compassion. On the other hand, the world is quick to mock when we show division and hypocrisy.

And finally, we shouldn’t need signs because we have the privilege of having his Word. And even more importantly, we have Jesus.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Day 58: The Real Life

Numbers 18-19; Mark 7:1-23

Key Verses

Numbers 19:20
“If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Because the water for impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean.”

Mark 7:14-15
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

These two passages seem to be in stark contrast to one another. Numbers restates and adds to the cleanliness laws – while in Mark, Jesus chides the Pharisees for their hypocritical observance of the cleanliness laws. Who was right? Well, both of them were…

Remember… God was establishing a people with a law that was a physical representation of His future spiritual kingdom. Cleanliness was a HUGE deal to God. The people were taught through the word pictures presented in the law that uncleanliness was connected with death – whereas cleanliness was associated with life. This is why a person was deemed “unclean” when touching any animal or person that was dead.

Jesus teaches that it is not the physical things that make a person unclean – but rather it is the sinful actions of the heart that defile a person. Our hearts are unclean… which means they are associated with death – spiritual death.

How do we reverse the spiritual death in our hearts? Our hearts must be made clean! …But how? We know that the blood of animals is insufficient to cleanse the heart! But listen to the writer of Hebrews…

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Jesus’ once-and-for-all-sacrifice makes life possible – not just the physical representation of life – No! His sacrifice opens the way for us to have true, spiritual life. The real life – the forever kind of life! I don’t know about you, but I want some of that life!! I find it in Jesus…

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Day 177: Opposition, pt. 2

Jeremiah 42-45; Acts 4:23-31

Yesterday, we learned of the opposition facing Jeremiah, the proclaimer of God’s will to the people and also the rising opposition against Peter, John and the apostles.

In today’s reading, the Judaens who were left after the murder of Gedalia, Babylonian governor of Judah, came to Jeremiah and asked him to inquire of the Lord as to what they should do. Jeremiah tells them… (and I paraphrase), “WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT GO TO EGYPT!!! Stay in Judah, and God will continue to protect and provide for you, but DO NOT GO TO EGYPT, OR ELSE YOU WILL DIE!”

So they went to Egypt.

Poor Jeremiah… He was dragged away by the apostate people he had loved and ministered to so faithfully. He was dragged to Egypt to watch the last of the Judeans perish.

But what of Peter and John? Their first response in the face of opposition was prayer…

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30).

Boom. That’s what you do in the face of opposition. You obey. And when you pray, you ask God to help you obey.

We can learn so much from these two scenes… What happened to the Judeans when they refused to listen to God’s word and rationalized their disobedience by calling Jeremiah a liar??? …they were destroyed in Egypt. Utter destruction is the final end of disobedience.

Whereas obedience leads to life. In Acts, the faith and obedience of Peter, John and the others resulted in the multiplication of the Kingdom, the expansion of the church, the increase of new converts. In other words, their obedience changed the world!

Bottomline: Disobedience leads to death. Obedience leads to life. Which do you choose?

Day 176: Opposition, pt. 1

Jeremiah 40-41; Acts 4:1-22

As Jeremiah watched Jerusalem fall and was marching as an exile to Babylon, he was given a reprieve – the opportunity to return to his beloved Jerusalem and be protected by the Babylonian appointed governor, Gedalia.

Life was good for the remaining Judeans under Gedalia’s leadership. The small remnant was allowed to sow the many fields that were abandoned. They gathered in “great abundance” (Jer. 40:12).

But there was an uprising of those from the royal line of Judah that would not accept God’s plan for welfare. They opposed God’s will and murdered the Babylonian governor, Gedalia.

Why? Why do we have to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting in the ways of God? We’ll read tomorrow that this initial opposition was the catalyst for the complete destruction of the small remnant in Judah.

Peter and John also faced opposition in today’s reading from Acts. Once again, the opposition comes from the Jewish elite, the ruling leaders of the Jewish council. They questioned Peter and John concerning the healing of the lame beggar… “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

This was the same ruling council that conspired to kill Jesus, had him arrested and held clandestine night trials – convicting Jesus to death. These men were certainly not sympathetic to the new Christian cause!

But this did not deter Peter from boldly proclaiming the truth!

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

Wow. Peter was bold. The council warned them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. How would Peter and John react in the face of such opposition? We’ll read tomorrow that they would turn toward God instead of oppose God as the small remnant of Judeans did.

God’s ways are always best, and typically, amazing things happen when you follow God despite opposition… But we’ll read more about that tomorrow :)

Day 81: Signs among us

Joshua 3-5; Luke 2:1-21

Words are inadequate to describe the events in these chapters. The shepherds fall before angels, and Joshua bows before the Commander of the Lord’s army. The Israelites cross the Jordan on dry land and God squeezes his form into an infant’s shell.

God is the same… yesterday, today and forever. But have you ever wondered why God doesn’t show himself to us in such a dramatic fashion? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen the glory of an angel or crossed a river on dry ground. If God is the same, why does He seem so different?

First, miraculous signs don’t make it easier to believe. What did the people do after they saw God part the Red Sea, provide water and manna in the desert and descend on the temple in glory?? They failed to believe that God would help them defeat the Canaanites. They did not enter the land.

Second, I believe that He has chosen to display His power and work in the world through His church. It is a great responsibility – a work that requires humility and compassion – and can only be done as we are unified by the Spirit. Remember Jesus’ words in John 17…

 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 NIV).

The world notices when believers are unified and serve one another with humility and compassion. On the other hand, the world is quick to mock when we show division and hypocrisy.

And finally, we shouldn’t need signs because we have the privilege of having his Word. And even more importantly, we have Jesus.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Day 58: The Real Life

Numbers 18-19; Mark 7:1-23

These two passages seem to be in stark contrast to one another. Numbers restates and adds to the cleanliness laws – while in Mark, Jesus chides the Pharisees for their hypocritical observance of the cleanliness laws. Who was right? Well, both of them are…

Remember… God was establishing a people with a law that was a physical representation of His future spiritual kingdom. Cleanliness is a HUGE deal to God. The people were taught through the word pictures presented in the law that uncleanliness was connected with death – whereas cleanliness was associated with life. This is why a person was deemed “unclean” when touching any animal or person that was dead.

Jesus teaches that it is not the physical things that make a person unclean – but rather it is the sinful actions of the heart that defile a person. Our hearts are unclean… which means they are associated with death – spiritual death.

How do we reverse the spiritual death in our hearts? Our hearts must be made clean! …But how? We know that the blood of animals is insufficient to cleanse the heart! But listen to the writer of Hebrews…

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Jesus’ once-and-for-all-sacrifice makes life possible – not just the physical representation of life – No! His sacrifice opens the way for us to have true, spiritual life. The real life – the forever kind of life! I don’t know about you, but I want some of that life!! I find it in Jesus…

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).