Israel Rebels against Rehoboam / A Letter to Gentile Believers: June 23rd 2021

1 Kings 11:14-12:24

As Solomon had been unfaithful to the Lord, God now raised up adversaries against him: Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom and Rezon, who led a band of rebels in Aram.

The Edomites were descended from Jacob’s brother, Esau, and so should have been allies of Israel but the commander of David’s army, Joab, had killed all the Edomite men apart from a few, including Hadad, who had fled to Egypt. Eventually, despite being very well treated by Pharoah, Hadad wanted to return home.

One of Solomon’s officials, Jeroboam, also rebelled against the king. Solomon had put him in a responsible position but he didn’t stay loyal to the king (1 Kings 11:28). Ahijah the prophet prophesied that after Solomon was dead, ten of the twelve tribes of Israel would be handed to Jeroboam and he would rule Israel. Solomon tried to assassinate him but Jeroboam fled to Egypt.

Solomon reigned for forty years and was buried in the city of David his father (Zion). He was succeeded by Rehoboam, his son.

Rehoboam lacked the diplomacy of Solomon. His rival Jeroboam had returned from Egypt and teamed up with the assembly of Israel, the northern part of the combined nation. They asked Rehoboam to lighten the harsh labour and heavy yoke that Solomon had imposed on them. King Rehoboam consulted his elders and then rejected their wise advice to placate Israel. He followed the advice of fellow foolish young men and told Israel he would make their burdens even heavier. The Israelites went home furious and now felt disenfranchised from the nation. They rejected David’s line of succession (1 Kings 12:16) and continued in rebellion against the house of David (1 Kings 12:19) which could explain why so many Jews were hostile to Jesus and the Good News spread by the disciples.

Israel made Jeroboam king over them. Rehoboam was now just king of Judah and Benjamin. He assembled one hundred and eighty thousand fighting men to regain Israel for his kingdom. However, God through the prophet Shemaiah told them all not to fight the Israelites for this was all his doing. Rehoboam and his troops listened to this advice and went home ‘as the Lord had ordered’ (1 Kings 12:24).  

Rehoboam had lost a massive part of his empire due to his arrogance and not trusting the advice of his elders. He followed the advice of similarly foolish young men. Commercial companies in this country used to rely on senior, experienced staff for major decisions. However, many now employ young staff who can make bad decisions out of pride and arrogance while ignoring the advice of older workers, who are obliged to watch the company they loyally built-up flounder. It is marvellous when companies value the experience and wisdom of older staff and do not cast them out without even attempting to download their priceless wisdom.

When people come to us with a valid concern we should listen and respond with grace. Rehoboam may have kept his whole country together if had been diplomatic but God was against him due to the disloyalty of his father.

Acts 15:22-41

The Jerusalem Council sent Barnabas and Saul along with two other leaders, Judas (Barsabbas) and Silas, to Antioch. They took with them an encouraging letter, to clarify the small set of rules that Gentiles must follow to become Christians. Judas and Silas went to confirm these stipulations by word of mouth. This shows that the early church did follow a strict hierarchy with written rules (an early Catechism). It would have caused chaos and been counterproductive if the early church had split into multiple denominations, as we have now, all teaching different versions of Christianity. The Council wrote with the authority of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) as the Pope does today, thanks to the apostolic succession from Saint Peter.

The gathered church in Antioch were glad for the letter’s encouraging message. Judas and Silas were prophets and ‘did much to encourage and strengthen the brothers’ (Acts 15:32). It is very important for congregations to have this accessible link back to the headquarters of the church. Bishops visit the different churches in their dioceses to show lay believers they have access to senior leaders. Their visits do much to encourage and strengthen their flock who witness that they are part of a much larger church, that is concerned for their welfare and spiritual wellbeing.

Paul and Barnabas decided to revisit all the towns in which they had previously preached. However, Barnabas – who was ever forgiving and full of encouragement – wanted to take his cousin John Mark. Paul disagreed because John Mark had deserted them in Cyprus. They had such a sharp disagreement that they spilt up. Barnabas took John Mark to Cyprus and Paul went with Silas throughout Syria and Cilicia. I am sure that Barnabas and Paul would have quickly forgiven each other and become reconciled in the future. The Holy Spirit used a human disagreement to form two missionary teams rather than one. Good comes out of every stressful disagreement, when people are dedicated to God.

Psalm 77:10-20

I try to spend some time every day remembering God’s miracles of long ago, his works and his mighty deeds (Psalm 77:11-12).

All God’s ways are holy. None of the gods that the Canaanites worshipped is as great as our God (Psal, 77:13).

He is a miracle working God. He displayed his power among his people and redeemed them, leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron and parting the mighty waters of the Red Sea.

God loves it when we reflect on Israel’s exodus and exalt him for it, how He lead his people to the promised land.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and leads us today as his flock through the direction of the Holy Spirit within us.

Image: Lucas van Leyden, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon / The Council at Jerusalem: June 22nd 2021

1 Kings 9:10-11:13

It had taken twenty years for Solomon to build both the temple of the Lord and his royal palace. His ally, Hiram king of Tyre, had supplied him with materials all this time and so, in return, Solomon gave him twenty towns. However, Hiram was not impressed with the quality of them. He called them the ‘Land of Cabul’ (1 Kings 9:13) which means ‘good for nothing’. Meanwhile, Solomon had rebuilt and built-up selected cities throughout his territory.

Solomon created a huge slave labour force from the remnants of the indigenous Canaanite tribes that the Israelites had not managed to exterminate. Solomon kept to the prescribed schedule for offerings to the Lord. He also built ships, manned by Hiram’s sailors, that travelled to Ophir to bring back gold.

The queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame and came to test him with hard questions. Nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. She was overwhelmed at the opulence of Solomon’s court.  She gave the king gold, precious stones and a huge quantity of spices. She praised God for having placed Solomon on the throne (1 Kings 10:9).

