OYB June 3
Julie FerwerdaAre you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
- 2009 Jun 03
21:1 There was a famine during David's reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it. And the Lord said, "The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites." When I read verses like this, I often wonder why in today's world we dismiss "acts of nature" as just random events. I know Christians say, "God doesn't work like that...at least not anymore." But I wonder why they believe this? I don't see Biblical evidence that God has suddenly taken a hands-off approach to His creation. The way I see it, there are three options:
A. It's true, God no longer enforces acts of judgment through nature on His people. Natural disasters and acts of nature are random and unrelated to the sin of people.
B. It's untrue. God still uses acts of nature to bring people to repentance by getting their attention and displaying His power.
C. It's untrue. God uses acts of nature to punish people for their sin.
I could be wrong, but I favor answer B. I don't think God punishes people for the sake of punishment, but I believe in His mercy, He is ever trying to get people's attention for their sin and independence, so that they will call upon His name. God is more concerned about character than happiness. A good example that it is still God's prerogative and practice to use natural disasters for judgment will come during the Tribulation. Again, I am not a doomsayer, but I also believe all of the Bible, and I think sometimes we make God too fluffy to fit our ideals. God cannot be stuffed into a box. He is both merciful and vengeful. He is both full of lovingkindness and justice. He is both patient and jealous for our affections. But nothing in His creation is random or self-propelled. Check out these verses:
Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster upon my people. It is the fruit of their own sin because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected all my instructions. Jeremiah 6:19
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4
Personally, I feel more secure knowing God is in control and paying attention than thinking it's all up to chance and we are on our own. Plus, what I understand of God's character is that He is far more loving and patient than we deserve, and any of His attempts to get our attention are for the sake of showing His mercy, not being vindictive.
1:4 In one of these meetings as he was eating a meal with them... Jesus sure ate a lot with them in His glorified body. Major proof that we will eat in our glorified bodies, too. I have heard so many people quote Paul (food for the stomach and the stomach for food, but both will be done away with). But it is quite obvious that Paul was teaching about something else. We will have to uncover it when we get there!
1:6-7 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority..." It is strange that He didn't answer this question! It appears He hid the answer from them for a purpose.
1:9, 11 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." What a site that will be! But check out an interesting fact in verse 12: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. Jesus ascended out of their presence on the Mount of Olives, the same place He is to return at His second coming! I never knew this.
1:14 They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. This is awesome! During His lifetime, Jesus' brothers did not believe. In fact, they are not even shown at His cross. But now they have become believers! The resurrection was so powerful.
1:20 Peter continued, "This was predicted in the book of Psalms, where it says, 'Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.' And again, 'Let his position be given to someone else.' I find it amazing how many OT connections the Jews make in the NT that I would never get in a million years. These two Psalms Peter refers to as prophesying about Judas are the perfect examples (69:25, 109:8). Who would ever make that connection unless it was divinely revealed? This is yet another example of the knowledge of the Jews being important for us to connect Scriptures!
1:21-22 "So now we must choose another man to take Judas's place. It must be someone who has been with us all the time that we were with the Lord Jesus-from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us into heaven. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus' resurrection." A qualification for the special apostleship of Christ (the original 12 +1 with Paul) is that the person must have been with Jesus. Even though Paul did not live in the presence of Jesus while He was on earth, Paul became a rightful apostle appointed by and visited by Jesus on the road to Damascus.
1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. I find it so fascinating that most, if not all, of the important appointments throughout the Bible are chosen through sacred lot, like drawing straws. From stuff I've read, it seems that in the Big Story, lots were thrown to choose who would play which part. It makes me regard God much more fairly. I wonder if that's where the saying, "this is my lot in life" comes from?