August 3: Importance of Israel

Read Romans 11:1-36

God’s plan for humanity started with the nation of Israel. The Messiah would come through the royal line of David. In His ministry on earth, Jesus would deliberately minister to the people of Israel. As we know, the people of Israel did not appreciate the calling of Jesus. They didn’t listen to his commands and even hung Him on a cross. Then, we see in Acts and in Galatians, Paul explaining the great mystery to the Jews; that salvation had now been extended to the Gentiles.

Seemingly everything that happens in Israel, nowadays, is telecasted across all major platforms. Israel holds a lot of weight…politically and spiritually. Ever since the beginning of the nation as described in Genesis 12, there has been a lot of pressure on Israel.  We find ourselves asking, “What importance do they really have? Why should we care about Israel? Why should what happens in Israel influence us?”

The historic hardening of Israel is well documented throughout the Bible. No matter how much they rebel against God, Romans 11 tells us how they have not drifted too far. We should look at this hardening as a blessing because it is due to their rebellion that we have salvation. Verse 25 explains that the partial hardening will occur until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” There is the blessing, for all Gentiles, once again. Until EVERYONE has heard about Jesus, His chosen nation will have a blinding on their hearts. Yet, this, also, brings up the issue of predestination and the question, “Did God already have a set number of people that He knew would accept Him?” People question predestination by saying that, if God already knows who will accept Him, do they even have a choice?

Events in our lives are determined by God through our free choices. We have the choice to follow Him and we can choose to do so or let the opportunity pass us by. God, being an all-knowing God, knows what we will decide but still offers the gift of relational collaboration of choice to make for ourselves. Sooner or later, the door will be shut for us and all Israel will be saved.

I encourage you and challenge you to make the most of this mystery. Accept God’s free gift of salvation and continue in sharing and showing who He is to the lost world.

jdl

Posted in People of the Earth, Romans

August 2 – Paul in the Areopagus

Read Acts 17:16-34

Paul’s discussion with the ancient Athenians is an excellent case study in evangelism.  Paul had traveled to Athens and not necessarily of his own doing.  He was taken there after having been thrown out of both Thessalonica and Berea.  Arriving in Athens, he intended to wait for Silas and Timothy, but as he walked around the city observing a level of idolatry not seen elsewhere in his day, Paul was undone.  The NIV says he was “greatly distressed”, but the King James version says he was “moved in his spirit”.  Sometimes our evangelistic efforts fail because we are simply not moving with the Spirit.  If we choose to speak to someone about something that is bothering us but they are not prepared to hear it, it will fall on deaf ears, and may even do more harm than good.  But when the Spirit prompts us to speak, then we need to speak.

Paul couldn’t wait for Timothy and Silas, he went to the Synagogue and began to preach, which was his custom.  But Athens was not like any other city Paul had visited.  At the time Athens was no longer the political center of Greece, that honor had passed to Corinth; however Athens was still the cultural and philosophical capital of the world.  The people however were incapacitated in their knowledge and simply viewed Paul’s preaching as they would any other philosophy.

Paul could have just begun blasting them like any common street preacher you might see today.  He wouldn’t have been wrong to do so, but Paul was more shrewd than that.  First, Paul complimented them.  He told them they were the most religious people he’d seen.  While we know this wasn’t actually a compliment, he used it to his advantage.  Next, he turned their idolatry into an example.  He called attention to their idol dedicated to an “unknown god” and explained to them that the only God who actually existed wanted to be known!  Finally, Paul even goes so far as to quote two Greek philosophers, Epimenides and Aratus when he said the phrases “For in Him we live and move and have our being “… and “For we are also His offspring.”  In doing so, Paul essentially used tidbits of Greek culture that would have been widely known to those present to make his point understood.  Sounds a bit like something Jesus might do, right?

In the end Paul does call them to repent, and at least some of those present were moved to follow him.  This account is a practical class in evangelizing within a culture that is lost in pluralism and idolatry, not unlike our own.  We can discern quite a bit from Paul’s heart, motives, and methods as he carried out God’s will among the nations.

ejt

Posted in People of the Earth

August 1: All Nations

Read Matthew 28

It is finished (Jn 19:30).

When Jesus hung on that cross that Friday on that hill, the task was complete. All of time had hinged on the work of the God-man, Jesus Christ, and what He finished on that cross. The death and the pain and the suffering He endured up to the last taste of the horrible sour wine the guards gave Him in their merciless act — He took it up in all its terrible fullness so that Sunday could happen.

