Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. Acts 16:16-34 NKJV
“Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings— that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’ ” So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:26-52 NKJV
For the longest time, I have wondered why the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh when dealing with the Israelites in Exodus. After reading Exodus 14 today, it became clearer. The Egyptians did not worship God. They believed in their own gods and it was in them that they placed their faith. Their culture was also deeply embedded in those beliefs. Their hearts and minds belonged to that culture.
Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. Exodus 14:4 NKJV
The Lord was looking to gain honor over Pharaoh, the leader of the Egyptians. He was after the hearts of the Egyptians, that they may know who He is. When Pharaoh pursued the Isrealites, they called out to the Father of Heaven and Earth. The mightiest army was pursuing the Isrealites. It caused the children of Isreal to even question why the Lord had brought them out of Egypt – to die by the hand of the Egyptian army? They even question who they serve.
Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:12 NKJV
Moses provides the answer. It is the salvation of the Lord in which he delivers us from death. It is in Him that we can have peace.
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
Psalm 37 reveals many key truths that stood out to me today.
- Do not fret, nor be envious of evildoers. They will be cut down like grass and wither. (v. 1-2)
- Trust in the Lord (v. 3)
- Do good (v. 3)
- We can be nourished by His faithfulness (v. 3)
- Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart (v. 4)
- Commit your way to the Lord (v. 5)
- The Lord brings forth your righteousness and justice like a light (v. 6)
- Rest in the Lord (v. 7)
- Wait patiently for the Lord. Those who do will inherit the earth. (v. 7, 9)
- Cease from anger and forsake wrath (v. 8)
- The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight in an abundance of peace. (v. 11)
- The Lord laughs at the wicked who plot against the just. He sees that his day is coming. (v. 12, 13)
- The wicked man borrows but does not repay (v. 21)
- The righteous man shows mercy and gives (v. 21)
- The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (v. 23)
- The righteous speak justice and wisdom, the law of God is in his heart (v. 30, 31)
- The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord (v. 39)
- The righteous receive strength from the Lord in times of trouble (v. 39)
Trust in the Lord, and He will save us. He will deliver us. (v. 40)
Hebrews Chapter 2 continues to reveal so many amazing truths. Imagine if we had to live a life following God’s word 100% of the time without failure. Now imagine that every time we disobeyed God, through thought and action, it was recorded. Now, I stand before God at the end of my life ready to receive my rightful reward. I know that for myself, this would not be something I would look forward to.
Hebrews 2 describes the “escape” from this snare.
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him… Hebrews 2:1-3 NKJV
We must cling to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the anchor that keeps us from “drifting away”, or forgetting what we’ve heard and living a life separate from Him. The only way for me to escape my sin (and death) is for me to trust in the salvation that Jesus shared with us. He experienced death so that we may live.
Who am I that should receive Christ? Who are we that God gave His only Son to save us? We were made “a little lower than the angels” and yet, He has put all things of this world under us.
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” Hebrews 2:5-8 NKJV
If we trust the message of Jesus Christ, we become the “seed of Abraham.” Jesus calls us His brethren. Satan had the power over death and accused us to God, but Jesus destroyed his hold over death that we might escape bondage. What an amazing honor to partake in such a gift as this. He is loving, merciful and faithful. I also pray, let us not forget what He has done, what He has shared and who He is.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18 NKJV