There are a couple of interesting legends about the visit from the queen of Sheba. The first is that Solomon allegedly seduced her (1 Kings 10:13) and she later bore him a son, Menilek, who would eventually take the ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem and take it to Ethiopia ( https://www.britannica.com/place/Aksum-Ethiopia#ref42419). The second legend is that Solomon had tried to incorporate wood from the ‘tree of life’ that had come from Eden into the temple, but it had been too supple. He had used it instead to make a bridge, which the queen of Sheba refused to cross because she prophesied that the wood would bring an end to the Jews. Solomon buried the wood but from this location, the healing spring of Bethesda started and eventually a large plank of wood floated to the top of the healing pool it supplied (John 5:1-2). This wood was used to make Jesus’ cross.

The weight of all the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents (1 Kings 10:14). I wonder whether this number is significant (Revelation 13:17-18). The number 666 may be associated with Solomon’s gradual fall from grace, his accumulation of horses and wealth, his abuse of power, lust for women, and his turning away from true worship of God.

The king made himself a massive throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold (1 Kings 10:20). All of his household articles were made from gold. The whole world came to hear the wisdom that God had put into his heart and he was greater in riches than all the other kings of the world.

Solomon accumulated a vast number of chariots and horses, breaking the commandments (Deut. 17:16-17) which forbade the king from accumulating gold, horses (particularly horses from Egypt) and wives.

Solomon was also unfaithful to his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, not only (allegedly) with the queen of Sheba but also with women from all the nations that God had banned the Israelites from intermarrying. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines and his foreign wives lead him astray (1 Kings 11:2-3). It is very easy to be lead astray by those we love and know best.

According to Deuteronomy, the king was meant to write down God’s law on a scroll and read it all the days of his life. Instead, Solomon started to follow heathen gods (1 Kings 11:5-6) doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. This was incredible behaviour when God himself (Jesus) had personally appeared to Solomon twice. He probably became convinced of his own brilliance and was consumed with lust for attractive women – as his father, King David, had illicitly lusted after Bathsheba.

God was justifiably furious and told Solomon that the kingdom would be torn away from him (1 Kings 11:11). For the sake of Solomon’s righteous father, David, this would not happen in Solomon’s lifetime and would leave just a single tribe for the sake of David and Jerusalem.

Hopefully, Solomon was sufficiently mortified by this judgement or did he just revel in his own brilliance, gold, fame, horses and women for the rest of his life? Judging by the book of Ecclesiastes he became clinically depressed (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Considering he was the wisest man in the world, Solomon appeared to have made a very foolish decision. He may have been led astray by his studies of the occult. Solomon was so wise and knowledgeable he studied multiple subjects including the occult. Several spell books that are alleged to have been written by him are still available today with incantations for summoning demons and getting them to do our bidding. Why did the wisest man in the world start to follow other gods and goddesses? There is a veritable list of these gods (with a small g) in 1 Kings 11:5-7. Solomon, as king, could have forced his wives just to worship the one true God but, in his wisdom, he went with their traditions. Michael Heiser in his book ‘The Unseen Realm’ offers an insight into what might have been going on. He postulates that these gods and goddesses were actually real and had been created by God to form a heavenly council before the foundation of the earth. Like the demons, they rebelled against God and ruled the earth badly, so God had to judge them and confine them. Verses that suggest the existence of this heavenly council include Psalm 82:1, Job 38:4-7, and Psalm 89:5-7. Solomon made the mistake of investigating this mythology, possibly thinking it could benefit him. However, we should not let these matters concern us. Our God is above all other ‘small g’ gods as the creator of the universes and everything within it (Exodus 15:11, Deut.3:24, 1 Kings 8:23, Psalm 97:9).   

Let us try not to make the same mistakes as Solomon. We should never let our hearts turn away from God and we should worship the Holy Trinity alone.  

Acts 15:1-21

The apostles had to counter false teaching at ‘The Council at Jerusalem’. Converts from Judah had been preaching that Gentiles had to become circumcised before they could be saved. That would have put a lot of Gentiles off from becoming Christians.

Peter stood up in the church in Jerusalem and pointed out that God had accepted Gentiles just as they were. God had given them the Holy Spirit, just as He had been given to the apostles (Acts 15:8). God knew the heart of these Gentiles and did not care if they were physically circumcised. He had purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).

As the Jews had not been able to fully comply with the law, why should the Gentiles now be saddled with the same impossible task. We are all saved through grace – a free, unearned gift from God (Acts 15:11).

The assembly became silent as they listed to Barnabas and Paul testify about the signs and wonders that God had done among the Gentiles through them.

James (the Lessor) took on the leadership role in the council and made a judgment. Two of the twelve apostles were named James. This one (James the ‘Lessor’) was the Son of Alphaeus and a cousin of Jesus. The other James (‘James the ‘Great’’ – with great meaning older or taller) was the brother of John and had been previously executed by Herod in AD 44 (Acts 12:1-2). James the Great is buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. James the Lessor is buried along with his fellow apostle, Saint Philip, in the Basilica dei Santi Apostoli in Rome.

James wisely proclaimed that they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles to turn to God (Acts 15:19). Not only had God demonstrated that uncircumcised Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit, but also the prophets had predicted that Gentiles would bear Jesus’ name (Acts 15:15). James judged that the Gentiles should only be banned in writing from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood (Acts 15:20). Like Solomon and David before him, millions of Gentile Christians do choose to live in sexual immorality front but God is always willing to forgive and forget if we contritely repent and renounce our sinful activities.

Psalm 77:1-9

I have cried out to God several times over the last few years. God allowed me to endure a couple of major trials to refine me and strengthen me. However, he rescued me each time and much good came out of my tribulations. I am a much better person today thanks to temporary suffering, when my spirit grew faint.

When we cry out and groan to God in distress, he will send people to help us. They may well be active Christians – living in the Spirit – but God also uses worldly people to rescue us. He bends secular people to his will, without them realising it, to deliver salvation on His behalf.

God will not reject us forever or forget to be merciful. He will show us again his unfailing love when the time is right for both Him and us.

Praise and honour to the Lord.

Image: Jacopo Tintoretto, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reference:

Solomon Dedicates the Temple / Paul Heals a Man Crippled from Birth: June 21st 2021

1 Kings 8:22-9:9

Solomon stood before the altar of the new temple, in front of the whole assembly of Israel and prayed.

