2140.) Acts 3

July 14, 2017

3. lame beggar

Acts 3 (NLT)

Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.

3. Peter heals

6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

“Far more abundantly” God has in mind,  for the beggar and for us (and yes, that includes you!) —

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
—C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Peter Preaches in the Temple

12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this.

Peter knows that simply seeing the miracle is not enough to bring the people to faith. As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So Peter tells the story, the only story that can save lives.

This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

Psalm 103:1-5 (The Message)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said,

‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’

23 Then Moses said,

‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’

24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. 25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”

_________________________

Music:

The book of Acts has been called “The Gospel of the Resurrection.” Peter reminds the crowd again and again that he is a witness to the fact that God raised Christ from the dead. This song captures some of that confidence!  HERE  is “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow”

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
a lame beggar.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/3-lame-beggar1.jpg?w=450
Peter heals the crippled beggar.   https://revphil2011.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/44003001_c21_-_acts_3_1_-_the_lame_man_healed.jpg
Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria.     http://www.bestourism.com/img/items/big/778/The-Belvedere_General-view-of-Belvedere-Palace_3061.jpg
Bless the Lord, o my soul.    http://www.proclaiminghim.com/ph/images/stories/BlessTheLord.jpg

2139.) Acts 2:22-47

July 13, 2017

Acts 2:22-47   (NLT)

Peter Continues Preaching

22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.

The heart of the gospel:  Jesus’ death and resurrection!

25 King David said this about him:

‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

29 “Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us.

The Tomb of King David, on the Mount of Zion, Jerusalem

the tomb of King David, on Mount Zion, Jerusalem

30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. 31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34 For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
35 until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.”’

36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God,

Peter is following in Christ’s way; when Jesus started his ministry, he said the same thing.

Mark 1:14-15 (NLT)

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

Come down, O Love divine,
Seek out this soul of mine
And visit it with Your own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Your holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Your glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess God’s grace,
Till Love creates a place
Wherein the Holy Spirit make a dwelling.

–Bianco da Siena (d. 1434)

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Ryan Stevenson and “The Gospel.”

_________________________

The Believers Form a Community

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Acts 2:46   They did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God.

Why do people think it is a dull thing to be a Christian? Even our meal times should be happy. The early disciples took their meals with great happiness, and the Lord took notice of these happy meals and even thought it worth recording for us to read.

May “the delightfulness of the Lord our God be upon” us all, at meal times and all times today (Psalm 90:17).

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Peter preaching.   https://fogocinti.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Peter-preaching.jpg
tomb of David.  http://z.about.com/d/judaism/1/5/W/1/slichot_kingdavidtomb.jpg
tongues of fire.    http://www.blog.fathermulcahy.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/tongues-of-fire.jpg
child eating cake and ice cream.    http://newvaluestreams.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/child-eating-cake-and-ice-cream.jpg

2138.) Acts 2:1-21

July 12, 2017
"Pentecost" watercolor by Estella Canziani, 1936

“Pentecost” watercolor by Estella Canziani, 1936

Acts 2:1-21 (NLT)

The Holy Spirit Comes

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me” in Celtic style.

_________________________

1 On the day of Pentecost

Pentecost was a Jewish feast held 50 days after Passover. It celebrated the firstfruits of harvest (Numbers 28:26), and it also commemorated the giving of the Law through Moses. So the day is rich in meaning for the people of Israel already.

all the believers were meeting together in one place.

The New King James Version has it that they were meeting “with one accord.” Hahaha!

2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Matthew 3:11 (ESV)

John said,  “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

quilted banner of flames and a dove, for Pentecost

quilted banner of flames and a dove, for Pentecost

5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

Not many homes of that day could hold 120 people. It is far more likely that this upper room was part of the temple courts, which was a huge structure, with porches and colonnades and rooms. The crowd would come from people milling about the temple courts.
—David Guzik

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs.

Click  HERE  is see a map pointing out the regions listed above. It is practically all the Roman world.

And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”

This “un-does” the separation of languages of the Tower of Babel.

12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

Let’s talk about speaking . . . in tongues:

There is no way to argue rightly from the book of Acts that God intends for baptism with the Spirit always to be accompanied by speaking in tongues. And Paul teaches plainly in 1 Corinthians 12:10 that God does not give the gift of tongues to everyone. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit may or may not result in glossolalia (tongues-speaking) and therefore, speaking in tongues is not a necessary part of either Luke’s or Paul’s definition of baptism with the Spirit.

