Paul’s God

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 7 & 8

Poetry: Proverbs 20

New Testament: Acts 14

As we look at chapter 14 of Acts, we are going to go back to the idea that one way we can learn is by studying what isn’t said. This chapter becomes even more unique and interesting when you look at it from this perspective. In context with the surrounding chapters, Paul and Barnabas are traveling to Jewish synagogues in order to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. This chapter is no different; the Jews are still stubborn and are stirring up the crowd and even trying to kill them. But when Paul saw a lame man who had the faith to be healed, he immediately healed him through the power of God. Their message is interrupted by the people claiming that Paul and Barnabas are gods who have come down to earth. This was common Greek mythology of the time.  At the sound of this accusation, Paul and Barnabas immediately reject its legitimacy and instead give the one true living God the glory.

Paul describes the power of God and all the things that He has done for His creation. Paul takes a little intermission from the message of Jesus in order to stand up for the name of Yahweh. From a Trinitarian perspective, Paul’s approach should raise some red flags because he failed to mention how God “came to earth”. If Paul held trinitarian beliefs, then he would have used this as a preaching opportunity to connect the name of Jesus to the pagan beliefs of gods visiting earth. If I were Paul, and for the sake of the argument, I was theoretically a Trinitarian, then I would have told the crowd, “Hey, I’m only a human but the real God did come down to Earth, but you rejected him!” This would have been a Trinitarians’ dream opportunity to take the crowds’ presuppositions about gods coming to earth and use it to present Jesus as God in human form. Logically, this would allow Paul to connect with their understanding of gods and use it to preach the true God. Instead, he didn’t mention a human form of God, neither does he even mention Jesus at all. But instead, the issue at hand in the mind of Paul is solely on rejecting the crowds claims and giving all the glory to God. Jesus did not even cross his mind, instead he was focused on defending the authority and power of God. But it is not as if Paul said the wrong thing or missed an incredible opportunity to share the gospel. In fact, Paul even urges the crowd to turn from “these worthless things to the living God”. The only possible ‘worthless things’ that the crowd was discussing in this chapter was that the “gods have come down to us in human form”. Therefore, it seems that Paul is urging the crowd to disregard their pagan and Greek mythological beliefs about God and believe in the God who created the heavens and earth. 

And when you combine this argument with the argument that Paul did not correct the Jews on their understanding of the Messiah, along with the fact that Paul never explains the Trinity, then I would consider it to be enough evidence to suggest that Paul did not hold Trinitarian beliefs. If we believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word to reveal himself to His creation, then it seems like we should be able to see God being accurately revealed.

Acts is the perfect book to study how Paul and the other apostles preach and reveal God and the Messiah to the crowds. We can learn so much from the theological lessons found in the book of Acts, hopefully you can keep an eye out for more theological truths as you continue through the book. 

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. In Acts 14 Paul is stoned and left for dead – and then continues on with his missionary journey – sharing the good news. What is so important about the message he is preaching? Is it that important to you?
  2. What can you learn about Paul’s God from his preaching (and what he didn’t preach) and from his life? Do you worship the same God?

New Testament in Context

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 5 & 6

Poetry: Proverbs 19

New Testament: Acts 13

The entire Bible can be traced back to Genesis 3 where we see the fall of man from the paradise that God had desired for His creation. From this foundation we can then add Genesis 12 where God calls Abraham and gives his descendants the promise of a future land and nation. And in chapter 49 of Genesis, we see God promise a leader through the line of Judah. Throughout the Bible we see common themes continually come back and connect to these three promises. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy focus on the establishment of the people into a nation with a complete constitution. The book of Joshua tells the tales of battles fought to conquer the land. And the books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the restoration of the nation of Israel to the land after the exile. And the other books follow a story of attempts to find a leader who is good enough to sit on the throne forever. 

In chapter 13 of Acts, Paul uses a very similar tactic of preaching the gospel to the Jews. The Jews would have understood the promises of a land, nation, and a leader, and they also knew that they were ultimately waiting for the leader — the Messiah. Therefore, Paul presents the history of the Israelites starting with when God led the people out of Egypt and going through the period of the Judges and then Kings. 

