God’s desire for us is for holiness. Holiness is more than our outward actions. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts.
Song of Solomon 3 & 4
1 Corinthians 12.1-31
Holiness: Speak, See, Hear, Think No Evil
Song of Solomon 3 & 4:
Holiness & Our Heart
3.5b, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
This verse emphasizes the importance of keeping sexual passions within the boundaries God has laid down. Whether we are married or single, it’s important to set godly standards of purity for ourselves and, if necessary, make ourselves accountable to godly friends.
Often times, we think that means simply not doing anything we see as sinful. But God’s standard is much higher, it is inner and outer holiness. Job said he had made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze at a virgin (Job 31.1). Continue reading →
God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.
In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).
Every gift is necessary and important.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).
From Grief to Joy
The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.
It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it.”
The wretchedness of our sin should cause us to rejoice in the amazing grace of God through the gospel!
“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ … And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh. 8.10, 12).
The proper understanding of God and His word led to great joy and celebration among the people.
In verses 11-14 the psalmist continues to extol the glories of God, and in verse 15 he begins to talk about the blessings of the children of God. Then verses 16-18 remind us that we can rejoice in who God is (good and righteous), that He makes us strong, that He causes us to walk in light (wisdom and understanding) and that it pleases Him to take care of us.
In Acts 15.37-41 Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether or not to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey—so much so that they split up and go two separate ways.
God gifts us all differently and sometimes we will disagree on things even in areas of ministry. I imagine Paul as being very practical. John Mark had deserted them on the previous journey and he wanted someone he knew would be dependable.
Barnabas, however, was an encourager. In fact, Barnabas was not his real name. His name was Joses, but he was such an encourager that the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4.36). God used their differences to further spread the gospel as two missionary teams went out with their different styles and callings.
All believers receive a spiritual gift or, perhaps, we might call it a gifting as it is often a blend of spiritual gifts in varying amounts (1 Pet. 4.10, 1 Cor. 12). We receive it at the time of our conversion. This spiritual gifting is unique to us and different from our natural talents, although they sometimes work together. Spiritual gifts are not given to make us look good or to use for our own spiritual gain, but for the benefit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12.7). Continue reading →
Do you think you’re too grown up to be a superhero? Today in the book of Judges, you will meet Jael, a housewife turned superhero. What does her story possibly have to do with you and me?
And in our New Testament reading, great multitudes were following Jesus. What an evangelistic opportunity! But instead of encouraging them to pray a prayer and accept Him into their hearts, he wanted to know if they had counted the cost of following Him and whether they were prepared to love Him so much that their love for father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even love for themselves would seem like hate in return. How do we reconcile that with what goes on in many evangelistic circles today/
The book of Judges contains some very interesting stories to say the least!
One of the more surprising, especially if you haven’t read it before, is the story of Jael and her tent peg! God used a “housewife,” a “tent-wife” in this case, to destroy Israel’s and God’s enemy with a hammer and a tent peg. Judges 4:
¹ When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.
A Prophetess named Deborah was judging Israel at this time. She had assured the people that God would give them victory over Sisera and Jabin’s army, but when Israel’s commander, Barak, refused to go to battle without Deborah, she told him, God would still deliver them, but he would get no glory for the victory. Instead, a woman would get the credit. Verse 15: Continue reading →