I want to stress here though, that I do not reject the validity of the gift of tongues for our own day. It is wrong to insist that they are a necessary part of the baptism of the Spirit; it is not wrong to insist that they are a possible part of that experience today.

—John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota

__________________

To open to the beauty of spiritual language does not require you to become a wild-eyed fanatic, a rigid proponent of faith, a drone preoccupied with health or wealth, or a giddy dupe running from one televised service to another.

Charismatic isn’t a stereotyped lifestyle managed by a pop theology or a manipulative leader. It’s a biblical, Christ-centered, sensible, hope- filled, happy, trusting application of God’s promises for today. To be truly charismatic is to enter a dimension of Christian living available to people who sin, fail and suffer, yet seek God’s holiness, depend on His grace and believe for His presence and power in the middle of their tough times.

Speaking in tongues–or any other spiritual gift–is not unbiblical or outmoded, not a status symbol or a substitute for spiritual growth. Above all, spiritual language is not divisive. When the beauty of this exercise is scripturally understood and wisely employed, it is a pathway of blessing for the entire body of Christ.

—Jack Hayford, senior pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California

__________________

“What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?”

— Leonard Ravenhill, British evangelist

Peter Preaches to the Crowd

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’

"That day" by contemporary New Zealand artist Cornelius Monsma

“That day” by contemporary New Zealand artist Cornelis Monsma

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Holy Spirit, Rain Down,”  words and music by Russell Fragar, 1997.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Canziani.  http://www.leicestergalleries.com/art-and-antiques/detail/12679
banner.  http://www.piecefulquilting.co.uk/images/shop_pics/banner_pentecost_250.jpg
Babel.   http://img.tfd.com/cde/BABEL.GIF
woman speaking.   http://img.clipartall.com/clip-art-people-talking-word-is-dead-by-emily-person-talking-clipart-250_283.gif
Monsma.   http://www.monsmart.com/thatday.html

2137.) Acts 1:12-26

July 11, 2017

Acts 1:12-26   (NLT)

Matthias Replaces Judas

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. 13 When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.

Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James). 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

Their obedience is notable: They returned to Jerusalem. Jesus told them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, and that is exactly what they did.  They didn’t forget the sermon right after they heard it, and they actually did what Jesus told them to do, even though He was no longer physically present with them.

Their unity is notable: These all continued with one accord.  When we saw the disciples in the gospels, it seemed that they were always fighting and bickering.  What had changed?  Peter still had the history of denying the Lord; Matthew was still a tax collector; Simon was still a zealot.  Their differences were still there, but the resurrected Jesus in their hearts was greater than any difference.

Their prayer is notable; they all prayed, and they continued in prayer and supplication.  The idea of supplication is a sense of desperation and earnestness in prayer.

–David Guzik

15 During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. 16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

18 (Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. 19 The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)

"Judas hangs himself" an illumination by Jean Colombe, 1489 (Musee Conde, Chantilly). Matthew 27:5 further explains Judas' death: "Then he went away and hanged himself."

“Judas hangs himself” an illumination by Jean Colombe, 1485 (Musee Conde, Chantilly). Matthew 27:5 further explains Judas’ death: “Then he went away and hanged himself.”

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

Their reliance on God’s Word is notable; this wasn’t the wisdom of man at work, but a principle revealed in Scripture. 

–David Guzik

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus—22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.

We never hear of Matthias again. But then, after chapter 1, none of the apostles is mentioned again, other than Peter and John. Yet their significance remains:

Revelation 21:10-14 (NIV)

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a modern hymn for missions, from Keith and Kristyn Getty. We, like the apostles, are “Facing a Task Unfinished,” and with the same certainty that the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the story that every heart in the world is longing to hear.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Acts 1:8.   https://s3.amazonaws.com/BridgeFaithBuilder/fullsize/2014-04-23.jpg
Colombe.    http://www.christusrex.org/www2/berry/DB-f147v-d1l.jpg

2136.) Acts 1:1-11

July 10, 2017
"The Ascension of Christ" by Salvador Dali, 1958.

“The Ascension of Christ” by Salvador Dali, 1958.

Acts 1:1-11 (NLT)

I think Acts is such a wonderful book!  I hope it will inspire you to greatness as you read about the adventures of Peter and Philip and Paul. I also hope it will cause you to think about what your chapter of Acts will say, because the Holy Spirit is still at work through God’s people in the world!  Good reading, good thinking, good new blessings to you!

