03 Jan 2008 04:50 pm

Thu, 3 January, 2008: Today’s Bible readings.

Acts 3:17-26

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

After healing the lame man, Peter makes sure everyone knows not to look at Peter as the source of this healing power. Instead, he points them to Jesus Christ. He then chastises them for having crucified Jesus. And then he explains that what happened was all in accordance with scripture.

Peter quotes Moses in Deuteronomy 18 to point out that Moses spoke of the coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, Peter says, “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.”

What do we learn from this?

The premise of Meditatio Mea is that all the scriptures point us to Jesus Christ. Peter is affirming this. Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures.

The law and the prophets all point us to Jesus Christ.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Peter effectively takes the Old Testament scriptures, and shows the people of Jerusalem in his day that these scriptures show us Jesus Christ. So, as we read what Peter told them in his day, we also are pointed to Jesus Christ.

02 Jan 2008 09:24 pm

Wed, 2 January, 2008: Today’s Bible readings.

Ezra 2:68-69

68 Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments.

The book of Ezra begins with Cyrus’ proclamation allowing Jews to return to Israel. In chapter 2, there is a list of the Jewish exiles who returned to Israel. As the chapter ends, we are told that people contributed a significant amount to the reconstruction of the temple, according to their own desire and ability.

What do we learn from this?

This is another example in scripture of people giving to God out of gratitude for what He has done. The giving is not forced. They gave as they were able, and as they desired.

It is possible to give reluctantly or under compulsion, but this is not the kind of giving God desires. Rather, we should give as God prospers us and out of gratitude for what He has given to us.

If you begrudge God your money, don’t give it. But you should seriously consider what God has done for you, and think about why you are not grateful to Him for what He has done. If you truly are thankful to God for His mercy that He has bestowed upon you, then giving a portion of what He has blessed you with is a tangible way to show your gratitude.

Where is Christ in this passage?

The people in Ezra’s day were giving toward to completion of the temple. They were seeking to complete the earthly shadow of the heavenly reality. Everything in the temple was pointing forward to the final High Priest who would offer the perfect Sacrifice for sin. All in the temple was pointing to Jesus Christ.

01 Jan 2008 01:00 am

Tue, 1 January, 2008: Today’s Bible readings.

Matthew 1:1-17

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Matthew gives us Joseph’s lineage, showing that Jesus as Joseph’s presumed firstborn son, has the right to the throne of David. Luke gives Mary’s lineage that also runs through David, but not through the kingly line.

In this list of many men, there are three women. But I’ve always loved how God has ordained that these three women have been included in this lineage of Christ.

These three women are:

  1. Tamar, who tricked her father-in-law to impregnate her with the twins Perez and Zerah.

  2. Rahab, the harlot from Jericho who protected the Israelite spies and joined Israel.

  3. Bathsheba, here referred to as “the wife of Uriah”, who committed adultery with David.

These three women aren’t exactly the people you would expect in the lineage of the sinless Son of God. But there they are.

What do we learn from this?

We have our expectations of who God can use, and who God can not. We have our standards of who is “good” and who is “bad”. Usually, we define “good” and “bad” in such a way that we are “good” and those others are “bad”. Naturally, those who are “good” in our eyes are the ones we expect God to use.

But in God’s eyes, there is none righteous, no not one. All our righteousness is like filthy rags in His sight. And so the fact that God uses anyone is because of His grace.

God clearly shows this in the lineage before us today. God uses these women to bring Jesus Christ into the world. And instead of trying to hide them from public view as if embarrassed about them, God has them listed prominently. Every time we read this lineage, we are reminded that God uses those we would be inclined to rule out. He raises them to prominence in His kingdom, when we would be inclined to hide them.

We need to overcome our own desire to judge people and dismiss them because they do not live up to our own standards.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Jesus Christ is the culmination of this lineage of Matthew. God worked all the history involved in this list of names for the purpose of bringing Mary and Joseph together to raise Jesus Christ, the virgin born incarnate Second Person of the Trinity.

10 Jan 2007 09:23 pm

Wed, 10 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Matthew 10:5-15

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Jesus is sending out the twelve apostles to preach the news that The kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Messiah is here. They are given power to perform miracles to demonstrate the truth of what they proclaim, and they are given a specific audience to preach to. At this point, they are to bring the news to the Israelites only.

