June 29, 2015

Jeremiah 29-30  

 This is the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to what was left of the elders among the exiles, to the priests and prophets and all the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon from Jerusalem, including King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the government leaders, and all the skilled laborers and craftsmen...“Build houses and make yourselves at home. Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. “Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away. Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare. Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”...

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.  I know what I am doing.  I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.  Yes when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else.  I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.... 

This is the Message Jeremiah received from God: “God’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book. “‘Look. The time is coming when I will turn everything around for my people, both Israel and Judah. I, God, say so. I’ll bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors, and they’ll take up ownership again.’”...

“God’s Message: Cries of panic are being heard. The peace has been shattered....A time of deep trouble for Jacob— but he’ll come out of it alive. “‘And then I’ll enter the darkness. I’ll break the yoke from their necks, cut them loose from the harness. No more slave labor to foreigners! They’ll serve their God and the David-King I’ll establish for them....

“Again, God’s Message: “‘I’ll turn things around for Jacob. I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes.  The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations; the mansions will be splendid again. Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows;  laughter will spill through the doors.  Things will get better and better.  Depression days are over.  They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish. The days of contempt will be over.  They’ll look forward to having children again, to being a community in which I take pride....And that’s it: You’ll be my very own people,  I’ll be your very own God.’”... I’ll be the God of every man, woman, and child in Israel and they shall be my very own people.”
                                                
Acts 5:12 -
Through the work of the apostles, many God-signs were set up among the people, many wonderful things done.  They all met regularly & in remarkable harmony at the temple of Solomon.  But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both....They came from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, throngs of them, bringing the sick and bedeviled. And they all were healed.

Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action, arrested the apostles and put them in the town jail. But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out.... The chief and his police went and got them, but they handled them gently, fearful that the people would riot and turn on them. Bringing them back, they stood them before the High Council. The Chief Priest said, “Didn’t we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus’ name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying your best to blame us for the death of this man.”

Peter and the apostles answered, “It’s necessary to obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross. God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven. And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey him, corroborates every detail.”

When they (High Council) heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them (apostles) on the spot.  But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God’s law who was honored by everyone... “I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it—and you better not be found fighting against God!”

That convinced them. They called the apostles back in. After giving them a thorough whipping, they warned them not to speak in Jesus’ name and sent them off. The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name. Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute.