The Conspiracy to Kill Paul

​Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ” But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.” Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.” Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.” So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.” Acts 23:1‭-‬22 NKJV

The Birth of Samson

​Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord , and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name. And He said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ” Then Manoah prayed to the Lord , and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her. Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, “Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!” So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, “Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am. ” Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to  pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?” So the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.” Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord , “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.” And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord .” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the Lord .) Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord , “What is Your name, that when Your words come to  pass we may honor You?” And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord . And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on— it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord . And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such  things as these at this time.” So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. Judges 13:1‭-‬25 NKJV

Humility of the Centurion

Jesus finds great faith and humilty in a centurion. 

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. ” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. Matthew 8:1‭-‬13 NKJV

The Widow’s Two Mites

I am always humbled to read of the widow in Luke 21. She was a widow, meaning that she had lost her husband. She was also poor. However, she still put two mites into the treasury. For her, that would have apparently been hard to come by – it required sacrifice on her part.

Jesus saw the woman putting the two mites into the treasury. He also saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. Jesus says:

“Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:3, 4 NKJV)

Where are we putting our livelihood? Does our relationship with the Lord require much of our livelihood or not? This woman’s example humbles me.

Oh Lord, My Rock

Many times in my life I have needed a rock to anchor me or I would have been tossed to and fro. My rock is the Lord. He has always been with me, but I didn’t truly realize it until I was in college. Since that time, I have learned to lean heavily on Him and trust in God.

Psalm 28 starts with a beautiful statement:

To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock: Do not be silent to me… (Psalms 28:1 NKJV)

I also find comfort in the following prayer:

Blessed be the Lord , Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. The Lord is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever. (Psalms 28:6-9 NKJV)

Jesus Warns of the Scribes

The scribes probably knew the scriptures better than anyone because they knew the laws. To demonstrate how powerful of a contrast there is between believing in Jesus “Christ” or just the law, Jesus warns the people of the scribes.

“Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:46, 47 NKJV)

Long robes, greetings in the marketplace, best seats in the synagogues, and best seats at feasts. What do these all have in common? Status… If we live for status unto ourselves, we are not honoring God. In the NIV version, the scribes are actually referred to as teachers of the law. They knew the law and, therefore, they thought highly of themselves and were treated with great reverence.

However, our knowledge of the law or scripture should not be the end goal. The goal should be to give our heart to God. If we can do that, we can learn to walk in obedience. We can learn to care for others and see them as God does. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. It is good to understand scripture and law, but those who live by the law and not of the Son of Man are still dead. They have not taken on the new man.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that atoned for our sins. Let us not be as the scribes, for the punishment will be great.

Jacob is Named Israel

God asks Jacob to return to Bethel. Jacob requests that all of his company to out away their foreign gods and to cleanse themselves for the journey. Goods, clothing and jewelry were put away.

The people from the surrounding cities did not pursue Jacob because they knew God was with Him. They were afraid of the wrath of God. Jacob returned to Bethel and God appeared to him again. Jacob’s name becomes Isreal and God continues the promise that was given to Abraham. Nations shall proceed from Jacob and he and his descendants will inherit the land.

Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” (Genesis 35:11, 12 NKJV)

Jacob has twelve sons and they become the twelve tribes of Israel.

From Heaven or from Men

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:1-4 NKJV)

Is it from Heaven or from men?

This is a key question that is both relevant today and had to be answered by the Pharisees when Jesus walked the Earth. The answer was, of coarse, from Heaven. But, the Pharisees would not admit that Jesus was the Son of God. Men create rules. Men have gods. The God of Heaven and Earth will honor those rules and the consequences of those rules. However, we are ultimately accountable to God of Heaven. He is the one true God that created us.

I am always fascinated how the Pharisees knew the scriptures and missed that the actual Son of God was right there among them. It shows how we can be so totally consumed with our own actions and knowledge. The Pharisees would test Jesus again and again. Jesus made them uncomfortable because His very existence challenged their authority, their way of life. They spied on him, hoping to catch him saying something he shouldn’t have.

And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people —for they knew He had spoken this parable against them. So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. (Luke 20:19, 20 NKJV)

Their opportunity never came.

But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent. (Luke 20:26 NKJV)

Dinah & Shechem

Dinah was the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Jacob was called Israel and it appears that the his family began to take that on as a tribal name. They were called apart from the rest of the land. However, Leah decides to go out to see other women in the land on her own accord.

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah…went out to see the daughters of the land. (Genesis 34:1 NKJV)

Turns out that this was not a very good idea as it sets for a series of events that would not end well. Shechem, a prince of the country and a Hivite (from the Cannanites), came from a line that was to be driven from the land. He sees Dinah and becomes very attracted to her, so much so that he violates her sexually. The violation appears to be that Shechem is from an uncircumcised people, they did not marry and he did not have Jacob’s permission.

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” (Genesis 34:2-4 NKJV)

The news is delivered to Jacob and his family.  Jacob shows maturity by remaining in peace until Shechem and his father come to meet with him. His sons, however, take the incident as an offense to the whole family/”tribe”.  Hamor, Shechem’s father, makes an honest appeal to have his son marry Dinah and the daughters of Jacob and they would share the land. The sons of Jacob are still filled with anger and they come up with a plot. They decide to ask Shechem and his family to be circumcised and then he can marry Dinah. Then, they waited until the third day, in which the males of Shechem’s people were in the most pain, and Simeon and Levi attacked the city. They killed Shechem, his father Harmor and all of the males. Because of the offense that Shechem made toward their sister, the rest of the brothers plundered the entire city and took their children and their wives as captives. Dinah was in the city, which indicates that the agreement for marriage had been agreed to formally.

Because of Simeon and Levi’s actions, Jacob will end up excluding them from his blessing when he is on his death bed. Simeon and Levi remained unrepentant.

But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?” (Genesis 34:31 NKJV)