The people of Israel had the scriptures and were expecting the Messiah, so they should have accepted the message the apostles were preaching. But for the towns that refused to listen, they were commanded to shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town as a testament to them of the coming judgment they will face for having rejected the news of the Messiah. They will face a worse judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah because they had the news of Jesus Christ preached to them, but they refused it. Sodom and Gomorrah never had the gospel presented to them.

What do we learn from this?

Scripture clearly teaches that there are degrees of punishment. All sin is damnable, but there are levels of sin and there will be degrees of punishment.

We all know how bad Sodom and Gomorrah were. But as bad as the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were, it is a worse sin to reject the news of the gospel. The punishment will be more severe for those who have heard explained what Jesus Christ has done on behalf of sinners and to refuse to turn to God in faith.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Jesus Christ came as the promised Messiah. He did what scriptures foretold as He lived the perfect life and died a substitutionary death on behalf of His people. He has earned, the salvation of all who come to Him in faith.

What a great thing Jesus Christ has done for sinners! And what a great sin it is to reject what He has done by refusing to repent and turn to Him in faith, claiming the grace He freely offers.

10 Jan 2007 09:22 pm

Tue, 9 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Genesis 9:1-3

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

God’s command to Noah after the flood is the same as His command to Adam: Be fruitful and multiply. Subdue the earth. God is commanding Noah and his offspring to exercise dominion over the world.

What do we learn from this?

Our work is not some secondary thing that we do only to provide the means for our spiritual endeavors. God has commanded that we work. We are made to learn of the functioning of our world and to bring it into submission. In our work, we make this world become useful, for God’s glory, according to His command.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Jesus Christ is King of this world. It is His world, and He has given us dominion to serve as His regents, bringing the world into submission to Him in all ways. When we work at our jobs well, we are obeying this command and we are serving to further the glory of Jesus Christ in the world.

08 Jan 2007 09:48 pm

Mon, 8 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Acts 9:1-4

1 And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

After Stephen’s death, a great persecution begins in Jerusalem. Christians end up fleeing the city and go throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. But wherever they go, they bring the gospel with them, and they share the good news about Jesus Christ as they are scattered.

What do we learn from this?

The persecution of the church is a terrible thing. Stephen’s death is so sad. Why would God allow such things to happen?

We don’t always get the answer, but here we are immediately told of the good that God brings about from the evil of the persecution of the church. As a direct result of the persecution, people begin to take the gospel to the world. They move out of Jerusalem and go throughout Judea and Samaria, spreading the news about Jesus Christ.

Where is Christ in this passage?

This is exactly the progression of the gospel Jesus told them about at His ascension.

Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Just as Jesus has told them, they began in Jerusalem, and are now moving to Judea and Samaria. It took persecution to do it, but it is all happening according to God’s plan just as Jesus Christ foretold.

07 Jan 2007 09:00 am

Sun, 7 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Ezra 7:1-10

1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest– 6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Ezra now enters the scene, coming to Jerusalem with the desire to teach the law of God to the people now living in the land of Israel.

Ezra is skilled in handling the law of the Lord and he has a great desire to teach the scriptures. He is the perfect person for what is needed as the people are slowly restoring Israel under the rule of the Medes and Persians.

God blesses Ezra and grants him favor in the eyes of the king, so that the king grants Ezra everything he asks.

What do we learn from this?

God provides for the needs of His people. The people needed someone to teach them the law, and so God provides Ezra to return to Jerusalem. Ezra needed provisions for the journey and for restoring temple worship, and the king provides them.

We don’t always understand why all things work out the way they do. What we think in our own minds would be the perfect way rarely is the way things go. But yet we can know with confidence that God will provide for our needs.

Where is Christ in this passage?

One great need we have is for His word. We need to learn it. We need to understand it. God provided Ezra to teach the people His word.

But God has provided one greater than Ezra for us to know His word.

07 Jan 2007 08:41 am

Sat, 6 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Matthew 6:5-6

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Jesus here teaches His disciples about prayer.