He finished death that day on the cross. Then He proved His victory when He left the grave empty three days later — the victory He attained for all the people of the earth.

Great is the name of the Lord God Almighty! Worthy of all worship. He holds all the authority of heaven and of earth. And the peoples of the earth will worship Him.

All nations included. There is no one He didn’t want to deliver, nobody He meant to leave out of His inheritance. For all can come and worship Almighty God. That is why Jesus came.

That is what He finished.

And it’s why He wants us to tell everyone we know about Him. He calls us to make disciples of all the people of the earth so all can worship the One Who holds all power.

So, let me ask you — are you living up to the call He has given you? Are you making disciples of all nations? Maybe you’re not over in Africa or somewhere else in the world, but do you have a hand in the making of disciples? All the world includes Wayne County, Ohio.

God has a plan for all the people of the earth to bring glory to His name. Are you spreading the word about Him? Are you pointing people to the One worthy of honor? Are you helping them know the One they were created to worship?

brw

Posted in People of the Earth

July 31 – Outward Appearances

Read Mark 11:1-19

Mark 11 gives us three stories.  The three accounts are Jesus’s triumphal entry, Jesus cursing the fig tree, and Jesus overturning the tables in temple.  These three accounts are all placed together in the same chapter I believe for a reason.  The reason is that they all teach us the same lesson.  It doesn’t seem at first glance like this is true however, allow me to elaborate.

During Jesus’s triumphal entry, into Jerusalem he came purposefully on a colt.  This is one of the few times Jesus is rightly worshiped as Messiah during his earthly ministry.  However to the Romans and temple officials it must have looked silly.  It was commonly thought that the Messiah would be a conquering king, come to overthrow and rule eternally.  Romans saw a triumphal entry as a decorated military general retuning from battle with the spoils of war preceding him as he came in a parade.  But this Messiah came riding a donkey that no one had ever ridden upon.  I’m guessing the donkey was not likely very cooperative.  Let’s just say if Jesus was trying to inspire awe and power, he missed the mark entirely.  Outward appearances can be deceptive.

Jesus returned to Bethany and in the morning he left early to go back to Jerusalem and on the way he got hungry.  He walked over to an olive tree and cursed it because it didn’t have any fruit.  Doesn’t seem like a very “Godly” thing to do, does it?   Here’s the issue, Olive trees normally have fruit when they have leaves.  This tree had leaves on it so it was advertising to the world that it had fruit…but it didn’t.  Outward appearances can be deceptive.

Next Jesus entered the temple and even though he knew people were actively trying to arrest and kill Him, He chose this moment to overthrow the tables of the money changers.  Why?  People came from all over to worship in the temple.  The leaders in the temple had established a temple tax.  The temple tax was roughly equivalent to two day’s pay and could only be paid in the currency of the temple.  So one of the first things you had to do when you got to the temple was to get your money converted from your home currency to the currency of the temple.  Lucky for you some enterprising individuals had set up shop in the court of the gentiles (the only place in the temple where gentiles could be to pray), and these gentlemen were happy to meet your need with a hefty service fee attached.  It just so happened that the temple officials, these supposedly holy men of God, who should have been opposed to such practices took a cut of the money changer’s earnings, and therefore allowed the practice to continue.  In addition, according to the law, one was supposed to be able to bring animals for sacrifice from your home if you chose, but the temple officials had banned this practice requiring that everyone purchase approved animals for sacrifice, and of course they were being sold at well above market rates, in essence robbing people of their money in the house of God.  Outward appearances can be deceiving.

The miracle of the fig tree is the only “destructive” miracle Jesus performed while on earth.  The occasion in the temple is the only account of Jesus being moved to the point of fury.  These three accounts point out to us that God values outward humility and that God is no fan of people who through false pretense appear to be righteous on the outside but inwardly are sinful.

ejt

Posted in People of the Earth

July 30: All People Praising God in Jerusalem

Read Isaiah 66:10-28

Isaiah had been prophesying Israel’s captivity since chapter 40 of his book. But, don’t worry, God made sure he told them, I will restore the nation I love! In fact, I will bring all nations to Jerusalem, and all the people of the earth will bring glory to My name.

After their exile and captivity, God would extend peace to (Zion) like a river, He promised, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream (v12).

The nation of Israel had been the exclusive children of God, the sole recipients of His abundant inheritance. They grew comfortable with that idea to the point that they refused to believe other nations, non-Jews, could have any part in what God would accomplish — bringing glory to His name.