There is no God like ours. He keeps a covenant of love ‘with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way’ (1 Kings 8:23).

Solomon prayed for his descendants that they would continue on the throne if they would faithfully walk before God as King David had done.  

Solomon asked: ‘But will God really dwell on earth?’ (1 Kings 8:27). Jesus came to dwell among us after his incarnation. God came to earth to serve and to save us. The temple would meanwhile serve as a place where God would ‘hear the prayer that your servant prays towards this place (1 Kings 8:29). Solomon prayed for God to both hear and forgive.

Solomon asked God to dispense justice, forgive the sin of Israel, teach them the right way to live and send rain on the land.

Solomon also asked God to hear the prayers of foreigners (Gentiles) so that ‘all the peoples of the earth may know your (God’s) name and fear you’ (1 Kings 8:43). He prophesied that because of Israel’s sins, ‘for there is no-one who does not sin’ (1 Kings 8:46), the Israelites would be defeated and exiled. Solomon prayed that in the future, the exiled Jews would be heard and forgiven when they turned back to God with their heart and soul in the land of their enemies.

God had singled out Israel from all the peoples of the world to be His inheritance. Solomon prayed that God’s eyes would also be open to the Israelites when they were in distress and that He would listen when they cried out to Him.

Solomon then blessed the whole assembly of Israel reminding them that not one word of God’s promises had failed. He prayed that God would never leave or forsake them and that He would help by turning their hearts towards him in order to keep his commands, decrees and regulations (1 Kings 8:57-58). Solomon told the Israelites that their hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God.  Is our own heart fully committed to God? We should ask this question of ourselves everyday and if the answer is ‘no’ , repent and renounce our failings and pray for more faith and commitment.

The temple was then dedicated with the sacrifice of a massive number of cattle, sheep and goats (1 Kings 8:63). There was a festival that lasted 14 days before the king sent the vast assembly of people home. The people blessed King Solomon and went away joyful and glad in heart (1 Kings 8:66).

The Lord again appeared to Solomon. This must have been Jesus as no-one can see God the Father and live. Jesus said that his eyes and heart would always be at the temple. Jesus again gave a blessing and a curse. If Solomon obeyed all the decrees and laws, his kingdom would be established for ever. But if he, or his sons, turned away from God then disaster would strike. God would cut them off and reject the temple if they embraced ‘other gods, worshipping and serving them’ (1 Kings 9:9).

Israel’s future was entirely down to the behaviour and actions of its king and people. They could choose a wonderful everlasting relationship with God or disaster, if they sinned and turned from God. We know which option they chose. People are so sinful they cannot stick to the path of faith and obedience, which is why Jesus would have to return to earth, become sin and take our punishment so that eternal life became a gift rather than something we could fail to earn.

Acts 14:8-28

Paul healed a crippled man in a very similar way to both Peter (Acts 3:6) and Jesus (Mark 2:11). Paul looked directly at the man, saw that he had faith to be healed and ordered him to stand up. Even though the man had been lame from birth and had never walked, the man jumped up and began to walk (Acts 14:9-10). My wife offered to pray for a lady in the street the other day who had confessed to having a medical worry. The lady, after a little thought, asked her not to pray because she had no belief. At least a seed was sown in this lady’s mind about our God being a healing God. We should move on and find people who have the faith to be healed – whilst praying that non-believers find faith, which would enable them to be healed.

When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they wanted to offer sacrifices to the two apostles as gods. Paul and Barnabas were horrified and insisted they were human. They were bringing the crowd the Good News telling them to turn to the living God, who had created everything. They had great difficulty in stopping the crowds from worshipping them.

Jews had followed them from the cities where they had previously preached. They won the fickle crowd over, stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city ‘thinking he was dead’ (Acts 14:19). The disciples gathered around him and he got up and went back into the city. Paul had amazing stamina and the healing power of the Holy Spirit to help him.

The next day, Paul and Barnabas left for Derbe and then returned to the other cities they had already preached in, despite having faced antagonism. They were fearless and prepared to lose their lives for the gospel. They had put their trust in God but expected to face hardships along the way (Acts 14:22).

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church and committed them to the Lord ‘with prayer and fasting‘ (Acts 14:23). They travelled back to Antioch to explain how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. They stayed a long time back with their home church. It is wonderful to have a specific congregation to go back to, to give them our testimony and share how their prayers for our missionary work have borne fruit.

Proverbs 15:11-20

The cheerful heart has a continued feast and a happy heart makes the face cheerful.

A patient man calms a quarrel. Upright people live their lives on a highway, whereas lazy people find their paths blocked (Prov.15:19).

We don’t want to be hot-headed as this will stir up dissension. If we resent being corrected and don’t like to ask wise people for advice, we may be proud and mocking. Discerning people seek knowledge (Prov.15:14).

I love sharing a fellowship meal with Christians because you can feel the love in the room. The food does not have to fancy (Prov.15:17).

If we show wisdom, we will bring our parent’s joy. A foolish man despises his mother (Prov.15:20). Jesus cared for his mother so much that he arranged a permanent place for her in John’s house while he was on the cross (John 19:26-27).

Image:  National Gallery of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ark of the Covenant brought up to the Temple / The Apostles turn to the Gentiles: June 20th 2021

1 Kings 7:23-8:21

Huram finally finished all the amazing metal work for the temple as specified by Solomon. This included a cast Sea made of burnished bronze standing on twelve bronze bulls that held two thousand baths of water. They were all cast in clay moulds in the plan of Jordan. A tremendous amount of bronze was used (1 Kings 7:47).

The furnishings for the Lord’s temple were all made of gold including the altar, the golden table for the bread of the presence and the lampstands. This gold was later looted, melted down and transported around the globe so possibly, if we own any gold (such as a gold wedding ring) maybe a tiny percentage of that gold may once have furnished the temple of God.

During his lifetime, King David had collected and dedicated a large quantity of silver, gold and furnishings to the temple and Solomon placed these in the temple (1 Kings 7:51).

Previously, David had been buried in the ‘City of David’ and this is now identified as ‘Zion’, where the ark of the Lord’s Covenant had been residing (1 Kings 8:1).

