Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:
A long genealogy. One thing that kept sticking out to me was this statement: "and he died". The only aberration to this was Enoch who "walked with God". I am not certain how he came to an end, all I can say for sure is that "God took him". Perhaps this is pointing us to the eternal life that God grants those that walk with Him.
Entire books have been written on this section (The Sermon on the Mount). I will only mention the things that speak to me today. I think I have always read verse 23-24 the wrong way. I have always thought if I have something against my brother I should be reconciled (which probably also true). But the text says that if I remember that my brother has something against me. I do not think I obey this. Lord, help me to seek reconciliation when I know that people "have something against me".
I like the way the ESV phrases verse 28; "lustful intent". I think the reason put the tear out your eye section next to lust for a reason. If you flirt with lust/adultery it will kill you. I'm thinking also of Owen's statement that sin always aims to the utmost. I must make certain to take sin very seriously. If I see it in the least I should be very quick to "tear it out" through the power of the Holy Spirit. I take Jesus' warning about "throwing your whole body in hell" quite seriously.
I cannot help but think of many of the political battles Christians get themselves in with verse 38-42. I know there are times when I am more concerned about not being taken advantage of than with following and trusting Jesus in these things. Going the extra mile really speaks to me. This was something that I read in high school and really tried doing. Now I think I try to see how little I can get away with doing. Father, forgive my foolish heart. Help me to see the beauty of these verses and give even when it hurts and it is difficult.
"Pray for those who persecute you". God has really been rebuking and disciplining me concerning slander and gossip. Might I take it another step and pray for those people. I also should remember that God shows grace even to His enemies. Might I do the same. Help me to be gracious Lord!
The people are following God instead of Artaxeres. Looks like they have learned their lesson of trusting in and/or fearing foreign nations. One other thing that leaped off the page to me was the statement in verse 1. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied in the name of the God of Israel "who was over them". I would pray that it may be said of me as a minister that I speak in the name of the God who is over me. The truth behind this does something to a man. If we fear the Lord we have no need to fear anything else. This is not an "anti-authority" statement but it is saying that because we are under the authority of the Lord we will fear Him and not man!
As I read the story of Ananias and Sapphira I have to wonder what would happen in our churches if God would start doing this same thing. I would hope that I would not be struck dead. How wonderful it would be if it could be said of our church, "And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard these things". Certainly, not a crippling fear but a fear that trembles at the Word of God.
Looks like "discipline" curbed spurious members. "None of the rest dared join them". Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Since, it was God who did it we have to conclude that it is good. Yet we see in verse 14, "And more than ever believers were added to the Lord". Would it be possible that a holy fear of the Lord would actually add to our number? Oh, that we would be more God-sensitive than seeker-sensitive. May we fear Him!
I am sensing a theme today (along with what I read in Burroughs' Gospel Fear this afternoon). Again in verse 29 "We must obey God rather than men". Lord, cause my fear of your to become healthier and deeper.
Gamaliel teaches us an important lesson. If something is from God it will not be overthrown. If something is of man then eventually it will fail. Leave it alone and it will come to its fitting end (or it will be fruitful as God causes it to be). Perhaps, lest we oppose God we should be more gracious in our questioning of other ministries. I know I have been guilty of being quick to judge other ministries (Saddleback, Willow Creek, etc.). Certainly, if it is outright heresy (Osteen) then we should oppose it. But maybe some things we should let them run their course. Remember, God is sovereign.
Verse 41 and 42 cut my heart. Rejoicing in suffering. Preaching and Teaching Jesus every day. Lord, make these things evident in my life. For your name's sake and for your glory. Embolden my tongue and toughen my skin!