Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 27 February 2023:
Nehemiah 10:28, 29 – The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes.
A renewed love relationship with God always includes life change and separation from old sinful ways. Repentance includes a promise to remain holy. There is a recommitment to obey God’s word, without excuses and without omitting parts of God’s word. True love is revealed in obedience, not empty ritual.
Nehemiah 10:31-36 – We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits… to the house of the LORD….
Commitment to God changes a person’s outlook on financial management to one based on stewardship of God’s resources in pursuit of His desires, purpose, and instructions. Commitment to God includes a financial commitment.
Nehemiah 10:36 – …also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks….
Commitment to God includes committing children to God.
Nehemiah 10:39 – For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.
Committed Christians take their responsibility to church very seriously.
Acts 13:1 – Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
It is truly an amazing thing and quite a testimony when a diverse congregation has true unity in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and works together to spread the Gospel to all nations. Consider this unlikely team of leaders God put together for His glory in Antioch. Not only was this group ethnically, racially, and economically diverse, but one of them (Manaen) had grown up as a friend of Herod Antipater who beheaded John the Baptist and conspired against Jesus. And another among this group of church leaders had spent a portion of his life persecuting Christians (Saul). Who would have imagined that God would use the likes of these to spread the Gospel as a team?
Don’t be surprised if God teams you up with an unlikely crew glorify Him and to spread the Gospel in ways you had never planned or imagined. Be ready and faithful with the opportunity. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption from God so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Acts 13:2 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The Holy Spirit’s call to Barnabas and Saul came out of fasting and prayer. God speaks in fasting and prayer – it is not a one-way conversation. If you do not have a strong prayer life, you cannot hear what God would have you hear.
Acts 13:5 – When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.
Preaching the Scriptures is an essential missions activity. You should strive to be an expert of God’s word.
Acts 13:22 – He raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.”
God is always looking for servants who will obey all that He commands. David was far from perfect and made huge mistakes, but he was humble in repentance and sought to grow past his sinfulness.
Acts 13:23, 29, 32-33 – Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised…. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb…. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’
“all that was written….” All Scripture points to Jesus as Savior…. The Bible had prepared God’s people for the Messiah’s death and resurrection. The Bible prepares us for what God has planned for our lives until Christ returns.
Acts 13:36 — David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep.
What a great epitaph! David served the purpose of God, and then he died. What greater thing can be said of a person? Our motivation in life should be to serve God and God alone, to pursue God’s purposes rather than selfish ambition, and to seek first the Kingdom. The more we truly know God and who He is, the more motivated we are to serve Him and to bring Him glory. If we drift or lose focus, it is a relationship problem. Leviticus 22:31-33 says, “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you… I am the LORD.” We serve and obey God wholeheartedly, lovingly, faithfully, passionately, and joyfully because He is the LORD! We are not like the one spoken of in Proverbs who chases after earthly desires. (Proverbs 23) We don’t “envy sinners but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.” (Proverbs 23:17) Make today and every day thereafter your day of worship. Do all things for the glory of God. Deny self; take up your cross; follow Jesus. Don’t worry about the rest.
Acts 13:39 – ….and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Religion, religious activities, or good deeds cannot save a person. Only through Jesus can there be salvation. Charity may ease a person’s discomfort on earth, but only when you draw people towards Jesus do you satisfy their eternal need.
Acts 13:40 – Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:
To know what the Bible says in not the same as knowing what it means or responding as God expects. Biblical knowledge is not the same as godly wisdom. Wisdom comes from living God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit – true wisdom can come only from God. We do not have the capacity to create wisdom of ourselves.
Acts 13:44 — On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Paul and Barnabas (still honoring the Sabbath) spoke boldly before the synagogue about Jesus, taking their lives into their hands. They weren’t worried about offending anyone, but neither did they force their message upon the Jews. They were invited to speak, and when they did speak, they held nothing back. The result was likely not what they expected – the next week, the whole city gathered to hear the Good News. Eventually, after successfully preaching the Gospel to the city, the disciples were persecuted and kicked out of town. However, “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52)” because they were faithful to glorify God without compromise. Are you boldly proclaiming the Gospel to those who ask? Are people seeking you out to hear about Jesus? How great would it be if you were given the opportunity to preach the Gospel before your whole town? Would you be ready?
Acts 13:46-47 – God’s plan has always included both Jews and Gentiles. The world is always talking about race, gender, etc. God does not show favoritism along these social stratifications, and Christians should rise above this divisive conversation.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 February 2023: Pray the God will help you see people for who they are to be in Christ rather than who they are right now, who they once were, or how the world might view them. Pray that God will help you eliminate partiality in how you treat others. Ask God to show you with whom He might want you to interact, who you might have been neglecting due to preconceived notions or hidden biases. Glorify God by showing university (unity in diversity) in Christ – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)