The priests took the ark, the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings to the temple. The entire assembly of Israel went before the ark while sacrificing countless sheep and cattle. It is wonderful that an entire country should come together for a religious occasion, showing their belief in the Lord and reverence for the ark and the new temple. Even though we can experience the presence of the Lord in any Catholic church and consume Jesus’ body and blood in the Holy Eucharist, most people in Great Britain can’t even be bothered to get out of bed for the occasion. We should really approach such churches on our knees.

The ark of the Covenant was brought to the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place. It was placed under the wings of two enormous golden cherubim. (1 Kings 8:6-7). Inside the ark, were only the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it (1 Kings 8:9). Other accounts say it should also have contained a gold jar of manna and Aaron’s miraculous staff (Hebrew 9:4). If these were now missing, someone very brave must have removed them.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud (signifying the presence of God) filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) and the priests could not perform their service. Solomon regarded the project as a success (1 Kings 8:13).

Solomon blessed the entire assembly of Israel. He praised God and correctly attributed the fulfilment of the project to God, rather than himself (1 Kings 8:13). Solomon had ensured that his father King David’s plan had been completed. A place had been provided for the ark, which stored the all-important covenant with the Lord that he had made with their forefathers (1 Kings 8:21). The future prosperity and security of the Israelite nation depended entirely on how well they kept to their side of the covenant.

Acts 13:42-14:7

Paul and Barnabas were invited back to the synagogue to speak further about Jesus. Almost the whole city gathered on the next Sabbath to hear the word of the Lord. This made the Jews jealous and abusive.

Paul and Barnabas boldly pointed out that they were obliged to speak the word of God to the Jews first but now, as the Jews had rejected eternal life, they would now turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47). Fabulous news – leading to the Christian faith being spread throughout the land. Paul had already dropped his Jewish name Saul. By using his Roman name Paul, he showed that he was fully committed to being the apostle to the Gentiles.

‘All who were appointed for eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48). God gives us all sufficient grace so that we can individually choose to believe in Jesus and gain eternal life. However, as God knows the future, he knows who will make this freewill choice in their lifetime. These people are blessed from the time of their conception, as they are ‘appointed for eternal life’.

The word of God spread throughout the region but the Jews conspired against the apostles to have them kicked out of the region. They incited the God-fearing women of high standing, stirring up persecution. These people may have been God-fearing but if they had listened to the apostle’s message, they would have been in fear of the consequences of rejecting the Son of God. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet in protest as Jesus had told his early disciples to do (Matt.10:14-15). The disciples did not let this upset them. They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52).

At Iconium they had a similar mixed level of success. They spoke so effectively that a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed but the Jews who refused to believe poisoned the minds of the others. We have many professional non-believers today who delight in poisoning other people’s minds. Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly and the Lord confirmed their message by enabling them to carry out miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3).

Jews and Gentiles came together and plotted to stone the apostles but they found out and fled. They continued to preach the good news. This was hit and run preaching, staying one step ahead of their enemies through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 76:1-12

God is resplendent with light and his Son is the light of the world (Psalm 76:4).

God alone is to be feared, as Jesus reminded us (Matt.10:28).

When we make vows to the Lord our God, we should always fulfil them (Psalm 76:11).

Image: Ben Schumin, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Solomon Builds the Temple: June 19th 2021

1 Kings 6:1-7:22

Solomon started to build the temple of the Lord, four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites had come out of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1).

The temple was built on Mount Moriah – the same hill where Abraham had almost sacrificed his son Isaac (2 Chronicles 3:1). This was also where Solomon’s father, King David, had bought the threshing-floor of Araunah and built an altar after the angel bringing the plague to Israel had been ordered to stop there by God (2 Sam.24:16). The rock where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac is reputed to be the cornerstone of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Underneath it is the Well of Souls, the drainage system for the blood that flowed from the sacrifices in the temple. There is a legend that at this place the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgement Day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_of_Souls.

There was no hammering on site – presumably out of reverence to God. When we first meet in church, we loudly praise and worship God – this is in preparation to meet God. Eventually, a palpable calm and quiet will descend on the congregation when God comes into the room. That is the time to start praying. The temple stones were prepared offsite, leaving the building site relatively calm and quiet in preparation to meet the presence of God.  

God promised that if Solomon kept all His decrees, regulations and commands then He would live among the Israelites and not abandon them (1 Kings 6:12-13). God did not say he would live solely in the temple, he would live among the Israelites, just as Jesus lived among the Jews during his lifetime.

Solomon made an inner sanctuary – the Most Holy Place – to house the ark of the covenant. The whole interior of the temple was overlaid with gold. The temple was meant to be a continuation of the tabernacle, which had served for over four hundred years. It was the same design, only twice as big.

Solomon had cherubim, palm trees and open flowers carved and overlaid with gold. These symbols were reminiscent of the garden of Eden. The magnificent temple was finished in seven years. An incredible undertaking involving hundreds of thousands of men.

Solomon then constructed his temple including the Hall of Justice, where he was to judge.

King Solomon brought a Gentile craftsman from Tyre named Huram. He was highly skilled in bronze work. He made hundreds of bronze pomegranates and massive pillars at the portico of the temple. Jewish tradition is that the pomegranate represents righteousness because there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, the same number of commandments and regulations that are in the Old Testament. Huram named the two pillars Jakin (meaning ‘He shall establish’)  and Boaz (meaning ‘In him is strength’).

There is a strong connection between the temple constructed by Solomon and Freemasonry, presumably because there were so many masons involved in building the temple and Solomon was a master architect.

Solomon was so learned and inquisitive that he delved into numerous subjects, including occult matters that should probably have remained hidden. He is reputed to have written several books of spells and incantations to summon and control demonic forces. He might just have done this out of academic curiosity, but curiosity can be dangerous. In Masonic lodges, they have models of the two temple pillars beside the master’s chair. It is ironic that this first temple was being built for priests to meet God on behalf of the people, yet, if you become a mason, you are automatically excommunicated from the Christian church, cutting yourself off from meeting God.