Paul highlighted a couple leaders in his overview, but they all turned out to be sinful. Even seemingly good men who sat on the throne made mistakes that did not reflect the leader the world needed. Another problem with these leaders is that they all ended up dead. Paul brings up this point in verse 36-37 when he says, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.” He does this to clearly contrast Jesus from the other leaders that the Jewish people adored like David. His purpose was to convince them that the Jesus they killed was the Messiah because God raised Him from the dead so that he would not see decay. Paul knew that the best way to prove this to the Jews was to use scriptures like Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10 to make his point. He also mentions that Jesus was seen by many witnesses after God raised him from the dead. 

Throughout his sermon to the Jews, he makes a clear distinction between God and Jesus. For example, he states that God was the source of the power that raised Jesus from the dead. He also uses the titles of Father and Son to describe the relationship between God and Jesus. 

The result of this sermon is that many Jews and Gentiles received Jesus as the Messiah. They asked Paul to return and preach again the following Sabbath. But the message also faced opposition by the Jews who were jealous of Paul’s preaching and his popularity among the crowds. In response, Paul goes back to Isaiah and quotes 49:6 in order to prove to the Jews the prophecy of the Gentiles being included into the promises of God. This sermon caused even more persecution for the early church but nonetheless the truth was spread throughout the entire region and both Jews and Gentiles came to believe in Jesus. 

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What does this tell us about the importance of the Old Testament as the context for the New Testament?
  2. Would you say that you have a good understanding of the Old Testament? Or is this something that you could spend more time studying?
  3. Why do you think some of the Jews accepted the truth of Paul’s sermon while others became jealous?

Herod’s Plans vs. God’s Plans

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 3 & 4

Poetry: Proverbs 18

*New Testament: Acts 12

The Bible was written for the purpose of revealing theological lessons. Throughout the whole Bible we can see cross references and common themes that unite every book into God’s complete and perfect word that he wrote for His creation. There are times when the Bible seems to be more historical or moralistic, but overall, everything can be tied back to a theological lesson on who God is and how we can have a relationship with Him. We can learn so much about the character of God. We can also see how a passage of scripture fits into the big picture of God’s plan of restoring the world to what it was in the garden of Eden. 

Acts chapter 12 records Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. This comes in the middle of the apostles and the early church being under persecution by the Jews, and right after the apostle James became a martyr for the sake of proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. Verse 3 says that King Herod arrested Peter once he saw how much the Jews supported the execution of James. The Jews did everything they could to resist the early church from growing. But here we see God step in and provide protection to Peter because of all the work that God had chosen in advance for him to complete. We just learned in the previous chapters that Peter was the disciple that God specifically assigned to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles and extend salvation to them. 

This shows how important the message of the Messiah Jesus is to God. God was prepared to intervene and open and close doors in order for Jesus to continue to be proclaimed. No tactics of man, neither from the Jews nor royalty could thwart the plans of God. God’s will will come to pass. God provided a way for Peter to escape prison – and all without him even understanding what was happening. This happens all too often because God is all-knowing, and we are limited in our knowledge as humans. 

When you first look at the account of Herod’s death, it simply looks like a historical record of a king. But is there a theological lesson that is beneath the surface? What was the point of including this story in this chapter of Acts? Well first of all, in this case, there is significance from a historical perspective because we can see a very similar account written by the Jewish historian Josephus. The historian recorded that Herod was compared to a god and did not reject the claim and therefore died. This can be used as proof of the accuracy of the Bible and the information recorded in it. The Bible is real and can be accepted as truth. But when it comes to a theological message, we can see that God is a jealous God who does not put up with idol worship. It’s sad how the Jewish people refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah, yet they were so quick to exalt Herod Agrippa to the status of a god. Men cannot come close to being worthy of the glory of God, God deserves it all. Herod Agrippa was the grandson of King Herod the Great, who ordered the killing of the baby boys at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod Agrippa was also the nephew of the Herod who beheaded John the Baptist. Therefore Herod grew up surrounded by influences that persecuted those who followed God, yet God consistently found a way around the plans of these men so that the name of Jesus could be proclaimed. 

The chapter ends with a common theme of the whole book of Acts. It says, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” Herod did not have enough power to overcome his fate nor the spread of the name of Jesus. Instead, we see the minuteness of Herod compared to God. By the end of this single chapter, we are reminded that God is playing a game of chess while all His enemies are stuck playing checkers. He has all his moves planned out and he can see how the game ends when it will all come to fruition. 

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. Where have you seen God’s plan trump man’s plans? Is everything that happens part of God’s plan?
  2. How can we work at being a part of God’s plan rather than going against it?
  3. What else can we learn about God in our Bible reading today?