So when Isaiah proclaimed the Lord will execute judgment on all people (v16), I imagine the Israelites had no problem believing it. But, according to the first few verses of this chapter, all people meant even the Jews. Yes, even the Israelites would face God’s fierce judgment if they refused to come humbly to Him, trusting His Way (Jesus Christ) alone for their salvation.

It follows, then that all people who trust in Jesus Christ, God’s only way to true salvation and real life, will bring glory to His name — all Israelites as well as Gentiles. The purpose for which all men were made will indeed one day come to fulfillment by the mercy of God.

The Israelites whose religion had them performing ceremonies out of mere ritualistic motivation would face God’s wrath because Almighty God demands humility, true dependence on Himself. He alone is worthy of the glory anyone’s life can give.

And one day all men and women on earth will bow down before Him and bring Him praise.

I want to be on the right side of that praise. Don’t you? In fact, I want to live solely in honor of the One worthy of the honor. I’m done with pretending to be some awesome religious person. Rather, I want to live surrendered to God because Jesus Christ made a way for me to live for the glory of God’s name.

brw

Posted in People of the Earth

July 29: Marked With Blessing

Read Psalm 67

God, mark us with grace and blessing! The whole country will see how you work . . . (v1, msg)

The children of God are marked with blessing so it can’t be denied — we are the children of God!

He draws people to Himself as He brings grace upon grace. So those living on earth will know what (He is) like; all nations will know how (He) deliver(s) (His) people (v7, NET). It’s why He sent Jesus — to make Himself known and make it possible for mankind to respond to His pull, to find true salvation and life. The Almighty wants to bring glory to His perfect and mighty name.

Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. How everyone throughout the earth will praise the Lord! (vv2,3, Living Bible)

We are God’s painting, His handiwork displaying His glory so all the peoples of the earth might realize His amazingness. We live for His glory, tell of His goodness, speak of His grace, and He works His plan for praise.

He blesses so His name will be praised. Every blessing points straight back to God.

But the way He blesses might confuse some of us. Because crises occur. Earthquakes shake lives and hurricanes ruin homes and evil people use guns to kill marines. And, really, where can the blessing be inside all of that?

He works His mighty hand and offers deliverance still and the blessing is given and His name will be feared. Because God is always good, even when fallen earth is not.

Still, God’s name will be praised throughout the earth. His purpose still stands, and it will be fulfilled. All the peoples will one day pay tribute and fall to honor the One and Only King of Kings.

How will you honor God’s name today? How will you recount His blessings? Even if you’re in a really tough place, can you find God’s blessing still?

Can you hold on to the undeserved gift of real life and freedom that He’s given you through Jesus? Then you are blessed beyond measure. Even if you’re in the middle of a great big storm. So praise His name.

brw

 

Posted in People of the Earth

July 28: So that He may be known

Read 1 Kings 8: 41-43, 60-61

Outside of the first century A.D., in today’s day in age, Christianity has been looked down upon more than any time before. When you say the name of Jesus, people look at you differently. If you take the time to think about it, our world is full of people who speak out against anything that they disagree with and many Christians are just like that. The problem is we speak out to the point of judgment and condemnation. People look at us and judge us because we can be so hateful with our words and proclamation.

We are called to love people, not hate them. Our call is to be a people that attract others to Jesus, not deter from Him. As we look through Scripture, we see that this is a common theme throughout the book of 1 Kings.

In chapter 8, Solomon dedicates the temple to God. He speaks to people outside their nation that came to the temple and prays that, when they come to this holy temple, they would meet God. He prays that they would be amazed by the answering of prayers from Heaven and that, through this answering of prayer, people will know that this temple was built in the name of God.

As Christians, it is our job to create an environment worth visiting. It is God’s job to work through them for life change, but it is our job to be attractive. Are we acting in a way that invites people to visit our church? Are we acting in a way that shows people we are different and that difference is Jesus?Are we acting in a way that causes other people to want the hope that we have?

So what are we supposed to do? Verse 61 gives us a pretty good idea; we need to let our heart be fully devoted to the Lord and fully committed to His plan for humanity no matter what walk of life they are in. Also, it tells us that we need to continue to have a favorable walk with God. We need to be an example to people of what it looks like to love God and love people, so that we may have the opportunity to lead them to salvation.

A good next step is subscribing to www.everydaywithgod.com so that you may be spiritually fed and can then impart that on others. If you haven’t been plugged into a Grace Group, it is a perfect way to grow closer to God while also growing closer to others.

jdl

Posted in 1 Kings, People of the Earth