On a more positive note the tops of the pillars were decorated with lilies. Jesus linked lilies and Solomon together: ‘And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin (ESV)’ (Matt. 6:28). The NIV uses the word ‘flowers’ instead of lilies, unlike the majority of Bible translations

No matter how wise and wealthy Solomon became, he could never construct something as beautiful as a natural lily in a field. Lilies open themselves up and allow insects to take their sweet nectar from inside them. They live briefly during which they pass on sweet life to others. A lily is a beautiful flower representing self-sacrifice and service, a representation of true sacrificial Christianity, the true spirit of Christ.

Acts 13:13-41

In a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, Paul delivered a short history of the Israelites from the time of the Exodus. God removed Saul, Israel’s first king, and replaced him with David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Paul’s speech was similar to the one that Stephen delivered to the Sanhedrin, which provoked his martyrdom. Stephen’s speech and death must have made a lasting impression on Paul and he probably now repented of his approval and involvement in his death.

Paul proclaimed that Jesus was the Saviour, descended from David. He told the assembled Jews the good news, the message of salvation. Goad raised Jesus from the dead, his body did not decay (Acts 13:37). Through Jesus, those who believe receive forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ death makes us justified with God. We are no longer at war with God, we are at peace and living in a right relationship with our loving Father.

Paul warned the Jews not to be ‘scoffers’, filled with unbelief. We are still surrounded by scoffers today who will perish if they don’t repent. Even when countless people have told them the wonders of Jesus’ death and resurrection they still don’t believe.

The spirit of unbelief is thriving at the moment and not only with regards to religion. Many people, including Christians who are meant to be people of belief, refuse to believe the scientific facts about the deadly pandemic and spurn vaccination on entirely spurious grounds. Many people challenge God to protect them even though Jesus said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test (Matt.4:7). If we have problems accepting facts such as the life of Jesus, his miracles, signs, death and resurrection or the facts about coronavirus, we should pray to bind and cast out the spirit of unbelief.

Psalm 75:1-10

God judges uprightly and holds the pillars of the earth firm (Psalm 75:7).

We give thanks to God for ever and tell of his wonderful deeds.

We should never be arrogant and boast about our own deeds. We should only boast of what the Lord has done for us.

Image: Johnreve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

King Solomon’s Wisdom / Herod’s Death / Saul blinds Elymas the Sorcerer: June 18th 2021

1 Kings 3:16-5:18

Solomon famously demonstrated his wisdom by ruling over a baby custody case (1 Kings 3:28). A prostitute’s child had died and she allegedly stole another baby to replace it. Solomon threatened to cut the disputed baby in two and the woman who had kidnapped the child was prepared to let this happen. Solomon gave the child to the other woman, the rightful mother, who was prepared to give her child up rather than to see him harmed. Of course, this could have gone badly wrong if the kidnapper had thought she had gone too far when the child’s life was threatened and backed down from her claim. Solomon probably assessed the kidnapper’s character and realised she was evil.

Solomon ruled over all Israel and appointed chief officials and twelve district officials. Each district had to provide supplies for the king’s household for one month each year. Kings are costly. Samuel had warned the Israelites that a king had would cost them dearly and enslave them (1 Sam.8:14-17). Solomon was very well provisioned and built-up enormous numbers of horses including chariot horses (1 Kings 4:26). His father David had never been interested in chariot warfare but Solomon was determined to keep up with military technology.

‘God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight’ (1 Kings 4:29). He wrote proverbs and songs. He studied and taught about plants and animals. Men of all nations came to listen to him (1 Kings 4:34).

The people of Judah and Israel were now prosperous, numerous and happy (1 Kings 4:20). They lived in safety. Satan (the adversary) was not active in the kingdom (1 Kings 5:4). God had arranged peace and prosperity so that Solomon could complete an important project.

Solomon came to an arrangement with Hiram, king of Tyre. Hiram provided timber from the legendary cedars of Lebanon with which to build the first temple and, in exchange, Solomon supplied food for Hiram’s royal household.

Solomon conscripted labourers from all Israel and sent ten thousand men to help gather the timber. He sent an enormous number of workers to the hills to provide the stone foundation for the temple. The craftsmen of both Solomon and Hiram and the Gebalites prepared the timber and stone. It was a massive joint project between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Solomon used the finest dressed stone for the foundation of the temple – which no-one could see once it was constructed. Solomon intended the temple to stand forever and for there to be nothing false or shoddy about it – even the hidden sections. Jesus told us to build on the strongest possible foundations – the word of God. The secular world cares more for outward appearances. When we carry out work for God, we want to build it on solid, quality foundations.

Solomon was building the temple for the ‘Name of the Lord my God’ (1 Kings 5:5). Solomon knew in his wisdom that God would not come and live solely in the new temple. God’s presence would still be everywhere and in everything. When Jesus was preaching, the Chief Priests and Pharisees wanted to confine God to the temple in Jerusalem, even though the ark of the covenant was missing. They refused to acknowledge Jesus’s signs and wonders that demonstrated that God is mobile, meeting people’s desperate needs out in the community and is not confined within man-made walls.

Acts 12:19b-13:12

God will always serve justice on corrupt leaders. Herod had killed John the Baptist, failed to save Jesus, executed James the apostle and attempted to kill Peter. God was watching him closely. When he was praised as a god by the desperate people of Tyre and Sidon, he did not give praise to God and so he was struck down (Acts 12:23).  

The Holy Spirit specified that Barnabas and Saul should be set apart for a mission (Acts 13:2-3). This was while the church members in Antioch were worshipping and fasting. Fasting is a helpful spiritual discipline that can help us relate to people who lack food, curb our obsession with food and clear our mind helping us to communicate with God. God likes it when we make an effort and earnestly praying while fasting can help our conversations with Him to be more productive.

The church ‘sent them off’ (Acts 13:3). The two most able and gifted apostles in the church were dispatched as missionary ambassadors for the Holy Spirit with the full backing of a specific church congregation. One of the church members was Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod. He showed that our spiritual brothers and sisters are our true family; in their presence we can be truly loved and at home. We don’t have to be corrupted by our past, our family and former associates.

Barnabas and Saul were directed by the Holy Spirit to Cyprus. They travelled with John Mark (who would later write the second Gospel). They proclaimed the word in Jewish synagogues (sowing seeds of belief in Jesus) until they encountered the evil sorcerer Bar-Jesus / Elymas in Paphos who tried to turn the Roman governor (proconsul) from the faith. Paphos was renowned for its immorality and the influence of Elymas might have had something to do with that.

The governor had sent for Barnabas and Saul because he ‘wanted to hear the word of God’ (Acts 13:7). Thus, their preaching in the synagogues had born fruit as it had attracted this important man’s attention and aroused his curiosity.

Saul now metamorphosed into Saint ‘Paul’ as he made Elymas go blind through the power of the Holy Spirit. When Saul had earlier encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he had gone blind for three days symbolising his spiritual blindness during the days he had persecuted Christians. As a sorcerer, Elymas was spiritually blind and belonged to the devil. The darkness before his eyes prefigured his eternal life separated from God and matched his dark heart. Jesus is the light of the world and will illuminate our soul if we repent, believe in him and are baptized. .

Paul’s analysis of Elymas’ character may well have applied to us before we were born-again. Many of us have been children of the devil, enemies of all that is right, full of deceit and trickery and constantly perverting the ways of God.   

The blind Elymas groped around ‘seeking someone to lead him by the hand’ (Acts 13:11). This could have been his chance to repent and come to Jesus just as Paul did when he was blinded on the road to Damascus. We don’t know Elymas’ fate but this demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power convinced the proconsul to believe. The most productive strategy is always to convert the leaders at the top of society first.

Prior to this miracle, Paul had always been a less prominent disciple than Barnabas. Barnabas was always named first (Acts 13:7). Now, after the Holy Spirit had acted so powerfully through him, Paul was the leader and would be named first going forward (Acts 13:13).  

Psalm 74:18-23

I have reached a low ebb at a few points in my life and at all those times God rose up to defend me (Psalm 74:18-23). The Holy Spirit prompted me where to go and what to do and God placed people in my path who could help my cause with guidance, help, healing prayers and prophecies.

God will save us from fools who cause clamour and uproar, people who revile His name.

When the needy stop relying on their own resources and trust in God, He will give them reason to praise him (Psalm 74:21). Persistent, earnest prayer and fasting will be noticed by God and he will give attention to our cause.

God will engineer a way out for us so we can escape dire circumstances in our private or work lives. We won’t have to retreat in disgrace. Our lives will improve victoriously (Psalm 74:21).

Image: By PMRMaeyaert – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92424726

Solomon asks for Wisdom / Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison: June 17th 2021

Kings 2:13-3:15

David’s son, Adonijah, had been outmanoeuvred in his attempt to become king of Israel. David had ensured that his younger son, Solomon, would succeed him.

Solomon would only let his elder brother live if he proved himself to be a worthy man (1 Kings 1:52) and so Adonijah should have led a quiet, respectable life. However, lust was his undoing as it had been for his father.

Adonijah went to Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, and asked a favour. He wanted her to ask her son, King Solomon, if he could take the deceased King David’s beautiful, virgin, bedwarmer (Abishag) as his wife.

This was a terrible mistake. Solomon was infuriated by this disrespectful request. He probably also had his eye on Abishag. Adonijah was one of his elder brothers and so had a valid claim on the throne. If Solomon gave him a woman whom David had spent most of this time with during his dotage, this would make him even more of a threat (1 Kings 2:22).

Solomon had inherited Benaiah as captain of his bodyguards and he ordered him to kill Adonijah. It was then time to deal with the rest of Adonijah’s allies. Solomon sent Abiathar the priest back to his fields, removing him from the priesthood. Solomon told him that he deserved to die for conspiring against him but Abiathar had been loyal to King David and ‘shared all my father’s hardships’ (1 Kings 2:26).

Solomon then had to deal with Joab, the ruthless commander of the army. Joab had fled to the tent of the Lord, after hearing about Adonijah and Abiathar, and was beside the altar seeking sanctuary. Solomon did not grant him mercy and ordered him to be killed there for his crimes (the murders of Abner, Amasa and his conspiracy to oust David from the throne during his last days). Joab had also disobediently killed David’s other rebelling son, Absalom, despite explicit instructions from David that he shouldn’t be harmed. On the other hand, Joab had fought valiantly for David on many occasions as chief of the army. He could have been retired to somewhere harmless for his generally loyal support to David but he was an extremely dangerous man and Solomon wanted to secure his throne.

Solomon did give the disrespectful Shimei a chance. He told him to stay in Jerusalem or he would be executed. Three years later, Shimei left the city briefly to retrieve two runaway slaves. This was the excuse Solomon needed to have him killed and his kingdom was now firmly established (1 Kings 2:46).

There are some interesting principles at work here. When Adonijah desired Abishag, he asked Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to intercede for him on the grounds that he would not refuse her. She even instructed her son the king not to refuse her (1 Kings 2:20). Christians in the Mother Church pray today to the Blessed Virgin Mary asking her to intercede for them, for her to talk to her son, Jesus Christ, in order to get their prayer requests to the top of the queue. They want her to use her influence over her son. This can be extremely effective. However, it has got to be a godly request that fully complies with all principles in the Bible. Solomon refused the request from his brother even though it had been mediated through his mother because it put his own rule at risk. God gives us what we need not necessarily what we desire – particularly if those desires are harmful.

Solomon had tidied up all the unfinished business of King David and had extended mercy to Abiathar the priest and Shimei. However, he was not going to put up with disobedience and so Shimei eventually provoked his own execution. I feel slightly sorry for Joab, who had fought valiantly for his uncle David. Two of Joab’s killings (Abner and Absalom) had tidied up problems for David. However, Joab was a dangerous individual prone to disobedience. Solomon wanted no responsibility for the murders that Joab had committed (1 Kings 2:33). If we live by the sword, we die by the sword. Just as Joab had been the hatchet man for King David, Solomon now had Benaiah to do his dirty work for him.