Love in our Lord Jesus,
Rebecca

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In my first book

–which was The Gospel according to St. Luke–

I told you, Theophilus,

We know nothing about Theophilus except that his name means “lover of God.” We don’t know a whole lot about the writer, Luke, either, other than that he was a doctor, a Gentile, and a companion to Paul.

about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Trinity!  JESUS says the FATHER will send the HOLY SPIRIT.

The Ascension of Jesus

"Ascension" by Eric Gill, 1918 (Tate Collection, London)

“Ascension”  relief print on paper by Eric Gill, 1918 (Tate Collection, London)

6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

“The verb restore shows that they were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment.”
—John Stott

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Here Luke outlines his book. The Good News of Jesus will start in Jerusalem with Peter (chapter 1-7), move into Samaria with Philip (chapters 8-12), and then continue to the ends of the earth with Paul (chapters 13-28). We will be reading the book in these three parts; after the first 7 chapters we will return to Isaiah, then return to Acts.

9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

“Ascension of Christ” by Garofalo, 1510 (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome)

Up through endless ranks of angels,
Cries of triumph in his ears,
To his heav’nly throne ascending,
Having vanquished all their fears,
Christ looks down upon his faithful,
Leaving them in happy tears.
.
Death destroying, life restoring,

Proven equal to our need,
Now for us before the Father
As our brother intercede;
Flesh that for our world was wounded,
Living, for the wounded plead!
.
To our lives of wanton wand’ring

Send your promised Spirit guide;
Through our lives of fear and failure
With your pow’r and love abide;
Welcome us, as you were welcomed
To an endless Eastertide.
.
Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Oh, to breathe the Spirit’s grace!
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Oh, to see the Father’s face!
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Oh, to feel the Son’s embrace!

–Jaroslav J. Vajda, 1919-2008

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Music:

HERE  is “Crown Him with Many Crowns”  sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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1. cartoon I'll be back.php

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dali.  https://www.dalipaintings.com/images/paintings/the-ascension-of-christ.jpg
Gill.  http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=5240&searchid=4721&tabview=image
Garofalo. http://www.wga.hu/art/g/garofalo/ascensio.jpg
cartoon.  http://www.reverendfun.com/index.php?date=19990406

2135.) 2 Chronicles 33

July 7, 2017

2 Chronicles 33  (NLT)

Manasseh Rules in Judah

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.

This means that he was born in the last fifteen years of Hezekiah’s life, the additional fifteen years that Hezekiah prayed for (2 Kings 20:6). Those additional fifteen years brought Judah one of its worst kings.

As the Bible commentator C. Knapp said:  “Had this good king been able to foresee the wickedness of his unworthy son, he would doubtless have had no desire to recover from his sickness. Better by far die childless than beget a son such as Manasseh proved to be.”

–David Guzik

2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.

4 He built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord, the place where the Lord had said, “My name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. 6 Manasseh also sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of Ben-Hinnom.

God never asks us to sacrifice our children to him. Instead, he sacrificed his son for us.

He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the Lord’s sight, arousing his anger.

7 Manasseh even took a carved idol he had made and set it up in God’s Temple,

2 Kings 21:7 tells us that this idol was Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility, who was worshiped through ritual prostitution. This means that Manasseh made the temple into an idolatrous brothel, dedicated to Asherah.

the very place where God had told David and his son Solomon: “My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem—the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. 8 If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws, decrees, and regulations given through Moses—I will not send them into exile from this land that I set aside for your ancestors.” 9 But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.

10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11 So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. 12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!


“Oh! I do not wonder at Manasseh’s sin one half so much
as I wonder at God’s mercy.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

14 After this Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel. He built the wall very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified towns of Judah. 15 Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the Lord’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel.

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Music:

Will one of my readers agree to underwrite an American tour for the Oslo Gospel Choir?!  I would love to hear them sing this song in person, and sing it with them, for (as Manasseh now knows) “there is no salvation except in the name of the Lord!”  HERE  is “His Name Will Shine.”

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17 However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, though only to the Lord their God.

18 The rest of the events of Manasseh’s reign, his prayer to God, and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel. 19 Manasseh’s prayer, the account of the way God answered him, and an account of all his sins and unfaithfulness are recorded in The Record of the Seers. It includes a list of the locations where he built pagan shrines and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself and repented. 20 When Manasseh died, he was buried in his palace. Then his son Amon became the next king.

His true repentance was wonderful, but the consequences of his sin had a definite negative effect on the nation — exile to Babylonia.

2 Kings 24:3-4   (NIV)

Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.