Jew vs. Gentile

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 1 & 2

Poetry: Proverbs 17

New Testament: Acts 11

We pick it back up in Acts with chapters 10 and 11 that tell a story and then the retelling of the same story. These chapters play an integral part in the big picture of God’s plan.  It’s the beginning of the fulfillment of the part of the New Covenant that extends God’s promises to the Gentiles. It was a turning point for the early church because it recorded the moment that Gentiles were officially accepted as children of God. Peter was given a vision that all food was clean because it was made by God. This represents the changes from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Therefore, the Jewish Christians are no longer under the same laws that was presented to the Israelites in the Old Covenant. Now, the church could include the uncircumcised and non-Mosaic law followers. Additionally, we see the Gentiles receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and the different gifts that come with God’s power. Now, God-fearing Gentiles no longer have to be excluded on the basis of not being circumcised or under the law. This message from God was aimed to unite those who followed God and believed in Jesus. This allowed the Jewish Christians and the Gentiles who feared God and professed Jesus as their Messiah to be united together under the New Covenant.

This was such an important message because the Jews prided themselves on being an exclusive group that looked down on those who were uncircumcised and not under the Mosaic law. Romans 3 addresses this issue that the Jews struggled with. Paul comes to the conclusion that both Jews and Gentiles are sinful and equally in need of a Savior. This concept should have greatly humbled the Jews because of how they perceived their status as God’s chosen people. They elevated themselves and compared their ‘righteousness’ to the wickedness of the world. What they didn’t fully comprehend was that God holds those who know more about Him to higher standards. God presented his people with the Mosaic law and a contract in Deuteronomy 28 that is full of blessings and curses that God would distribute depending on how the Israelites obeyed God. The final and worst curse was being exiled to a foreign nation. And from this side of history, we know that the Israelites were in fact sent into exile because of the faithlessness of Israel, and worse even, the unfaithfulness of Judah. The ten northern tribes of Israel were exiled in 722 B.C. by Assyria and the southern two tribes of Judah were exiled in 586 B.C. by Babylon.

Even during the exile though, God was still working for the good of Israel. His prophet Jeremiah prophesied about the future hope of a New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31 says, “ ‘The days are coming’, declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them’, declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” This clearly shows that the New Covenant was intended for the Jewish people first. God desires hearts that are devoted to Him. The Jews broke the first covenant with their disobedience and worship of idols. So, God created the plan of sending Jesus to establish a New Covenant by dying on the cross. But the Jews rejected this Messiah that God sent. As a result, this New Covenant focused more on the heart of the recipient. It was based on loving God and accepting Jesus as Christ instead of following the Mosaic law. Therefore, the Gentiles who loved God and accepted Jesus as the Messiah automatically became equals to the Jewish Christians. God cares much more about the heart than he does about statuses.

The complete unification of God’s people will ultimately be fulfilled in the Kingdom when all nations, tongues, and tribes will be represented. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.’ ”

Peter was chosen for the task of preaching to the Gentiles and convincing the Jews that God had included the Gentiles in his promises. He sums it up in chapter 10:34 by saying, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”

The big theological lesson from these chapters is that God desires all people to be in His Kingdom, so He extends his love and grace to the Gentiles. His desire all along was that Israel would be witnesses of God to the world and would bring the nations to Him. But the Israelites found out early on that it was very difficult to bring others to God when you are not following God wholeheartedly yourselves. This did not keep them from repeating the same mistakes. This does not mean that the church or the Gentiles replaced Israel. Instead, these two chapters present the extension of the New Covenant to the Gentiles even though it is still offered to any Jew who would accept Jesus.

Through studying the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles in regard to the New Covenant, we can see that both are still offered the blessings and promises of the New Covenant. The Jews were not pushed out of the New Covenant at the inclusion of the Gentiles. Thankfully, God has enough blessings to give to all those who love and follow Him wholeheartedly and believe in His Son.

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. How would this vision from God change the whole structure of the early church?
  2. How do these chapters help us put the rest of the Bible in perspective?

Who’s the Messiah?