Solomon started to make political alliances. He married an Egyptian princess. Because a temple had not yet been built, the Israelites were still sacrificing at the high places. The Israelites had been instructed to destroy all the high places where the Canaanites had worshipped their gods (Num.33:52 and Deut.12:2-6). The Israelites at the start of Solomon’s reign seemed to be blending religions by using the traditional Canaanite worship sites for the worship of our one true God. ‘The Lord’ appeared to Solomon in a dream, where he had travelled to offer sacrifices at the most important high place and said: ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’ (1 Kings 3:5). As no-one can see the face of God and live, this must have been Jesus appearing to Solomon and conversing with him – yet another Christophany.

Solomon was already wise for a young man but he asked for even more wisdom in order to be a just leader (1 Kings 3:9). Jesus was delighted that Solomon had not asked for long life, wealth or the death of his enemies and so he gave him the wisest and most discerning heart of any man ever and also gave him riches and honour. If he walked in God’s ways and obeyed his statutes and commands, he would also have a long life (1 King 3:12-14).

Solomon realised that his dream had been life changing. He now had the confidence to stand in front of the ark of the covenant and make sacrifices to God. He then gave a feast for all his court. When we know that God has broken into our lives and spoken to our hearts, we can’t help but celebrate.

Acts 11:19-12:19a

Disciples, other than Peter, had also started to convert Gentiles. Some disciples had travelled to Antioch, where Greeks then became believers and turned to the Lord.

The disciples sent Barnabas to encourage the new believers to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:23). Barnabas went to fetch Saul from Tarsus and brought him to Antioch, where they both preached for a year. This is where believers first became known as ‘Christians’.

A Christian prophet stated there would be a severe famine over the entire Roman world. The disciples were happy to send monetary assistance to their brothers living in Judea. To a Christian, excess money is best used to help other people.

The wicked King Herod put James, the brother of John, to death. As this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. As Peter was detained in the Jerusalem prison, the church ‘earnestly’ prayed for him. Even through Peter was under close guard, he was rescued by an angel in the night (Acts 12:7). Peter had to get up and follow the angels’ instructions to escape.

It must have strengthened Peter’s faith to know that God supported his mission (Acts 12:11). If we as a church really want something to happen we have to put effort into our praying. God answered the fledgling church’s earnest prayers.

Peter fled to the house of John Mark’s mother. This John Mark was the Mark who wrote the second gospel.

A servant girl heard Peter’s voice outside the door but other people in the house did not believe her. It seemed impossible for Peter to escape and they said, ‘It must be his angel’ (Acts 12:15). The Jews held the same tradition as Christians that each one of us is assigned a Guardian Angel at the time we are conceived. However, the Jews also believed that a Guardian angel looked identical to the person they were protecting and evidently also sounded the same.

The disciples eventually opened the door and were astonished to see the real Peter. Peter asked them to pass his story onto James and the other brothers and then left to hide from Herod in a less obvious location.

Herod could not find Peter in the morning. He was not lenient on the guards who had failed to retain him (Acts 12:19). This story shows how much of a threat Herod thought Peter was. Herod had no intention of allowing Peter to be rescued. Peter had been chained and made to sleep between two soldiers with sentries on guard at the entrance. Some pastors say that God does not intervene directly after Jesus died and relies on human beings to do his work for us. The disciples did earnestly pray for Peter’s release but it was no human who came to his rescue. God had demonstrated he was willing to deploy angelic assistance to save the apostles when there was no other alternative.

Proverbs 15:1-10

Our tongue is the most powerful organ in our body. We can protect ourselves with our tongue (Prov.15:1). We can praise, spread knowledge and bring healing with our tongue.

A wicked tongue stirs up anger and gushes folly. A deceitful one crushes the spirit.

God is pleased with the prayers of the upright. He loves those who pursue righteousness (Prov.15:9) and will fill their house with great treasure. He detests the ways and sacrifices of the wicked. Their income will bring them trouble.

We should prudently listen to valid criticism as it may keep us alive. We cannot escape from God; he is everywhere and in everything. His eyes are everywhere. No sin is ever secret. He keeps watch on the wicked and the good (Prov.15:3).

Image: By Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/tmplobs/T0W0Q86QNMP6XMQX2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9639644

Death of King David / Peter Baptizes Cornelius: June 16th 2021

1 Kings 1:1-2:12

King David was now old and so his servants found a beautiful virgin girl, Abishag, to wait on him and keep him warm in bed. The king did not have sexual relations with her.

Adonijah, another one of David’s wayward, handsome sons started to set himself up as the next king. He gained the support of Joab, which is unusual as Joab was usually very politically astute. Abiathar the priest also supported Adonijah.

Adonijah invited the royal officials and all the other sons of the king, apart from Solomon, to a gathering where he made sacrifices intending to be appointed as king.

Nathan the prophet went to warn Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, that both her and Solomon’s lives were in danger if she did not act fast. Adonijah was likely to execute threats to his throne if he succeeded in taking over.

Bathsheba and Nathan informed King David that Adonijah was in the process of setting himself up as king.

King David confirmed his solemn oath to Bathsheba that Solomon would become king.

David promptly abdicated telling Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon as king over both Israel and Judah and set him on his throne.

Adonijah was terrified at this news. His guests rose in alarm and dispersed and Adonijah sought sanctuary by holding onto the horns of the altar. Solomon allowed him to live and go home as long as he proved himself to be a worthy man (1 Kings 1:52).

David instructed Solomon on how to be a good king. He should be ‘strong, show yourself a man and observe what the Lord your God requires’ (1 Kings 2:2-3).

It was vital that Solomon should keep all the requirements in the Law of Moses so that he would prosper and his descendants would always retain the throne.

David told Solomon the crimes of Joab and Shimei and advised him to deal with them according to his wisdom. He asked Solomon to respect the loyalty that the sons of Barzillai of Gilead had shown him.

David then died after forty years on the throne and was buried in ‘The City of David’ (1 Kings 2:10). There is no clear consensus in modern times as to where David’s tomb is. Some think it is in Jerusalem but this would have been stated clearly. To me, ‘The City of David’ is Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). One 4th century traveller found a vault in Bethlehem reputed to contain the tombs of David, Ezekiel, Jesse, Solomon, Job and Asaph with these names carved into the tomb walls (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David%27s_Tomb). 1 Kings 3:1 clearly shows that the ‘City of David’ is not Jerusalem.