Amon Rules in Judah

21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. 23But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the Lord. Instead, Amon sinned even more.

24 Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25 But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.

In the northern kingdom, assassins usually proclaimed themselves the new rulers. Here in the southern kingdom, however, the people stood up for what was right and kept the line of David on the throne.

Psalm 89:3-4   (NIV)

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”
Selah

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 113:3.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/ps113-3.gif
Manasseh sacrifices his son to Molech.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/manassah_sacrifices_tomoloch.jpg
mercy morning.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/mercymorning1.jpg

2134.) 2 Kings 21

July 6, 2017

“Woman Drying a Plate” by Jozsef Koszta, 1919.  Speaking through the prophets, the Lord describes the Southern Kingdom’s future using a metaphor of wiping dishes.

2 Kings 21   (NIV)

Manasseh King of Judah

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah.

Manasseh is, we shall see, a ruler given to all kinds of evil.  He was only 12 when his father died and he came to the throne, which means he was born in those last, gift-from-God 15 years of Hezekiah’s life.

2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done.

He brought Judah back to the old forms of idolatry . . .

He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” 5 In the two courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts.

. . . and he introduced his people to new ones.

6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire,

The Canaanite god, Molech, was described by the 12th century Jewish rabbi, Rashi, in this way:

Moloch was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.

practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.

7 He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple,

Asherah was the Canaanite mother goddess of fertility. She was worshiped with temple prostitution — is Solomon’s temple now a common brothel?

of which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.” 9 But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites.

10 The LORD said through his servants the prophets:

The prophets were Hosea, Joel, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. They spoke invitations to the nation from the Lord, imploring them to return to God, and they spoke warnings, clear reports of the punishment that would come on account of continued disobedience. Their message is summarized in the following verses:

11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.”

16 Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end—besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

Isaiah sawn in two with the king watching — from a medieval illuminated manuscript

By tradition, one of the evils done by Manasseh was the murder of Isaiah the prophet. Many think that Hebrews 11:37 (they were sawn in two) is a reference to the martyrdom of Isaiah.

17 As for the other events of Manasseh’s reign, and all he did, including the sin he committed, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 18 Manasseh rested with his ancestors and was buried in his palace garden, the garden of Uzza.

2 Chronicles 33:11-19 describes a remarkable repentance on the part of Manasseh. Because he and his people would not listen to the warnings of God, the Lord allowed the Babylonians to bind King Manasseh and take him as a captive to Babylon. There, when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 33:12) and God answered his prayer and restored him to the throne. Manasseh then proved that his repentance was genuine by taking away the idols and the foreign gods from Jerusalem, and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel (2 Chronicles 33:16).

This is a wonderful example of the principle, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Manasseh was raised by a godly father, yet he lived in defiance of his father’s faith for most of his life. Nevertheless, at the end of his days he truly repented and served God. In this way, we can say that it was very true that Manasseh rested with his fathers.

Yet, his repentance was too late to change the nation. “The widespread revolts during the reign of Ashurbanipal, which occurred from 652-648 BC, may provide the occasion for Manasseh’s summons to Babylon and imprisonment. If so, his subsequent release and reform were apparently far too late to have much of an effect on the obdurately backslidden people.” (Patterson and Austel)

It was also not soon enough to change the destiny of the kingdom. “Years later, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the writer would blame Judah’s punishment on the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:3-4).” (Dilday)

–David Guzik

And Amon his son succeeded him as king.

Amon King of Judah

19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. 20 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. 22 He forsook the LORD, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him.

23 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace. 24 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

An evil father — the only good he did for Judah was to produce a son who would become one of the best kings ever.

25 As for the other events of Amon’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 26 He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza. And Josiah his son succeeded him as king.

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Music:

“In Times Like These” — how Judah needed the Lord, the Savior! But they probably wouldn’t have listened to that message, even with the Cadet Sisters bringing it so beautifully. So let us hear and bring joy to the Lord’s heart today by naming Jesus as our Savior! Click  HERE.

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Koszta.    http://www.wikigallery.org/paintings/297501-298000/297925/painting1.jpg
evil reign.   http://www.elimbcc.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/grunge_tree_background_by_gh1ll13-d5kgmi5.jpg
prophet.   http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/cms/CW/faith/14733-stain-glass-prophet-daniel-point.1200w.tn.jpg
Isaiah sawn in two.    http://www.cowart.info/blog/uploaded_images/Isaiah-sawn-into-763940.jpg