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 27 & 28

Poetry: Proverbs 15

New Testament: Acts 9

We will continue to look at some theological themes from the book of Acts by studying the story of Saul’s conversion. When you look at the big picture, we can see Jesus chasing Saul and transforming his life into one that aligned with God’s will for his life. Saul truly believed that he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians and the early church. From a Jewish perspective, we can understand why Saul thought this. Jesus came claiming to be the Messiah, but the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Son of God, just as it was prophesied. But in chapter nine of Acts, we see Jesus appear to Saul on the road to Damascus as he reveals to him his identity as the Messiah. Jesus chose Saul to preach the name of Jesus as the Messiah to both the Gentiles and Jews. I love this because it shows how much God and Jesus can use us for their Kingdom work when we let them. They have the power to transform lives. The power to turn persecuting Saul into preaching Paul.

Saul is instructed to preach that Jesus is the Son of God (8:20). He was instructed to teach the Jews in the synagogues that the Jesus they rejected was the Savior whom they were waiting for. At no point is Saul told to preach that Jesus was God in human form. The Jews knew their prophecies and understood that the Messiah would save the world as a representative of God, not as God himself. So when it says that Saul preached Jesus as the Christ, the Jews should have understood this to mean that Jesus was the chosen human savior to complete God’s work on earth. Additionally, Jesus had the perfect opportunity to explain to Saul who he was. Saul asked who was speaking to him, and Jesus simply replied with, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” If Jesus were trying to get Saul—a practicing Jew with power and authority among the Jewish community—to understand that he was God, then he would have said something that clarified and explained how he was a god in flesh. Sometimes we can learn a lot from what is not said in the Bible. Verse 22 says, “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” If Saul proved to the Jews in Damascus that Jesus was the Messiah, then they simply would have understood it from a Jewish theological perspective. Saul did not even attempt to change or ‘correct’ their understanding of the Messiah, he simply revealed who the Messiah was. Current Jews today are still waiting for their Messiah to return because they missed it the first time. Therefore, they believe that God is one, and not a triune God. This idea of three entities would be considered idolatry from a Jewish perspective, because from the very beginning, God has revealed himself to his chosen people as the one true God. This means that the early church and apostles would have had to correct thousands of years of ‘incorrect’ theology if they wanted to preach that Jesus was God. Instead, the book of Acts stays consistent with the rest of the Bible, and preaches that Jesus was the Messiah.

Although looking at a chapter and studying what it leaves out does not necessarily prove anything, we can see that the Bible is consistent in the fact that there is no explanation of who Jesus is other than a human that God sent to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. Therefore, from a Trinitarian perspective, Acts would be a book full of missed opportunities to preach true theology to the Jews. But since God does not make mistakes, Acts is a beautiful book of theological truths that align with the rest of Scripture and paint a picture of Jesus as the Messiah that the Jews should have known and loved.

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. How does one let Jesus transform their life?
  2. How has the definition of Messiah changed over the years from the Jewish understanding to modern mainstream Christianity?

Running to Do God’s Work

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 25 & 26

Poetry: Proverbs 14

*New Testament: Acts 8

Acts is quite possibly my favorite book of the Bible because of its emphasis on theological truths. Acts also shows us the amazing effects that occur when we are following God wholeheartedly and preaching to others sound theology. The book allows us to get an insider look on what the early church looked like and the rapid growth that occurred as the apostles preached the name of Jesus to the Jews in hopes of convincing them to accept him as the Messiah.

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian shows a beautiful example of how God places people in the right place at the right time. In this case, quite literally. God used Philip to come alongside the Ethiopian at the exact moment that his heart was ready to receive the truth.  We see a clear contrast from Simon the sorcerer whose heart was “not right before God”. Simon desired a profit for himself over the truth that God could give. On the other hand, the Ethiopian was reading the Scriptures and seeking to understand it.

The Ethiopian devoted his life to serve the king of Ethiopia by becoming a eunuch so that the king’s throne and family would not be threatened. He was a very high-ranking Ethiopian who was an important official in charge of all the treasury of the queen of the Ethiopians. This is an important piece of information since this high-ranking man, from a different country, made the decision to travel to Jerusalem to visit the temple and worship God. Therefore, he desired and even went out of his way to worship the true God, even though it was a different god than his people worshiped. This may indicate that he had even converted to Judaism. And somewhere along the way he got his hands on a precious copy of the book of Isaiah, which would have been much harder to acquire back then. And as many of us can relate to, he was having a hard time understanding what he was reading. He wanted to know more about the passage and who it was referring to because he could have related to it personally as a eunuch. At this point in the story, Philip listened to God and literally RAN to go do what God wanted him to do. This shows Philip’s heart in doing God’s will wherever God places him.

