Today’s Reading: Amos 8:1–9:15, Acts 10:34–11:18, Job 21:1–16
Today’s Theme: God over all
Today’s theme looks at God as the sovereign God over all. We should honour him above the commerce, business and wealth of this world. God is over His people Israel and over the church. God presides over all the affairs of man and deserves the worship of every tribe, nation and tongue.
God over business
saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, (Amos 8:5, ESV)
We must honour God in sincerity, putting Him before business, in joy, and be honest and work with integrity when we do engage in business.
Eat the word of God, daily
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11, ESV)
This is the worst type of famine, we need to pray that we do not have to endure a self inflicted famine of God’s word. We have the word of God all around us, for free, and in various formats, let us not sit in the middle of the pantry and die of starvation, or get sick from malnutrition.
Let us use our bibles and all the biblical resources the Lord has put at our disposal and let us do it with joy.
I thank God that we have a daily bible reading plan that the whole church is doing together. We must eat from the word everyday for our own joy and nourishment, so that we can grow to the glory of God.
Let us pray for the areas of the world that are not as privileged as us and where there is a famine for the word of God. Jesus said those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled.
Have and understand the word
They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. (Amos 8:12, ESV)
The fact that we have the word of God and understand it, should not be taken for granted. We should give God thanks for the gift of The Spirt of Truth, who guides and leads us into all truth.
And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them; and I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.” (Amos 9:4, ESV)
If God fixes His eye on a people for judgement, then they will be judged and cannot escape.
A BBC documentary shown in Sept 2013, regarding the Jews missed this fact, that the judgements on Israel were decreed by God. Instead it belittled the biblical accounts and pointed to the church and other world powers as the source of Jewish suffering.
We need the perspective of God’s word to understand history in context, especially when we consider God’s chosen nation Israel.
Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the LORD. (Amos 9:8, ESV)
God in His mercy would always keep a remnant.
I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. (Amos 9:14, ESV)
This is already happening, just look at the land of Israel today (this is also related to the return from Babylon etc.).
I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:15, ESV)
This has to be an end time in gathering, as God uses the words “Never Again”.
We need the anointing
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38, ESV)
If Jesus was anointed with the holy Spirit for service, then how can we attempt to minister without the Holy Spirit?
God’s elected witnesses
but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10:40–41, ESV)
This awesome eyewitness testimony, to the full bodily resurrection of Jesus, is central to the Gospel message.
As Peter mentioned earlier in the passage, the good news is that we can have peace through Jesus.
Notice God was quite specific and strategic in the resurrection. Jesus could have appeared to all Jerusalem and the leaders in victory and consummated the kingdom there and then. Instead He appeared only to those elected by God to be witnesses and to carry the message of this Great News to the ends of the earth, that the Gentiles too might be saved, and that the Lord could consummate His kingdom in God’s appointed time (the kingdom is now and not yet).
Jesus the Judge
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42, ESV)
This is one of the commands Jesus gave them in their time of teaching, after the resurrection, they were to preach that Jesus is Judge. We need to remember this in our evangelism.
It’s all about Jesus
To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43, ESV)
Peter looks back to the truth of the scriptures and reminds us of one of the greatest themes of the bible… JESUS.
When we read the OT, we should always keep an eye out for where it points to Jesus.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit
And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (Acts 10:45, ESV)
Notice this time there is no laying of hands, this and the last event were both quite special as they were both the first of their kind.
Notice that in every place where the Gospel reached a new group of people, there was a special outpouring of the Spirit and the speaking of languages. Also notice the speech was always extolling God and speaking of His great works.
Jerusalem = The Day of Pentecost
Samaria = The Laying of Hands
Gentiles = Outpouring of the Spirit
One thing this does tell us is that all believers have the Holy Spirit as a seal of their calling in Christ and are given the Holy Spirit for ministry. This is where there is a distinction between having the Holy Spirit and being anointed by the same Spirit, for work.
Each time the Spirit was given, it was a sign of approval and clear direction to the church at Jerusalem, to the way God intended to impact the world.
Saved people get baptised
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Acts 10:48, ESV)
Again this shows that there is no rule that says baptism must proceed the filling of the Holy Spirit, because all believers are given the gift of the Spirit at the point of genuine conversion and God can, at any point from that time, fill or clothe the believer in the Spirit for service.
Baptism is in fact a sacrament pointing to the inward work that has already happened, no one is saved by baptism, instead saved people get baptised.
The gospel for all nations
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, (Acts 11:2, ESV)
Already there are lines of division in the church between those who are following Jesus’ command and teaching along with the leading of the Spirit, to bring the Gospel to all nations and those still gripped by the sectarian views of Judaism in that day, which said gentiles were nothing but dogs.
We must be careful that the pendulum does not swing in either direction, to Judaizing Christianity or to disconnecting the faith from its Jewish origin and heritage.
The danger I see in the resurgence of appreciation for our Jewish roots, in the evangelical church, is the over emphasis and tendency of some to become like the circumcision party of old. They cast off identifying with Christ to identify with Israel, to the point that some have even said a faithful Jew, who does not accept Messiah, will still go to heaven.
The message of the Gospel
he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ (Acts 11:14, ESV)
Important note, it was the message of the Gospel that brought salvation.
One new people
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. (Acts 11:15, ESV)
This was God’s stamp of approval on the preaching to the gentiles and a blast against sectarian teaching. Gentiles and Jews who believe in Jesus are seen as equal before God, which is why the outpouring was the same, so as to say one is not superior to the other.
God has granted repentance that leads to life
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18, ESV)
The circumcision party understood what all this meant and said it in this verse, which is why Peter took time to tell them the whole story, including the vision. From his account, we know that he was a devout Jew too.
The point of this whole account is summed up in this verse, Glory be to God for granting repentance to both Jews and Gentiles.
Don’t mock your friends
Bear with me, and I will speak, and after I have spoken, mock on. (Job 21:3, ESV)
You have got to love Job’s boldness and humour. Here he makes clear that from his perspective, his friends were mocking him.
God’s grace to the wicked
Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? (Job 21:7, ESV)
Job brings balance to the view of the wicked. The fact is, often, wicked men have great power and live long. This is not a rule but is not uncommon and is only because God is gracious and merciful.
Generalisations are not helpful
They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. (Job 21:13, ESV)
Again Job takes his counter argument too far. Some die in prosperity, this is true, but most do not die or even live in peace.
The false security of wealth
They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’ (Job 21:14–15, ESV)
This is the unfortunate attitude of the prosperous West today, little do these men realise that it is God keeping them alive. At any moment He could release His hold, withdraw life and leave these wretched souls to their fate in the darkness of hell.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 11