What do we learn from this?

One of the hard things about prayer is that we are talking to God. By faith we know that He hears us. But we can’t see Him. However, we can see the people around us. So when we pray in public, it is hard to keep in mind that we are praying to God. We can easily fall into the trap of trying to impress the people around us with the eloquence of our prayers. That is what Jesus is warning us about.

Apparently, in Jesus day, there were people who took this to the extreme. They would find the places where they could get the most public attention (street corners and in the synagogues), and then impress their audience with their fine prayers.

Don’t be like that. Don’t pray to impress people. You are speaking to God, not to the people around you. Focus on Him and try to forget the people.

I do not believe this is a prohibition against all public prayer, for we see Jesus Himself praying in public in the gospels. This is an example of Jesus using hyperbole to drive home a point. Like we are to gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands if they cause us to sin, so we are to pray in secret if praying in public causes us to sin.

Beware of this tendency to sin, and realize that even in our best deeds, like praying to God, we still regularly sin against God.

Where is Christ in this passage?

If we are ever to be saved from our sin, God must do it. Our good deeds are sinful and merit God’s judgment. How can we save ourselves?

Thanks be to God, He has saved us by sending the Second Person of the Trinity to win our salvation. He did live a sinless life. All His deeds were without sin. Yet He died on the cross to bear the penalty of the sins of all who come to Him in faith. So the penalty for the sinful prayers of all His people has been paid. And He is in heaven interceding for us, praying acceptable prayers to the Father on our behalf.

06 Jan 2007 09:07 pm

Fri, 5 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Genesis 5:1-2

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

God has created everything, and as we saw in Genesis chapter 1, all that He created was declared to be good. But we also saw in chapter 1, and it is reiterated in today’s passage, that God created man in His own image.

What do we learn from this?

We is some way bear the likeness and image of God. That image has been badly marred because of Adam’s fall in chapter 3. We’ve seen the depths of this fall in the last chapter where Cain murders Abel. But still there is some way that we bear God’s image.

God has made us to know Him. He has made us to desire Him. We have a deep spiritual desire for God that can only be satisfied by Him, for we are like Him in a fundamental way. We are created in His image.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Our desire for God can only be satisfied by God. But we can’t come into God’s presence due to our sin. We must deal with the guilt of our sin before we can come to God to be satisfied by Him. We must have the works of righteousness that He requires.

None of us, in and of ourselves, have that righteousness. We all stand guilty before Him, based upon our own deeds. In our own fallen nature, we can never come to God seeking His satisfaction, and find it in Him. All we will find is wrath and righteous judgment.

But, Jesus Christ has borne the guilt of the sins of all who come to Him in faith. He grants His perfect righteousness to all who repent of their sins and trust in Him for salvation. So, all who are in Jesus Christ are accepted by God. They can come to Him seeking the satisfaction they can only find in God because of the work of Jesus Christ on their behalf.

04 Jan 2007 08:54 pm

Thu, 4 January, 2007: Today’s Bible readings.

Acts 4:1-4

1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Peter and John have just been a part of the miraculous healing of the lame man at the temple. They use the opportunity to preach about Jesus Christ, and the priests hear about. They are greatly annoyed about this. What bothers them so? The priests are part of the Sadducees, who, as the liberals of the day, deny there is any resurrection. What bothers them is that the apostles are teaching that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, and that there is a future resurrection that we look forward to.

What do we learn from this?

Opposition to the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is nothing new. Some people believe that what we have now is all there is. Although there is no hope with their philosophy, they also aren’t burdened by the thought of final and ultimate judgment. This frees them to live however they like, since they deny there is any responsibility for their actions beyond the here and now.

The problem is, truth is not determined by what is convenient for us. We might want to believe something because it gives us freedom to live by our standards, but that doesn’t make it true. And the truth is that there is a resurrection of the dead that will come at the end of time. We will all stand before God in final judgment, and then we will be reunited with our glorified bodies for eternity in heaven, or we will spend eternity in our bodies in hell.

Where is Christ in this passage?

Jesus Christ did rise again from the dead. His tomb is empty. He is the first fruits, and because He rose from the dead, we know that we will also be resurrected.

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