When it comes to theology, we can see how God took a gentile who feared God and gave him the opportunity to accept Jesus as the Messiah. I love what this says about God. The Ethiopian was not one of God’s chosen people in the definition of nationality. But God saw one of His children struggling to understand His word, so He sent Philip to help reveal the Messianic text of Isaiah the prophet to the Ethiopian so that he could accept the truth of the Messiah. Here we see the beginning of the Gentiles being grafted into the family of God when the Ethiopian accepts the message of Jesus and becomes baptized. This also shows how important the message of Jesus as the Messiah is to God.

-Makayla Railton

Application Points:

The spiritual health of our heart matters. (Be like the Ethiopian, not Simon the sorcerer!)

God desires us to be in His Kingdom and He desires us to help others get there. (Be like Philip!)

Sin & Guilt

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalms Reading: Psalm 49
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 2

We all love to read a good book full of rules. This is what makes Leviticus the perfect bedtime story. Just kidding, unless if you actually enjoy reading pages of laws… but the majority of us don’t. It can be easy to skip over a book like Leviticus without gathering any insightful information because of how long, repetitive, and honestly boring it can be. But this begs the question, why did God have Moses write it? And why do we need to read it? At first it may seem like God set all the rules in place to restrict us and make life hard. But, through the law, He offered a way for His people to draw closer to Him. The laws found in Leviticus regarding the different offerings are there for the purpose of revealing WHO God is. God is holy. And in order to be in His presence… we must be holy too.

The book of Exodus closes with Moses not being able to enter the tent of meeting, because “the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Moses was not able to be in the presence of God because there was no system in place that made humans clean. The continual theme throughout Leviticus is that humans are unclean. And unfortunately, there are so many tiny things that can make us unclean and keep us from God. This is why the book of Leviticus is so important to the Israelites. It offered a way for the Israelites to enter into the presence of their God. This is a major development of God’s plan of having a personal relationship with us.

Chapters 4, 5 and 6 describe the occasions when sin offerings and guilt offerings were necessary. The difference between a sin offering and a guilt offering is that a sin offering is when the sin only affects yourself, and a guilt offering is when your sin affects others. Therefore, guilt offerings included a 20% reimbursement to the person who was wronged. God designed it this way so that relationships could be restored between the Israelites. The sin and guilt offerings demonstrated that the life is in the blood. Being able to see the blood being poured of the innocent sacrifice allowed the Israelites to understand the concept of a substitute for their sins.

Not only does Leviticus remind us of the holy attributes of God, but it ultimately shows the drastic differences between us and God by revealing all the sin that separates us. Even though we are no longer bound to the offerings and laws, the theme of Leviticus is just as important for us now as it was for the Israelites. God is holy and therefore we need to be holy in order to be in God’s presence.

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What makes you unclean? What makes you clean? What do you do with your sin and guilt?
  2. What does it mean to you that God is holy? And that even in His holiness He still wants a relationship with you?
  3. What else can we learn about God and His attributes and His heart in our reading of His word today?

Paul’s Job

1 Corinthians 4

June 5

The life story of Paul is always a fascinating read. Bad guy turned good. And it even has a cool name change from Saul to Paul. But more importantly it’s a story about how God used our brokenness and yet found a beautiful way to restore us and give us a purpose through Him. And throughout his letters it is evident that God was working through him. There is nothing that Paul did to deserve being “put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 4:1) The important part is that he answered the call and gave God all the glory – as He deserves.

Paul makes it clear that his desire is to visit Corinth again. But he tells them that when he gets there they will inevitably receive praise or discipline from him. Because while he was away they were either following God or they weren’t. In the same way, everything we do either brings us closer to God or pushes us away. The Corinthians were given a chance to turn from their sin and follow God. Paul warns them to change before they have to face the consequences of their choices. We may never have Paul sending us emails or posting his wisdom on Instagram but we still have the same choice as the Corinthians 2000 years later. And thankfully God still has other ways to communicate with us and warn us when we find ourselves going down a slippery slope. Whether through our conscience, a godly mentor, or even a timeless letter from good ol’ Paul. Thankfully we can read the same words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and we have a chance to learn from them.

