Today’s Reading: Hab 2:6–3:19, Acts 18:1–28, Job 26:1–14
Today’s Theme: Conflict for God
Today’s theme is about the conflict we go through for God. Sometimes the conflict is internal with our own faith, we shouldn’t turn back, be complacent or prideful. We also need to fight the good fight by sharing the gospel, reasoning, and making disciples.
We must boldly enter into conflict, internally, spiritually and socially for God, to the glory of his name.
Warning, conflicting for God without God is dangerous.
Don’t turn back
those who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.” (Zephaniah 1:6, ESV)
Those who turn away for the Lord and backslide in compromise, spiritual adultery and faithlessness open themselves to the judgement of God
Don’t be complacent
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ (Zephaniah 1:12, ESV)
Lord keep me and my brothers from complacency, we must guard against this lazy attitude, we must violently press forward into the kingdom of God
This is the error of both Deism and “Hyper Calvinism”, God is a avery real person and is very actively involved in our lives, not in a distant way but in a very real way. Like Paul said he is closer to us than we think
The nature of sin
I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. (Zephaniah 1:17, ESV)
God takes our sins as a personal offence against Him
God’s passion for his Glory
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18, ESV)
God’s righteous jealousy and zeal for his glory means that evil, sin and sinners must be destroyed, Gods passion drives his judgement
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:3, ESV)
No matter how dire the day we must walk in humility and seek the Lord, that we might find mercy in the day of Gods judgement (temporal)
Why are so many against Israel having the territory they have?
“I have heard the taunts of Moab and the revilings of the Ammonites, how they have taunted my people and made boasts against their territory. (Zephaniah 2:8, ESV)
look at the news… this is happening today, although this is relevant to the past too by the context of the next few verses
This shall be their lot in return for their pride, because they taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of hosts. (Zephaniah 2:10, ESV)
Christians are warned against this in the NT by Paul in Romans not to boast against Israel.
She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. (Zephaniah 3:2, ESV)
We must not be like this proud, unteachable city, we must be able to listen to correction in humility and like a child put our trust in the Lord
Defend the word of God
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law. (Zephaniah 3:4, ESV)
So many do violence to the word of God today, we must defend the true interpretation of God’s word in the midst of the many false and lazy teachers
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.’ But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. (Zephaniah 3:7, ESV)
If we accept Gods correction, we can avoid punishment and judgement
But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, (Zephaniah 3:12, ESV)
How do we survive in the light of who God is? Humility is our only refuge
God rejoices over you
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)
Jesus is our great King and the promised king of Israel. God is mighty to save his chosen people. God rejoices over His people, they bring him pleasure and he quiets our fears with His love
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” (Acts 19:3, ESV)
They were under Johns ministry so were not yet Christians yet
Tongues and proclamation of the truth (prophecy)
And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:6, ESV)
Notice that with the tongues came prophesying, in fact tongues in the first instance were prophesying in different languages. This is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit to the Glory of God and the growth and confirmation of the church
And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8, ESV)
Again Paul reasoning and persuading, this was his strategy and notice it was not one visit but a continued interaction for three months
Discipleship vs debate
But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9, ESV)
Paul was more concerned with discipleship than debate, so he moved away from those speaking evil of “the Way” (Christians) and continued the program of disciple making for a prolonged period of two years.
We need to know when to move away from opposition so the work of God can continue.
This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10, ESV)
Despite the opposition, God is victorious, the word spread through all Asia.
You need to know Jesus yourself
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” (Acts 19:13, ESV)
We need to know Jesus ourselves, quoting others who know Jesus just will not do
But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15, ESV)
Demons recognise true authority, in this realm it can not be faked
God turns it around
And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. (Acts 19:17, ESV)
The folly of these men who attempted to use Jesus name like a magic weapon aside from knowing him and so without His power was turned around to bring Glory to God.
Jesus vs Magic
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. (Acts 19:18, ESV)
These events exposed the superior power of Jesus over magic and witchcraft, leading to its exposure and ultimate defeat
The mission continues
So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:20, ESV)
The victory of the mission and word of God
Follow your regenerated heart
Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” (Acts 19:21, ESV)
We must be decided and fully resolved in the Holy Spirit to do what God has put in our hearts to do
The queen of heaven
And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” (Acts 19:27, ESV)
This is the queen of heaven now worshiped in Roman Catholicism as Mary
Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. (Acts 19:32, ESV)
A crowd draws a crowd and when they started to declare praise to the demon god artemis a demonic atmosphere of frenzied confusion filled the air.
Demons have the power to affect the atmosphere
East vs West
But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:34, ESV)
This shows early divisions between east and west, Jew and Greek, this was common when rival gods and religions created great divisions, the east has not changed much today
For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. (Acts 19:37, ESV)
Paul and his fellows used wisdom when evangelising in a hostile environment
The devils plans will not succeed
And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. (Acts 19:41, ESV)
The devils plan is thwarted
Have a soft heart
I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. (Job 27:6, ESV)
Job is holding onto his integrity here and this is good, although at the same time, the statement that his heart does not reproach him for any of his days shows there is some pride here too
Teach with balance
I will teach you concerning the hand of God; what is with the Almighty I will not conceal. (Job 27:11, ESV)
Again although the things Job is about to say to his friends is sometimes true of Gods hand of Judgement to the wicked, very often God extends mercy seeking the repentance of the wicked.