Reading #1 – Acts 14
Reading #2 – Psalms 119:161-176
Reading #3 – Proverbs 30
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 39
Reading #5 – Nehemiah 7
Nehemiah 7 – Census of First Returned Exiles. It took 42,360 people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Everybody that returned played a part in the reconstruction. When we read about the building of Solomon’s temple, Solomon was credited with the construction. In Nehemiah, we read how each family was assigned a specific part to build. Rebuilding, just like a new building, requires adequate funds to support and finish the project. A parallel to this would be the “cost of discipleship” (Luke 14:25-33). All of the families had something to contribute even if it seemed innocuous. This project was massive and, as you might have noticed, Ezra nor Nehemiah was exempt from working.
Psalms 119:161-176 – These last 15 verses speak to the direction of the writer’s heart. David understood that his strength, the power to command, and the unity within the kingdom are a direct result of his relationship with the Lord G_d. David was not a stranger to persecution but, the faith he had in the Lord overpowered his fear of trouble (161). I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds a great treasure (Matthew 13:44-45). I hate and detest falsehood, but I love Your law (162-163). By saying, “I keep your testimonies”, he is honoring G_d’s command (Deuteronomy 6:17-19). David was one of the few kings of Israel and Judah that honored the Lord G_d’s command to write a copy of the law for himself so, when he said “I keep your testimonies”, he was saying “I will honor your commands” (167-168). When we go to the lengths that David did to honor G_d, only then will we understand why he did it. Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding, the ability to learn, and a teachable heart according to Your word [of promise]. Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word (169-170). When we honor the Lord’s commands and treasure His testimonies, we can ask for our needs, and fully expect to receive them (John 16:23-24). I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments (176).
Proverbs 30 – The Words of Agur. Agur, as some commentators say, was a compiler. King Hezekiah commissioned men to compile the wisdom of Solomon or the book of Proverbs. The compilation was completed somewhere around 700 BC or about 262 years after Solomon passed away. The oracle of this compiler says, “to Ithiel, to Ithiel and UCAL” (2). Later translations say, “I am weary G_d but I can prevail” (NIV). The implication is that the writer at long last has completed his task but the problem is, “he didn’t understand what he had translated and compiled”; this is nothing new because, even to this date, people utter a passage without understanding the particulars not because they don’t want to understand but because they can’t understand. Can’t says, “I haven’t found a way, “don’t,” says, “I will not find a way (3). When G_d sends us into the field, He doesn’t tell us everything we need to know, He says “Go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:13-14) and I will guide you each step of the way. Of equal importance is that there are questions we have about the inner workings of the Lord G_d that He will not tell us because we are not ready for the answers so we have to go on faith that He has all things in His hands although it doesn’t appear He does (5-6). We do not need to add to His words like one would flavoring to a meal and nor do we need to remove it in other words, “it is what it is” (6). There are a few things that we can ask from G_d and He will provide it: our daily bread, what we need to accomplish the mission He sends us on, and encouragement for the road (6-9).
Jeremiah 39 – Jerusalem Captured. When the Babylonian army captured Jerusalem, King Zedekiah and his officials did what Jeremiah said would happen “you will escape but be captured and taken to Babylon (Jeremiah 38:23). King Zedekiah instead of taking Jeremiah’s word to heart, tried escaping to be captured in the Arabah and pronounced judgment. The poorest people were left in Jerusalem to till the land while the “so-called better class” were taken to Babylon” (9). Strict instructions were given to the Captain of Babylon’s armies to take care of Jeremiah and that no harm should come to him (11-14). Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was King Zedekiah’s servant and would become the Governor of Judea. The Governor’s responsibility was to govern the small nation in the name of Nebuchadnezzar. But I will protect you [Ebed-melech] on that day,” says the LORD, “and you will not be handed over to the men of whom you are afraid. For I will certainly rescue you; and you will not fall by the sword, but you will have your [own] life as a reward of battle because you have placed your trust in Me,” says the LORD (17-18).'”
Acts 14 – Acceptance and Opposition. Paul who at one time persecuted the church is now the most outspoken of any of the apostles. While at Iconium which is located in Turkey. In every town, there are always those who will accept the message and those who will not (1-2). The opposition set its target on spoiling the image of Paul by defaming his ministry to those who did not know better; this would be the same issue that Hezekiah would face when the Assyrian armies would attempt to convince the people to give up their post and abandon Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:28-35). What was happening is that the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles compelled the people to “choose sides” which is where “war” comes from. Paul and Barnabus were not willing to give in to the human temptation to “Forget the mission and focus on talking points”. So Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time, speaking boldly and confidently for the Lord, who continued to testify to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders (attesting miracles) be done by them. But the people of the city were divided; some were siding with the Jews, and some with the apostles. When Paul healed the lame man, the populace thought “He’s a god” so they brought their sacrifice and were ready to put on a show. When Paul and Barnabus saw the people running with their sacrifices, they said, “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are only men of the same nature as you, bringing the good news to you, so that you turn from these useless and meaningless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that is in them” (15). When Paul got stoned and dragged out of the city by the opposition, the disciples formed a circle around him, and he got up and went back into the city, and the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe (20).