God is love. But we often forget this attribute is still being displayed when it’s time to be disciplined. He loves us enough to warn us countless times when we choose to walk down the wrong path. His justice and love compliment each other in ways that we cannot understand. But we can know for certain that God loves us and has our eternal interest in mind. He wants us to be in His Kingdom, but we ultimately have to make the decision to accept God’s gift of eternal life. 

The concept of Paul sending Timothy whom he refers to as his beloved and faithful child in the Lord is strikingly similar to God sending His only begotten Son Jesus, on behalf of Him. The connection between Paul and his mentee Timothy makes me think about the nature of the relationship between God and Jesus. Since Paul was preaching the message to other cities he sent Timothy ahead of him to Corinth to continue his ministry. In a similar way, since God is not able to be in the presence of sinful humans (aka the earth) he sent a man, His Son, Jesus to represent God. Jesus’ mission from his father was to proclaim the gospel (the name of Jesus and the message of the Kingdom of God) and die on the cross for the sins of the world. This ultimately will eventually allow God to come to the earth after the earth has been judged from its sin. The big picture shows the importance of being on the right side, God’s side. So learn from God’s discipline now before the world is judged for not following God. 

-Makayla Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How is discipline an important part of God’s love? Where have you seen or witnessed his discipline and justice at work for good?
  2. Who has God sent to reveal/explain His mysteries to you? To whom can you share what you have learned and how you live?
  3. If Paul were to be writing to you and your church, or even stopping in to visit this Sunday morning – what words do you think he would bring?

God Sends Answers

1 Chronicles 25-26

Reading through Chronicles it is easy to skim past large sections that seem to drone on for hours. But the fact that the whole book of Chronicles was true history of the Israelites, that was written down for us to read thousands of years later is truly fascinating. The book of Chronicles which starts off with the genealogy from Adam, shows how much the Israelites appreciated and treasured their heritage and lineage. They viewed their history as all the ways God provided for them over the years. 

Chapters 23-26 are devoted to the organization of the temple. It tells in detail the families who served in the temple and how God chose the people to be servants of the temple by being musicians, gatekeepers, treasurers, and temple officials. These positions were cast by lot. The high priest who wore the special ephod was able to cast lots using the urim and thummim. This was one way God communicated with his people. It allowed God to give the Israelites a direct yes (urim) or no (thummim) answer. 

There are many times in the Bible where it tells us that something was determined by lot. For example, Saul was appointed King of Israel by lot, and the lot was cast on Jonathan when he ate the honey he wasn’t supposed to eat according to Saul’s orders (1 Samuel 14:42), and Matthias was chosen as the apostle to replace Judas by lot (Acts 1:26), and to make decisions on how to divide the land to each of the 12 tribes (Joshua 18:6). The Bible records many other times when the people used lots to seek God’s counsel. 

So what can we take away from all of this? God loves his people, He wants to show us His plans for our lives. Part of God’s character is that he is immutable- never changing through the ages. In most cultures today, casting lots is often overlooked as a means of receiving communication and answers from God, but we must not overlook His word given to us – including Chronicles- which show God’s continuity and love to His people. God knows that we are a forgetful people who don’t remember all the many things God has done over the years. Through Chronicles we see a God who kept his promises to the Israelites and who organized the temple and determined its leaders by lot. This same God is involved in our lives as well. It’s filled with the history of God providing for and keeping true with his promises to his people. It was used to remind the Israelites of these things and it can remind us as well how God was working through their lives and how He is and was and will work in ours. And knowing this helps us Stand Firm for Him.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 25-26 and Proverbs 29


Acts 25

Conflict within the church weakens community, and ultimately destroys the credibility of the church. In the eyes of the Romans, Paul’s arrest was just another Jewish squabble that needed to be controlled and contained. Arguments in the church make the world look down on us, instead of how God intended the church to be; a light to unbelievers, pointing others to God. Certainly God can still bring good out of conflict but the purpose of the church is to be Christ’s hands and feet doing God’s work.

It is hard to be doing God’s work while you are fighting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul was following God’s direction for his life by going to Jerusalem where he knew he would be imprisoned by the Jewish leaders. From the time Jesus called him on the road to Damascus Paul had been obeying God’s instruction to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and the Jewish leaders had a lot in common. They both believed in God, and followed all the Jewish teachings and traditions. The difference between Paul and the Jewish leaders is that the Jewish leaders were not listening to God like Paul was and it was creating conflict that affected everyone within the church, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans and Gentiles.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 7-8 and Acts 25

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