Not many people have led a life as extraordinary as David’s. Plucked from obscurity, an overlooked youngest child tending the sheep, he was anointed as the successor to the first King of Israel. As a young boy he defeated a formidable giant dressed in scale armour, showing how he would stand up for God’s people against the forces of evil. He was an amazingly brave and a ferocious fighter who won and retained the loyalty of the nation of Judah.

David showed himself to be a strong man, rather too strong in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. David had serious faults but he was quick to apologise to God. He loved truth, loyalty and integrity. He refused to kill Saul, the Lord’s anointed king. He was quick to forgive and didn’t want his son Absalom harmed even when he had almost usurped David as king. He longed to build a permanent temple for God but he had soiled his hands with too much blood. Above all, God communicated with him and David listened making him one of the foremost prophets and author of so many awesome psalms. Above all, David was a man after God’s own heart and that is what we should try to emulate (Acts 13:22).

Like David, we should do everything that God wants us to do.

Acts 10:32b-11:18

Peter travelled to see Cornelius, the Roman Centurion who had called for him. Peter took backup with him, some of the brothers from Joppa. Cornelius had gathered together his relatives and close friends to meet them. It is wonderful to read about such excitement and anticipation. We should feel this whenever we go to church and pastors / priests should be working to promote this by allowing the Holy Spirit to work freely and unpredictably in any church gatherings.

Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in reverence but Peter made him get up (Acts 10:26). It is only God that we worship. Everyone else, including angels, are fellow servants of God and we should treat them like friends and comrades, not masters (Revelation 22:8-9).

It was against the law for Peter to associate with or visit any Gentile but God in a vision had showed him not to call any man impure or unclean (Acts 10:28). God’s laws trump human and religious laws.

Peter had realised that God does not show favouritism for one nation over another. God ‘accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right’ (Acts 10:35). Peter preached about Jesus’ ministry (Acts 10:38). Peter declared he was a witness of everything that Jesus did.

Mankind had been at war with God because of our disobedience and sin but, through Jesus, those who believe now have peace with our heavenly father (Acts 10:36).

As Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the gospel message and they started speaking in tongues and praising God. This astonished the Jews who had travelled with Peter (Acts 10:45-46). The unbaptized, Gentile believers had been given the Holy Spirit. This flies in the face of modern theology, which states that people always receive the Holy Spirit when they are baptized. Many people just receive a tiny mustard seed of the Holy Spirit and never do anything with it so it doesn’t fully grow / develop / burst into flames of faith. However, the Holy Spirit cannot be confined to rules and doctrines. He is God and can do what he wants, when he wants. In this particular circumstance, the coming of the Holy Spirit was the catalyst that pushed Peter into baptising these converts. Peter might not have had the confidence to do this, if the evidence of speaking in tongues had not confirmed that they obeyed God and believed in him (Acts 10:47-48).

Peter ordered that Cornelius and his household should be baptized and they then asked Peter to remain with them for a few days. How wonderful it must have been for them to have the head of the new church, the first pope, the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to stay with them and tell them his extraordinary testimony.

This amazing event opened up Christianity to non-Jews around the globe. I am a Christian thanks to Cornelius inviting Peter to visit him.

Peter then had to explain his actions to the rest of the church. He told the circumcised believers about his vision and how the Spirit had instructed him to visit, after Cornelius had been visited by an angel. The Holy Spirit had promised that Peter would bring him ‘a message through which you and all your household will be saved’ (Acts 10:14). All Christians are now commissioned to bring this same message to other people.

This is a good example of predestination. God had looked into the future and seen Cornelius becoming a Christian when he heard Peter’s message and so he gave sufficient grace to Cornelius earlier in his life to be a Godly person with a desire to seek salvation. God knew he would respond to the angel’s instruction to call for Peter.

Peter described how the Holy Spirit had come on the Gentiles as he had begun to speak ‘as he had come on us at the beginning’ (Acts 11:15). ‘The beginning’ must mean the day of Pentecost, the beginning of the Christian church.

God had baptised these believers with the Holy Spirit ahead of them being baptized with water (Acts 11:16).

The other apostles in Jerusalem accepted Peter’s testimony and praised God.

Peter’s perfect logic was ‘So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God’ (Acts 11:17). It is wonderful that the apostles were not jealous in any way of the new believers, unlike the Pharisees and the Chief Priests who had persecuted Jesus because they had wanted to retain power and status.

The apostles summarised this latest revelation: ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’ (Acts 11:18). The phrase ‘even the Gentiles’ shows how revolutionary this message was. From this event we can see some keys principles of accepting the gift of eternal life. We have to repent. We have to accept the message about Jesus Christ and believe in him so that we will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have to be baptized.

Speaking in Tongues is a great way of bringing different people groups and denominations together. It proves we obey God and believe in Christ. Nicky Gumbel (p.350) saw that he could not withhold the Protestant Alpha course from Catholics, when at the first Catholic Alpha course he witnessed all the Catholics praying in tongues, the same supernatural gift that had been given to his Protestant converts. Similarly, I visited my local Pentecostal church as a Charismatic Catholic and witnessed my new Protestant friends exhibiting the same gifts I had. The gifts of the Holy Spirit make us realise we are all one big church family and we should work together and love each other for the glory of God.

Psalm 74:10-17

The Psalmist still did not understand why God was holding back his hand but God always has very good reasons for any delays. He will eventually bring justice to those who have mocked and reviled him.

God brings salvation upon the earth ultimately through Jesus Christ’s death once and for all on the cross.

God is all powerful. He owns the day and the night and established the sun and the moon. He made both summer and winter. Winter has its own beauty but the harsher aspects of it help us appreciate the summer periods of our lives.

God can split open the sea, crush the heads of seas monsters and dry up ever-flowing rivers. Praise the Lord that we have been reconciled to him and received the everlasting gift of peace with our awesome Father through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ideacreamanuela2/5585080402

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