“And they called them in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”
Peter and John angered the authorities for preaching Christ. They were imprisoned, but many believed. The church now numbered 5,000 men. Now they are ordered to be silent.
Society would silence the saints. Christ has ordered us to announce the Good News. We must decide. Silence is deadly—for the lost and for ourselves.
#votd #Acts #persecution
“Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.”
1 Thessalonians 5.21
The normal greeting of antiquity was the kiss. Since Paul finds it necessary to stress that, among the saints, it ought to be holy, it may have been abused.
The emphasis here is not on the kiss but on it being holy. He isn’t establishing a ritual; he’s making sure that all we do is characteristic of God’s holiness.
#holiness #votd #1-Thessalonians
“Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
What was heard was the message spoken by the Lord and preached by the apostles, vv. 2-3. “Must” leaves no alternative. Listen closely. Otherwise, we will fall away.
This is why we emphasize serious Bible reading, study, and memorization. It means spiritual life. What is my plan to pay closer attention to God’s word?
#votd #Hebrews #Bible
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.”
Paul recognized it is not possible to live peaceably with some people. Not every persecutor will convert to Christ. But we must make every effort on our part.
Christians are peacemakers, like their Lord. They go the extra mile. They know how to bite their tongue. They bless instead of curse. How am I doing in this area?
#votd #Romans #peace
“And I saw the holy city – the new Jerusalem – descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.”
What a blessing it must have been for John to have seen this vision! For this he has waited and prepared all his life. And he offers the vision to those who may see it before he does.
Christians know that beyond the grave lies the heavenly city of God. To be eternally with him motivates them. How much does heaven occupy my thoughts and dreams?
#votd #Revelation #heaven
“O Lord, I come before you in prayer.”
David knew the essence of prayer as approaching the presence of God. How this simple act required him to be circumspect, at the same time he asked for help and protection.
Prayer requires the right attitude, not only a seeking for something from God. It recognizes who God is and how he acts, vv. 7-10. It honestly and humbly lays out one’s need.
#prayer #Psalms #votd
“So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’ Then he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.'”
The Jewish authorities refused to answer Jesus’ question about John the Immerser because either option would put them in a bad position. In this way, our Lord showed their bad faith.
Do I avoid God’s truth by pleading ignorance or doubt? Do I appeal to prayer as a way to lay aside his commandments? Or do I readily embrace the truth that frees?
#votd #Matthew #honesty
“Further, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin stand [with him, in confirmation of it]. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem acted in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.”
2 Chronicles 34.32 AMP
King Josiah instituted reforms in Judah. He read the law to the assembly of Israelites, vv. 29-30. He first committed himself to follow the law, v. 31. Then he called upon the people to do so.
Renewal and restoration begins with God’s word and with personal commitment to obey it fully. Then we are in position to make the call to others. Are you ready?
(For more on this verse, see emaildevotionals.com.)
#votd #2-Chronicles #covenant
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!”
This psalm, beginning the last group, psalms of praise, declares that man’s help is limited; God’s is not. The Creator maintains his creation, vv. 5-6. The King of Kings helps his people, vv. 7-10.
Our plans last only as long as our life, vv. 3-4. So we must not place trust in man, no matter how powerful. When God is our help and hope, v. 5, how happy we will be!
#votd #Psalms #praise
“This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’”
Stephen pointed the Jews to the very words of Moses, who spoke of Jesus. If they claimed to listen to the lawgiver, they should have welcomed the grace-bringer.
Prophecy ought to create and strengthen faith in God’s work. The Old Testament deserves much reading and study. Jesus is also present there. How is my Bible reading going?
#votd #Acts #prophecy
“Then Haggai responded, ‘The people of this nation are unclean in my sight,’ decrees the Lord. ‘And so is all their effort; everything they offer is also unclean.'”
An unclean people cannot offer to God sacrifices or offerings that are acceptable. Everything becomes contaminated. Man’s opinion does not matter. It is what God sees that counts.
Sinners cannot dig themselves out of their sin. We all sin, Rm 3.23. Our every effort is therefore repulsive to God. We have no merit; we need saving grace.
#votd #Haggai #impurity
“The sleep of the laborer is pleasant – whether he eats little or much – but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.”
The Teacher (author of the book) knows that in some ways wealth brings advantages, but in other ways it causes many worries. Rather than providing security, wealth begets a bevy of struggles.
Jesus said wealth makes it hard to enter his Kingdom, because people make it their god. The true God does not brook rivals. Has desire for and pursuit of wealth damaged my soul?
#votd #Ecclesiastes #wealth
“So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.”
James is the book of action. He stresses how important it is to live out one’s faith, but always in the shadow of God’s help and guidance. Faith that does nothing is dead.
Teaching is not done as an intellectual exercise or to satisfy curiosity, but to direct Christians in God-approved works. From beginning to end, approved faith must engage in approved actions.
#votd #James #faith
“Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why should you die, O house of Israel?”
Without a change of heart, Israel would die in her sins. The Lord sent his servants the prophets to warn the nation and to plead for repentance. How he loved his people!
God loves the church. The church is his people in the new covenant of Christ. But churches sometimes go astray. Examples can be found in Rev 2-3. Jesus pleads for repentance because he loves.
#votd #Ezekiel #repentance
“For this reason this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “You have rejected this message; you trust instead in your ability to oppress and trick, and rely on that kind of behavior.”
Israel ran to Egypt for help, but they would discover it to be a failure, vv. 1-7. They refused to listen to the prophets who directed them to seek God, vv. 8-11.
Isaiah summed up the choice: Trust in what God says, or attempt to do it ourselves. Doing the latter, we consider ourselves smart. God sees it for the foolishness it is.
#votd #Isaiah #trust